Consider how often you pray. Do you pray only when you are in church? Do you pray before meals? Do you pray only when you need something? Maybe you pray every morning or every evening. Consider your prayer life.
The Psalmist speaks of prayer life as just that – his life. For some, this may sound like a strange concept. Though the Bible tells us to pray continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), we typically see prayer as another resort or a good habit rather than a lifestyle or life itself. This is a problem for us as long as we see prayer as words to recite or a legalistic act to fulfill.
This verse speaks of God’s love for us, a love that God has promised us. His love for us is unfailing and overwhelming and unchanging. His love for us is not impacted by anything that we do or say. When we look at prayer, we need always to remember this love—His love for us—and what a relationship with God means. As a child approaches a father, so it is with us and God. Stop focusing on the words you say in your prayers. Talk to your Father. Engage. Try to keep talking with Him all day as something comes to mind—about the small things and the big things. Be ever mindful of His presence, His love, and His desire to bless you with His goodness. As you continue to recognize your dependence on God and your desire for Him, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Perhaps one day, you will be able to say that your prayer to God has become your life.
“Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.” – Psalm 42:8 [TPT]
Today’s verses discuss the importance of hearing. Note that in Mark 5:27, we read that the reason the woman sought out and touched the clothing of Jesus is because she first heard. Romans 10:14 reminds us that if we do not hear, how can we believe? The woman heard of Jesus first, and this knowing of Him and this hope she had prompted her to seek Him for healing.
Consider today who has heard this week from you about Jesus. Consider who has observed you this week as you were living life and saw Jesus. Consider who heard about the happenings in your life this week in “real life” or on social media and heard of Jesus—meaning when something happened, you glorified God. Who heard?
I am not writing to shame you on the lack of testimony happening in your life, nor to point out that we all fall short in life. Instead, I hope this encourages you to consider the “having heard” moments in life—the opportunities for you to share the goodness of God. One of the best ways to share His goodness is to embrace His goodness and let it overflow in love and grace in your life. It’s not about a program or a rigid list of things to say. Love. Have they heard?
“Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing.” – Mark 5:27 [CSB]
“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14 [CSB]
It is easy to look around and think you are lacking things. In this age of social media, along with internet shopping, print media, commercials, etc., we are always told we need items. This can cause us to turn our wants to needs. Then the little voice in your head that says you should be thankful for what God has provided, instead is noticing that you do not have this, that, or the other thing.
Each of us can likely find things in our homes we do not need—things we could live without. Perhaps you are also like me, and you can go into your kitchen to find food to last you a month. At first glance, you may say you must go for groceries next week because you always go weekly. But if you closely examine your stockpile of food and consider what your body actually needs to live, you could seriously survive a month with what is available. This means you have more than enough. You also likely can find in your closet, clothing that would last weeks if you did not do the laundry. This means you have more than enough.
Our God is a great giver. He is the greatest giver. The Bible says that He will provide all that we need to do what we are called to do in life for His glory. When He says we will always have more than enough, we will. The argument always lies in our definition of what is enough. Sadly, that has been skewed by the world. If you have food, shelter, and clothing for the day—you have all you need for the day. Thank God for His many blessings. Live life with open hands, remembering that was truly matters is not the stockpile of stuff, but love. Love matters.
“Even in a time of disaster he will watch over them, and they will always have more than enough no matter what happens.” – Psalm 37.19 [TPT]
Every Saturday morning, I have the exciting task of filling my pill organizer for the week. This last time, I grabbed the capsules from one bottle only to find an empty capsule. The contents were missing. I stared at this finding and considered how it was no longer useful. The medicine that was to be contained in the capsule was missing. The capsule was empty, so it was worthless.
Sadly, too many people think of themselves as the empty capsule. Some people do not think they have the right ingredients within to make a difference. Some people think they are missing something that will make them special. Some people hear negativity so much it results in a feeling of worthlessness.
Fret not my friends. Though this empty capsule of mine got tossed in the trash, we live in a world where God’s math matters most. He takes each of us and does something great within. We simply need to let Him have His way in us. He placed things within you that you do not even know are there. He has given you the foundation to carry out the destiny He placed within your heart. He knows you by name, and He knows every hair on your head. You are priceless.
Today, remember this truth. Remind yourself again tomorrow. The worth of something is always the price someone is willing to pay… and when we look at that math when it comes to our relationship with God, it doesn’t make sense at all. He paid the ultimate price—the very life of Christ Jesus—what a hefty price that points to your truth worth. God loves you. Oh, how He loves you!
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16 [ESV]
Everyone gets offended. Lately it seems like it happens at every turn. I am offended. This offends me.I remember when I was younger, I had issues with self-control stemming from my AdHd, and I had difficulty relating to others. I found myself often blurting out things and my words would offend others and resulted in many awkward moments. I had great difficulty making real friends, and some things I said were held against me. Two stories I remember not-so-fondly from my childhood include my encounter with an overweight nurse while getting burn treatment for my arm, and an episode with a relative regarding cigarette smoking. Some of my words never were forgotten or forgiven, despite my lack of understanding the issue with them.
Over the years, I have learned more about self-control. I have made many changes and formed many habits to help with my AdHd. Though I still have some struggles with relating with others, I certainly have improved. Yet, I look around and I see that so many people still are getting offended—but it is much worse. The sad truth is the result of the offensive words and deeds. People hold it against others. People take something someone said and misinterpret it, and forever the person is disliked. Forgiveness is far from being found.
Yet as we think about the truth of the forgiveness of God, and we think about how people cling to anger and bitterness, we are found in contempt. We have offended God. Again and again, we have offended God. We will continue to offend God. Even so, He forgives us completely. He never holds it against us for our ignorance. He never lets our selfishness or lack of control taint His love for us. He does not tell us we are no longer welcome and out of His social group. He does not let the offense cause a break in the relationship—instead, God fills the gap with His love and grace. Today, consider what offenses you may be clinging to, and who needs your forgiveness. You may find that you need to forgive even more than the other person needs your forgiveness.
“For no matter how hard they try, God finds no pleasure with those who are controlled by the flesh.” – Romans 8:8 [TPT]
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13 [NLT]
My neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds has reached nearly 3 feet. It is a perfect hiding spot for a rabbit, that is, until my Labrador decides he wants to retrieve him. I keep him from having any success; however, this morning he did shock the rabbit he uncovered with his keen abilities. The rabbit, stunned and not really able to evaluate his options, ran right towards a pack of German Shepherds. He rebounded and finally found an escape route.
Watching the frazzled rabbit run from one point to the next haphazardly reminded me of how easy it is to get comfortable and feel safe somewhere only to find yourself under attack. This can happen in a relationship, at a job, in a circle of friends, and even at church. It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us most. We get comfortable. We feel safe. Then something happens. We all have moments, situations, events, etc. in life that shock us, open our eyes, hurt us, change us as people. We have the option to respond in whatever way we see fit. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we deny.
When we run, like the rabbit, we are running from something, and there’s always a place we are running toward. Maybe we attempt to nurse our brokenness with some self-soothing methods that are almost second-hand nature. Remember the Golden Girls moments when the cheesecake came out of the fridge? Perhaps your soothing is going to the gym, taking a shopping trip, having a few (or more) drinks. We all have our vices; some of us have multiple vices.
Whatever your situation may be, spend time with God. Take refuge in Him. People change; God is unchanging. People are unfaithful; God is faithful. People are broken, not-perfect, and many times selfish; God’s love is unfailing, His ways are perfect, and He pours out His blessing in abundance. As you cling to Him, may you realize you were never meant to hide in the safety of the overgrowth—you were made to soar! The people in your life are not to be your safety net, but they are part of your life to love, to encourage, to serve. The financial security of a good job and money in the bank is not for you to sit back and coast through life, but to glorify God. Often, when you are chased from the overgrowth, you are led to right where you are meant to be at this very moment. Let the Spirit guide your steps from the weeds to all that He has awaiting. It might not appear to be better than the pile of weeds, but you can trust that God has a great plan. In faith, in obedience, in love – press onward and soar!
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” – Psalm 143:8 [NLT]
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5 [NLT]
As I walked my usual morning route, I could not help but notice by the appearance of my neighborhood, how many of my neighbors do not seem to value caring for their lawn and garden. My father and grandfather taught me the importance of mowing the lawn weekly, caring for the flowerbeds, removing weeds, sweeping, raking, etc. They showed me that there is a sense of accomplishment that comes from keeping your home and your property looking good.
While navigating past a heaping mess and nearly slipping on the wet lawn clippings a few times, I reminded myself that I need to keep my attention off of my neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds. My first agenda should never be to try to make a person manage their lawn care better and I should not rush to judgment as I’m passing by the unkept property.
This reminded me of how we are in life at times with our “neighbors.” Remember, the Bible tells us that everyone is our neighbor. And we are to love everyone. Yet we spend a lot less time loving, and a lot more time focused on our neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds. We look at our brothers and sisters in Christ and point out their flaws. We even look to those who have not yet come to know Jesus and point out their flaws too. It is easy to mention the overgrowth of weeds that has infiltrated someone’s life. We want to make every person our project. Then we put ourselves in charge of the “project” because we have such high opinions of ourselves and believe we have the true answer to make the person better. Sadly, we do this so regularly that we miss what needs addressed in our own lives. Plus, we look like a hypocritical proud Pharisee along the way.
Today, as you look to your brothers and sisters, and as you engage with “outsiders,” be reminded again of our true calling. We are to love God and love others. As my grandma would say, “Mind your own plate.” If we each would spend more time focused on our own shortcomings and more time asking God to pour out His grace upon us and allow Him to move in us and through us—if we would simply love, with no strings attached—the overgrowth of weeds would slowly change as His love and grace transforms. Imagine if we recognized our own shortcomings. Imagine if we saw each person as God sees them. Mind your own plate.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a beam of wood in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5 [CSB]
I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.
Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.
As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]