Daily Devotions

The Self-Made Man

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Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God... (2 Corinthians 3:5)


Just turn on the news, or even worse, a reality television show, and you can witness arrogance run amuck. This misguided arrogance is especially prevalent in our American society because we’ve traditionally honored “The self-made man!” Sorry for the exclusive language, but that was the exact language I learned growing up, trying to become a man.


I cannot claim anything in this life of mine. Oh, I may take pride in my degrees, because I think of all the late nights and sacrifices made in my studies. But I cannot take credit for the brain God gave me. I had a number of birth defects, that I didn’t know about until I was twenty-one years old. I found out the reason my mother said I cried non-stop until I was two years old. I had spina bifida, which is an incomplete closing of the infant’s spinal area. Mine grew just enough that I did not live with severe health issues that would permanently affect brain activity. From the moment of my birth, anything I would ever accomplish would be a gift from God.


Not a single person in this world can take credit for one’s mental capacity, or their opportunities. You may be brilliant, but if you were born in the slums of Calcutta, you would probably never be given the opportunity to thrive. You get my point - there is no such thing as a “self-made man.” We are all given certain opportunities and challenges in this life. I have yet to meet a person who was blessed with every opportunity, without any area of struggle or shortcoming. The blessings we have come from God. I would argue that even many of the shortcomings are from God as well. If we were perfect, we would not learn necessary lessons, such as humility, trust, and ultimately, faith.


Today, remember your own story. Think about your God-given blessings. Then, think about your challenges. How has God guided and molded your unique and special life? How were your joys and sorrows affected by your trust in God? Were there ways your decisions could have improved, if you trusted God just a little bit more? Answering these questions is not meant to drag you down. They are meant to remind you that our competence comes from God. Further, I would argue that even our happiness comes from God. It takes reflection to stay close to God, which is where our true competence is found.

A Blessing at the Throne

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Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)


I love that word “boldness.” dictionary.com defines the word “boldness” as “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring.” In the Old Testament, to see the face of God was to die. No wonder it requires “boldness” to “approach the throne of grace.” But God has transformed the faith as we move from the Old Testament to the New. Instead of dying in the intimate presence of God, we are now blessed with Divine grace, when we approach the throne. God’s grace strips away the threat of death, and allows an intimacy with God never before imaginable.


Sadly, too often we take this intimacy for granted. We act as if God owes us this intimacy. Our arrogance is so profound that we assume God’s closeness, even when we do not reciprocate. I can just picture God sitting in our living room, just waiting for us to sit down and visit. Each day we get ready and start our day, leaving God in the living room alone. We literally ignore God’s presence on the sofa. We wouldn’t be that rude to an acquaintance. Yet, each day we treat God this way, when we fail to pray. Still, each new day, God is sitting in your living room, ready to give you mercy and grace, so that in time of need, you will know where to turn and what to do. None of us is capable of handling this world’s hardship without Divine assistance.


Today, close your eyes and quietly picture yourself approaching God’s sacred throne. Imagine the majesty and awe. If every hair your neck isn’t standing on end, you aren’t focusing hard enough. Then, as you start to kneel with your face down, God gets up, walks over to you, takes his hand and lifts your chin. The Divine glow is greater than anything you’ve ever experienced, yet it doesn’t hurt or even glare. Instead of dying, you feel your heart fill with grace. You offer God your Prayer of Thanksgiving and move back into your present consciousness. You may be back to your present location, but may the gift of grace and mercy stay in your heart. You are restored through the loving grace of God Almighty!

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