Sunday, June 22, 2014

Capturing the Wonder in Each Day

“For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands”
 (Psalm 92:4).

Years ago I was part of a summer mission team to France.  We did some sightseeing while there, and another team member commented on my excitement and awe.  She had been there before and had lost some of her wonder.  My excitement helped her recapture it.

I was reminded of this experience as I read an article by David Jeremiah in the July issue of Turning Points magazine.  In referring to the importance and appreciation of little things, he said, “Not everyone can sail off on a whale-spotting expedition, but we can all gaze in wonder at a goldfish bowl or watch the fish in the dentist’s office”.

That comment impacted me.  My daily focus may be on what is hurting or not hurting, what I need to do and whether I will be able to do it, and what everyone else is doing that I wish I could be doing.  To capture something means to seize it, perhaps using force.  I may need to force myself to look for the wonder that God has put in my path - through creation, people, and His Presence - instead of always looking at the problems and potential sources of discontentment in my life. 

In his book Recapture the Wonder, Ravi Zacharias says, “Wonder interprets life through the eyes of eternity while enjoying the moment, but never lets the momentary vision exhaust the eternal”.

I will enjoy the special moments of wonder that God brings.  I will anticipate all the wonder of eternity that I long for. And I will pray to see wonder on the painful, mundane days, knowing that God can bring gladness and joy through them, even as I wait for the wonders to come.

Prayer:  Gracious God, sometimes I become so focused on my pain, the cares of this world, or envying others that I fail to see the wonders around me.  Increase my awareness and appreciation of all the gifts You give –whether great or small – and may my response be gladness and thankfulness to You.  Amen.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Differentiating Between Necessary Comfort and Selfishness

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain” (Psalm 119:36).

I have never liked being uncomfortable, and my health issues make me more aware of discomfort than ever before.  I don’t like being too hot or too cold.  I don’t like uncomfortable seats.  I don’t like staying up too late. I don’t like noisy places.  I like eating earlier rather than later.

My pain level contributes to my being self-focused, and that is understandable.  But sometimes self-focus becomes selfishness, and I need to differentiate between the two.

While on earth, Jesus made many sacrifices of discomfort for the sake of others.  He gave up a home.  He lost sleep.  He ate what others prepared.  He walked miles to minister to others.  Following His example, there may be times when I should take the focus off my comfort level and trust God with the results.

How do I determine whether I am being selfish or have a legitimate need?  I need to examine my heart in the light of God’s statutes.  Why am I making this choice?  Am I trusting God’s sufficiency?  Am I using my pain as an excuse, thus missing an opportunity to show His power in my weakness?  Am I so focused on my own needs that I am insensitive to the needs of others?

I know my limitations, but I also know God’s limitlessness.  Whether in little daily decisions or big life-changing ones, I need to seek God’s Word and wisdom.  There will be times when seeking my comfort level is quite legitimate.  But there may be other times when God wants me to endure some discomfort for the sake of others or for His glory.  If I have a willing and open spirit, God will show me the difference.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You know how hard it is for me to enjoy and focus on serving You and others when I am uncomfortable.  Help me to continually evaluate my choices in the light of Your example and Word.  Show me when my choices are based on selfishness rather than necessary comfort.  Amen.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Gift of God’s Holy Spirit Revives Us

“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior”
 (Titus 3:5,6).

This devotional is written in remembrance of Pentecost Sunday – the day that we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on believers after Jesus ascended to heaven – which falls on June 8th this year.

Have you ever thought about what life was like for believers before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost?  Although certain individuals were anointed with the Spirit at various times, the gift of the Holy Spirit was not given to all believers until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Holy Spirit is our comforter.  He speaks the truth of Scripture into our minds and hearts.  He encourages us to keep going.  He gives us guidance and direction.  He is the presence of God in us.  And He has been poured out generously  - abundantly and unsparingly - within us.

Various Scripture passages associate the Holy Spirit with water, and I recently came across a good analogy of how the Spirit works in my life.  I am a tea drinker, so this analogy appealed to me. There is a certain kind of tea called flowering tea.  It comes in the form of a pod or ball and looks like dried up grass.  But when placed in a tea pot of boiling water, as the tea leaves soak up the water, they unfold into a lovely flower.

Just as the water causes the dry tea loves to soften and bloom, so the Holy Spirit revives our dry, hardened, or discouraged hearts.  The Holy Spirit renews our hope and speaks peace to our souls.  He fills us with power. 

I enjoyed watched my flowering tea pod unfold, but then the flower disintegrated into pieces and could not unfold again.  As I drank the tea, I thanked God for the way the Holy Spirit continually washes over and through me, reviving me, renewing me, and strengthening me for each challenge I face with my pain and problems.  What a precious gift!

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when my spirit is discouraged and dry from dealing with my pain and problems, Your Spirit infuses me with comfort and strength to keep going.  Thank you for this wonderful gift of Your Presence within me.  Amen.