As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.
Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?
Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.
Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]
This morning, I thought I would enjoy a peaceful morning writing while drinking my coffee. With windows open and the dogs at my feet, it seemed everything was flowing smoothly. But then, as I was placing my coffee cup on the table, the mug placement was not completely on the table. I blame it on the sinus infection. The coffee mug toppled over upside down in the bin of dog toys. It poured out everywhere. The cup was empty. Every crack and crevice of the dog toy bin was covered by coffee. No toys were spared!
When something is poured out, it is different than a spill. You control how much is poured out. You can stop the pouring at any point. If only that was true for my coffee spillage! What this means for our lives as a “liquid offering to God,” is that we can control what we will pour out and what we will hold back. Paul writes, “Even if I lose my life,” which tells us that the pouring out to God should not be controlled. We should keep pouring—giving everything of ourselves to the Lord.
Today, consider if you are pouring your life out as a liquid offering to God. Is every drop of your life reaching the cracks and crevices where God desires, just as my coffee spread out over the dog toy bin? Are you holding something back? Ask yourself if you have joy. Remember, Paul says that those who offer their lives share in the joy. If you are missing the joy, perhaps you are missing the offering.
“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” – Philippians 2:17 [NLT]
When I was younger, no one ever spoke of clean living. Today it is a big deal. Many people have invested money and time in items that detox the body. Most places sell items that are organic. We have foods that are gluten-free, lactose-free, etc.
Living clean is not only a concept that relates to consumption. The Bible discusses the importance of clean living. We are to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
How can you live clean? Most would first answer, “Don’t sin,” but we read that clean living is all about not complaining or arguing (see Philippians 2:14). We are to do everything without complaint or argument so that no one can criticize anyone. When we do this, we are living clean so we shine bright in this dark and perverse world. Complaining does nothing to bring glory to God. Today, live clean.
“So that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” – Philippians 2:15 [NLT]
Sometimes we do not always want to do the right thing. We don’t desire to do the right thing. We desire something else. Or we might desire to do something, but we don’t have the power to do it.
The Bible promises that God is working in us. Because God is working in us, He is giving us “the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” We aren’t alone in this. Maybe today you are not feeling a great desire to do something. Pray for God to continue moving in you to give you the desire. Maybe you feel powerless. Be reminded that the Spirit of God is within you. Pray for less of you and more of Him, so that you can do what pleases God. May you have the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” – Philippians 2:13 [NLT]
An attitude is a way of thinking, which typically is reflected by our actions. In Philippians 2, we read that we “must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” What a difficult thing to accomplish! How are we to have the same mindset at Jesus? What is Paul trying to say in this verse?
As we continue reading, the Bible talks about Jesus giving up His divine privileges and how He took on flesh. He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8). That’s the attitude we are to share with Christ—humble servant.
Today, consider how you can be a humble servant. Seek out opportunities to serve. Pray for more humility. Ask the Spirit to help you have the same attitude of Jesus.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” – Philippians 2:5 [NLT]
One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
The morning walk was painful today. As we traveled our usual path, we came upon a home that had their door wide open. When we got close, the owner’s dog came flying out of the doorway. My dogs pulled on the double leash in such a way that my previously injured hand had pain shoot through. This caused me to scream so loud, I’m sure some of my neighbor’s awoke. It was so loud, it frightened the approaching dog, who turned tail and ran home. If I myself wasn’t screaming, I would have likely jumped in the air hearing such a loud scream.
I was frustrated, not only because my hand and wrist were once again feeling serious pain, but also because I had previous discussions with the home owner. The owner said, “My dog won’t do anything bad.” I guess the owner means their dog won’t bite my dogs. Nonetheless, dogs are unpredictable when approaching other dogs and people. There is never a guarantee. Just like humans, not all dogs like every dog they meet. As well, the owner was only thinking of themselves and their dogs. What about my dogs? Max was very anxious for the rest of the walk. What about my hand?!? It still is bothering me as I type. We rarely see the other side of things.
Sadly, we are all self-centered. We look out for ourselves. We never consider how our actions could affect others. When we make choices, we make choices considering what is best for us. Today, remember that we are commanded to look out for the best interests of others. We are supposed to want the best for our brothers and sisters. Be intentional with your focus today. Ask how your actions will affect those around you. Seek out what is best for those God brings along your path. Watch how God moves when you intentionally focus on the best interest of others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”. – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
As I was walking the dogs, I noticed a car stopped halfway in a parking spot. At first, I had those dramatic scenes from the television shows flash through my mind. But after I shook all that off, I realized the man was being considerate. He had started to pull into his parking spot, but showed us some courtesy by stopping until the dogs moved along, so as to not frighten them.
When he parked the car, he let me know the reason he waited. Perhaps he read my mind when I was having those television flashbacks. I thanked him for the courtesy. He didn’t know that Max has major anxiety issues. What a blessing to be shown courtesy on our evening walk. At least once a week, Max experiences trauma because others aren’t very courteous.
In Luke, we read about doing to others as you would like them to do to you. We hear this quoted often (some call it the “Golden Rule”), but this is something that we don’t always see in action. Be reminded, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” These are the people who are called children of God. Be considerate. Show courtesy. Treat every person as valuable. Don’t look out for your own best interest and neglect others. Take an interest in them. Desire the best for them.
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9 [NLT]
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Luke 6:31 [NLT]
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
A tortoise stands up to allow lizards and birds to get the insects that are in the hard-to-reach areas. One would think that a tortoise would not want to surround himself with lizards and birds, that they are very different from the slow-paced life of the tortoise. While this action of the tortoise benefits the tortoise, who likely gets irritated and annoyed by the insects, it also benefits the lizards and birds, who get a nice meal. What a great way for these creatures to live together in harmony!
In life, we are supposed to live in harmony with each other too. This can seem like a hard task as we sometimes do not understand certain people or enjoy their company. We question why someone comes along our path. We see some people near us as a nuisance. There are people we do not see as helpful. Some people are draining. Let’s be honest. It’s true. You will not like everyone. You will not get along with everyone. You may not want to lift yourself up for a lizard to help you out, because you cannot get past the annoyance of the lizard.
When you face these challenges, understand that the other person is created in the image of God. Just like you, the person is a broken image-bearer. It may be for your good that you have encountered the person. Remember, God uses all things to accomplish His great purpose. God is continuing to grow you into who you were meant to be in life. Today, choose to rise up like the tortoise and elevate those around you. As you look out for the best interest of others, as you invest in others and do whatever you can do to speak life to them, God will use what you pour out for His glory and He will continue to mold you into His image and teach you how to love others as He loves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” – Romans 12:16 [ESV]
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27 [ESV]
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 [NASB]
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 [ESV]
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 [NIV]