Our Value to God = PRICELESS!

Our Value to God = PRICELESS!
"Allow God to place His own values." - A.W. Tozer

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Satisfied in God Alone

Devotional Bible Reference: Genesis 29 – 30:24

In this passage I have included for today’s message, I noticed a theme of how people in Jesus’ time struggled with addiction of approval just as we we do today.

For some background: A man named Jacob had two wives (who happened to be sisters), Leah and Rachel. He fell in love with Rachel so he told her father, Laban, that he would work for him for 7 years for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah instead, and he ended up having to work 7 more years to marry her sister, Rachel.

That's quite the determination and act of love, right?!

The passage explains that the Lord noticed that Leah was unloved so He blessed her with the ability to have children, whereas Rachel could not at this time. After giving her four sons, she stopped having children, and she praised the Lord for providing for her. However, when Rachel started having her servant sleep with their husband, Jacob, to have children, Leah became discontent with her barrenness. Leah’s discontent led her to convince her servant to sleep with Jacob as well.

The first thing I noticed when I read this was how Leah, before comparing her situation to Rachel’s situation, was content with giving birth to four sons. However, the moment she stopped praising God for what she DID have and started complaining about what she DID NOT have, she was unsatisfied.

Similarly to Leah, once we take our eyes off the Lord and onto our present situation, we become dissatisfied. I believe this dissatisfaction happens because we are limited in our wisdom and we do not have the ability to see the FULL picture as God does. We can only see the present, whereas He is able to see the past, present, AND future all at the same time! As a result of our limited perspective, we begin to question God’s goodness.

If only these sisters would have trusted the Lord with their circumstance – they wouldn’t have had to compete with one another or have their servants sleep with their husband, Jacob. The passage goes on and the Lord displays His goodness in verse 22 when He remembered Rachel’s struggle to have children and gave her a son of her own.

A passage that I really like in Scripture that relates well to this is Jeremiah 18:1-6. “1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." 3 So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Rather than worrying about everyone else and comparing our “pot” to others, let us fix our eyes on Jesus and be satisfied, for He knows what is best for our individual situation.

May we desire to please Him alone.

In Christ,

“Hands of the Potter” by Caedmon’s Call

God Knows Best

1 Samuel 1:23 - “…Do what seems best to you...”

For some background info on this verse: After praying to the Lord for a son, the Lord blessed Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, with a son. When Hannah was praying to God, she had made a vow to dedicate him back to the Lord when He provided for her. Then one day…

“The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever." Elkanah her husband said to her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word." So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.” – verses 21-23

I wanted to use 1 Samuel 1:23 as the theme for today’s devotional, because I think it is a great reminder
of the attitude we should have with God. After all, He knows better than we do what is best for us. For
example, think of all the times you have been indecisive and said, “I don’t know,” about what it is you
want. It is even in those times that God, in fact, does know what we should decide.

This passage makes me think of Luke 1:26-38 when the Lord sent the angel, Gabriel, to tell Mary that
she will give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. Mary responded in verse 38 by saying, "I am the Lord's
servant…May it be to me as you have said." Mary had complete confidence in God that He knew more
than she did and would do as He said. As a result, she trusted Him with her future.

My challenge for us is to be confident that He has our best interest at heart, even when it seems
otherwise, and trust His promises for our lives. And let us follow Him obediently without hesitation.

May the Lord give you peace as you fully trust Him.
God bless!
<3 Shannon

“I Believe” by Hillsong

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Taking God for Granted

Genesis 28:20-21

“If God will…then I will…”

At first glance, I took this passage as Jacob making a vow to the Lord that if the Lord would remain with him and watch over him, then he would make the Lord his God. However, after considering the context and talking with my Bible study, I learned that this is a different story.

I learned that during this time, people were faithful to these commitments so when Jacob made this vow with God it was more like he was saying, “Since You have been with me and continue to watch over me, I will make You my God.” However, nowadays I feel we tend to bargain with God and the moment He answers, we bail out of our part.

Think how often we do this to God. It is interesting how we treat God, who is always faithful and who loves us unconditionally, whereas we do not act this way with our friends or family, who are destined to hurt and disappoint us at some point in our lives. How is it that we feel we have the right to follow God only after He does something for us? Is it not enough that He gave His life for us?

Rather than loving God and following Him only when we will gain something for it, let us live each day in gratitude for all He has already done for us.

May you remember all the Lord has provided for you and be grateful for His grace and mercy.

In Christ,

“Gratitude” by Nichole Nordeman

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Committing to the Mission

Refer to Genesis 24

In this chapter, Abraham’s servant was to find Abraham’s son, Isaac, a wife from Abraham’s hometown. Abraham’s servant knew his mission and he stuck to it. He willed to do anything he could to complete his mission.

“’All right,’ Laban said, ‘tell us your mission.’
‘I am Abraham’s servant,’ he explained.” – verses 33,34

As Christians (God’s servants), our mission is to live for Him, obey His Word, and spread the Good News (and make disciples, or fishers of men as stated in Matthew 4:19). Matthew 22:37-40 sums up our calling: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

I challenge us to ask ourselves if we are continually working on God’s mission or if we have so content in our lives that we have forgotten we were made for a higher calling? Better yet… let us ask ourselves what we feel is our specific calling. For example, I feel called to become a Christian Marriage and Family Counselor.

Whatever it is that God has placed on your heart to do, do all you can to take the steps to fulfill this calling. And keep in mind… “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Let us determine to be the Lord’s servant and commit ourselves to His work.
May grace and peace be with you always!
<3 Shannon

“What Are You Waiting For” by Natalie Grant

Monday, January 25, 2010

Freedom In Christ

Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

This verse is stating that Jesus Christ is the One who has already set us free from the slavery of sin so that we can stand firm against the enemy and walk in that freedom. However, since it is possible for us to miss our opportunity for the freedom Christ has given us, God says it is our responsibility to stand firm and resist being enslaved again to the yoke of legalism.

John 8:36 – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

After praying and talking with my roommates this week, I became aware of a serious weakness in my faith. God showed me that I have not been walking in the freedom He has given us, as His children. As I explained above, I have been missing out on the experience of living a life of freedom. Rather than using the freedom God has given, I often find myself living life as though things are black and white, full of rules and regulations. In addition, if I feel these rules are not followed, I will punish myself by restraining good things from my life.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17
Note: True freedom is the freedom to celebrate God’s love and live a full, joyful life. As we grow in the Lord, we experience the joy of becoming who we are meant to be, of realizing our best possibilities.
I encourage us to NOT follow my example :) but seek God’s face and hold onto the power the Holy Spirit has given us as we walk in His freedom. As we continue to walk in freedom, we will be radically transformed and our minds will be renewed by the Truth. (see Romans 12:2) Let us know this freedom experientially in our hearts and not just in our heads.

May we use this freedom we have been given for that which God has intended!

With love and prayers,

“Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton

“In Your Freedom” by Hillsong United

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

Luke 11:1-13

Tonight I went to a young adult group called LIFT and Pastor Luke talked about prayer and believing that God will do what He says He will. This led to a discussion on Luke 11 during the car ride home with a couple of my friends. I was expressing to my friends how sometimes I feel guilty or selfish for asking for things from God. They reminded me of the Truth in Luke 11:1-13 and how the enemy was trying to get me to feel this way so that I wouldn’t pursue God’s gifts and blessings for my life.

This passage in Luke starts off with the Lord’s Prayer. Then in verse 5, Jesus begins giving a parable to explain to His disciples how the Lord answers us when we come boldly to Him with our requests. I am not saying that we should only treat Him as “Santa Claus” and come to Him with a wish list of things we want. However, I am saying that, just as verse 12 states, if our earthly father knows how to (and is happy to) give us good gifts, think how much happier our Heavenly Father is to give us EVEN GREATER gifts! :)

Luke 11:9-13 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Note: Jesus says we are evil in the last verse when speaking of our sinful nature.

My challenge for this group today is to boldly and persistently approach the Lord in prayer and have faith that He will do what He say He will do. May your faith increase greatly as you wait upon the Lord!

In Christ,

“Seek Me” by Watermark
I couldn’t find a video for this song so when you click this link all you have to do is push the play button and a window will pop up. Then press Continue and it will load to play. This way you can follow along with the lyrics as you listen to the song :)

Let Us Live For Today

“First I was dying to finish high school and start college.
And then I was dying to finish college and start working.
And then I was dying to marry and have children.
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for
school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
And now, I am dying...and suddenly I realize I forgot to live.”

“We live as if we are never going to die, and we die as if we never lived.”

I received these quotes today in a chain email from my dad. I wanted to include these in today’s message, because it was such a great reminder to live in the present. Rather than look back on our life with regrets as Lot’s wife did in Genesis (see Genesis 19:15-26) or worrying about the future, God calls us to live for and appreciate today.

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

Regardless of what this day holds, it is still His day and He is using it for our good (even if the day is not good from our point of view). Every day can be a good day if we just look at it as God's day, not ours.

God wants us not to worry about tomorrow, because we are not even promised tomorrow. He wants us to stop and live today... completely live today. Not just wish that it would fly by. He wants us to take time and slow down long enough to realize that this is His day.

Some questions to ask ourselves: How am I using this day? What would I change if I knew this was the only day I had left and that tomorrow I would be gone?

Today will be the very last day for thousands of people. Some won't make it into tomorrow. According to the US Census Bureau, 152,640 humans die every day.

So let us slow down and live this day to its fullest and realize that this is the day that the Lord has made (given us) and let us use it for His Glory.

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I pray that we will not waste one second of our day on things that are worthless in Eternity.

God bless,

“This Is True Life” by Justin Rizzo
I couldn’t find a video for this song so when you click on this link you’ll have to scroll down on the player to the right and go to the song. It is #9. Once it loads it will play so it may take a minute. Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Glory to God

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31).

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19:1).

I wanted to include these verses today, because they reminded me to recognize that nothing we have is ours apart from the will of God. All our talents, abilities, even our possessions, are ours because God has allowed them into our lives. When we use these resources for HIS kingdom, then God receives all the glory… just as it should be.

In addition, when we glorify God, the glory of God will return to us! Isn’t it great how He’s always thinking of us and our benefit?! :) For example, when we glorify the Lord, we will become more like Him and, therefore, we will experience the things God has for us such as joy, peace, and understanding.

So tonight I challenge us to ask us these questions: Are you glorifying God? Are you glorifying God in your work and with your time? Are you glorifying God in your conversations in what you say and what you choose not to say? Are you glorifying God in what you read and in what you watch? Are you glorifying God in what you eat or what you wear? Remember: " So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I pray that today you are inspired to ask yourself these hard questions and when you know the answers, make necessary changes to glorify the Lord even more than you thought imaginable! May you experience humility and love from the One who created all things.

In Christ,

“Glory to God Forever” – Fee

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making God’s Priorities Your Priorities

"When you make God's priorities your priorities, you will receive God's abundance and His peace. When you make God a full partner in every aspect of your life, He will lead you along the proper path: His path. When you allow God to reign over your heart, He will honor you with spiritual blessings that are simply too numerous to count. So, as you plan for the day ahead, make God's will your ultimate priority. When you do, every other priority will have a tendency to fall neatly into place." :)

A friend told me this quote a couple days and I was so inspired that I had to use it to write a devotional!

Exodus 20:3 says it best when it comes to putting God first in our lives – “You shall have no other gods before me.” God wants to be first place in our lives with NO EXCEPTIONS! That means before money, popularity, material possessions, and, one we don’t often think of, self. God comes before us. We are to submit to Him, not the other way around. This means that His desires and plans for our life come before our own. Making God’s priorities your priorities is all about choosing His way over our way. Although difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible, that is what He calls us to do.

In His unchanging love for us, God fully intends to take care of us and provide for our needs. He created us so He is aware of our needs – we have no reason to worry! After all, God tells us in Matthew 6:25-34, 25”…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We can capture this passage in verse 33 – When we run after God and righteousness, all of our needs will be met IN FULL!

Let us use today to consciously focus on trusting the Lord to provide for us and follow Him without reservation. May you experience God’s peace that surpasses all understanding!

In Christ,

“God Over Us” by Jeff Johnson

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It Begins with a Thought

Tonight’s devotional comes from a devotional book called “A Cup of Comfort.”

“Don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” – Matthew 6:13

A pop song with the strange title “Oops, I Did It Again!” came out in the year of 2000. I don’t know if it’s about temptation, but it seems to sum up my life experience with dubious enticements. I’m tempted to gossip, to overeat, to feel sorry for myself, to worry, to lash out at women who seem to be competing with me… you get the picture. And I’m fairly certain you have your own besetting sins to bemoan.

I pray to be good, Lord!

And often I fail. Yet, through long experience, I’ve come to see that there is no overcoming temptation by sheer force of will. That is why I need God’s grace – His deliverance – every step of the way. And it helps me to recall, it’s not only what I do that is important; it’s what I’m thinking long before my mouth launches into action.

Pause to consider: How is your thought-life this day?

I challenge us to ask the Lord to reveal to us any thought that dishonors Him and to remove it from our minds. May you be granted peace and strength from the Lord to continue to yield to temptation.

Grace abounds.
<3 Shannon

Let us think about the Lord!! :)
“When I Think About the Lord” by Shane and Shane
I highly recommend checking out the lyrics!

Soaking in the Presence of God

I found a neat website that talked about what it means to be in God’s presence. I know in a few messages back I had mentioned this so I’ve included this message to clear up any confusion.

Being in the presence of the Lord could arguably be considered the single most important part of our lives. While in a sense, it is always with us and we cannot live without it, we find ourselves hungering for it more and more.

While God is omnipresent, and His presence is always with us, we continue to long for an encounter with the Presence of God. When we talk about experiencing the presence of the Lord, we are talking about the realization of God’s presence – of perceiving His presence and being conscious of Him. Practicing His presence through worship is one of the most valuable things we can do. God has promised that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us and we will experience His presence in ever increasing measures.

In a different part of the website it went on to say…

God is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere at all times. David said in Psalm 139:7, “Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence?” He concludes that there is no place that we can hide from God’s presence – He is everywhere and sees everything. Because of this we can know that we are never alone and that He shall never leave us nor forsake us.
Abiding in the Presence of God - How to Live in the Presence of God
As well as being omnipresent, God also dwells in the believer. The indwelling presence of God is given to all who believe. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16.

However, His omni-presence, and the indwelling of His Spirit, does not stop us from longing after the Presence of God. How can we long and hunger for something that is already all around us and dwells within us? When we talk about experiencing the presence of the Lord, we are really talking about the realization of abiding in God’s presence – of being able to perceive His presence and becoming conscious of Him. It is as much as case of increasing our awareness of His presence as it is an increase of His presence itself.

Experiencing the Power of God
Although God is always with us, it is obvious that there are times when His presence is with us in greater measure, and we experience God’s intimate presence in a greater capacity. The manifest presence of God is what brings power. God's manifest presence is what changes lives and reveals the glory of God.
Ushering in the Presence of God - How to Bring Down the Presence of God

God reveals Himself to those that earnest seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29). If we want to walk in the presence of the Lord, then we need to be practicing the presence of God. One of the major ways we can do this is through worship. By placing ourselves before Him in a place of adoration, we make room for Him, and through focusing our attention on Him, increase our awareness of being in the Presence of God in our lives. Learning how to soak in God's presence through worship is one of the most valuable things we can do with our time. God has promised that as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us and we will experience Him with us in ever increasing measures. This how to abide in the presence of God, by abiding in worship.

Abiding in God's Presence through the Word of God
Another way to abide in the presence of God is to practice abiding in His Word. Jesus said, "if you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you will ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you." This is because abiding in Him means we will ask according to the Father's will. Jesus is always present with His Word. Abiding in the word of God will always bring an increase in the sense of His manifest presence.

I really liked this message, because I believe it is what I needed to hear. Recently I have felt I have been doing so much FOR God, but not enough WITH God. I do not mean to say that it is wrong for us to serve for the Lord, no, we are called to do this. However, by only serving we are becoming like Martha (for the story of Martha and Mary, see Luke 10:38-42) and forgetting the most important part of any relationship – spending time together! :) So let us be like Mary and draw near to the Lord and soak in His Presence.

God be with you!
<3 Shannon

And a perfect song to start the morning… :)
“Here With Me” by MercyMe

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Continue By Faith

“Streams In The Desert” devotional
2 Corinthians 2:14 – “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.”

God wins His greatest victories through apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a season, and God allows it. But then He comes in and upsets the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “frustrates the ways of the wicked” (Psalm 146:9). Consequently, He gives us a much greater victory than we would have known had He not allowed the enemy seemingly to triumph in the first place.

The story of the three Hebrew young men who were thrown into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. There was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to suffer a terrible defeat. We have all been in situations where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can only imagine what a complete defeat this appeared to be for Daniel’s friends. They were thrown into the terrible flames while their enemies watched to see them burn. Yet the enemy was greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire, enjoying themselves. Then King Nebuchadenezzar told them to come out of the fire. The enemy “crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them…for no other god can save in this way” (Daniel 3:27,29).

This apparent defeat resulted in a miraculous victory.

Suppose these three men had lost their faith and courage and had complained, saying, “Why didn’t God keep us out of the furnace!” They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not acknowledge it as a defeat. Instead, continue by faith to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37), and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. May we learn that in all the difficult places God takes us, He is giving us opportunities to exercise our faith in Him that will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name,

from Life of Praise:
Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The limbs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.

May you find strength in the Lord and continue in faith.

Know that you are loved by a GREAT GOD! :)
<3 Shannon

“Walk By Faith” by Jeremy Camp (Song + Testimony)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Don’t Waste Your Life (Part 2)

I ended the previous devotional message with: “To avoid living a wasted life, we must “Glorify God” (1 Corinthians 6:20) and contrary to popular belief, by pursuing God’s glory, we are ultimately pursuing our joy.” Chapter 2 of John Piper’s book continues this thought…

God created us to fully display His glory (Isaiah 43:7) and to delight in Him with all our heart (Psalm 37:4).

It was becoming clearer and clearer that if I wanted to come to the end of my life and not say, “I’ve wasted it!” then I would need to press all the way in, and all the way up, to the ultimate purpose of God and join Him in it. If my life was to have a single, all-satisfying , unifying passion, it would have to be God’s passion. And I believe God’s passion is the display of His glory and the delight of my heart.

It has become clearer that God being glorified and God being enjoyed are not separate categories. What John Piper is saying is that enjoying God supremely is one way to glorify God. Being happy IN GOD is the way we glorify Him. :)

So to your questions: Why am I here? To be happy? Or to glorify God?... The answer is that God’s purpose for your life is for you to have a passion for God’s glory and a passion for your joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.

God created me – and you – to live with a single, all-embracing, all-transforming passion – namely, a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying His supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. Enjoying and displaying are both crucial.

My favorite point John Piper makes from this chapter: If we try to display the excellence of God without joy in it, we will display a shell of hypocrisy and create scorn or legalism. But if we claim to enjoy His excellence and do not display it for others to see and admire, we deceive ourselves, because the mark of God-enthralled joy is to overflow and expand by extending itself into the hearts of others. The wasted life is the life without a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.

So my question for us to consider is, “What passions are you pursuing in life?”

May we not waste another moment but rather live for the glory of God by enjoying Him and displaying His excellence.

Many blessings!
<3 Shannon

“The More I Seek You” – Kari Jobe

I’ve included this song tonight because the song’s message radiates the joy we have in the Lord – Kari Jobe sings, “The more I find You, the more I love You.” This line is so heart-warming for me because it reminds me of how much more I want to know the Lord when I spend a mere second in His presence. It all goes back to John Piper’s words – When we have a passion for God’s glory, we will have a passion for the joy in that glory.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don’t Waste Your Life

Excerpt from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”:

In those early years God awakened in me a fear and a passion not to waste my life. The thought of coming to my old age and saying through tears, “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” was a fearful and horrible thought to me.

“Only one life,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done
For Christ will last.”

You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.
So the question is… What would it mean to waste your life? Or what is the opposite of not wasting your life?

Growing up I knew I didn’t want a minimal life. I didn’t want to live on the outskirts of reality. I wanted to understand the main thing about life and pursue it…There must be something more – something outside ourselves, something bigger and greater and more worth living for than what we saw in the mirror.

Song: Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan
“How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must
one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take
till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend,
is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

How many times can a man look up and not see the sky? There is a sky up there to be seen. You may look up ten thousand times and say you don’t see it. But that has absolutely no effect on its objective existence. It is there. And one day you will see it. How many times must you look up before you see it? There is an answer. The answer, The answer, my friend, is not yours to invent or create. It will be decided for you. It is outside you. It is real and objective and firm. One day you will hear it. You don’t create it. You don’t define it. It comes to you, and sooner or later you conform to it – or bow to it.

To miss this answer would mean a wasted life.

To avoid living a wasted life, we must “Glorify God” (1 Corinthians 6:20) and contrary to popular belief, by pursuing God’s glory, we are ultimately pursuing our joy.

There is a lot more to be said about not wasting our life, but I think I will end this message here for today.

May the Lord stir in you the same passion He stirred in John Piper to pursue something more – something greater and bigger.

And as always – God bless!
<3 Shannon

Rather than a song today, I’d like to share with you a video that I found on www.desiringGod.com. Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

God As Our Guide

Tonight I was thinking about how often I tell myself to trust God, and even others to do the same, yet I find myself often feeling anxious over the smallest obstacles. So I found this devotional below that really spoke to me and reminded me that even when I am unsure what path to take, God holds the map to our lives and is able to direct our paths. This should be encouraging for us, because this means the pressure is off of us – we can depend on God to get us through the valleys and difficult times! :) So I challenge us all to remember these Truths and allow God to be the Guide in our life.

Matthew 14:29 Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," He said, "why did you doubt?" 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (NIV)

There are times in life when you may not know what to do. In every direction you turn, there is uncertainty. In every endeavor, you can have doubts. In these times of doubt, Christ is your constant guide. In every time of doubt, you can trust Him. At any moment in your life, you can trust Him to help you. In Christ, you will find light in every darkness. In Christ, you will find a guide to show you the right path to walk. As you walk steps of uncertainty and doubt, Christ gives you His wisdom and His sure judgments. In your moments of doubt, Christ gives you humility so you walk His path and not your own. Pray to Christ so when you are about to walk a path not of His will, He will speak to your mind, your will, and your conscience. Pray to Christ so you will know what He would have you do. When you are in prayer, speak to Him and let Him lead you in His way. He will give you strength to walk only His path. He will give you wisdom to know what is good, right, and just without any doubt.

May you always trust in His wisdom!
To God be the glory.
<3 Shannon

“Where You Go I Go” – Kim Walker, Jesus Culture

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Safety in God's Will

Safety In God’s Will – Come Away My Beloved devotional

“If anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” – John 9:31

My will is not a place, but a condition. Do not ask Me where and when, but ask Me how. You will discover blessing in every place, and any place, if your spirit is in tune with Me. No place or time is more hallowed than another when you are truly in love with Me.

I direct every motion of your life, as the ocean bears a ship. Your will and intelligence may be at the helm, but divine providence and sovereignty are stronger forces. You can trust Me, knowing that any pressure I bring to bear upon your life is initiated by My love, and I will not do even this except as you are willing and desire.

Many a ship has sailed from port to port with no interference from Me, because Strong Will has been at the wheel. Multitudes of pleasure cruises go merrily on their ways, untouched by the power of My hand.

But you have put your life into My keeping, and because you are depending on Me for guidance and direction, I shall give it.

Move on steadily, and know that the waters that carry you are the waters of My love and My kindness, and I will keep you on the right course.

I loved this devotional, because it reminded me that when I am trying to figure out what God’s will is or which path I should take, it pleases God if I keep moving and have the intention of living for Him. I feel we (me included) get so caught up in trying to live God’s will for our lives that we seize from living at all. We are so afraid of dishonoring God that we become vegetables, fearful of moving. So I challenge us today to make confident steps of faith for the Lord. Ask God to give you a spirit that is in tune with His and then follow His leading wherever that may be. And if you happen to take the wrong path, God is fully capable of directing you back on His path for your life, so get going!! :)

May the Lord guide your steps.
God bless!
<3 Shannon

“Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alone With God

Tonight I came upon a great devotional from My Utmost For His Highest devotional. This devotional, which I have included below, discusses how God uses the moments we spend alone with Him to teach us His will for our lives.

Have You Ever Been Alone with God? – My Utmost For His Highest devotional

“When He was alone . . . the twelve asked Him about the parable” - Mark 4:10

His Solitude with Us. When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship— when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. Notice Jesus Christ’s training of the Twelve. It was the disciples, not the crowd outside, who were confused. His disciples constantly asked Him questions, and He constantly explained things to them, but they didn’t understand until after they received the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26).

As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul. The sorrows and difficulties in the lives of others will be absolutely confusing to you. We think we understand another person’s struggle until God reveals the same shortcomings in our lives. There are vast areas of stubbornness and ignorance the Holy Spirit has to reveal in each of us, but it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now? Or are we more concerned with our own ideas, friendships, and cares for our bodies? Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.

I wanted to include this devotional today, because I felt it really spoke to me. So often even when I am having quiet time with the Lord I am so focused on myself and all that is going on in my life that I am not silent long enough in His presence to hear from Him.

I challenge us today to take a few moments to quiet our hearts and listen to what He wants to say to us. May you meet God with a teachable spirit and an open heart.

In Christ,

“Can I Stay Here Forever” – Starfield

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Healing Hand of God

Tonight while I was driving, I heard a heart-warming song by Jeremy Camp called “Healing Hand of God.” It speaks of the refuge we can find under God’s wings and the healing He will provide in times of pain. I have included the lyrics to this song and another by Skillet called “Rest” that also talks about this amazing Truth.

“Healing Hand Of God” by Jeremy Camp

I have seen the many faces,
I fear in the pain.
I have watched the tears fall plenty,
From heart ache and strength.
So if life's journey,
Has you weary and afraid.
There's rest in the shadow of his wings.
I have walked through the valleys,
The mountains and plains.
I have held the hand of freedom,
It washes all my stains.
If you feel the weight of many trials,
And burdens from this world.
There's freedom in the shelter of the Lord.

I have seen,
The healing hand of God,
Reaching out and mending broken hearts.
Taste and see the fullness of His peace,
And hold on to what's being held out.
The healing hand of God.

I have touched the scars upon His hands,
To see if they were real.
He has walked the road before me,
He knows just how I feel.
When you feel there is not anyone,
Who understands your pain,
Just remember all of Jesus' suffering.

Cast all your cares on Him,
For He cares for you.
He's near to the broken and confused.
By His stripes,
Our spirit is renewed.
So enter in the joy prepared for you.

The healing hand of God (x2)
And hold on to what's being held out (x2)
The healing hand of God

This song above reminds me of 1 Peter 5:7 - “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you."

“Rest” by Skillet

Still, soft quietly spoken voice
That persistently calls my name
And quickens my heart to come
And I come

And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of Your Grace
And I rest in the shelter of Your love
And I rest in the wonder of You

Embraced in the promise of You
Is rest for the weary soul
Releasing all that is mine
I reach for You

Take all the old and You make it new
Everything I give to You
You're the hope that can
pull me through

I pray these songs touched your heart and drive you to action. May you give your cares to the Lord today and let Him carry your burdens. Let Him be the rest you need for today.

In Christ,

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Response That Magnifies God: Thanksgiving

Yesterday’s message talked about how we should see and remember the greatness of God. Today I want to continue this and discuss what our response should be if we do, in fact, see and remember His greatness. The question we need to consider is, “What response will magnify Him best?” or “What must the human telescope do in order to cause God to appear as great as He really is?”

Psalm 69:30 answers: "I will magnify God with thanksgiving." When we give thanks to Him from our hearts, God is magnified. Therefore, we see that gratitude glorifies God.

You may be wondering why this is so… The answer is simple: Givers are more glorious than receivers. When we thank God, we acknowledge and display that He is the Giver. We pay Him a high compliment. Just like when we thank people - it magnifies them, because we are giving them a compliment.

So when we refuse to assume the role of a receiver, as an undeserving and helpless beneficiary of mercy, who should give thanks to God, we are belittling Him.

As an antidote to this arrogance in worship, God prescribes the opposite: "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanks!" Acknowledge God as the Giver and accept the lowly status of receiver. This is what magnifies God. That's why the last verse of Psalm 50 (23) says, "He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors Me." So when David says in Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise," he is simply describing the only sort of heart from which the sacrifice of genuine thanksgiving can flow.

Until the stiffness of man's arrogant neck is broken and the hardness of his self-sufficient heart is softened, he will never be able to offer genuine thanks to the true God, and therefore will not magnify God but only himself.

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility . . . for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you" (1 Peter 5:5-6).

My challenge for this group today is for us to cease to be great in our own eyes and become small so that He might appear as great as He truly is. Let us praise Him for who He is!


“Who You Are” by Desperation Band

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Will Magnify God with Thanksgiving!

I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive! (Psalm 69:30-32)

May all who seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee.
May those who love thy salvation say continually,
"Great is the Lord!" (Psalm 40:16)

O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

Today I wanted to discuss how we can “magnify God” so I used Google to search for just that. I came upon an article from DesiringGod.org and I have included a bit of it below.

This was the heart cry of every Old Testament saint. And now it is the longing of every true Christian. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). That is, do everything so that God might be magnified.

David said, "I will magnify God with thanksgiving." The word "magnify" can be used in two different senses. It can mean [microscope magnifying] which is to make something appear greater than it is, as with a microscope or a magnifying glass. Or it can mean [telescope magnifying] which is to make something that may seem small or insignificant appear to be as great as it really is.

When David says, "I will magnify God with thanksgiving," he does not mean: "I will make a small God look bigger than he is. He means: "I will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is." We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes.

There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as it really is. The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.

That God is great in every way that greatness is to be valued should be obvious to everyone. As the apostle says,

Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So men are without excuse for, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks. (Romans 1:20, 21)

It ought to be obvious. But it isn't, due to the sinful insensitivity and forgetfulness of our hearts. Many of God's greatest attributes and most awesome and loving deeds pass in one ear and out the other without causing the slightest ripple of emotion within our hearts. Seeing we do not see, and hearing we do not hear. When our hearts are in such a condition, we need to beg God (like Paul did) to open the eyes of our hearts that we might know (that is, really know and feel) the hope to which he has called us, and what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:18,19).

Haven't you all had experiences like I have in which you feel the goodness and faithfulness of God so intensely that you leap in the air and shout and hug your kids or hug somebody and say, "O God, how could I ever doubt you after this? How could I ever again despair of your help?" And then some short time later you find yourself doing just that—discouraged, and feeling no confidence in the goodness and greatness of God. Why? Because we are so prone to forget the evidences of God's goodness which we ourselves have experienced, not to mention the evidences in Scripture.

Do not forget what God has done for you. Instead, do what Asaph does in Psalm 77:11. “I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; yea I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate on all thy work, and muse on thy mighty deeds. Thy way, O God, is holy. What God is great like our God?”

We are called to be telescopes: people who make the greatness of God seem as great as it really is. This is what it means for a Christian to magnify God. But you can't magnify what you haven't seen or what you quickly forget. Therefore, our first task is to see and to remember the greatness and goodness of God. So we pray to God, "Open the eyes of my heart," and we preach to our souls, "Soul, forget not all his benefits!"

This is a really deep concept so for today this is all I will include. Tomorrow I plan on continuing this message a bit more. I pray that the Lord will open your eyes and ears to Him and help you become aware of His magnificence.

With love and prayers,

A good friend of mine recently sent me this song. I felt it was perfect for today’s message! :)

“The Greatness of Our God” by One Sonic Society

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Praise God!

Before I begin today’s devotional I want to start a little differently – with a song :)

Song: “Filled With Your Glory” by Starfield

In my heart, in my heart, there's a fire burning
A passion deep within my soul
Not slowing down, not growing cold
An unquenchable flame that keeps burning brighter
A love that's blazing like the sun
For who You are and what You've done

And as the fire is raging on
So Your praise becomes my song

The whole earth
Is filled with Your glory, Lord
Angels and men adore
(Mountains bow and oceans roar)
Creation longs for what's in store
May You be
Honored and glorified
Exalted and lifted high
Here at Your feet I lay my life

From the ends of the earth
To the heights of Heaven
Your glory, Lord, is far and wide
Through history You reign on high

From the depths of the sea
To the mountain's summit
Your power, Lord, it knows no bounds
A higher love cannot be found

So let the universe proclaim
Your great power and Your great name

Since it is a new year, I am curious as to how God has been working in your life. These past few weeks I have been writing personal essays for seminary/grad school applications and I’ve had to describe how the Lord has changed my life. I really enjoyed doing this, so I thought it would be neat to do something similar (except for only a year). Note: If you’d like to share how the Lord has been working in your life for more than this year, please feel free to do so! I would love for you to use today to evaluate your walk with God this year and see what He has taught you, what He has done for you, and/or how your faith has grown in the last year. I understand some of you may not wish to share this with me so I encourage you to journal this down so you can look back in a year or more and see how God has revealed Himself to you and where He’s taken you in life. But if you would like to share, feel free to respond to this message because I’d love to hear from you! After all, this group is meant for us to do just that – be a community of believers who share in each other’s joys and sorrows. :)

Lastly, but most importantly, PRAISE GOD for who He is and all He has done!!

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High” – Psalm 92:1

May the Lord fill you with praise!
God bless,
<3 Shannon

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Be Strong and Courageous

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 (also see Joshua 1:9)

God does not call us without enabling us.

There are good reasons for us to be strong: God's promise (Joshua 1:5-6), a sure victory; God's Word (Joshua 1:7-8), a safe guide; God's presence (Joshua 1:9), a sustaining power.

Being courageous is tough! It’s easy to be a coward and hide your feelings and beliefs and go along with the crowd. But courageous people “stand their ground!” and accept comments directed at them. Courageous people are willing to tell someone no even when their friends are saying yes. Courageous people aren’t afraid of the jeers, laughter, or put-downs they might receive. Being courageous doesn’t mean they enjoy the attacks; rather, they aren’t AFRAID of receiving them. It takes courage to be a Christian in today’s world. Try being courageous for God today and be willing to stand up for what you believe is right. – “1 Minute Bible”

I included this excerpt above about what it means to be a courageous person because it not only convicted me of being a timid Christian at times, but also because it spurred me on to be that courageous Christian God calls us to be.

This year a few of my friends started a chapter of Bound for Life in Iowa City. We would go to an abortion clinic and pray. Well obviously we were verbally attacked by many, but also encouraged by others. But the point of this story I am sharing is that after participating in this one time I was so afraid that I refused to do it again. I am so grateful to have come across this excerpt in the “1 Minute Bible” because it helped me realize how I was not fully obeying Christ.

My prayer for this group is that we become so in love with the Lord that we do not hesitate to stand up for Him when circumstances call for it. Let us never be afraid of the enemy, but remember that we are protected by God’s right hand.


Just like this song says, when we are weak, He makes us strong! :)
“In Me” – Casting Crowns

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Proverbs 13:23 – “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them”
God disciples us because He loves us and He wants to see us grow.

“My advice to you is this: Go to God and present your case to Him… But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening the Almighty when you sin. For though He wounds, He also bandages. He strikes, but His hands also heal… We have found from experience that all this is true. Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself.” (see Job 5:8, 17-18,27)

Here’s a great excerpt I found today from “1 Minute Bible”:
A Father’s Discipline

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words of God spoke to you, His children? He said, “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children.”

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children after all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who discipline us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (see Hebrews 12:4-11)

Related Bible verses: Deuteronomy 8:5; 1 Samuel 2:12-36; Proverbs 3:11-12; 15:5; Revelation 3:14-20

Something to note: Discipline can be seen as to punish or to correct. In this context we are referring to how He corrects us. God’s discipline is to move us forward, toward maturity so that we might be holier. God loves us so much that He wants us to gain understanding and celebrate life.

My challenge for this group today is that we become even more open to God’s correction through reading God’s Word, listening to the Holy Spirit, and learning from other Christians.

May your day be blessed!
<3 Shannon


I’m fully surrendered to You, Lord. Fully surrendered to Your majesty. All my pride is broken as my eyes grow dim and my arms draw tired. I’m fully surrendered. Oh I raise it high. Let the white flag fly, O Lord. I am at Your feet. I have met defeat. I declare defeat. O Lord. Fully surrendered. – “Surrendered” by Brandon Bee

I’m giving you my heart and all that is within. I lay it all down for the sake of You, my King. I’m giving You my dreams and laying down my rights. I’m giving up my pride for the promise of new life. And I surrender all to You, all to You. I’m singing You this song and waiting at the Cross. – “Surrender” by Lex Buckley

I included these lyrics tonight because God recently revealed to me how prideful I have become. Whether it be when I interact with people or in the way I approach Him, it is something that, as long it is there, it will be like a veil between God and me. If you have something that is keeping you from fully experiencing God and intimately communicating with Him, then my best advice is for you to get rid of it as soon as possible! In my case, I need to lay down my pride, especially with my interest in the approval of others.

I came across another devotional from “Come Away My Beloved” that relates to this message. Here’s an excerpt from the entry, “Fling Aside Your Fears.”

My ways are hidden from those who seek Me in impatience, and the eyes that seek Me in human wisdom will never find Me. For I am found by those who seek Me in utter simplicity and in candid honesty. Do not rebuke Me, neither complain that I have left you alone. Lo, I am at your side, but your fretfulness has raised an iron curtain between us. For when you are utterly finished and exhausted in your struggling; when you have come to the end of all your striving; when you are ready to abandon your intellectual pursuit, and when you cast yourself upon Me as a baby upon its mother’s breast, then shall you know surely that I have been constantly at your very side; that I have never deserted you…Cast aside your questionings. Fling aside your fears. For surely My arms are already outstretched to receive you. Only believe. For in the moment you relinquish all in that same moment you shall know release. For you shall be set free of yourself and shall be captive of My love. My arms shall gather you, and I shall never let you go!

So if it be fear, doubt, pride, or sin that is standing in your way of knowing God more personally, let us do as Hebrews 12:1,2 instructs, “Strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

May God give you a humble and simple spirit to approach Him and the strength to surrender all!

♥ Shannon

Song: “I Surrender All” – Brian Littrell

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Passionate Love

Tonight I came upon an old favorite book of mine: “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. Below I have included a few of Chan’s thoughts from the first chapter:

“To just read the Bible, attend church, and avoid ‘big’ sins – is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?” – Francois Fenelon, Seeking Heart

Our view of God is narrow and small when we think that Christianity is only about avoiding drinking, drugs, sex, and swearing. Today Christianity is seen as fighting your desires to please God. This was not at all what God wants or planned for. Rather than living comfortable lives, I believe God wants us to live lives filled with risk and adventure. I believe He wants us to love others so much that we will go to extremes to help them. I believe He wants us to be known for giving – of our time, money, and our abilities.

We have become lukewarm, half-hearted Christians because we have an inaccurate view of God. Rather than fitting God into our lives, He needs to become the center of our very existence.

I have two videos I’d like you all to check out by Francis Chan. He gives a great picture of who God truly is and what that means for how we are to live.

The Awe Factor of God (3mins)
I don’t know about you, but after watching this video I realize how small and trivial my trials really are!! This was a great reminder for me to get my focus off myself and put my focus on God, first and foremost so I can further His kingdom, and on to others as well.

Just Stop and Think (15mins – well worth watching though!!)
He’s quite the Pursuer!

With love and prayers,

Song: “Marked By Heaven” – Jake Hamilton

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Love Letter from our Bridegroom

"I love you so much, not because of what you are (or aren't) doing, but because you are (and have always been) My beloved. My love for you has never been based on your performance or obedience. My love for you has been the same yesterday, today, and forever. The reason it feels so different to you in this season than ever before isn't because My love for you is any greater, but because YOUR for ME is so much greater. Because of this sacred romance purifying your heart and mind, you have also discovered a love for yourself and for others that is purely a gift from Me. You are highly favored not because of what you do or WHO you are, but because of WHOSE you are and what I have already done for you. I have gone to the Cross to make you Mine. Indeed, you are irrevocably Mine, and I am yours for Eternity."

Your Beloved Jesus

Our Identity in Christ

Excerpts from Completely His by Shannon Ethridge

“Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?” – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Does a woman who knows she is deeply loved by God consistently walk around moping, stressed, depressed, and complaining about life? Not if the love of God has entered her heart and penetrated her soul. We can’t let our circumstances continually rob us of personally experiencing and expressing the love of God.

So what do you believe about yourself? Better yet, how do those beliefs line up with what the Bible says about you? In His Word, God declares that you are
•Christ’s intimate friend (John 15:15)
•The Lord’s chosen ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20)
•God’s trusted partner (2 Corinthians 6:1)
•The pure bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2)
•An Eternal citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)

You may not feel as if you are living up to this description just yet, but your Creator designed you with these purposes in mind, and Christ died to give you authority to live our these roles with confidence.

We must make the connection between how we see ourselves and how we will approach life. If we see ourselves as bad, insignificant, inferior, or targets of God’s wrath, we will never feel as if we can trust God to equip us, bless us, or use us. But if we see ourselves as the chosen bride of Christ, we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can approach our Bridegroom with confidence and that He will give us all we need to do whatever He wants us to do (see Philippians 4:19).

When you sense God asking you to do something or talk to someone, remember who you are. You are not an abandoned orphan, but God’s own cherished child whom He loves without measure. Whatever He calls you to do, He will lovingly provide the resources for you to be successful.

I can’t stress enough that how we see ourselves in relation to God has everything to do with our spiritual growth and effectiveness. We must learn to see ourselves as His beloved bride in order to identify with the purpose for which we were created – to be in relationship with and in service to our Heavenly Bridegroom.

You are His beloved. Declare this of yourself and lived loved! :)

You are loved!
<3 Shannon

Song: “Found” – Hillsong

Passionate Love

Tonight I came upon an old favorite book of mine: “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. Below I have included a few of his thoughts from the first chapter:

“To just read the Bible, attend church, and avoid ‘big’ sins – is this passionate, wholehearted love for God?” – Francois Fenelon, Seeking Heart

Our view of God is narrow and small when we think that Christianity is only about avoiding drinking, drugs, sex, and swearing. Today Christianity is seen as fighting your desires to please God. This was not at all what God wants or planned for. Rather than living comfortable lives, I believe God wants us to live lives filled with risk and adventure. I believe He wants us to love others so much that we will go to extremes to help them. I believe He wants us to be known for giving – of our time, money, and our abilities.

We have become lukewarm, half-hearted Christians because we have an inaccurate view of God. Rather than fitting God into our lives, He needs to become the center of our very existence.

I have two videos I’d like you all to check out by Francis Chan. He gives a great picture of who God truly is and what that means for how we are to live.

The Awe Factor of God (3mins)

Just Stop and Think (15mins – well worth watching though!!)

With love and prayers,

The Heart – Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church Pastor

Happy New Year! We made it to yet another year!! :-D

I recently heard this AMAZING sermon about the heart so I have included a bit of it below with a few comments of my own. Enjoy!

Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance [meaning, keep an eye on your heart] for from it flows the springs of life.” = Your heart is the source of that which flows into the river of your life. Everything in your life flows from your heart. This means that all of the issues in our life can only be dealt with by ultimately going back to our heart.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” – Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37; Deuteronomy 6:5
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

The heart really matters. Jesus cares a lot about the heart. We can see this by how often He speaks of it. In the Bible, the heart is mentioned over 900 times! It is considered the center of our being (in essence, it’s who we are) according to Scripture. So if we want see God, we need to have a pure heart.

Problem: Our hearts are unclean because of sin.
Sin defined = anything that dishonors or disobeys God (thoughts, words, deeds, motives)
By nature and choice we are sinners, therefore our hearts are impure and this is where sin lies.

Question 1: So why do we do the things that we do? Why do we sin?

According to the Bible – Ultimately we have a sin nature. This stems back to the fall of man (Adam & Eve – Genesis 3). Romans 5:12-21 basically states that because of one man’s sin, the whole race fell. When Adam sinned, we were all implicated. Just like when a president chooses to go to war, that whole country follows him into war because they do not live apart of the people in which they are numbered. However, it goes on to say that because of the resurrection of Jesus, many are made righteous. We have our sin nature from our father Adam and our salvation from our Lord Jesus. (We go more into Jesus’ solution for our sin later in this message.)
Psalm 58:3 – “We are wicked from our mother’s womb.” We are born with the inclination to rebel against God.

Pastor Driscoll brought up an interesting point on how it’s amazing that today we want to address behavior. We want to stop drinking too much, stop doing drugs, stop being addicted to something, or stop being angry or depressed. I can think of a couple, being that it is New Years and I’m sure a few of us have already started thinking of our New Year’s Resolutions. All in all, we want behavioral change.

However, Jesus says that all the issues that we struggle with regarding sin come from the heart. (See Matthew 5:28 where He says that if you have a lust problem, in reality, you have a heart problem.) Matthew 6:21 states “Where your treasure is, there your heart is.” So we don’t have spending problems, we have a heart problem. Additionally, Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” We can start controlling our tongue when we get to the issues of the heart.

Mark 7:20-23 “What comes out from a person is what defiles him. For from within come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these things come within and they all defile a person.”
We can deal with all of these issues when we go straight to our heart. What usually happens with us, however, is that when we see sin in our life, we try to deal with the issue rather than asking God, “What is going on with my heart?”

Question 2: What can we do about this heart problem? What’s the hope?

The world says the answer is behavior modification. Yet God wants more than this. Behavior modification may lead to pride or despair. This may come to a shock to some of us, but God wants more than for you to become a good person. He wants you to be a worshipper out of your heart, loving Him and others in your life. The Lord needs to regenerate our heart first.

Christianity is different than other religions in that it is about getting a new heart. (See Ezekiel 36:26) And going back to Proverbs 4:23…when we get a new heart, as a result, we will also get a new wellspring. When we have a new heart, we have a new Lord. Jesus is in charge, not us. Also we have a new power because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We are now able to overcome the addictions we were once powerless to. We have a new purpose. With a new heart, we want to live in a way that honors God. Lastly, we have new desires. We will now want to read the Bible, go to church regularly, pray, grow as a Christian, and draw nearer to the Lord.
Does this mean we’re perfect? No! We are being sanctified (cleansed), constantly learning and growing with the Lord’s help. However, when we are resurrected from death, we will be made perfect in Heaven. But until then, this new heart allows us to live a new life. (2 Corinthians 5:17 calls us a “new creation” where “the old has gone, and the new has come!”)

The new heart has:
*Faith (Proverbs 3:5)
*A desire for obedience (Proverbs 4:4)
*The ability to be corrected (Proverbs 5:12)
*The ability to be taught (Proverbs 10:8)
*Contentment (Proverbs 14:30)
*A love for wisdom (Proverbs 15:14)
*Cheerfulness (Proverbs 15:15)
*Helpfulness (Proverbs 15:28)
*Discernment (Proverbs 16:21)
*Persuasive abilities (Proverbs 16:23)
*Humility (Proverbs 18:12)
*Intelligence (Proverbs 18:15)
*Beauty (Proverbs 27:19)
*A repentant spirit (Proverbs 28:14)

Proverbs 20:5 – “The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”
Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Pull these two verses together = “Deep desires”

Ultimately, while religion is saying, “All your desires are bad and you need to modify your behaviors through a lot of rules.” Religion is all about fear, intimidation, control, shame, guilt, and what you can’t do. Christianity is completely different. Because we have been given new desires, it’s not about what you don’t get to do, but rather what you get to do. It’s about not always denying what you really want to do. It’s about going for your DEEPEST DESIRES. [Our DEEP DESIRES are God’s desires for us.] Psalm 37:4 instructs us on how we can get these desires.

Basically the verse is saying that if we love God and are satisfied in Him, He will put desires on our heart AND a passion to pursue them so that our will and His will come together. In the end, we get to do exactly what we want to do! Ex: Be kind to our neighbors, know Jesus, have a loving family, serving others :)

Questions to ponder (and feel free to message me your answers if you’d like to discuss):
Do you have a new heart? How do you know if you have a new heart?
What has God been showing you about your heart lately?
What can you do to nourish the DEEP DESIRES of your new heart?
What desires are even deeper in your heart than your desires for sin? What are you passionate about? What are you hopeful for?

I challenge us to pay attention to our DEEPEST DESIRES today, because these desires are most likely given to us from God. When you find these desires, get passionate about them and pursue them!

May the Lord open your eyes to the new heart He has created for you!
God bless!
<3 Shannon

Song: Hillsong United – Hosanna
“Heal my heart and make it clean….Break my heart for what breaks Yours.”