I'd love to hear your feedback. Please click "comments" above or scroll all the way to the bottom to leave comments or questions anytime.
Somewhere in your morning routine, you check your phone. There's a thoughtful text or message from someone very special to you, maybe even someone you haven't heard from for a while. Stop for a moment. Imagine the face of that person. Imagine them smiling at you, thinking of you, maybe even praying for you. Imagine the way you feel when you open and read that text knowing that person has cared enough to reach out. I don't know you, but for me, that's a big deal. It feels really good. It means the world to me. It blesses my heart. It makes my fondness for that person grow. It inspires me. I want to bless others that way.
I once knew a young lady who would read a message like that and get a pit in her stomach. She assumed anyone being kind to her wanted something in return. She had rarely, if ever, been shown kindness for the sake of love or simple Christian fellowship. A quick text or kind message is a great start, but following it up with loving action, presence, and a true generosity of heart with no expectation or benefit to self - that's walking closer to Jesus. That kind of love can change the world one text at a time. Imagine; something so simple...
You might notice, as you read scripture more and more, that one will remind you of another. I was reading the four verses in my reading plan today, and though they were from all over the Bible, and none of them from Colossians, when I reviewed my compiled notes, they reminded me to make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
I needed to stop in at a local clinic this morning, and I thought, how can I make the most of this opportunity? How can I bless the people who bless me in their work and their service to the community? The Lord is showing me the answer to that important question. I trust him. What opportunity can you take today to bless the people God puts in your path?
This week was a struggle. If we just look at the facts, it was not a bigger struggle than past weeks, but I missed a day in the word. I could feel it. The next day, I turned back to God in a serious struggle with one of my children, he reminded me that he is my provider as he provided a very specific answer to prayer. His word encouraged me to keep writing when I felt defeated. The Psalms inspired me to sing his praises as I cleaned the house yesterday. He guided me in one endeavor to be still and wait, yet in another, he showed me a beautiful plan of action. Walking with God, at his pace, trusting him, and leaning in, does not remove the struggle. It may even make us more aware of some of the battles we're facing, but it does mean we never have to walk alone. He is with us always. As the struggle weighs us down, the world has many false gods we can turn to for comfort, distraction or numbing the pain of life, but those things only add a layer of trouble to our trouble. God is the answer. He is our trust.
Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
Psalm 39:12 - Last night, with a loved one in the hospital, I knelt down at the altar in tears. At first, I felt lost. The longer I prayed, the more I felt myself following David's lead, crying out to God and deeply trusting.
Matthew 10:19 - Recently, my mind was arrested by fear in a situation where my love and acceptance of someONE who does someTHING I don't believe in, was questioned. Jesus' words came to mind. Though I paraphrased, I was able to speak them aloud. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” It all comes down to love.
John 6:4 - The Jewish Passover Feast was near. I thank God for all the ways he has interwoven pillars of remembrance into our lives. Celebrating and remembering the ways God has provided for other believers and for us in the past bolsters our faith and our convictions as we walk the narrow path that leads to life.
1 Timothy 3:1 – Lord, thank you for those you’ve called to lead. Teach us to pray fervently for them always remembering their human limitations. Help us to lift them up in prayer when they stumble rather than tearing them down. Help us to follow leaders here who are truly seeking to follow you.
We may not always follow, but God always leads.
What if we did that? Just that would be enough to change the world. I'm willing to try. Are you? Lord, help us.
The photo to the right shows a little rock I painted with some children at my very first book reading event. It sits on my desk where I write and work. It's a constant visual reminder of our purpose here.
I have an odd reading practice. I can't remember how it began, but over many years of reading the Word of God, I have found a process that blesses me in ways I could never explain. I am neither encouraging you to read this way nor discouraging it. My goal this morning is only to explain the process because future blogs will likely focus on my daily reading insights.
Each morning, I read just four verses from four different books of the Bible. I read them in sequence where they are, but I like to compare and contrast big-picture concepts from Old and New Testament simultaneously. In order to ensure I'm not taking anything out of context, I read each chapter just as any normal person would, from beginning to end, but I have found a unique level of awareness by reading from multiple places at once, and deeper understanding from analyzing one verse at a time.
Today, for example: I read Psalm 38:22, Matthew 10:7, John 5:39, and 1 Timothy 2:4.
This combination in context has me thinking.
Psalm 38:22 Even in king David's time, before Jesus walked the earth in human-form, he referred to God as O Lord, my Savior. I believe the entire Bible is consistently pointing to Jesus.
Matthew 10:7 Jesus sent his disciples first to the lost sheep of Israel to tell them the kingdom of heaven is near.
John 5:39 Jesus specifically tells those who were trying to kill him that the scriptures they studied were testifying about him. When he says, "you diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life" and then follows up with John 5:40 he is indicating that we may not have eternal life by studying alone. We must come to him.
1 Timothy 2:4 And THEN after much ado about the good fight that pleases God through prayer and gratitude, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus desires everyone be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
I hope you dig into the scriptures. I truly do, but remember studying them alone will not bring us to eternal life. Jesus will. The last thing I do, is ask the Holy Spirit to help me apply what I've learned to my life today. This morning I feel him leading me to keep sharing the gospel so here I am sharing with you, and out I will go to share with those he puts in my path today. Let's go directly to Jesus for a knowledge of the truth of salvation, and let's not keep it to ourselves.
This morning I find myself delighting in the Lord. I have begun to memorize Chapter 12 of the book of Romans. I stand in the office, welcoming the brilliance of the sun on my face through the window. I breathe deeply of God’s loving kindness. I slowly fold forward to stretch – feeling the muscles in my neck, shoulders, back, thighs, and calves wake up to a new day. While I am bowed low in humility, I recite the first five verses as smoothly as if they were my address and birthdate, but with an intimate realization. These words have begun to take hold. They are cultivating a powerful change in my day to day, moment by moment, inhale and exhale – life. I’m learning to honor others no matter where they are on their journey. I’m honoring the me God created me to be. I’m honoring God. I’m slowing down. I’m looking up. I’m trusting. This is delight.
I have failed in many ways, but failure is not an ending if we let God use it. Failure is often the beginning of a new chapter. Humility rarely comes without failure. Sometimes it comes gently, by choice when we choose to humble ourselves. Other times it comes by an unwelcome force bringing us to our knees in times of deep grief, sorrow, or pain.
Discipline – Humility – Delight
To delight in the discipline of humility: Practicing consistent habits (discipline) and accepting God’s training (discipline) for cultivating a submissive (humble) heart toward God and a servant (humble) lifestyle toward others inevitably results in not only great joy (delight), but also deep desire for (delight in) embracing God’s perfect plan; the gospel – Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Today, Lord, grant us delight in the discipline of humility as we do the good works you prepared in advance for us to do within our circles of influence. We praise you always, in Jesus’ name by the power of your Holy Spirit.
In my prayer time this morning I am convicted of, and frustrated by, two half-truths I've told. The Holy Spirit is reminding me that a half-truth is also a half-lie. I find it telling that I want to call lies half-truths when I'VE been deceitful or dishonest, but when others do it, they've LIED to me. Just since Saturday, I've lied to two people who are very important in my life. The actual content was so meaningless it's laughable, but the subject of honesty is no joke. I took time to confess and (in one of the two instances, to apologize as well) for many reasons.
Lying is a sin: Exodus 20:16 "No lies about your neighbor." (MSG)
We're called to confess: James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." (NIV)
I selfishly want a clear conscience. 1 Timothy 1:5 "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
I secretly hope it might be a good example for a dear friend or a dear reader.
As I look back on things I've written and conversations I've had over the years, I realize that only when I've truly let God lead, has anything I've shared been truly, powerfully helpful. I reviewed Matthew 9:27 this morning and it struck me funny that the two blind men were hanging out together. I don't know if this was a typical situation in Jesus' day, but I do know he often referred to the pharisees as blind guides. He said in Matthew 15:14 "Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
When I try to lead without Jesus, I resemble the blind leading the blind. The two men in Matthew 9:27-29 went together to ask Jesus for his mercy and believed he could heal them. He did! We're all blinded by our sin, the desires of the flesh, the pride of life, and countless other tools the enemy loves to use against us. Let's journey together recognizing, like the blind men, that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He will be our guide, and we will experience the healing and restoration he gives so freely to all who seek him with a humble heart.
I have a very big, very important decision to make. I feel some level of pressure to make it quickly. I don't actually have a deadline. I could really give it some time. I think I might. I want to. I struggle because there is this unwritten rule about things that are up in the air. We want to catch them and move on with our lives. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds me that we may need a moment to understand slowness.
In Jordan Raynor's book, Redeeming Your Time, he shares some beautiful wisdom about freeing your mind of open loops. Apparently, having unfinished commitments of any kind can increase negative stress and anxiety. This does not always mean that we have to make decisions quickly. He suggests simply tracking unfinished business in a reliable place "outside your brain." I'm grateful for his advice.
I know this decision will affect myself, my family, my relationships, and my core values. I need time to think it over. More than that, I need time to check in with my Father, my Savior and the Holy Spirit. I will slow down on this. I will take time. I will not rush. I will make an informed, decision that I can feel confident in because I believe that is the wise thing to do. There will very likely be some push-back no matter what I decide. I want to be prepared to handle that in a loving manner that honors God and others.
Repent and Delight
I can be prideful, impatient, lazy, selfish and inconsiderate. Not ALL of the time, but these traits rear their ugly heads more than I care to admit. Yesterday, I washed throw blankets and disinfected boots, etc. because I was noticing an elusive unpleasant smell in the house. Washing anything I could imagine needed attention in this aroma overhaul included a pile of my kids' coats. This may sound like a loving gesture at first glance, but they are getting older and I know they sincerely prefer I not go through their things, but rather just let them know if they need to take care of something. I didn't do that.
Tuesday is family dinner night when everyone comes over so it was especially important to my pride and impatience that the house smell lovely. I knew days in advance that I needed to talk with them about some tidy habits, but I don't like confrontation and didn't want to deal with any potential conflict so I put it off until it was too late. It may have gone really well. I hadn't mustered the courage or taken the time to find out.
Maybe it goes without saying at this point, but they weren't pleased. In fact, one called me out on it at the dinner table. Any embarrassment I had tried to avoid by removing the odor was significantly surpassed by this unpleasant "reprimand" which felt harsh and disrespectful.
Now, not only do I need to apologize for my slice of the blame pie in this unnecessary incident, but I also need to walk through and help guide my child's part because I'm not just the other person in the conflict. I'm also the mom.
I am a firm believer in the old leadership adage, "praise in public, punish in private." Though it was not punishment per se, I feel this behavior was disrespectful. I want my kids to express all of their feelings and frustrations. I just prefer it stay between us, not the other six people at the table who are trying to enjoy a good bowl of chili.
Several other factors played into this mess and will play into the resolution. As I continued to dwell on it in my mind this morning, I was really angry, but my private internal repentance for my part with the Lord during my prayer time softened my heart. I will seek first to understand and then to be understood.
As I learn the art of repentance, I begin to delight in opportunities for true humility, to model this behavior in my home, and to ask God for his guidance in cultivating strong relationships that will stand the test of time. 1/18/2023
I have an important meeting today. Actually, I have seven important meetings today, but one stands out. I have been over this one in my mind many times. I have rehearsed what I want to say, the points I want to get across, my intention, and my goals. Have I considered the other two people who will be in the room? Have I once thought about Habit 5 - Seek first to understand and then to be understood? (Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) I have always walked into this type of meeting with an agenda. Today will be different.
Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
I don't know if I can even remember the last time I took delight in honoring someone. Can you? Today is a new day. Let's do this together knowing the power of the Holy Spirit is alive in us.
John 4:50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
This man's son was dying! I don't know how difficult it was to get to Jesus when he walked the dusty roads of Cana in Galilee, but when this royal official heard he was nearby, he found a way to get to him and begged him to come and heal his son. I don't know about you, but after more than a day's journey on foot, the incredible relief of knowing you had found the one who offered hope, and a face to face encounter with the savior of the world, I don't know how quickly I would be willing to say, "Sure, okay, you say he will live, I'll just take your word for it and head home." You?
As a parent, I struggle with maintaining the faith that my kids are going to be okay, that God is in control, and that I can take Jesus at his word. I am grateful for this man's trust and the reminder to have faith even when the trials of this life shake us to the core.
Photo Source: Danielle Hecker
There is an intense winter storm forecast for our area set to begin this afternoon, but our own kind of storm started ahead of schedule. My son was headed off to school early this morning when the tire came off the rim of his car. He called me to come get him so we could make a plan. It's currently 9:09 a.m. I’m staying warm in my car with my hazards on alongside the highway while he works to change the tire. At this moment it feels like everything is a mess. His attendance is really important right now and I have no idea when he’ll get to school. A tow truck seems like a good idea, but he insists on fixing it. It’s -9°F. He continues to have vehicle trouble, and judging by the scene out my windshield, the tire change is not going smoothly.
Jesus Calms the Storm - Matthew Chapter Eight
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Lord, I come before you, like your disciples did and I hate to admit it, but my faith feels small. Please save my son. Don’t let him drown in freezing frustration and dismay. Give him strength and wisdom. Lead him, Lord. Rebuke the winds and waves that threaten to overtake him and please give him the courage to ask for help if he needs it. Give me whatever strength and wisdom I might need. I trust you and praise you in Jesus' name.
Thank you, Father, for the kind man in the white semi and the lady in the blue SUV.
10:21 a.m. Update - Father, you are amazing! He did all the hard work. He did it well. He did it in the freezing cold, and he succeeded. He called school at 7:30 also to let them know he would be late and got an excused absence for the morning. Thank you for this opportunity to encourage him and to see with my own eyes, the smart, capable, independent man he is becoming.
Don't you just LOVE trials and temptations! No? Honestly, me neither, but let's consider James 1:2-4 shown on the right.
As usual, God's perspective challenges and grows us. Opportunities to walk the walk come most often in the struggle, that's where faith is tested, that's where trust grows, that's where surrender becomes inevitable. Sounds good and lovely doesn't it, but can't we just enjoy the good times and pray for peace? We can. We do, but IF we're willing to prepare for the trials and temptations with anticipation knowing they will arrive (so they don't take us by surprise) and welcoming them (because they're rocket fuel for growth) we can reap the benefits of James' wisdom and experience the peace that passes understanding.
I am beginning to see undeniable value in connection and contrast. I value presence and attention to the moment (some call it mindfulness) for its powerful purpose and guidance into deep connection with the very real people in our lives. I also have great appreciation for the connections from yesterday to today and from today to tomorrow. I have often seen these two things in contrast with one another rather than in connection. I have believed the lie that to be present, we must completely forget the past and the future.
Recently, I have begun to notice that silent prayerful connection to the vine early in the morning with the purpose of being present while allowing the Holy Spirit to show me the flow of life from past into present and present into future has made an undeniable positive impact on my life. I carve out that precious time to ponder the connections, learn from mistakes, and even make (always tentative) plans for the day. This simple practice allows me to be more fully present (mindful) throughout the day as I come face to face with the people God wants to love through me.
With an overarching goal or two for the day in mind, I can focus and flex as needed.
I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good. www.biblegateway.com
When I think of sacrifice, I don't often think of praise. Have you ever been in a situation that feels hopeless? Have you lost your will to fight? When praising God is the last thing we can imagine, it's the one thing we most need to do. Not long ago I found myself in a church service wanting to sneak out the back door. I was struggling with so many things on a deep level and to make it worse, I didn't care for the particular songs they had chosen that week, everything sounded off in my heart and I just wanted to escape. I can only thank the Holy Spirit, but I chose to lift my hands at that moment. I chose to sing along. I chose to offer a sacrifice of praise. For the first time in my life, I got a glimpse of what Psalm 54:6 looks like in action. I didn't think I could do it. I didn't want to do it. I don't fully even understand why I did it, but I did.
There was no flash of lightening, no instant or overwhelming sense of peace, no flood of emotion, just a little sip of the living water. It was like, yep, this is the next right thing. It's not everything, but it's a step in the right direction. My circumstances are not always good, but I will praise his name for it is good. 11/15/22
Did you ask?
Firewood is great for starting a fire, but recently my husband had a situation that caused some resentment and frustration. I suggested we pray about it, but at the time, he wasn’t ready. I get that. As the situation progressed, I asked again. He agreed. We prayed earnestly together with pure motives. I believe it was less than two days that we got to witness a very clear, powerful answer to our prayer that also blessed us both very much.
James 4:2-3 "You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure." NLT https://www.biblegateway.com/
Consider a situation right now that’s bothering you, maybe it’s a relationship that needs healing, something with your finances, your job, your family, an important decision, etc. Whatever it is, what would Jesus do? Make time and space to seek God’s wisdom in the situation. Listen to the guiding of his Holy Spirit. Go directly to his word, or even a trust-worthy faithful friend to consider God’s will for the matter.
No, God is not a magic genie and sometimes we pray with pure motives and still don't see things turn out the way we think they should, but according to scripture, we may never know what amazing gifts God wants to give us until we ask. The greatest blessing of all is the connection we make with our perfect Father as we take time to consider his perspective. 10/17/2022
The Wisdom of Pillows
When I first started to slow down and spend quiet time before the Lord in prayer, I had trouble staying focused. My mind would dart around seemingly meaningless distractions, fears, frustrations, and anxious to-do lists. If you can picture it, it was similar to a housefly caught in a small space when it starts bouncing off of every surface looking for a way out.
Peace did not come easily.
There’s a little throw pillow sitting on the couch in my living room that says pray more worry less. I didn't consider myself a worrier; only distracted, but I wasn't talking to God about my thoughts so what was I doing?
We can talk to God about anything from getting a new toaster to getting a new job, but I realized many of my seemingly meaningless distractions were actually kind of important things. My scattered brain knew I needed wisdom and I was trying to tell it to hush! As I accepted this new insight, I began to pray through the distractions instead of trying to ignore them. What a difference!
Thank you, Lord, for insight and compassion as I learn to follow your lead.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) www.BibleGateway.com
The Power of Words
It doesn't take long to find some powerful words in the Bible. God spoke and there was light only three verses from the front cover. I know God's word is powerful and you probably do too, but what about ours?
Do our words really matter? And what about the ones we don't even speak out loud; the conversations we have in our own heads...do those words have any power?
Power is defined as the capacity or ability to direct or influence.
My self-talk has the ability to direct and influence my courage, my attitude, my faith, my compassion, my motivation, my relationships, my parenting, my work, my friendships and at least one thousand other things.
For me, words are powerful.
My capacity to become and remain aware of the inner dialogue along with my desire to keep that dialogue honest, encouraging, and hopeful are key tools for wielding the power of words carefully.
What are you telling yourself today?
Try on a few of these and see how they fit...
I am loved. I am enough. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I make mistakes. I am capable. I am strong. I am faithful. I'm awake. I'm alive. I have God-given purpose. I am His. I am growing. God's word, Jesus' words, The Word - as we refer to the Bible... changed the world.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT
Background photo from freeimages.com
Tools Part II
How did you do? Did you think about the tools you’re using? Did you notice how they’re working for you or not working?
I don’t have great news myself. I used anger at one point and even lead up to it with poor communication. Wow! I know I can do so much better.
I won’t beat myself up too much because it’s not a great idea anyway, but I did make a pretty solid comeback. I asked honestly for a do-over. I didn’t give up, and I believe this self-awareness is really positive in the long run though it may be quite a life-long process of trial and error, learning and growing as most worthwhile endeavors are.
My goal for this week is to slow down, listen better and think before I speak or act. I continue to pray for wisdom and guidance for us all. Wishing you the very best as you walk this path as well.
James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (NIV)
Do you have a favorite tool? Maybe you use duct tape for everything or, like me, the hot glue gun is your go-to? Around the house, whatever the problem, you can bet there’s a tool to fix it. We have a lot of tools at our disposal when it comes to relationships too.
The good, the bad and the ugly... In relationships, some good tools include vulnerability, honesty and forgiveness to name a few. Some bad ones we’ve all tried out from time to time are stonewalling, manipulating (which comes in many of the latest models) and my go-to; the guilt trip.
The ugly comes in when we use these bad tools in a way that leave our loved ones feeling hurt or damaged. If you’ve ever used the handle-end of a screwdriver to pound a nail, you know how important it is to use the right tools for the job.
Recently, my daughter was hurt by a guilt trip from someone she cares about. We talked through it and realized the person who hurt her was lacking some of the good tools. We talked through grace and forgiveness and I’m sure she’ll be fine. We even did some troubleshooting on ways for her to connect with this person which were all very good, but it really got me thinking.
I have the good tools. Why am I sometimes forgetting or refusing to use them?
Sometimes I allow myself to get too busy or hurried to take the time to use the good tools. Sometimes it’s frightening to be vulnerable, and sometimes I don’t even know why I do the things I do, or say the things I say.
This week, I’m challenging myself (and you too if you’re feeling it) to pay attention to the tools I’m using in my close relationships. Awareness has to be the first step. I’ll be back next week to update and I’ll be praying for a Holy Spirit leading on the next step. May God bless you as you discover your tools. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out anytime.
Parenting may very well be the greatest blessing and the most intimidating responsibility of the entire human experience. Lean hard on God diving into his wisdom regularly, lean on other parents and on family (no matter what family looks like to you,) and whatever you do...
Lean not on your own understanding, but trust in the Lord with all your heart.
(Paraphrase Prov 3:5)
What is IT?
There are primarily two types of pride, but one sometimes poses as humility. Check out this illustration...
It = Something truly awesome, completely free, and IT is just for you.
Here IT is!
Pride #1 Says:
Yes, I deserve IT.
Pride #2 Says:
No, I can’t. I don’t deserve IT.
Thank you. How can I use IT to bless others?
Can you see how Pride #2 is kind of sneaky? It imitates humility, but it is still self-focused.
True humility is others-focused.
Something else to consider: What if IT = salvation?
Can we humbly accept the forgiveness of God through his son Jesus Christ for the truly awesome, completely free gift of salvation? Can we experience profound gratitude for our salvation that inspires us to bless others? Can we live-loved in a world full of hate? Can we let this little light shine in such a dark place? I believe with all my heart that we can.
Dear Lord, let us practice Jesus’ words found in Matthew Chapter 25...
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:34-40 NIV
Prayer: Father, help me to be humble and grateful, to think less about me and more about others as I seek to use the gifts and challenges you have given me to serve others in this life and to grow your kingdom for eternity. Amen.
This post is inspired by one of my favorite quotes: “Humility does not think less of self but thinks of self less.” - Rick Warren
Less Talk, More Action
Have you ever heard the phrase "walk by one; talk by two?" It's a little rhyme to help us remember about the time when a child begins to walk on their own and then talk or make phrases. It struck me this morning that I have often been tempted to speak first and think later. This habit of sharing thoughts; "talking" before really "walking" out the thoughts and ideas I want to share has caused some interesting challenges. Why do you think God created us to walk almost an entire year before we are able to talk? I really don't know. I can't wait to ask him one day, but I'd like to take a hint from his design and begin walking the walk before attempting to talk the talk. I realize this will be a process, but speaking from experience is so much more valuable and sometimes not speaking at all can be really powerful too.
Lord, help me to listen with love and patience to the people my actions and words affect each day. Help me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I desire to show loving kindness. By the power of your holy spirit who lives in me, give me pause, give me grace and lead me in the way everlasting. I praise you Lord in Jesus' name.
I think I was about 16 years old. I had made so many mistakes, fallen so far from God's plan for my life and tucked my head under the covers of discouragement and despair.
I have no idea how I got to that church pew that day, I cannot remember what spark allowed my heart to finally open or why God used that moment for repentance, but the feelings of peace, forgiveness, mercy, grace, acceptance and a truly fresh start; those I will never forget.
If you've ever experienced repentance, you know exactly what I'm taking about. If you haven't, I'll make a feeble attempt to explain...
We all fall short of the glory of God. We all sin. We all make mistakes. We all hurt others and ourselves. There comes a time when our soul is just fed up with it. Our spirit sees a glimpse of what life could be if we were to fully surrender our filth to God, accept his forgiveness and start again. If that glimpse is enough to pull us in, God can use those feelings of guilt or even shame to show us how deep and how wide his love really is. He can remove a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh beating for him.
I am and will be forever grateful for the many moments of repentance in my life. In his perfect timing, I hope and pray God will spark them in your life as well.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 NIV
“may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” Ephesians 3:18 NIV
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV