Our Value to God = PRICELESS!

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It’s Not About What You Know

As this title states, it’s not about WHAT you know, but WHO you know on Judgment Day.

I was just going through a journal from last year and I was reminded of a neat analogy my friend Jennie said during Bible study. She told of how some people are #1 fans of artists and bands like John Mayer. They could be waiting in line to get backstage passes to one of his concerts, while talking about all the facts they know about him. But when they get to the guard with the list of people who will be admitted, they are not on it. They start protesting that they know him, his middle name, wife’s name, favorite color, etc. The guard, however, proceeds to say, “You may know about him, but he does not know you.”

This basically means that it he doesn’t matter if you know about God if He does not know you. This can only happen by having a personal relationship with Him. It’s just like any friendship – you must spend time with them, talking with them, sharing experiences in order to feel close to them.

Think of it another way – If you were to describe a rose to a blind person, they would be able to recall what they know about that rose, but unless they experience it for themselves through their senses (ex: smelling and feeling the rose), they will not fully have a grasp of what a rose truly is. This analogy may be a bit of a stretch, but I think you get the idea. :)

John 10:27 – “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”

Matthew 10:32 – “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in Heaven.”

Let us not mistake a knowledge of God to be a relationship with Him. I pray that on the Day of Judgment we will be able to “shout for joy” when we hear our name’s being called by our Heavenly Father!

In Christ,

“Watch Over Me” – Aaron Shust

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Slow Down

“Stop interfering with God’s plans and with His will. Touching anything of His mars the work. Moving the hands of a clock to suit you does not change the time. You may be able to rush the unfolding of some aspects of God’s will, but you harm His work in the long run. You can force a rosebud open, but you spoil the flower. Leave everything to Him, without exception. ‘Not what I will, but what you will’ (Mark 14:36).” – Stephen Merritt, Streams In the Desert devotional

Tonight I read this devotional after getting ready for bed. I really liked what the author was getting at. We are so impatient that we try rushing God’s plans for our lives. I can attest to this. Just this week I was becoming impatient because I hadn’t heard back from the grad school I mentioned last week and I was waiting to hear back from a company in regards to a summer position. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process, so I was pretty anxious. This above message was such a great reminder for me!

The line, “Moving the hands of a clock to suit you does not change the time,” really spoke to me. I can think of a number of times when I have done this mentally, whether that was to speed up time or to slow it down. However, in reality, I know that God is the only one who can control time and I need to remember that when He created everything, He called it “good” so I need to develop this attitude as well. As long as God is in control of our lives, everything is “good!” :)

I pray today we learn to slow down and appreciate the time the Lord has given us and not wish it be any more or any less. May we find joy in every moment and never take for granted the people God puts in our lives.

To God be the glory!
<3 Shannon

“In The Blink of an Eye” – Mercy Me

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moving Mountains

God can use our lowest valleys as the start of our greatest journeys!! I heard a quote similar to this in church about a year ago and I was reminded of it tonight when I was watching a clip that a friend sent me earlier today. I will let you check it out first! :)


I was just blown away by Francis Chan’s story!! So many bad things happened to him, yet through it all, look where he is now!! He is a successful pastor, author, and man of God! :) He could have easily blamed God for his past and turned to the world for answers and fulfillment, but instead, He turned to God. It is not hard to see the reward He received from God for his faithfulness and obedience.

Like Chan, we must trust the Bible verse, Romans 8:28 - “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This video also reminds me of a conversation I had with another friend tonight. We talked about taking risks and how the more we risk, the bigger the results. This can relate to how we are with the Lord. When we give up much and risk our reputation, status, etc, we are giving Him room to work in our lives and “move mountains.” We must let go and let God.

Mark 8:36 – “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

“May your day be fashioned with joy, sprinkled with dreams, and touched by the miracle of love.” – Barbara Johnson

Soli Deo Gloria!
<3 Shannon

“With Everything” – Hillsong United

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pursuing God Wholeheartedly

“Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love

The above is a quote from one of my favorite books, “Crazy Love.” It comes from a chapter about not giving God our all and ultimately, serving Him our leftovers. I chose this quote, because it really spoke to me since I have been doing this to God lately.

Chan continues later in the chapter, “What scares me most are the people who are lukewarm and just don’t care.” This really hit me hard, because for a couple weeks recently I had been going through a difficult time trusting God’s plan for my life and having faith in His sovereignty. The worst part was that I became so “lukewarm” that I really didn’t care. My thoughts and actions were selfish. I knew my heart was in the wrong place, but I did not care enough to make a change. I went on reading my Bible and going to church, but I did not let the sermons or God’s Word transform me. Fortunately, by God’s grace, He has humbled me to my knees and my desire for following in His footsteps and wholeheartedly living for Him has returned. It has been a slow and gradual process, but I believe I am back on the right track.

James 2:17 – “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

I’m sure many of us have experienced “dry spells” in our faith in the past. Some of you may even be experiencing one right now. So I really want to encourage you to keep yourself in the Word and continue surrounding yourself with Godly people. The Lord will use your circumstances to work in your life. He loves you too much to let you go! If you just give it time, He will get you through any trial!

Luke 18:27 – “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

The other day my uncle told me that many times we ask God for patience (or fill in the blank) and then rather than giving us patience, He will provide us the opportunity to learn patience! I think this is really neat, because He is giving us room to grow but not leaving us to fend for ourselves! Just another example to show how much He cares for us! :)

May we always remember the love God has for us and the forgiveness He continues to bestow upon us. I pray that today we will be challenged to pursue God with all our hearts and give Him first priority in our lives.

With love and prayers,

“Grace Like Rain” – Todd Agnew

“Center” – Charlie Hall

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rooted In Faith

2 Peter 3:17 - “I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends, so that you can watch out and not be carried away by the errors of wicked people. I don’t want you to lose your own secure footing.”

Today while watching a sermon by Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church, I heard the above verse when he was talking about persevering until God is finished with us. It was all about trials and being patient in God’s timing. Although this is an excellent topic, I wish to talk about “secure footing.”

1 Corinthians 16:13 – “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

I think the most obvious way of building up our faith and maintaining our firm roots in Christ is to spend time with Him in His Word, prayer, and worship/praise. I believe to have a firm faith in Christ, we must also stay focused on Him above all else. When life throws distractions on our path, we must not let them take our focus off of the Lord and His plan for our lives. The last thing I will suggest - so this devotional doesn’t get too long :) - is to continue living for Christ alone and desire to honor Him with the way you live. I know some people like the saying, “What Would Jesus Do?” And I think that’s a great phrase to keep in mind when making decisions. But overall I think it should just go back to the heart issue of a desire to please Him by the way we act, think, talk, dress, etc. When we are seeking the Lord and His will for our lives, our faith will be rooted firmly in Christ Jesus!

Ephesians 6:10 –18 “ 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

I pray that today we will find strength in knowing that the Lord is always with us and has given us victory over the enemy. May we hold firmly onto the Truth that we have freedom in Christ and He is not shaken!


“Stand In The Rain” – Superchick

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finding the Joy

Tonight while watching the heart-warming film, “The Bucket List,” I was inspired by the attitude of Carter, one of the main characters. On one of their many excursions, Carter was talking with Edward about life after death. He was explaining the ancient Egyptian belief that when our souls get the entrance of Heaven, God asks us two questions to determine whether we may enter:

1-Have you found joy in your life?
2-Has your life brought joy to others?

Although I do not believe this Egyptian belief about the two questions, I was really inspired Carter’s attitude on this, because throughout the entire movie he was so focused on others and helping others find the joy in their lives. It really challenged me to ask myself these questions, but mainly the second one (not so much the first, because I have found joy in the Lord.) I think of the people who have touched my life and how much they have made an impact in my life for the better. It is very encouraging for me, because it makes me want to be that light for Christ in others’ lives.

Nehemiah 8:10 - "’… Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'"

It also makes me think of how I wrote about being set apart in a devotional a couple days ago. When we are set apart for Christ and allowing His light to shine through us, we are able to affect the lives of those around us. However, when we get so caught up in our own lives or distracted by worldly things, we are letting opportunities to bring joy in others lives slip through our fingers. Let us not get so caught up in our own lives that we forget to help and love on those around us.

Matthew 5:14-16 - 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”

I challenge us today to reach out to our loved ones and even those we don’t know. Give them our undivided attention, time, and unconditional love. Determine to not let divine moments pass us by! If you’re looking for a suggestion on how to put this into action, you could try calling one person a day and seeing how their week is going and ask them how you can be praying for them. I’ve been attempting to do this as well, so please don’t think I’m suggesting you do something I won’t try myself. :)

May our hearts be open to love others and bring light into their lives by the way we live.

Blessings always!
<3 Shannon

“You Are My Joy” – David Crowder Band

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feeding on God’s Word

Deuteronomy 8:3 – “…real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord.”
(New International Version) – “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”

I included both of these versions, because they give different insight into the main theme of today’s devotional that God’s Word has living power. To be more specific, when we read and study God’s Word, we are able to grow spiritually.

I really liked the first version where it speaks about feeding on God’s Word. It got me curious what exactly this meant so I looked up the definition of “to feed.” I found out that feeding on God’s Word is like getting nourishment from the Bible. Just as we need to keep our brains nourished with knowledge and our bodies nourished with healthy food and exercise, we need to nourish our soul as well. And the best way to do this is by spending time with God in prayer and His Word!

1 Peter 2:2 – “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment…”

Ezekiel 3:3 – “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”

I pray that today we will take time to spend time in God’s Word so that we will continue to mature in our faith. After all, “If we aren’t growing, we are dying.” Let us continue to draw near to the Lord and allow Him to work in our lives.

God bless!
<3 Shannon

“You Give Me Hope” – Ryan Kirkland

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Set Apart As Holy

Tonight I was reading a bit of Exodus and a number of times God told Moses to instruct His people to cleanse or purify themselves so that they may be set apart as holy. God commanded them to do this so that they could enter the Tabernacle and, as a result, His presence as well. I wrote a devotional on the Tabernacle and the importance of the people to purify themselves before entering the Holy of Holies in an earlier devotional this year so I will not say too much about that, however I want to discuss what it means to be set apart for Christ.

Romans 12:1,2 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This makes me think of how sometimes I try to rationalize my actions by saying, “Well it doesn’t say I can’t do this in the Bible.” However, I feel this is missing the whole point. Just because something is “acceptable,” doesn’t mean it is honorable to God.

As Christians, we are called to be the light in this dark and perverse world (see Philippians 2:15). God wants us to be a light for others to see the love He has for the world. If we are living in the world and not standing up for our faith or the convictions we have, we are hiding the light that Christ has put inside of us. If we are going to just slip into the world’s way of living and not stand out for Christ, then we are just wasting God’s gift to us! It’s similar to receiving a gift but never opening it… or receiving a gift at Christmas but never using it for what it was meant for. Think of how the giver must feel when we waste this gift!

Today I challenge us to stand up for Christ, let our light shine brightly for all to see, and not falter on our convictions.


“Revolution” – Starfield

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reverence for the Lord

Exodus 20:20 – “’Don’t be afraid,’ Moses said, ‘for God has come in this way to show you His awesome power. From now on, let your fear of Him keep you from sinning!’”

As stated in previous devotionals, “fearing the Lord” refers to great reverence for God that leads us to seek to please and honor Him in all we do, think, and say. Consequently, genuine fear of the Lord is seen in obedience to God’s Word.

Proverbs 8:13 – “To fear the LORD is to hate evil.”

Recently I have noticed that since I have been placing other things before God and not giving Him first priority in my life, I have been showing God that my reverence for Him is lacking. It is crazy how easy it is to get distracted by life and leave God ten steps behind!!

I heard a great message last night at a young adult service where the pastor made the statement that when we stop seeking God, His Word, and His guidance in prayer, it is as if we are saying, “It’s alright God, I got this one.” How humbling is this?! Obviously we probably do not feel this way, but how true it is that we are giving God this message when we leave Him out of our lives.

Today I pray that we will realize our need for the Lord’s work in our lives and acknowledge His power so much that it leads us to a deep-rooted fear for Him.

With love and prayers,

“Remain” – Starfield

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Expect God

Expect God
Today I heard a great sermon at my church so I wanted to include a bit of what I learned and add a bit of my own touch for a devotional. The topic of today’s message was “God-Given Trials.” The Director of Jr. High Ministries talked about how we should expect 3 things – that God will put us through trials, that He will protect us through these trials, and that He will bring us through them as well.

The main point that I want to discuss is how we are not to let our present circumstances dictate what we believe about Christ. Rather, we are to let the Cross and Christ’s work dictate what we believe about Him.

When we are going through a difficult time, it is easy to make the assertion that God is unfair or that He is not good or loving. However, if we take into consideration the entire picture and remember all that He has done for us in the past, we will see that this is not the case. He is, in fact, good, faithful, and just. Our Heavenly Father provides us with unconditional love, strength to face our trials, and comforts us when we are weak.

To get a better idea, think of a child being punished by his parent. Initially the child may yell the famous line, “I hate you!” and think the parent is mean. But once the child realizes that he was wrong and it was only just to punish him, he will see how loving his parent truly is. Don’t we want a God who cares enough about us to correct us and help us grow and mature in our walk?!

Psalm 91
“1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Today I challenge us what my church challenged me this morning – Let us ask ourselves, “What am I showing others about God by how I go through trials?”

May we trust God’s purposes for our lives and remember that we are never alone.

God bless!
<3 Shannon

“Times” – Tenth Avenue North

Friday, March 19, 2010

Never Disappointed

Tonight I went down to my favorite spot in LeClaire. I was so excited to have a free night to go down there and read, but when I got there I was pretty disappointed. The lights I remembered that would reflect off the water were no longer there, the weather was a bit too cold to stay outside for too long, and the sky was bare of any stars. My favorite thing about my spot in LeClaire was that in the past I have always been able to watch the sunset. As you may be able to guess, tonight there was no sunset.

Although I had many disappointments, if I changed my point of view, I can see all of the great things about driving out to LeClaire, for instance, being able to fulfill my need for speed with a drive hah. However, this devotional is not on different point of views, as I have already discussed this earlier this week. Tonight I want us to remember that when life sends us disappointments, whether that’s through heartbreak, failures, loved ones letting us down, or experiences that do not reach our expectations, God, however, will never disappoint us.

Romans 5:5 – “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”

You may object at first glance, but when we take into consideration God’s perspective of our situation, we will remember that He does everything for our Eternal good. There is no reason to be disappointed by this!

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I pray that today we remember all that the Lord does for us, especially in time of great need. May we be able to stand firm in our faith and trust that He is working the situation for our Eternal benefit. Praise God that we never have to be disappointed when we approach Him! :)

In Christ,

“My Help Comes From The Lord” – The Museum

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Right Fight

Excerpts from Cornerstone Podcast – Todd Nighswonger

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when you talk to people and ask how they’re doing, a lot of them are saying, ‘I’m tired’…that or ‘busy.’ It’s no wonder why when you watch the news. Israel’s mad and Iran’s gonna get a nuclear bomb… It makes me want to just check out for a little while. And then you add on top of that the reality of people you deal with. It’s everything! Loss of jobs… And the common theme is people are tired. I think that’s actually a great place for us to be! I’m glad we’re tired!”

He goes on to explain that he is glad we are tired, because it demonstrates that the world doesn’t have God. “When all of us get tired and we quit trying to run the world; when all of us finally give up and submit ourselves to God, God comes in and does things through us that we can never imagine.”

1 Corinthians 12:9,10 – “9But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I first started listening to this sermon and hearing how we are becoming tired and busy, I thought this was going to be a message on how we have become too caught up in our own lives that we are too busy for others. However, I was humbled when he went on to talk about how it is good that we have become worn out in that we are at a place where God can use us the best! :)

I pray that today we submit our lives and agendas to our Heavenly Father and trust that He only wants the best for us.


“Take All Of Me” – Hillsong United

Faith Like A Rock

Faith Like A Rock

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Tonight, while watching the movie “King Arthur,” I was inspired by the faith of the main character, Arthur. Here is an excerpt from a dialogue between him and Lancelot where Arthur defends his faith to the Lord.

[Lancelot finds Arthur praying in the stable]
Lancelot: Why do you always talk to God and not to me? Pray to whomever you pray that we don't cross the Saxons.
Arthur: My faith is what protects me, Lancelot. Why do you challenge this?
Lancelot: I don't like anything that puts a man on his knees.
Arthur: No man fears to kneel before the God he trusts. Without faith, without belief in something, what are we?

Doesn’t that last line touch your heart?! :) King Arthur acknowledges the importance of humbling himself before the Lord and he reminds us that when we trust God, we are trusting His will for our lives before our own. And how cool is it to have something to stand for?! This reminds me of the quote, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Do we have the kind of faith that can stand the test of time? How about the test of trials or persecution? King Arthur sure did! Another man of God who demonstrated great faith was Abraham. Abraham is known as the “Father of the faithful.” He was continually faithful in putting God first. When God asked him to sacrifice his son, he displayed great trust and confidence in God by his willingness to do so. (see Genesis 22:1-2,9-14)

“A little stone with big faith can conquer a big giant with a little god.”

May we grow in our knowledge of the Lord and be rooted in our faith. Let us stand up for Him always and continually trust Him with our lives.

In Christ,

“Blessed Assurance” – Third Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Construction of a House

Tonight after going for a walk with my friend, Joe, and learning about the construction of houses he has worked on, not only do I have a new appreciation for architecture and the people who go to great lengths to build these houses, but also an appreciation for all the many different perspectives God has blessed us with.

What I mean by this statement is that before tonight, I would look at a house and think “Oh, that’s a really cool house.” My comment would be referring to the outside appearance, possibly of the color of brick or the bay windows on the 2nd floor. Ha notice, my limited wisdom in this area? However, when Joe looks at a house, he has a different perspective – seeing how many windows the second floor has and thinking how much time and energy goes into figuring out the specific angles of each gable. It’s so amazing to think that when we look at our trials and think that God is trying to punish us, God is looking down on our same situation and seeing the full picture and knowing how He just wants to see us grow and know Him more intimately! :)

As I have stated in previous devotionals, I feel we are limited in our wisdom and cannot fathom the entirety of God’s plan. To expand on this thought, I am reminded of the sermon I heard this morning on wisdom. The main point my Executive Pastor made was that true wisdom can only be found from the Lord. So often we run to friends, family, therapists, or self-help books for answers, and forget that the One who knows all is the best place for us seek wisdom. As we all know, friends, family, and therapists are great sources when we need help with life, but it is important to seek God first when needing guidance. (Note: I did not say self-help books because they focus solely on the self and that is not how God wants us to live – focusing solely on ourselves, that is.)
Matthew 6:33 confirms this by saying, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Lastly, I want to leave you with a passage from Proverbs that was the basis of today’s sermon. It gives a better picture of what true wisdom looks like and how it should be attained (refer to verse 7).
Proverbs 1:1-7
“Prologue: Purpose and Theme
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young-
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance-
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

May we seek the Lord’s perspective first and foremost when needing answers and guidance for the unknown. I pray that today we will have a better understanding of how limited in wisdom we are without our Heavenly Father and Creator. And let us cling to the hope we have in Christ!


“Run To You” – Third Day

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Thank You, Lord

Today I got a really encouraging message from my friend, Ange, that helped remind me to stop looking at what we DON’T have, and thank God for what we DO have. She’s definitely a smart gal! :)

This got me thinking about what a grateful heart looks like. After doing a bit of research and praying, this is what I came up with:

God is a good and faithful to meet every one of our needs. To cultivate a heart of gratitude toward Him and the work He has done in our lives (and will continue to do), we must focus on appreciating what we have. I read this quote in an online devotional:

“As we focus upon that which is good, joy rises within our hearts. God does not need our thanksgiving; but we are in need of being thankful to Him.” How true this is! Have you noticed that people like being around people that are happy and positive? This is because it brings out the joy in their lives as well! :) To go along with this, God does not need anything from us. He is satisfied on His own. However, when we practice gratitude toward Him, our faith not only increases, but our joy does as well.

Luke 17:14-16 (New International Version)
14When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

In this Bible passage, Jesus showed mercy to ten lepers by healing them of leprosy. Only one of these men returned to Jesus to give Him thanks. This man stuck out to Jesus because He displayed the proper response of gratitude so Jesus rewarded Him by being made completely whole, free from any scars or any trace of the limb-deforming disease called leprosy.

Let us be like this man and practice being thankful for what we have, while not forget all that Christ has done for us!

God bless!
<3 Shannon

“Life song” – Casting Crowns

Friday, March 12, 2010

By Your Side

Hey everyone! Just got back from Winter Jam, a Christian concert with Tenth Avenue North, Fireflight, Third Day, Newsboys and a few other bands and speakers. During one of Tenth Avenue North’s songs, “By Your Side,” I was really touched by the lyrics so I have included them below.

By Your Side
Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

(Chorus 2x)

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

(Chorus 2x)
I have probably heard this song about 50x or more (I really love this band), but I think tonight was the first time I really “heard” the lyrics, if that makes any sense. I feel like so often I’ll listen to music and if it has a great beat, I’m likely to like it without considering much of the lyrics. So I encourage you to really soak in these lyrics and THEN listen to the song below.

I pray that today we remember that the Lord is the only One worth chasing after. And may we cling to the Truth that He is, in fact, MORE than enough to satisfy our every desire and deepest longings.

In Him,

“By Your Side” – Tenth Avenue North

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shining For Christ

Philippians 2:12-18 (New Living Translation)

Shine Brightly for Christ

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

This is a pretty clear and applicable Bible passage, so I will just end with a quick note of prayer:

May our words, actions, and attitudes be pleasing to the Lord. I pray that we will use the light of Christ to shine love on the lives of those around us and they will see the joy we have in Jesus.

With love and prayers,

“Shine” – Newsboys
Shine, make them wonder what you’ve got! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Forgetting Our Purpose

On a daily basis I find myself thinking about the next test, the upcoming weekend, how much homework I have to get done, and the list of things I need to do before the day is over. In and of themselves, these are not bad things to think about; however, when our thoughts become focused on worldly things and less on God, we have forgotten our purpose.

John 3:30 – “We must decrease so He may increase.”

Yes, this Bible verse does relate to humbling ourselves, but it also makes me think that we should be way more focused on God and His purpose for our lives than what is going on in the world around us. It’s a matter of priority. To put things bluntly, we were created for God’s pleasure and to bring Him glory and honor.

According to Rick Warren, the author of A Purpose Driven Life, "God did not need to create you, but He chose to create you for His own enjoyment. You exist for His benefit, His glory, His purpose, and His delight."

So as we go through our day today, I challenge us to fix our thoughts on Christ and continually ask ourselves if how we are living at this present moment is honoring to God.

May the Lord be with you.
In Christ,

“Created” – Vicky Beeching
The song is #2 on the playlist

“You formed us from the dust
You breathed Your breath in us
We are the work of Your hands
Now we breathe back to You
Love songs of gratitude
Adoring You with all we have

We were created
To worship Your name
We were created to bring You our praise

If we don’t worship You
We’ll search for substitutes
To fill the void in our souls
Worshipping other things
Destroys our liberty
But as we praise You we are free

We were created
To worship Your name
We were created to bring You our praise
So we will worship, so we will praise
You our Creator, for all our days

This is what we were made to do
This is what we were made to do
So we lift up our praise to You”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Burning Heart

Luke 24:32 (ESV) – “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”

“We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. We must learn to maintain the secret of the burning heart – a heart that can go through anything. It is the simple, dreary day, with its commonplace duties and people that smothers the burning heart – unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus. Much of the distress we experience as Christians comes not as the result of sin, but because we are ignorant of the laws of our own nature.” – Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

This quote basically states that when we stay close to Jesus, our hearts will burn with passion. And although we may lose this passion when we let sin control our lives, the bigger issue is that we have left the Lord’s presence. So when you feel your heart is not burning with passion for the Lord, I encourage you to ask yourself if you have left His presence. If the answer is yes, then cry out to the Lord and draw near to Him.

As a side-note, I chose to write on this topic today, because God put it on my heart when He humbled me, saying I needed to hear this lesson once more. Last night I had a great night spending time with Him in prayer, worship, and reading His Word. However, I woke up today not as refreshed as I would have liked to have been. Unfortunately, I carried this attitude throughout my day, not passionate about the “gift of today” that God had blessed me with. So I hope this devotional encourages you and shows you that every day there is a new lesson to be learned when we are walking with the Lord. It’s a continual process. I once heard someone say, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Let us make sure we’re always growing!! But back to the devotional... :)

Francis Chan, author of the book Crazy Love, said it best – “As long as we are pursuing Him, we are satisfied in Him.”

In addition, we will know that we are satisfied in the Lord when we go to great lengths to be with Him. After all, that is how we often characterize love for others!

Psalm 63:1-5
“1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen You in the sanctuary
and beheld Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify You.
4 I will praise You as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise You.”

May we be able to confidently proclaim the above Psalm and say, as A.W. Tozer does in his book The Pursuit of God, “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.” And I pray we will remember that God is the only one who can put a fire inside our hearts that won’t burn out. Let us pursue Him with all that we are and all that we have!

In Christ Jesus,

“Point of Difference” – Hillsong United

“Let Your Light Shine” – Bethany Dillon
Ha I must be on a Bethany Dillon kick this week!

Monday, March 8, 2010

World’s Greatest Boundary Breaker

Sunday afternoon I went with my elderly friend, Ilene, to church. The pastor made the statement that Jesus was a “Boundary Breaker.” He went on to read John 4 where Jesus talks to a woman at the well in the city of Samaria. (I encourage everyone to read this Bible passage in order to understand today’s devotional.)

To give you a general idea of the story though, Samaritans and Jews did not associate with one another, because of the hatred between the two. In this instance, Jesus, a Jew, goes to the well and starts up a conversation with this Samaritan woman. The Samaritan woman was in shock that He would talk to her, let alone make eye contact. This was a huge boundary that was broken in a matter of seconds, because Jesus chose to show compassion and unconditional love to the woman rather than judgment and hostility.

John 4:7-9
“7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)”

I know it is often hard to be like Jesus (as we are instructed to do) when we think of how perfect and flawless He was, so I will tell you more of my Sunday story to help you out - On Sunday, after reading John 4, the pastor mentioned that Mr. Rogers, the TV host of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” was also a boundary breaker!

Not knowing much about Mr. Roger’s background, I was blown away by what the pastor spoke of when describing this TV host. I learned that even though Mr. Rogers was famous (for a number of reasons, including his TV show), he remained humble. When being interviewed, he would be reluctant to talk about himself, but rather ask the interviewer questions about himself. He would also sit in the passenger seat in his limo so that he could talk with and get to know the limo driver. One day he even asked to meet his limo driver’s family!! What an amazing love he displayed! And to think Jesus shows us even greater love each and every day!! :-D

So I’m not encouraging us all to “be like Mr. Rogers” haha. Of course our first example of boundary breaking should be seen in Jesus’ life. BUT I do believe we can learn a lot from his great example and witness of what it means to be a “Boundary Breaker” as well. Let us be encouraged, knowing that this radical kind of lifestyle is, in fact, possible and well worth striving for!

On a lighter note, I found a neat video of Mr. Rogers learning to break dance :) Oh, and I apologize for the poor quality. It’s the best I could find of the entire clip.

God bless!
<3 Shannon

“Deliver Me” – Bethany Dillon
The song is #8 on the playlist :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Arm’s Length Away

Yesterday I was reading and writing down a devotional from “Come Away My Beloved,” and a thought came to me. Before I explain the thought I had though, I should give a brief excerpt from the devotional I had read:

“I am not only the God of congregations, but the God of the individual, and I am as concerned for you as I was for Abraham or Joseph or David. You are never one of many to Me. You are precious and dear to My heart, yes, even as a very special treasure. For I love you more than you can ever comprehend, and I long to gather you in My embrace and hold you close to My heart. Do not hold me at arm’s length because you have a sense of unworthiness. Have you not read the redeemed are brought near by the blood of Christ? Your sins are not covered; they are washed away! They are not only forgiven; they are forgotten! Don’t hold back My love.”

The first thing that came to mind when I was writing this down was “Why do we have the tendency to hold God at arm’s length?” According to the above devotional, it is because we have a sense of unworthiness. Although I believe this is true to an extent, I also feel we hold God at arm’s length because we want to live half in the world and half under God’s hands. As Christians, we sometimes try to remain in the world and control our own lives, yet also try to live for God when it is convenient or beneficial for us so that we may reap the rewards. We rationalize this by thinking “See God I’m putting you first in this situation!” yet go about other circumstances while holding God at a distance. We are so hesitant to give Him full control.

The problem with this attitude we occasionally have, is that God calls us to be so much more than this. After all, He has sacrificed EVERYTHING – how can we be choosy with what we give to Him?!

Today I challenge us to start giving God our “finest china” and embrace Him with open arms. I also pray that the Lord will give us the strength to trust Him with all that we give Him.

Glory to God alone,

“Holding Onto You” by Paul Colman

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Move Us God

Last night while I was spending time with God, a thought came to me – “Why are we no longer moved by The Cross?”

If we were truly moved by the Cross, we couldn’t help but love unconditionally (not based on other’s actions) and forgive freely. Not only that, but we would also be driven to live for God and put Him first in every area of our lives. This idea ties into the next revelation that God gave to me -“Idols are anything in our lives that take the place of God.”

I think sometimes we often have the mindset that an idol has to relate to some material object we worship. However, according to Scripture, if we even have the attitude or demonstrate the behavior that our heart lies with something or someone (celebrity, famous athlete, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc) other than the Lord, we have participated in “idol worship” and have disobeyed God.

Exodus 20:3 - "You shall have no other gods before Me.”

To get the “awe factor” back into our faith, I wholeheartedly believe that we need to spend time in prayer and in God’s Word. What we spend time on and invest our money on tells a lot about what we value. Let us show God that we value Him first and foremost by spending time with Him in prayer and His Word!! And don’t forget the value of being real with God!! ;-) When we do this, we fall in love with the Lord and our priorities will dramatically change. As a result, we will no longer have any other gods before our God Almighty. :)

I pray that today you will be captivated by God’s love for you and be so moved by His work on the Cross, that we cannot help but make Him the center of our lives.

In Christ,

Also, if anyone ever has any prayer requests please let me know, because I’d love to be able to pray more specifically for you! Thanks so much!! :)

“Give Us Clean Hands” – Chris Tomlin

We bow our hearts
We bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh give us clean hands
and give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh God let this be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob
Oh God let us be
a generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob

Friday, March 5, 2010

Being Real With God

Today when I was praying, I found myself asking God to help me be real with Him. I think sometimes I try too hard to say the right things when my heart isn’t where it should be and, as a result, I don’t allow myself to be real with God. As I think I’ve said in previous devotionals, prayer is just speaking to God, our HEAVENLY Father. Just as you would talk to your earthly father, we are to approach our dad in Heaven the same way. (I am reminding myself of this as well, because, as I have made known to you, I tend to forget this.)

Matthew 6:5 (New International Version) - "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

It’s pretty cool that we can be real with God, because I know there are some of us who feel we can be real with only a select number of people in our lives. Often worried of what others think of us or being judged for who we are, we will shrink back and be who others want us to be. It is such a blessing to come humbly before God in prayer, knowing that we can come to Him as we are and He will love us just the same. Our Heavenly Father already knows what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will continue to do in the future, so there is no point in faking it.

We can see a great example of this kind of honesty played out in Psalm 13:
This psalmist did not hold back from telling God exactly how they were feeling. Isn’t this usually the only way things ever get solved, anyway? …That is, through addressing an issue and being honest about it?

It’s so amazing that we serve a God who, even when we express our doubts and confusion, accepts us completely!! :)

Through experience, I have come to know that when we are completely honest with God, we will feel a lot closer to Him. This is similar to any friendship or relationship – When our friends are upfront and honest with us, we trust them and feel close to them. However, if we feel they are withholding things from us and not trusting us with certain information, we begin to feel distant from them. Whether we are mad at the Lord, don’t feel like praying, are having doubts, or any other case, let us use today to be real with God.

God bless!
♥ Shannon

“Trust” by Kristene Mueller

For more on this topic, feel free to check out this article by Rick Warren:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rummikub and a Good Friend

Today I was playing Rummikub with my elderly friend, Ilene, and God gave me a neat revelation! To give you a quick, general idea of the game…


I was thinking that I needed a red 12, but when I drew a tile, I saw that it was a red 9! Until I drew the red 9 tile, I had completely forgotten that I could also use this tile to make the set I wanted to lay down. When I relate this to spiritual life, I noticed how this is similar to the way it is with God. We pray and fast for a certain thing to happen, yet often are blinded to other possibilities that are just as good, if not better for us!

I found this so cool, because I was limited in my thinking, yet I was reminded of the Truth that God knows all and is not limited by our mortal minds and bodies. It was like He was telling me to stop putting Him in a box and telling Him what I needed. To put it more simply, I realized I needed to let God be God. :)

So often I find myself trying to plan my life, that I fail to let God orchestrate the details. I was recently telling a friend that I have my life pretty much planned out with what I’d like to do after I graduate. This is great in that I have a plan, however, I am realizing now how closed-minded I am being. Because I am so set on “my plans,” I have not opened myself enough to let God dictate my life where He wants it to go.

It’s really crazy to think about, because, personally, I’ve thought to myself, “Of course this is God’s plan for me!! By going on to a Christian graduate school or a seminary school I will be learning about the Bible and how that relates to the career I am interested in pursuing. And then once I get my Master’s the ‘plan’ is to become a Christian Marriage and Family Therapist so I’d be serving families and helping couples have marriages centered on God and honor the Lord.” At first glance, this plan may seem great…but the key word is “seem!” Proverbs 3:5,6 reminds us, however, to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” In my understanding, this is a good plan, but when I get the Lord’s perspective, I notice how closed off I am being to other possibilities He may orchestrate in my life - whether that be devoting my life to missions oversees or another field such as engineering! Ha I highly doubt the engineering part, but you get the idea. :)

To sum this devotional up, all I’m saying is that we can be DOING all the right, Godly things in life, but if we are not BEING the right, Godly man or woman He has created us to be, than it is all worthless and we have missed the mark. Let us live up to the standard He has for us!

I pray this devotional encourages us all to become the men and women God says we are and to let Him do the work He was meant to do.

In Christ,

“Beautiful Things” by Gungor
God makes beautiful things out of us :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seeing Life from God’s View

(Includes excerpts from The Purpose Driven Life)

James 4:14 – “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Life is short no matter how many years we live (we always want more). We must not be deceived to think we have a lot of time remaining to live for Christ, enjoy our loved ones, or to do what we know we should. Knowing that our lives are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes,” should encourage us to live for God TODAY! Then, no matter when our life ends, we will have fulfilled God’s plan for our lives.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – A. Nin

The way you see your life shapes how you will live your life. Our perspective will influence how we invest our time, spend our money, use our talents, and value our relationships.

Today I encourage us all to ask ourselves, “How do I see my life?”
How we answer this question determines our expectations, values, goals, relationships, and your priorities.

May we take advantage of the time we have now by living for God alone and showing love to those we care about. And I pray that we will not let a day go by with any regrets. Let us choose today to be who God wants us to be!

With love and prayers,

“Clinging to the Cross” by Tim Huges (ft. Brooke Fraser)

Psalm 138:8

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

This verse has been central in my life for a few years now. A couple years ago, I would recite it daily to remind myself that the Lord was still at work in my life even when I was blinded by my circumstances. However, as you’ve probably already guessed, life’s distractions got in the way and I forgot about this insightful verse. Fortunately, through digging through old journals, I came back to this verse! :)

Whether you’ve fallen off of God’s path, feel overwhelmed with your present circumstances, need some guidance as to what the future holds, or couldn’t be happier with where God has you right now, we can always find comfort and joy in knowing that “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

It’s so amazing to know that we will all have a happy ending! To all the girls, we will get our “fairy tale ending.” And to the guys - you will come out on top! You will win the fight! These things will all happen in the end, because God, our ONE “Prince Charming,” is on our side, fighting with us, and He is in control! The best part is that He has already won the fight against the enemy. Romans 6:9 confirms this statement, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.”

So as we go throughout out day today, I encourage us to think of this Psalm - "Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!" Psalms 27:14

The Lord WILL come through for us in His timing! Just continue fixing your eyes on Him and He will lead you to the end. :)

God bless you!
<3 Shannon

“Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Investigators of Truth

Reading: Luke 1:1-4
“The book of Luke starts off with Luke giving his friend, Theophilus, a heads up. He advises Theophilus - “Many people have written about the events that took place among us. They used as their source material the reports circulating among us from the early disciples and other eyewitnesses of what God has done in fulfillment of His promises. Having carefully investigated all of these accounts from the beginning, I have decided to write a careful summary for you, to reassure you of the truth of all you were taught.”

Luke is telling Theophilus not to depend on “hearsay” or words of men for Truth, but to go directly to God in prayer and His Word to find Truth for himself. As Luke instructs Theophilus, we as Christ’s followers are also instructed to do this. Whether you here a sermon in church, are discussing spiritual things with a friend, or reading these devotionals I send out, we need to be searching Scripture for ultimate Truth and asking for God to give us wisdom. Make sure what you are hearing and considering lines up with what God says.

I also want to point out that Luke mentioned that he carefully investigated everything (from the beginning) so he could know and discern the certainty of things he was taught. This is a great example to follow! Christianity doesn’t say, “Close your eyes and believe,” but rather, “Check it out for yourself.” The Bible encourages us to investigate its claims throughout (John 1:46; 21:24; Acts 17:11,12) because our conclusions about Jesus is a life-and-death matter. Because the Gospel is founded on historical truth, our spiritual growth must involve careful, disciplined, and thorough investigation of God’s Word so that we can understand how God has acted in history.

I wrote on this topic tonight because I am guilty of just accepting truth as TRUTH even before checking it with Scripture or praying about it. My friends are great at holding me accountable for this! For instance, often they’ll give me their opinion on something in the Bible, but then remind me that it is only their opinion and to go back to God’s Word to check it for myself. It’s so neat to see how God has blessed me with such great friends, as Luke was for Theophilus!! :-D

So if you’re not sure where to start, I recommend going to Luke 1 and starting there! But any of the Gospels are always a great place to start. :)

I pray that the Lord will continue to open your eyes when you read His Word and open your ears as well to help you discern the Truth. May we use the minds God has blessed us with so that we may be investigators of Truth!

Have a great day and God bless!
<3 Shannon

“Get Up and Walk” by Bethany Dillon  Not quite related to today’s message, but it is a great song!!
All you have to do is press play on the media player :)