Pigsty vs God’s House

How do you handle frustration? What is your reaction when things don’t go your way? Will you continue to wallow in your misery? Or, will you decide to give up feeling sorry for yourself and reach out to the One who can pull you up?

We see all manner of frustrations all around us today. There is the current pandemic that has people mostly staying home and, with the pandemic, comes the endless argument of “to wear a mask or not to wear a mask.” There is the racial unrest that has both peaceful protests and incited riots. There is the presidential election that is heating up with people rabidly standing on both sides, while some simply don’t even want to contemplate it. These are just three on the national stage, not to mention the daily frustrations we have in our individual lives. All of it can be overwhelming.

Our country is about as divided as it has been since the civil war. The odd thing about it is we will see people who disagree on one subject yet agree on another. So, we argue and fight on the one hand, then agree and stand together on the other. It can be quite confusing, and it creates a lot of chaos.

Our frustration level can reach a breaking point, if we are not well grounded. Even then, we can be pushed to our limit. It is only when we lean on God that we gain the strength to continue. He is patiently waiting for us to reach out to Him.

I’ve seen a lot of messages flying around on social media quoting Scripture and advising people to turn to God. Yet, I don’t see many people doing so with their actions. In fact, many of those who fling the Scriptures around don’t follow them. They remind me of an old saying that pointed out the hypocrisy of their actions, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

When we fail to follow the Scriptures, we continue to wallow in our pigsty. Rather than making changes for the good, we become comfortable in the mud and muck we are living in. Perhaps one day we will wake up and recognize just how bad our situation is and decide to reach to God for His help.

I pray we all decide to read, study, and ingest the Scriptures. I pray we reach out to God to pull us out of the pigsty we revel in. I pray each of us will open our eyes, recognize our situation, and move in a positive direction. Reach out to God. See your current situation and actions for what they truly are. Know that God has a better plan for you. Leave the pigsty behind to live in God’s presence.

John 15:17-20 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Always Loved

Do you sometimes feel as though you can do nothing right? Do you feel like the world is against you? Are there times when you feel defeated? Do you get down in the dumps and ready to quit? Do you not know that God loves you?

We can feel as though nothing in this world is going right. People can be downright hateful with us. Sometimes it is those we work with who are dumping all the work they don’t want to do on us. At other times, our friends seem to have turned their back on us. It could be our family wants nothing to do with us.

In my experience, it usually isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Often there is a misunderstanding, or our perspective is skewed. Of course, it could be as bad as we perceive it to be. If it is, we still have good news to rely on.

You see, God always loves us. No one nor nothing can separate us from His love. That is hard to comprehend when we are in the middle of a downturn. We forget that God is there, or we minimize it by saying, “Yeah, but He isn’t physically here for me.” Though He may not be there with us physically, He is always with us, and He continues to love us.

It is comforting to know that even demons cannot separate us from God’s love. We can rest assured that, if God continues to love us, He will pull us through whatever situation we are in. There may be a significant lesson for us to learn, but God will bring us through it. God often allows us to go through difficult situations in order for us to grow stronger. Yet, He never leaves us nor stops loving us.

Think about this from a parents’ perspective. Don’t we sometimes allow our children to fail or make mistakes in order for them to learn a lesson? We still love them. We are still there to help them pick up the pieces afterward. God does much the same with us. Perhaps the question for us is, do we believe He is with us and He continues to love us?

I pray we all come to the realization that God loves us. I pray we all come to know in our hearts that God is always with us. I pray each of us will ask God to show Himself in our lives. Know that God loves you. Know that God is always with you. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him to show His love for you. Trust God.

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Quiet and Rest

Do you take things for granted? Do you assume they will always be the way they are? Do you assume things will get better as you get older? Are you of the mind that nothing bad will ever happen to you? How is your relationship with God?

We often don’t realize what we have until we no longer have it. We’ve likely heard that phrase or something like it before. It’s a phrase that has been around so long it has become cliché. Yet, that doesn’t make it any less true.

This point is driven home when one of our loved ones becomes deathly ill or seriously injured or they pass away. All of a sudden, we are sorry for many things we’ve said and done. We wish we had done that one good thing we planned for them, but never got around to. Our minds will race with thoughts of why we took our loved one for granted. We will beat ourselves up and, perhaps, vow to never take anything or anyone for granted again…then tomorrow comes.

The fast-paced world we live in demands our attention at all times. The demands come from our jobs, our friends, our family, social media, and television. There are numerous tactics used to gain our attention, as varied as the source from which the demand comes. Perhaps it’s to ask a question, ask us to do something, or attempt to entice us to purchase something. Sometimes, it’s simply to draw our attention with no other motive other than to fill our time.

Though much of these attention gainers are designed to pull us into their sphere of influence, not all are frivolous. Some properly attempt to educate us and prepare us for a prosperous future. These are the ones we should pay particular attention to. Gaining knowledge and wisdom can improve our lives.

Despite the positives that can come from education, we all need to spend quiet time with God. This runs contrary to our entertainment and consumer culture. It is when we spend quiet time with God that we calm ourselves and can hear God speaking to us. It is in these quiet times, especially when spent in prayer, that we gain insight to what is truly happening all around us and where God wants us to go. As we see in today’s passage, Jesus had the apostles go with Him to a quiet place to rest. We all need the rest that God will grant us in the quiet.

I pray we all seek to spend quiet time with God. I pray we look for opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle of this world. I pray each of us spend quiet time in prayer, asking God to reveal Himself to us. Don’t take people or things for granted. Realize God has put them in your life for a reason. Seek the wisdom of God in quiet time. Ask God to show you what He has planned for you. Seek quiet and rest from God.

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Our Plan, God’s Plan

Do you spend time planning? Do you think through all the options and make wise choices? Have you planned out your retirement years, perhaps decades, down the road? What will you do when God disrupts your plans with His plan?

We often plan out our retirement, our vacations, our weddings, we may even plan out exactly when we are going to have children. Some of us may not plan anything beyond today. Planning ahead is a good thing, yet we need to be flexible at times.

God has plans for our lives as well. His plans often contradict our plans. His plans, also, often override our plans. How do we react when God’s plan alters our plans? We can go ahead with our plans, ignoring God, or we can be flexible and adhere to God’s plan.

There will be times when we have no choice, God will force our hand. At other times, God will provide us with a choice, and we must decide which path to take. Depending on the choice we make, God will provide more choices.

Our lives are made up of choices. God sees the tree or maze of choices that lie ahead of us. He knows which ones will move us along the path He wants us to take and the ones that will take us off the path. Is it possible this is the reason we should pray, asking for God’s guidance prior to making our choices? Do you suppose it is why we should stay in step with the Holy Spirit?

We make our plans. God has His plans. Whether we decide to follow God’s plan or be hard-headed and follow our own will determine how successful we are in life. It determines how much we have peace, calm, and joy in our lives.

As we follow the path of our lives, whether our plan or God’s, God is involved in our lives. He guides our steps, even if it means putting obstacles or other people in our lives to move us where He wants us to go.

Perhaps all we need to do is simply open our eyes, open our minds, and open our hearts to God. Perhaps we should allow God to guide our planning. Perhaps we might realize we are far better off by doing so.

I pray we realize God is guiding our steps. I pray we all seek God’s plan for our lives. I pray each of us will follow God’s plan rather than being hard-headed. Be flexible with your plan. Allow God to guide you. Follow God’s plan for your life. Trust that He knows the future of your life.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course,

but the Lord establishes their steps.

Words of Wisdom

Do you feel all alone? Are you someone who feels out of place in a room full of people? Do you struggle with making conversation? Are you worried about fitting in? Do you not know that you always fit into God’s plans?

We may find ourselves feeling out of place. We may be in an unfamiliar setting. We may be starting a new job or find ourselves at a conference or even going on a first date. We feel odd, out of place. In these situations, we may be shy about speaking to others.

Though feeling out of place is normal, we typically don’t care for the feeling and simply want to get past it. We want to be comfortable. Even though God made us to be social people, He also put in us a wariness that will protect us.

Our guard is up when we go into new situations. We are wise to be aware of who is around us and what is going on. We are wise to say little and listen a lot. God put this natural inclination in us, which why it is foolish to disregard our intuition to stay quiet.

When we listen for the Holy Spirit to guide us, we will know when the time is right to speak up. When our spirit is in step with the Holy Spirit, we make wise choices for ourselves. We follow God’s plan for our lives. We find that we are blessed in ways we could not anticipate.

We often think the Holy Spirit nudges us into action, to do something for God. He also will guide our thoughts and tongues. He will provide us with the right words at the right time. He will prompt us to think of a solution to problem we wouldn’t normally think of.

The Holy Spirit is constantly at work. He works in all aspects of our lives. Yet, we often dismiss His nudging’s when it comes our thoughts and what we say. I, personally, ask God to give me the words I should say before I preach. I know that means the Holy Spirit will be the One who provides them, since He lives inside me.

If we all were to rely more on the Holy Spirit to guide us in thought and speech, we would share more wisdom with the world. The world needs more wisdom today. We can be part of the solution, rather than contributing to the chaos all around us.

I pray all of us will rely on the Holy Spirit in all we say and do. I pray we share God’s wisdom with the world. I pray each one of us ask God to guide us in thought and speech. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you. Rely on Him to provide you the right words. Be part of the solution.

Proverbs 14:3

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,

but the lips of the wise protect them.

Never Too Busy

Is your life hectic? Does is seem there is always something to do? Are you constantly in a hurry? When you are in a rush, does it seem as though something always gets in your way and slows you down? Does all this rush cause your emotions to run hot?

We are all very busy. Our house is sometimes quite crazy in the mornings. There are five us who need to get ready for work, taking showers, fixing our hair, deciding what to wear, brushing our teeth, walking on the treadmill, going for runs, fixing lunches, fixing breakfasts, and heading out the door—all before 8am. The army has nothing on us (for those of you who remember that commercial).

I’m sure most all of us have busy days, at least from time-to-time. Many of us feel as though our days are busy every day. Sometimes, such as the busy mornings at our house mentioned above, our day starts off chaotic due to our own lack of planning. Some days external forces interrupt our day to throw it into chaos.

It is when the unexpected happens that we can become lost, befuddled, and directionless. In those times, we need to be confident that God is at work and will get us through them. We can only have confidence if we have built a strong relationship with Him.

We build our relationship with God much the same way we build our relationships with people—we spend time with Him. We spend time in prayer. We spend time reading His word. We spend time doing what He has set before us. We spend time thinking about Him.

God is always there; it is us who are missing in action. We spend our time on worldly things rather than on Him. Sure, we have jobs and school and responsibilities at home. Yet we can be thinking about God while we do all of those, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there throughout the day.

By building our relationship and reliance on God, we have confidence in Him during those times of extreme difficulty. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He will carry us through. This allows us to maintain calm and have peace in the storm.

I pray we all build our relationship with God. I pray we grow in our trust of Him. I pray each one of us will spend time with God each and every day. Grow closer to God. Learn to rely on Him. Trust that God is always with you. Trust that God will see you through. Find peace in the storm.

2 Corinthians 1:12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.

God’s Temple

Do you take care of your physical body? Do you get regular checkups? Are you willing to follow instructions from your doctor? Will you adhere to the instructions of a physical therapist? Do you know you are God’s temple?

We are aware of so many maladies and sicknesses today, it seems there is no way for even one person to not be less than 100% healthy for one reason or another. A bit confusing? It seems if any one of us were to go through an extremely thorough physical examination, the doctors would find something wrong. Perhaps it’s due to not any two of us being the same.

We are the temple of God. That means God lives inside us. In fact, He lives in every living we see and every living thing we see, including us, live in God. Yet, as the temple of God, we have a responsibility to take care of what belongs to Him.

Before you start getting all upset, thinking I’m going to tell you to get in shape to run a marathon, I’m not going to say that. I would never say that to everyone. However, I do believe God wants us to take care everything He has blessed us with, including our bodies.

Peter says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that the Holy Spirit lives within us. Just a few verses above that in verse 12, He could easily be talking to our modern American culture when he says we think we have the right to do anything, yet he says not everything is beneficial.

So, what I am I driving at? God expects us to take care of our bodies. That means we should eat right, exercise, and protect ourselves. No, not all of us are athletes nor are all of us designed to be ballerinas. However, we are all designed to work for God. He has set tasks for us to do. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we do what He wants us to do?

Do we think about taking care of our bodies, keeping them healthy in order to do God’s work? I can say I don’t really like going to the doctor. I don’t really like taking medicine. Yet, I go for my annual checkups and take prescribed medicine when needed.

I ask myself often if I’m doing what I should to take care of God’s temple. Over the years, I have made several changes to do just that. I won’t say I do it perfectly, yet I will say I continue to improve how I take care of myself. We all need to take a look at how well we are taking care of God’s temple.

I pray we all recognize we are God’s temple. I pray we decide to take care of what God has blessed us with. I pray each one of us will commit to taking care of ourselves. Be vigilant in taking care of your body. Know that God lives in you. Understand that God has expectations. Be capable of doing the work God has set before you.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Children of Abraham

Do you know your lineage? Do you know your family tree? Do you know your cultural heritage? Do you know your racial heritage? Does any of that matter to you? Should it matter to you? Do you think it matters to God?

Some of us will have answers to all the questions listed above. Some of us will have no idea. Some of us will have dabbled a bit in finding out the answers to those questions but are a long way from knowing it all.

Knowing who our ancestors, where they came from, what they did, and their history may be of importance to us and may not. Sometimes having that knowledge explains a lot about why we are where we are. In fact, many of us may find we have relatives who participated in some historically significant events.

On the one hand, knowing our family history may provide us some stability, encouragement, and pride. On the other hand, it may cause us embarrassment, shame, and humiliation. Yet, all of us have a family history that is wonderful.

Though our human family history may explain some things about us, our spiritual family history makes all of that moot. God isn’t concerned about our human family history. He has given us a spiritual family history that makes all the difference.

You see, when Paul tells the Roman Christians in Romans 11:11-25 they were grafted into God’s family. He is stating our human family tree is now irrelevant, other than satisfying our general curiosity. The main point is God has adopted us into His family, calling us His children.

As we are grafted in, we become children of Abraham. We become Abraham’s children by faith. We become God’s children by faith. This is God’s form of adoption. As such, we inherit a new ancestral heritage, a heritage of faith.

As we see in today’s passage, all nations have been blessed by Abraham and his descendants, namely Jesus Christ. We are part of that blessing and are to continue to bless the nations through our faith. We do that by being a blessing to the people we encounter.

I pray we all are grafted into the God’s family. I pray we recognize our spiritual heritage. I pray each of us extend our spiritual heritage by blessing others. Know your spiritual heritage. Continue God’s work. Be a blessing to others.

Galatians 3:7-9 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Seek Forgiveness

Do you recognize your failures? Are you aware when you fall short of achieving a task? Do you berate yourself for missing the mark? Are you driven to overcome the failure with success in the future? Do you apply this same attitude to your walk with God?

Many of us are driven to succeed. We work hard to accomplish our tasks in our jobs. Often, we put in extra time to improve ourselves professionally. If we fail to complete a task at the standard we’ve set for ourselves or our boss has set, we work even harder to do better at the next task.

For many of us, failure is not an option. We won’t give up when we fail, we’ll simply put more effort into succeeding in the future. We may study, read, practice, or take on any number of other improvement initiatives.

Unfortunately, we don’t apply this method to the way we live our lives. What do I mean by that? We don’t seek to do better in our attitudes, our health, the way we treat others, our emotional well-being, nor our spiritual health. What we apply to our jobs is discarded when it comes to self-improvement.

If we were to read, study, and strive to improve ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we would find ourselves much better off. We fail to realize we need all three of these to be healthy and well-balanced to truly enjoy our lives. If we do come to this realization, it is often late in life when we must overcome other challenges as well.

Often it is our spiritual health that suffers the most. We fail to see our own sin. We fail to study, read, and practice spiritual strengthening exercises. We fail to pray as often as we should. We fail to seek God’s guidance in everything we do. We fail to ask God for forgiveness.

We need to pray, confessing our failures to meet God’s expectations and asking for His forgiveness. Our spirit needs this cleansing. We need to ask God to guide us as we read His word and strive to improve our spiritual well-being. As we do so, we will see our lives improve.

I pray we all seek God’s guidance and forgiveness. I pray we strive to walk more in step with God each day. I pray each one of us will confess our sin and seek to remove it from our lives. Seek God’s guidance. Ask for God’s forgiveness. Confess your sin. Seek to eliminate sin. Trust God. God is patiently waiting for you.

Psalm 51:1-2

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love; 

according to your great compassion 

blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

Wait Patiently

Have you recently cried out for help to get through a difficult situation? Do you have someone to turn to for the help you need? Are you willing to turn to someone you cannot see? Will you turn to God, crying out to Him in prayer to lift you up?

There are many in this world who face difficulties, some on a near daily basis. Even those who often appear as though their lives are wonderful face difficulties. Unfortunately, many do not know where to turn to get the help they need.

We also see within our culture people kicking someone when they are down. It may not be literal kicking, but it hurts all the same. Social media has been used for many nefarious purposes, including social bullying. People will shun those they think are beneath them or someone they are angry with.

There are numerous other difficulties people face, including job seeking, bill paying, providing the basics for life, relationships, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual abuse, and many more. These situations often are not quickly solved. Yet, when we reach out to God in prayer, we find guidance and direction in solving them. We see God move in ways we don’t understand.

There are times we must wait patiently for God to act. He moves in His time. We may think He is being slow. Yet, God’s timing is perfect. He knows far more than we do and acts perfectly at the right time to address our situation. Unfortunately, we become impatient and take matters into our own hands, rather than waiting for God.

Now, just because we are waiting on God, doesn’t mean we simply sit like a bump on a log. We must continue to think and do as best we can. All the while, we continue to pray to God for guidance and direction. We pray for God’s intervention. At the right time, God will intervene to provide what we need.

I pray we all wait patiently on God, praying for guidance and His intervention. I pray we continue to do the best we can while we wait. I pray each one of us will turn to God and trust Him to intervene. Spend time in prayer. Ask God for guidance. Ask God for intervention. Trust God to provide. God will not disappoint.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry. 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord

and put their trust in him.