Saturday, September 4, 2010

Inspiration Devotional from Carla McDougal!

Your relationship with Jesus works the same way. The more time you spend in His Word, prayer, praise, worship, and fellowship with other believers, the more immersed your walk with Christ becomes. As a result, the relationship’s condition strengthens on a daily basis. See where I am going? This is such an important concept to grasp! It frees you from bondage of thinking that your position depends upon your performance as a Christian. Praise God, it is all about Him and not about us!”  -  Carla MacDougal
 “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8
Courtesy our friend -Guest Blogger Nikki Hahn!
 Read Daniel 3:8-30.

“I’m going to go and work in the soup kitchen to help the poor.” A believer said aloud with emphasis on the word poor as if he were better than them.
I once mentioned in our Fellowship Group about my objections to using the word poor. I feel it demeans a class of people and clumps them together as a helpless bunch of people victimized by their circumstances. I also feel poor infers unintentionally that we are somehow better than they because of our choices or the money we have (or don’t have) in our accounts. When I hear something like the above I almost hear the check list each Christian unintentionally keeps to confirm that they are a good person:
  1. Serve in Soup Kitchen. Check!
  2. Donate money and food. Check!
  3. Volunteer at every charitable event. Check!
  4. Do an act of kindness. Check!
 “Before we continue, it is vital that you fully understand this fact: The moment you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life, you are His forever. Your eternal position in heaven is secure because of His work on the cross and your faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. By trusting Jesus as your Savior, you now have a personal relationship with God forever. Nothing you can do will remove your eternal position.” Says Carla MacDougal. 
I often question my motivations.  Am I volunteering for the right reasons? Or am I trying to earn grace? Am I donating out of the love in my heart? Or am I trying to earn grace? Am I doing an act of kindness so I can seem that I have it altogether as a good Christian? Would our faith withstand a fiery furnace seven times hotter than normal? Or would we falter in fear and choose to worship a false god or do something that we know would not please our Lord to avoid possible death, humiliation or persecution?
“Evangelist Sammy Tippet recently spoke to Mission Network News about the persecution that is happening in the United Kingdom and coming here to the United States and all under the guise of hate crime laws.  Under these hate crime laws it is dangerous for Christians because the actions and words of Christians are under attack, and these are the things that lead to arrests and persecution for devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”  Persecution Blog continues to say, “Evangelist Sammy Tippit believes the manipulation of these laws is part of an alarming trend throughout the secular world. He said, “There’s a spirit (and it’s very difficult to understand) that has come with secularism that has really been against Christianity. It’s a darkness that has been growing, and it’s been very antagonistic towards Christianity. But the interesting thing and the thing that makes it so difficult to understand is that this does specifically target Christianity and not other religious groups.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were given a choice—worship Nebuchadnezzar’s god or get tied up and thrown into a furnace seven times hotter than normal to burn alive. They chose loyalty to our God and TRUSTED God in their situation.  Several strong soldiers tied them up and threw them into the furnace.  Nebuchadnezzar watched them through the flames. There were four men walking around in the flames. He threw only three men into the furnace! None of them were burning!
“I love that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked around in the fire. They didn’t sit or stand, but they kept moving as their hands were freed from their bindings. With excitement, I can say that they came out of the fire unharmed! Their clothes were not singed, nor did they smell of smoke. God received all the glory from their experience!” Says Carla MacDougal.
I love what Stacy Harp over at Persecution Blog says, “I may experience a death in my family, I may deal with serious sickness, and I may go through financial hardship, but these are nothing when I hear what others are suffering right now for their faith: a sister in Pakistan abused by her employer, a brother in Egypt strung up by his ankles and tortured with an electric baton, a couple in Iran whipped with steel cables. That is true suffering.  The apostle Paul went through many of these sufferings —shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment — and yet in Romans 8:18 he writes, “…our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed…” Think about that. If Paul says that the hardest things we experience on earth are not even worth comparing to future glory of God’s fully-established kingdom, how great is that glory going to be?” 
Most people serve with full hearts. I work and walk among these people. Some of their pasts are raw and messy. God has certainly put them through the firing process! He put me through the firing process, too. Maybe you might disagree with me about the word poor and maybe you might feel defensive about my Christian Checklist. It’s just an observation and a reminder that no matter what I do in my life it isn’t good enough. Only by my belief in Christ am I saved because He walked to the cross willingly and died a traitor’s death, for me—for you. He was sinless.  Then, He rose again!  And the rest as they say is history
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