Daily Devotional Sign Up
These daily devotionals, written by members of Southwood, will connect you with our fall theme, God’s Story. Our Story. We will be digging deeply into the Bible stories to see how they connect us to God. Sign up (below) to receive a daily devotional email at 6:30 a.m. every weekday and Saturday. We are excited to share this new daily resource with you and are grateful to the many writers who are sharing their gifts with their Southwood family!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Galatians 5:16
Many people are familiar with the phrase; "Strike while the iron is hot". I can remember a time when I did this, albeit literally, and I can say that my actions did not fare well for me. I remember one day during school when a teacher came over and plugged in an iron for an art project. She explained to me that it would soon become very hot and I was to make sure that I went nowhere near it. I nodded to let her know that I understood but after telling me this, all I could think about was what it would be like to touch that iron. Curiosity soon got the best of me and I placed my fingertip to the hot surface. I started to cry as my fingertip burned and a blister immediately formed. I went home that day, with a Band-Aid on my finger, feeling sorry for myself.
Even now, in my late twenties, I find myself reverting back to that former 5-year-old self, struggling to make the right decisions in life. It's a continual struggle to make good choices and act in a way that God would wish me to. I know that as a human being, I am not alone in my struggle to live a life as God would see fit. God gives us the wonderful gift of free will, but along with this gift comes the responsibility of making our own choices. It is a daily struggle for us as humans to follow what God would like us to do and to listen to the Holy Spirit's coaxing as to what is right and wrong. For me, I like to equate the Holy Spirit to that of the human conscience. If I feel guilty, bad, or ashamed about something going on in my life, I feel that those feelings are produced by the Holy Spirit letting me know that I may have to make some type of change. However, I find that when I do things in-line with the Holy Spirit and God's teachings, I am filled with happiness, motivation and peace.
So why do we continue to give in to our human desires and make bad choices, when overall these lead us to all things negative? We desire things that are both good and bad, it is part of our nature and there is nothing we can do about that. However, we do not have to let our sinful nature take control. As much as we have the ability to make bad decisions we also have the ability to make good ones. Thankfully we have a Lord that stands by us as we try to navigate our way through life and hopefully learn to make the right decisions along the way.
Questions for Reflection
- How often do you find yourself giving into desires that are not in-line with what God would want?
- What do you do to get yourself back on the right track when you find yourself veering away from God and his teachings?
Lord, Please help us to walk a path in which you would see fit. It is a daily struggle for us to always make good decisions. Thank you for giving us the gift of free will but guide us on our life journey as we use this gift to make our own decisions. Please help us to realize when we have gotten off track and provide to us the strength to help redirect ourselves to get back onto the right one. Amen.
Tuesday January 22, 2013
Money. Financial burdens. A struggling economy. These are all sources of stress that impact many of us on a daily basis. During these hard economic times, there are very few who have not been impacted in some way. Some of us have had to cut back on spending and tighten our budgets. Others have had to deal with the loss of their job and face starting over. Some have found themselves swimming in pools of debt without much hope of getting out anytime soon. These times are hard and it can be a struggle to make ends meet. Yet, we as Americans are some of the richest people in the world. The poorest individuals in our country are actually much wealthier than the majority of people living outside of the United States. So why as a society, do we tend to focus on what we don't have instead of being grateful for what we do have?
After reading the scripture for today, I was reminded of a story called; "A Simple Life Well Lived"
This story is centered on a conversation between a Mexican fisherman and a successful businessman. The story begins by describing a businessman walking up to the boat of a fisherman and admiring his catch. After talking with the fisherman and realizing that he had only spent a couple of hours collecting his fish, the businessman asked him why he did not stay out longer to increase his profits. The fisherman responded by saying that once he had caught enough for his families immediate needs he would then go home to enjoy life and to spend time with his wife and kids. Laughing at the fisherman, the businessman proceeded to draw out a lengthy business plan explaining to the fisherman that if he followed these instructions he could someday become the head of his own successful company. The fisherman then asked what he would do if he were to become this successful. The businessman replied that he would make millions and then could retire to a coastal town where he could spend his time doing what he wanted. The fisherman then replied; "Well isn't that what I've been doing all along?" (www.lifeprinciples.net/Successatlife.html).
God recognizes our needs and provides more than enough to us on a daily basis. However, many struggle to feel fully satisfied or entirely grateful for what they currently have. There's always the desire to have more and yearn for things which one does not possess. Therefore, we must take a step back and learn to be content with what we have been given. God will always be there to provide for you and He knows your needs even before you do.
Questions for Reflection:
- How often do you find yourself yearning for things that you do not have? Are these things necessary to provide you happiness and a sense of fulfillment?
- How often do you look around and truly realize how much God has given to you? How could you share those blessing with others who are less fortunate?
Lord, help me to learn how to focus on what I have been given instead of focusing on what I do not have. Help me to realize how truly blessed I am and to be thankful for all of the blessings you have bestowed upon me. Let me learn what is truly important in life and strive to live the type of life you intended for me. Amen.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Being human, we will never be immune from sin. We are imperfect, flawed and will commit sins on a daily basis. Even though we cannot escape from our sinful nature, God can help to prevent this from controlling our lives and assist us in becoming the type of people He created us to be. It is guaranteed that as a human being, you will always be sinful. However, sin does not have to take over your life. There is no need to throw your hands up in the air and give up hope that you cannot become a better person just because of your failings.
There was a time back during my college years when I was not the best disciple of God. Having a relationship with Him was sadly at a low priority for me. I was still a believer, but at that time, developing a relationship with God felt like a hassle. Going to church became a rarity for me and I became what you would call a "CEO" (Christmas and Easter only) congregation member. At that time, Southwood had just moved to its new location and instead of becoming an active member and celebrating all of the exciting things that were going on in our church community, I found myself disconnecting from God and our church family. Looking back, I remember thinking that I was happy and that I had everything figured out, but I realize now that during that time was when I felt the most at conflict with myself and others.
Am I perfect now? Of course I'm not. Will I continue to sin and make mistakes every day? Of course I will. However, now that I've put my relationship with God at much more importance than I have in the past, I feel so much more at peace. Whenever I face times of strife or start to go down the wrong path, I now turn to God to help get me through it. Having Him there to show me the way lets me know that I am not alone and that I can always turn to God whenever I face obstacles.
Questions for Reflection:
- What areas of your life do you find yourself committing sinful acts? How does this impact your relationship with God? With others?
- How often do you turn to God when you find yourself headed down the wrong path? How does it make you feel inside, knowing that He will always be there to get you through these times?
Lord, please forgive me for I am a sinner. Thank you for giving me the hope that even though I will never be immune from sin, all is not lost through you. Help me to become the type of person you created me to be and let me find it within myself to not ignore my sinful nature but instead confront it so that I may try to improve upon myself and grow closer to you.
Friday November 16, 2012
"Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people and have not asked for a long life or riches for yourself...I will give you what you asked for!"
I avert my eyes and try my best to avoid making eye contact with a group of bell ringers standing outside of Super Saver, collecting money for those in need. As I get to my car and unload several bags of groceries into my trunk I am overcome with a huge sense of guilt as to why I didn't offer to contribute any aid. I tell myself, "You've given money to charities many times before, you needn't help every time." or "I'll make sure to contribute the next time." As I drive toward home with enough groceries in my car to last me a couple of weeks, I have a battle raging on in my head as to why I avoided helping when I myself have been so blessed.
Do situations like these make me feel bad? Of course they do. However, it reminds me that I am human and need to constantly strive to work on improving myself to be the type of person God wants me to be. I think it can be in our human nature to be a tiny bit selfish and we can then find ourselves hoarding our "riches" from those who really need it. However, God does not want us to look away from those in need, especially when so many of us are blessed so greatly. If materialistic things were so important, why do we not take these things with us when we go to Heaven? That new car you just bought or the shoes you just purchased are only going to provide you with a fleeting sense of satisfaction. The look you get from a young child who you hand their first meal of the day to or the man on the street who graciously shakes your hand as you give him a few measly dollars will stick with you forever. We must strive as God's people to follow in His footsteps and learn from the wisdom that He provides us. The next time you are faced with someone who is in need, find it within yourself to reach out and help them. The peace and joy you will feel is far more consequential than what any materialistic thing could provide you.
Questions for Reflection:
- When was the last time you provided help to someone less fortunate? How did you feel after providing your assistance?
- When was the last time you turned your back on someone who was less fortunate? How did you feel after ignoring their plea for help?
Lord, help me to learn from you and follow in your footsteps so that I may become a person who is giving and does not turn my back on others who are in need of my assistance. Thank you for all of the blessings you provide me and please help me to be generous with the gifts you have granted me.
Tuesday October 16, 201
"For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me." Luke 1:49 NLT
Take a moment to look around at your surroundings. What do you see? Are you surrounded by a large family, or do you live alone? Surrounded by a house filled with every amenity imaginable, or does your home contain just enough to get you by? Do you feel blessed, or do you feel that life has dealt you a bad hand?
I've had times where I've felt blessed and other times where I have struggled. I remember a time right after graduating from college when I had just moved out on my own and was struggling financially. I was overjoyed to be done with school and out in the real world but soon found myself overwhelmed with how I was going to make ends meet. I remember sitting in my apartment, trying to figure out how I was going to pay the seemingly endless bills laid out in front of me. I felt so defeated and at a loss as to how I was going to cover everything I owed. Deciding it was best to try and clear my head, I took my "slightly curvaceous" Pug, on a walk around Holmes Lake. As I walked along the path, I stopped to sit at a bench and watch the sun set over the water. As I sat there, I remember feeling a huge sense of peace wash over me. Taking in the endless beauty that God had created, I suddenly felt so blessed. My worries subsided and I knew that with God by my side everything would be ok.
Whatever the situation, it's important to realize that God cares for each one of his followers and has blessed every one of us in a multitude of ways. Life however, doesn't always seem fair. Life isn't always easy. Many of us develop a "why me?" attitude when we are going through times of strife. We may feel jealousy towards those who appear to have it all and feel that God has forgotten about us. However, God never wants to see his people suffer. He suffers right there with you when things go awry. He does not favor the rich, or those that seem to have it all. He cares for each one of us and especially stands by the poor, the broken down, the unloved. He is there to provide a sense of peace and to be your biggest supporter when you are facing times of strife. Many of us fail to appreciate the blessings God has bestowed on us and develop a mind-set of never feeling satisfied. It is important for us to understand how blessed we are to be God's people and be thankful for everything He provides us. Accept the gifts that God has provided you and use those blessings to help others as He does for you.
Questions for Reflection:
- Take a moment to write down the blessings God has provided for you, both big and small. How can you use these gifts to help others who are in greater need?
- Do you appreciate everything that God does for you? Take a moment to reflect on the many offerings God has supplied you with.
Lord, help me to recognize the multitude of blessings that you grant me on a daily basis. Help me to never be ungrateful for what you provide for me and help me to use those gifts to help those who are less fortunate than myself.