“If I’m smart, I’ll be important.”When I was growing up, I used to think this. Consequently, I thought that college degrees where the golden ticket to being valuable & respected. And then I met some college professors who were nothing short of thoroughly brilliant, but didn’t have much voice nor impact.
Sometimes, I don’t think we stop to think about what we want & when we get our desires, we can be disappointed or unfulfilled. For this reason, we would be wise to pray that God would direct our desires & Help is to walk in truth. Such praying can help us to not pursue futile goals nor disappointing outcomes!
It’s interesting to scroll through various social media platforms & look at the abundant advice about how to be successful. When I read through some of this advice, I always walk away asking, “What is success?”
living a comfortable life, without conflict or drama?
having heaps of money, recognition, achievements or a glam image?
living a balanced life, all things regulated & controlled for maximum mediocrity?
What is success?In Jeremiah 9:23-24 it says,“Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches;24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”
So maybe the most simple definition of biblical success is knowing & loving God, as well as loving our neighbor & ourselves.Have an awesome Memorial Day weekend living successfully!
Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty. Stormy seasons can include: getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more. If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed. I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms. Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.
The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm. Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy: when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.
I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!
I recently had the opportunity to wear fake eye lashes & after a few hours, my eye lids were tired & droopy. Obviously, if I were to wear fake eyelashes on a regular basis, I’d need to find some eye lid muscle building exercises so they could hold up the extra eye lash weight. Or maybe I just could wear EXTRA HEAVY mascara toget the eye lid muscles more toned.
But alas, I don’t feel a calling nor interest in wearing fake eye lashes on a consistent basis, so I’m not concerned about my eye lid muscles ,)
Sometimes, I think we get concerned about things that are possibly not all that important in the grand scheme of things.So as you think about your week, I’m encouraging you to ask God for divine input & priorities for what’s important, medium important & not important. Let’s prayerfully keep our priorities aligned with God’s essentials & not get lost in stuff that unimportant ,)
When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing. And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort. My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.
So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus. Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus. We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything. Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!
I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”
Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!
I woke up today, thought about what’s happening throughout this day & maybe I considered, for a few minutes, going back to bed because of all of today’s stuff. Then I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that nothing will happen today that isn’t already in His mind & He will be with me in all of this day. So I prayed & asked the Holy Spirit to direct all of today’s schedule, events & demands.
As I’m in very important meetings, watching my daughters theatrical performance, praying with a friend, preparing for a speaking engagement along a few more things, I’m keeping my focus on the Holy Spirit to help & keep me settled.
When the Holy Spirit is my life preserver, He keeps my head above water!
“Jehoshaphat was afraid & turned his attention to see the Lord & proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” 2Chron 20:3
Being afraid is a universal experience to every human & maybe there are times when we have more or less fear. But fear is not a rare emotion in our human living. What we do with fear is more important, in my opinion, than the actual fear. So when I read about Jehoshaphat being afraid & turning his attention to the Lord, it gives me some good input on what to do with fear. I’m thinking also that this could be helpful for you too!
Rather than biting your nails, fretting, getting jittery, nervous eating, etc, when we have times or experiences with fear, let’s be certain that our default instinct is to turn our attention to God, remembering that nothing causes God to “bite His nails.”
Have you ever been in the middle of something & felt like you’re kind of in limbo? Sometimes, I feel like this between Christmas and New Years. There’s a nice exhale after all the frenzied Christmas flurry but I can also feel the New Year coming into focus, even though I’m not quite ready for that yet.
Limbo land is kind of a weird place. It’s the middle area between starting & finishing, so it can be a short little jaunt, like a quick trip to the grocery store, or the entirety of life between birth & death. When I think about this middle space, I’m reminded of lots of Bible folk who found themselves in this experience:
David in his flight from Saul lived for many years in this middle space, where God cultivated strength, committment & maturity in him.
Moses lived in limbo land between his flight from Pharoah and the burning bush, where it looks like some of his youthful hubris was deflated over the course of 40 years, making him ready for the burning bush experience that launched his destiny to liberate the Israelites from slavery and so much more!
Peter had some limbo time between when he betrayed Jesus and was reconciled to Him after Jesus’ resurrection; perhaps those days helped Peter see his utter dependence on Jesus in sharp contrast to his frail flesh, being reconciled through the loving interaction with Jesus in the Q&A session about Peter’s love for Jesus
Let’s be sure to keep a laser focus on Jesus in between the holidays 🙂
It’s defintely true that I can struggle with the right spelling of words from time to time. But in this situation, the title for my blog isn’t a misspelling. Instead, it’s an intentional play on words to catch your attention & maybe challenge you to some ongoing generosity with Jesus.
How so? What Jesus likes more than your words, money, service, clothing, church attendance, etc. is your self. When we give all of ourselves to Jesus, it seems to me that this gives Jesus the greatest pleasure! So here are some wrapping ideas for your presence with Jesus:
time: we can give Jesus time in all kinds of ways – as we drive, in those unexpected moments of pause with a cancelled appointment and in the morning / night to be present
words: it’s always good to give thanks to Jesus (for daily things, miracles, unexpected blessings, rich conversations, etc ), as well as some worship for who Jesus is
attention: let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase our awareness of Jesus’ presence, since He said He’d never leave nor forsake us. I ask, throughout the day, for help with my focus and attention to sense Jesus
Be sure to wrap your presence with time, words and attention, to give your self wholly to Jesus!
SURPRISE!!!! Some of us like surprises & some of us, not so much. It’s also true that our response to surprises can depend on what the surprise is.
With Jesus’ birth, there were lots of associated surprises:
angels appearing to shepherds at night in the field,
Gabriel’s announcements to Zacharias & Mary about the upcoming supernatural births,
wisemen showing up to give kingly gifts to a seemingly common baby,
Joseph getting the surprise announcement that his fiancé was pregnant.
Let’s consider that surprises can be incredibly good, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loves us & is working in all things, even surprises, to work together for our Good, Romans 8:28-29.
A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory. Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend. When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day! Check out this video:
I’m waiting, maybe with some patience, in the airport here in Bangledesh because the Pope is just landing at the airport. Consequently, the airport is shut down & everything has come to a halt. Clearly, he’s a significant dignitary so everything is on pause at the airport until he clears out. This has thrown off everyone’s schedules, interrupted plans & is making a major headache for traffic.
So this makes me think about how i facilitate Jesus’ presence in my life. While i want my life to be convenient, smooth & hassle free, Jesus as my Sovereign, gets to interrupt & change my plans. What would be even more wise on my part, would be to proactively ask Jesus to direct my steps & maybe i can avoid some frustrations with plan changes. Or i can also aim to keep a flexible attitude & be patient in the various hassles & disruptions i can face in any given day 🙂
Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:
When I was growing up, our house had three doors. To ensure that the house was locked, we would check all three doors. The front door was easy because it was used the most. The back door was pretty easy because it was in the kitchen so there was lots of traffic in that area. The side door was most easily overlooked because we rarely used it & that area of the house didn’t get much traffic.
In a similar way, we need to guard our hearts & souls from the enemy who lurks & waits for opportunities to sneak into our lives through side doors or low traffic areas. The enemy looks for places to enter our lives where we least expect it or where we have the lowest guard / attention. This could be times when you’re very tired, areas where you think you’re strong / victorious, situations that are familiar or comfortable, etc. The enemy of your soul looks for places where your guard is weak, your attention is distracted or your pride is big. With these instances, the enemy will often come in on tiptoes, sneaky & quiet, to begin his insinuations, whispers & distortions.
Pay attention & keep the doors locked!! 1 Pet 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years. I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality. So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work? Then what?
In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e, the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing. It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question: why plan?
When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:
plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams. No planning = no progress
planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
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I have a pretty consistent morning routine that generally helps to frame each day with sturdy Bible applications & a prayerful mindset, usually. But this morning didn’t pan out that way. I didn’t get to have my normal quiet prayer & Bible time before my family stirs. So I ran out the door to start my day, not having the rich fellowship with God that often sustains me throughout the day. I don’t like it when that happens & I’m grateful that this is a rare occurrence.
And here’s the really magnificent thing today: I’m sensing the Holy Spirit very clearly throughout this day, despite not having my morning tuning & calibrating fellowship. Of course my absence of quiet & solitary fellowship with the Holy Spirit this morning won’t become a daily habit. Nevertheless, sensing the rich presence of the Holy Spirit throughout this day encourages me that the Holy Spirit enjoys my company & interaction, not withholding that intimacy when I fall short on my end.
Be very certain in your heart that you’re deeply valued, highly treasured & greatly celebrated by the Holy Spirit!
To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:
The last will be first;
the way ahead is through humility & service;
exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!