[Month 1, Week 3: This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
I don’t easily get hooked on devotionals not because they’re not good (in fact, there are a lot of Bible-saturated and well-written devos out there!); it’s just that I firmly believe that another person’s point-of-view cannot replace having a fresh reviving insight directly from THE source. I often read devos, watch some preachings online and listen to podcasts, but nothing beats having a personal quality/quiet time with God, in His word and in prayer.
Late Tuesday afternoon, I bumped into this free 7-day devo from the Bible app. And I think that God answered some of my deepest concerns (which, apparently, I opened up to God on Tuesday morning) through it. It was so interesting and relatable that instead of finishing it in 7 days, I finished it in 2 hours. Something good can actually come out of the Manila traffic time!
I am referring to the “Free of Me” devotional by Sharon Hodde Miller. It is actually an overview material of her book, “Free of Me: Why Life is Better When it’s Not About You”. It basically talks about how self-focus sabotages many areas of our lives and how it reveals many of our insecurities and self-preoccupations. It encourages the reader to get over one’s self in order to be able to really worship the Lord.
Here are my top three favourite texts from this material:
“When you treat people like mirrors, you create a world that is all about you.”
Miller, on the first part of the devo, talked about “The Mirror Reflex”. It is about how we constantly look at others as a reflection of us. Practically, it is when we allow other people, our possessions, and our profession to shape our self-image. Most of the time, this mirror reflex does not come obvious thus it has become easy for us to let such reflections dictate how we perceive things.
Personally, I easily assume that the friends who rejected me or the people who slandered/ridiculed me are about me; when in fact, their brokenness, their heart-wrenching words and actions are not about me but about them. I also easily assume that my life mission, the experiences I went through in my personal ministry or my relationships are about me; when in fact, it has always been and always will be about God.
And it is a terrible burden whenever I make things about me. Whenever I dwell on rejection, please people, measure up my worth, or focus on my flaws, my shoulders feel heavy. It is a terrible burden whenever I am getting less of God because I am getting a lot of myself.
We are called to break our mirrors in order to get more of God; to move past our vanities in order to see Him clearly. It’s not about you — and this is the ego-crushing news we need to be reminded of every single day.
“Whenever we put anything before God, it’s only a matter of time before it turns on us.”
God hates idolatry. For the past two months that I have been reading through the 1st and 2nd Chronicles, I observed that the successes and failures of the people, especially the leaders appointed by God, was based on whether or not they served the Lord or some idols.
Idolatry can come in the form of worshipping man-made objects, images or statues. But beyond the act of worshipping something besides God, idolatry is a heart issue. Idolatry is anything we put before God and anything more important than God. It can be your career, your studies, your accomplishments, your friends, your relationships, and yes… even yourself.
I become my own idol whenever I only focus on myself, use the time God has given me just for myself, use the resources He has given me just for my own gain, do just what I want, and do just what I think needs to be done. I become my own idol whenever I crave for affirmation from other people, try to get even with the people “of” this world, and depend on my own strenght and strategies.
I become my own idol whenever the desires of my flesh becomes more appealing to me than the desires of God.
Psalm 135:18 says, “Those who make them (that is, idols) will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” Whenever we prioritize something more than God, we value something more than God, and seek something more than God, it is only a matter of time before such idols become like us — shallow and having no power.
“God releases us from the source of our paralysis, shifting our gaze from the can’ts to the One who can.”
My favorite part of the devo was when the author delved into the stories of Moses and Jeremiah. In a video, Miller opened up about a time in her life when instead of searching the Bible for something that will make her feel better and secured (i.e., the self-centered way of looking into Scripture), she sought how God responds to people who are insecure and self-preoccupied (i.e., the God-centered way of looking into Scripture).
Since this is my favorite part of the devo, I will just let you read through it. Enjoy! 😊