Monday, March 23, 2009

The Christ in Me

My friend gave a devotion in the dorm the other night about complaining. Her point was that others are constantly watching us. What do we want them to see in us? When others see us having a bad day or complaining, it makes them think that Jesus is not capable of making us happy. Why would they want a part in the Christ who cannot satisfy or bring true joy? We may not always be bubbly and giddy but even when we are not having the best day, we should display a joy and peace that tells others that we will be ok again. This circumstance is not the end of the world. We don't live without hope.
So what do we complain about and how do we stop?
Well, # 1- we complain about our circumstances: The weather is bad, my hair is messed up, I was late to class, I'm hungry, I have a headache, I'm broke, some girl is being mean to me, my boyfriend broke up with me.... many many many other things... the list could go on forever. Notice though, that most of these things cannot be changed anyway. We have no control over them. But we do know the one who is in control of every circumstance. Let's take our problems to Him instead of bringing those around us down and gaining a bad testimony. This is something that I will have to be working on a lot!
The second thing we complain about are the rules in our lives. This majorly applies to me in college and probably to those of you who are in high school as well, but this can also apply to any Christian who is living with standards in their life and sometimes wonders "What is the point. I don't want to wear these skirts anymore. I want to listen to that music I use to listen to. I want to watch this movie." We have a tendency to complain about the rules that our God given authority have set over us. It might help us to not complain about our authority or the rules if we look at the life of David. David was being chased by the king. Saul wanted to kill him! David knew that Saul was the one in the wrong and that he had been anointed the next king of Israel. But even when he had a justified opportunity to disrespect Saul, he didn't. In fact he gave him more respect than he deserved. God blessed David for this.
Now, if David, who had every right to complain, was still respectful and took his problem to the Lord, don't you think we can to? Who do others see in you? The Christ that makes you complain, or the Christ who makes you joyful in spite of rules and circumstances?
Just something to consider. Sorry it's been so long between posts. :(

Monday, March 2, 2009

Devo- The Blessing of Burdens

This is a copy of the devo I gave in the dorm on Saturday night. It's kinda long and one of the stories is a repeat from an earlier post but if you can read through it all, I hope it can help someone.

The blessing in the burdens

Everyone is always telling us to look on the bright side of things. Sometimes that is hard to do when you are struggling under the load of a burden. But there are some blessings wrapped up inside those burdens.

I. The first blessing is that God always has a purpose in bringing trials upon our lives.
A. Tea cup story- A couple in England passed a china shop that had a lovely teacup displayed in the window. When they went inside to see it more closely, the teacup suddenly spoke. "You don’t understand. I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was a lump of red clay. My master took me, rolled me, and patted me again and again. I screamed for him to stop, to leave me alone. But, he continued to mold me, answering, ‘Not yet.’"
"Then, I was placed on a wheel and spun around and around. It made me dizzy, spinning on and on like that. But the master didn’t stop when I begged him to take me off the wheel. He continued to shape and to mold me."
"Then, he put me in the oven. I had never felt such intense heat! I wondered if he wanted me to burn up. I screamed and beat on the door to get out. I could see the master through the opening. I read his lips, as he said, ‘Not yet.’"
"Finally, the door did open. The master picked me up and put me on a shelf. I began to cool. That felt better. Suddenly, he brushed me and painted me all over. The fumes were terrible! I thought I would surely choke to death. I was gasping for air and hurting inside from the heat and choking on the fumes."
"Soon, he put me in another oven that was twice as hot as the first one. I knew for sure this time I would surely suffocate. I begged my master to stop. All the time I could see him shaking his head and saying, ‘Not yet.’"
"I felt there was no help. I knew I could never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then, the door opened. The master took me out and I could see that he was pleased with his work. He handed me a mirror and told me to look at myself. I did and said, ‘That’s not me! It couldn't be! I’m so shiny and beautiful!’"
The master said to me: "I want you to know I had to roll you and pat you to give you shape. If I had left you alone, you would have dried up. I know the wheel made you dizzy and sick, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and was hot and unpleasant in the baking oven, but if I had not put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed you and painted you all over. But, you see, if I had not done that, you would never have hardened. If I had not put you in the second oven, you would not have survived for very long, for you would have been brittle and would have soon broken. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with a lump of clay." ~Anonymous~

B. Romans 8:28 tells us that God is working all things together for His good purpose. That good purpose is to make us more like Christ. He makes us more like Christ by bringing trials into our lives sometimes. These trials serve one of two purposes:
1. To teach us a lesson. Sometimes we get prideful and need to be humbled in order to be more like Christ. Sometimes we stray from Him and He has to use difficult circumstances to bring us back to Him. Sometimes He has to use difficult circumstances to soften our hearts so that he can mold us and shape us.
2. To make us stronger in Him. It is during our hard times that we find ourselves singing "I need thee every hour". If there were never any problems then we wouldn't know that He could solve them. We would go about thinking that we could handle it ourselves. We learn to depend on Him through our hard times.
So, the first blessing in our burden is to know that God always has a reason. He always has our best in mind. He is trying to mold us and make us beautiful and useful for Him.

II. The second blessing in our burdens is that we don't have to bear them alone.
A. Psalm 55:22, I Peter 5:7
B. There once was a family that consisted of a husband and wife and their little girl. One day, the wife was killed in a terrible car accident. The night of the funeral, after all the family had gone home, the man took his little girl home for the first time with no one else around and they were very lonely. The man tucked his daughter into bed and flipped the light switch. She gasped as he did and cried "Daddy, I'm scared. I can't see you. Can I come sleep in your room?" "Sure, honey" the father said. They climbed into bed and the daddy kissed the little girl goodnight. He reached over and turned the bedside lamp off and the little girl started crying again. "Daddy, it's dark in here, and I can't see you. Are you still here?" "Yes, sweetie I'm still here" the dad reassured her. "Well are you facing me right now?" she enquired in a concerned voice. "Yes, I'm facing you." "Okay, then I think I can fall asleep now." And within a few minutes she was fast asleep.
In the dark of the midnight, the father lay awake. He missed his wife terribly. He was so unsure about the future and how he was going to raise their little girl. His heart was broken. Finally, he slipped out of bed and onto his knees. He prayed "Father, It's dark. I can't see you right now… are you still here." He felt the Lord say "Yes, child, I'm still here." "God, I'm scared… are you facing me right now." "Yes, Child, My face is always turned toward you." "Okay, then I think I can go to sleep now." The man crawled back into bed and fell fast asleep with the peace of God in his heart.
C. Whatever burden we are carrying, the Lord tells us not to fear. He is right there beside us. He promises that we don't have to bear these burdens alone. The only stipulation is that he wants us to cast them on him. This requires action on our part.
1. I work at a daycare and there are times when a child, somehow, gets their hands on something that is dangerous for them to have, like a pair of scissors. I immediately go over and take it from them. But there are some times when a child has something that I simply don't want them to have at that moment. It could be a toy or someone else's sippy cup etc… In this case, I go over and say to the child "You need to give that to me. It's not for you to have." I stick out my hand and I expect that child to give the item to me. I am bigger than him, so I could take it by force. But how much better is it for that child to learn to willingly give it over to the one who has authority over them.
2. God may take things from us that are harmful to us without asking for it. But he tells us to GIVE Him our burdens. We have to be willing to lay it in the hands of the one who has authority in our lives. We have to trust that he knows what's best. When we learn to give it to him, we show trust and respect.

Conclusion- When you find yourself shouldering burdens that are too heavy for you, remember that there are a couple blessings we can see in them. 1. God always has a reason. We may not know it right now, but in time he will reveal it to us. He is trying to make us beautiful and useful for Him. 2. We don't have to bear them alone. God is ready to take our burdens. We just have to be willing to give them to Him. Lay them at His feet and don't pick them up again.

My mom gave me the story of the teacup and Bro. Claud Slate, my youth pastor when I was in high school, gave me the one about the little girl. :)