When I don’t understand…

(John 9:1-3, NLT)   As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

Too often, we want to blame sickness, trials, and hardships on sin.  We see these things as curses…as punishment for sin.  Maybe sometimes our hardships are the results of poor decisions.  We absolutely do bring about negative consequences in our lives because of sin, but we also need to learn to trust God in those times when we sincerely wonder why “bad” things happen to “good” people.

We’ve all wondered it.  We’ve all seen children suffering from different types of cancer.  Many of us have witnessed a loved one become stricken with dementia, and have had to watch the disease slowly dissipate that person whom we love so much.  It is hard to understand.  Yet I can’t help but go back to this account of Jesus and the blind man, because I think it perfectly explains why we sometimes have to endure things that seem unfair.  This man was born blind.  He hadn’t yet had the opportunity to make choices between right and wrong, so it wasn’t some sort of consequence.  He came into life stricken with disability, and I’m sure he often wondered why himself.  Yet in his wondering, God had a purpose that was mapped out from the very start.

You see, everything that happens to us has the possibility to become a victory in our lives and therefore an addition to the great testimony of God’s power and providence in all things.

And what happened to this man who had been without sight all of his life?

10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”

11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”  (John 9: 10-11, NLT)

Healing and miracles come with responsibility, because we then have to transfer that joy and victory to the rest of the world.  That’s the reason for great victories!  Sometimes we are afflicted because we are destined to share something miraculous with others…so that they will believe…so that God gets glorified not only with our words but with our lives!

So when you question “why” remember the blind man.  Remember that our pain has a purpose.  We may not know what it is right now, but we can trust that God is always working for the good of those who love and honor Him.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for every aspect of my life…both the good and the bad.  I love You, and I praise You in all circumstances.  When I don’t understand, I still choose to love and honor You.  I trust You.  Amen.

“…in it, not of it…”

18 If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? “A slave is not greater than the master.” Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  (John 15: 18-22, NLT)

It really is simple.  The world is rejecting God more and more, and as such, those who love and follow Christ will also be rejected and hated.  We have to stop trying to please others.  Love them, yes, but we can’t change not even one syllable of God’s word to suit the whims of this world.  Jesus gave his life to free us from the bondages of sin and death, but He made it very clear that when we do choose Him, we also choose to be separated from the world.  There isn’t a gray area where we can hover between the two.  It’s hot or cold, friends.  We’re either in or we’re out.  Pick a side.  You may not like that, but it is reality.

I tend to be a people pleaser.  I want everyone to be at peace with one another.  I don’t like to make waves, and I prefer to avoid confrontations as much as I possibly can.  And though I do have a deep desire to be loved and accepted, there is this part of me that is okay with being different and set apart.  I like to be myself, and I am comforted by relationships with people who take the time to know and love me as I am.

I share that to make the point that we all (myself included) make adjustments in order to have a sense of peace in our lives, but where do we draw that line?  How much are we truly willing to compromise?  The time is coming when we will have to answer these questions.

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.  (2 Corinthians 5:6-10, NLT)

Our lives are but timelines filled with checkpoints and choices.  We may not see the beginning and end points, but those points are there.  Everything in between is choice, but that end point is where we will find ourselves standing in front of Christ.  Are you willing to look at Him and say that His blood was not good enough for you to choose Him?

Friends, life is a battle.  We are fighting daily, and we can be the victors, but we have to stop compromising.  Turn away from the evil of this world, and say proudly why.  There is power in the name of Jesus.  When we speak it, when we love Him without regret or shame, we are victorious.  And the reward of that earthly victory is a heavenly prize unlike any other.

21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3: 21, NLT)

Prayer:  Jesus, I recognize that I need You in my life.  I love You, Lord, and it is truly my desire to follow you and to share Your love by my words and actions.  Thank You for your blood.  May I live in such a way that I am never ashamed of You.  Amen.

Are We Done Yet?

“Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me.”  – Psalm 70:1

We see these words many times in the book of Psalms.  David was in desolation when he wrote them, in hiding from wickedness and enemies, and this is a record of his faith through the struggles that he endured.  I don’t know about anyone else, but there are days when I, like David, am literally desperate for an end to the madness of this world.  It is overwhelming at times, the depravity that we constantly see and face.  The local news alone is enough to raise anxiety levels, not to mention the national and world news networks which often ignite the already smoldering embers of intolerance and anger.  It is easy to get caught up in the tornado, so-to-speak.  We get sucked into political arguments, debates about sexuality, and (of course) arguments drawn from our cultural and religious differences…and we face every single one of these controversies several times in JUST ONE DAY!  Much like a tornado, we get sucked in, thrown around and spat out in an entirely different place than we expected…and often with our thoughts and confidences obliterated.  It’s not very difficult to reach the point of saying, “Come Lord Jesus!” 

Here’s the thing though, none of this should take us by surprise.  Right?  We know that hard times are part of the plan.  The earth is groaning in labor.  A new day is being birthed. 

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  (Matthew 24: 3-14)

All of which to say that there will many more days when we cry out for an end.  Just like a mother in labor, desperate to see the child she’s waited so long to meet, who is ready for an end to her suffering and discomfort, who (while in the emotional and physical throes of childbirth) will cry out for help and wonder when it will all be over, we too will become weary and frantic. 

But please, please, please, remember that from labor pains comes new life!  Our promise is eternal.

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  (Colossians 3: 1-4)

So stand firm…in love.  Bear the labor pains with hope in knowing that a greater promise awaits.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as I see this world deteriorate, help me to remember Your promise.  With the help of Your Holy Spirit, I know that I can stand firm until the end.  I choose love, I choose righteousness, I choose YOU. 

“You Will Be Safe in His Arms”

(Matthew 2: 7-15, The Message) 7-8 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.” 9-10 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! 11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. 12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. 13 After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” 14-15 Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”

That which is consecrated to God, He protects.  We are all born into this life with purpose…each of us teeming with new life and possibility.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Before we are even formed in the womb, our Father God has crafted plans for our lives…both individually and collectively as His church.  We are all part of an intricate strategy to bring our family — the family of God — into right relationship with our Heavenly Father.  Prophets…each one of us. 

“Before I shaped you in the womb,

    I knew all about you.

Before you saw the light of day,

    I had holy plans for you:

A prophet to the nations—

    that’s what I had in mind for you.” 

(Jeremiah 1:5, The Message)

When we give our lives to Him, we enter into covenant with Him, and we are shielded from the enemy.  Don’t take that lightly either, because there is most assuredly an enemy of your soul.  Yet when we are in covenant with God, working toward His purpose and plan for our lives, we are living under the promise that we will live life abundantly.  John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Jesus came so that we would be able to live in freedom, carrying out the will of God in our lives…and Christ himself is the ultimate manifestation of God’s purpose and protection toward who and what is consecrated to Him.  We all know what God’s plan for Jesus was…He was sent to die.  That was His purpose.  Though He was hated, even from the time of His infancy…though Satan tried in every conceivable way to stop what was ordained and prophesied to take place in His life, the Lord God protected Christ and led Him down a very specific path of purpose.  The wise men were sent by Herod, because of his murderous intentions, yet God intervened.  And we are promised the same…that God is working His plan for our good.  In Romans 8:28 it is written, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

When you face adversity (and you will) as you tread down your own personal path as a servant and child of God, remember that when you are keeping your end of the deal, upholding your agreement in your covenant with God, you have His protection and His grace.

Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you that I have a purpose.  Thank you that Your plan for me is protected and carried out through my love and devotion to You.  Help me to hold onto the promise of Your word, and to trust Your sovereignty in all things.  Amen.

Teach Me

Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;
I wait for you all day long

The Lord is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way.
He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth
to those who keep his covenant and decrees.

Occasionally, my wife and I will have a disagreement. — I know…That’s crazy talk! Who ever has a disagreement with their spouse?! — But every now and then we find ourselves not seeing eye-to-eye on a given subject. Since we’re both pretty strong-willed, neither one of us is afraid of arguing our viewpoint. Usually, we are able to come to some sort of agreement without too much difficulty, but occasionally one of us will feel strongly enough that we dig in our heels and hold our ground.

I remember one time when we were having an argument and Elizabeth diagnosed my problem.

“You know what your problem is? You always think you’re right.”

Of course I do! If I thought I was wrong, I would change my opinion! If you can show me new information that I didn’t have before, or a flaw in my reasoning, I’m happy to reconsider my stance. No one intentionally gets the wrong answer. That would just be foolish.

The real problem, though, is when we don’t know what we don’t know. Ignorance is dangerous and can lead us down paths where we don’t want to go. Rather than being stubborn and opinionated, we must train ourselves to be humble and teachable. That is what the Psalmist is writing about in this passage.

Throughout Scripture, God is calling us to a higher way of living, a better way. The rules and restrictions that he places upon us are not arbitrary or capricious. They are intentionally designed to help us live the life of abundance and blessing that God desires for us. God calls us to be holy and righteous because that is the only way that we can accomplish what we were designed to do…to have fellowship with and worship God.

But holiness and righteousness do not come naturally to us. In fact, because of the distortion of sin, holiness and righteousness are the exact OPPOSITE of what comes naturally to us. So we must constantly be evaluating ourselves, adjusting our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors to fall in line with God and what he is doing in the world around us. But we can’t do that if we are not humble enough to learn his ways.

Life is hard. Making the right choice is difficult, and sometimes it feels like we’re just taking a shot in the dark. But that is not how God intends it to be. He has not left us to our own devices. He has shown us the way, through the Law, and through the example of Jesus Christ. Are we smart enough to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers and that God knows best?

Commit to living every day according to God’s ways. Seek him out and He will speak light, life, and wisdom into your day. I can’t imagine doing better than that on my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your revelation to us and patient instruction while we figure things out. We acknowledge the limits of human understanding, and seek to follow your ways instead. Help us to cultivate humility and a teachable spirit at all times. In the name of Jesus we ask this, Amen.

The More You Know…

(Psalm 101:5)  Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.

My Granny Frances always gave me really great advice, which always seemed to begin with, “Honey…”  Most of her advice I remember, verbatim, and it continues to be useful in every stage of my life.  I remember once she said to me, “Honey, if that gal will talk about someone to you, she’s done talked about you to someone else.  Drop her like a hot biscuit.”  That’s good wisdom.  Granny was right.  Sometimes you do have to let go of friendships that are shallow because they can damage your witness to others.  If someone is a known gossip and backbiter, is that something you want to be associated with in your circle of influence?

There comes a time when social graces have to be put aside and you have to put a muzzle on all of that ugly barking.  When someone begins badmouthing another in your presence, or filling your ear with their garbage talk, did you know you can nicely ask them to shut up?  Just tell them to quit it and explain yourself.  It’s not rude, it’s the right thing to do.  In 2 Timothy 3: 1-5, it is written, “Understand that the last days will be dangerous times. People will be selfish and love money. They will be the kind of people who brag and who are proud. They will slander others, and they will be disobedient to their parents. They will be ungrateful, unholy, unloving, contrary, and critical. They will be without self-control and brutal, and they won’t love what is good. They will be people who are disloyal, reckless, and conceited. They will love pleasure instead of loving God. They will look like they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.”

So there it is.  My mother has always told me, “Some people…well, you just gotta love ‘em from a distance.”  This is something that I have learned is invaluable.  A social life is nice to have, but not at the expense of my reputation or integrity.  You can call it what you will, but I’m guarded and with good reason.  I just think it is important to be careful.  I have learned the hard way that not everyone is to be trusted with something so valuable as an intimate friendship.  Do know, this should never be a hindrance when it comes to loving others the way that Christ did.  Think about that for a minute though, wasn’t Jesus careful himself of who he trusted?  It all kind of goes back to the old adage, “Choose your friends wisely.”  You can love everyone, but not everyone has to be your best friend. 

On the other side of the coin, maybe you are the one who gets caught up in the gossip.  The tongue is a hard thing to control, and for whatever reason some people really struggle with this more than anything else.  Hey, I’m not here to write you off…we all have our own little marbles we slip on from time to time.  It could even be that you don’t truly realize what you’re doing.  Well here are some signs that maybe this is an area of growth for you.

  1. You’ve noticed that some friends may have stopped calling and/or texting as often.
  2. People make excuses to avoid spending time with you, or often cancel plans.
  3. You complain a LOT.
  4. You don’t really know what’s going on in the lives of your friends.
  5. You’re jealous and give back-handed compliments.  (“Your haircut makes you look slim.”)

Those are just a few signs that maybe you’re a little toxic and that you’re probably pushing others away with negativity and by stirring up discord amongst others.  You know what though?  That’s not in God’s plan for your life.  He wants us all to have good, lasting friendships that together are His light in the darkness.  We can’t do that when we are just little lights that flicker on and off sporadically.  We have to guard that flame and keep it burning high and bright! 

Finally, let me just say that we are all guilty of biting the occasional back, so to speak.  It happens.  That’s why Christians need one another though, to lovingly say to our brother or sister, “Hey, that’s not okay.”  When we can gently correct wrongdoing and continue on in love, that’s true, godly friendship. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, give me eyes to see clearly and ears to hear the truth.  Help me to lovingly avoid and silence gossip, and give me the boldness to take a stand for what is right.  And when I am wrong, when I use my tongue to hurt or to bring dissension, send godly friends my way to shut me up.  Help me to be better at loving others in all ways…the best way…Your way.  Amen.

“God is all around us.”

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

(Psalm 19:1-2, NLT)

I love to look at the sky.  It doesn’t matter where I am, I can always look up at the sky and marvel at the work and creativity of God.

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting next to the window on long car rides (and we traveled a LOT), gazing up at the sky.  I loved watching the clouds move with us as we drove along and seeing how the sun would peek in and out.  I especially loved the occasional treat of seeing the sun rays shine through the clouds in a beautiful, heavenly burst of light…almost as if the Son of God Himself could come riding out of the clouds on His white horse at any moment.  What a glorious sight indeed.

I am still just as mesmerized by the sky today, as I was over 30 years ago.  No matter the season, no matter the time of day, no matter what part of the world you are in, it truly is a wondrous vision.  It is indescribable too, because it is ever-changing and moving.  It can go from blue, to pink, to purple, to green…all in one day.  There is no predicting what it will look like, and it can change in an instant.

Maybe you have been struggling lately, wondering, “God, are you even there?”  If you are anything like me, then you sometimes need a visual…something obvious that you can behold.  Even though God will mostly likely not show His literal self to you, if you are willing to stop and take a moment to behold what He has created, He will reveal Himself to you through it.

Today is a beautiful day to give it a try.  Step outside for a moment.  Breathe in some fresh air and take a look at the sky.  Be mindful of your surroundings, and ask The Lord to speak to you in His own way and timing.  Sometimes we just need to take a moment to allow our imaginations to guide us.  Sometimes we simply need to get back to a childlike place in our hearts and minds, and allow that same sense of wonder and amazement to set in and renew our understanding of who God is as our Creator and Lord.

So whether you are gazing at the clouds, watching them move and change shape – whether you are lying in the sun, allowing its warmth to soothe and warm you – whether you are catching a glimpse of the moon and stars, wondering what else is out there – or whether you are watching a storm pass, marveling at its strength and power…allow yourself to stop thinking so much and be open to experiencing God in a new way, through His creation and the majesty of His endless, spectacular sky.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I am so proud and so blessed to serve a Creator who provides everything that I need.  You know my every thought, and You see my individual longing to experience You in every part of my life.  I am so thankful that, through Your word, and through the wonder of Your matchless creation, I am always reminded that You are here.  I can have faith and take comfort in knowing that I am surrounded by You, God.  Amen.

Sowing Into Promise

There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father…

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. (Genesis 26)

Each day of your life is a never-ending string of choices.  Some are mundane like as selecting your wardrobe for the day or where to eat for lunch.  Other are important life-altering decisions, such as choosing your spouse, relocating to a new city, or changing career paths.  Some of these decisions are made intentionally, as an effort to accomplish a goal that we’ve set for ourselves. Other times, we are forced to react to circumstances beyond our control, and we have to decide how we are going to respond to the situation.

In Genesis 26, we find Isaac in just such a place.  There was a famine going on and as the head of his household he was responsible for the well-being of his family and servants. He knew that something had to be done, but what should he do? He moved his family to Gerar, and that’s when the Lord spoke to him.  God made him a promise that if he would remain in the land, that he would follow through on the covenant that he had made with Isaac’s father, Abraham. 

So what did Isaac do? He not only stayed; he took it to the next level. Isaac responded to God’s promise by planting crops…in the middle of a famine! If God was going to give him the land, then Isaac was going to invest in it.  He poured time and resources into it. In return, God blessed him with a hundredfold harvest. Imagine the wealth, influence, and power that comes with being the man with all the food and resources in a time of want. Isaac became rich and powerful so quickly that the Philistines became jealous and the king even asked him to leave because he couldn’t handle the competition!

When we examine this story closely, we a couple of principles in action that lead to Isaac’s blessing:

  • Communication — There was an established relationship between Isaac and God.  In this passage, it does not indicate that Isaac sought God’s direction yet because of the relationship that existed between them (Isaac had seen God’s hand in his own father’s life), when God spoke Isaac listened. Too often we plan our lives and try to figure out our problems without God’s input, and that’s where we end up in trouble.  And then when God does speak, we must be willing to listen.
  • Investment — Isaac understood the principle of sowing and reaping, of investment and return. So when God made a promise, Isaac had faith enough to sow into that promise. God is constantly at work and it is our responsibility to make sure that we are on board with what he’s doing in our lives, families, and communities. Wherever God has planted you, make sure that you have bought into the vision.  Give of your time and resources to advance the kingdom.  God sees and rewards the sacrifices we make.

Where has God planted you?  Are you investing in yourself…your family…your church…your career…your community?  The blessings of God are real.  He’s waiting to pour them into you, but you have to sow before you can reap!

PRAYER: Father God, thank you for being a God that we can count on. Your words are sure, and you desire to bless your people.  Help us to be wise enough to follow the path that you lay before us and invest in that promised future.  Bless the seeds that we sow to ensure a bountiful harvest of blessing in our lives, the lives of those around us, and souls won for your kingdom.  In Christ’s name, Amen.

Sometimes We’re All Just Teenagers

(James 5: 16, NLT)

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Righteousness and prayer go hand in hand.  It just makes the most sense, doesn’t it?  If you are a parent (especially parent to a teenager) then you probably already have a sense of this concept.  I have a teenager, and I have to tell you, when he is pleasant, when he is following our rules, when he is being respectful and loving toward us, it makes us much more likely to listen to what he has to say when he is ready to ask for something or express his feelings to us.  I’m just sayin’!

It works pretty much the same way with us and God.  John 9:31 tells us, “We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.”   I am telling you now, when we come to God as petulant, disobedient children – when we should (and often DO) know better – He isn’t going to hear it!  I’ve been there with my own child.  When he is out of sorts, raising his voice and completely in the wrong, I shut him down immediately.  I tell him to come back when he is ready to apologize and do the right thing.  I love him so, my son, and because of that love, I know it is not in his best interest to allow that sort of exchange to take place between us.  He must learn respect and humility, and when he is able to come back to me from a loving place, I am waiting with open arms and ears, ready to work with him and be a blessing to him in any way that I can – if that is what is best for him.  There has to be a certain level of love, respect, and trust there.

Likewise, we must love God first – coming to Him with respect and honor, and humbling ourselves at His feet.  We have to be willing, before anything else, to ask God for His grace – getting our failures and sins out of the way so that there is room for God to work within and bless our lives.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.

(Psalm 37: 3-5)


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, there is nothing that I want and need more than to be heard by You.  Help me to keep myself humble and righteous so that You are able to listen to me.  Amen. 

Yes & No

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No” be “No,” lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12)

Recently, William asked if I would be willing to play a board game with him but I was busy at the time so I gave him the canned “Dad” response—“We’ll see.”  This satisfied him for the moment and off he ran to find something else to do.  Then, I overheard him talking with Ben, telling him that I would be playing a game with him later and would he like to play as well.

“What did he actually say?”

“We’ll see.”

“That’s ‘Dad’ for no.”

Ultimately, we DID play the board game, but it appears that whether I intended it to be that way or not, the boys had learned to interpret my words in different ways.

The people we interact with learn our patterns of speech and behavior, and whether the two line up. It’s a natural part of human psychology, to find patterns in our environment and use them to predict future interactions. This means that if we desire to be known as a person that can be counted on, as a person of integrity, we must carefully choose our words and then follow through with our commitments. 

It is very easy to over-promise and under-perform, especially when we are feeling pressure to commit to something that we don’t really want to do in the first place. You feel guilty so you agree to something, and then procrastinate because you don’t want to do it.  Then you feel guilty for procrastinating, and you rush to get it done at the last minute.  That’s not how I want to live my life, but I’ve found myself in that situation so many times!

It would be much better if I just did as James instructed…Let my “Yes” be “Yes” and “No” be “No.”  What might that look like?

  • No — Sometimes we just need to say “No” and that can be very hard to do if we don’t want to upset someone.  In some cases, we must say “No” to something that is good and worthwhile so we can say “Yes” to something that is more important. To accomplish this, though, you must have a very clear understanding of your priorities, so you can evaluate between things.
  • Yes — If you do commit to something, follow through!  It doesn’t help if you say you will do something but then flake out on the person asking for your assistance, and it just makes you look bad. 
  • Maybe — There is nothing wrong with saying, “Let me get back to you later.”  This prevents you from making a commitment before you’ve had a chance to consider it.  But if you do this, make sure to follow up with the person and let them know your decision.

It is important that people be able to trust you and your word. It goes beyond social standing and responsibility. As a believer, each of us is a witness to Jesus Christ. Everything we do should point people to him.  If you have gained a reputation as someone who cannot be counted on with small things, how will they ever trust you with subjects of eternal consequence?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for being a God that can always be counted on.  Your word is faithful and your promises sure.  Help us to follow your example…to be trustworthy people of integrity.  In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!

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