Praying First

One time there was a boy at church who got sick. His grandma said she’d ask the church to pray for him. He asked her, “Grandma, am I that sick?” He wasn’t very sick, but that’s how we sometimes look at prayer: something to do when nothing else is left.

Prayer should be our first response. When something bad happens, we should talk with God about it first. When something good happens, we should talk with God about it first. When we need help, when we find something to be thankful for, we should naturally seek to express that to our Creator. But so often we try to do things ourselves before we even think about asking God for help. So often we just enjoy things as if we got them on our own, without even thinking to thank God for them. We sometimes forget to pray when starting projects or starting our days – sometimes even in church ministry!

In the words of A. J. Gordon: “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”

We often don’t realize how empowering and encouraging it is to pray. If we started everything with prayer instead of putting it off until we couldn’t see another option, we would accomplish so much more! If we stopped to thank God for each of our blessings, we would notice more of them and be much happier!

It takes time and effort to train your first response to be that of prayer, but you can pray about it to help!

More on prayer:
On Earth as in Heaven
A Little Bit on Praying
The Prayer of a Child
Praying for ALL
Keep Praying
A Prayer Lesson Learned

Sickness, Mortality, and God’s Grace

I’ve been sick lately, and it has been very frustrating – sinus pressure to the point of balance issues, sweating for no external reason, muscle fatigue over little exertion. I haven’t been this sick in a long time, but at least I’m feeling better today! I realize I’ve not had a major, life-altering event or an epiphany, I have just begun to learn something this week.

I don’t like being suboptimal. I don’t like being restricted from things that I can normally do just fine. I’ve found myself talking to God about it, asking for patience and grace so I don’t get too upset. It has gotten me thinking a bit about my mortality. I haven’t felt like I’m going to die, but I have felt some limitations that may be like ones that creep up on me naturally as I age. Hopefully I’ll handle them with more grace and less frustration than I have this week. Maybe I’ll age slowly enough to just get used to it as I go. Either way, I know that I have God to ask for help.

Being mortal has its limitations. As a young whipper-snapper, I haven’t felt many yet, but I realize there are limitations, and more will come. Regardless of age and health, God is aware of our mortality and the limitations thereof. God always has these in mind when interacting with us, so we don’t have to worry about Him asking us to do more than He will help us handle. No matter how easy or difficult life gets, God is always there with sufficient grace!

Strikes Me Interesting – Taking Care of the Earth

We talk a lot about taking care of the earth and the environment. While the topic can be riddled with misinformation and conflicting political interests, it is interesting that we do realize we’re supposed to take care of our surroundings. On the one hand, it is logically in our best interests. On the other hand, it is God’s idea for us in the first place.

When we look at the beginning of humanity in Genesis 1 and 2, we find that this responsibility of caring for the earth was God’s idea. We humans need responsibilities, and God gave us plenty. We’re really good at ruining things though, but this doesn’t mean we can’t learn and do better. It doesn’t mean we aren’t still responsible for what we do with the things God gave us.

Now I’m not saying we need to go overboard and never touch anything again. We need the resources all over this planet, and God gave them to us to use. I am saying that we need to be good stewards of what God gave us, using things wisely. It is both a moral and logical thing to do.

Friendly Encouragement

I’ve noticed that having good friends helps me be a better person. Actively and passively, I’m encouraged by friends. Through words and actions, a friend can encourage me to do the right thing. Through just being themselves, a friend can encourage me to adjust my own behavior for the better. Through conversations about God and life, I’m encouraged for whatever is going on in my life.

Through friendship, I learn more about give and take. I learn more about compromise. I learn more about communicating better. And sometimes there’s a little friendly competition that encourages me to work harder at something, physically, spiritually, and otherwise!

A bit more on friendship:
Good Friends
Good Friendships
Choose Wisely – Friends and Company

God Trusting Us

We are supposed to trust God. After all, He’s the most trustworthy person we’ll ever know! There are plenty of life lessons we learn as Christians about trusting God, both from the Bible and our own experiences. But sometimes we don’t talk about how God trusts us, and whether or not He can.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 and 1 Timothy 1:11-12 we see Paul talking about being entrusted with the Gospel. (For a bit more on that: Entrusted Deposit)

In Matthew 25:14-30 we see a parable about a master entrusting servants to steward and invest for him, like God gives us abilities, skills, and resources to use for His Kingdom.

In James 4:2-4 we see that sometimes God can’t and won’t give us things, because we ask for the wrong things for the wrong reasons and wouldn’t use them correctly.

In John 2:24-25 we see Jesus not trusting or having faith in the people that had come to Him (look up the original Greek here, it’s interesting), because He knew He shouldn’t.

In Luke 16:10-13 we see Jesus talking about trust in accordance or proportion to faithfulness.

By the way you currently live your life, how much is God able to trust you? How much can He trust you to carry, to hold, to handle, to share, to invest? If you are faithful in little, God can trust you with more. If you are unfaithful with little, God cannot trust you with more.

The Value of Wisdom

I’ve been reading in Proverbs for my Bible reading in the past few days, and it repeats a lot of things about wisdom. It talks about how wisdom is more valuable than precious physical things like silver, gold, and rubies. It talks about listening to those who are wise, heeding instruction from those who are trying to teach you wisdom. It says you should get wisdom, seek it, run after it. It talks about wisdom calling out loudly and clearly for those who need wisdom to come to her. It talks about holding wisdom close, keeping it near and never letting it go. It talks about wisdom being with God. It talks about fearing and reverencing God being the beginning of wisdom.

Wisdom is very important, and it isn’t just for certain people. Wisdom calls for everyone. Wisdom is important for daily life. Wisdom will help you with everything. Wisdom is valuable in a way you can’t put a physical price on. Wisdom is with God and He freely gives it!

More on wisdom:
Gaining Wisdom
Marks of Wisdom
Pure Wisdom

Diet and Exercise

A week or so ago, I was talking with a friend about how prayer, Bible reading, increasing faith, and building trust in God all go with each other. Each one causes an increase in the others, further increasing each one in a productive circle. We came to the conclusion that it’s just like diet and exercise: Eating right makes you feel more energetic and like exercising, and exercising makes you feel more like eating healthy.

When becoming more like Jesus and building your life around God, you don’t just do one spiritual thing to the exclusion of the others, you do all of them. You may focus on only one at a time, but they all build on each other. Reading your Bible will make you want to talk more with God, and talking with God will make you want to read more of His words. It’s as if we were made to both pray and read our Bibles. It’s as if we were made to diet and exercise.

Word Ripples

I’ve heard sayings and a song about how words are like stones tossed into water, causing ripples to form that reach farther than the stone did. Toss a word of anger out, and its affects can last a long time in more places than you thought it could. Toss a word of kindness out, and its affects can last a long time in more places than you thought it could. So frequently we disregard the power words have, both with others and ourselves.

Sometimes I’ll just toss a stone into the water and don’t watch all the ripples. I do this with words sometimes, too. I may not know just how far those ripples reached, but reach they did, good or bad.

Sometimes a word hits or disturbs something under the water, causing more than just ripples. You might awaken something that needs to be awakened and moved, and now it swims around productively. Or you might injure something that writhes in pain, thrashing and disturbing the water more. Whatever it is, it can stay that way long after you’re gone.

Be careful of the stone you toss into the waters. Proverbs 13:3, 18:21; Matthew 12:36-37; Ephesians 4:29; Luke 6:45

Suffering for Jesus

In Sunday School yesterday, we talked about dying and suffering for Jesus. We all like to think we’d make the right choice under threat and die for Jesus, and we probably would. But are we willing to suffer for Jesus before then?

If I die for Jesus, then it’s all over and I don’t have to worry about it. But suffering means I have to be doing something about it and making some life choices. In class the questions were asked: Am I willing to lose my job, my livelihood, for believing in Jesus? Am I willing to put my family in danger for Jesus? Am I willing to have my children, even very young children, taken from me because I believe in Jesus?

People across the world who don’t have the freedoms I do, they are suffering for Jesus already. And regardless of when you believe the Rapture will happen, I get the idea from the Bible that things are going to get very, very bad before then, regardless of location or previous freedoms. Suffering for believing in Jesus isn’t new, and it didn’t go away after the “olden days” of early Christians.

Jesus told us we’d suffer and He told us it would get bad, but even that will be good and Jesus will still be with us. (Luke 21:12-19). Remember that last part: Even in the midst of suffering and persecution, Jesus is with you! (See also the story of Stephen in Acts 6-7.)

More on the topic:
Is This Persecution?
What You Sign On For
A Bit on Suffering
Strikes Me Interesting – Persecution
Persecution? Hooray!
Present and Future Persecution

Foresight and Procrastination

This morning I was moving things from my room to another room, in preparation for new floors to be put down. While moving things I had to put them away in a different place, with the knowledge that I’ll be moving them again when the floors are done. I left some of it on my bed in the temporary room, telling myself I’d put it away later. But then I thought, “Will I want to do it later? Will I regret putting it off when I could just do it now and not have to worry about it? I’m going to have to do it anyway, whether it’s sooner or later.”

I’m great at procrastinating. If I don’t have to do something right away, I probably won’t. But I’ve also picked up some foresight as I’ve grown, and sometimes that encourages me to do something sooner than later. If I leave something out or undone, I’ll just have to think about it later. What if I don’t have time later? Maybe someone else will be stuck with it. Unless I’m willing to live with that or have it hanging in the back of my mind, I’ll just take care of it while I’m there and thinking about it.

Whether it’s moving stuff, doing work, cleaning things, bettering yourself, or whatever good and productive thing that needs doing, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tom– I mean, don’t put it off, just do it now! The sooner it’s done, the less you’ll have to think (or worry) about it. And then you’ll be done!