Praying People

How do you look at authority? What thoughts come to your mind when you hear that word? Do you think of government leaders? Do you respect government leaders? Do you respect those put in authority over you? Do you pray for them?

Our political environment is one explosion after another. One side throws a punch and the other throws one right back. People on both sides of the political divide antagonize one another. It seems there is no agreement on anything with almost no progress being made.

We, as Christians, are not to be caught up in the fray. We are to pray for our leaders, whether we like them or not. It may be that we didn’t vote for who won or don’t like the way that person talks or the attitude they portray when shown in public. It doesn’t matter. We are to pray for them.

That may be difficult for some of us to do. If it is, we need to look inside ourselves. You see, if we can’t pray for them, we are hurting ourselves and our fellow citizens. When we aren’t praying for our leaders, we are not asking God to work in our leaders. We are leaving them up to their own devices.

I know, sometimes we think they won’t listen anyway—even to God. If we think that, we don’t have a very high opinion or trust in God. Praying for our leaders is important for them, for us, for our city, county, state, and national governments. It is important for this world. If we want to make a difference, we must pray for them.

Now, that doesn’t mean we are to pray for them to do exactly what we want. We should pray that God work in their lives, guide them to make decisions that are pleasing to Him, that follow His will for us. We should pray that they listen for God’s guidance and adhere to it.

Praying for our leaders, our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers, and fellow Christians being persecuted around the world is important. We need to be praying every day, multiple times per day. We need to be a praying people.

I pray that we all spend time every day praying. I pray we pray for our government leaders. I pray each one of us set aside our own desires and pray that God’s will be done. Pray each day. Pray for government leaders. Pray for family. Pray for friends. Pray for co-workers. Pray for persecuted Christians. Pray that God’s will be done.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Sincere Love

How well do you love? Do you love sincerely? Are you devoted to loving others? Do you honor others with love? Do you share the same love that God has for you?

We see a lot of hate in our world. It may be two countries who have been warring with one another for decades that we see continuing to squabble. It may be two groups of people who despise one another. It may simply be a couple of people arguing two opposing points.

Not all arguments are a result of hate. Many of them are a result of passionate beliefs that happen to oppose one another. Often the passion gets in the way of learning the opposing viewpoint. Though this may not be hate, it is also not love.

Hate is a very strong word. Yet, so is love. Love is the only thing that can overcome evil. Love will overcome disagreement. Love will overcome obstinance. Love will overcome discord. Love will overcome jealousy. Love will overcome hate.

We are to be passionate people. We are to be passionate about loving others. We are to be committed to loving others. Being passionate and committed to loving others puts us in God’s will for our lives. It helps us to see others the way God sees them. We see their struggles. We see their faults and love them anyway.

As we pursue and grow in the same kind of love God has for us, we see the entire world differently. Our lives change for the better. We have more joy. We have hope. Our patience is improved. We become more faithful. We are more willing to forgive.

Our love increases when we realize that God loves us. We often acknowledge God loves us intellectually, but we don’t fully comprehend it in our hearts. When we finally do, our whole outlook on life will change. We will have passion for the things that God has a passion for.

If we don’t yet fully comprehend how much God loves us, we should pray. We should pray every day that God show us how much He loves us. We should spend more time with other Christians, especially those that we see are mature and love like God does. We should ask questions and study God’s Word. God will reveal His love to us.

I pray each of us come to realize God’s love for us. I pray we all devote ourselves to love others. I pray we develop a sincere love for God and for others. Seek to understand God’s love for you. Pray that He reveals His love for you. Decide to love others as God loves you.

Romans 12:9-13 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Be Merciful

Are you merciful? Do you show mercy to others? Do you know what mercy means? Have you looked to see what God means by mercy?

Mercy seems to be a rare commodity today. We just don’t see much of it going on. We especially don’t see it in our daily news. We see anything but mercy. Although, occasionally, we see a small bit of mercy.

If we are going to show mercy to others and look for mercy in our world, we need to know what mercy is. We particularly need to know what God means when He tells us to show mercy. In our passage today, we see Jesus say we are to be merciful just as God is merciful.

If we were to just look at this passage alone, we would apply our human definition to mercy. However, if we look at the previous few verses, we find how Jesus describes mercy. His description is a little different than we might expect.

Jesus includes loving those who don’t love us and loving our enemies. He includes doing good for our enemies. He includes lending to our enemies without expecting being paid back. His definition is certainly not what we normally think of when we think of mercy.

How can we be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful? We certainly can’t do it on our own. We need the help of God to be able to show mercy as He does. We need His Spirit working in our lives to even think about showing mercy like that.

Perhaps you don’t think God shows mercy that way. If not, I want you to think about what God does for you. I want you to think about being an enemy of God’s. That may sound odd, but we are enemies of God’s in one respect. We don’t obey Him. We don’t listen to Him. We don’t live our lives in accordance with His will. What would we call that? At a minimum, it’s being a disobedient child.

Yet, God continues to bless us. He continues to love us. He continues to give to us knowing we can never repay Him. He continues provide us with a way to be saved and spend eternity with Him. If we are going to be merciful as He is, we must ask Him to work in our lives so we can treat others as He treats us.

I pray each of us will decide to ask God into our lives and fill us with His Spirit. I pray we desire to be merciful as God is. I pray we all stop, think, and realize our opposition to God’s ways and ask Him to change our lives. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you. Realize you act as an enemy of God. Seek to change your ways. Learn to be merciful as God is merciful. You can trust God.

Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Counting theCost

Have you ever gotten just what you wanted, then realize it didn’t satisfy you like you thought it would? Have you thought you were doing what you were meant to do only to realize it really didn’t suit you? What do you do when this happens?

We often think we know what we want. We see something that looks nice and we pursue it. In many cases, we don’t know much about it, we simply know it looks nice. Or, worse yet, it is a popular thing to desire so we desire it, too.

It can be especially bad, if what we desire is a job that doesn’t fit us. That can turn out very bad if we give up a good job to take it. It can also turn very bad for us if the change costs us lots of money. We become dissatisfied even more. We see all it cost us in money and perhaps in prestige. The cost can be high.

How can we ensure we are making the right decisions? How can we ensure we want to make the right decisions? We can research the item we want to purchase, and we can research the job we want to apply for. Yet, that will only happen if we truly want to make the right decision.

It may be harsh to think and more so to say, but if we aren’t desiring to make right decisions, we are being foolish. Making the wrong decision will cost us. It is only when we realize these truths that we are able to desire making the right decision for our lives.

This is not only true for making decisions about purchases and jobs, it is also true when it involves our eternal lives. It is only when we come to the realization our lives will come to an end one day and there are only two options for spending our eternal lives, that we decide to investigate those options.

There is a cost to everything. That includes the cost on our eternal life. The wise person will count that cost. Making a decision one way will have one cost while making different decision has a different cost. To make an educated decision, we need to spend time looking at the options. We need to look at both short term and long-term costs.

Our best guidance will come from God. As we look to make decisions, we need to spend time in prayer. Through prayer God speaks to us. Prayer must be a two-way conversation. We are to lay out our requests, yes, but we are also to listen.

I pray we all decide to make the right decisions for our lives. I pray we do proper research to educate ourselves. I pray each of us will spend time in prayer, both requesting and listening. Count the costs. Do your research. Educate yourself. Spend time in prayer. Listen for God’s guidance. God will guide you down the right path.

Luke 14:27-28 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

Fear of Authorities

Do you experience fear regularly? What causes you to be fearful? Are you afraid you will get caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing? Are you afraid of the punishment you will receive for doing wrong?

We are used to being punished for doing wrong. As children, our parents punished us for doing something we weren’t supposed to do. Perhaps it was a spanking or sitting in a chair or being grounded or a serious tongue lashing. The punishment was a deterrent for doing bad things.

As we grow older our punishment changes into something entirely different. We find that our employers have a set of rules we must obey, or we may be fired. We fear we may get a speeding ticket if we exceed the speed limit and go by a police car. We also discover there are unwritten social decorum and fear it could cause us to be ostracized if we don’t follow them.

As we go through life, we discover many of these types of laws, rules, and unwritten rules. We find ourselves conforming to them, even if we do so unconsciously. Once we conform to the rules, they become second nature. We don’t think about them anymore.

Did you know that obeying authorities is something Paul wrote about? Paul tells the Roman Christians to obey the authorities and they would not need to fear them. These are the same Roman authorities that didn’t like Christians much and often found any reason whatsoever to punish them, even to the point of crucifying them. If Paul expected the Christians of the day to obey authorities that were looking to punish them, should we make an exception for ourselves today?

Paul expected those he wrote to, the Christians, to obey the authorities appointed over them. You see, Christians are to have a bigger picture view. They know this life is temporary. They know eternal life is coming. They know living forever in God’s presence is such an amazing reward that we cannot even fathom it. So, obeying authorities and bearing some small bit of pain on this earth is more than worth the trouble.

I pray we all understand we are to obey the authorities appointed over us. I pray we decide to be obedient to our parents, our bosses, our governments. I pray each one of us will make a personal commitment to live our lives as Paul expected the Roman Christians. Obey authorities. Do what is expected. Be the example for others. Have no more fear of authorities.

Romans 13:3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.

Peace of Jesus

Do you live in continual upheaval? Are you constantly seeing the world through a troubled viewpoint? Are you looking to change your outlook on life? Are you willing to change? Are you looking for peace? Will you accept the peace Jesus offers?

Our world is full of trouble. It is in constant chaos. There are injustices, upheaval, bigotries, illnesses, war, and threats of war. It seems all we see in the news is arguing, disgruntlement, and negative attitudes. There is rarely a good news story shown.

Though we live in this world, we don’t have to be of the same attitude. We can recognize all the chaos while still living at peace. In fact, we can be at peace while having nearly nothing as possessions. Most of us don’t believe that. We are caught up in the material world.

Jesus offers us the peace we seek. It isn’t easy for us to grasp it due to our continual desire to keep up with the Joneses. Yet when we do grasp this peace, we see the world in a completely different light. We see the brokenness and our hearts break. Yet we don’t desire more for ourselves rather we desire to give others the peace we have, not possessions.

It’s more than an attitude. It’s more than a simple viewpoint. It’s more than a change in lifestyle. It doesn’t include eliminating your possessions. It’s not giving all your money away. The peace of Jesus goes deep into your soul and fills you up.

His peace is a calmness and confidence that God is in control. It’s an assurance that even if this world hurts us, we know we have an eternal life of living with Him. It’s knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves us far more than we can fathom. His peace changes us from the inside out. It changes our viewpoint on life and attitudes, relieves our anxieties and fears, and allows us to see the world as He does.

Here’s the thing, Jesus offers His peace free for the taking. Will we take it? Our first step is being willing to accept it. We must trust Him. We must realize we cannot change everything about this world, but we can live in it with His peace, knowing He is in control.

I pray we all accept the peace Jesus offers. I pray we decide to live in His peace. I pray each one of us will trust God is in control, no matter the situation. Trust Jesus. Accept the peace He offers. Allow His peace to change you.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Actionable Faith

What do you have faith in? How big is your faith? How deep is your faith? Are you asking yourself if you have faith at all? Do you not know that everyone has faith in something or someone? How do you live out your faith?

Most people associate faith to religion. Though faith is certainly part of every religion, it is also part of every person’s life. We all have faith the sun will rise tomorrow. We all have faith there will be food for purchase at the grocery store. Most of us have faith our parents love us.

As stated earlier, faith is part of every religion. Personally, I’m not a big fan of religion. I do love God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I love learning more about God and His plan. I love investigating the history of the Bible, knowing about the characters and how God impacted their lives.

One thing the most important characters of the Bible had in common is their faith in God. Each of these characters had an active faith. They didn’t live on belief alone. Belief alone isn’t enough for God nor for us. James tells us in James 2:19 that even the demons believe and shudder.

Our faith must cause us to act. We cannot simply believe and expect to live the abundant life Jesus promised. Faith is belief and action together in combination. What action does our faith cause us to take?

We may step out in faith to pursue a new career, one that we believe God is calling us to pursue. We may step out in faith to walk up to a homeless person and buy them a meal. Our faith may cause us to decide to tithe more to our church or give to a charity.

Our faith is never more challenged than when we are in need. When we are desperate to find a solution to a problem, we often want the problem to go away. It is in times like these that we must rely on our faith, not to take unwarranted risks, but to trust that God will lead us down the path He wants us to take. Putting our faith into action during these times is challenging because God may take us down a path we either don’t want to go or we don’t feel equipped to follow. We must continue in faith with the assurance that God will provide, even if not in the way we would choose ourselves.

I pray we all grow in our faith. I pray we step out in faith to follow where God leads us. I pray each one of us will trust God to provide for us. Step out in faith. If you have belief, allow it to grow into actionable faith. Trust in God. He always provides.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Growing in Wisdom

Are you a loner? Do you shy away from large crowds? Do you prefer to be by yourself or perhaps in small groups? Do you use that as an excuse to stay home? Do you use it as an excuse to not attend church?

Some of us are do prefer to spend time by ourselves. We prefer meeting with just a friend or two rather than being in large crowds. We seem to be lost in large groups. Often, we aren’t comfortable walking up to others to start a conversation. In today’s world of social media, that seems to be growing more common.

I’ve taken those personality tests from time-to-time and I’m always indicated as an introvert. For those of us who are introverts, the social media explosion can just exacerbate the issue. We turn further inside and hunker down in our shell. This makes it hard to be sociable when in large crowds.

What can we do about this condition? I’ve found over the years there isn’t much we can do except force ourselves to walk up to someone and start a conversation when in a large crowd, even if it’s about something as passé as the weather. It may sound korny, but we have to force ourselves to take that step.

Why do we need to take that step? We are made by God to be a social people. We need interaction with others. We need to become, at least somewhat, comfortable in large crowds. Enough so as not to be overwhelmed with anxiety in them. Why?

We need to be in a crowd to attend church. You see, we need to go to church. We need to be around other Christians. We can’t be a Lone Ranger Christian. It is by being with other Christians, learning from them, that we grow in our knowledge and understanding of God. As stated in Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Paul tells us it is through the church that God reveals His wisdom. To become wise in God’s Word and to enrich our lives, we need to be active in the church. We need the others in the church and the others need us in the church. We all learn from our interactions with each other. God made us that way.

I pray we all decide to attend church. I pray we decide to gather and discuss God’s Word with one another. I pray each of us will seek to grow in knowledge and wisdom by being an active member of the church. Be with God’s people. Learn from other Christians. Grow in wisdom. Ask God to help you overcome your hesitancy.

Ephesians 3:10-12 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Live for Christ

How do you go about your daily life? How do you live day-to-day? What is your attitude toward living? Have you ever stopped to think about how you approach living your life? Who are you living for? Are you living for and in the Son of God?

We know our lives are busy in today’s culture. We know we are on the go from place to place, whether it’s physical places or virtual places. We know we are tasked to do this and do that and there is always something left undone. Are we just fumbling through each day or are we facing each day with a faith that will give us the strength we need to continue?

We can get bogged down and even overwhelmed by the demands placed on us. Too often, we add to those demands ourselves by not planning properly. We feel pressure from our boss, our family, our friends, or any number of other outside sources to be in multiple places at once. We put pressure on ourselves not to let people down. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing what we can to support others. In fact, we are called to do just that.

How do we continue to go on when we are being worn thin? We must be strengthened by something or someone else. If we are not, we will eventually collapse. What or who do we turn to for the strength we need? There is only One source that will provide us with it.

When we are crucified with Christ and no longer live as ourselves, we gain the strength of Christ. Obviously, this doesn’t mean physical crucifixion. It means we give up our preferences, our desires and focus on the desires of Christ. It means we live with His mindset. It means we live our lives to carry out His plan.

This is difficult for us to do. We are conditioned by our culture to do what we want to do. We are focused on ourselves rather than on God. We are looking to satisfy our wants before we attend someone else’s needs. When we live this way, we are not living for or in Christ.

God offers us a much better life than we can imagine. He offers us a life of love, joy, and peace. He desires us to follow His plan. When we decide to follow His plan, follow Jesus’ way of living, our lives become better than we have experienced before.

The difficulty we have is giving up our wants to satisfy the deeper need we have to live with God. We look at satisfying short term wants rather than satisfying the eternal need. Yet, when we focus on our eternal need, we find our short term wants are satisfied beyond what we hoped for.

I pray we all decide to live our lives for Jesus. I pray we determine to live in Him. I pray each of us seek His plan for our lives. Live for Christ. Live in Him and allow Him to live in you. Have faith in Jesus. Know that He gave Himself up for you. Give yourself up for Him.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ready at All Times

Are you ready at all times? Do you take time off from being ready? Are you looking forward to the day? Will you be ready if the day is today? Do you consciously think about being ready or simply stumble along?

Jesus tells us to be ready at all times. He states that we don’t know when we will meet Him face-to-face. No, I don’t believe He will come back riding on the clouds today. I do believe His warning for us is real.

Having recently finished leading a Bible study on the book of Revelation, I do not believe we are in the end times. The chaos we see in our world today is a drop in the bucket compared to what Revelation says will come prior to Jesus returning riding on a cloud.

I do believe Jesus truly meant we could meet Him on a moment’s notice. I believe what He was referring to is that we could find our time on this earth is up at any moment. We may say that, but I don’t believe we really believe it. Yet there are many reasons why it may come true.

We don’t talk about death much in our culture. Other cultures do, but we avoid it. Why? It is as natural as catching a cold. Each one of us will face it. Each one of us will go through it. When we do, we will face Jesus face-to-face or be held for judgment. If we are followers of His and ready to see Him, we will be with Him in heaven. If we are not His followers, we’ll be sent to Hades to await judgment. Hades is not Hell. It is a place of spiritual holding.

We are to be ready at all times. Jesus tells us we don’t know when the heart God gave us will stop. No, that is not a fatalist point of view, rather it is a realist point of view. Jesus will be there waiting for us. Do we want Him to welcome us with open arms or turn His back on us?

Folks, there are only two options when we leave this world. You don’t get a second chance. There is no reincarnation to work your way into His favor. We cannot believe the false teachings we hear. We must read our Bible and be able to discern sound teaching. We must be ready at all times.

I pray we take time to evaluate our current standing. I pray each one of us decides to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I pray we all are ready at all times. Be ready when your time comes. Be the servant waiting for the master to return. Look forward to the day you will go to heaven. Jesus has promised it and He keeps His promises.

Luke 12:35-38 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.”