Monday, December 19, 2011

Pray and Do Not Doubt.

My family usually attends the early 9 am service at our church, Grace, but this Sunday my mom told me I could sleep in and we'd go to the later service at 10:30 am (actually, my parents and brothers had classes to go to then and we went to the 12 pm service, but I went to both services because I wanted to). My friend Bethany saw me looking for someone to sit with and generously offered to let me sit next to her and her boyfriend.

Pastor Jonathan's message hit me square in the heart, like so many others have in a convicting, reviving way. Yesterday his message was taken from John 4-5 and he talked about how we need to ask for healing and being set free from sin. God wants us to talk to him and not just read about him. We ought to be reading about God and talking with others about what he is doing in our lives as well as talking to him personally through prayer. Pastor Jonathan used the Samaritan woman at the well, the officer whose son was very sick, and the paralyzed man by the pool to show how God worked in Bible times and then he shared stories of church members who have been healed miraculously in this day and age to show how God continues to work. 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” -John 4:13-14

The Samaritan woman didn't realize who Jesus was until he uncovered her past without her telling him and then she was astounded. Jesus told her that he was the Messiah and she went back to her town, telling everyone about Jesus. Many believed in him because of the woman's account. The officer asked Jesus to come and heal his son, but Jesus told him he was healed and to go home. The officer believed and received word before he arrived home that his son was healed. The paralyzed man told Jesus how he had been that way for 38 long years and could never get into the pool to be healed. Jesus immediately said to him, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!" and the man did just that!

*Read the rest of the Samaritan woman and officer's stories here and the paralyzed man's story here.

Often as of late, I have been struggling with knowing why we should pray, but the message just affirmed exactly why we need to. God wants us to seek his help and guidance to overcome in this life. We try and try to set ourselves free on our own strength, but Christ is the only one who can and has already set us free with his death and resurrection. We serve a powerful God!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Little Everyday Instances.

This past Monday I woke up feeling slightly sick, exhausted and didn't like my appearance at all. Instead of pouting and being angry, I took the time to notice, appreciate and thank God for every little way he was working in my life. I saw God at work so many times that day, but I've forgotten most of them. I do remember one instance clearly, and that was of me walking to a review session for my Old Testament class that night after working out at the gym. The rain was coming down hard, and I missed seeing the sidewalk in front of me, so instead of stepping up onto it I tripped and fell. God allowed me to fall in such a way that I only got a tiny scratch on my right hand; everything else was fine, although I was a bit shaken up. One of the metal parts of my umbrella broke, which made it sort of lopsided but that didn't matter. What mattered was that God took care of me and I praised him each and every time for his kindness and favor towards me. He sent constant reminders throughout the day to say, "I'm here with you and I love you so much. You're my child, and I'm not letting you go." God cares deeply for each one of his children, and he is faithful.

Have you ever spent a day looking intently for God's hand at work in the fleeting moments? It's easy to miss seeing him work in little ways, but he is always doing something, whether we notice or not. Be intentional about seeing God at work not only in your life but also in the lives of others, particularly non-believing family and friends. How has God worked in you and through you this past week/month on mundane or difficult days?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Break Challenge

If you could sum up this week with one word, what would it be? For me, and probably every other student, the word would be busy, or perhaps overwhelmed. After the semester ends, you'll go home and probably won't have much to do. Instead of being lazy and eating as many Christmas goodies as you can, what if you used your time wisely and shared Jesus with as many people as you can? You could do something as simple as talking to the cashier in the store when you're picking up last minute Christmas gifts or sending a Christmas card to a friend.

Many Cedarville students want to witness to nonbelievers, but it's hard when we are surrounded by believers 24/7. Maybe you're in a similar situation at a Christian university or a small Christian community. The one month during the school year that students are surrounded by non-Christians is our Christmas break in December/January. I challenge you to look for opportunities to reach out to nonbelievers this Christmas season. We might have a break from school work, but that doesn't mean we get a break from serving Christ. Let's shine the light of Christ brightly as we remember and celebrate his birth on this planet over 2,000 years ago.

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." -Matthew 5:14-16