Sorry I’m a little behind on posting these. The thing is that I usually do them at night, so I can’t post until at least the next morning.
My challenge for day 4, which was 2 days ago, was to pray for the world.
That sounds like a pretty heavy challenge, doesn’t it? There’s a lot of tragedies happening in the world right now, which means there’s a lot to pray about.
As I was praying, I found myself becoming irritated with the world. I obviously wasn’t going to blame God for what was happening, so who was left to blame?
People. Us. You. Me.
It’s so easy for us to point the finger at God and say, “If He is a merciful God who controls everything, then why is He letting bad things happen?” I know, trust me I do, how difficult of a question that is to answer, and how caught up on it people get.
The simple answer is, it’s not His fault. It’s because of evil. If you want to blame someone, blame Satan!
You might think, “Why can’t God just abolish evil?” Well, eventually He will. It says so in Romans 16:20-“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
Until then, it goes back to the matter of free will, which I posted a quote about not long ago. Though free will makes evil possible, it also makes possible any joy or goodness worth having.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie Bruce Almighty, where a man played by Jim Carrey is given the powers of God, and told he can do anything but mess with free will.
He tries to use his powers to get his ex-girlfriend to love him, but it doesn’t work. But isn’t that a good thing? Because would love even be love if it were forced? Doesn’t it feel good when someone loves you not because they have to, but because they want to?
Sure, there is a lot of evil in the world, but there is also a lot of good. I’m not suggesting we ignore the evil. I’m suggesting we overcome it with the good. Romans 12:21 puts it beautifully: “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Conquer. That’s such a powerful word. Conquer evil! Be so good that evil just can’t stand it!
I would like to close with a quote that was on my mind while I was praying for the world.
People deny the existence of God, and then blame Him for the chaos that ensues.
Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, I start thinking of ways that I can get into the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas. Family, gifts, lights, music, it’s all so wonderful. Last year Christmas came so suddenly. I was so caught up in the stress of senior year that Christmas snuck up on me and, well, didn’t feel much like Christmas. This year, I told myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. So, despite the stress of freshman year, I started getting into the Christmas spirit when I returned to school after Thanksgiving break. I made a Christmas playlist on Spotify and participated in a Secret Santa and ornament decorating event on my dorm floor. I went to a Christmas party and watched Elf for the first time. There were Christmas decorations around campus that served as reminders that Christmas was on its way. I even paid $1.99 for She Reads Truth’s 2016 Advent devotions. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.
At first, I thought I’d post on my blog whatever stood out to me in each day’s devotion. Then I decided to just write it down and keep it to myself. I wish I hadn’t because I came across some great stuff. Today, for example, I was reading about the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. Typically I’ll copy and paste a few phrases that strike me into the notes on my iPad and write them in my journal. But today, I found myself writing down half the devotion. Allow me to share some of it with you. An angel comes to Mary and tells her she is going to give birth to the Savior of the world. She says she doesn’t see how that’s possible since she’s a virgin.
“The angel’s response to Mary’s doubt points her to the answer: It’s not up to her. It’s not up to us. ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’ - Luke 1:35 Friends, all may not be calm or bright in our broken world, but all is His. May Christ overshadow our expectations and understanding with His presence. May we hear and receive the same good news delivered to Mary: Hope is born within us through Christ. Hallelujah.”
Good stuff, right? Nothing in there explicitly says “Don’t forget that Jesus is the true reason for Christmas,” yet that’s what I took from it. It’s easy to get caught up in the pretty lights and familiar songs and think that Christmas is about a cozy feeling that you get when you’re with your family opening presents. But that’s not what it’s about. In order to get into the Christmas spirit, you have to focus on the Spirit of Christmas: Jesus. The best gift any of us has ever received was given to us on Christmas Day thousands of years ago, and is a gift that keeps on giving. That is Jesus Christ, who wrapped His divinity in flesh and came to seek and to save the lost. He loved us while we were still sinners and was obedient even to death on a cross.
It’s not a bad thing to want that cozy feeling, but there’s a feeling that’s so much better: knowing that Jesus left Heaven because He didn’t want to be there if you weren’t. Christmas is a mere 5 days away, but I implore you to not forget its true meaning. You don’t have to buy a birthday cake for Jesus or set up a Nativity to show that you’ve received God’s gift to us. I simply ask you to keep Jesus at the front of your mind when you’re opening your gifts on Christmas morning. If you can, go to church and celebrate Jesus’ birth with fellow believers. Mix O Holy Night and Away in a Manger in with your playlist of Jingle Bells and White Christmas. Just don’t let yourself forget to keep the Christ in Christmas.
Excerpt from Day 1 devotion of Hymns plan in She Reads Truth app (It’s great! Check it out!)
Friends, we are all sick with sin. Every one of us is diseased with iniquity. We hear each other saying, “I’m broken and guilty,” and we think to ourselves, “If only they knew – it’s me. I’m the worst.” We live in fear of shining a light on the very darkest parts of our hearts—afraid to whisper those dark parts by name, let alone hold them in our outstretched hands in plain sight of the One who bled and died to redeem them.
Teen-to-Teen 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Girls for Teen Girls and Teen-to-Teen 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Guys for Teen Guys
God allowed me, along with many other teenage girls from all over the US and beyond, to be a contributing writer for B&H Publishing Group’s Teen-to-Teen: 365 Daily Devotions By Teen Girls for Teen Girls. It and the boys’ edition, Teen-to-Teen: 365 Daily Devotions by Teen Guys for Teen Guys, were released in November of 2013 and are available at Amazon.com, Lifeway Christian Stores, Mardel Stores, Barnes & Noble, and most Internet stores as well as other Christian stores. The devotions contain personal stories and reflective thoughts that are inspiring and uplifting. I highly recommend it for girls who enjoy some daily encouragement. So go check them out! If you are touched by the messages in these books please post a review on some of the sites where they can be purchased. Remember, these books make great gifts!
Devotion for the week of 1/27/14-2/2/14
A song by a Christian group named Hillsong United entitled “Oceans” is composed of powerful and moving lyrics. Its second title, “Where Feet May Fail”, has great meaning behind it. If you do recall in the book of Matthew chapter 14, the famous story of Jesus calling for Peter to trust Him and walk on the water is tied to this title. I believe that when they say “where feet may fail” they are referring to being out in the depths of the ocean and struggling with your faith and with trusting God so that, in trying to walk on the water, your doubt and fears may cause your feet to fail. Meaning that when your circumstances are rough and it’s hard to trust God, your lack of faith may cause you harm. Your feet may fail out in the middle of the ocean. Throughout the song they sing of how they will keep their faith even in the deepest waters. At one point in the song they sing the lyrics “You’ve never failed and you won’t start now”. That is my favorite part because, when I look back on how my life has been since I became a Christian, I realize that God truly has never failed me. And I rest in the fact that He never will. I like how they word it, “You won’t start now”. They are saying that, no matter what we are going through at the moment, God isn’t going to fail us now since He never has before. I love the touching words in this song! Everytime I hear it I am reminded just how much God loves me and I realize just how much I love Him.