Saturday, June 28, 2008

Living with Sincerity

Sometimes in my walk with Christ, I find that the Holy Spirit emphasizes particular words or phrases. This week, the word that I keep thinking about is sincerity. I want so much to live my life sincerely in every part. I want nothing hidden from Him, and I want everything to be done all for His glory!!

2 Corinthians 11:3--But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Ephesians 6:5--Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ.

Philippians 1:9-10--And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.

Friday, June 20, 2008

At the Feet of Jesus

At the feet of Jesus
I'm laying down my load
I cannot hope to keep
What I've been clutching anymore
I'm poured out like water on
A dry and barren land
Giving all that I've held dear
An offering You demand

All that You require
Is nothing left of me
An empty pitcher filled
With the beauty found in Thee
Peace that passes understanding
And joy that never ends
A life devoted to Thee, My Lord
Rejoicing with You as Friend

[Written after studying Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot, and 2 Samuel 23:13-17]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons from the Disciples

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Yesterday, my pastor preached a sermon on this passage from Matthew 26:30-35. I was really struck by some of the things that he said. I thought that I would share some of my notes from the sermon:

Here the disciples were faced with the decision to deny Christ or be killed. We are all faced with times when we must stand up for Christ or deny Him. Later each one of the disciples died for their boldness in preaching the gospel of Christ. But here, ever single one of them falls away. V. 35—Every one of the disciples defended themselves and reassured themselves that they would never fall. They were genuinely sure that they would never turn away from Christ. They were relying on their own self-sufficiency rather than God. But they were about to fail the test. He was trying to teach them through this.

First of all, He wanted the disciples to see, you are insufficient to handle this trial. He reminded them of their weakness. He wanted them to realize their spiritual poverty, that they didn’t have enough on their own. [1 Cor. 10:12] He wanted them to realize their need of Him. Judas deliberately plotted to betray Christ. The other disciples weren’t deliberately planning to deny Christ, but they had to realize that you cannot be faithful to Christ without utterly depending on Him. Luke 22:31-34—Jesus knew that although His disciples would deny Him, their faith would not fail, because He had prayed for them (as He prays for us all).

Secondly, He wanted them to know that He loved them and would be gracious to them. John 21:4-19—In this passage, Jesus is talking with Peter on the beach, and proving his love for Him. Jesus asks Peter twice, “Do you [agape] love me?” And both times Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, I [pheilo] love You.” Agape is an overwhelming love, more than any other thing. Essentially, Jesus was asking Peter, “Do you love me more than anything else?” But Peter was saying, “Yes, Lord, I love you like a brother.” Finally Jesus asked, “Peter, do you [pheilo] love Me?” And Peter told Him, “You know me and my heart, and You know that I love You like a brother.” Peter was admitting this time that he didn’t have the love for Christ that he needed. He knew that he didn’t have the strength to love Christ like he should, but in that knowledge of his weakness, he was empowered by Christ to stand. Only 40 days later, as recorded in Acts chapter 2, Peter would stand for Christ in front of the very people who had crucified Him, and call for them all to repent.

I think that this passage really impacted me a lot, because I have been realizing the past few weeks just how insignificant and weak I really am. I don't have the strength to do anything on my own. But God has been daily reminding me, that through Him I have all the strength that I need. I just need to trust and rely on Him for that strength rather than trying to do it on my own. Without Him I am nothing. But through Christ, I have the strength to do all things.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Beauty of Praha

I am writing this from an apartment in Prague, Czech Republic [Praha, Ceska republika in Czech].  I've been here for almost a month, and I will be flying back home to the states on Thursday.  It really makes me sad to think of leaving this place.  I've really made so many good friends in my time here.  I am going to miss the people here very much.  

I still am not sure why I am here.  I feel very certain that God wants me to be here for this time.  When I was praying about coming, everything seemed to work out so perfectly.  Every other time that I have prayed about taking a mission trip overseas, I have not been able to work out the details to go.  Somehow God always stopped me.  But for this trip, everything fell perfectly into place.  And I just had such a peace about coming.  

While I have been here, I have been staying with my cousins who are working here in the city.  I have been helping them with things around the house, as well as working some in the mission office here.  I have also gotten to hang out quite a bit with the English-speaking youth in Prague.  I think that was probably what I've enjoyed most while I have been here.  Those who don't know Christ seem to be really seeking, and the ones who do know Him have so many questions.  I've had some really deep conversations with the youth here.  I was also able to go to the English speaking youth group here (the only one in the city), called Youth Praha, and each time I went, I was able to talk to someone about God.  There is always at least one teenager who seems to not know much about God, who is very curious to learn more.  I don't know how much my talking with them helped, because they still seemed very confused.  But I am praying for them, and I hope that somehow they will still keep coming and seeking Christian people to talk to.  If I was going to be here for any length of time, I know that I would definitely want to get involved with Youth Praha.  

I think for me, probably the biggest thing about this trip has just been the way that it has opened my eyes up to a different side of life.  I really enjoyed living in Prague, learning to use the transportation system, and getting to know the people.  I feel like I think about things differently now.  I can't explain it, but I do know that something in the way I view things is different.  I don't want to be limited to the American Way anymore.  In fact, I think that I've realized how much Americans really are limited in the way they view things.  I know that I am!!  This trip has been really humbling for me, too.  I've realized just how much I have left to learn.  I've realized that I don't know much of anything.  But it's really given me a hunger to learn those things.  I don't want to be limited anymore.  And I'm praying that I won't be satisfied anymore with staying in my little world, in my little comfort zone.  God has begun to teach me so much.  I have felt so close to Him in this time.   He has been doing so much in my life the last few weeks, and I know He's just beginning.  I don't know what He has in store for the next few years, but I know that He will be faithful and that I can trust Him to show me each step that I should take.