PrayerPoints ~ Wednesday, February 24

James 3-17-18w

Today’s PrayerPoint ~ Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?” Psalm 27:1

Psalm 27 has so much good stuff in it!

And still, even with knowing the truths that are there, at times I am still fearful. I think I dwell on too many “what ifs”. I cannot control the future. Even though there are times I wish I could, it is for the best that I can’t. The best I can do is control my responses to situations. Knowing that the Lord is my shelter, my fortress, my salvation, my light, and the stronghold of my life helps me  put the “what ifs” into a proper perspective.

Recently, to every “what if” I have been trying to say “even if” instead and I recount the promises of God’s presence, perspective, and peace.

Psalm 27:5 says “For in the day of trouble…” and it reminds me that we all have days of trouble. Sometimes there are many days of “trouble” in a row. But “he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

There is no end to hardship in personal relationships, work situations, physical health, or the circumstances found in the world today because we live in a world full of sinners who make selfish choices. I have made quite a few sinful choices myself to the pain and detriment of myself and others. But God works in and through us and, often in spite of us to share His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love to our hurting world!

 

 

Do Your Best…

We are told “do your best”! But what if your best isn’t:

a) good enough?
b) possible?
c) worth the effort given the circumstance/time frame?
d) [fill in the blank]

And how often do you find yourself disappointed in others when they don’t choose to do “their best”?

There are many times I don’t give my best effort. I make plenty of mistakes. Sometimes I am tired and overcommitted. And if I wait to be sure I only “do my best” than some things simply won’t ever be done! Can you relate?

What is good enough? What is close enough? If you berate someone for their effort–even if you know it wasn’t their best effort–what are you accomplishing?

If you have demanded or simply expected the best of others this week it is very likely you were disappointed with the results. Aside from Jesus, perfection isn’t possible. So look at those around around you. Look for ways to encourage and celebrate their contributions. Don’t always try to sneak in correction with a compliment. Recognize that there often isn’t only one right way. Instruction is good but constant instruction can be exhausting to receive.

Have you been too hard on yourself because you have made decisions that weren’t “the best” and they have lead you to a difficult place? I think we probably all have regrets. And some of our concern for others involves our regrets about our own behavior. Most people will not glean as much from the experiences of others as they will from their own experiences, as difficult to watch as that may be. Most people learn life lessons by living their life.

If you have been difficult to live with due to your incredibly high expectations of yourself or others, maybe it is time to re-evaluate your hopes and dreams. Be sure they are closer in line with reality and bathed in God’s love and grace. No one makes the best choice or invests their best effort all the time and your response to those choices will say a lot about the future of your relationship. Your love and grace can make all the difference!

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Expectations

It is so easy to be moved from being satisfied to dissatisfaction when we allow our own or someone else’s expectations run the show.

Not all expectations are bad. I am referring to the expectation that you will be able to pull off the unrealistic perfect family gathering this weekend! We see those photos in ads where there aren’t any dirty dishes or dust bunnies and every outfit blends or coordinates with every outfit in the photo and all of that is accented by the perfect food, makeup, and….well, the list goes on. Media and advertising have painted unrealistic and unattainable “picture perfect” moments for us to try to reproduce in our own homes.

Can you imagine how long it takes to set up those photo shoots?

And when we aren’t able to pull it off we become dissatisfied with what we have.

Don’t do it. Don’t go there.

Folks, it isn’t happening at our house. We won’t be serving perfection but we are serving love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. We have been busy with life so we might be a wee bit tired and the house isn’t perfectly clean. We didn’t buy new dresses. We probably won’t be color coordinated but we will be enjoying one another’s company. When it is time to share the big meal, my goal is for all the food to be ready at the same time but even that isn’t always easy.

Expectations. Sometimes they kill the joy of the moment!

God sent Jesus in an unexpected way to save ordinary people like you and me. Jesus died an unimaginable death to set things right with God on our behalf. This isn’t the picture perfect situation by the world’s standards but God’s love for us is perfect, so this evidence of God’s love is perfection.

God has given you His all. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to be satisfied with all He is and all He is doing.

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect love!

Formulas

3 steps to a new _________!

10 ways to teach your ______ how to ______!

12 foods you should eat every day!

7 ways to a new __________!

9 foods to throw out of your diet!

I know most of the things I should be doing but I am so overwhelmed with everything I have to do that I would love a sure fire formula for a few battle areas. Do you ever feel the same way? I know when I am desperate I am not as discerning as I need to be and it is then that I fall prey to deception.

If every formula depended on only me, maybe, just maybe they would work, but considering my level of distraction, I don’t guess so. While I am not against suggestions, I think it is important to remember that many of the “formulas” for weight loss, obedient children, a better marriage, success in school, etc do not take into account that people and their wills are also a part of the equation. Some of these ultimate formulas are ultimately frustrating and keep us chasing our tails!

If you find yourself in a desperate spot, hoping that someone else’s perfect formula will help you out of a crazy situation, think again because if you pursue a plan without any discernment on your part, you might make things worse. There isn’t a perfect, sure fire plan for most things because we are dealing with unique people and complicated lives and culture. You cannot control every variable and you should not try.

There may be some things you can control and there are many, many more things you cannot. Amazingly, God allowed us to have our wills and He continues to work in, with, and through our mistakes and struggles to bring His message of love and grace to a hurting world. If we do a little more releasing of things we want to control, God can move in and have some wiggle room to transform a situation. It might not follow a formula someone recommended to you but are you comfortable enough with God to let Him lead you in a way unique to your situation? Following someone else’s formula isn’t always the best plan–but following God is!

Dig into His Word and seek His face. You might consider what those around you have to say but listen with discernment. When you adopt a formula, you are taking the lead. It is hard for God to lead when we are in the way!

At the Cross

This has always been a favorite song for me. The tune is simple but the words are powerful…I pray you are able to release all difficult situations in your life into God’s care!

At the Cross

I know a place, a wonderful place
Where accused and condemned
Find mercy and grace
Where the wrongs we have done
And the wrongs done to us

Were nailed there with Him
There at the cross

At the cross,
At the cross
He died for our sin
At the cross,
At the cross
He gave us life again

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/v/vineyard/

Seasons

I do love the routine of the seasons although there are some seasons I like better than others. I like the general predictability of the seasons within a year but even the “unseasonal” events make life interesting.

I have always enjoyed the seasons of parenting and rarely wished the days away. I enjoyed each moment as it came. And if I was in an ugly moment, I knew that it would change shortly. When it was a sweet moment, I savored it knowing it would also move quickly to the next.

I also enjoy the seasons of the Church Year. Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. It is a very busy week at our church for the entire staff. It probably is at yours as well. There are many people putting in many hours of preparation. Pray for your pastors, musicians, janitorial staff, secretaries, bulletin designers, printers and collators. Pray for the many who will attend church only because it is expected in their family. Pray for God’s Word to be preached effectively and for many ears to hear the Gospel, pure and true.

And as you travel through this Holy Week, consider the walk Jesus took for you. Pray for a greater integration of His gifts of love, mercy, and forgiveness into your life. As His gifts pour out into your life let them flow unrestricted to those around you!

Are You Stuck in a Bad Chapter?

Ever wonder how King David from the Old Testament (shepherd boy, giant slayer, and man after God’s own heart) could possibly walk so close with God and then end up so far away from God by committing adultery, murder, and failing to protect his family? It happened just one step at a time. An unchecked heart and unconfessed sin can lead both you and I astray very quickly. David’s story didn’t end there…and ours doesn’t need to either….

Sometimes we think receiving faith in Jesus as Savior eliminates all of our temptations and rebellious, sinful decisions. It isn’t true, but it sure would be nice. We do, however, get to experience the nudging of our conscience from the Holy Spirit. You and I can try to stifle and smother those promptings and go our own wanton way for a long, long time but the consequences will catch up to us eventually.

Don’t try to still the small voice of God. Confessing your sin will be a turning point in a difficult chapter of your life. Consequences won’t likely be eliminated but God can and will grow you in His love and grace.

God can redeem all situations and longs to be reconciled with you!