S.P.R.A.W.L. Before the Lord

MEME - Blog - S.P.R.A.W.L. Before the Lord - Jan 14, 2019Suggested Reading: Genesis 24

As a teenage runaway, I convinced myself that survival made it necessary to place my needs above everyone else’s.

I demanded my way, dug in my heels until I proved myself right, and prided myself in being independent.

I gave to no one. I insisted I needed no one. I submitted to no one.

I trusted no one.

After repeatedly falling face-first in the mess caused by my foolishness and self-centered sinfulness, I met a King‒Jesus‒who proved Himself trustworthy.

Prayerfully reading through the Bible yearly helped me learn more about God’s character as I discovered how much my personal Lord and Savior loved me, how much He gave for me, how much He promises me.

I began to realize He was and is and always will be the only One worth following.

Falling in love with Jesus changed my perspective on servanthood.

But how could I learn to follow Christ when every fiber in my being still struggled with stubbornness at times?

How could I possibly hear His direction when a war waged between my self-serving heart and my desire to have a surrendered servant’s heart?

Though the concept of surrender filled me with fear, the Lord used a humble servant in Genesis 24 to help me learn to S.P.R.A.W.L. before my trustworthy Master, Jesus Christ.

S.P.R.A.W.L.

Stop.

Pray.

Release.

Acknowledge.

Watch.

Listen.

When Abraham sent his servant to seek out a wife for Isaac, the servant fretted over his ability to complete the task (Genesis 24:1-9). Abraham assured him that he Lord would be with him and equipped with all he needed for his travels (vv. 10-11). Scripture doesn’t tell us how much time passed when the servant arrived in Nahor, but we do know how he spent his time.

He stopped and prayed (vv. 12-14).

He released his worries into God’s able hands.

He acknowledged God’s love and reliability with a simple statement of assurance:

“By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love for my master.” (v. 14, emphasis mine)

Through his honest and confident prayer, the servant opened his heart to the peace of trusting God with the outcome (vv. 15-21).

He watched with expectancy as he waited for God’s answer (v. 33).

And even when others tried to distract him from his purpose and delay him, the servant listened‒obeyed his master‒followed the Lord and started on his journey home (vv. 34-61).

This nameless servant chose to S.P.R.A.W.L. before the Lord when given a seemingly impossible task and became a vital part of God’s plan in bringing Isaac and Rebekah together (vv. 62-67).

The Lord never leaves us empty-handed when He calls us to follow Him.

When the twists and turns in our journey test us and the delays and distractions discourage us, we can still follow our Master with surety and hope.

As we S.P.R.A.W.L. like a servant before the Lord Almighty, He can use us to make an eternal impact in someone else’s life.

 Lord Almighty, thanks for affirming Your unending love for us as You empower us to S.P.R.A.W.L. before You whenever we face challenges.

Give us wisdom to stop when we need guidance, pray with confidence, and release our worries into Your capable hands.

 Help us acknowledge You as our Holy God full of goodness and mercy, as we watch You place every piece of Your plan in place.

Help us listen to You‒to hear You and obey You as we follow You.

 In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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How did your life change when you chose to live with a servant’s heart instead of a self-serving heart?

 Is it harder for you to stop, pray, release, acknowledge, watch, or listen to God?

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The Same Old Story

MEME - Blog - Genesis 1 v 1 - Edited Jan 5, 2019

A strange sadness weighed on my heart as I stared at my Bible.

Why wasn’t I excited about reading God’s Word?

Alan and I had been reading the Bible in a year since 2005.

Each year, we’d been amazed at how the Lord revealed Himself in new ways and used His Word to stretch and strengthen us at the perfect time.

So, why was I struggling with focus?

Why didn’t I feel that twinge of expectation and excitement when I prepared to start the year’s reading plan?

When did I start losing sight of the immeasurable value of each God-breathed word in Scripture?

As I beat myself up over the unanswered questions, the Lord patiently massaged my weary heart and prepared me for an unexpected answer.

When I approach Bible reading as a task, I fail to acknowledge God intentionally provided and protected each word from the time of oracles through the years of transcription and translations so He could place His story at my fingertips.

To the enemy’s delight, I’d fallen for the lie that made me skim through Scripture as if I had nothing left to learn from the same old story, as if I didn’t desperately need to listen to my loving Savior’s unchanging voice, as if I didn’t need Him to transform my heart with His words every single day of this life He’s given me.

I prayed for forgiveness and asked God to ignite my passion for His Holy Word, to help me approach Scripture with a new and more grateful perspective, to strengthen me through the same old story that changed my life on December 14, 2001 . . . the day I surrendered my life to Jesus.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning, before life as we know it started, God existed in all His triune perfection and decided to create something out of absolutely nothing.

God created the heavens.

He designed and gave purpose to every galaxy, every planet, every star, every black hole, every atomic particle in the universe.

The Lord created the heavens, in all its marvelous and mysterious vastness.

He created the five basic elements of the universe. Fire. Wood. Water. Metal. Earth.

From the nothing that existed, God created the earth.

He created the inner core, the outer core, the earth’s mantle, and the solid crust that gives us firm places to stand.

He decided where the land would separate the water, where vegetation would flourish, where desert sands would stretch across miles, where mountain ranges and valleys would be carved by trickling streams and the winds that answer to His voice alone.

The Maker of time decided when this world would begin and when man would be created.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The mind-blowing implications of that simple declaration confirm our Almighty Creator started His story by providing a place for us to be with Him.

Every God-breathed word preserved in the Bible assures us that we can depend on “the same old story” being the foundation of our faith and the proof of His unchanging and unconditional love.

God’s unchanging story gives us confidence in the foundational truths on which He builds our faith.

Why would we want God to change His perfection, to lead us along a different path so we won’t get bored?

Why would we want Him to change His story, to shake things up so we could have a foundation we couldn’t depend on?

Would we really want to follow Him if He was untrustworthy, if He kept changing the rules to fit our weaknesses?

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

Why would He change anything? Why would we want Him to change anything?

As I prepare to read the same old story this year, I’m now excited about the prospect of deepening my faith as He strengthens my confidence in His unchanging Word.

I don’t want to miss one syllable.

I don’t want to skim through one story.

I don’t want to risk giving up an opportunity to hear His unchanging voice declaring His unconditional love for us.

My attitude toward reading God’s Word was a direct result of The Fall. Like Adam and Eve, I listened to the enemy tempting me to doubt the value and surety of God’s unchanging words of truth and love.

Did God really say this or that?

How will we know if we don’t sit at His feet every day and invite Him to share the beautiful story He’s preserved for us in Scripture?

Lord Almighty, thanks for blessing us with confidence in Your unchanging truth. Please ignite our passion for Your Word and help us understand Your truth as we sit at Your feet each day.

Please forgive us for the moments we forget to truly hear what You are saying through Your words preserved in Scripture.

We love You and praise You and thank You for the beautiful love letter You’ve placed in our hands‒the Bible. Please help us approach daily Scripture reading with grateful hearts surrendered in prayer and excitement at the opportunity to know You more.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

In what ways have you struggled with reading the Bible?

How does considering the magnitude of the statement in Genesis 1:1 make reading God’s story more exciting?

 How has the Lord used His unchanging Word to change your life?

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This year I’m using the Our Daily Bread reading schedule to read through the Bible in one year. If you would like to receive daily encouragement devotions and the daily reading schedule from Our Daily Bread, please visit www.odb.org/subscriptions

For encouragement and prayers, please connect with me on my Facebook Author Page, Xochitl E. Dixon at  https://www.facebook.com/Xochitl-E-Dixon-239776362714751/

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