Christianity 201

June 9, 2017

Big Ideas

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Today a short excerpt from the blog of Youth Unlimited. (This is a different YU than the one associated with Youth for Christ.) Click the title to read at source.

Don’t be Afraid of the Big Ideas

Do you ever feel too small for your big ideas? God loves to use people who don’t seem important enough to do his most important work. Consider these examples from the Bible:

Elijah- He spent some serious time in prayer and it changed the weather for THREE YEARS! You know the weather, that thing everyone acknowledges is totally out of our control… Elijah affected it through the power of prayer and he was just a guy like us.

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18

Moses- This guy got asked to do big things by God and had some serious doubts about his own ability.

10 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’”– Exodus 4:10.

But when he put his faith and trust in the Lord’s power working through him, he was able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through the Red Sea which he separated to make a dry path. Wow, that is a big dream that God used “un-eloquent” Moses for.

Gideon- Gideon was from a small clan that was being ruled and terrorized by a bigger clan, the Midianites. He was scared and felt hopeless when an angel appeared to him and told him that if he went and stood up against the enemy the Lord would make sure he won! Crazy.

15 And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ 16 And the Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’” Judges 6:11-16


Bonus item:
Sometimes we return to previous blog posts from other years. One we used a long time ago was the newsletter from author and missionary Elizabeth Elliot.

When she concluded writing in that forum, she ended her last piece with a hymn written by Anna L. Waring in 1850:

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child
And guided where I go.

Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoever estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate .

July 3, 2014

When Less is More

Today’s blog post was discovered at the site, Christian Devotions where it appeared in May.  The author is Nate Stevens, and to read this at source, click on the title below.

Less Can Be More

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2 / NIV)

It sounds crazy, but less can be more.

While preparing for a speaking conference, I created a seventy-page PowerPoint presentation. Comprised of wondrous wisdom and awesome animations, I felt certain it would blow the audience away. Then God whispered, “Cut some of it out.”

“But, God, there’s a wealth of wisdom in it!” My response was met with a firm confirmation of His initial request. So I painstakingly began removing sections based on a process of de-prioritized importance.

Reduced to thirty pages, I had a momentary feeling of satisfaction – until I sensed God’s call for further reduction. So I whittled it down to twenty pages, down to fifteen, fourteen … finally condensing my initial treatise to twelve pages. Knowing full well I had cut too much “great stuff,” I was subsequently blown away with what God did at the conference for those surviving twelve pages. In hindsight, I would never have gotten through all seventy pages. God allowed the right content that fit within the scheduled timeframe, to touch people’s hearts and serve His purpose. He received the glory; I received a lesson in less.

When God appointed Gideon as the leader who would free the Israelites from Midianite tyranny, Gideon summoned all who would help him fight against this heathen rule and its vast army. When thirty-two thousand men showed up, God told Gideon, “That’s too many men – send some of them home.” After the “fearful and afraid” left, Gideon’s army numbered ten thousand men. Still, God told him to reduce it further. With a surviving army of three hundred men, human reasoning would lean toward a resounding defeat. But God did much with less. He not only delivered His people from the Midianites, He received all the glory for the victory.

Today’s commercialized culture encourages many of us to maintain a mindset of wanting more. Bigger houses, vacation homes, boats, newer cars, state-of-the-art techno-gadgets – whatever is the latest and greatest, we want it. So we work harder, work longer hours, and make more money to buy more status symbols reflective of what the world deems successful. However, have we considered God may want us to have less – so He can have more of us?

If something crowds out your time with God or lessens your dependence on Him, He may ask that you remove it from your life. Rest assured – with less, you’ll end up with so much more.


 

As a missionary kid who grew up in a Christian home and church, Nate Stevens has enjoyed a thirty-year banking career in a variety of leadership roles. Recently, God made it clear Nate should use his writing talents for God’s kingdom. He has written online devotionals for his home church (Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC) for the past two years. His first book, Matched 4 Marriage – Meant 4 Life, was recently published and released (www.natestevens.net).