Be Who God Made You To Be

You’re probably familiar with David from the Old Testament. He’s really famous because he defeated Goliath, became king and had a special relationship with God. There are over 900 references to his name in the Bible, and there’s only one David, so that makes him a really popular guy. David’s life is one that in many ways mirrors our own because he’s got highs and lows, he tries to follow the path God has him on, he tries to be someone others can respect, he has a family, and he makes mistakes.

The verse I want to take a look at today comes from early in his story, during the time that he defeats Goliath. I Samuel 17:39 says: “David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.” (NIV)

The context of this verse is that David was brought into Saul’s tent because he questioned why no one was defeating Goliath, Saul said that he was more than welcome to go fight Goliath and gave him a bunch of armor and weapons to do so. As our verse says, David passed on the armor and weapons and went back to his tried-and-true method of stones and sling. He went onto the battlefield and swung the sling, struck Goliath in the forehead and Goliath was dead.

This verse caught my attention this week because it was such a powerful reminder of how wise David was and why God chose him to work through in such a big way. Sometimes what we need are the extra resources like the armor and weapons that were offered to David. Sometimes we take them because we think that’s the right thing to do, when in fact we should just be relying on what works for us and what God has gifted us with.

God wants you to be confident in the person that He made you to be. He didn’t create you to be someone else or to try to be someone else. We all should be learning and growing on a daily basis, but that means becoming a better person, a better version of ourselves, not someone we’re not.

This week I encourage you to work on trusting yourself, trusting God and fully using the tools, resources, blessings and gifts that He’s given you. What difference can you make in the world just by being you?

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Living and Growing

I believe that God has created us with the ability to grow. It’s fairly evident from the fact that while we may be born fully formed almost none of us are born the size we become, or with the abilities and capabilities we grow into. We should work each day on growing more closely into the person that God has created us to be, physically, mentally and spiritually. Very few of us ever stop growing in one way or another, because if we were to stop growing we would become perfect and probably wouldn’t be here on earth anymore. So yes, life is a journey, with many stops along the way, and one destination that we hope to reach some day: heaven. Until that point we keep growing.

But life is about so much more than just growing, because if we only focus on the growth we’ll miss out on things that go on around us or things we could be part of that may not help with our personal growth, but rather the growth, health or happiness of someone else. Which means that as much as we need to focus on growing, we also have to stay present in what’s going on now.

God is a God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows our beginnings and our ends, our ups and downs, our struggles and victories, our potential and our failings. He knows who He created us to be for what’s going on in our lives and in the world now as well as what’s to come in the future. Working on focusing on and living in the now is not only important to what’s going on now, but also sets us up for what the future holds. The lessons we learn, even if they aren’t seemingly relevant today, may have great impact on us in the future.

If you remember the story of Samuel in the Old Testament, his life started off because God fulfilled a prayer request of his mother, and his life really took off when he accepted and listened to the voice of God one night as a young man.  You may have an equally non-traditional upbringing or it may have been very ordinary, but your beginning doesn’t have to dictate your present or your future, the lessons you learn from the past, how you live today, and what you do with your future are all up to you.  What will you do with the life God has given you both today and in the days to come?

Choosing Compassion

I always find it interesting that the Bible is so full of topics that challenge us if we take any amount of time to really study them. From love and war to relationships and faith, the Bible is filled from cover to cover with unique situations, emotions and unique people who lived real lives and faced real challenges; many of those challenges, emotions and situations are things we face in our lives today. While most of us don’t have to walk to a well or river to get water and buy bread or flour at the food store, we still have to navigate relationships, governments, war, love, hate, jealousy, death and birth just like they did.

One of the things that comes through really clearly in the Bible is how people worked through the challenges in their lives. It’s something we study in history books as we look at historic presidents and leaders and famous inventors, but we read about more of the “normal” people in the Bible. We see how they navigate through potentially thorny relationships (think about Mary being pregnant with Jesus and Joseph initially planning to divorce her in the New Testament), we learn how they deal with bad news (Eli learned that his sons weren’t good and that God was going to judge them in 1 Samuel 3 and accepted it as God’s will), and we learn how they work hard because they love their families (Ruth worked hard in the fields to care for her mother-in-law Naomi).

The question is that we’ll all face challenges, but how will we choose to work through them? Will we work through them with frustration and anger, bashing things around, shoving others and pushing just because we’re unhappy with how things are going? Or will we choose to be compassionate to yourself and the people in your life? Because even if you’re facing a challenge and you didn’t ask for that challenge or put yourself in a position to receive that challenge you’ve still got a choice with how you’re going to deal with it. Will you choose compassion and patience like Jesus so often did or will you get angry at the world for what they’ve forced on you?

“The clearest and prevailing reason why Jesus did what he did and said what he said was because of his compassion for others, his tender loving mercy. Pray for the people whom you could be glad you are not like. Pray for them until you are ready to receive them knocking at the door of your heart.” Br. Curtis Almquist

Do You Hear God?

Today I’ve been thinking about one of the earlier references to Samuel that we know of in the Bible. It’s when he’s bedded down for the night at the temple and he hears a voice (you can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 3). The voice calls to him, he thinks it’s the priest but it’s not. The third time this happens the priest realizes God is calling Samuel and tells him to say “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Of course what goes on to happen is God calls to Samuel again, tells him some important information and then continues to talk with Samuel for the rest of his life and ministry. I encourage you to explore the story for yourself, but I want to highlight a few things that stand out to me today.

First, God’s persistence. I find it interesting that God didn’t give up on the first or second try, He really wanted to speak with Samuel, and He was willing to be patient enough to make it happen. In some ways I think God was patient because of Samuel’s young age, but in other ways I think He would be equally patient for us if we showed active willingness to listen.

Second, the message. The message, given to this young boy (some research estimates he was about 12 at the time), wasn’t all roses and sunshine. I think what amazes me most is that God knew the plan He had for Samuel, knew he could handle a message like this and didn’t sugar coat it just because he was young. I know I’m more inclined to protect the young and not share the horrors and reality of the world with them, but at the same time I know it’s important that they don’t grow up with rose colored glasses and have a jarring reality check when they become adults.

Finally, Samuel was honest about the message. As we’ve discussed it wasn’t a fantastic message, but when he was asked about it by the priest, he was honest about it, even though there was some not great news for the priest in it. I don’t like delivering bad news as an adult, so I can’t imagine how difficult it was to deliver that news as a pre-teen. But again, God knew what He was doing and Samuel passed along the message.

As you go about your life this week I encourage you to be persistent and honest, work on trusting others, communicating with others and listening both for God and to what others have to say.

The Blessing of Quiet Reflection

This month our topic for discussion (along with a bit of talk about being thankful) is about being quiet. It’s not the easiest topic to talk about, we like taking action, living large, going places and having adventures, not sitting quietly.  So this month will probably be a big challenge for each of us. As we get started this month I wanted to look at one of the reasons why it’s important to be quiet: for reflection.

1 Samuel 12:7 says: “Now stand here quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors.” Simply put if you’re busy talking it’s really hard to remember things or hear what other people are saying. It’s only when we take the time to be quiet and think or listen that we’re really able to make progress. Yes, progress does happen to an extent in a dictatorship or when you listen to a lecture, but not to the extent that it could everyone was listening and discussing the potential and work.

When we take time to reflect and to listen to what others have to say we’re able to get a completely different perspective on things. No, their perspective isn’t always better than yours, but it is different and sometimes that difference can spark the inspiration that we were looking for or need to get to the next level. There’s no reason in this interconnected world for us to rely solely on our own opinions, knowledge and resources, because there’s so much more available to us than we could ever know or provide by ourselves.

When we take time for reflection we’re able to remember the past. No, the past isn’t a place that we want to dwell, for most of us it holds memories that we’d rather not dig up, but there are some valuable things we can remember in the past: such as the ways we’ve been blessed. Life isn’t all rainbows and puppies, there are some rough moments too. During the moments that knock us off our feet the ability to remember the blessings in the past enables us to hold out hope that there will be blessings yet again in the future. Don’t give up because you’re in a low moment, instead, take time to be quiet and remember the blessings from your past and gain a new perspective on the good things the future could hold.

The Blessing of Health

We’ve reached the end of another month. I’ve had moments of challenge with our topic of health this month, as well as some good victories. To finish off the month I wanted to share a bit of what’s known as a benediction with you . A benediction is a blessing pronounced on someone or a group of people.  It’s something that was typically done at the end of church services, although now some churches end with a song or prayer rather than a spoken blessing.

Health is something that should definitely be seen as a blessing, but not as a curse when it’s lost.  So as this month ends I wanted to make sure we ended on a positive note, because more often than not we are blessed with good health. Sure we’ll have the occasional cold, bruise or headache, but the majority of the time we don’t even notice how healthy we are because it’s not something we usually think about unless we’re having issues. It’s one thing that we should be able to add most days to our list of things we’re thankful for.

So as we close out this month here is my benediction to you: “Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!” 1 Samuel 25:6

It’s a simple benediction and prayer, but contains some really big wishes. As you look forward to the remaining 4 months of the year, to school starting back up, businesses racing towards Christmas and goals for the year trying to be met, I encourage you to take time to celebrate your good health and the life you’ve been given, because every day truly is a gift whether we make the time to see it or not.

The Look and Feel of Health

One of the things we struggle with when it comes to health is other people’s definitions of health that we think have to apply to our lives. We think that we have to look like supermodels or fitness buffs. We think that we have to be taking all the top supplements or following the trendy diets. We think that beauty looks like whatever the magazines and social sites say is popular. The reality is that while we probably all could look like those people or follow the current most popular advice, most of us shouldn’t. We’re all created with similar bodies from a very basic appearance perspective, but that’s about where it ends because we all have different food requirements, physical capabilities and tastes which differentiate us from many other people. I don’t do well with a lot of meat, gluten or sugar in my diet, I prefer walks and the elliptical, and don’t really like flashy looks, but you may be the exact opposite.

And that’s more than OK.

The good news is that God says there’s a lot more to life than just how we look, and there’s a lot more to health than it too. No, we shouldn’t be sickly or trash our bodies or appearances, but healthy for each of us is different when it comes down to the details. Health is about looking and feeling good inside and out, in ways that we feel confident and honor the body, mind and life that God has given us.

Just because you don’t eat, look or dress like a superstar doesn’t mean that you’re not an amazing or healthy person. Make the right choices for your life in the food you eat, the daily exercise you get, the clothes you wear and what you feed your mind too.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7