But What Does God Say?

Quick thought for today:

“It’s time to care a lot less about people agreeing with what we say and a lot more about us agreeing with what God says.”

There’s a part of me that likes to preface conversations or social media posts with, “I think,” or “In my opinion,” and then hope that whoever hears or reads my words agrees with me…

I’m working on this.

I’m trying to shift my perspective. My new goals: 1. Strive to express thoughts and opinions that are in alignment with the authoritative Word of God (In other words, before I form an opinion and rush to share it, check if it is Christlike.) and 2. Be less concerned with the reactions of people and more concerned with being obedient to God. (In other words, double-check my priorities. At the end of the day, I want my words to honor God.)

There will be times when I fail, but I am determined to prayerfully pursue those goals. It’s hard for a person who doesn’t just walk away from controversy…I’m more of a sprint-away-from-disagreement kind of gal. And it’s hard for a person who likes to please people. But I’m renewing my resolve to be a Jesus-pleasing gal above all else.

Maybe this sounds like an opinion,😉 but wouldn’t you agree that this world doesn’t need more opinions, and it could sure use more truth spoken in love instead? Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.” 

If we ask God, He will help us care less about the approval of others and more about lovingly expressing His truth in this world – a world desperate for Him.

Where is the Unity?

We aren’t required to share the same opinions in order to have unity, but we can agree that our shared love for Jesus will dictate how we handle differing views.

Have you noticed that the discussion about practically every headline-making topic in our world today (COVID, racism, statues, masks, opening schools vs. distance learning, to name just a few) creates bitter disagreement, anger, and sometimes even violence? Not just among believers and non-believers – that’s to be expected, because we form our opinions upon very different foundations. I’m talking about ugly division among believers. 

Where is the unity?

In John 17:20-26, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father about unity. He prayed for future believers to be unified, so that people would be inspired to believe in His Heavenly Father. When we sit with that for a moment, it hits hard. We all have a purpose on this earth: pointing people toward Jesus, and that purpose is benefitted by being a unifying presence. If the beauty of unity shows people who God is and makes Him known, then it’s time to put unifying behavior on the top of our priority list!  Continue reading “Where is the Unity?”

Let God Have the Final Say (Our Identity in Christ ~ Day 3 of 3)

We have a choice to make. We can believe the false identity created by the world’s negative opinions of us, or we can read about, reflect upon, and ultimately receive the identity God bestowed upon us. It takes increased patience and intentional prayer to decide we are going to embrace our God-Authored identity, but we are capable of it with His help.

Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” That verse and others with the same message make it clear that before we were born, God placed a calling on our lives: to be like Jesus. Continue reading “Let God Have the Final Say (Our Identity in Christ ~ Day 3 of 3)”

Let the Writer of Our Story be the Author of Our Identity (Our Identity in Christ ~ Day 2 of 3)

If there are times when we question who we are in the sight of God, it is important to remember He has made the answer available to us. Diving into the Bible is the ideal way to discover how He defines us.

The following truths are directly from the Word of God, and therefore directly from the heart of God!

Continue reading “Let the Writer of Our Story be the Author of Our Identity (Our Identity in Christ ~ Day 2 of 3)”

What Can We Do?

When disagreement or controversy arises, I am usually a “Hey, I can see it from both sides,” person because A. I detest conflict lol and B. because I honestly can usually see both sides, or at least see valid points from both perspectives.

With this Covid-19 situation, we’ve heard numerous people say things to the effect of, “I don’t know what/who to believe,” and many of us have been forced to make difficult decisions and feel like we are “picking a side,” based on biased sources, differing views, and incomplete data.

What can we do?

1. Ask God for wisdom. There is a verse that flat-out says that we can ask God for wisdom and He will give it to us. Maybe you knew that already, but I finally discovered that verse existed when I was well into my 40’s, and now I sometimes wonder how I got this far in life not knowing it! James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  Wow – If we ask Him, He doesn’t just give us wisdom, He gives it generously!

If we took time to ask God for His wisdom while sifting through the information we are being bombarded with, what might happen? We may feel compelled to research something further, we may decide to reserve judgment on other news, and/or we may feel led to share some information with others. Whatever the case may be, God is willing to give us His wisdom on how to process and deal with it. He is also willing to pour His peace into our lives even in the midst of the conflict and division surrounding these circumstances. This crazy time in our world would be a perfect time to consider taking advantage of Godly wisdom and “beyond-anything-we’ve-ever-felt-before” brand of peace.

2. “And let all that you do be done in love,” 1 Corinthians 16:14.  Sometimes we need reminders that the love this verse is referring to is the Christlike,  sacrificial, genuine love that God created and personifies. It’s deciding if the way we treat others, the words we speak to others, and the tone we post on social media with follows that Christlike kind of love example. Side note: calling people idiots or uneducated or saying that they have no compassion aren’t words that fit in the “Let all that you do be done in love” category.  Friends, all of it….how we present ourselves to the world, and Who we represent to the world…all of it should be done in love. I know we can get through this without questioning people’s hearts and intelligence.

I hope and pray that we can all choose to believe the best about everyone’s motives. And if you see me failing at that, please call me out – in a kind, considerate manner, of course. 😉

Dear Lord, help us to take a deep breath and put forth a genuine effort to see where people with differing views are coming from. Please give us Your wisdom to help us discern truth. Lord, help our actions and our words to be dictated by our relationship with You instead of fear, resentment or negativity. Grant us Your perspective as we navigate through this time and show us how to display Your love to others. In Your name we pray, Amen.

It’s Okay To Start Over

Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:…” Hmmm…be like Jesus? That is a tall order to say the least! But the Bible is clear about Christlikeness being God’s calling on our lives. 

We can’t possibly act like, speak like, think like, love like, or look like Jesus…in our strength. However, when we ask God for the grace and love that it takes to be like Jesus, He helps us with that endeavor. For instance, He gives us wisdom to not say the first thing that comes to our mind when we are angry, and He provides productive words instead. He grants us patience when we are in a rush, and someone who needs a listening ear crosses our path. He pours His mercy into our lives so that we can extend it to others, especially when we don’t feel like it.  In other words, God faithfully leads us to make decisions that bring us closer to the goal of Christlikeness. 

As we mature, we will presumably heed His voice more and more.  But we are human, so there will also be days when we fail. Miserably. God made a wonderful promise in Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This verse puts no conditions on Him fulfilling His purpose for us. Nothing that says we must be sin-free for a certain number of days before He completes His work within each one of us. Lamentations 3:22-23 assures us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Praise God that our sin does not have enough power to stop His plan for our lives! 

On our journey toward Christlikeness, there will be failures. But those failures don’t mean we should give up. When we go to God in repentance, He lovingly offers second chances and generously grants new mercies. 

It’s okay to start over. God is there with us.

Jesus is Bigger Than the Waves

I’ve heard it said before that when we face adversity, our eyes are either on the waves or they’re on Jesus. Phrases like this come from the Bible story of Peter successfully walking on water toward Jesus until he shifted his focus from His Savior to the wind-tossed waves. Then he began to sink.

When we look at this Bible story from the perspective of the pandemic we are experiencing, there are plenty of waves that could potentially prevent us from getting closer to Jesus. 

Any challenge concerning this virus could be in the wave category: the news reports, the statistics, the daily decisions we must make, etc. I would never encourage avoiding those things in order to put our focus on Jesus. We should absolutely stay informed and responsible, but we don’t have to be consumed by the waves. Just like Peter, if we choose to focus on problems rather than Jesus, we’ll begin to sink. Now is the time to reach our hand to Him and ask Him to help us and give us wisdom in order to walk in faith and rest in His love.

Jesus is bigger than all of the wind-tossed waves we are navigating right now. Monitor the waves, but meditate on Jesus. 

He’s got this. And He’s waiting for us to walk toward Him.

Prayer During a Confusing Time

Lord, thank You for being right beside us as we walk this unknown territory, and remind us that You are also in front of us. We don’t know how this situation is going to pan out, but You do. Help us to focus our minds on what we do know: that You are in control, You love us, and You have a plan. Help us to increase our trust in You as we watch You work through these circumstances as only You can.

Your Word says we can ask You for wisdom and You will give it to us. Please give us Your wisdom as we navigate how to make the best decisions concerning our families, our jobs, and our daily lives. Reveal to us how we can best reflect You in our words and our actions during this trying time. 

Your Word also says that You keep in perfect peace all those who fix their thoughts on You. Lord, please help us focus on who You are – on Your power and Your purpose. Help us obtain clarity as we pursue Your perspective. We ask You to replace our doubts and fears with Your matchless peace.  

We ask in expectancy, knowing You hear our prayers and that You love us more than we can imagine. Lord, increase our trust in You and help us follow You every step of the way.

In Your holy name we pray. Amen.

It May Look Like I’m Surrounded

The Bible states that God is not only beside us, but He is covering us, He is our rear guard, and He goes in front of us as well. 

It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.”  

The song, “Surrounded,” by Elyssa Smith, is a cherished Sunday-morning stanza among some in my church family.  The lyrics remind us that we are surrounded, indeed. The Bible states that God is not only beside us, but He is covering us, He is our rear guard, and He goes in front of us as well.

     He is with us:  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

     He is covering us:  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

     He is our rear guard:  But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12

     He is in front of us:  The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

When we realize God is beside, covering, behind, and in front of us – providing, protecting, prodding, and paving a path for us – it gives us a calm assurance we cannot gain from anything else in this world. 

Problems and enemies that we feel surrounded by will decrease and ultimately disappear in comparison to what we are truly surrounded by – our Almighty God!

When we contemplate God’s steadfast, surrounding presence in our lives, it can surely compel us to enthusiastically sing of the enormous blessing of being enveloped, encompassed, and embraced by our Heavenly Father – to joyfully sing the powerful truth of that song. 

Thank You, God   — “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.”