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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Winter Wrap Up”

You may find this a bit funny considering the fact I’m started my own devotional, but I’m figuring some of you might suffer from the same problem…

Personally, there are times when I find sermons, inspirationals, testimony, and even the Bible the most discouraging and disheartening thing in the world.

The Bible is filled with great men and women who did extraordinary things by faith in God. Abraham left his countrymen and everything he had ever known when he was getting too advanced in years to have any more children, solely on the promise from God that if he kept waiting (no matter how long it took) he would be a “father of nations”. Moses himself was 80 and probably getting ready to “end up” in life rather than start out when he was called to lead an entire nation into birth. The Book of Judges is filled with everyday common folk who were nominated by God to rise up and lead the people to victory over hostile nations.

The books of the prophets are even heavier. As Hebrews 11: 35-38 says: “…Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in the skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — of whom the world was not worthy…” Then of course we get to the New Testament, where the name of “Godly living” becomes one of hardship and torture. For Paul alone, in 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27, he relates:  Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”

And of course there’s modern people. I hear stories about people like Mother Theresa and countless others who devote themselves so completely to living for Jesus and enduring everything for the sake of the Gospel. Or simply believers in places like China or the Middle East or anywhere where they can be openly and publicly assaulted, beaten, terrorized, imprisoned, or killed for their faith when anyone feels like doing so to them.

To be honest, it leaves me feeling intimidated sometimes or even despondent. I wonder exactly what I can do to “measure up” to sacrifice or devotion like that. I sometimes get the sensation that no matter how hard I think I have it some days I don’t have things nearly as hard as others, or how strong I think my faith is it’s not nearly as strong as that of others. I start feeling a lot like Twilight Sparkle, looking around at what I can do for the Body of Christ and realizing I’m not nearly as good at others when it comes to so many important things. And I start despairing that I’m just not “good enough” or I’ll never be like any of these people no matter how hard I try.

At times like that, I have to remember, and we all should remember, two things.

  1. No one from the Bible “did it alone”. The most remarkable people in the Bible, even when they seemed to handle the worst of times all through their own power, will, and devotion, were never truly alone. They always had God with them; encouraging them, strengthening them, and lifting them up beyond their worldly or fleshly limitations. Picking on Paul once again, as great as he was, he never went about boasting that it was because he was some sort of superman or “superapostle” that he could just take whatever was thrown at him. He counted on God’s power being manifest through him after he had nothing left. As he relates in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But He(Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
  2. Even if I’m not a great prophet or evangelist or have the self-confidence or charisma or traits to be like one of those great people, it doesn’t mean that I’m useless to the Kingdom of God. There are many “unsung heroes” in the Bible who went on to affect change by following God in ways that weren’t so ground-shaking and tremendous. In the Old Testament, Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, was determined to look after her even though her husband was dead and she was young enough to try and marry again, and as a result she became the great-grandmother of one of the greatest individuals of the Old Testament: David. Paul himself constantly wrote to commend various individuals who had supported him and others like him going about preaching the Gospel. It can be said that the most important things both Abraham and Mary ever did for the Kingdom of God was have enough faith to have a child and then raise them. And both ended up changing the world as a result. Jesus told us in Luke 16:10, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

So the question is not looking at ourselves and seeing how little we lack, but looking at ourselves and seeing what we can make available to God and then use it. In Twilight Sparkle’s case, she couldn’t skate well, build bird nests, move clouds, wake up animals, or push a snowplow…but she could organize things. So rather than try to force herself into something she couldn’t do, she ended up finding a need that she knew she could fill and filled it, and ended up helping everyone as a result. Similarly, I’m terrible at talking to people face-to-face, but I can write pretty well. Hence, why I started this devotional. Whatever we have been given by God, whether it will increase one day or not, the important thing is to always entrust what little we have to God and then act with the gifts we have been given.

Lastly, we also need to remember that everyone is unique and created for an individual purpose. So while it may be uplifting and inspiring to read about others who have done great things, and maybe even motivate a desire to imitate them (insofar as they imitate Christ), we should keep in mind that we aren’t them and worry more about making ourselves who God envisions us to be rather than making ourselves who God envisioned someone else to be.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for these talents you have given me (think on them and name them aloud). In my desire to serve you and bring about the Kingdom of God, help me to continue to develop these and use them in the best way possible for your glory. And help me to know in my heart that whenever I am feeling hopeless or useless or incapable of success that it is at these times that your power ‘is made perfect in my weakness’, provided I commit my life and cause to you. I am available today. Please use me as you see fit. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”