Day One: Each week focuses on a chapter from Max Lucado and Randy Frazee NIV compilations of scripture in novel form. The first day just had me read the chapter and you write notes from it. My notes from day one of Chapter one was a question the authors ask about Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God: "These two people were blessed to share their paradise with each other and God, So why would they want anything else?" My best guess: Their free-will caused them to think there was an answer outside of God, that there was something more. Satan was able to convince Eve that God was holding back from them, that God hadn't blessed them. Eve wasn't able to see that she had everything she already needed. She didn't know what she had until she lost it. When did they realize they'd made a mistake? Was it when God kicked them out of the garden? When they realized they no longer had face-to-face access to God? When Eve experienced birth pains or when Adam struggled the rest of his life when before it had been so easy? I've gotten angry at these two plenty in the past, but as I've gotten older and made some pretty obviously dumb choices myself, I realize I probably wouldn't have done it any differently. God knew what they would do too, and he still decided to create us. He saw it wasn't just Adam and Eve who chose other things over God, He knew it would continue. He also knew He'd have to give us His Son to reconcile Himself to us, all because He loves us.
Day 4: The "in-depth" look for day 4 was Cain and Able. I learned that Cain's offering was actually acceptable. It was his heart that made his sacrifice displeasing in the Lord's eyes. I found Genesis 4:6 and 7, (some of which were the scripture locations for today's devotional) instructional: "Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." I love that, though God knows sin is already crouching at Cain's door and He's minutes (I think) from taking out his jealousy on Able, God still takes the time to say that if he'd only do what is right it will all be okay. He's saying: if you take this path, if you do what I'm telling you, all will be well. I relate to Cain, I know sin is crouching at my door and I know if I would just turn to God it will all be okay. The prayer at the end of today's devotional was in total agreement with my spirit: "Lord help me because there is no way that without your Spirit I can live the life you have called me to." (Amen?!)
Day 5: The in-depth scripture looked at The flood today, but it was the instruction at the end of the devotional I'd like to share. It said to pray for an opportunity to be a conduit to someone in my sphere of influence. I scoffed (big mistake) because I'm a hermit. I get out for like 30 minutes of the day to walk Leo and then I'm back in doors again. But, I knew that doubting God in this area could be risky so I decided to leave it in his hands, and he delivered. A friend texted me and I was able to, for the next several hours, text with him about what God is doing and encourage and lift him up. This is a person that, to my knowledge is not interested in the Lord but desperately needs him. I firmly believe God honored my prayer request and faith in Him to provide the opportunity, but more importantly it was his love for my friend that I was able to be a part of and I was very happy to be proven wrong.
Day 4: in Chapter 2 was a kick in the pants. The Israelites keep coming into my life, first with Beth Moore's Believing God and now with going through Genesis in "The Story." My devotional said that, "Complacency and comfort were indicative of the Israelite's downfalls." (Picture me outwardly cringing when I read this). What have I been crying and moaning about these past 5 months? Comfort. What have I become spiritually because of my discouragement these past 5 months? Complacent. So just call me an Israelite then. The GREAT news? "...he is willing to engage with you, wrestle with you, and is patient with you as He changes you as a useful instrument for His glory." "God doesn't mind when you struggle, He's not afraid of your honest emotions, and this loving act means you're still engaged. The Lord loves us enough to wrestle." This lifted me up tremendously; I'm slowly returning to the Lord, daring to trust Him like never before, and I am expectant and hopeful that He will change me and teach me and take care of me how he sees fit. I also think He will change my expectations and redirect my hope towards him and not a job. The prayer for today, I loved: "God help me to choose wrestling over complacency. And when your will is clear, help me accept it rather than continuing to fight. I want a new direction, a defined destiny that can only come when I am wholly engaged in my relationship with you."
Day 5: Usually the prayers at the end of a devotional reading have me drifting off to sleep. These prayers have been spot on. Prayer for day 5: "God thank you that I don't have to be perfect and all put together for you to love me. I am grateful that I can bring the fullness of myself to you and I am acceptable in your sight. I am in awe of your great love for me. Help me to bask in the glory you shine until it eclipses the pain of my reality." What a relief to pray such an honest prayer to God. I don't have it all together but He welcomes me into His presence just the same as he does the Saints. Wow.
Day 2: Chapter 3 focuses on Joseph and the unfair life he lived. As you learn from reading his story further, Joseph believed that God allowed harm to befall him to lead him to a life of privilege and power; ultimately he was put in a position to literally save the lives of his whole family: including the brothers who betrayed him.. Lamentations 3:22-24 was an additional verse mentioned in the devotional. It says: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion (eternal satisfaction); therefore I will wait for him." It amazes me how God constantly reminds me that He is who I should put my trust in. The devotional attached to The Story are nuggets of wisdom and encouragement. I keep forgetting that circumstances change, but God never does. Thank you Lord for your daily mercies!
Day 3: Like most Christians, I struggle with identity. Almost daily, I struggle with remembering who I am in Christ and the enemy takes advantage of that. How might my thoughts, self-esteem, and life contribution change if my perspective was always coming from the FACT that I am God's daughter? I am not my sin. I am my redeemer's. Here was today's prayer: "Thank you God that the "yuck" I see isn't the only reality. Most of the time what you're doing is beyond my grasp of understanding, Please give me your eyes to see so that I, like Joseph, come to understand that what I am going through has purpose.
Day 5: I struggle with a lot, but one of the big ones is forgiveness and wanting revenge. But Joseph's story reminds me that God saw the bigger picture ALL ALONG. At first all Joseph could see was that his brothers betrayed him (and I think we'd all agree he was justified in that!) but in the end all he focused on was God's bigger plan: to save Joseph and his family. This makes me wonder if my darkest nights and moments are being used for something bigger, and all along God has seen the bigger picture and kept me on that path though it's painful for now. We have the option to trust God's perspective on our lives, or our own. I don't know about you but I've wasted enough time, at my own expense, by trusting what I could see.