Monthly Archives: February 2018

11 posts

When My Words Are Few

Wesley disclaimer: We do not endorse Snoop Dogg, the language in this song, actions in it or anything illegal or otherwise questionable, but believe God can use anything. ?

by Hannah Alford

When listening to the single from Snoop Dog’s upcoming gospel album, one line from the song “When my Words are Few” stood out to me.

“Let my actions speak for themselves, when my words are few”

How many of us let our actions speak for themselves? Often times, I know at least for me, I can get wrapped up in defending who I am and telling people things instead of just doing it. I tell people that “I really need to study for this test” but do I pick up a book? Sometimes, but rarely. Or how many of us throw around “Love you” to a friend, while not taking time out of your day to show your friend that you love them. We start to think that saying is the same thing as doing. But what does the Bible say about this? John 3:18 states, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth”. Simple as can be it’s saying do not just say you love everyone–prove it in your actions, show everyone that you are accepting, by accepting everyone. Do not speak kind words to someone and then turn behind their back and gossip. I know it can be hard, but being intentional about how you love, will start to, as Ruth began explaining on Monday, identify you as a Christian. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Love is not just a word–it’s an action and as emphasized by the bible we need to show it as an action. So throughout this week, think about how your words and actions are lining up, you are not perfect, and you’ll make mistakes, but by-golly, show love to those around you. Give it to those who may not need it, and those who do, and you can change how others see Christianity and view situations as an opportunity for love, rather than a “could have been” story you tell your friends later.

When Words Are Few

Wesley disclaimer: We do not endorse Snoop Dogg, the language in this song, actions in it or anything illegal or otherwise questionable, but believe God can use anything. If you’re not a fan of PG-13 content, we recommend scrolling to the super awesome devo below 🙂

by Ruth Hallstead

This song definitely needs a bit of introduction. Snoop Dogg perhaps isn’t someone we would typically look to for an example of Christian living… I guess, God can use all kinds? I don’t know though. When I first heard about this new album, I was pretty skeptical. Coming from the singer of “Sexual Eruption”, “Smoke the Weed” and other songs I can’t type out here, gospel music seems kind of suspicious. However, after watching several of the singles from his soon-to-be released album, and reading the comments on YouTube, I’m convinced that this song does belong in a devotional. Multiple comments railed against Snoop Dogg for his hypocritical nature (their words), saying he isn’t a Christian, denouncing any connection he could have to God, and many other judgmental things. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think about this album, it isn’t my place to speak about that. Instead, I’m going to address one of the comments that hit me very hard in particular. One viewer wrote that he hadn’t heard anything about God from Snoop Dogg in 20+ years, so he couldn’t possibly be a Christian. Reflecting on that, I began to think about how many people only know I’m a Christian because I’ve said “I can’t stay too late, I’ve got church in the morning” or “the main campus organization I’m involved with is Bama Wesley”. Have you ever gotten the surprised “Oh, I didn’t know you were a Christian”? I have. And it hurts. Clearly we are missing something if people are surprised by our faith. While we may not verbally praise the Lord, or bring up the Bible in casual conversation, our actions should set us apart. God told Ezekiel, “A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you…” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). We have a new heart, and we are filled with God’s spirit! How amazing is that? Certainly too amazing to keep inside or to stop it from affecting our actions! As you go about your day, think about what you do. Let your actions speak volumes about your faith. Pray for God to move in you and through so that no one is ever surprised that you are a Christian. In the 1960s, the hymn “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love” was written—let’s make that true in our lives today, and always.

Bare Necessities

by Paul Selden

Throughout this week we have been looking at the “Bare Necessities”, or the simple ways to be a devoted Christian and walk in the way of the Lord.  One verse that really gives straightforward instructions to be a disciple of God is seen in Deuteronomy 6:5

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength”.

You might be familiar with this verse but with from another part of the Bible, as Jesus quotes it several times in the New Testament, and if Jesus is referring to it, rest assured that it is probably pretty important.  Let’s break it down a bit though.  The first way mentioned to love God is our heart.  This refers to our personal relationship with Jesus, and can be achieved through worship and especially prayer as we seek to understand his love for us and welcome it into our lives more and more each day.  This acceptance of God’s grace is the foundation of our faith.  Next is loving God with all of our soul.  To me this means actively seeking to learn more about God through reading of the scriptures, discussing personal moments of God’s love in small groups, and listening to the sermon in church in order gain a greater understanding of the grace of God.  Finally, we have love God with all our strength.  I understand this as challenging ourselves to serve for the glory of God.  Typically it is the one that makes us most uncomfortable, whether it be trying to spread the word of God, serving those in need directly through a service project, or finally reaching out to that friend to come to church, loving God with all our strength is a constant challenge that we should push ourselves to achieve.  To wrap things up, the key idea is to love God by growing closer to him in prayer and worship, by understanding his presence in the world and his Word to a greater extent, and challenging ourselves to bring glory to his kingdom on Earth.  

 

Bare Necessities

by Hannah Alford

What are your bare necessities? If you had to pack a bag with things you “need” and didn’t have anything else, would you have enough? How big would the bag have to be to hold everything? Often times we think of physical things when it comes to the bare necessities, but let’s put that on the back burner for a second and think about what the bare necessities of our worshiping God would look like. Baloo tells us to…

“Look for the Bare Necessities,

The simple bare necessities,

Forget about you worries and your strife…”

When it comes to being a Christian ,the bare necessities, the essentials to being in a relationship with God, is prayer. Philippians 4: 6-7 states “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Before you can build a relationship with God, there needs to be a foundation. Prayer can be used as a direct line to God, where you put forth your praises or requests, and as you do this you will become closer and closer to God. So think about your bare necessities this week, whether that be your phone, your time with your friends, good grades, or etc. and try to add prayer to that list and watch as you start growing your relationship with God.

Bare Necessities

the jungle book friendship GIF by Disney

by Ruth Hallstead

 

What does the Lord require? Think on that for a minute. Of course, we’ve got the Ten Commandments, the social principles, the Book of Discipline, and the entire Bible, just to name a few resources that can help us answer that question. Sometimes trying to follow all those specific rules can be exhausting, and confusing at times. What exactly does honoring your father and mother mean? What if you read something out of the Bible that doesn’t sound like loving your neighbor? What if you fall asleep before reading all 800 pages of the Book of Discipline? What happens when one verse seems to contradict another? Surely there is a simpler way… Look no further than Micah 6:8. Micah was a prophet during one of the worst times Israel’s history, and he spoke these words as a guide to the struggling Israelites. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”. The answer to that rhetorical question is: nothing. As you dig deeper, you begin to realize that those three things are anything but simple to accomplish. However, they are simple to understand (except maybe the last part, and for that we can turn to the message translation of walking humbly, “don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously”. God is the main event, we are here to follow Him). That is all God asks of us. Do good through doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with Him. Those other resources are there to aid us in accomplishing this, strengthen us in times of weakness, and provide guidance when we feel lost. There is value in every single one of them, so long as you never lose sight of the big picture. Don’t drown in laws, words, and complicated directions. Focus on the bare necessities. Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk humbly with God.

Silly Love Songs

So, there’s this verse that practically every child who was raised in the church knows backward, forward, upside down, and maybe in a second language that they don’t even speak. But when I started thinking about God’s love, I just started thinking that they chose to teach us this verse for a reason. So, you may have figured it out by now but even if you know it by heart let’s go there first:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Despite (or maybe because of) that being drilled into me at VBS, it still feels special. In that verse, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus who had come to talk to Jesus, in awe of His teaching and power to perform miracles. Basically, Nicodemus knew Jesus had an in with God. Jesus tells him he must be reborn and then hits him with the verse above (okay I left out a little in the middle. As always, I recommend checking it out here.). In the next chapter, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and, breaking all cultural norms, gives her a similar invitation. It’s so cool to me that those stories are almost back to back because what it shows us is that it doesn’t matter where we are on the social/economic/moral/whateverelse scale – Jesus is inviting both the top of society and the lowest. None of that before matters because, like Nicodemus, we have the chance to be reborn and find our identity as a child of God. And no matter who you are or what you’ve done, you are SO loved by God. So loved, in fact, that He gave up His only son just so He could spend eternity with you. And, yeah, dying on the cross was painful but the beauty of that love is He would do it again because that’s how big He loves you.

Maybe you’re not so sure about all of this yet. Maybe you feel like your sin is too big. Maybe you’ve been busy or distracted and it’s been a while since you let yourself get really connected to Jesus. Maybe the love expressed in John 3:16 feels a little foreign or intimidating right now. There are so many other maybes to put here, but I’m here to say I know the feeling. Sometimes, I get so caught up in my head that I choose to ignore God’s love in favor of my own insecurities or shame. “God’s grace may be resistible in the short run, but, in the long run, God’s love is inexhaustible,” is a quote that I found in the back of an old Bible that always reminds me that no matter where I’m at, God’s love is bigger.

So, I end with two ideas if you’re looking for extra ways to put today’s devo in action:

  1. Go back to the verse above and replace “the world” with your name. Spend 30 extra seconds resting in God’s grace and peace as you start your day.
  2. Keep an eye out today and count 5 ways God’s showing you His love
    1. If you’re feeling really ambitious, share with a friend – who knows, maybe you’ll become one of their ways