A Presentation

Holy & Acceptable

One of my biggest pet peeves is to give someone detailed instructions and they still complete the task incorrectly. I understand communication very well, so when I give instructions I try to think of every question a person might have in regards to the instructions in order to be sure the instructions are very thorough. So when something is not done according to the instructions I gave, it triggers my control freak defense mechanism that says “see, I knew I should have just done this myself if I wanted it done correctly,” even though I know I would have been overextending myself which would have only lead to further complaints. It’s even worse when you know the reason the task was incorrect is because the person did not read all of the detailed instructions I took time to make clear for them.

I was thinking to myself, I know that God is perfect and patient, but how many times have I taken that for granted?

The bible tells us to

“…Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”

Romans 12:1

Now, one could interpret this literally as it pertains to the condition of your human body. But for the sake of today’s devotion, let’s think about this in a broad sense. As Christians, we are supposed to make ourselves available to be of service to God at all times, living our lives in perpetual sacrifice to him. This includes sacrificing our time. Sacrificing time, as a Type A person, is a big issue for me but I’m understanding how important it is to dedicate time to doing the work of God’s will, as it is our purpose, and doing it in a way that is holy and acceptable.

It does take a lot of time spent with God to properly understand the instructions we’re given. How many times have we cut our prayer time shorter or skipped a study session in order to make more time to do something else we had planned to do? This is the exact same thing as the very scenario described above. If you have accepted God as the authority in your life, you are saying that you will complete the assignments given to you in a way that is acceptable to God. But we shortchange God when we do not sacrifice time to spend with God. We cannot read all the instructions or know what will be acceptable to God, if we do not take time to get to know God and spend time learning what his will is for our lives. We can’t say a quick prayer in the morning or bless our food on its way to our mouths and think that will be enough to complete our assignments well.

This does not mean God will have the same reaction to us that we have when someone doesn’t follow instructions.  However, with any relationship, you don’t want to be the partner who can’t be trusted to follow through. Think about how disrespected we feel when someone cuts corners on something that is important to us. So today, let’s reflect on our sacrifice. Are we truly concerned with the quality of effort we are putting forth toward our purpose? Are we truly concerning ourselves with our efforts being acceptable? Or are we just giving God what we have left after we’ve done all the other things that are important to us?

 

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Lose a little…

Lose Yourself

Scrolling through social media, I see a lot of posts and kind words meant to encourage people on their various journeys through life. A sentiment I see often is one that is encouraging to those of us who may be experiencing the loss of friends and loved ones. Not in a sense that they are departing from this realm, but that relationships with friends and family members may become strained once you decide to take the path that God has called you toward. The posts usually say something like “There are certain people who can’t come with you where God is taking you…” Or something like that.

I’ve given that statement a lot of thought over the years as I’ve experienced shifts in my social life. I’ll admit I haven’t had to sever ties with very many people but that made me consider something else. I asked myself, If I’m not losing a lot of people what else should I be willing to put aside?

In the 16th chapter of Matthew, Jesus starts to talk to his disciples about the suffering he would eventually have to experience. Peter, in disbelief, pretty much told Jesus that would never happen to him. Jesus said,

“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 16: 23-25

Peter was trying to tell Jesus that he should never have to experience what Jesus knew was his purpose. Then Jesus called Peter, or Peter’s attitude toward his calling, a stumbling block. But instead of kicking Peter to the curb and telling him “you can’t roll with me where I’m going if you’re not going to be supportive,” Jesus understood that Peter simply didn’t understand what his purpose was. So he reminded him that in order to do this whole will of God thing, we have to be completely prepared to deny parts of ourselves. The fear and anger that Peter was experiencing in regards to Jesus’ purpose, are also feelings that Jesus was feeling. But Jesus had to be willing to deny himself the luxury of letting those feelings steer him away from his calling because he knew what he was doing was bigger than himself.

That hits home for us control freaks. There are sacrifices we must make on our journey toward our purpose that require us to let go of familiar parts of ourselves. Just like everybody can’t come with us where we’re going, there are parts of our own lives and personalities that we are responsible for putting to the side.

Peter was one of Jesus’ hot headed friends. He wasn’t a perfect person by any stretch of the imagination. That encourages us that God is able and willing to use anybody to accomplish his will. However, Peter and all the other disciples had to give up their whole lives to follow Jesus and I’m sure they were constantly having to check their attitudes and behaviors so that they were representing Jesus well.

So today as you begin your week toward the end of Lent, what is it about yourself that you are unwilling to let go of that may be stalling your process toward your purpose. Is it your temper and lack of patience? Are you too used to being on your own time and can’t fully commit to the work God is calling you to do? Are you simply attached to people and places that don’t encourage your growth?

Today’s challenge is to be real with yourself, take responsibility for the thing or things about your own personality that might be holding you back, and tell yourself to let go of that.

Sometimes you have to lose a bit of yourself to level up. Everything you lose with be replace with better!