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What Image Do You See?

South Students Devotional 5

6-2-20

What Image Do You See?

Devotional

We are bombarded with images every single day. Whether we are scrolling through Instagram, watching our favorite show on Netflix, playing video games, or just driving around town. These images shape the way we see people, our community, our neighbors, ourselves. These images can have a positive or negative effect, but more often, it’s a negative effect. For example, how often do you look at yourself in the mirror and think positive thoughts, after scrolling through Instagram, seeing everyone’s highlight reels of their lives? The news that we see shapes the way we see certain leaders in our world. Just look at what’s happening in our country right now. People are dying, rioting, protesting and more because of the way black people have been viewed and treated by so many in our country for as long as our country has existed. This is not ok. The way black people and other people of color are too often treated is not ok. Racism is not ok.

What image do we see when we look at others? Images are ultimately just a reflection. Throughout all of this, I keep coming back to Genesis 1 when God created humans. In Genesis 1:26 God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” The image of God, or Imago Dei, as it is often called, is something that is inherent in every single human being. No exceptions. You were created in the image of God. Your black neighbor was created in the image of God. Your Arabic classmate was created in the image of God. The homeless person you pass by on the street was made in the image of God. Every single person you have ever seen and ever will see, is made in the image of God. This is not based on anything a person does or doesn’t do, but simply by who they are—human.

There is something clearly special about humanity. If you read the rest of chapter 1, you see that there is a transition from the language used of God creating everything else, speaking things into being, to personally making humans in his image and likeness. These words show that humans were created to be a representation of God on the earth. They were created to reflect God.

Knowing that every single human is made in the image of God should carry a lot of weight. If we truly believe that everyone is made in the image of God, it should change the way we view and treat others, as well as ourselves. This means that every human is valuable, no matter their race, how old they are, their occupation, or whether they are Christian or not. Each person has dignity, value, and worth. We need to love and treat others in a way that someone created in the image of God deserves.

 

Scripture 

Genesis 1:26-27

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,  and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Prayer

God, help me to see everyone the way you see them. Help me to see them as they truly are – someone made in the image of God. Help me to treat everyone with dignity, love, and respect because that’s what they deserve. Help me to be a better reflection of you as I interact with my family, friends, neighbors, and community. God, I also pray that seeing the image of God in people would be the lens that every single Christian would look through. That racism would stop with us. That we would love our neighbors well. That we would all see the beauty in each person because they were created in the very image of God. Amen.

Questions/Journal prompts 

  1. What tends to shape the way you view others the most? Social media? News? Friends? Family? Church? The Bible?
  2. Is it difficult for you to see yourself as being made in the image of God? If yes, why do you think that is?
  3. If you saw every person as someone made in the image of God, how would that change the way you act, talk, interact with others, etc.?
  4. What can you do this week to show someone that they have dignity, value, and worth because they are a human and they are made in the image of God?

Song to listen to

Spend some time listening to these songs, reflecting on the words, and sitting with Jesus.

Empires by Hillsong UNITED

Brother by The Brilliance – cover by Seth & Nirva

Here is a link to a Spotify playlist with all of the songs from these devotionals!

What Image Do You See?2020-09-30T11:51:45-06:00

This Little Light of Mine

Devotional

This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. So many of us grew up singing that song – being told to let our light shine, not hide it under a bushel (whatever that is), and not let Satan *pfff* (not sure how to spell that, but you get my drift) it out. But how do you let your light shine when you’re told to stay inside, to stay in your home? How can you be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in the middle of a global pandemic?

First of all, ask yourself, how can you be salt and light in your home, with the people you are quarantined with—your parents, siblings? Philippians 2:14 says to “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Now, I know that can be hard to do after a few weeks of being at home with your family essentially 24×7—everyone’s stressed, scared, and probably getting on each other’s nerves. Do everything without grumbling? That’s a big ask – especially when you’re doing school online, you can’t go and see your friends, you’re not getting to do so many things you were looking forward to. Everyone’s grumbling about what’s going on right now, right? Basically, but with that being the case, just think about how much brighter your light will shine if you don’t do that. If you don’t join in the grumbling, the arguing, the protesting? Philippians 2 goes on to say that if we do that, we’ll shine among this warped and crooked generation, like stars in the sky! Just think about how much this would mean to your parents—if you didn’t grumble or argue, but instead you respond with patience, love, peace. That’s not easy to do, but that’s what we’re called to do as followers of Christ!

So how can we let our light shine? What things can you do to love your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community, in the middle of this pandemic? I don’t have all the answers, nor have I done the best job myself at this, but I want to give some suggestions.

  1. As cliché as it may seem, it’s true. Prayer is our main weapon against the evil in this world, as well as the way we connect to God. So use this powerful tool to pray for your family, friends, neighbors, community, world. Pray for those who are lonely, hurting, sick, grieving because a loved one died. Pray for those who have been diagnosed with covid-19, as well as the healthcare workers who are fighting to keep people alive, and our government leaders who are trying to navigate this difficult time and figure out how to respond to this in a way that protects people.
  2. Reach out. Reach out to the people in your life. Chances are, they are struggling, lonely, hurting, and more, just like you. Just sending a text or a letter, or giving them a call, could make their day and show them that they aren’t alone and that someone cares for them!
  3. There are so many ways to give and help right now – whether that’s through South (donating to or helping with the foodbank, giving to the church to keep our ministries going), delivering food to people who are vulnerable and can’t get their own food, or more. There’s so many ways to give right now!
  4. Get creative with how to love. So many people are finding creative ways to love others around them, to shine a light, to be a good neighbor. Delivering rolls of toilet paper or cookies to people’s houses, writing encouraging notes on the sidewalks, making signs for your windows, or more. Even just smiling at another person when you’re out on a walk could brighten their day.

I could go on, but I just wanted to give you a few ideas. You can still be a bright light for Jesus from your home. So, spend some time thinking – how can you be the salt of the earth and light of the world during this season that we’re in right now? How can you love your family, friends, community? Be a light for Jesus in this dark, scary time. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

 

Scripture

 

Matthew 5:13-16

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Phil 2:14-16

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

Prayer

God, help me to be a bright light right now when everything is so scary, dark, and unknown. Help me to love those around me well. When I get stressed, give me the love, peace, and patience I need to not grumble and argue. Show me what you would like me to do to be a light in my community right now and how to love people well, even if it’s just from my home. Amen.

Questions/Journal prompts

 

  1. When do you notice yourself grumbling the most? Are there certain things that make it worse?
  2. How can you be a light in your home and love your family well during this time?
  3. Who could you reach out to today to check in on?
  4. What are some ways that you could love and care for your neighbors and your community right now?

Song to listen to

Spend some time listening to this song, reflecting on the words, and sitting with Jesus. We can do so much when we’re standing in God’s love – just think how much more we can love others when we’re doing that.

Stand in Your Love – Bethel

Here is a link to a Spotify playlist with all of the songs from these devotionals!

This Little Light of Mine2020-09-30T11:52:37-06:00

When You Don’t Desire to Seek God

We’ve been told again and again to seek God. If you’ve grown up in the church like I have, you’ve heard that your whole life. Seek God. But what if you’re in a season where you just don’t have the desire or longing to seek God? Personally, I have struggled with that off and on for many years, especially being in seminary and before that, at a Christian college. I was studying the Bible all the time, learning about God and theology, and the Bible became more like a textbook than the living Word of God. Many times I have prayed, “God, I long to long for you.” With that prayer and lack of desire, I have continued to seek him. Just because the desire isn’t necessarily there, doesn’t mean you should stop seeking him and spending time with him and wait until the desire is there to start seeking him. We are told to seek God with our whole heart, and when we do that, he promises to be found (Jer. 29:13). It doesn’t say to seek God when you feel like it.

So many things get in our way of seeking God. School, friends, family, Netflix, sports, Instagram, etc. For some reason, it’s easier for us to scroll mindlessly through Instagram or binge watch hours of our favorite show on Netflix than to spend even 30 minutes in prayer or reading God’s Word. That’s probably one of Satan’s favorite, and easiest, ways to attack us—distracting us with mind-numbing activities that are seemingly more attractive and better uses of our time than seeking God. This is a daily struggle for me, and I’m sure it is for you too. But I also know that spending time in the presence of God is so much better than all of those things. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t watch TV, or be on social media, or spend time with friends! Just don’t let those things take over your life so that you aren’t even spending time with God because you’re so distracted. Right now, a lot of these distractions have been stripped away and we are left with a lot more time on our hands. Take advantage of this time—not to watch TV for 10 hours a day—but to spend some more time reading the Bible, praying, spending time with God and seeking him. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

One of my favorite psalms for the past year is Psalm 63. About a year ago, I spent a day up in the mountains by myself and while up there, I memorized this psalm. I have prayed this psalm countless times, praying that someday this would be 100% true for me. Honestly, right now it’s not. I don’t thirst for and long for God as in a dry and parched land. There are some days that I am not fully satisfied with God. Days when I barely think about him. Days when I cling to my friends or other things instead of clinging to God. Yet, I still long for that. I want to be able to read this psalm and for it be completely true of me. Until then, I will keep praying this psalm as I seek God and long to long for him more deeply.

 

Scripture

 

Psalm 63:1-8

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord,

More passages to read:

Psalm 34

Matthew 6:25-34

Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Prayer

God, I long to long for you. Create in me a desire to know and love you more deeply. On the days where I’m bombarded with distractions, draw me back to you. God, your love is better than life. Help me to see and fully believe that. When I lack the desire to spend time with you, the desire to seek you, give me the strength to seek you anyways. I need you, God. Give me the desire to seek you. Amen.

Questions/Journal prompts

 

  1. What are some of the main distractions in your life that get in your way of seeking God and spending time with him?
  2. Do you desire to spend time with God? Why or why not?
  3. What would it look like for you to seek God more this week?
  4. Set a goal for yourself for this week in spending time with God—maybe that’s just spending 10 minutes with him a day, or reading a psalm a day, or going on a walk and listening to worship music every day.

Songs to listen to

Spend some time listening to these songs, reflecting on the words, and sitting with Jesus.

I Need You, I Love You, I Want You – Tenth Avenue North

Yearn – Shane & Shane

Here is a link to a Spotify playlist with all of the songs from these devotionals!

When You Don’t Desire to Seek God2020-09-30T11:57:12-06:00

Our Refuge in the Storm

Our Refuge in the Storm (or the Pandemic)

Devotional

Shelter. That’s a word that we’ve heard a lot recently. Shelter in place – that’s what we’re told to do right now. Stay at home. For some, this is not a difficult thing to do; they live in a safe place with people they love and can spend time with and not go completely crazy. For others, it is a very difficult thing to do; they may not live in a home that is very safe and their time at school or church and with their friends is where they feel safe, or maybe they’re just an extreme extrovert and are slowly withering away inside without personal social interaction (or is that just me?) Whichever boat you find yourself in, there is a far better and safer shelter than the one you’re in right now.

Throughout Scripture, and especially the psalms, we see this idea of God being our shelter and our refuge. A definition of refuge is, “ a shelter or protection from danger or distress.” A refuge is essentially a safe place where we find protection from things that may cause us harm. We are told that God is our refuge, that we can find protection, shelter, and safety in him. Psalm 61 and 62 are two of my favorite psalms, and in them, David says over and over that God is his refuge. Now, when David wrote these psalms, it’s believed that he was hiding from Saul who was hunting him down, trying to kill him (1 Samuel 26). He was in search of shelter and refuge that would keep him safe from the man who was trying to harm him. Even though he found a place to hide, he knew that wouldn’t keep him safe. The only refuge he could find that would truly keep him safe was God. He trusted in God as his shelter and refuge, his mighty rock.

During this time of staying in the shelter of our homes, whether that is a safe place for you or not, I want to challenge you to find your true refuge in God. He is the one who never fails us, who is steady, unchanging, a firm foundation. So, use this time to press into God. You have a lot more time on your hands; use it to go deeper with God. When you’re afraid, worried, anxious, sad, happy, confused, content, (really just anytime) go to God and take shelter under his wings. Like a baby bird resting under their mothers’ wings (google it, it’s adorable!). Under those wings, they found shelter, protection, warmth, love, and peace. The baby birds trust their mothers as they rested under their wings. Just like a baby bird, we are to take refuge under God’s wings. He is our refuge, our shelter in the storm (or the pandemic).

Scripture

Psalm 61:1-4

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 62:1-8

1 Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
3 How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Psalm 46:1-3

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Prayer

God, during this time when I need to stay at home, I ask that you would show me that you are my refuge, that you are a safe place in the midst of this pandemic that is spreading throughout the world. Be my safe place. Be my shelter. Be my refuge. Help me to trust in you during this time, to go to you for shelter, and to take refuge under your wings. Amen.

Questions/Journal prompts

Feel free to use these questions as a guide as you journal and/or pray.

1. What are some of the difficulties you face as you stay at home?
2. What things do you need in a place of refuge and shelter?
3. Can you think of a time where you have experienced God being your refuge?
4. Spend a minute or two just resting under God’s wings, sitting in his presence. How did you feel while you did that?

Songs to listen to

These are a couple songs that I listen to when I’m feeling anxious or worried. Spend some time listening to these, reflecting on the words, and sitting with Jesus.

I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe

Defender by Francesca Battistelli

Our Refuge in the Storm2020-09-30T11:57:51-06:00

What About Tomorrow?

South Students Devotional 1
4-1-20

What About Tomorrow?

Devotional

How do we think about the future when the future is so uncertain (more than usual)? That is a question that has been on my mind a lot this past week. It seems as though God hit the pause button on our world and our lives, even though the days still go on. We still have work, school, other responsibilities. So many things have been put on hold, or cancelled though. Vacations. Visiting friends. Graduation. Prom. Sports seasons. These are just a few. We don’t know how long this “new normal” of quarantine-ing, staying at home, social distancing, will last. Weeks? Months? What will our summer look like? I’m sure you’ve been asking a lot of these questions, and probably so many more. So where does that leave us?

Several times in Scripture we are told to not worry or be anxious. Matthew 6 and Philippians 4 are some of the main passages that teach that. But let’s be real, that is so hard to do. Especially in our world today where so many people struggle with anxiety, and worry plagues their minds on a daily basis. How does God expect us to not worry? It’s probably because he knows it won’t do us any good. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). What’s the point of worrying? Jesus talks about this in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount. He says not to worry about your life, what you’ll eat or drink, your body, what you’ll wear. He uses birds as an example to show how he provides for all of their needs, yet we are so much more valuable to him than they are. Verse 34 is one of my favorites, and one I have to remind myself of on a regular basis. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

In this season of some much uncertainty, we are almost forced into not worrying about the future and not planning for what’s to come, because we really don’t know what the coming weeks and months will look like. In the midst of all this uncertainty, God has been teaching me to take life one day at a time. That is something I have always struggled with. I love planning. Sometimes as I lay in my bed, trying to fall asleep, I think through my schedule for the next day, or even the next week. I love knowing what’s coming and what to expect, even though it doesn’t always go exactly according to my plan. However, I still find some comfort in my plans; really I’m finding comfort in having control. In reality though, I’m not in control. God is. Even now, in the midst of all this craziness, God is in control.

So, in this time where we can’t plan for the future, at least the next few months, let’s try to take life one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow, next week, next month. Just focus on today. Trust God with your future, with your tomorrows. He is in control and he has a plan, even when we can’t see it, even when we don’t understand what he is doing. He is still good and he is still in control. So today, bring that worry and anxiety you may be feeling to God and replace it with peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says that when we bring those things to him with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving, that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Let’s replace that worry with peace today.

Scripture

Matthew 6:25-33

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Philippians 4:4-8

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Prayer

God, in a world where life is so uncertain, help me to trust you. When I don’t know what will come tomorrow, remind me to focus on today. When worry and anxiety begin to creep in, fill my mind with peace instead. When I feel like I lack control, remind me that you are in control. God, help me to take life one day at a time. You are good. You are in control. You have a plan. Help me to rest in those truths today. Amen.

Questions/Journal prompts

Feel free to use these questions as a guide as you journal and/or pray.

1. What things are you worrying about today?
2. Is it difficult for you to not worry or feel anxious? Why do you think that is?
3. What are some things that you can focus on today instead of worrying about tomorrow or the future?
4. Do you believe that God is good, in control, and that he has a plan? Why or why not?

Songs to listen to

These are a couple songs that I listen to when I’m feeling anxious or worried. Spend some time listening to these, reflecting on the words, and sitting with Jesus.

Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest) by Kari Jobe

P E A C E by Hillsong Young & Free

What About Tomorrow?2020-09-30T11:58:53-06:00
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