Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Choose your battles and fight them through prayer!

There's a popular phrase and a sound piece of advice floating around that sounds a little like this; "Choose your battles wisely." It's a warning and a reminder of sorts that we need to pick our battles wisely. There are sometimes we just aren't going to get anywhere much less come up with a win. It's up to us to weigh in the situation and find whether it's worth fighting for or if we simply need to let it go and keep walking.

In Matthew 5, verse 39, Jesus tells says, "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." In other words, sometimes you have to take the blow and keep walking. There's a time to fight and a time to turn the other cheek.

But this isn't the end of the advice given by Jesus here in Matthew. In fact, just a few verses down in Matthew 5:44, Jesus says to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." In the physical world around us, yes, there are battles that we must pick to fight or simply walk away from. Spiritually, in the battle  between good and evil forces working behind the scenes, the battle is never an option. We are called to join at all times by joining in prayer for those we are up against.

Life happens and we may not like the way things turn out. A lot of anger comes from situations and circumstances that we have no control over. It would be easy to walk away and physically, we may need to, but spiritually we need to recognize just who is really at work here and determine to fight back with time spent on our knees in prayer. Sometimes it's not so obvious to us that Satan is moving among situations occurring in our lives, but we need to open our eyes and be aware of his attacks. We must be ready for them and choose to take action by taking it to the Lord in prayer.

There is no task, no situation, no circumstance, no person for that matter that the Lord cannot work a mighty miracle in. Praying for our enemies is praying for another chance to be a light in the life of someone who is lost or has stumbled from the path. The power of the church, the power of the believers, is prayer. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). Physically, choose your battles wisely. Spiritually, get up and fight through prayer for greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world (I John 4:4).

Friday, July 9, 2010

Quench Summer Thirst


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Have you ever noticed how everything seems to slow down when the school year begins to wrap up? I’m not even in school nor do I have children, but I can feel the atmosphere of restlessness and anticipation for summer vacation. The temperature is rising and our body is slowing down. Lazy days of summer are here and it’s time to redeem all of that vacation time!

Ecclesiastes  3:1 tells us “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” We have entered a time of rest and relaxation; a time when we can rejuvenate our bodies physically with some down time around the pool, on the road with family, or on the couch for a quiet afternoon.

Our body is not the only thing that needs a time of refreshment. Our soul seeks the Lord and works within us daily leading us on the path the Lord has chosen for us. To keep up the pace, we spend time in the Word of God refilling ourselves with His truth, yet we may find ourselves running on spiritual empty over the summer when our guard is down and our routine Bible study is on hiatus. This is something we have to be prepared to handle.

In Psalm 63:1, David writes of how his soul thirsts for God and longs for him as in a dry and weary land. Just as we stock up on bottled water and sunblock for all of those fun hours in the sun, we need to make sure we keep our soul hydrated routinely and anoint it with the oil of prayer and time in the Word of God.
 
When prepping for vacation this summer, don’t forget to prep the soul! Throw in a devotional book, inspirational novel, or a daily reading of the Word along with the other essentials. Jesus says that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Now that's refreshing!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Freedom

Dwelling on the 4th of July weekend brought many thoughts to mind about our freedom as a country, as American citizens, and as individuals in Christ. The first thoughts that came to mind were of America's freedom and the price it cost hundreds of thousands of soldiers from all military branches, all ages, race, and sex. Freedom, as they say, is not free. Sure, maybe it is for us but that's because we're reaping the benefits and blessings of a generation before us that gave their lives for that freedom. What are we doing now for the generations of tomorrow?

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1).

Galatians 5:1 reminds us that the first act of sacrifice in exchange for freedom was demonstrated by Jesus Christ. He chose to give His sinless life as a sacrifice on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Him. It is Christ that commands that we lay down our lives and make sacrifices for those we love. It is His example and His commands that make up the foundation of America and the principles used by our Founding Fathers to establish this Nation.

Notice the last part of Galatians 5:1, which states "stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." It's an outright cry that we not allow ourselves, individuals who have been set free in Christ, to be sucked back into the guilt and burdens of our sin believing that all freedom and hope is lost. Christ paid the price, don't refuse it, stand up for it. The same can be said for the freedom we have as Americans. Men and women have fought to set us free, so why are we letting ourselves be talked right out of our freedoms?

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate the freedom we have and honor those who died protecting such a freedom. Let it also be a reminder of the ultimate freedom we have received in Christ. Above all, let it be a reminder that we are in fact free, but it is not free, it was bought with a price and will continue to require such sacrifice. Are we willing to stand firm?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Umbrellas of Life

It's a rainy day here in not so sunny Florida. Just moments ago my dog Dakota and I were out in the downpour. It was only sprinkling when I suggested a quick walk. Naturally, by the time we got outside the sprinkling turned into a light mist, which eventually became a steady rain.

There was no sign of lightning and no sounds of thunder, so I took out my umbrella and off we went. Cars drove by and passengers stared, probably wondering what in the world we were doing. Dakota was soaked, but trotting along happy to play in the rain. I held tightly to the umbrella and continued walking in the downpour amazed at the way the umbrella kept me dry.

In life, God makes sure we have access to a variety of umbrellas to protect us from the world around us. Before we were born, Jesus gave His life for us providing us with a covering of forgiveness, salvation, and life everlasting. When we entered this world, our parents became a field of protection teaching us right from wrong. Growing up, friends came alongside us forming a buffer between us and the distractions of the world. Even now, friends and family continue to cover us in prayer.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us, "since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

We are not alone on this journey. God has graciously provided us with numerous umbrellas and "cloud of witnesses" to encourage, and support us along the way! Let us be strong in the Lord and run the race He has given us in life.