What do you see? pt 2

Friday

Hannah Alford

John 9:5-11

“Well did you really have a bad day, or was it just bad for five minutes?” I hate that saying. I mean what the heck, who is this person to ask me about the legitimacy of my bad day. A lot of the time, I fall guilty to plunging into self-thoughts and isolation when I am upset, I think of how everything is affecting me, and how I am just struggling to get by. But, when I can get a minute where I can just turn to God and ask, “What are you doing in my life right now?” it can put a whole new perspective on my day. It turns from a perspective on the self (specifically myself) and makes me look at how my life is interacting with everyone else’s. Think about it, you are never the only one having a bad day, but if your head is looking down all day, you’re never going to see the other people around you who are struggling and can understand what you’re going through. We need a change of perspective, and I don’t mean condescending inspirational quotes to make you “think”, we need to look to God. To pray and turn to Him in our times of brokenness and not only will He lead us to the light, but He will give us the strength and mission to lead others as well.
Hey God!

When we are broken, lead us away from “I, me” mindsight we often get consumed in. Allow us to see, in these broken times, the work you are doing in our lives, and continually provide us with the opportunity to be a servant of you and lead your children into the light.

Amen

What do you see? pt 1

Thursday
David Conour
Acts 9: 10-12
It can be easy to lose our focus. To turn our attention away from the things in our life that bring us joy and instead obsess over all of the things that make our lives more difficult or more stressful. Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our own struggles that we become blind to the work that God is doing in our lives. Oftentimes, this blindness is next to impossible for us to fix on our own. Instead, God sends someone in our lives to help us see the light of God’s glory. Take Paul, or Saul in this case, for example. God sent Ananias to Saul in order to restore his vision and to tell him of the glory of Jesus Christ, and as a result, Paul became one of the most faithful figures in the Bible. He was instrumental in the growth of the early church. Yet without Ananias, he would have remained blind forever, never seeing what God truly wanted him to do. Just as Paul had Ananias, God puts people in our lives that open our eyes to him. These can be friends, parents, mentors, siblings, or even someone we just met. Whoever they are, they help us to see the Holy Spirit working in our lives, and restore our vision of God.

Father God,

Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. To let your great love and glory guide my actions and my spirit. When I am blind to You, place people in my life that will open my eyes, and show me Your greatness

In Your Son’s holy name,

Amen.

A Place to Belong 6

Wednesday

David Conour

1 Kings 19:1-18

Do you ever just have one of those days? Where you feel like you’re all alone, even though you’ve been around people constantly? Where no matter what you do, it just feels like you don’t quite belong? I know that I’ve been experiencing that a lot lately. And it isn’t something that anyone is doing or saying, no one is making me feel excluded or anything like that, but sometimes it just feels like I’m an outsider looking in. When that happens, life can get hard. I have difficulty maintaining a positive attitude, I see all of my faults like I’m looking through a magnifying lens, and I feel like I’m letting down the people that look to me for guidance and leadership. So what do I do to overcome these feelings? Well, for starters, I take a deep breath, and I pray to God. I try to quiet the storm of thoughts racing through my mind, much like Elijah waited for the storm on the mountainside to subside so that he could hear what God had to say to him. I try to listen to what God is trying to say to me through the tumult of emotion, and what he is trying to teach me because of it. Once I feel like I’ve gotten somewhat of a handle on things, I talk to people that I trust about what I’m dealing with, because God didn’t put us on the Earth so we could face all our struggles alone. Just as Elijah came back to community after speaking to God on the mountainside, we must return to the community of faith that God has placed us in. Because when separated from the rest of the fire, an ember will quickly go out, but when it is among the coals, it will burn strong and bright.

Holy Father, Keep my eyes turned toward You. When I feel alone, help me to see that You are working in my life. That You are at my side, always supporting me, always pushing me to become the person you created me to be. Help me to hear You when the storms of life are raging. Help me to rely on the people that You placed in my life to support me, and to lean on them when my own strength is not enough. Amen.  

A Place to Belong 5

Tuesday

Ruth Hallstead

Ruth 1:20-21

I know I’m biased, but I love the book of Ruth. This passage in particular really hits home for me with this sermon series. For those who don’t know, at this point all the men around Naomi (Ruth’s mother in law) have died, and given the time period she is up the creek without a paddle. So she decides to go back home, somewhere she might belong, and when she arrives, she expresses her angst regarding her losses (she even goes so far as to tell them to call her a new name, Mara, that means bitterness instead of Naomi, which means pleasant*). Now she’s bereft, but she’s not alone. She has Ruth, and you really need to read the whole story to see how awesome that is. To me, this verse is all about perspective. Even when you feel as though everything has been taken from you, God will never leave you alone. That’s hard to hear and believe when you’re at the bottom of a pit, but it will always and forever be true. He is always with you, and not only that, He often puts people around you for times such as these. It’s an incredible example of faithfulness and love that never fails to remind me of how amazing our God is, even in the midst of brokenness and feeling out of place!

Lord, help me when I’m feeling out of place and alone. Guide me in seeing all that You’ve given me, even if that’s after the fact. Thank you for the incredible stories of strength and devotion as well as loss that can teach us so much about You, and show us the ups and downs that make life so interesting for better or for worse. God, you are an awesome God, help to remember that even when I feel like I’ve turned from pleasant into a sea of bitterness. Amen

*Names can have power y’all, so choose wisely, even if it’s just a car

A Place to Belong 4

Monday

John Austin Higginbotham 

Romans 14:12-13

College can be a trying time for those of faith. Speaking from my own personal experience, I have found this to be the truth. Specifically when it comes to being supportive of those around you as we all try to live out our faith. We live in an environment where everyone else is preaching self-gratification and self-interest. Where it’s ok to be selfish and self-serving. This isn’t how a community of believers should act though. Instead we should be outwardly focused, not on wishing our peers grief or harm, but rather love and support. As Romans notes, we each are accountable to God, and as he says here and many other places, he calls us to be actively lifting up those amongst us. Now I know that all of us aren’t actively planning and wishing for the downfall of our peers (I hope). But we do sometimes become apathetic to others around us. We become very focused on just ourselves and what we need to get out of things and the things we want to do. However, if everyone has this mindset, then no one will be supportive of us when we most need it. Especially when we’re struggling or alone. So my encouragement to you today is not only to not be a stumbling block to others and apathetic and self-centered, but to resolve to be an encourager in faith. To take notice of those around you and of words of kindness and friendship. To truly be a light in this world as we are called to be.

Oh Lord, we ask you to open our hearts and light a fire in us today. To show us those around us whom we’ve neglected to share kindness and attention towards. We ask that you give us the strength and courage to speak up and out. We ask to have a mindset focused on others rather than just our self. In your name we pray, amen.

A Place to Belong 3

Saturday 

Hannah Alford 

Jeremiah 29:11

God doesn’t always reach us in a giant booming voice from above the heavens. In fact, a lot of the time God reaches us when we are feeling most isolated by surrounding us with people who bring us closer to him. Friends can see the blind spots we can’t and with unwavering love and devotion to God, show us how God is working in our lives. But what about when the tables are turned and we are the ones in a situation where we have to reach out to a friend? It can be hard sometimes, we feel as though we are overstepping our boundaries or putting our nose into something we shouldn’t. But let me be the first to say (as a person who has been on the receiving end of help many a time) that if you have the opportunity to reach out to a friend, do it. You have the ability to change someone’s day around and possibly help lead them through their brokenness and into the light.

Hey God! Allow us to be a resource for those in need. Use our strengths in an effort to heal the brokenness in those around us. Continue to support us and give us strength when we are struggling, because through our pain we can learn and grow closer towards you. AMEN!