I am very particular about things. Some say I have OCD, but the doctor said it is only OCD tendencies. When it comes to scents, I like to stick with vanilla and honey or like ocean mists. Typically, the flowery scents attack my nose. Today I asked my daughter to pick out two hand soaps. I did not realize what I was getting myself into by giving her control of the hand soap selection. When I saw what she picked, after we were already home, I cringed at the one bottle. It was a flowery scent.
When I asked her why she selected the flowery hand soap, she said she didn’t look at the scents for the hand soaps. She did not consider scent at all. She selected the hand soap by picking up what was “pretty.” She thought the soap she selected—which she also noted was “special edition” – looked nice. Sadly, the smell leaves more to be desired.
In life, we often make decisions by the looks of things, including our decisions on the people with which we engage. We pass judgment. We turn our noses. We engage with people who look like us. We sometimes avoid people who look a certain way, whether it be due to lack of knowledge, a fear issue, or something else. We read what happened when God’s people wanted a king. They were given a king—King Saul. This man was the one who looked like a king. We later find out that though Saul looked like a king, he certainly was not someone who would lead his people in the right way. But then comes along David. He was a man after God’s own heart. He did not look like a king, but he sure had a heart for God. King David allowed God to do awesome things through him. He continued to keep His eyes fixed on the Lord. Today, be open to how God wants to use you. Be ready to receive anyone God sends your way!
“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” – Acts 13:22 [ESV]
The pollen levels have been out of control the past few days. My normal allergy medicine has not been enough to combat the problem. Then the officials called for a Code Orange warning, which signifies poor air quality that will thereby impact those who are “sensitive.” This means people who are losing their allergy battle with pollen, people who have asthma, etc., should proceed with caution.
As I was walking the dogs, I was having intense breathing issues from the pollen. My great hope was the medicine that I would take after I finished walking the dogs. As I continued to drag my feet a mile, pollen from a tree blew right into my eye. Pollen 2, Tania 0. I spent the rest of the walk trying to get my watery eye to expel the bits of pollen, only able to walk with one eye open.
Life usually is full of struggle after struggle, whether small or large. It seems when we think we cannot handle anymore, something else is piled on top to cause us more of a burden. Sometimes it appears as if the world is against us. Truth be told, we aren’t meant to carry all this burden alone. Remember, we are not in this alone. Also, the world is against us. If we are living for Jesus, if we are not of this world, then we are standing against the world and the world will always be against us. Thankfully we know this world is temporary. God’s Word tells us that heaven and earth have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The world may be against you – but God is always for you!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:13 [ESV]
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31 [ESV]
In Acts 22, we read of the encounter Paul has with Jesus. What an awesome moment that changed so much not only in Paul’s life, but to spark a great work of ministry that continues even today. When Paul, also known as Saul, encounters Jesus, he asks two questions. The first is who are you. His eyes are blinded. He hears someone. He asks, “Who are you?” to know who is speaking. Once he knows it is Jesus Christ, once he has this encounter with Jesus, he asks, “What shall I do?” now.
I pray you have encountered Jesus in your life, that you have had the eye opening moment just like Saul did that day Jesus met him where he was at in life, and forever changed everything. This encounter reminds me of Isaiah’s call, when he is before the Lord with unclean lips. His lips are made clean and then the Lord asks who will go, and he answers, “Here I am.” Isaiah encounters the Lord and he then is ready for action—action for the Lord.
Today, as you travel through wherever you must go, remember that you are able to encounter Jesus. He wants to reveal Himself to you in new ways. God wants a deeper relationship with you. Continue to ask the question, “Who are you?” as you go about your day. Keep your ears listening, your eyes open. As He shows Himself to you in His Word, in His Creation, in His people—then the response should be “what shall I do”? since I’ve received this revelation. Revelation always should be followed by a response.
“And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’” – Acts 28:8-10 [ESV]
I rarely get to sleep in as I like to be up early in the morning during the school week to be sure the kids are prepared for their day. As well, Sunday mornings I start out early once again so I have time to read my Bible and prepare myself for worship. Only on Saturdays do I have an opportunity to catch a few extra winks; however, some weeks the schedule doesn’t allow for it. Since the school year is almost over, I had this great idea – I thought perhaps I can sleep in a little. Wouldn’t that be nice?!?
Today, I was delivered some news. My daughter handed me her schedule for practice. Looks like the very week school ends, practice begins. Not only is practice Monday through Friday, but it’s also on Saturday. I went from having this hope for a day or two extra to sleep in, but instead I have no chance to sleep in until the middle of October. The plan has failed.
We often make plans, but things don’t go as we plan. This can be frustrating and even discouraging. Remember that God has a great plan and He understands the big picture. Our thoughts and ways are very different from God (Isaiah 55:8). Our plans fail again and again; however, His plan will always be seen to completion (Philippians 1:6). We may try to plan our steps, but God determines them (see Proverbs 16:9). In this world, there will be suffering. We are promised it. There will be things we don’t understand. It’s guaranteed. Today, remember to rest in Him. Allow yourself to feel His loving embrace as you cling to His promises and trust in Him. Remember that though we stumble, we don’t completely fall for He holds us up (see Psalm 37:23-24). Today is going to be a good day!!
“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” – Psalm 18:30 [NLT]
“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]
Shopping for apples is always a fun time. I am very specific about what apples I purchase, and I rarely will buy a bag of apples. I am the strange person you see in the produce area picking up each piece of fruit, turning it around in my hands, closely examining the entire item before making a decision to either place it back with the others of its kind or place it in the fruit bag I will take home. I guess you could call me an apple snob.
When I examine the apples, I’m looking for bruising, for signs of rotting, for firmness, for signs of bug infiltration. I look at the color. I am particular about the type of apples. I know which ones are more crisp, which is something I desire in an apple. I know which ones are more for baking so I avoid them most days as I seek out apples to eat as they are—simple apples.
You may think I’m a bit crazy with my apple selecting process; however, we each are to examine in life. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves. Yes, you are to examine yourself. We are constantly to be examining ourselves, to see if we are in the faith. We are to examine ourselves to see the state of our heart. We are to examine ourselves to test our motives, to see if we are too comfortable, to know if we are allowing something to get in the way of our relationship with God. We are constantly to be examining ourselves. As well, we are called to test ourselves. This means we are not standing still. We are doing. To be tested, something must be in action. That something is us. We must be in action. We must take steps forward. We must move from our comfort zones. To finish the examining process, there is always a testing. Each apple I examine eventually is tested at a future time when my daughter or I grab hold and take a bite. So after you examine yourself, don’t stop there. Test yourself. Walk forward. Faith that is not tested—is that really faith at all?
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 [ESV]
This morning I was walking around taking care of some chores as I was waiting to wash my face mask off and put my glasses back on. If anyone knows me, they know that I must have my glasses on to see. I have really bad vision, and everything is fuzzy without my trusty glasses. Those ten minutes were challenging, a great reminder of the blessing of sight.
Without my glasses, I could still make out what I was seeing because I had a good idea of things. It was the details that I could not figure out. Ten minutes seemed like a long time; if I had to go all day without my glasses, I would be lost.
This morning adventure got me thinking about understanding truth. All of us are like me without my glasses. We can see some truth. We can grasp a bit of truth. Even so, we do not fully see and know all. We can only understand so much. The world tells us that truth is what we make of it. That is comparable to me thinking the afghan is my dog or that the bowl in the sink is empty. It might look like my dog; it might look empty—but I don’t have my glasses on so I miss the boat. In the same way, if we make truth be whatever we think is truth, we miss the boat. We can only get truth from Jesus Christ. It is a slow process of walking with God and allowing Him to reveal it to you piece by piece. But it’s not made up. It’s not what we want it to be either. It is what God says it is—it is truth! Today, ask Him to open your eyes, to help you to see Truth like never before.
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17 [ESV]
“Pilate said, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus responded, ‘You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.’” – John 18:37 [NLT]
When Jesus called His disciples, it was interesting to see the interaction between Him and the disciples. Simon Peter was fishing with James and John. They fished all night and yet the Bible says that the “took nothing.” Nothing came from their fishing, despite them being experienced fisherman and diligently attempting to catch fish.
Jesus comes along and enters their boat and they go out a little from shore. He began teaching from their boat. Then Jesus tells them to let down their nets. They had a night full of no fish, yet we read that they say, “But at Your word I will let down the nets.” They obeyed Jesus and they hauled in so many fish that the net began to tear.
Imagine if you responded to Jesus with “at Your Word.” Imagine if every time the Spirit brought to memory the Word of God, you would say, “at Your Word.” Just imagine.
“And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.’” – Luke 5:5 [ESV]
In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we read about Jesus healing a boy with a demon. The boy was initially brought to the disciples of Jesus, but they were not able to heal the boy. When the father approaches Jesus, the boy is healed. Matthew 17:18 says, “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly” (ESV).
The disciples later approached Jesus in private to ask why they couldn’t drive out the demon. When Jesus responds, He notes their “little faith” (v. 20). In verse 21, we read that this kind of demon only comes out “by prayer and fasting.” That verse is missing in some translations, but it says a lot. Here were the disciples being told that the demon could not be driven out except by prayer and fasting.
The missing verse points out that the disciples were not praying and fasting like they should have been. Their faith was little because they had not spent as much time in prayer with their Father as they needed. Their faith was little because it wasn’t cultivated like it should have been. They were neglectful. Today, look at your prayer life. Are you being neglectful?
“However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” – Matthew 17:21 [HCSB]