Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.‘
This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.
The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.
Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?
This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.
The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.
Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.‘
God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.
I was talking to a friend at church when he started talking about another friend of mine in a negative way. He didn’t respect them at all, saying they were an idiot. I’m sure there was a reason why this friend wasn’t the smartest, but that doesn’t justify putting them down like that! Not only did my friend manage to pull down my friend, but he also lost my trust.
Honesty is critical, but say behind someone’s back what you would say to their face. It may be hard, to be honest in a respectful way when they are wrong, but it is so essential to maintaining trust in relationships. If something is wrong, tell them! The worst thing to do is gossip about them when they are likely to fix their problem if only they were told.
2 Corinthians 8:21 says ‘For we aim at what is honourable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.‘ Respect and honesty build trust, one small conversation at a time. Don’t underestimate its power, but instead aim to respect everyone, including God.
At around the age of 18, I went to one night of a youth camp. A guest speaker was preaching about being filled with God. Afterwards, I knelt for prayer and just started crying out to God, asking Him to fill me. As I was kneeling people began praying for me. The feeling of God filling me intensified. After a little time, I started to feel normal again and thought that must be it. I thought God filled me, but He had more. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said ‘Caleb if you want more, press in harder.’ I started praying again, and tears continued to flow even more freely. After repeating this process four or five times, I was a wreak. I looked terrible! (I know because I went to the bathroom after and looked in the mirror. I was shocked at how bad I looked!) I had given everything I had to God. At that time, I felt so close to God I could feel every little uncaring comment and each rude remark. I felt all my senses on high alert, each one pouring love. I have never felt closer to God all my life. There has never been a time before or after that has been even close.
How hungry are you? Are you willing to put everything out there? Are you ready to surrender everything to God and trust Him to fill you, or are you too busy? Do you want a life-changing experience, or are you comfortable with your current relationship with God?
Revelation 3:20 says ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.‘ In this verse, Jesus is talking. He desperately wants a relationship with you! Regardless of your current position with God, if you open your heart, even more, God will respond.
Today I found it natural to spend time with God. My devotion didn’t feel forced, but instead very refreshing. I have often experienced reading the Bible, praying and worshipping as dry and dull. I can’t wait to finish so I can do something else. I don’t feel a real connection because I’m not there for the right reasons. I have found myself being there to ‘tick the devotion box.’ Today was different when I felt a natural pull toward worshipping and praying. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the time and feeling disappointed when it ended.
Real relationships are based on love. I will never build a strong relationship by giving five minutes each day. I have a choice to make. I can give with generosity, or I can love the smallest amount possible. After giving my time I don’t feel like I lost what I have given, but instead, I feel like I have gained from it. Real relationships are built on love, not duty.