Self Conscious?

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Matthew 16:24-25 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

We live in a day and age that everywhere we turn, there's a "self-help" theory.  Books, videos and dvds, websites, world-renown speakers, you name it — all dedicated to helping us "feel good about ourselves".  Yet somehow, still many of us struggle with self-consciousness, even as Christians!

But here's something to consider. Did Jesus ever say "feel good about yourself"?? No. On the contrary, He said crucify yourself!

If we go around hating ourselves and even feeling condemnation over our faults and sins, what we are really doing is focusing on our self! My wife said a wise thing recently: self-consciousness is not God-consciousness! That about sums it up, I think. God doesn't want us focused on ourselves — He wants us to be focused on Him!

It's when die to our flesh, that the life we're living becomes the life He lives through us! If we crucify our self then there's no self to hate — there's no self to condemn! We are free to serve the Lord and allow him to do great things through us! 'Cause you know what we always say — there's so much work to be done!

You've Been Freed to Worship!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

The Biblical feast of Pesach (Passover) has ended, as once again, those who celebrated recalled the deliverance of the Jewish people from the land of Egypt where they had served as slaves. The word for slaves in Hebrew is "avadim", which, interestingly, is also the same word for "servants."

Pesach recalls to us our own personal deliverance from the slavery of sin — and the amazing joy and privilege of being free to be servants of the Living God who redeemed us. The same root letters which form the words for "slave" and "servant" also give us the word "avodah", the Hebrew word for "work", which is also a word that means "worship"!

To be a freed SLAVE of our God is to be a devoted SERVANT whose WORK is WORSHIP. So, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." [Colossians 3:23-24]

Do you feel led?

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

After Mt. St. Helens blew up in 1980, one church needed a great deal of cleaning up. Ash was in the parking lot and all over the inside because of open windows. A woman met the pastor in the hallway on Friday and asked "Why don't we get the High School and College kids to come in and help poor Fred clean this place up? Let's get them involved." "Great idea," he said, "Would you be willing to get some women together to cook lunch for us?" "Well actually, we had plans tomorrow and I don't know when we'll be back…"

Hmmm. We always want to volunteer someone else for a job needing done, don't we? My wife tells a story about a different pastor who once said "What? You don't feel led to help clean the church? I'll tell you what, here's a pencil — come up here and feel lead!"

It's so easy to get into the mindset that serving God is a chore, it's our job, our duty — we give "valuable consideration" to our giving, as Webster describes it. The fact of the matter is that God loves a cheerful giver. He loves a volunteer. When I think of that verse, the first thing that comes to my mind is monetary giving, but God wants us to cheerfully volunteer every good thing He has so mercifully allowed us to have — things we often take for granted — our time, our energy, our abilities, our talents, our homes, our cars, our families — all that we have – all that He has cheerfully given to us!

Let's make a point to volunteer some of these things to the Lord this week. Let's begin to bless the Lord and those around us!

Have you given your all?

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Psalms 54:6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.

During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in a bind. Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances. After careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia if they would bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country. Each piece of jewelry he received, he would exchange for a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. These decorations would be inscribed, 'I gave gold for iron, 18l3'.

The response was overwhelming. But more importantly, the women prized these gifts from the king even more highly than their former jewelry! The reason, of course, is clear. They were proof that they had sacrificed for their king.

When we come to know our King, we, too should want to exchange the flourishes of our former life for Him. The amazing thing about our King is that He not only takes our jewels but He takes our rags too — and uses them for the good of His Kingdom!

Perhaps there are some things we need to sacrifice to him today. Let's pray and ask for His revelation. There are great things awaiting those who give.

Be a LIGHT!

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions.

John 10:22-23 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication (Chanukah), and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch.

Chanukah, a time of celebration and rededication, began tonight in the Land and for Jewish people all over the globe. Those of us who are grafted in through the atoning work of Messiah, we who know God, have an opportunity to see the deeper significance in the Biblical holidays and are not only welcome but encouraged to celebrate as well!

Over 150 years before Yeshua's (Jesus’) birth, a group of Jewish warriors led by Judah Maccabee, defeated Anticochus IV. Though terribly outnumbered by their foes, the Maccabees triumphed over the Grecian Syrian Empire. This led to the establishment of Chanukah — the feast of dedication.

According to an ancient Jewish legend, Judah entered into Jerusalem only to find the Temple desecrated by a sacrificed pig and an idol of Zeus. Upon seeing this, he immediately began to cleanse the Temple. Judah also found that there was only one cruse of undefiled oil which could burn in the Temple Menorah (holy candleabra which had to continually burn). This oil was only enough for one day but it miraclously lasted for eight days, just enough time to get more of this special oil made. So in memory of this miracle and the rededication of the Temple, Chanukah or the Festival of Lights has been celebrated by the Jewish people for over 2000 years and was even celebrated by Yeshua (Jesus) Himself!

Every Chanukah, chanukkiahs (the candleabra of nine candle holders) are lit. Each chanukkia has a special candle, known as the Shamash which is raised above the other eight. The word ‘shamash’ means ‘servant, helper, or minister — so the Shamash candle is the servant candle, or the ministering candle, and is used to light all the other candles. It is the servant who is raised up and lights all the others, symbolizing Messiah, for us who believe.

Yeshua came and proclaimed that ‘He is the Light of the World and whoever follows Him shall have the light of life!’ The one who serves the Lord will be a light! The one who does the will of God will shine! The more we serve the Lord, and earnestly do His will , with all our heart, soul and mind — the more we will shine with the light of God and so ultimately will we be raised up!

Let's strive to serve the Lord with gladness this season and light up the world around us! We may be small but a small light will go a long way in a dark place!