Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Compassionate Teacher

A teacher went into a town. His students as well as a large crowd of people followed him. He approached a cemetery where a funeral was going on. A widow’s only son was being interred. A large crowd of people watched the proceedings.

The teacher saw the woman and immediately walked over to her and said, “Don’t cry.”

He then went over to where the coffin was being carried and stood near it. “Young man, get up.”

The dead man sat up and began to talk! The teacher walked over to the widow again, “Your son is back.”

Everyone’s jaws dropped. Murmurings could be heard clearly. “What just happened?” “Who is this?” “Praise God.” Rumors about this teacher began to grow.

~ Paraphrased from Luke 7:11-17

Monday, November 29, 2010

Faith to Take Steps

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. – Hebrews 11:1

And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

I should do things out of faith that I have no idea what the outcome will be but feeling confident that the results will be good in God’s eyes. The more I act on that faith, the more I will reflect the glory of God. Based on my God-given personality, I should be reflecting faith, hope, and encouragement to others. And I should be doing this more often. Each day I will be taking steps to do this more and more. It’s an on-going process of letting the Spirit work within my heart, not a quick fix.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

And now, may the God of peace…equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. – Hebrews 13:20s-21a

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Acts of Worship Coming from a Grateful Heart

I tend to think that I can do better if I just try harder. Every Monday I resolve to do better. Sometimes I can do it better for awhile until I go back to my old habits of laziness and taking the easy way. I need God’s help in order to make lasting changes.

Willpower only lasts for as long as my feelings stay uplifted. When I wake up tired and push the snooze alarm multiple times, there goes my resolve to work out. When I come home late from work, there goes my resolve to eat healthy because I grab something quick. As long as I feel good, my willpower is strong. But if I feel tired or blah, I don’t feel like sticking to my intentions.

Self-improvement books and magazines have always appealed to me. If I can just follow a certain 10 steps, I can act better or be better or look better. Magic formulas and routines seem like the answer to making everything work out great. But following these magic routines relies on willpower and willpower is a wishy washy thing – it comes and goes.

Using willpower is also a tool to hide my weaknesses and be a super woman (at least try to be). But God works best through my weaknesses and in spite of them. Weaknesses prove that I’m normal and can be related to by others. Super women aren’t real and can’t be related to even by the ones that seem to portray that image. Nobody is perfect and nobody should try to be.

If a magic formula or routine to be better did exist then I wouldn’t need God to help me. He is a jealous God and has a right to be because He is also the Creator. He would not let me find a do-it-myself plan of self-improvement. He loves me too much to let me go it alone in this life.

I am broken. I can’t just try harder to fix myself. I need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit for healing. My brokenness reminds me that I need a Savior. Praise God that I have one. I need not be embarrassed by my weaknesses and hide them from other people. They make me relatable and they let God’s power shine through. The Apostle Paul resolved to know nothing while he was with people except Jesus Christ and him crucified. He came in weakness with great fear and trembling. But he came – that’s the important part. He showed up even in weakness and fear. His message and preaching did not use persuasive words but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. Faith does not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:2-5 paraphrased).

My response is no longer to try to do better. I’ve tried that over and over again. My response now is to simply bend my knee to the Lord Jesus Christ out of adoration and praise. I can’t change permanently by my own willpower but I can let the Holy Spirit change my heart. Then anything that I attempt to do becomes an act of worship coming from a grateful heart. And that should get me out of bed quicker in the morning.

I’m not here to check off a to-do list or to impress people. I’m here to please God by my desire to please Him. This is what He longs for. People who choose to love Him. Step by step, holding God’s hand, I’ll make it. Becoming is a process not an overnight miracle.