By Emily Herring Dunn
For the past year or so I have been doing many things to try to grow in my faith. One of those things is reading a One Year Bible to try and “know my stuff” and grow closer to God. While I do have moments when I let the everyday world take over and I fall behind on my God time, I am doing a better job than I ever envisioned.
OK, so that’s not quite good enough. I asked for the One Year Bible so I would get up every morning and spend time with God. While some mornings I’m full of excuses or tired from the previous days of the week, I shouldn’t let that interrupt the relationship.
I am slowly but surely realizing that this is a tough world we live in. While I knew this to begin with, it is sinking in more and more as I grow older.
I’ve realized that as Christians we have it even harder. We are living in a secular world that focuses on everything from sex to drugs, to little things like “bad words”, and that secular world idolizes such things.
In high school and college, I think things are even worse. Here we are from ages 13 to 22 and we’re learning how to be adults. I mean, let’s face it, we are learning, and perhaps no one truly ever learns what that word “adult” means.
Just to help this devotional along, let’s give you a definition:
Adult’ a. grown-up; mature—n. mature person, animal, or plant.
So, what does that mean? We could go in circles forever! You could look up grown-up, mature, person, and even animal or plant. How are we supposed to know when we’re adults and when life is supposed to be really tough? I can tell you, for me, life has seemed the most difficult between 13 and 22.
Between ages 13 and 22, a person is supposed to learn how to be mature. A person is supposed to learn good life choices, and as Christians we are supposed to learn how to live according to God’s will and plans. We may make plans of our own, but how do we make sure that everything is for the glory of God? As other individuals around us are focused on the secular world, making decisions that we don’t look at as lightly as they do, how are we supposed to grow up to be Christian adults?
Christianity’ n. religion based on the teachings of Jesus—Christian a., n.
According to Webster’s New Pocket Dictionary, Christianity is a religion based on the teachings of Jesus, so we can assume a Christian would be a person, animal, or plant that follows the teachings of Jesus, correct? So, an ‘Adult Christian’ may be something like this:
Adult Christian’ n. mature person, animal, or plant that bases his, her, or it’s life on the teachings of Jesus.
As ‘Adult Christians’, we are held to higher standards. We base our lives on the teachings of the number one teacher, the Messiah, the Son of God who died for our sins. And yet we are sinners everyday and surrounded by sinners as well. What does that mean? It means that we do not deserve to be Adult Christians, but we are blessed with God’s grace and forgiveness because of His son’s teachings.
OK, so what does this have to do with being between the ages of 13 and 22?
Between the ages of 13-22 a person is more apt to change, more apt to molding, and out on his/her own more so to experience what this world is all about. That’s a scary step, wouldn’t you say? Because when a person is 13 you don’t think much of him/her going out in to the world and becoming a new adult. At the age of 13, a person is still a child to most.
Then, suddenly, at age 18, a person is expected to become a ‘mature person,’ step out in to the world, and make the right choices.
I don’t think so.
We as Christians are growing every single day. As young adults, and as adult Christians, we strive to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ and to witness to those around us. It isn’t easy. The people around us give in to the temptations of everyday life, as we do, but the difference is that some of them don’t have the Savior to forgive them and rescue them from a damned life.
I know. It’s intense.
Psalm 37:3-4 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”
How amazing is that? As long as we trust in the Lord, do good, and take delight in the Lord, then we will live safely, prosper, and receive our heart’s desires. Now, who deserves that?
I can tell you who. No one.
We are living a blessed life. Though at times it may seem more difficult to be an Adult Christian than to just be an adult, it’s a choice we have made and a life we have been blessed with. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, and we must live each day with that in mind.
Though other adults may seem like they’re having more fun living a life that isn’t by the teachings of Christ, we have the ultimate blessing and fun a head of us—even after death! We live on forever by the grace of God, simply by glorifying Him and doing good by Him.
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!” Psalm 43:5.
Your life is in God’s hands. Put your hope in God, praise Him, and He will give you your heart’s desires. As an adult, that’s a pretty good thing to know. We trek through life wondering if we will ever get what we desire, ever get what we think we deserve—and God says yes you will. Praise Him through the storms of high school, of college, or growing up and He will mold you in to an Adult Christians.
By Stacey Wilson
Lately, the Richter scale has seen its fair share of news headlines. The first quarter of 2010 left its mark in history as a period of earthen instability – thousands and thousands of people shaken from their normal routines within a matter of seconds, many of them changed forever.
The ground shifting beneath us, however, hasn’t been the only unsteadiness we’ve felt these past few months. Lingering economic problems, more terrorist attacks, and heated political climates have also contributed to a sense of global shakiness.
And then there are the seemingly ever-present personal issues “us girls” deal with that can shake us pretty badly: Will I ever find the right guy? What will I do after I graduate? Am I really where I’m supposed to be in life?
It can prevent us from moving ahead with confidence. It can paralyze us from making important decisions. And it can permeate us with a sense of uneasiness that makes life just plain hard sometimes.
When I find myself in this boat of apprehension, waves crashing around me in the middle of the deepest ocean, I can usually look back on my journey out to sea and realize that it was just me paddling.
There will always be uncertainty in life; the apprehension comes when we lose sight of who’s in control, who should be paddling with us. You see, there’s certainty in the uncertainty.
John captured these words of Jesus in his gospel account: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
It’s certain that we will have trouble in this world. It’s also certain that Jesus has overcome it. So how do we live in the midst of the world’s uncertainties with confidence?
I think these verses in Proverbs 3 sum up what our actions should look like: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Straight. I like that word. It implies that even in the crookedness and debris of life, our paths can cut right through the heart of unexpected obstacles. We can become living examples of Christ’s overcoming power in this world. That’s how we’re supposed to live; trusting that God will make our path straight even when we don’t know if there’s a fallen oak tree somewhere up the road. We don’t have to know where the tree will be or how we will get past it, we just have to trust that he’ll provide an axe or the strength to climb over it.
Staying constantly focused on who is ultimately in control of the storms and tragedies that affect our lives can take the sting out of uncertainty. Each obstacle is an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, mercy, and provision. When we look at our uncertainties in this light, we can’t really be moved.
In Exodus chapter 20, God gave His people ten basic instructions for how to live an upright life. When you really think about, ten rules is not all that many; obviously God meant for us to pay special attention to these ten things, above everything else. Fairly high on this list of ten—number five—is “honor your father and mother.” Added to the end of that command is a promise from God: that “your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” This promise refers specifically to the promised land God was giving to his people in the book of Exodus, but even today, all these thousands of years later, the implication remains that honoring your parents is a really important thing to God.
This month we will set aside a day to honor our mothers. At my house, this will entail breakfast in bed, a few gifts, lunch at her favorite restaurant, and probably flowers—all to show my mom that we think she’s wonderful and we love her. Mother’s Day, no matter how simply or how extravagantly you acknowledge it, is truly a great thing. However, when God instructs us to honor our mothers, He probably didn’t quite mean giving them one day out of the year and being content with that. The question we should ask ourselves, then, is how can we show our mothers honor throughout the year? To answer this question, I think it is important to first know what the word “honor” actually means.
The first definition Dictionary.Com gives for the verb form of this word is “to hold in high respect.” You can show that you hold your mom in high respect in a hundred different ways, from small things like answering in full sentences instead of mumbling when she asks you about your day, to bigger things like vacuuming or washing all the dishes without being asked. Respect can be a tricky concept to grasp, however; it can take so many different forms, and it means something different to each person (Aretha didn’t say “find out what it means to everyone!”). Ultimately this particular expression of honor will depend on your individual relationship with your mother. If you’re not sure what your mom thinks of when she thinks of respect, it’s not a bad idea to just ask her directly! It sounds corny, but she’s likely to be thrilled that you really want to know.
Dictionary.Com’s second entry for the verb “honor” is “to revere.” A better word for “revere” might be “admire.” There are many ways to let your mother know that you admire her. One of the best ways might be to tell friends how much you appreciate her, while she’s there. But advice like this is not hard to come by. We girls are told fairly often, by our churches or our grandparents or our favorite piece of chick-lit, that it’s important that our moms know we admire them. We know it’s important to externally show our admiration; it might, therefore, be more important to work on internalizing this particular component of honor. Sure, we can remember to find a way of showing our admiration a few times per month or even per week, but do we really believe our own words on a daily basis? God’s desire, according to His command in Exodus, is that we honor our mothers not occasionally but with our lives—and that includes consistently revering them in our hearts.
I’m not at all trying to say that Mother’s Day is pointless or that it’s not a good way to honor our mothers. The Oxford English dictionary includes a definition that Dictionary.Com leaves out: “to celebrate.” We rightfully set aside one Sunday every May to celebrate the women who mean the most to us, whether it be with cards or food or gifts or just an extra long hug. But I would suggest that this year we should try to keep the values of Mother’s Day dear to our hearts long after May has come and gone. Imagine how honored your mom would feel if she was surprised with breakfast in bed in the middle of October!
By Laura Kuhns
My blessed child,
Do not despair. I see when you are surrounded by spiritual darkness, when your heart is overwhelmed, and when all you want to do is bury yourself under the covers and never come out. Trust me when I say that I see every affliction you go through, and I am still in control. No situation is out of my hands. I have allowed you to see these trials so that your faith in Me will grow and our relationship will deepen. I know sometimes it seems that I have forgotten you or that I am punishing you, but this is far from the truth. When you are in your darkest moment and hopelessness has all but completely overtaken your life, I will come through for you.
Though your heart feels discouraged and downcast, do not give up hope. Refuse to let evil and despair take over your life. Remember the times I have rescued you in the past. My love is steadfast; it is firmly fixed on you, never to be shaken or removed. Do not forget that my mercy is new every morning and it never comes to an end. Though tears may cover your cheeks in the night, I will wipe them away and give you a reason to smile once more. I will take care of you and heal your heart just as I promised, because you are My child and I Love you more than you could ever imagine.
Wait for me, my love. Do not give up, do not lose hope, and do not let this fear and anxiety take over your life. Choose to make Me your true love, your source of hope and strength, and I will not disappoint you. I will come for you and I will save you, but first you must wait. I have something valuable to teach you in this. Seek Me and you will understand.
Do not give up, dear one. I know my ways seem cruel and unfeeling, but remember My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not the same as My ways. I do not enjoy watching you cry or knowing you are hurting, but I will hold you and know that it will make our relationship stronger in the end. I desire to know you and for you to know me far more than I desire you to be in constant comfort.
Hold on to me and my promises. Oh, precious one. Remember how I love you and that I will come through for you at the right time. Turn your heart to Me, follow Me, and trust in Me. I will never let you go, even in your darkest moments.
“If you feel that you are called to full-time missions, come forward during the song and dedicate your life to doing God’s work overseas.”
Ever heard that? Did you go forward? I never have. Maybe you’ve thought, “Me, called to missions? I don’t think so. There’s no way God would ever call me to be a missionary overseas!” Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I never thought the Lord was calling me to be a missionary. For years I insisted that I was called to be a stay-at-home mom and raise Godly, Christian children. Sure, I may be called to do that, but I think I was selling myself, and God, short. We have all been called to something greater than that, and if we are willing to remove our pride and let Him use us, the Lord can change the world through us.
This spring break I had the opportunity to spend a week in El Salvador playing with kids in orphanages and talking to girls in prisons. What an amazing trip! It was incredible to be a part of the work God is doing in the city of San Salvador. But when I came home, I found myself in a spiritual slump. I kept thinking about how much I wanted to be back in El Salvador continuing the work of God there.
Finally, a friend of mine sat me down and, with a strict look, told me, “Just because you aren’t in El Salvador anymore doesn’t mean you can’t continue the work of God here.”
I instantly felt ashamed. I thought I had left the mission field when I landed back in the States, but I had simply moved from one area of the mission field to another.
Hebrews 11:13 says that those who followed God in the Old Testament “acknowledged they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”
They understood that they do not have a “home” on this earth and, therefore, wherever they were was considered their mission field.
What does that mean for you and me? It means that no matter where you are, at home, at school, at work—that is your mission field. You may not be speaking a foreign language, you may even be in your own backyard, but that does not matter. Your neighbors and friends need to hear the name of Christ and you can be the one to tell them.
You may be thinking, “I’m not qualified for that. I’m not very good at speaking to people about Christ; I never know what to say. What if I mess up and ruin any interest they had in God in the first place?”
Read Jeremiah 1:5-8. The Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet before Jeremiah was even born. God fashioned him in his mother’s womb specifically to be a prophet to God’s people. When Jeremiah claims he does not know what to say, the Lord assures Jeremiah He will give him the words to say. God will do the same for you.
If you have been saved, you have been called to be a missionary. Like I said before, it may not be in Russia, or China, or El Salvador, but wherever you are is your mission field.
For me, that means that the university I attend in the mountains of North Carolina is my mission field right now. The people I sit next to in class and the professors I nearly kill in Chemistry lab need to hear about Jesus.
They are just as lost as the people I was serving in El Salvador. I have a truth that many people are missing and I have a responsibility to let God use me so they might hear that truth before it’s too late.
So, my friends, the bottom line is you have been called to missions.
The location does not matter because there are people without the truth all over the world. Don’t let fear or self-doubt hold you back because the Lord will give you the words, the strength, and the power to say what needs to be said.
by Stacey Wilson
Several months ago, God told me to wait on something. Again, Lord? I had been praying about this particular something for a while, and He told me to wait…once again. Something I thought would make me happy, something I thought I deserved, something I thought God would want for me. “Wait, Stacey.”
Potential happiness put off, averted for who knows how long, and I got frustrated.
I guess it’s not completely my fault I get so annoyed playing the waiting game. After all, I grew up in a culture that praises instant gratification. Instant oatmeal. Instant messenger. Instant…weight loss? Doubtful.
Just Google the word “instant” and you’ll learn about all kinds of things you can get right here, right now – even happiness, so I learned. Instant happiness can be yours if you just smile for 30 seconds and think happy thoughts! That’s all it takes. Don’t believe me? Just Google it.
The truth is, smiling for 30 seconds, or an hour, or two hours, can’t bring true happiness. Sure, we can, “simply remember our favorite things,” like Julie Andrews taught us in The Sound of Music, and sing about, “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” but those things can only lift us up for a limited time, and then it’s back to reality; back to the here and now, and the question remains: are we truly happy?
“Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
There it is again. “Wait patiently, Stacey.”
Hold on, there’s another word in there. Happy. While waiting? Not “Happy will be all who wait patiently for Him,” but “Happy are.” Wow. Wake-up call.
I’m not saying I’m an unhappy person, but I do have to question what I strive for to make myself happy: striving for better grades to get recognition and a good job, striving for a better job to get more money, striving for attention and company to ease the sting of singleness.
I’m always striving for something “better” ahead, missing the here and now, and just waiting, so it seems, for life to start. But after reading that verse, it appears that I don’t have to strive at all to be happy. All I have to do is wait and be still. “Cease striving and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Knowing the creator of the universe is life itself. We don’t have to wait for life to begin. We can have it now, in the waiting. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).
What can make us happier than possessing eternal life and knowing the one true God who sent His son – eternal life in the flesh – to die for us?
I know that’s deep, but aren’t you tired of the shallow life? Isn’t anyone else tired of living for the next trivial thing to come along and make us “happy?” Always working for the weekend?
We weren’t made for that. We were made for something greater: to know the One who created us and to glorify Him forever.
So, just wait. More than likely you’ll get that great job. One day, some lucky guy will sweep you off your feet. But when those things come, wouldn’t it be nice to say, “This is good, but it doesn’t compare to knowing you better, Lord, while I waited.”
Graham Kendrick, in his song, “Knowing You,” summed up what it means to find complete contentment in the unshakable Jesus Christ. Read these lyrics and listen to the song if you’ve never heard it:
All I once held dear built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now, compared to this
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing
You're my all you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord
Now my heart's desire is to know you more
To be found in you, and known as yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing
You're my all you're the best
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord
by Carissa Chang
What’s your motivation in life?
What drives you to do something (or not to do something)?
It seems like these questions are often posed along with advice on how to achieve success in life. Some motivational speakers and tips, for example, are geared toward finding success in life. Yet, apart from what others tell us about success, how do we define such a word? How do we speak of success if we have different views on what success is?
James 4 may not directly address the word “success,” but if we are to equate life with God, there are clear outcomes regarding living a life of faith that are discussed in this chapter. Discussed by paragraph, each cause has an effect for us to consider.
Beginning with verses 1-3, James talks about when people want more in life than what’s necessary, or want more than what God provides. Wrong motives can lead to “fights and quarrels” with other people. By extension, even though James doesn’t mention this, these fights can also be internal. Jealousy, selfishness, negative criticism, and anger can all be brought upon a person relying on his or her own impulses rather than asking God for guidance.
The next paragraph, verses 4-6, is very clear in its message: intentional focus off of God means becoming an “enemy of God.” The end of verse 4 speaks of “friendship with the world” as “hatred toward God.” These are strong words! This doesn’t mean completely forgetting about the world, though (see John 3:16); we do live on earth, after all, and we are called to love our neighbors just as God loved us. Verse 6 is a good example of this: “But he gives us more grace.” I think “But” is important here. Despite the wrong we might do in life, and despite being imperfect human beings, God still gives us grace.
If verses 4-6 provide the initial cause and effect of what happens if we know God and don’t acknowledge him, verses 7-10 continue these thoughts by detailing their application to our lives. Verse 7, the namesake of this chapter’s first heading, is a good place to start:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Here’s another clear “cause and effect” in verse 8:
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Considering how much we probably mess up in life, verse 9 is so somber because it gives examples of how humble we should be when we don’t deserve to be “lift[ed] up.”
The last sections of this chapter talk about judging others (verses 11-12) and selfishness/bragging about one’s future ambitions (verses 13-17). In both instances, we know the outcome of judging others or “boasting about tomorrow.” If we are to humble ourselves to the point of grief like verse 9 says, then what gives us the right to speak against another person?
Verse 11 clearly says to “not slander one another” because, as verse 12 notes, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge.” Trying to place ourselves in a power that isn’t deserved can create some selfish consequences.
The same goes for talking about what we will accomplish in the future – “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money,” as stated in verse 13.
Having goals to accomplish or having a personal mission is not necessarily a bad cause; in fact, such things can be really helpful in life. But verse 14 is a good reminder of why we should be cautious in how wrapped up we become in chasing achievement: “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”
We may be content with life today, but who knows what the future holds?
In a way, then, James is talking about facets of success – of godly success – in how to live life. Verse 17 is a wake-up call for me to not lazily forget what he said, either.
James says that for those that do know God and want to live his or her life according to the standards of God, knowing “the good” one ought to do, but not doing it is the same thing as sinning. Living such a life was never described as easy, but as worth pursuing.
Questions to consider:
- How do you define success? Why are certain things more important to you than others?
- Why is faith important?
- In light of the temporariness of life (see verse 14), what are things that can be done now to make an impact on your own life and in others’ lives that are God-powered?
By Laura Kuhns
You’re tired, you’re frustrated, you’ve seen 2 am come and go, and you have one sentence of your paper written. Sound familiar? You’re definitely not alone. This has happened to me more times than I care to remember.
For me, it’s lab reports. I will spend hours upon hours every week writing a lab report, only to find a fat red C glaring back at me when my professor hands it back. What a huge disappointment. I don’t feel determined to do better next time, I don’t even feel angry: I feel disappointed. In the back of my mind, a voice tells me all my work was for nothing.
It was after one such event that I found this verse:
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Wow. If you could pick one verse to describe my life, this would be it. I strive, I work hard, I put my own blood, sweat and tears into my schoolwork…for what? To have a brighter future? To get into the best Pharmacy school? To make myself feel better about my life? To be honest, I have no clue why I work so hard on my schoolwork.
Last spring semester I had a really rough schedule. With 19 credit hours and several labs, I found myself pulling all-nighters at least once a week. What really astounded me was not the amount of work I was doing, but the fact that my grades were only average. If I was spending more time on homework than the average student, then why was I making only Cs and Ds?
The million dollar answer is this: the Lord wasn’t building my “house,” I was. For years I lived under the shelter of my good grades, being told that I could do whatever I wanted to do, go to any college I wanted to with the grades I had. I relied on those grades to get me through anything and everything, and then my grades began to fail me.
That semester I watched the Lord slowly take away all that I had built my life on: my boyfriend, my grades, and the friends I had since high school. Slowly my life was being stripped of its foundations and it was rough. But you know what? It taught me to hand over my life to the Lord and allow Him to build my “house.”
Like the verse from Psalm 127 says, I was eating the bread of anxious toil; going to bed late and getting up early was doing me no good because it wasn’t the Lord who was doing that. It was my own pride that kept me from admitting I was having a hard time in my classes, and it was my pride that had me insisting I could do it on my own. God knew I needed to learn something more valuable than organic chemistry and physics.
One thing I have come to realize in the year since then is that I should not strive to do my best, I should strive to do the Lord’s best.
How freeing it is to walk into an exam and know that even if I blow it, the rest of my life will not end up in pieces because my life is built on more than my own accomplishments. How calming it is to know my God will still love me, no matter what my grades are. What peace there is in knowing my life is built on far more than myself, because I will always fail.
That semester was rough, but boy did I learn a lot! And let me just say this: I have yet to pull an all-nighter since that semester. I make time to read my Bible while sitting among the mountains of homework and my grades are better than they have been in a long time. Did I learn my lesson? Yes, I definitely did. Do I still need reminders? You bet. Will my God always love me? Zephaniah 3:17 says it all.
So the next time you find yourself up at the wee hours of the night, remind yourself that whatever you are working on is not the most important thing in your life: Jesus is.
Remind yourself that even if everything you rely on falls to pieces, your Savior will still be there to pick you up and hug you tight. Remind yourself that your God does not have any requirements for you to maintain your status as His daughter. Follow Him, love Him, trust Him, rest in Him, and your striving will be turned to peace.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
-Blessed Assurance, Frances Crosby
By Laura Kuhns
I love to sing. Whether it’s in the car on a summer day with the windows rolled down, standing in my shower pretending to be on American Idol or in the cafeteria at school when a good song comes over the loudspeaker, I love to sing. Mind you, the people around me probably don’t enjoy it all that much, but so what? I’m having fun and that’s all that matters, right?
Of course having fun is great. Life was meant to be lived and all that jazz, but if that’s the same attitude I have when I approach my God to praise and worship Him, then something is not right.
I recently had a conversation with my dad about this, and while he said a lot of great stuff, the gist of it was this:
What does my heart look like when I am praising my Creator?
When I am standing in my pew at church, am I really there to praise God, or am I just trying to look like the good Christian girl? When I raise my hands and close my eyes, am I really singing to my Savior or am I trying to earn “Jesus points” and get that really cute guy a few rows back to notice how much I love God? Don’t deny it—I know I am not the only one whose mind wanders when she’s supposed to be worshipping at the feet of God.
The key to worship is to understand three things:
(1) How great our God truly is
(2) What He has done for us, and
(3) Worship is a chance for you to enter into a holy communion with your Creator and Savior.
Nehemiah 9:6 says, “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
Oops—I can tell you right now this is not the God I have in mind when I’m singing worship songs. If it was, I wouldn’t have any trouble keeping my mind focused on Him.
If I truly understood the depth of the glory and majesty and righteousness of the God I am singing to, I would find it so amazing that He would accept a song of praise from me that I might even find myself speechless.
“Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Psalm 96:9).
If you give more than a second of time to think about how awesome and mighty and powerful the God you are worshipping is, you won’t want to think about anything else as you sing. “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe…” (Hebrews 12:28).
I also forget what my God has done for me. Think about it. He saved us from a bondage of sin (Romans 6:22), He has brought us into His family (John 1:12), and He continues to shower us with His grace, love and mercy (2 John 1:3).
When you come to bring an offering of praise to your Heavenly Father, remember all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in and for you.
But also remember that you do not deserve it! This thought should humble your heart daily.
The last thing to remember is the freedom you have: take advantage of it! You are in church with fellow believers where you have the freedom to engage your heart with your Savior’s heart! This is an amazing blessing and one that I all too often take for granted.
What’s the moral of the story? Check your heart before your lift your hands and your voice. You may have the voice of an angel, but God made your voice; He already knows how great it is. What He really wants is for His children to come with the right attitude, bearing a heart of worship and the willingness to express their love and gratefulness toward Him.
You can sing your heart out in church the same way you sing at the top of your lungs in the car, but remember God is not your radio or your showerhead. He is your Savior and to truly worship Him requires an attitude that understands that.
And don’t worry about the cute guy behind you. If it’s meant to work out, God will work it out with or without your voice!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
1 Chronicles 16:29
By Emily Raush
Did you know that your life is a testimony to others? Have you ever realized people watching you, trying to see how you act in the everyday situations, whether big or small? Don’t you want to be the type of person that people have nothing bad to say about?
The key is to live out the fruits of the Spirit; specifically, kindness. But what is kindness? It is genuine compassion, love, helpfulness, and goodness towards other people.
God’s kindness is taught throughout Scripture, known as what is called “common grace.”
Psalms 145:8-9: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
God’s kindness is the reason why we are able to know Him, love Him and worship Him.
Ephesians 2:7: In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
God’s kindness is an example for us of how to treat others and to live everyday life.
Micah 6:8: He has showed you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
God’s kindness should be reflected in Christians’ lives through the way they treat others.
Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
What are specific steps that we can take in order to practice more kindness in our lives?
Put Others First: Do nothing out of selfish ambition; in humility consider others better than yourselves. You should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).
Help Others: Share with people who are in need; practice hospitality (Romans 12:13).
Build Others Up: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs (Ephesians 4:29).
Don’t Judge Others: Do not judge, or you too will be judged…In the same way you judge, you will be judged; with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1).
Forgive Others: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Be An Example Of Christ To Others: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
As you strive for kindness in your life, watch how people’s attitudes about you change. Your testimony will be so much stronger in the end. What do you have to lose?
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again” (Og Mandino)
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).