Saturday, April 25, 2009

Whose Responsibility is it to Grow Me Spiritually?

Ever heard someone complain about how they're not growing?

Lots of us have done it, and even I have done it!

You know what I'm talking about, right? People will complain that they're not growing at their church.

But when it comes to my spiritual life, who is responsible for growing me?

Mine. And mine alone.

Check this out!

1 Peter 2:2
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,

Notice that it doesn't say "Your pastor should feed you this milk so that you can grow;" This verse very clearly tells us to CRAVE it so that we can grow.

That means that we get spiritually fed from our personal quiet time, reading the Bible (and hearing it preached), and praying.

But you see when we lean toward only one of these, we are in this respect lopsided!

Look at this!

Hebrews 5:12
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!

So in the time that we spend complaining about how we're not growing at church, we could have been farther along spiritually than we are now!

My point? It is our responsibility to grow us. Not our pastor's (although he does help), or our parent's or teacher's but ours.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He Really Does Care for You

Ever had a problem that seemed so BIG you didn't know HOW in the name of all things good in this world you were going to get out of it????

Well, I have.

I was reading an e-devotional that I receive from Kenneth Copeland Ministries a few minutes ago, andGod must've known what was on my mind, because that devotional was just the message that I needed to hear!

You see, I will be attending North Central University this fall, and I have been concerned as to how I'm going to pay for it. I've been to the school, and I absolutely loved it, but just like every Christian college, it's really pricey.

Lately, I've felt like I'm walking into a debt trap, yet I know that's where the Lord wants me to go. And by golly I'm going!

But the devil had been harassing me about the tuition check. And you know what? It seems outright irresponsible to not worry about it!

That is, it SEEMED irresponsible till I read these verses from the devotional.

25. I was young, and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children begging bread.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you!


So, worrying about something, like a parent being in the hospital or a huge credit card bill, makes us responsible people, and if we don't worry about it, we're just a bunch of low-down, good-fer-nothing, scumbags, right?

WRONG!

Worry does NOT =being responsible. Worry is sin! What sin, you may ask? It's the sin of not trusting God! Matthew 6 tells us that very plainly here.

Matthew 6:32-33
For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father KNOWS YOU NEED THEM! But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS shall be GIVEN TO YOU as well.

So you see, we're not supposed to be like the world. The worldly do not have El-Shaddai that they can fall back on, so they have cause to worry!

But we, as Christians have not excuse, whatsoever! After all, we do indeed have El-Shaddai to rely on, so we've no cause to worry!

That doesn't mean that I don't need to work hard though, mind you. That just means that I don't need to bust myself with worry because my job and the scholarships are not my Source. :)

Hey, He'll do the same for you! You belong to Him as much as I do, and he is no respecter of persons! :D

Praise God, once again for revelations! He knows what we need to hear, when we need to hear it!

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God With your Time

I'm still in the habit of listening to sermons every night before I drift off to sleep. In fact, last night, I tried to go without it because I had to get up early today, but I just couldn't get to sleep! So I did what every self-respecting teenager/adult would do in a situation like this.

I got out my iPod, my headphones, and most importantly, my "ears to hear."

Well anyhoo, the series that I am currently listening to is called the First Principle. It's a sermon series that Pastor Moore preached about a year or two back, about keeping God first in your life. Brother Moore's main text in the "The First Principle," is from Matthew 6:33 which says,

But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteosness,

Seems cliche'. Pretty basic. Most of us already know it....

But are ANY of us actually DOING it? Are we actually putting His things, His people, and HIM first in our lives?

Unfortunately, no. I know I haven't been.

I've been more eager to rush to the TV or Facebook than the Word, and I've not been doing my quiet time as faithfully, or praying in the Spirit like I should be. I've been more faithful in doing my schoolwork than I have been doing my Bible studies.

Oh well, maybe I don't have time. Maybe I don't FEEL like it. Those are good excuses, right?

WRONG!

When it comes to putting God's things and God's people first, we need to go to the extreme. I know I certainly need to.

It will take some time to discipline myself in that area. My flesh may not like it.

Well my flesh can get over it!

But the harvest you reap from sowing all that time and effort into the Kingdom of God will be rewarded! Read the rest of Matthew 6:33

And all these things shall be added unto you.

Serving God comes with rewards and spiritual blessings, whereas doing the opposite brings emptiness and disappointment.

A good example would be the Parable of the Great banquet in Luke 14. It's scary how much the invited guests who "couldn't come" sound like me!


16Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'

18"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'

19"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'

20"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

22" 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'

23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.' "


Ouch! What a wake-up call!

It showed me what the result is when I don't seek Him first. I miss out on something amazing! And it's not His fault I missed it, it's mine for being lazy and complacent.

Thank God that He is merciful and that I can start over every morning!

You see, God wants us to have the very best in life. But He can't give it to us unless we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. The adding onto comes later, sometimes later than we would like. But we would be amazed about how much we grow and become like Him if we made Him number one in our lives.

Like I said, it's not gonna be easy. I will have to make changes all my life, but if I follow Him, I'll be on my way to something better! My life consists of giving Him my all!

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

Matthew West-The Motions

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Growing Pains

I have a little dog-a schnoodle named Buckles. Like every other dog you know, he likes to eat, play, and snuggle. :)

But he also needs to be washed-one of his least favorite things to do.

And it has to be done or else we'd have a dirty dog running around the house.

So after weeks and weeks of me and Dad having a Mexican standoff of who was going to...nay, who was willing to get wet (hey, every dog shakes when their heads get wet and this one is no exception!) and take ten minutes out of their day to do it this time, I gave in and volunteered to do it (even though I beat Dad fair and square in a 3/5 game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.)

But when I'm cleaning house (or in this case, the dog), my mind is quiet. And what happens when your mind is quiet?

You can hear from God!

So while I'm bathing this dog, who hasn't been bathed in weeks, I notice that he isn't really all that happy with me. Like I said, the dog hates baths.

But I was doing him a benefit by cleaning him up, right?

Absolutely! You see, when I was cleaning him up, I was helping him get rid of the pollen, dirt, grime, and the substances-of-unknown-origin out of his fur, paws and tummy.

And while I was scrubbing him with the cherry-blossom scented shampoo, it hit me.

This is how God is with us.

He wants to help us "clean up" the sin, guilt, and shortcomings in our lives (or in Buck's case, the dirt, pollen, and so forth), so that we can grow spiritually, but we have to be willing to give Him control of our lives, just like Buckles had to give control to me. And in the end, he was a clean doggy!

It's not always gonna be easy to surrender your "favorite sin". Just like Buckles would rather stay dirty than get wet and soapy, we, at times don't like getting corrected. We'd rather just think that we're the perfect Christian with no flaws whatsoever But in the end, the correction (or washin') that we receive from listening to the Holy Spirit, reading the Bible, and fellowshiping with other believers is totally worth the effort, since we are becoming more and more like the Master everyday. Discipline and correction are the way to life, according to Proverbs 6:23. It even compares discipline to a lamp, and teachings to a light, that guide our way through life!

To sum things up, I would like to share another Scripture from Proverbs concerning these things.
10:17.

He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

There you have it! This is one of the many reasons we need to give God control of our lives and let Him clean us up!

Praise the LORD for revelations!

And praise the LORD for scented shampoo!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The "Lasts" of Senior Year

The Senior section has always been one of my favorite sections of the yearbook, but it's so hard to believe that one of the seniors featured in this year's Senior section will be me....

Where has time gone?

Still hard to believe that this will be my last year in Teen Bible Quiz, my last year in yearbook staff, my last year at Academy, my last year to compete in Fine Arts Festival, my last year in youth group, my last year to go to Youth Camp as a camper, and my first and last year as a competitive speaker.

These "lasts" hit me pretty hard tonight, because tonight was the (dare I say it?) last meeting for my speech and debate team for the school year.

Hard to believe that I barely knew many of those on our team at the beginning of the year! And if you had seen us in Mrs. Alsop's van on the way to the Houston tournament, you wouldn't believe it either!

Caffeine + Sleep-deprived + 8 girls + 1 guy + ADOS=CRAZY!!! :)

But I could not have asked for a better group of people to travel with as a team! I love you all!!!!

Now I'm thinking about Fine Arts. Looking back would I have wanted to compete with any other churches at the competition? Heck, no!

Thank God that I have an amazing youth group, filled with wonderful teenagers like myself, who want to grow and keep growing in their relationship with God! They have been my fellow campers, prayer warriors, and friends. I love all of you so much!

And thank God for Fine Arts! It is, in my opinion, one of the best programs the Assemblies of God has to offer its youth! Without FAF I would not have discovered that God has called me into deaf ministry-or that I love Sign Language so much! What amazing opportunities I had to display the gifts and talents that God has given me! I am so glad that I did not take those lightly!

Church camp. I absolutely hate it that this is my last year to go as a camper! :(. But thank God for camp! Camp is my highlight of the summer! A time for just me and God to fellowship, grow closer, and just talk! A time for me to grow closer to those in our youth group! I feel like a better person coming out than when I go in! :) What amazing memories!

Teen Bible Quiz! I will miss it so much! I have been actively involved in Bible quiz for twelve years now. It has been so much a part of my life, and I am thankful to the Lord for it too! I have made Psalm 119:11 my life verse. This verse is the reason why I have stuck with Bible Quiz for so long.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Bible Quiz has given me opportunities to grow in my knowledge of the Bible. Head knowledge, that is.

But whenever I'm in a situation and I need God's guidance, He brings to my remembrance the verse that applies to the situation, and from Him, I gain heart knowledge.

God's Word is life to me. For years, I have been feeding my Spirit with His words and have not even known it!

Bible Quiz has, indeed, taught me many things about His Word, and because I know the Bible, I feel like I have a more personal relationship with One who wrote it!

That my friends, is what Bible Quiz is all about!

And Academy! I am so going to miss Academy! The choirs, the plays, the writing the study halls (where we don't really study!), and most importantly, the people.

The People consisting of my teachers and friends-too many of them to count! Too many memories, like playing ERS in Bio lab, Apples to Apples in study hall, off campus lunches at BK, and the list goes on!

Thank You, Lord, for giving me such great friends, team members, teachers, coaches, youth group members, debate team members, and pastors!

Yes, there are many lasts in Senior year. But I cannot let it depress me, because I know that there will be many "firsts" next year.

Now, I can't say that I know what those "firsts" are.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to it! ":D

Just one more thing before you leave
Don't forget to remember me"

Don't Forget to Remember Me by Carrie Underwood


Monday, April 6, 2009

Sorrow Not!

I receive a devotion in my emails from Kenneth Copeland ministries daily, but sad to say, I rarely take the time to read them.

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit got my attention, and I read it yesterday. The Lord must've seen what was going to happen because I just found out today that my mom's cousin, Melanie, died. :(

Life does come at you fast.

But the message I read in my emails was just what I needed to hear!

The title of the devotion was Sorrow Not!

One of the devotions main points was that when times of grief and sorrow come, we need to feast on the Joy of the LORD which, according to Nehemiah 8:10 is our strength, the very strength that keeps us going! It's the very strength that helped me through the death of my great-grandfather five years ago.

Fact is fact. We can't do this alone.

Honestly, I don't know how people who do not belong to Christ go through grief and loss!

But since I am born again, I know that I will see Melanie again someday!

The Holy Spirit gave me a new perspective of death back in October, when my grandma died, the perspective being the fact that I know I will see her again since I am a Christian myself.

Or a shorter version would be this-We didn't lose Grandma; she moved away!

That is one thing that is getting us through this time of my cousin's "moving out" :)

Another thing that is enabling me and my family go through this is the fact that Jesus went through the same emotions that we did concerning loss!

Sometimes, I tend to read through the Bible quickly without reading between the lines.

However when I read John 11 33-35, I saw in my heart very clearly that Jesus did have emotions that He had to overcome; and overcome He did!

Many of us cannot imagine Jesus weeping about anything; but yet Jesus did. The Bible says He did.

Jesus understands everything we go through in everyday life! He understands the things we are tempted with, struggle with, fight with. Why?

Because He went through those same things Himself! Check out Hebrews 4:15:

"For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet without sin."

I now breathe a big sigh of relief, knowing that He understands, and more importantly, He cares! Even about the smallest thing in our lives! THAT is how much He loves you and me!

So I lean on the Holy Spirit as my Comforter, through times of loved ones moving out! ;). Ha! Those who have moved out are having a ball at this very minute! They get to see it all before we do! :/. Not fair I know, but the LORD has plans for those of us still on the earth. But still, I long for,

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it Jesus, this I plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be!