“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and brining me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:22-25
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Our weekly Christian devotional
“Wait. Stop. Let’s take a picture.” Candice clicks the filter option on her I phone and poses for her selfie.
The silent partner in the photo is Gibson’s famous chocolate cake. The funniest (or perhaps the saddest) part of it all is—this birthday cake isn’t even Candice’s. It’s part of the restaurant’s menu display!
Is it just me or have you noticed that it the documentation of our lives has become more important than the actual living of it? So many are being drawn into the illusion of perfection, without taking notice or actually enjoying the imperfect and real moments that life is actually fashioned from.
This mad dash to photograph proof of the latest restaurants we’ve dined in, our newest running shoes or our killer vacation/margarita/nail art has really opened my eyes. As I take in all the Facebook updates and Instagram postings, it seems to bring an acute awareness of my ‘lack’. I can feel it clouding my vision with discouragement, longing, angst and envy. Call me crazy, but ‘falling behind’ has never really appealed to me. In fact, now with all the added pressure of social media it downright gives me the heebejeebies!
I hate admitting this, but becoming a Christ follower hasn’t rendered me immune to the pressures of wanting to keep up with ‘everyone else’. I may be a Christian, but I’m still only human.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m very aware that God graciously saved me from a life hell bent on sinning. I’m thankful that I’m now headed towards an amazing eternal destination and that I’ve got the power of God living on the inside me. Sadly, even with all that good stuff going on, deep down, I still want to fit in. But…I also sincerely desire to stand out for God! And in this day and age, it feels like that’s the farthest thing from glamorous or popular. So, my selfish dilemma continues…
As I read the book of Romans, I totally ‘feel’ Paul as he laments about his struggle with the flesh. Every time I read his words, I wonder what his personal angst would look like in the Twenty first century.
I guess the simple truth is: insecurity and fleshy struggles don’t simply disappear the minute you ask Jesus into your heart. Reading the book of Romans only made me realize that fear of other’s perceptions has been happening since the days of Christ. So, this isn’t an uncommon issue. Perhaps it was a bit presumptuous of me, but somehow I imagined my life as a Believer would be a tad less complicated than this!
When I read John 10:10, the first thing that comes to mind is this intense pressure to fit in and keep up. Forget the Joneses next door—we’re now expected to keep up those Kardashians, too! This invisible monster of ‘more, more, not enough…” has done more to steal kill and destroy everything that makes life simple and good, especially for this generation. Think about it–peace, joy and goodness can never be fully enjoyed when there’s jealousy, competition and comparison in the atmosphere.
If Believers truly desire to live an authentic and joyful life for God, we need to make a stop lamenting about what we don’t have. We must begin to notice, appreciate, and start praising God for what He’s already given us. We must fight to find the joy and peace that’s already there for the taking—the one that seems to be buried underneath our frustrations and discontents.
For a while, I felt God tugging on my heart to go higher with Him. At first, I ignored those promptings. Quite frankly, I was just being lazy—I didn’t want to break out of my comfortable routine. But, the longer I went ignoring His pull, the more I realized there is no peace when you ignore God. I began to crave more depth in my shallow (but still Christian) life. This was the beginning of my breakthrough.
I began to see how I had slowly transitioned from craving the voice of God to actually ignoring it. In deep repentance, I asked Him to lead me to the next step He wanted me to take.
The first impression God placed on my heart was to deactivate my Facebook account. After I did, I felt led to cut out other mindless activities–like useless television shows. This opened up huge pockets of time, enabling me to shift my focus away from the things of this world back onto the things that matter.
I began to realize that my time and attention were all God really wanted. It touched my heart to know that God Almighty actually desired to connect with little old me! He didn’t care if I had a chipped manicure or wanted to hang with him at Panera bread. He only wanted ME.
I’m not going to lie—making these changes sure wasn’t easy. But, I think that was the point. I was serious about growing in Him, it was crucial to press past my comfort zones and go out into the deep. My life couldn’t (nor shouldn’t) be about what I wanted to do anymore. In fact, doing this would be like going back to the life I felt so compelled to leave behind.
But isn’t sacrifice what intimate relationships are really about? Shouldn’t our focus be on the heart of the one we claim to love? I was free in Christ, but somewhere along the way I had loosened my grasp on my new life in Christ. My love for Him was becoming tainted with selfishness again.
I had to remind myself that Jesus wasn’t lazy. He didn’t go looking for the easy way out. He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have intimate communion with God.
John 10:10 warns how the enemy of our soul works. Satan will attempt to abort every good thing God is growing inside our hearts. He will also try to stop any connection or communication from happening with our Heavenly Father.
If we allow this, we’re partly to blame for it. If we stop listening for the voice of God and stop obeying it, it won’t take long for our tender hearts to become cold and callous.
The Christian life isn’t an Instagram show. It’s not about looking good on the outside and not having anything of substance or reality to back it up. It’s all about our struggle to overcome our natural inclinations and tap into what God provides supernaturally. It’s about holding onto the promises of God and letting go of anything that gets in the way from us receiving it. Every one of God’s children will fall short of perfection. But, we can all choose to be brave, dogmatic and committed to doing our part in this constant battle for our attention; because whatever captures it has lured our souls.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I’m so sorry. Once again, I’ve shifted my focus back onto what I want, what I don’t have and what other people are blessed with.
Lord, what can you do with a self-centered person like me? Show me! Prove your power and your goodness by changing the wretched state of my natural heart.
Lord, this is not a request. Give me the heart of your Son. I can’t live without it.
Foolishly, I’ve fallen for the traps of my enemy. He doesn’t play fair, using the lusts of my heart against me. Lord, give me discernment so I don’t fall for these traps over and over again.
What matters is kindness. Love. Compassion. Unselfishness. All these are qualities that must be developed. This takes time. Time spent in your presence without any distractions.
I commit to putting you first again, Lord. Help me to make the time for you and turn my eyes away from anything that would turn me away from you.
Lord, help me to love everything you love and hate everything you hate. This will move my heart into the realm that gives the enemy little to work with.
In Jesus’ name, I love you, Lord. I just don’t love you enough. Bless me to love you more than anything. Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: Romans 7:22-25, John 10:10
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan