Lights In A Dark World

Day 1

**Today’s devotion written by Jamie Walker**

Read Proverbs 2: 6-15

If you don’t know yet, I work in the world of disability supports.  I work with people on multiple goals but one of them that tends to come up is Behavioral Support.  I often think I should put myself on a Behavioral Support plan, maybe you can relate?  It is a way to identify a specific problem, measure it, figure out why we do it, and then replace the behavior.  I’d like for you to follow me on a 3-day journey of this.  Mostly for self-reflection for you all but would love to hear what you discover about yourselves.

I often complain, I wish God would show himself in a burning bush and tell me what I should do.  Don’t you find yourself grumbling the same thing?  The verse, “continue to work out your salvation with fear & trembling,” puts an image in my mind that God, my father, is watching my steps, hoping, urging, that I listen to the still-small voice.  But instead, I throw a hissy fit, an adult-sized, hissy fit.  Picture this; “But I don’t want to go exercise, I want to eat the ice cream, I don’t want to go to that stranger and share that God put it on my heart to pray for them.  No, no, no, I won’t do it and You can’t make me!”  For today, I ask that you simply take the time to look at your steps and consider all the times the still-small voice tries to stir something in you, and you don’t do it.  Say to yourself “hissy fit,” just to memorialize the moment better-and for a good laugh.  As you do this, consider these questions:

Would you act the same if God in all his glory sat in the same room as you and directed you?

How many times do you feel the stirring?  When is it happening?  Does it happen more in the morning?  Evening before bed?  

How can you tune in and capture these things more readily?

If you’re brave enough, tally the amount of times you are stirred and the amount of times you ignore.  I bet it’s more than you think!

Day 2

**Today’s devotion written by Jamie Walker**

Read Exodus 3: 1-14

So, did you lose count?  I did!  Being completely transparent, my sin struggle is around treating my body like the temple it should be.  Most of my tally marks were around these choices.  Think about yours.  Think about all the reasons Moses told God he couldn’t do what he was asking. Can you relate? Then take time to think about yourself and examine your barriers.  Pray about it, ask God to reveal it to you.  I’m thinking we will be surprised.  

The why is so important in the behavior realm.  If we don’t find a way to replace the behavior to meet that “why”, our efforts to improve will yield less fruit.  As you consider your why, think about the following:

What if you sat at the foot of the cross and just emptied all these excuses out of your excuse jar, one by one.  “I’m not good enough.”  “People will look at me differently.”  “I don’t know enough about the bible.” “I don’t like confrontation.”  “I deserve this treat.”  “I will do better tomorrow.”  Write down your excuses.  What trends do you see?

Play out the burning bush scenario in your mind.  What do you think God would say to you in reply?

What ways do you think God is trying to reach you/us in a modern-day burning bush?

How does this all fit into your prayers today?

Day 3

**Today’s devotion written by Jamie Walker**

Read 2 Timothy 1:6-14

This is the hard part.  Replace the behavior!  By now, you’ve identified how many hissy fits you throw in a day.  You’ve spent some time praying and reflecting on the reasons why and your excuses.  Now consider how you can replace it.  Give yourself a key phrase.  Mine will be “fan the flame,” feel free to steal it.  Try today to take one step forward in faith in any one of those instances, instead of side-stepping.  

Consider these mental pictures and self-reflections as you proceed.    

What ways do these forward steps make you feel like a lion-full of power, full of self-discipline?
If you are having difficulty, how often are you reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us?  And would your courage be greater, and your determination be more pronounced, doing the next best step for the Glory of God? Is there any way in which you are “suffering for the gospel”?

How do these steps help fan the flame?
What gifts do you think you have hidden because of the excuses?

How can you continue to do this after these devotions have ended?

Day 4

Read Matthew 5:2-16

At the church at Philippi, Paul wanted the people to be shining examples to the people around.  In his mind, that wasn’t the thing to aim at, as if they could just do that, but rather than starting with behavior modification, he started with heart theology.  Heart and mind tend to be used interchangeably in the Bible, and the passage before our key text was about the mind of Christ, if you will remember.   It is only after establishing that, that he gives us Philippians 2:12-18.  The natural Christian life, the changed heart, changed mind, will result in the example that the world needs to see. 

Jesus talked about that in the analogies of the light and the city on a hill.  His point was that if you showed him a pocket of his followers, they would stand out like a light in a dark place.  They would illuminate that which is dark and change what seems to be overcome with darkness.  That’s the natural way of following Jesus.  Faith becomes your actions.  There is not a way to follow Jesus and not be an example and something different in the world. 

What area of your life does this thought convict you of?

Where do you get to be a light in your day today and how does that change your view of that situation or time?

Why not take some time to go on the messaging app and leave some of your thoughts that you could share with others doing these devotions?

How can this be a part of your prayer today?

Day 5

Read Philippians 2:12-18

In the sermon, we talked about how this phrase is best understood by saying “workout in your salvation.”  The main point to saying it like that is because in our language, when we say “work out your salvation” it sounds like we are saying you work for your salvation.  There are so many other passages that show us that this is not the case, so that would not be a good understanding.  
But is it work to live like we are supposed to?  I think we get the analogy.  Especially on that part where he tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining.  I instantly want to shoot back, “Yeah, but…”  So after having a week with these ideas, why not take a few minutes and work through what you have learned about these three phrases here:

How would you explain the idea of “work out your salvation with fear and trembling to someone?”  How is it helpful or beneficial for your life?

Why do you think Paul says with “fear and trembling?”  

What does it mean to do all things without “grumbling or complaining?”  How does this fit into the day you are about to face?

How does this become your prayer this week?

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