• Shanley McConnell

Devotion: In Whose Image We Have Been Made

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"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your site, O Lord," -- psalm 19v14.


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Good morning lovely people ♡


I'm beginning my week with this verse in 1st Peter. "As each received a gift from God, use it to serve one another with grace (honesty, sincerity and integrity)," v10.


Isaiah 6 speaks of the prophet who heard the voice of God, saying, 'Whom shall I send as advocates for my name in the kingdom on Earth?' and replied with 'Send me! Here I am,' v8.


Remember Moses in Exodus (from a previous devotion)? How God met him in a burning bush, chose him as a voice, to speak on behalf of the Father's will for his people: that they be rescued from bondage and returned to a garden land. Moses loved God. He gave up his status as the Prince of Egypt for servant living as a shepherd in the wilderness. He saw the mistreatment of God's people and refused to stand with those who abused them.


Even so, when God called him to stand against those abusing the Israelites, he shrunk back for a moment, afraid. This made sense. By undertaking such a charge, Moses was not simply entering into a land of hostility. He was returning to middle-ground. The Egyptians had once been his family. In a time of persecution, they had drawn him out of the water to raise as their own. How difficult must it have been for Moses to imagine returning to them. His adoptive father had since died, but how could he forget the life that he had once lived as an Egyptian son? Although he had renounced this title to sojourn and shepherd flocks in the land of Midian, the memory of his childhood must have returned to mind. How could he forget the shame? The murder he had committed? The revelation of God in his life must have torn at the tension of belonging to two nations: indebted to the people who raised him, born a son to their persecution.


It was ok. Moses felt this hard. But God didn't make him feel foolish, but reminded him of what was true: "I will be with you, and this shall be the sigh for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain," Exodus 3v12


It is easy to feel afraid. Caught in the middle between the need to avoid persecution (rejection) from those who do not understand our faith and the desire to be bold & testify to the Lord's presence in our rescue + life. Sometimes we step back when we hear him call us to speak of righteousness because we feel caught in the middle between two kingdoms: this world with and without God.


But when we experience something so radical as the presence of God-----through redemption, comfort, praise and clarity, we want nothing more than this for those we love, even if they don't (or have chose not to) understand our faith. So, my friends, know that it is ok to feel afraid. It is inevitable. But have courage knowing that God will be with you. He is sending you to tell a world without God that there is freedom from all fears.


♪ No One But You (Live) - Hillsong Worship



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Proverbs 13: "Righteousness guards those whose ways are blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked," v6.


Some days I feel convinced that my tolerance for pain is high; on others, I fear that a single scratch might make me cry. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with the fact that my heart is delicate.


Sometimes I settle into a cycle of searching for perfection, success and strength. I forget that God is with me, and hold firm to the heaviness, disappointment and hurt of early years. In this, I can do nothing but cry out for God's comfort.


We don't like pain. But we need it. Pain takes us to points of desperation-----that place of prayer and rescue. Without the painful emptiness, Hannah might not have called out to God in her distress and bitterness (1st Samuel 1v10), to receive his miraculous answer----a child who would grow up to become one of Israel's greatest leaders. Without the pain of the enemy's persecution, Job might never have seen God (Job 42:5). And of Stephen? His devotion to Jesus seen in his willingness to lay down his life for the truth (Acts 7:55). As he was stoned at the hands of his accusers, he looked to the heavens and saw the glory of God. Think of Paul and Silas, shackled to the wall of a Roman jail. How they must have felt the sting of a beating to their back, and yet, in this pain, they discovered the comfort of "praying and singing hymns of praise to God," (Acts 16:25). Consider the woman preparing to die, starving. In this distress could her generosity be seen (1st Kings 17:12). All of these men and woman experienced the depths of worship as they sought God in their pain.


It wasn't that God wanted them to feel pain. When Adam and Eve chose to undertake that which they could not carry------the weight of all knowledge, God had compassion on them. He humbled himself, took on the form of man. In Jesus, their pain was replaced with perfect righteousness. He carried the weight of their pride to the cross so that they might experience everlasting Peace.


We try to avoid pain as we strive towards happiness and comfort, but there often feels like no escaping its grasp on our lives. But consider pain as a force that brings us closer to refuge in God.


Worship. Delight in Jesus. It is he who shields us with the kind of confidence that cannot be shaken. Not by a rejection or harsh comment. Psalm 34: "He is near to those who are brokenhearted and saves those who feel crushed in spirit," v18.


♪ Give Me Jesus - Steffany Gretzinger & Jeremy Riddle | Bethel Worship



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Romans 8: "Consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed," v18.


This verse brings to mind the ideas of responsibility with identity. Reflect on your own roles and occupations? Maybe you are a student, lawyer, teacher? Maybe an artist, like me? Maybe you are a wife, husband, mother, father, manager, director, friend, widow, grandparent, daughter or son? These are significant things to be and do.


But you wouldn't be described as simply one. How could you choose between? I am an artist, a daughter, a friend, a student, etc. The list continues. I read an article once that viewed these as disguises-----a veneer that surrounding the inner self. I think I understand what the author meant, but I disagree.


True, the roles and occupations we pursue (in and of themselves) are not the sum total of who we are. At the heart, those who believe and trust in Jesus, find themselves secure in this: they are children of God. This is the core of their identity and overflows in the way we chose and interact with the roles and occupations that structure our lives.


You are not just a woman who works a quiet life, a mother who stays home to nurture her children, a lawyer who wins and loses court cases in equal measure, a teacher whose students respond and reject to the lesson plans, an artist with paired enthusiasm and writer's block. You are descendants of heaven and sacrifice. You are dearly beloved.


Let this be your confidence. Even when unexpected things happen, when your role and occupation undergoes change, as all positions inevitably do, remember that your identity remains unchanged.


Identity /ʌɪˈdɛntɪti/, defined:


1. the characteristics determining who or what someone/something is.


2. a closer similarity or affinity.


3. (in mathematics) the a transformation that leaves an object unchanged.


The roles we fulfill are valuable; God's Spirit has given us the courage, faith, drive and proficiency to follow through in the responsibilities each role requires. These tasks are not merely chores to be endured, but ways in which we come to understand and engage with the revelation of God's will. Consider these roles as places to practice becoming more like Christ, in whose image we were made.

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