"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
How much of our waking hours do you think we spend thinking about circumstances beyond our control? I don't have any scientific numbers to back this up, but I know that for most of us, thoughts about what is going on around us, or worrying about what is ahead of us, takes up a great amount of time in our brains on a daily basis.
What's funny about these thought patterns is that they never really accomplish anything. Think about a time when you played a situation out in your head. When it happened in real life, did it look like anything you thought it would? Probably not. The truth of the matter is, life often happens way differently than we could ever think it would.
So instead of entertaining ideas in our minds that emotionally drain us and make our wheels of worry spin out of control, let's think of what a better use of our time could be.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray continually. Other translations of this verse tell us to pray always. I wonder what would happen to our fear and worry if instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong, or trying to brace ourselves for everything we're expecting to go wrong, we instead fill that time with prayer.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul also tells us, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." When I read this, I don't see how worry fits into any of those categories, but I do see how Jesus fits into those categories.
We don't need any fancy words to pray, or be in any certain place at any certain time. God hears our cries from anywhere. He knows how anxious our hearts can get, but He also knows that if we bring our concerns to Him, He will prove to be faithful. God is not capable of failing us as His children. Let us be more intentional about where our thoughts go, and when we find them starting to wander, let us bring them back to Him.
Until Next Time,
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You." - Isaiah 26:3
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” -Romans 8:14-15
Today is Father's Day, a day we celebrate the father and father figures in our life. It's an amazing time to stop and remember everything our dad's have done for us, how they've always been there, and how they're raising the next generation.
Growing up without a father myself, father's day has always been a day when I reflect on the goodness and love of my Heavenly Father.
It's interesting that throughout Scripture God is described just as that--as our Father-- over and over and over again. He could've chosen any way to describe the relationship He has with His people throughout the Bible, yet He chose to Father.
In the New Testament, we see Jesus calling God Father when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39-42), and Paul describes our relationship with God as being adopted into God's family, and thereby making us His children. In the Old Testament, we see God being a Father to the nation of Israel, promising that He will be their God.
It's no wonder that when raised around Godly men who surrender themselves to God we get a beautiful picture of what our heavenly Father looks like. In fact, I believe God created it this way. But when we're raised around men who aren't pursuing God, the image of God being a Father may be a hard one to grasp, and maybe even a painful one.
No matter the relationship you have with your earthly father, there is a heavenly one who is everything your heart has ever needed in an earthly father--and more.
Father's are strong. Father's are dependable. Father's are providers. Father's are defenders. Father's are handymen. Father's are adventure buddies. Father's are security. Father's are comfort. Father's are love.
When we look at God, we find Him more than able to be all these things. In fact, at the very core of His nature, He is all these things. And at the core of our hearts, we'll find if we seek Him, He is able to fulfill the longings we all long for in a father.
To all the father's out there, I want to thank you for what you're doing. You are truly changing the next generation, and as hard as we try to fill it, the void a father leaves is just not the same as having one around, just like God intended. We celebrate and honor you today!
And for those who are, for any number of reasons, without your father today, know you have a Heavenly one waiting and capable of being everything you need. Today and everyday.
Until next time,
P.S. For more on this topic, I'll link a blog I wrote about a year and a half ago. It came out of a season where I was really needing an earthly father, and found the arms of my Heavenly one. I hope that can encourage you today, too
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." -Galatians 5:6
We can make life so complicated, can't we? As if life were just one long, running checklist of things we need to do, places we need to be, and people we need to see.
While certain things in life do need to get done, I think sometimes we over-complicate and make things more stressful than they need to be.
I love today's Scripture that comes from Galatians 5. Paul is reminding the church at Galatia that in Christ, we are set free (vs. 1). That means the long checklist of religious obligations that they once had to follow is now void--it doesn't need to be done anymore. Now it's all about living in the freedom that Christ has provided and using that freedom to serve on another in love (vs. 13). Talk about lifting a huge burden off your shoulders! Yet think about this: what if we could live in that same freedom, even today?
Last week on the blog we talked abut the importance of throwing away our own comfort and convenience to serve in the places where Jesus would likely be if He were on this earth today. Paul's reminder goes right along with this idea: to serve one another in love. Jesus Himself told us our greatest commandment was now to love God and to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31).
This week in the middle of your hustle and bustle, in the middle of your summer vacation planning, and throughout your sleepless and stress-filled nights, take a moment to breathe and remember what is truly important: Loving God and loving others. When we ask for God's help in doing both of these things well, it'll be amazing how simple life really can become.
Until next time,
"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." -John 12:26
As followers of Jesus, it's really easy to get into a pattern of reading the Bible, praying before meals, and going to church on Sunday's. We think of Jesus as a convenience rather than a lifestyle. We view serving as a way of feeling better about ourselves. We attend events to make sure other people notice us, so that we can get their gold star of approval.
If any of this sounds familiar, know that at one point or another, we've all been here. It's our natural sin nature that wants approval from others, convenience instead of sacrifice, and routine instead of risking change.
But when we study Jesus in the Gospels, we see a very different kind of life. We see Jesus living a life of service and inconvenience. We see a life that was focused solely on the mission of God and the pursuit of people, the truth of the Gospel, and love.
In John 12:23-26, Jesus is answering a request brought to Him by His disciplines, Philip and Andrew. The Bible tells us in verse 20 that there were some Greeks who had come up to worship God at the Passover festival, and they wanted to see Jesus. What's interesting is, when Philip and Andrew bring this request to Jesus, He never directly answers it. Instead, He tells them that the hour has come for Him to be glorified (vs. 23), that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (vs 24). And finally that anyone who love their life will lost it, while anyone who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (vs. 25).
Right after saying this, Jesus says this: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." Jesus uses the words "serves" and "servant" three times in this verse, all in reference to Himself. In the next chapter, we see Jesus doing this exact thing when He takes the job of a slave and washes His disciples feet.
I don't know about you, but washing dusty and worn down feet doesn't sound like the most convenient thing to do. Yet, this is the example we find Jesus setting. This is where Jesus was--and this is where we should be, too.
Going back to John 12:26, Jesus makes the statement, "Where I am, my servant will also be". If you look around at your life today, is it a true statement to say you are where Jesus would be? Jesus calls out in particular a few groups of people in Matthew 25 that are close to His heart: the hungry and thirsty, strangers in need, those who lacked clothing, those who are sick, and those who are in prison (vs. 35-36). He wraps this up saying, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me" (vs. 45).
It's easy to think we're serving Jesus by posting words of encouragement online from our air conditioned houses while we sip our iced coffees, and it's easy to think that by donating to the church on Sunday mornings, we're doing our due diligence to keep ministries up and running. While these things aren't bad, I would suggest they're simply not enough if that's all our hearts are desiring to do on a daily basis. If Jesus was here, where would He be? What would He be doing? And as followers of Jesus, are we in those places, doing those things on His behalf?
This week, take some time to evaluate what your service to God looks like. If it's merely made up of things that are convenient for you, maybe consider going to God in prayer and asking Him what He would have you do. Is there a buried desire you have that could lead to service? Is there a spiritual gift that you could use to fill a void near your neighborhood? Following Jesus doesn't necessarily mean moving across the globe to reach people for Him (though it might!). It might just mean we get a little bit out of our comfort zones to reach the hurting and broken right close to home, the people the world would define as dirty and unworthy, and meet Jesus right at the intersection of service and inconvenience. We can be assured that whatever we do for His Kingdom will be rewarded many times over.
Until next time,