Friday, 28 April 2017

Faithful In Small Things


Dear Friends,



Jesus teaches us in Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities." (NLT)

Recently I was talking with God about the things I was doing for him. Asking him if I was right in what I was doing, if I should continue in them, or if I needed to let go of anything and do something different.

In his still, quiet voice I sensed him say to my spirit, "Keep doing what you are doing". It was just what I needed to hear to encourage me to keep going.

Soon after this I received an email from a friend encouraging me in my blogging. Through this email God was affirming what he had said to me and it did my heart good. The only one whose approval we seek is God's but God also uses other fellow Christians to bring us encouragement along the way.  

God calls us to be faithful in the small things we do for him, whatever they may be. God has called me to use most of my time to be a stay at home wife and mother. This is one way I am serving God. I work part-time in a school as an exam invigilator and also as an exam reader and scribe to help those students who need extra assistance so that they are on a more even footing with others. This may be small but makes a big difference for them. I write my blog regularly and even if it touches just one or two lives for their good, it's worth it because I'm doing it for God. I love to study God's Word and share with others what God has been teaching me. Even if this is just with a handful of people it's worth it. 

What are the small things God has called you to?  

The world may look at us and tell us these small things are insignificant and that we don't count for much. But, without meaning to be rude, their opinion counts for nothing. The only one whose opinion matters to us, is God's. I was reminded just yesterday that we are to live for an audience of one (God). He sees what we do and our service for him and he approves. He sees the eternal significance in our faithful service.

Not only is it good to check in with God about what we are doing, we also need to ask the questions "Who am I doing it for?" and "Why am I doing it?" If I'm doing it for anyone other than God, then I am doing it for the wrong person. If I'm doing it because I want people to notice me, so they will think how wonderful I am, or because someone has told me this is what I should be doing or for any other reason than to point to Jesus Christ and glorify God, then I am doing it for all the wrong reasons.

Whatever it is that I do, it needs to be with the right heart and the right motivation. Then God can use if for good and he will be glorified. He has a way of multiplying the small things which we offer him. He can perform miracles with the little we give him. We see an example of this in the story of the boy who willingly gave his lunch, which consisted of five small loaves and two fish, to Jesus, who then multiplied it so that over 5,000 people were fed that day. (You can read the account of this in Matthew 14:13-21

So, let me encourage you to keep doing what you're doing. Continue to be faithful in the small things. As it says in Zechariah 4:10 "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin". (NLT)

Not only does God rejoice but we too find joy and contentment in doing the things God has called us to.

And one day God will say to his faithful ones "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!" Matthew 25:21 (NLT)

To Think About:
What are the small things God has asked you to be faithful in? Are you doing them?

With the help of the Holy Spirit examine your heart. What are the motives and attitudes behind what you are doing? Are there any changes that need to be made?

Will you choose to live for an audience of one? What difference would this make to your life?

Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (It's content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:

"Dear Friend..."  


Friday, 21 April 2017

Keeping In Step With The Holy Spirit

Dear Friends,


We bought a Shih Tzu puppy last September. (Being a fan of The Hunger Games Movies, my daughter named our puppy Rue.) Rue gives us a whole lot of love. Actually, she'll willingly give anyone love who pays her any attention. Whenever the doorbell rings she runs excitedly to the front door believing that the visitor must be coming to see her!

When I take her out for a walk I'm struck by the similarities between her walk and my walk with my Lord and Saviour.

Rue does not like to walk in step with me. Instead, she prefers to go at her own pace, whether it's faster because she's excited to be outside, or slower because she's interested in what's around her. She wants to be in charge of her own walk. She doesn't want to have to submit to my wishes.

She gets easily distracted. New smells fascinate her and she'll slow down to investigate. If she sees another dog ahead of her, she'll pull at the lead as she rushes to keep up with them. If she sees someone going in another direction she'll want to take their route rather than the one I've already decided on. 

Paul writes in Galatians 5:16-17, 25 16 Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. 17 For everything the flesh desires goes against the Spirit, and everything the Spirit desires goes against the flesh. There is a constant battle raging between them that prevents you from doing the good you want to do...25 Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit. (VOICE)

Just as Rue needs to learn to walk to heel, I need to learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. God has my journey mapped out and he is there to walk with me every step of the way.

The problem is I sometimes want to be in control. I want to be in charge of my own journey. Sometimes I want to set the pace of my Christian walk. I can be impatient, frustrated at the times when God wants me to stop, when he wants me to wait or walk slowly. There are times when I long to rush ahead. When I get a glimpse of what is to come in my journey I get excited and I want to experience it now. Other times I'm comfortable just where I am, plodding slowly along. Happy with where I'm at in life. I drag my heels not wanting to follow where God is leading or taking me. But, as I learn to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, I learn that God's will is best for me. I learn that he is taking me down the best pathway and we always go at the right pace when I follow his timing.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your lifeI will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

On your walk with God do you ever find yourself distracted? I know there are times when I am! There are so many things which can distract us and take our focus from God and the path he sets before us. Not all these things are wrong, but they become wrong when they distract us from God's will for us. What kinds of things distract you? Reading a good book, watching T.V., social media, relationships, work, shopping, the internet, computer games, hobbies? Etc, etc. 

Instead of being distracted Proverbs 4:25 tells us to Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. (NLT)

Sometimes I become more interested in another's person's walk with God. I'll be honest with you, there are times when I compare my life with another's. Particularly a woman whose ministry is in the same area as mine. I'll see how their's is flourishing and how much they're doing for God and I'll wish it was me. I compare and I become dissatisfied with my life and want what they have. Again it comes down to my focus. When I focus on God and what he has called me to do and walk where he leads, then I experience the joy that's found in doing what he's created me for. When I focus on him I find purpose and satisfaction in my life.

Hebrews 12:1b-2 (AMP) let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith.

I've been on this journey for some years now. I know that life is best when I keep in step with the Holy Spirit. When I keep in sync with his voice as he leads me. 

We're told in Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: "Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go" whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left." (VOICE) 

Then I go where God wants me to go and I do the things he wants me to do. Then I grow in my Christian journey and become more like Christ as the Spirit grows his fruit in me: But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (AMP)

So I will keep making the choice to, (as the Amplified version of the Bible puts it) "walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance]". Galatians 5:16a

What you choose to walk in step with the Holy Spirit? 

To Think About:
Whose voice are you listening to regarding the pace and direction of your journey through life? Yours? Others? The world's? God's?

What difference does it make in your life when you choose to walk in step with the Holy Spirit?

What are the distractions and hindrances in your walk? What can you do about these things?

Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (It's content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:

"Dear Friend..." 

Friday, 7 April 2017

When You Don't Know What To Do

(This is a revised post of my Hope for Today devotional, "What to do when you don't know what to do" from 4/07/ 2014)


Dear Friends,


I've recently had another intense period of migraines which was a real struggle to get through. I find that when I'm not feeling well physically, the whole of my being also suffers. I became quite low having to deal with the pain which was constant for a few days, then lifted for a day or two, only to then return. When it's like that I also find my mind is affected. I don't think clearly. Everything gets blown out of proportion. I become frustrated with the time that is wasted when I have to stay in bed and not able to function on a "normal" level (whatever that may be). Then too there is the spiritual side of it. It's tough when I believe that there are things that God has called me to do, which I have to put to one side at times like these. When all I really want to do is just get on with them.

It felt more than just a physical battle. I believe I was also facing a spiritual battle and I felt battle weary.


I wonder if you are facing a battle right now? You may be battling poor health, or perhaps you are in a battle for the soul of a loved one, or caring for an elderly relative, maybe the battle is work related, or you have an unfulfilled dream, or you are experiencing guilt over something you did or was done to you in the past, or you're battling an addiction. Whatever it is, it's leaving you battle weary. You are struggling to keep going, struggling to go from one day to the next. Feeling as though there is no release, and you just don't know what to do. 


God gave me some encouragement during this time and I want to pass it on to you that you too may be encouraged. 


One morning in my quiet time with God I was reading 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat of Judah was facing war with the surrounding nations and he was afraid. In his fear he turned to God and prayed, “O Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you!...O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” v6 and 12 (NLT)  



One of the men of Judah was given this word from God: "Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!"  The response of the King and the people was to worship God.



Then "Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, 'Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.' After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendour. This is what they sang: 'Give thanks to the Lordfaithful love endures forever!' At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves." v20-22 




Here are some of the things God showed me:

1. When facing any battle and I don't know what to do, when I feel too weak to do anything, recognise that God is strong and powerful. Look to him for help and keep my eyes on him.

2. God tells me not to be afraid, not to be discouraged, because this battle I'm in is not mine, but his. Therefore, he is responsible for the victory. I can experience victory in him. I don't need to keep fighting this battle on my own, in my own feeble strength. 




3. The position I take is to "stand still".  I am commanded to stand firm in the Lord, by exercising my faith in him, believing in his word, that he will do what he has promised to do. Standing firm, knowing that he is right there with me and I do not face my battle alone. 



In Exodus you can read the account of when Moses led God's people out of slavery in Egypt. The Egyptians pursued them and the Israelites were caught between a rock and a hard place (in other words between the Egyptians and the Red Sea). Moses told the people: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT) You may like to read the whole chapter to see exactly what God did for them.  


4. Worshiping God, giving him my thanks and praise can open the way for God to do something powerful and to work a miracle in the battle.  It was "At the very moment they began to sing and praise" that God provided them with the victory. I have to admit that I struggled with this one. If I'm honest, singing and praising is the last thing I felt like doing! I don't even know where to begin when I feel like this! But we are called to do this and in Hebrews 13:15 it says "Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name." (NLT) 



By praising God I'm professing that he is Lord of my life and that I am a loyal and devoted follower of my King. I can use my worship CDs to offer God my sacrifice of praise and I find that when I do, a change happens in my heart, and I am enabled to sing and give praise to God.


To Think About:
Has there been a time in the past when you have seen God provide you with a victory in the midst of a battle?

If you feel like you're in a battle today is there one of the four points above that God is telling you to apply to your situation?  Or is there something else God has revealed to you in 2 Chronicles 20?

How can you help someone you know who is facing and struggling with a battle?

Vicki



If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (It's content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:

"Dear Friend..." by Vicki Cottingham