December 25, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Growing Up)

Submitted by Dominic M. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Which of the following areas have I grown in this year?  What are the circumstances or what acts of obedience led to growth in this area?

  • Being faithful in spiritual disciplines
  • Maturing in godly character
  • Growing in love and service for others

Galatians 5:13-14

  • 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the areas that I have experienced some growth in this past year is in the area of growing in love and service for others.  Thinking back to the beginning of the year, while I was serving in ministry, I think there was a subtle sense of assurance knowing that there was a life group lead above me who was ultimately responsible for the spiritual progress and maturation of students in the life group. However this past semester I was placed in a position to lead my own life group, and this forced me to expand my heart and range of concern with a sense of awe and trepidation, knowing that the buck stopped with me this time.  This caused me to take greater ownership over the ministry plans for each week, actively engaged in reviewing the life circumstances of each person in my group to determine what ministry activity would be appropriate for that week.  This caused me to wonder a lot more about my students, thinking about what I needed to do to help them move to the next step spiritually.  Thinking back on this year, I realize how I artificially limited my range of concern simply because of position, and how contrary that is to fundamental core of the gospel, which calls me to be an imitator of God, as a beloved child.  Now looking back on this past semester, I see how foolish that kind of attitude is, as there is a spiritual war raging on all around me, and people falling to the lies of satan, relationships broken and hearts scarred by sin.  There is so much work to be done, and I recognize that God has given me a tremendous opportunity to make a spiritual impact on students around me.  I see now the frustration of people artificially limiting their heart and concern just because of some title or lack thereof.  Through this past semester, I had to push myself to embrace more people’s needs, concerns, having more challenging conversations, doing life group prayer meeting for the first time, thinking about the needs of younger staff for the first time, managing a house full of guys for the first time, thinking about their needs, the needs of the house, how to improve various aspects of their experience living there.  I experienced the diminishment of my “free time,” but now as I look back, though it was tiring, I am thankful that God pushed me in these various aspects of my life, pushing me to be spent for Him, as a safeguard from being idle and allowing my heart to wander.  God filled my life with people and opportunities to think about their needs and to grow in my ownership over them and ownership over the life group – indeed this is God’s blessing and way of helping me to grow up to become someone who is able to help others grow in their spiritual journey.

In which of the above areas do I want to experience growth in this coming year?

One area that I want to experience growth in this coming year is delighting on the law of the Lord and meditating on it day and night.  When things get busy, and that is often the case most of the time, it is easy to treat God’s word like a chore to be completed during DT times, understanding its value but still approaching it with a sense of duty and task orientedness.  I am called to “delight” in the law of the Lord.  The word of God is a balm to my soul and sharper than any double-edged sword, and has the power to demolish spiritual strongholds in my life, struggles that imprison me and hinder me from becoming what God intended me to become.  I know that the growth I have experienced in the past is directly a function of prolonged meditation and reflection over the word of God.  The freedom from selfishness, fears of rejection, voices of insecurity, and temptations of this world have been the direct result of God’s word combatting the lies and the deception that satan throws at me, and so all the more I want to fill my mind and heart with the word of God, as it reminds me of the heavenly reality, that I have a Father in heaven who calls me his son, that I don’t need to rely on my meager resources to run this race, that I have been well equipped through His truth to face every challenge and difficulty that comes my way.

Reflect on one verse that particularly hit you.

2 Tim 2:15 “15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.”  As I think about this verse, I realize that this is really the antidote to treating ministry and relating with God out of obligation or moral duty.  It starts off with “do your best.”  It implies that serving God is something exciting for which we need to do our best.  Like when I was younger and wanted to do my best to do well in school to please my parents, as a beloved child of God my heart and attitude should be the same – to strive to do the best I can to please God and to honor God for the immense privilege of serving Him.  The very language and tone of the passage speaks to a fundamental relational underpinning and foundation that serves as the basis for which I ought to do my best and to present myself as a workman approved by God.  This attitude of doing my best is a far cry from the heavy-laden, minimalistic, dreary attitude that serving out of obligation results in.  I am convicted once again to return to the gospel message over and over, so that my awe over this gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins would never wane, so that my excitement and zeal for the Lord would only increase, and so that I may never approach ministry and people with a heavy heart of moral oughtness, but with the amazing privilege I have been given to do my best to present myself as one approved.

Submitted by Joyce L. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Which of the following areas have I grown in this year?  What are the circumstances or what acts of obedience led to growth in this area?

• Being faithful in spiritual disciplines

I have been able to experience growth in the area of spiritual disciplines this past year – in my daily devotions and prayer.  Overall, in this past year, I have felt a lot more desperate for God’s wisdom, God’s strength, His Spirit’s working through various situations, and it has caused me to really turn to prayer and turn to His word for guidance.  As I personally felt inadequate and lacking throughout the year through leading the Soph/Junior class, directing skit for Glive, overseeing Interhigh, being a LIFE group lead, ministering to the students, helping them with various issues that came up, etc., these things caused me to be desperate for God’s word, his wisdom and guidance in each of these situations.  I felt the need for God’s word to lead me, his Spirit to teach/guide me in the words that I needed to speak in ministering to various people God placed under my care.  And there have been many instances in this past year where I experienced His word being so perfect, timely – for myself, and in regards to leading others, and that has caused me to be more hungry for God’s word.  And through the many times of feeling weak, and inadequate, yet the task/responsibility was entrusted to me, I’ve been able to pray a lot more, whether it’s before a conversation that I am going to have with someone, through crying out for people, various requests, and even the many health prayer requests throughout the year, I have been able to pray more diligently especially through having experienced prayers lifted up for my family the past couple years in regards to my mom and the kind of strength/encouragement that was to us.

• Submitting to the vital role of spiritual leaders for discipleship

The role of my spiritual leaders has been vital to my discipleship this past year.  Through the one-on-one meetings that we have had, the staff meetings, mentor’s meetings, I have gained so much ministry wisdom that I didn’t have, receiving their guidance on how best to minister to people were they are at, learning concretely what loving each person thoroughly looks like through their example of how they live out that life of love, the amount of creativity and forethought that is displayed that always challenges me in my discipleship. In addition, these times have been used to address various issues in my life, ways in which I haven’t been faithful or proactive, ways that I didn’t take ownership over our church, etc… Especially through the entrustment that was given to me and my husband to be leads, ministering to those younger, I have learned much about myself through the guidance of my leaders, through their speaking truth into my life.  Submitting to their role, opening myself up to receiving their wisdom and guidance has allowed me at the end of this year to see much more of myself, to have an accurate picture of where I am, not being deluded in my own thinking, and through their guidance, prayers, presence in my life, and I have been able to engage in struggle for holiness and obedience in my own life.  I have been able to experience my leaders being people who keep watch over my soul, as people who will have to give an account – as they hold me to a higher standard than even myself, and I see and have experienced their desire for me to become mature so that I can be a person that can build up the body of Christ, that can go out and disciple others.

In which of the above areas do I want to experience growth in this coming year?

I want to experience growth in terms of love and service for others this coming year. As I look back at this year, there are ways/times that I have been hindered in terms of fully loving and serving others – and it has been because of the way I have allowed sin to sabotage the work that God desires to do through my life.  There are ways in which I have allowed my own insecurities to keep my eyes focused on myself – which means that time and energy was taken away from being able to think about others, and thoroughly love and serve them.  I want to experience much growth in the area of love and service to others in my life – in all of my relationships, whether it’s my husband, co-workers in Christ, interns and students that I’m ministering to – so that as I take my eyes off of myself, I can fully invest myself into thinking about others, to give of my heart and energy fully, so that God can somehow use my life to be a source of blessing to others.  I also want to continue to experience growth in the area of spiritual disciplines.  I see that it has been the lifeline for me over this past year, and the thing that has kept me anchored and persevering through the challenges of life and ministry.  As life gets even busier as I get older, and the responsibilities grow, rather than shrink back in terms of giving, refusing to grow up, I want to experience going to God, and through His word, through times of prayer, receive His strength and wisdom, be replenished through daily times with God in devotions and prayer, that I can continue to obey God and give of myself fully to His work.  I want to experience growth in terms of my own personal love for God’s word, dwelling in God’s truth longer, letting it fill my mind, so that through whatever I may face, difficulties of life, ministry, struggling with my own sins, feeling stretched beyond what I feel like I can handle, my sense of security and confidence would come through the gospel and God’s promises in His words.

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