Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Devotional Snapshot 78- Focus

"Never has it been so easy to live in half a dozen good harmless worlds at once ---art, music, social science, games, motoring, the following of some profession, and so on. And between them we run the risk of drifting about, the "good" hiding the "best" even more effectually than it could be hidden by downright frivolity with its smothered heart-ache at its own emptiness." Lilias Trotter - missionary to Muslims in North Africa 1853-1928

"...but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead." Philippians 3:13

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "one thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." Mark 10:21

Jesus said to him, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." Matthew 22:37, 38

I went to a one day art class. They were teaching us to work with pastels. We were all given the same photo to work on of a black cat, all hunched up and ready to jump. I thought, "This is impossible. I can't draw this. I can't even see the shoulder or the paw. It just looks like one big ball of black."

"Focus." the teacher said. "Look at the outline. See how big the head is in comparison to the rest of the body. Look how his shoulder rises up here. See the paw tucked under his body. This light area indicates an ear."

The more I gave my attention to the photo, the more it became clearer. An outline emerged. An eye popped out. "Oh now I see the ears!"

I focused, and what was going on around me faded into the background and all I could see was the cat.

Indeed this is what Jesus would have us do ...to figure out the one thing. This is what Paul spoke of and lived out. This is what Mary did in Luke 10 when Jesus pointed her out to Martha saying "...one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen what is better..."

One definition of focus is the center of activity, attraction, or attention. This seems to be what we need to be doing with our lives...focusing on Christ, loving Christ, laying every other love for money, or popularity, or beauty, or family beneath the love of Christ. I am not saying we should not love our families, or enjoy the fruit of our labor, or exercise and dress in a pretty fashion. But these loves are always submitted to our great Savior. These other loves can not be the source of our joy. These other loves pale in significance to the beautiful, wondrous love of the LORD.

The more I focus on Christ, the more attractive He becomes, the more attention I give to Him, the more my activities line up with His will.

As Lilias Trotter said in the quote above, there are many good things I can do everyday that take me away from God's best. Let us be women who make decisions based on God. Choose what is better. Center your life on Christ. Pray that He becomes your greatest attraction. Turn your eyes upon Jesus and things on earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

So look at your schedule. Have you prayed about it? Are there things you are doing that are keeping you from Jesus? Ask for His help to change. You know we might both find that the more we look to Jesus the less hectic our schedule.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Devotional Snapshot 77 - Failure

"Not even Samson's failures could prevent the accomplishment of God's great purposes."
Parenting Is Your Highest Calling and 8 Other Myths ....Leslie Leyland Fields

Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, "O LORD God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!" And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, "let me die with the Philistines!"
And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. Judges 16: 28-30

So Samson, a baby of promise to a barren couple, grows up to disappoint his parents and disobey his God. As I read Judges 14, 15, and 16 Samson reads like a failure. He breaks God's law by marrying a foreign woman, touching a dead carcass, committing adultery.

In the midst of his free-spirited rebellion against God, he was at the same time being used to bring havoc against the enemies of the Israelites. Our gracious God punished the wicked Philistines using the rebel Samson.

Samson's behavior did not go unpunished. The LORD departed from him. (Judges 16: 20) No longer the Spirit empowered strong guy. With his eyes put out, bound in bronze fetters, he was placed in prison as a blind grinder.

And yet, God's great purposes are still accomplished. Samson at the end of his life lifts his heart back up to God and God graciously answers his last prayer and gives him supernatural strength one more time. Ultimately God's perfect will is done for the Israelites and for the Philistines.

So today I was reading about the unselfish church of China, while feeling very selfish. I have work to do on my day off. Our fun day will be cut short because of it....and inwardly (alright, I whined out loud to my husband) I whined.

Here I am wanting to be like the Chinese Christians and when I have opportunity to love others better than myself I hesitate - I complain.

I love myself way better than I love others. And an even bigger failure is that I do not love God with all my heart. These are daily failures.

I take heart in the quote above. Nothing prevents the accomplishment of God's purposes, not even my sin.

And I take heart in God's daily dose of forgiveness. And I take heart in this: Mark 10:27 "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

Thank God for having a plan for you that can use the good, bad, and ugly. Trust Him. It's going to be okay. Your failure is not final.