And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We certainly must do what we can to guard our hearts and our minds. And going to God in prayer in every situation looks like the first line of defense. There are times that seeking God has fallen off my “to do” list. I get overwhelmed with the tasks ahead of me and I “save time” by plowing ahead — ungirded, disconnected, and underprepared.
We are in the world and we can fall prey to worldly things so easily. As we present every situation to God, He uses that time to send us His peace and protection. That peace of God can flood our conversations, our schedule, our tasks … our day.
Let’s do a five day challenge this week. 5 days of intentional prayer time. If you are in, let me know and send me one of your top verses via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the next 4 days we will start each day with a PrayerPoint.
For today, take time to present your day to God. What is on the calendar? How do you feel about what is on the calendar? Think of the mundane tasks as well as the overwhelming ones. Walk through your commitments, but don’t forget to pray for those gaps. Is there some space for God’s agenda? Are we booking each day so solidly that there is no room to move and be flexible?
These past few weeks I have been listening to a wide range of perspectives and attitudes. The range of beliefs and “truths” is mind-boggling. The range of experiences are eye-opening. And, as expected, there are a lot of suggested solutions out there.
Something has to change. There is death and destruction in this world. And, yet, there are good things happening in the world, too. It is important to see both because only seeing the death can be heart-wrenching and lead one to hopelessness. However, if one only focuses on the “good”, the picture is incomplete. There is clearly a wide range of both.
We are clearly not there yet. And where is there, anyway?
From my perspective, we will never get to the place where this world is perfect and safe for all. This is Earth, after all. Unfortunately, all people in all stages of life will not be cared for and protected. And, sadly, there will always be hunger. While our “technology” is advancing in amazing ways since the beginning of time, our interpersonal skills have not. Our hearts are wicked. Sin abounds. We haven’t figured out how to stop murdering one another and retaliating wrongs. But that doesn’t mean we stop working towards it.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV
We should not be surprised how quickly avenging can turn to revenging. Nor should we be shocked at the bitterness stored up in the hearts of people.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32 NIV
We should take a long hard look at ourselves. Cumulative and lasting change comes when our hearts are reconciled with God. And, even then, there will not be true “peace on Earth”. But, as people are reconciled to God and recognize their propensity toward sin and seek to turn away from it, there is hope. As we each walk towards God, from wherever we are in the world, we are headed in the same direction. And God changes our hearts to be more like His. And we can work with God to bridge the cavernous divides.
There is no true healing apart from the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It starts with me and my heart — when I let God take away my “justified response” and my anger. There are many, many ugly things that happen in life to many of us. If we choose to harbor unforgiveness, we are choosing a life of bondage. One great book that I have read and re-read through the years is by R.T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness. I have bought multiple copies and given them away. I don’t do that very often for books.
As I listen, there is hurt, loss, injustice, and anger as well as a lot of justification for violence and further killing. Dwelling in an ugly place with people who are angry only brings more ugliness. I continue to listen to a wide range of perspectives, but I will hear them through God’s Word. I can’t listen to the voices of the day without hearing the words and the proposed solutions and comparing them to what is in God’s Word. There is, and will always be, a lot of false prophets out there — wolves in sheeps clothing. But there are a lot of voices who, though human, who offer a lot of Godly insight, rooted in Scripture.
Observing the world from the comfort of my own space is risk-free. I can stay within my walls.
The photo for today is from a castle I recently visited in Austria. The walls are so thick and for good reason. That is a part of what protects. The window can provide the opportunity to view what is happening, though it makes it difficult to engage.
Hurt people hurt people. And that is when walls are built and reinforced. If the wounds are never dealt with, simple barriers become a fortress. Living within a fortress doesn’t allow for much engagement with the world. It is a maze of stone cold passageways designed to protect the heart. But it also doesn’t allow a heart to grow in its capacity to love. Unfortunately, that is a form of captivity.
I am thankful that Jesus came to set the captives free. I am thankful for His healing, redemption, forgiveness and His heart-soothing love.
Do you have a friend you can call on to refresh your heart? That person who can listen and encourage you when the day, week, or month has been more than you can bare?
There is nothing like a friend who hears your circumstance, will pray for you, and tell you the truth about God’s love! It is so essential for my heart! My circumstances may remain but a good friend helps me see beyond the situation and, hopefully, can help me see a Kingdom perspective.
A friend like this is a treasure. And if you have one, hold tight! They are worth more than their weight in gold.
Thank you, Father, for blessing me with amazing friends. When I lose my way or lose sight of You, I am thankful they will help me see You and the work You are doing in my life!
We have been on the road for the last five days (Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Phoenix) and we have driven through quite a variety of terrain and weather conditions. Some of the places were quite sparse. As we drove quickly by, it didn’t look like there was too much life out there but a good naturalist will let you know that indeed there is, even if there doesn’t appear that way.
And I got to thinking, sometimes we look at someone’s life (maybe our own) and we think there isn’t anything of value there. From the outset there seems to be not too much life, but we never really know what is going on in the heart.
I am one that has a tendency towards “hope”. If I lose something, I am hopeful to find it and if I am surrounded by situations that aren’t great, I am looking for hope to hold onto. So even as I look at this picture and it’s lack of color and seeming lack of life, I know better. I know there are things going on “behind the scenes”.
I am thankful for all the times that God has worked on my heart even when I didn’t know or understand it. How He has given me life and purpose even if it appears there is little life on the surface.
There are seasons that look desolate, but God is always working, shaping, encouraging, and tending to my soul.
We may look at someone and decide they are flourishing the way God wants them to by all outward appearances, but we may be completely wrong. So let’s not make a judgement either way — truly, only God knows the heart.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV]
So don’t let appearing “all together” be your goal. Let God work on your heart and things will flow from there.
When I am asked to serve someone I care deeply for, it is a joy. When I am asked to serve a stranger, I might also do it with joy. But, as human nature would have it, if I am asked to serve someone I know and I do not like, I need to ask God to change my heart and perspective and focus on Who I am doing it for. When my heart and mind are right with God, the “serve” is all from Him, regardless of the situation.
If I find myself stuck and unable to freely give, it is important to pray and ask God to reveal what is behind it. I know I won’t do everything perfectly. Sometimes situations are in my life for my benefit. Serving others could be simply a byproduct of God working on my heart and perspective. Someone may receive from me but the greater outcome is what God is doing with my heart.
I don’t believe I am meant to fulfill every need that is out there. But creating space in my day can allow me to be available to serve when the opportunity presents itself. The task might be a meal delivered to a grieving family or participating in a Habitat for Humanity home build. Sometimes the opportunity for serving is in my zone of “easy” and other times it takes more time, effort, and money. There is no one way serving looks except that it comes from a heart that overflows.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. [Colossians 3:23-24 NIV]
Blessings to you as you ponder your capacity for serving others!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Apparently I am in a season of life where there is a lot of traveling. I enjoy it, most of the time. It is definitely different and sometimes I feel scattered. Sometimes I am scattered because the trips are back-to-back and I am bound to forget something.
Scatter(ed) can certainly be a state of being, but it can also be a state of doing.
Are you actively dispersing things as you travel through life? It might be physical things, of course, but it can also be thoughts or ideas or faith or encouragement or courage or love or a smile. If you are out there, sharing with the world, have you considered that your contributions might be neutral yet are more likely negative or positive?
Sometimes I am super grumpy or overtired or guilty. Unfortunately, those are not generally the moments when I am “feeling the love” so I scatter seeds of negativity. If I am in a really bad space, I not only embrace my own habitual skepticism, I give it away to everyone I come in contact with whether I know them or not. Those seeds can land on fertile soil and become a nasty weed, seemingly overnight. Like a virus, it can quickly pass from person to person until the space where I am (and the trail from whence I came) is littered with negativity.
When I am in a good space, I can be reckless with my giving. I share without reservation. I am patient and can hear and see and feel and can give all day long, fueled by a grateful heart. I am full of love and grace and peace. Those things can also be quickly passed along and affect those all around me.
Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. [Luke 6:44-46 NIV]
It is important to think about those things you are storing up in your heart because those concepts will come out in the way of words and actions; it will be what you scatter! Breathe in the good and exhale it. If you intake bad, interrupt the cycle by putting out good.
You might find you need to go into a place where the air is pure, particularly with all the toxicity in the world today. It’s true, there is nothing new under the sun but the rate negativity can be spread is astounding.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. [Philippians 4:8 NIV]
Our focus fills our heart and then comes out of our mouths and through the work of our hands.
For the 40 days leading up to Easter I will post what I am learning during my Lenten journey. You are welcome to join me and share your thoughts as well. If I only focus on things from my limited viewpoint, I miss out on the bigger picture. But when I intentionally focus on God’s Word, He alters my perspective on my circumstances and challenges. The insights I glean are PrayerPoints.
Each day I will post a Psalm and I will share the verse or verses that stood out for me that day as well as some related thoughts. I would love to know which verses stood out for you (and why) if you are inclined to share. To gain the most benefit from PrayerPoints, I encourage you to read through the Psalm of the day, either silently or aloud, with a pencil or highlighter in hand to make notes. We might be drawn to the very same verse within the Psalm or we might not be–it all depends on our circumstances and on what God is working on within each of us. That, my friends, is the beauty of God’s Word.
Psalm 51:10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
A pure heart. Can you even imagine having a pure heart?
My selfish desires and my limited perspective always seems to get in the way of any purity. But the more I am connected to God and His Word, the more I sense Him bringing my impurities to the surface. If you know me, I am sure you have encountered my impurities. They seem to make an appearance every day in some form or fashion. And, sometimes I want to hold onto those impurities and not let God have His way with my heart.
Why do I resist His work on my heart?
I think because there are some attitudes I feel rather justified in having.
Been pushed around one time too many?
Been taken advantage of?
Trusted someone who you now know was untrustworthy?
Pure hearts are hard to come by. I know I don’t have one. But as I walk more closely with Jesus, the easier it is to see my impurities. As I allow Him to cleanse my heart and my mind, it does renew my spirit and gives me strength for the days ahead.
The focus verse for this week is above. If you already know it, great! If it is one you would like to “hide in your heart” then write it, seek it, ponder it, share it, look it up and read the verses around it. All these thing will help you commit it to memory!