Spiritual Disciplines // STUDY & SELF EXAMINATION
By Donia Hovet
When I was in the fourth grade I had to give my very first book report to a class of 30 kids. I don’t remember being particularly nervous when the assignment was given, but I’ll never forget when my name was called to go to the front of the room. My heart was instantly racing and I could barely breathe. As I stumbled through my report, my face grew hotter and hotter; I was sweating and trembling beyond control. I choked the words out, shuffled back to my desk and put my head down. I can still feel the coolness of the fake wood on my burning cheeks. I can still hear the kid (I never found out who) calling out for everyone to hear, “Her face is as red as tomatoes!” I was utterly humiliated. The report lasted all of 5 minutes, but I felt like I had run a marathon.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Every single week I am terrified to get up on the platform at church. For 25 years, I’ve worked hard to GET OVER my crippling stage fright, and though it has improved, it still threatens to overtake me each and every week.
Chris reminded us of the circumstances that Paul was in when he penned the words:
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Jail. Hardship. Rejection . Suffering. PAIN.
For some reason, God has called me to public ministry…this shaking waif of a woman. He made me musical, he gave me a desire to serve, he deposited creativity and leadership into me. In the midst of a debilitating phobia, he calls me forward INTO the PAIN to serve his people.
God calls us into the pain. The suffering of Jesus goes before us as a shining example of what losing our lives can mean on this earth. It’s why Paul could journey to Rome, FULLY called there by God and operating FULLY in God’s will, but knowing he would be imprisoned.
Today, we are going to spend some time in self-reflection and self-examination to determine where we are allowing God’s will to lead us into the fire. The Bible is full of examples of those who trusted God so much that they were willing to endure pain and hardship for his sake. God wants to be our leader and on his strength we can do all things.
- Read Daniel 6:1-28
- Daniel’s giftedness propelled him into a position of influence. Take 2-3 minutes and reflect on the gifts God has given you. Write them down. What opportunities has God given to you to use those gifts? Where have you allowed fear to prevent you from using your gifts?
- Like Paul, Daniel’s “yes to God” placed him in a situation of personal peril. Have you experienced a time when you were imperiled by saying yes to God’s will in your life? What happened and what was your response?
- Daniel did not allow fear to dictate his decision-making. What role does fear have in your life: finances, employment, serving at church, in your family, etc.
- Is there an area of your life that is off-limits to God-where your will supersedes how God’s word has directed you? Allow a few minutes to pray a prayer of repentance and invite the Holy Spirit to speak. Share this with your community group for accountability or schedule a meeting with one of the staff pastors for help with next steps.