Expect God to show up

Have you ever heard the phrase, “God showed up”? I personally have a bit of a problem with the phrase, since God literally fills the universe and inhabits every space. How could He not show up when the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him (from 2 Chronicles 2:6)? God is everywhere.

On the other hand, we perfectly understand what people mean when they say, “then God showed up.” Usually, the situation involves prayer and evidence of Divine intervention.

We tend to limit God, even while reading Bible stories.

We know He parted the Red Sea, drowned the Egyptian army, and freed probably a million Israelites. David defeated Goliath in a miraculous way. Angels shut Daniel’s lions’ mouths. Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego walked around with Jesus in the oven that killed those who threw them in. Not even their hair or clothes were singed or smelled of smoke. We can cite miracle after miracle in the Old Testament.

Then, Jesus came, and He healed, raised the dead, showed compassion, taught, and ministered. God in the flesh showed the people who God is. He told Philip, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father (from John 14:9).

When Jesus rose from the dead, He evidenced resurrecting power.

And, here we are, more than 2,000 years later. We wrongly think He does less today than He did over the previous 4,000 years. He just “shows up” from time to time.

There’s good news: God is the same. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). He never changes. God is the only real constant in this world.

We might limit Him when we pray, forgetting that the One who caused David’s smooth stone to find its mark is the same Person who cares about what we’re doing.

The One who raised the dead and healed the sick can still heal.

Our God is great. He is perfectly wise and just. The Lord cares for His children and loves those who don’t yet know Him. He is almighty.

If He could pile up the Red Sea and Jordan River and cause the people to walk through on dry—not muddy—ground, He can act for you. He hasn’t changed and never will.

How do we pray?

I believe in the power of several people praying together. Recently, a friend’s baby was very ill. She asked a group of Christian ladies to intercede for him. We did. The Lord let her baby get better. I believe a group of people praying to the Lord was effective prayer, and the baby’s getting better was the Lord’s will.

God still works miracles. My husband and I have a whole list of recent situations that we prayed about and God answered. Some looked impossible, but God moved.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations (Psalm 100:5).

Pray big. Expect God to show up.

In fact, you can expect the Lord to already be there. For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him (Matthew 6:8b).

 

When I follow my emotions

When I follow my emotions, my head doesn’t work.

Every time.

Clear thinking takes wing, and I am left with feelings and nothing more.

I can think of several examples:

  • In my relationship with my husband, when the emotion of the moment leads (delight, frustration, anger, impatience, silliness), I am not keeping my thoughts—and my biblical right responses—at the fore. Going with the flow doesn’t help our relationship. Commitment to doing right does. How should I biblically treat my husband? With love, respect, a happy spirit, and an upbeat tone of voice. Relationships with our children and others, of course, should be much the same: with godly self-control.
  • Business relationships can be crazy. In the last few months, our family has gone through the ups and downs of all kinds of business and legal operations. It seems like, with every step, we were told no, then yes. Emotionally, these experiences made for a roller coaster ride. But, they also moved us to pray that God would do what we couldn’t and to place our faith in Him to work as He wanted. Every single low was smoothed out in the end, and all we can do is praise the Lord.
  • The art of living is full of humdrum tasks. We wash dishes, feed the dog, put a load of clothes in, switch them to the dryer, iron, go to work, make supper, and the next day, we do it again. Buying groceries, putting gas in the car, cutting the lawn, sweeping and mopping floors, dusting…. The list of repeated actions goes on and on and on. Our emotions about these necessary but not very exciting details can make us bitter. “Again! Why do clothes have to get dirty? Mumble mumble grumble.” Or, we can tune our thoughts to the Bible. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only (Psalm 71:16). When our focus is on the Lord, our emotions will fall into line, and we will rejoice, even while doing the mundane actions of everyday living.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I love this next passage. Notice what it says about one’s attitude and focus. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Now, some practical advice about prayer: Be careful (full of care, anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Where’s our mind supposed to be? The Bible tells us. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:4-8).

When emotions rule, our heads don’t work. But, when our thoughts are lined up with God’s, we are in a good place.

Let’s bring our thoughts into line this week, rejoicing in the Lord, and serving Him.

A mental reset will change your life.

Hate mornings? Encouragement for everyone

I am not a morning person. That doesn’t mean I don’t get up and get with it. I do. But, give me a cup of coffee first, and let me stumble around a minute or two before I’m actually functional.

Other people love mornings. They hit the floor ready to roll. Good for them.

Whatever kind of morning person you are, God has some promises and challenges for you.

Let’s begin with the challenges:

  • Communicate with the Lord first thing. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up (Psalm 5:3). I think of David, Daniel, and Jesus Himself, who sought the Lord each morning. Even if mornings aren’t your best time of day, you can pray before crawling out of bed, dedicating the day to the Lord and asking for His guidance. You can breathe a prayer while you slurp your tea or coffee. Meet Him first.
  • Remember God’s Word in the morning. The Bible is ultimate truth, so it is helpful to refresh our minds in it each morning. I prevented (got up before) the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word (Psalm 119:147).
  • Love the Lord more than you want to see another day. Priorities are so important. God first. The psalmist said, My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning (Psalm 130:6). Jesus admonished His disciples, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Now, for the promises:

  • But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble (Psalm 59:16). I love that we can praise God for His power, mercy, and his ability to defend and even be a shelter for us.
  • To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night (Psalm 92:2). The context is to praise God in the morning and night for His lovingkindness and faithfulness.
  • If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me (Psalm 139:9-10). This might be a reference to Jonah, but it is so beautiful about how the Lord sees us, wherever we are, and he leads us and holds us.
  • Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee (Psalm 143:8). This prayer for guidance during the day should be our prayer, too.
  • The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:4). Of course, this testimony is given by a prophet, inspired by God, but I love how God will open our ears to hear wisdom and give us words to say. He will do this every day, if we trust in Him.
  • It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). This one is perhaps my favorite.

God’s faithfulness is constant. His mercies and compassions are new every single morning … even if I haven’t yet drunk my coffee.

May your mornings be blessed.

A contentious person–and how I almost became one

How glad I am for God’s Word and prayer.

I recently read something controversial that I felt I needed to answer right away. When I prayed about answering, this verse came to mind: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God (1 Corinthians 11:16). The context of this verse is the controversy about headcoverings and long hair for men and women. It’s not worth arguing about.

Another verse about being contentious says, It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman (Proverbs 21:19). An additional Proverb says, A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike (Proverbs 27:15).

I don’t want to be a person no one wants to live with or a source of water torture. Quickly, I put my plan to respond to this person to rest.

The Bible uses another colorful illustration about being contentious: As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife (Proverbs 26:21).

No one wants to add fuel to a problem.

You may have thought about times when we’re supposed to contend. Contend means “to strive against.” We’re to contend for the faith (truth, pure doctrine). Defend it.

But, being contentious means arguing for the sake of argument, stirring up strife, nagging, and adding fuel to the fire. In short, it’s being a real pain.

This never helps the cause of Christ.

Jesus gave us this example: He held His peace.

As I get older and—I hope—more mature, I am learning that most controversies don’t require an answer. People have already made up their minds. It is totally useless to argue.

Many of the subjects are silly, too. Who cares if the sky is actually blue or if it is a reflection of certain bands of light and only perceived as blue? We could argue all day. Is it blue? Yes. But, who cares whether it is actually blue or the perception of blue?

We’re supposed to defend the gospel and sound doctrine. But, most battles don’t call for our participation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Let’s be peacemakers instead of contentious.

I’m glad I prayed first.

Whatever you do

I was reading Colossians 3, a powerful chapter of instruction for Christians, and the phrase “whatsoever ye do” popped out at me. It reminded me immediately of this first verse in 1 Corinthians.

Let’s read the three verses, and then we’ll find out what we’ve learned.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:17).

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:24).

Whatever we do, we’re to do it:

  • to the glory of God—This means that our actions actually convey honor and glory to God. Do they?
  • in the name of the Lord Jesus—Our words and actions are to be done in Jesus’ name. Are we living so that all our actions and words are done in the name of Jesus?
  • giving thanks to God—Thanksgiving is the mark of a Christian life. Do we give praise in all our words and actions?
  • heartily—”From the soul” is the Greek word’s meaning. Do we do everything from the heart?
  • to the Lord and not men—Pleasing God should motivate a Christian’s walk and talk. Are we God pleasers or men pleasers?

Every one of these verses convicted my soul. My actions, thoughts, words, and motivations fall far short of this ideal.

I am praying that whatever I do today gets closer to these high goals and that something will bring Him glory.

It’s a start.