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]
When I first moved in the home I currently reside, I remember trying to get all of the utilities installed for the new place. One of the hardest vendors was the trash removal service company. I was asked to haul my trash a far-off distance because the truck couldn’t fit down our road. For years, I have been hauling the trash to this place they directed. This past week, we had a horrible snow storm. The snow blocked the already narrow road, but yet the trash truck came driving down the road—the road it was never supposed to be able to fit.
I’m not complaining about carrying the trash a greater distance; I need the exercise. In life, we find ourselves often limiting what can be done. We forget that we serve a God of the impossible. Instead of taking chances, instead of thinking outside of the box, instead of trusting the Spirit’s leading, we stay in our limited safe place. We trust the lies, that it is impossible. We even speak the lies to ourselves. But in not trusting in God’s plan, we find ourselves living a limited life, and missing out on what God has for us. We don’t think or imagine like God. We cannot grasp what He has planned for us. Yet, He has promised that whatever He has called us to, He will provide whatever is needed to see the task to completion for His glory.
Today, don’t go around placing limits on your life. If God has called you to something, trust Him. You might think that the truck won’t fit down the road—but you are only looking at things with your limited thinking. That road can fill with snow and the truck can get down if God has spoken. You can do all He has called you to do for His kingdom. He qualifies you. He equips you. Press onward. No limits! He is God of the impossible!! All for His glory!
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 [NASB]
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 [NIV]
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 [ESV]
Paul told the Philippians to “stay true to the Lord.” This is all about being totally committed to God, not letting anything come between you and your relationship to God. In Matthew 5, we read that those who are pure in heart are blessed. They will see God! How awesome is that?! Staying true to the Lord is having a pure heart—a heart for Jesus.
James speaks of a divided heart, a heart that is for the world and for God. This isn’t a pure heart. This is not staying true to the Lord. In James 4:7, we read that we should submit to God, resist the devil, wash our hands, and purify our hearts. We should stop being double-minded, and stay true to the Lord.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Do all you can to stay true to the Lord. When you find your heart divided between God and the world, ask that He give you a clean heart and a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:10).
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” – Philippians 4:1 [NLT]
Life is all about climbing monkey bars. Yes, monkey bars. We have seasons of life. We navigate through life by navigating through the seasons. Each season is to bring us to where God wants us for the next season. Each season prepares us for the next one. Paul notes that he wasn’t where he was meant to be when he wrote to the Philippians. He didn’t achieve the perfection. He was still running the race. But he was prepared to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. He understood that the prize was a heavenly one.
Paul made it clear that part of getting to the end of the race was letting go of the past and laying hold of the future. Monkey bars! When you are passing across the monkey bars from one side to the next, you have to let go of the one bar to move your hand to the next. If you don’t let go and grasp a hold to the next bar, you will end up hanging on the bars going nowhere. In time your dangling weight will cause you to let go completely.
Today, let go of the past. Forget what once was and lay hold to what God is doing right now, and what He has promised for the future. Keep pressing forward. Keep running the race. You too can reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12-14 [NLT]
One of things that grieves me the most is seeing people who are not passionate about Jesus. I remember a time when I neglected to live for Jesus, when I was neglecting the Word, neglecting a lot of things. One day priorities changed. I had a thirst for Christ Jesus. I wanted nothing more. If I didn’t get to read my Bible, I felt starved. If I hadn’t taken the time to pray, I felt lacking.
Paul wrote about everything being worthless when in comparison to knowing Jesus. Paul noted how he discarded everything so he could gain Christ. The person who sold everything to buy a field with hidden treasure had the same desire Paul had for Jesus (Matthew 13:44). Nothing else mattered.
Today, look at your priorities. Is everything worthless compared to Jesus Christ? How do you value your relationship with Jesus? Are you putting things before God? What matters most to you?
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” – Philippians 3:8 [NLT]
In Romans 15:13, we read: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT). We know that Jesus Christ is our only hope. We know that He alone is our confidence. The Bible says, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him” (NIV).
If you have put your confidence in a human at any point in your life, it is likely that you have been let down or hurt. Humans are constantly changing. The hearts of humans are deceptive. Being confident in Christ Jesus is different. We are to rely on what He has done for us. We are to trust in the promises of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
It is when we try to place our confidence in something else that we find ourselves in trouble and we are always let down. Today, consider where you have placed your confidence. Are you relying on human effort? Are you relying on friends or family? Or have you put your confidence in God? Are you relying on the One who was and is and is to come?
“For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.” – Philippians 3:3 [NLT]
The Bible tells us to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4). This is very difficult, because we often find ourselves in circumstances that are not so delightful. Nonetheless, no matter what is going on in our lives, our heavenly Father is always deserving of honor, glory, and praise. This does not change with circumstances. Whatever happens – rejoice in the Lord!
Today, remind yourself to rejoice in the Lord. Take time to praise Him for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 7:12 NLT).
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
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]