Monday, November 23, 2009

Devotion

Devotion: What comes into your mind when you think of that word? What does it mean to be devoted to someone or something? Webster’s dictionary describes devotion as “religious fervor, an act of prayer or private worship other than regular corporate worship of a congregation.” It also states that “the act of devoting is the fact or state of being passionately dedicated and loyal to an idea, person or thing.”

Okay, so now that we have a definition I want you to think of things in your life that you are devoted to, according to this definition. Right now I have one that comes to mind and that is the Seattle Seahawks.  I am completely 110% devoted to the Seahawks; I am loyal beyond belief.  I check their site every day to find out what happened at practice. I have jerseys and memorabilia. I watch every game without fail.  My whole Sunday is planned around the Seahawks game.  So, now what is the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of what you are devoted to? What do you spend most of your time doing? My guess is that like me, most of you came up with something that you are devoted to besides God.


In 1 Corinthians 7:29-35, Paul is taking about marriage and how those who are married should live.  Then all of a sudden Paul breaks off from the topic of marriage and just talks about how we as Christians should live our lives.  Paul says in verses 29 – 35:
What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Let’s go back here to verse 31 and the word engrossed. What do you think about this idea? It says “those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.” What do you guys use on a daily basis? Is it a computer, a cell phone, maybe your car.  Are you engrossed in those things? Are you more concerned about texting your friend, or checking your Facebook page than spending 30 minutes with God in prayer or reading His word? From that last passage it looks to me like we all have a lot of work to do in order to achieve this level of devotion that Paul is talking about.

So let me ask you: do you devote yourself to God in this way? Do you want to live your life in undivided devotion to the Lord? I know that I do. So let’s start a change today so that rather than pursuing the things of this world we pursue the things of God. So that rather than worshiping the creation we worship God. So that instead of being engrossed in the things of the world we would be engrossed in God. So here is my challenge for everyone reading this: take a real close look at your life, what are you allowing to take up your time? Are your interests divided? Are you concerned about the world’s affairs or are you concerned about the affairs of God? I want you to understand that the hardest and most important aspect of your life is your relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s always worth it. It’s not easy to wake up early before school so you can read your Bible and pray to God. It’s not fun to go to your friends and tell them about Jesus and invite them to church or youth group or to bible quiz.  But our reward both in heaven and on earth for living a life of undivided devotion to God is always worth it.



This "devotional" message was 
 prepared and delivered by Kyle Miksovsky 
at the November Bible Quiz Meet.
Watch it on youtube! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Be Long

There are different kinds of patience. In the Old Testament, the word for patience "is related to the verb 'to be long' and involves the idea of being long to get riled or slow to become angry." It means, like Micah said, "waiting, and being okay with waiting." That could mean waiting while a package is delivered, or waiting through an oppressive situation.
We live in a very impatient society; we are always looking for the newest, fastest thing. Microwave dinners, faster internet, quicker ways to text… we hate standing in line, getting stuck in traffic, or just waiting for anything, period. A friend of mine once related a story of how she was waiting at a traffic light, and "It was taking a really long time," she said, "like… 30 seconds." What does it say about us when 30 seconds qualifies as a really long time?

But patience can also apply to waiting on God – are we any more enduring when it comes to waiting for God to take care of us? Have you ever been in a situation when you needed God to come for you, you didn't think you could last any longer, and you just wanted Him to rescue you before it was too late?

In John 11:1-44, we see a story exactly like this. Mary and Martha, appeal to Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus before it is too late. Now, it's worth noting that these were not strangers to Jesus; they were special friends that "Jesus loved" (v. 3, 5, 36). And yet, Jesus didn't seem to do anything; he just waited around for two more days. When he finally arrives to find that Lazarus is dead, you can sense the frustration in both Mary and Martha's words: "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died!" (NLT) I read those words, and hear, "Why weren't you here? Why did you wait? I am I not worth it? Wasn't he worth saving? Did we do something wrong?"

But of course we know how the story ends. And so did Martha. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day," she said. She had faith in Jesus, faith that He would put everything right in the end; but maybe she didn't have faith that He would put everything right in the now. And I firmly believe that God always gives us what we need for now – and sometimes that doesn't make sense to us, sometimes it looks like He's waited too long, sometimes it seems like He has already answered "No" to our prayers… but He always knows what He is doing.

Patience can never be separated from faith. You should go and read Hebrews 11. These are the true heroes of the faith; people that lived and died in total dedication to God. But did you notice verse 13? Verse 39? They knew that God had started something big. But how patient do you think they had to be?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Grace


Charles Swindoll said once that the subject of grace is kind of like riding a whale – “a big subject to try and get your arms around or to get a hold on.”
In one sense, it is easy.  We all have some idea of what it means have grace.  It is a word that still has a lot beauty attached to it; we speak of “graceful” dancers, or a “grace period” after a due date; an honored guest, we may say, will “grace us with her presence”.  Even being “grateful” (derived from the same Latin word, gratus) shows insight into how we think of grace.  It is a pleasing concept to us, this idea that we are showed favor where none is merited.
On other hand, the extent of God’s grace towards us is really mind boggling.  Why should he just give us anything?  Why should we accept it?  Some of us don’t – like the brothers in the Parable of the River, we might try earn God’s favor with our deeds, or hope that if we aren’t as bad as someone else God won’t notice our sin, or even just forget God altogether, trading in His great promises for the mud hut of selfish living.
By looking at Titus 3:5-7 and many other verses, we see that God’s grace is for all time. From 2 Cor 12:9 and Heb 4:16, we learn that grace is also for this time, this life, the here and now

Here are a few resources to help understand grace better.
Stories:
  • In 1935, Fiorella LaGuardia showed grace to a woman who had stolen.
    Discussion question
    : How did LaGuardia carry out justice and mercy at the same time?
  • In the 1700’s, John Newton was a slave trader whose life was transformed when he met Christ. To describe the vastness of God’s mercy on him, he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.
    Discussion question
    : Does knowing Newton’s story change how you think of the hymn?  How does it affect the way you think of God’s grace?

Studies:
  • The Grace Series from www.acts17-11.com is enjoyable for deeper study, especially the final entry on the Power of Grace.
  • To find many more verses about grace in the Bible, type the word “Grace” into the search box below.
http://wbsa.logos.com/