Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Remember me...

Week 34:

Nehemiah 13:14 Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its servants.

How often have you thought to yourself or even prayed the above ask? So many times in my life, I am focused only on my shortcomings, sin, and shame that I do not even fathom asking God to remember my good deeds. In fact, I am deceived in believing that asking God to remember the good I have done is arrogant or prideful. Furthermore, as the Western Church moves more in the direction of grace, (there is nothing wrong with this movement by the way) I notice that when recognizing my good deeds I feel a since of guilt. This sense of guilt is rooted in a message that I am not to keep a checklist in order to gain favor with God.

I do not think that Nehemiah’s ask is from that vein. Nehemiah has been working hard to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Specifically in this context, he is in the middle of reforming the house of God. I imagine that Nehemiah, in the midst of this enormous task, felt the need to stop and ask God for favor in what he was doing. In fact, Nehemiah makes similar requests in other instances.

I find myself feeling the need to ask for an “Atta boy” from God every now and then. At times, when I am caught up in Kingdom work, I find myself looking at the weight of what I am doing. In those times, I need to stop and ask God’s favor. He doesn’t need reminding of what I have done. I don’t need to make sure my “good deeds” list is longer than my “shortcomings” list. I just want to ask that God remember what I have done for Him. And I know he does.

I’m sure there is something for God in asking for His favor. But, I tend to think asking for His favor really is more for me. Just knowing that I have an almighty figure in my life where I can go and ask God to remember what I have done reminds me that my work has purpose. This work is not limited to Kingdom specifics. I need to take the mentality that it all works for God’s Kingdom in some form or fashion. Either way, asking for God to remember what I have done is not a bad thing. He is willing to show favor upon me when I am working in His Kingdom. What an encouragement that is for me.


1. Explain a situation where you were working in God’s Kingdom and felt no one was appreciating what you were doing.
2. Did you believe in some way that God was not paying much attention? Explain.
3. What were your feelings toward God during that time? Be Honest.
4. Write out a request for God’s favor in something you have been doing. Look at Nehemiah’s example if you need it.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Love covers...

Week 33:

I Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Growing up (and even at times at my current age) I would worry about my sin. When will I sin one too many times? Then I would read verses like this one and think, “Okay, if I just love enough, I have my sin covered.” I am following such a legalistic path when I think in these terms. This is not what this verse is about…covering sin by loving more.

Looking at the context, it appears that Peter is encouraging a lifestyle, a mindset. A mindset of, “If I love well, God is praised and people are served.” It is putting others needs above my own. It is showing grace when the situation would normally warrant response. To do this, I must call on love. I must come from a place in my heart to love.

A key to this passage comes from verse 7 when Peter starts with, “The end of all things is near.” Many of us have been challenged at some time or another to think about if we had only so many days or hours to live, what would that look like? I think Peter is making this challenge here. The end is near and what really matters in the long run is to love well.

So, what about love covering over a multitude of sins? I think of it this way. If I love well, how much sin will I commit? God is love, so if I am acting out of love I will have the best interest of God, others, and myself at heart. Furthermore, if I have sinned against someone, loving them usually allows for grace on their part. If I act out of love, then I am acting as God…and there is no sin in God. When I do not love I act out of selfishness.

The challenge for me is to avoid my selfish nature and act out of love. When I do not feel love, I selfishly seek it in order to feel better about myself. This becomes a vicious cycle. Once I realize that to be loved by others, I must first love others, it seems to flow so much smoother. In the end, love must prevail.


1. Name some places in your life where you can love better.
2. Where are some places you currently love well?
3. What are some steps you can take to love better in those areas that need some love attention?
4. Ask God this week to reveal to you where you can love better and to show you where and how.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Power within...

Week 32:

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

I wrestle with the balancing act of; “How much does God control in my life?” I realize that God is creator, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, etc. But, just how much is done in my life by His power and how much is done by my power?

I could spend pages of thought around this whole concept and still not be much closer to an answer. There are those who lean toward the philosophy that God created us and then has turned us loose to live in His Kingdom with very little intervention on His part. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who believe He is involved in every decision and every aspect of what we do. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

Ephesians 3:20 appears to advocate both. Notice that Paul acknowledges the source of power…God. Notice also, where the power is at work, within us. I really believe that we as conservative, western Christians, we do not acknowledge God the Holy Spirit enough. We have the power to do what we do within us, given to us when we have claimed Jesus as our savior and received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Again, I could go on page after page over-analyzing how much or how little God is involved on a daily basis. The point of this devotional is for us to recognize that power we have within us to accomplish our daily tasks and projects as well as our work in God’s Kingdom. So many times for me, I tend to discount compliments toward my abilities. I feel guilty for taking any credit for work I have done. I feel as though I am not glorifying God if I take any credit. According to this verse, I have the power, it is given to me. I can feel good about any of my accomplishments and that I did what it took to get then done. I am still glorifying God by having pride in using His power. As long I know from where the power came, I glorify God.


What I am getting at here is that we should not sell ourselves short in what we have the power to accomplish in our lives. We are created in God’s image and He has given us the power to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. The power comes from both Him and us. As one preacher said, “You have to ability to do immeasurably more because the power resides in you…placed there by the Holy Spirit of God.”

The challenge is to first recognize the power within you to do God’s work. Secondly, recognize who instilled you with that power. Finally, do not sell yourself short, and allow fear and feelings of inadequacy keep you from doing immeasurably more.


1. How have you viewed or interpreted this passage of scripture in the past?
2. In what ways have your thoughts been moved or changed after the above interpretation of this passage?
3. Name some areas where we as westerners do not acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s power and work in our lives?
4. What are some instances where you felt proud yet guilty for accomplishments in your life?
5. What is one measurable step you can take this week to challenge or stretch your thinking in this area of your life? Ask God to reveal this week to you this stretch.

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