Saturday, June 27, 2015

Drawing Near--Inspired by Devotion

"But is is good for me to draw near to God*; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may* declare all Your works."
~Psalm 73:28

Today I was challenged by God to do my devotions a little differently. He told me (mainly through other beloved believers) to break down a verse of my choice in segments, elaborate on how they speak to me, and include cross references that were provided in my Bible to aid my scripture study.

So here goes..

I will begin with "But it is good for me to draw near to God." When I think and read this segment, it makes me think of how comforting it is to come near to the Lord at any given moment. I feel as though when I come near to God, I find a place of love, safety, peace, and joy. I feel as though nothing can bring me down when I'm with the Lord because he is so many things to me:
  • My Father
  • My Rock
  • My Savior
  • My Provider
  • My Comforter
  • My Living Water
  • My Daily Hope
  • My Living Word
  • My Shepherd
  • My Lord
  • My Guide
  • My Daily Bread
  • My Healer
  • My Redeemer
  • My Light
  • My Fortress
  • My Creator
  • My Heartbeat
  • My Strength 
  • My Lifeline
My everything (to be honest, some of these bullet points came up as I was typing this)!! Because GOD IS, I can feel safe and reassured knowing that I will always have joy and know that all will be well in Jesus name!

Now with this segment, I came across some cross references that were provided for me: 
  • Hebrews 10:22--"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with a pure conscience."
  • James 4:8--"Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded."
I love cross references because they can amplify the meaning and the indication of a given verse. These referenced verses tell me that drawing near to God means that we must "be sincere" and have a clear conscience...meaning that we must always repent and ask for forgiveness when we come to the Lord. If we don't repent, if we harbor sin in our hearts, then God will not hear us. We must wash our hands and purify our hearts and be clean before the Lord before telling Him anything.

My next breakdown is "...I have put my trust in the Lord GOD..." The cross references are as follows:

  • Psalm 116:10--"I trusted in the Lord when I said, 'I am greatly afflicted.'"
  • 2 Corinthians 4:13--"It is written, 'I believed, therefore I have spoken.' Since we have the same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak."
This segment makes me think (rhetorically, of course) why put my trust in God? Again, it is not only because He can, but because He IS. There is no greater power and no other being who performs better, more miraculous deeds than our Loving Father. The Bible is full of wondrous deeds of The Lord and He still performs them today (Heb. 13:8)! I have put my trust in Him, not only because God can, but because He is!!

I'm going to reflect on the cross references separately since they puzzled me a bit in relation to my main verse.

Psalm 116:10 says that the psalmist trusted in God when he admitted that he was afflicted. I believe that he is saying that he will trust God even in his emotional state because--perhaps--he knows that God knows what He is doing. God is using the psalmist's sadness as a blessing for himself and for others. He is being used as a testimony to bless and inspire others who are broken and in need. This reminds me a lot of Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 3: "Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart."

The second referenced verse tells me that we speak what we believe, and when we believe, we begin to see a manifestation of our words. 

Okay, let me rephrase that. 

When we believe something, we speak it, and when we speak it with faith, our faith brings it to reality. This is with God's help, of course, because it is the power of the faith that He gives us that makes our heart's desires a reality. God helps us to believe in the unseen (2 Corinth. 4:18). This leads me to the final segment of this verse.

"That I may declare all of your works." There are no cross references here, but this segment is a powerful one. It reminds me of witnessing to others, especially unbelievers. If we want to captivate unbelievers, we tell them how God saved us, performed miracles in our lives--no matter how big or small--and how He blesses us with the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). 

We as Christians are just an empty vessel waiting to be used by God to fill the world with His heart. But first, we draw near to Him with a sincere, repentant heart and trust Him for everything that He is.

Well, there you have it! This was my first time doing what I like to call an "amplified devotion." I can say that this method of scripture study will help me to pull more knowledge and insight from God's Word. I enjoyed this method very much and will be using it for now on. I'm excited!! However if there is anything that you did not agree with, or if you have any different revelations while reading, please let me know or comment below. :)

God bless you always!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don't Be Afraid, Just Believe

They told him, "We have seen the Lord."

But [Thomas] replied, "I won't believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."

~John 20:25

"I'll believe it when I see it" is a very wildly spoken expression, especially in the world. In the worldly realm, it may make sense. But in the Godly, spiritual realm we must believe in order to see. If we know God, like, really know Him, and believe in His power (whether we've seen His wondrous miracles or not), and if we know that He can perform miracles every day, then the Lord will graciously show Himself to us. Hw will show up in a situation and show out. All we have to do is pray and believe.

The Word says that when we pray with a heart full of faith (meaning we must believe that the Lord has already done what we're praying that He will do), we will be given what we ask for [Matt. 21:22]! This is how God rewards our faith. If we believe in His power, He will bless us with our heart's desires.

No more negative attitudes.
No more being worry warts.
No more doubting.
No more fears.

This is not how God designed the world; this is not how He intended for us to live. Our loving Jesus died on the cross for us so that we can live a life free of worries, fear, doubting, and unbelieving (something that I constantly remind myself of because I tend to get nervous and anxious a lot). Satan brought all of these negative emotions into the world when he tricked Adam and Eve way at the beginning...but GOD!!! Jesus came and bled for us to restore what was lost: peace, innocence, security, joy, so much more.

So with God by our side, why should we be fearful? Why should we doubt? Why should we worry at all? By allowing ourselves to sulk in these negative emotions, we are not glorifying God.

Why is this?

Because when we worry--as my mom would tell me--we lack faith in God. It's like we don't believe in God's power. Fear is a spirit that comes, not from God, but from Satan. If we let fear control us, we let Satan control us which will ultimately lead us to our downfall as children of the Most High, if we continue to let it be this way. With fear controlling us, the devil has us right where he wants us, keeping us from doing the will of God that is going to bring good to the world and to our own lives.

We must always remind ourselves that God is always with us, no matter how out of hand our situations get. God is for us and no one (or nothing!) can ever be against us in Jesus name!

God knows our needs. So we must tell Him our needs and BELIEVE that He will come through us like a storm raining down blessings and favor upon our heads. It is worth saying again: we must believe it to see it. Always remember that God has us in the palm of His mighty hands. If He is holding us, then we will never fall. 

God loves you so much!