PrayerPoints ~ Pure ~ March 31

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Boy is is tricky to have your mind only set on pure things these days. Goodness.

The visual and the auditory stuff we are bombarded with every day is astonishing. Ashamedly, I wasn’t always offended by it. I was pretty desensitized for a few years due to some unfortunate early experiences. In my younger years, my mind was dragged into the gutter and felt somewhat at home there. That is just one example of why I am so thankful for God’s work in my life! If I happen to be around someone who says something crude, sometimes I don’t even “get” their “joke”. Now that is amazing!

It feels like we are under attack every single day with so many sexualized images, crude conversations, violence, and ugly attitudes. It’s exhausting to try to shield these things from our children and simultaneously teach them discernment and how to trust that when God says “stay away” that they should pay attention and heed His words. God’s desire is to purify our minds.

And then there is the Truth of God’s desire and ability to redeem and restore and transform:

“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18 NIV

It seems unreasonable that the guilty should be set free–but I am so thankful the price has been paid by the Son of God!

Celebrating freedom in Christ!

Liz

PrayerPoints ~ Just ~ March 30

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

There are a variety of definitions for the word just but this one by thefreedictionary.com is enough without being too much: honorable and fair in one’s dealings and actions. And the definition for fair (from the same spot) is this: consistent with rules, logic, or ethics.

Alleluia for a God who is just and provides the way for us through Jesus! Nothing even comes close to comparing to the goodness and justice of God. He is always dependable to be just!

And while we might not always be consistent, my prayer is that each of us are being moved by the Holy Spirit in that direction. Let’s consider our actions as we are going about our day. Are we honorable and fair in our dealings? Are we consistent with rules, logic, or ethics? Of course we cannot compare to God in this department as we are laden with sin. But as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us, there should be evidence of improvement in these areas. Of course, it does depend on what part of the day one catches me! Maybe the same is true for you.

Growing up with some shady authority figures in my life (not my parents) I didn’t (and still don’t) just trust authority. Seeing a lack of integrity so blatant with several adults in the church spoke volumes to me. And it afforded me the excuse (ha!ha!) to be  fairly rebellious. Truly, someone else’s bad behavior should not be a license for me to behave badly. However, we should consider that our behavior does impact others. God has been busy buffing some of that rebelliousness out of me during the last 40+ years. And He still has a long way to go. I am a work in progress–a work of His heart. And you are too!

As you consider where you have been, can you look back 5, 10, 20, 40 years and see God’s work in your life? I pray so!

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1:8-10 NIV

So so thankful for God’s love and provisions!

Liz

PrayerPoints ~ Worthy of Respect ~ March 29

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

What things are worthy of respect? What things are worthy of my mind time? With the internet and other media outlets so readily available, it is easy to be pondering or engaging in discussions or “viewings” that are not worthy of respect. Ever feel yourself get sucked in and think “How did I get here?” Or “How do I get out of this pattern?”

It is easy to fall into bad habits and not so easy to crawl out of them but running towards those things that are worthy of respect will definitely help break the cycle. A quick Google glance brought me this definition:

Worthy ~ Having…excellence; possessing merit; valuable; deserving; estimable; excellent; virtuous.

So considering the verse above I have to ask myself this question: Am I spending my mental, physical, and spiritual energy on things worthy of my mind? You know, respectable things. Things worthy of respect….

Let’s just say there is always room for improvement. It is important to be deliberate when we choose where our mind is hanging out. To not make a choice is to let a choice be made for you. Less mind-numbing activity (as in “entertainment”) is probably something we can all benefit from. If we are too busy thinking about less-than-worthy things are we bypassing something God would have us initiate or participate in? Are our minds cluttered with things that are distracting from opportunities to serve in our church, community or beyond? If we discipline our time now what opportunities will we be available for in the future?

Considering what is worthy of respect,

Liz

The following link is an automatic attachment to the definition of the word worthy. I am not indicating the link is worthy by leaving it on this post. Read more:http://www.brainyquote.com/words/wo/worthy240557.html#ixzz1qUzS1vh4

PrayerPoint ~ True ~ March 28

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8  NIV

This is a great verse to commit to memory. It is such a breath of fresh air to me – it actually lightens my heart when I say it and changes my attitude. So I certainly should say it several times a day, right?

If you are trying to get rid of that grudge, this might be the verse to stop and ponder upon. Put it on an index card several times and post it in  your car, above your coffee pot, or on your refrigerator. If you are really brave, you can buy window markers and write it on your bathroom mirror.

Sometimes we spend time thinking about the wrong things. We can choose to have the “better” things in front of our eyes. What are your favorite Truths from God? I do believe they are great to memorize and hide in your heart but there are also great opportunities to have them in front of your face….and in the sight of others. You influence those around you, for good and for bad. Include an encouraging Bible verse on your email signature or post it on Facebook. If you are sending snail mail correspondence, include a verse you wrote on card stock in marker or decorate an index card that says “I am praying for you!”

There are lots of ways to ponder “whatever is true”. And the truth is, we ought to be sharing it too.

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Your Pastor ~ March 27

I know it is not October–the month set aside to honor, thank, and pray for your pastor but your pastor (and his/her family) needs your prayers all year long!

In our church body, we are in the middle of Lent and have extra services each week. Beginning with Palm Sunday, Holy Week is a very busy time. I am sure the emotional and spiritual intensity is significant for pastors who are in the thick of planning and preaching, sharing God’s Word.
Here are some things to pray for:
  • Spiritual protection
  • Integrity
  • Law/Gospel Balance
  • Small Group Connection
  • Financial Order
  • Protection from Worldly Influences
  • Accountability
Other things may come to mind for you so don’t let this list limit how you pray. As you consider your pastor you likely know some of his areas of struggle or prayer needs. Do not miss the opportunity to stand in the gap for this servant of God.

PrayerPoint ~ Grudges ~ March 26

I have noticed that it is infinitely easier to express grace and mercy to people I really like. Conversely, it is easy to be stingy and withhold grace, mercy, or forgiveness when I don’t particularly care for the person who needs it. There are people in our lives who daily need grace and forgiveness. If we are regularly put in the situation to demonstrate it, I am willing to bet there is something that God is wanting to teach us about our own need to extend it.

In terms of spritual growth, if I am the very one who is begrudging someone frequently, I think it ceases to be about the person I am annoyed with…it is now about me and my attitude of unforgiveness. Nursing a grudge is a destructive thing but it is much easier to not allow yourself to fall into that trap than get out of it once you are there.

Here is the anatomy of a grudge: It starts with being annoyed or downright angry with someone who has caused you some level of grief followed by “expecting” that annoying behavior to continue. Next you pay attention for and look for that annoying behavior and you are satisfied in your inner ugly place when you see it. And soon you notice that many of your thoughts revolve around that person or situation. Like an ominous cloud, the negativity continues to grow. And so does your sin.

Have you ever been there?

It is good to interrupt that cycle before it gets too far down the path. And we need to recognize that only God can help us accomplish any of this.

If you think about the nursing profession, you know that nurses work very closely with people and nursing a baby is a very close contact experience. If you apply these ideas about nursing to nursing a grudge you will rightly connect that nursing a grudge draws you even closer to the person that has “wronged” you. Do you really want that?

I don’t think so.

A first step towards freedom from this trap is to admit to God you have an issue with this person. Next ask God to bless this person. Every day. It is pretty tricky to hold a grudge against someone you are praying for.

May you walk in freedom of God’s forgiveness!

Liz

PrayerPoint ~ Good Enough ~ March 25

I do value a job well done, really, I do. But there are times when you do what you need to do to get by–and it simply isn’t your best work. Really, if I did my best work for every meal for every project, for every anything, I would be exhausted. Honestly, I am tired now and I know I am not giving my best effort.

What about when my best effort isn’t good enough? Or even a fair effort isn’t acceptable to the eyes that judge it. Am I a failure then?

Our son is in his 4th Semester of Spanish at the college level. It has been grueling to say the least. He has been frustrated, nauseated, and has put a lot of effort into it. The grades are low at the end of the semester. He literally just squeaks by. He cannot wait to get past this requirement (for his history major). He has had a tutor since Spanish II and just has a difficult time getting above a D on tests. But it looks like he has turned a corner because he earned a 100% and a 102% on his last two quizzes. We are all very excited. Quite frankly, a C would have been great so we are super excited and yet holding our breath…has he finally broken through the barrier? We pray so.

We are thankful for his persistence because if there was something he has wanted to quit 100 times, this Spanish thing would be it. We are thankful for the requirement for 4 years of a foreign language because it made him fight for his major–and he consider changing it many times. We are thankful he was open to every possible mode of assistance available to him. He  works hard for his grade–and it is still low most of the time. I never took a foreign language in college so I can’t say I wouldn’t be having the same problem. I am learning Hungarian on the side and it isn’t very easy for me, but I am doing it because I want to so it really isn’t the same.

Is there an area of your life where you can accept only being “good enough”? House cleaning? Physical appearance? Job performance? 401K earnings? Grades? Parenting?

Recognize and give thanks for your limitations–it gives God a great opportunity to fill in the gaps. If we are all about achieving and everything we touch seems to turn to gold then we are only setting ourselves up for the idea that we are the ones accomplishing everything. As we continue to achieve, it is easy to forget who allowed us the intelligence, connections, or the provisions for our success.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for working through me whether through my strengths or my weaknesses. Help me to recognize it is all Your work through me. Thank you for loving me when I fail.  In Jesus’ Name…

May God work in and through your week!
Liz