I Don’t Have to be Big

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I have lived in the South my whole life.  Down here, we like things BIG!  We like big hair, big trucks, and big meals!  We use expressions such as “Go BIG or go home!”, “BIGGER is better!”, and (a personal fave) “Put on your BIG girl panties and deal with it!”.  We enjoy the oversized, the overstuffed, and the over the top.

As Christians, these words put a lot of pressure on us to be BIG as well.  We feel the need to make the BIGGEST dessert for the church potluck, put the BIGGEST bows in our daughter’s hair for Sunday School, and drive the BIGGEST SUV in the parking lot.  Okay, maybe you don’t feel that kind of pressure.  To be honest, I don’t either.  I’m doing good to just remember there is a church potluck, to remind my daughter to brush her hair, and to have enough gas in my car to get to church!  However, there are times in my life when I do feel like I have to be big.

My daughter has been battling cancer for over three years.  It seems as though every time we get a breath of good news, a breath of hope, we get the rug pulled out from beneath us.  Some days the hits just keep coming.  I feel like I have to be BIG for my daughter, for my husband, for my family, for my friends, for my church, and for God.  I feel like I need to have all the answers and know just what to say.  I feel like I need to slap a smile on my face and tell everyone that we’re fine.  I feel like I have to let others know that we do trust, we do still believe, we do still have faith.  I feel like I have to be more, say more, do more.  I feel like I have to defend God in our circumstances.  I feel like I have to be BIGGER than what we are facing.

It’s exhausting.  It’s tiring.  It’s unnecessary, and sometimes it’s fake…Sometimes I forget the truth of His word.  Sometimes I forget all He tells me I am through Him.  Sometimes it all gets overshadowed by all the BIG stuff I allow to in my heart and mind.

Scripture

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4, NLT 

Did you catch that?  HE is greater.  HE is our victory.  HE is BIGGER!  I don’t have to be BIG and neither do you.  He is BIG enough for all of us and all of the problems that we may face.  Because we belong to Him and because He lives in us, we can simply be.  Not big, not afraid, not fearful, not fake – we can just be who He created us to be.

Prayer

Father God, we love you so.  Thank you for being all that you are to us.  Thank you for being bigger than anything else.  You created it all.  You can control it all.  You are in us, and you are for us.  In you, we are enough.  Thank you for being big for us and for everything we may face.  Forgive us, Father, when we try to be something You never intended us to be.  Help us remember that in You we can find rest, we can find peace, and we can find hope.  We don’t have to feel pressured.  We don’t have to be big.  Fill us with Your wisdom, God.  Help us to see our lives through the truth of Your word.  May we honor You with our actions so that others can see You and Your goodness.  We love you and ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Action

Is there something in your life that is causing you to fear, to doubt, to worry?  Do the pressures of your life make you feel overwhelmed?  Do you feel the constant urge to be BIG?  I know it’s not always easy, but I urge you (and me) to lay it at the feet of our mighty God. He is far greater than anything we may face.  And remember – He is in you!  He has already given you the victory. You have such freedom in this promise.  You have the freedom to just be you – His beloved child.

Have you ever felt the need to be big?  Tell us in the comments.  Let’s share and grow together in Christ. 

He's greater

Lord, Give Me Beautiful Feet!

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During the summer months, our feet tend to get more attention than any other time of the year – especially women’s feet.  We get pedis, moisturize, and shop for cute sandals.  Once August is over, we typically shove our feet back into socks and shoes and tend to forget about them until warm weather rolls around again.

Did you know that God wants us to have beautiful feet all year long?  Every day of our lives?  Not just when we’re at the pool or wearing flip flops?  It’s true.

Romans 10:14-15, NLT “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

God says are feet are beautiful when we bring good news.  This means the beauty of our feet is tied directly with the words that come from our lips!  Ugly words = ugly feet.  Beautiful words = beautiful feet.  God is saying you can spend all the time and money you want on nail polish, foot scrubs, and sandals, but if your words aren’t pleasing and uplifting, your money is wasted.  So before you check out your toes, check your mouth.

He mentions our feet again in Ephesians 6:15, NLV “Wear shoes on your feet which are the Good News of peace.”   He is instructing us again to bring good news.  He wants us to use our feet not just as accessories but as tools that can reach others with the gospel of Christ!

For me, I have started asking God every day to help me have beautiful feet.  The scripture in Romans asks how they (the lost) can hear without someone preaching to them.  This is our job!  We are to preach the message of the Good News through our words, our actions, and our faith.  Those are the things that keep our feet beautiful in the eyes of God, and that is what I desire more than anything.  I want God to use me and my family’s story in any way He can to reach the lost and share His Love.

Prayer

Father God, we come before you today thanking You for your love, your mercy, and your grace.  We want You to use us as Your messengers.  Use us as Your earthly hands and feet.  Help us to realize Your will for our lives.  Help us to guard our mouths against words are that harmful, untrue, or unnecessary.  Help us to be messengers of the Good News wherever we may go.  Let us bring Your peace and Your presence with us in to every situation.  We love you and we know You love us.  Give us beautiful feet, Lord.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Action

Where can you take your beautiful feet today?  Where can you share the Good News?  It may not be through sharing scripture or even God’s plan of salvation.  It may be through a compliment to a co-worker.  It may be in telling your spouse that you love them.  It may be in holding open the door at the grocery store for a stranger.

It may be in what you DON’T say or do.  When your friends are dishing on the latest gossip, when your kids are complaining about their teacher, when you come home to your husband’s socks on the floor (again!) – how you respond is just as effective in keeping your feet beautiful.  Ask God to help you guard your mouth and your thoughts.  He will help you.  He wants you to be beautiful from head to toe!

Before you put on your shoes each day, what do you do to keep your feet beautiful in the eyes of God? 

beautiful feet

Deep Calls to Deep

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My family just returned from a wonderful week at the beach.  The salt, the sun, the sea – it was all just so peaceful and relaxing.  The time to have fellowship with our family and meet new friends was such a blessing.

The small, family friendly beach we visit in Florida was a little more crowded this year.  The traffic from Mobile, Alabama to Florida’s Emerald Coast was also much heavier than in years past.  Naturally, I began to think of all the people around me and what draws them and us to the beach.

These people all around us could have gone to a big city for their vacation or an amusement park or used the money for a big shopping spree at the mall…but, instead, they are choosing to bask in God’s creation.  They are voluntarily selecting things not made by human hands to enjoy, to recharge, and to relax.

For believers, we know He created all things and can see His handiwork all around us.  I, personally, love to see God in nature.  His presence and His majesty is all around us.  It fills us with awe and wonder at His power and His being.

What about unbelievers?  I feel they are drawn for the same reasons only they don’t realize it yet.  We are all born with a need and a desire for God’s presence.  For believers, we know where we can find it.  For unbelievers, they are searching, looking, and seeking for something to fill their hearts.  This is what calls us to experience His creation.

I don’t know how anyone can stand on the beach and look out over endless water and waves and question God’s existence.  He is so real, so present, and loves to delight us with His work.  He speaks to us through the beauty all around us – it reveals His glory to us.

Psalms 95: 5  NIV, “The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”  He made it all – for you and for me.  He wants us to enjoy the earth and all its majesty.  He delights in gifting us beautiful things made by His hands.

Scripture

Psalms 42:7  NIV, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”

Prayer

Father God, we love You and we know You love us.  It is evident all around us in the beauty of Your creation.  We may wrestle some days with fleshly stress and worry, but we know Your presence is all around us.  It is calling to us just as “deep calls to deep”.  Help us to slow down and savor Your majesty.  Open our eyes to see Your glory.  Open our hearts to feel your presence.  Let us drink deeply from the beauty You have freely given to us, so that we may experience Your love, Your peace, and Your power.  We give thanks to You for your creation and for giving it to us.  Help us to appreciate it more each day and to see You in every tree, every cloud, and every star.  In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Action

The Psalmist asks in 42:2, “When can I go and meet with God?”  We know we can meet with God anywhere, but do you have a special place in nature that you especially feel God’s presence?  For me, it is near the water.  It may be a creek, a river, or the Pacific Ocean.  God’s presence is so real to me near the water.  My parents just returned from a two week road trip to Yellowstone.  The mountains proclaims His majesty too.  His handiwork is visible from the forests to the hills to the plains.  We just have to open our eyes to see it.

What speaks to you?  You don’t have to embark on a road trip to find something.  His presence can be seen in your front yard, alongside the road, or even within the walls of your home.  Let’s share where we see His glory and encourage one another to seek Him.  He’s calling you right now.

Deep Calls to Deep

Deep Calls to Deep

Why Do We Pray? (Part 5 – What Do Our Prayers Do for Others?)

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We’ve all had those moments in our prayer lives…We’ve been praying for a specific person for what seems like forever and nothing has changed.  Their healing hasn’t come; their marriage hasn’t been mended; their children haven’t been saved; their financial break through hasn’t happened.  It’s frustrating.  We sometimes may even question if we should continue to pray.  Perhaps God has other plans for this person’s life?  Perhaps we should focus on the other names on our prayer list?

In this situation, we are missing a vital point – our prayers for others aren’t about US.  They are being offered up in intercession for OTHERS.  To stop praying for another person before their needs are met would be an unwise decision.  We need the prayers of others especially when we aren’t visibly seeing God’s hand move in our lives.  It is during those times we will need the most faith, strength, and hope.

My daughter had a recurrent tumor for over three years.  For more than three years, people prayed for her to be healed.  They prayed for us to have courage and strength.  They prayed for our needs to be provided.  They prayed for us to stand strong in our faith.  Without those long years of intercessory prayer, I don’t know where my family would be today.  Yet, because of those intercessory prayers, I can tell you that my daughter is healed, our needs are met, and our faith is strong!

Three years was a long time for us and a long time for our prayer warriors to lift us up day after day after day, but thank God they did!  I can assure you there are those who have waited longer for their answer.  Many are still waiting.  Please don’t give up on them because God’s perfect will seems to be taking a little longer.

Intercessory prayer is vital in our Christian walk.  James 5:16 tells us to “pray for each other so that you might be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  God wants us to pray for one another.  He even tells us that it is effective.  How can we give up when He tells us it makes a difference?

I know for a fact my mother has prayed over me and my brothers since before we were ever born.  She still prays for us each day.  I pray for my daughter and always will.  Sometimes certain intercessory prayers are an essential part of our prayer life.  They don’t change.  We continuously pray for certain people or situations (e.g. our pastor, our nation, our spouse, etc…) because we want God’s constant presence, protection, and blessings over them.

Scripture

1 Timothy 2:1 NIV

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”

Prayer

Father God, help us to always remember to lift up others in our prayers.  There are so many around us in need.  We can help meet their needs by covering them in prayer.  So often we may get busy or forgetful of the requests of others.  Please lay them on our hearts and our minds.  The Holy Spirit intercedes for us daily.  Thank you for the privilege of allowing us to do the same for others.  Give us servant’s hearts who seek to fulfill the needs of others before our own.  Help us be a blessing to someone each day,  Help us be the prayer warrior you created us to be.  Let us show Your love to others more and more.  We love You, and we ask these things in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen.

Action

A couple of years ago on New Year’s Day, I made a pledge to pray for specific people every day for a whole year.  I asked God to help me choose the people for my list.  He gave me four names.  I prayed earnestly for those people for an entire year.  The next New Year’s I did the same and created a new list of names.  I have witnessed healings, blessings, and restorations as I followed the lives of these individuals.  I never told them they were on a “special” list.  Some of them were not even people I spoke to very often.  Yet, I would keep up via social media or through mutual friends or family.

I pray for others as well, but these people are at the heart of my prayer list.  I intend to always keep a “list” like this for prayer.  It helps me to remember to pray for others, and it also allows me to see God working in their lives.  I can see at the end of the year where He has brought them and the difference He is making in their lives.

Would all this happen without my prayers?  Maybe.  Yet, I would miss out on the blessing of interceding for others and witnessing His hand at work.

How do you remember to pray for others?  What have  you witnessed as a result that of intercessory prayer that serves as a testament to God’s faithfulness?

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If God is Sovereign, Then What’s the Point? (Part 4 – Why Do We Pray?)

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Last week, we looked at prayer as a form of obedience.  We are told by God to pray, and so we should…but there is so much more to why we pray than “because He said so…”  Let’s look beyond simple obedience and explore what prayer means to God and what it can mean for us.

When we pray, we are entering the presence of the one true God – the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jacob.  Sometimes we take that honor and privilege for granted.  We are speaking with the One who parted the Red Sea, raised Lazarus from the dead, and created the entire Universe with His words!  This should leave us feeling completely humbled and awe-struck!  Do we enter prayer with that attitude?  (I’ll save that question for another post….but it doesn’t hurt to think on it…)

I believe God loves to hear our prayers.  The Bible says He is blessed by our prayers and our worship.  We are given the opportunity to bless God…

If God is Sovereign, Then What’s the Point? (Part 3 – Why Do We Pray?)

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This is the $64,000 question – Why do we pray?  God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and His will prevails for our good, so why do we need to pray?  Can’t we just trust He will do what is best for us?  Doesn’t His word say He is blessing us, protecting us, and making a way for us?  Why does He need my prayer?  It seems like He’s already got our lives all lined out just like He wants them to be…so why does He need me to pray about it all?

There are multiple answers to this question.  However, today I want us to look at just one – God tells us to pray.  Throughout His word, we are commanded to pray.  Jesus himself prayed.  He prayed so earnestly he sweat drops of blood – now that is some serious prayer!  So, if we put aside all of our questions and doubts about prayer, and just focus on God’s commands, we should live a prayer centered life.

The next time someone questions your dedication and focus on prayer (or maybe the next time you have doubts about it) remind yourself God wants and expects you to pray.  No question about it.  It’s not just a matter of belief, it’s a matter of obedience.  If we love God, we keep his commandments.  He commands us to pray, so we do – pretty simple (at least in theory…).

Of course, we are filled with many other questions about why we pray, and we will look at these too.  For today, let’s just focus on being obedient to God.  He wants us to pray, so let’s do just that.  Find the time, find your spot, and talk to God.  The all-mighty creator of the universe is bending down to listen to you today and every day.  Be obedient to Him today and pray.

Scripture

The Bible is filled with scriptures on prayer.  This one is pretty straight forward:  “Never stop praying.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17, NLT

Prayer

Father God, prayer is such a privilege and an honor.  Help us learn to treat it as the gift You meant it to be for us.  Help us to learn to prioritize our time and and our responsibilities and make prayer a daily part of our lives.  Help us to grow in our our prayer lives and become so comfortable with prayer that we live in a continuous state of praying in our hearts and in our spirits.  Help us to be obedient to you through our prayers.  We live to serve You.  In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Action

The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who prayed, trusted God, and witnessed God’s amazing answers!  If you need encouragement on why you should pray or on how you should pray, I suggest you pick up the Word.  From the Old Testament to the New Testament, there are seemingly countless scriptures on prayers being offered up, prayers being answered, and lives being forever changed.  Do you have a favorite passage from the Bible on prayer?  I have so many, but one that will always be a favorite is found in Luke 1:45 – 55.  Mary prays a beautiful prayer full of faith and hope as she awaits the birth of Jesus.  Seek out Godly examples of prayer.  Continue to incorporate scriptures in your prayer, and mostly importantly, be obedient to God and pray.

 

 

Give Me Words to Speak (Part 2 – What Do I Need to Say When I Pray?)

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Last week, we covered some basics of prayer – posture, location, speech, etc…This week I want us to look at our words.  Does prayer require a specific pattern of words?  Are there certain words we should always use?  Is there a “prayer format” we should follow?  Let’s talk about these questions and discuss the words we offer up to God in prayer.

Prayer is not a “magical” spell or incantation.  Putting the “right” words in the “right” order is not going ensure God will grant your requests.  As I said last week, God is not impressed with our vocabulary.  The words we use in prayer are important, but the condition of our heart when we come to God in prayer is much more important.

I spend the first part of each day reading and studying my Bible and in prayer.  Yes, I sit in my “Jesus chair”.  During this time of prayer, I tend to pray longer, offering up more intercessory prayer and also a good deal of praise.  I always begin by telling God how much I love Him.  I thank Him for not only what He has done for me, but I thank Him for who He is – for His very nature.  Yes, God knows He is sovereign, righteous, full of mercy and grace, our healer, full of compassion, and loving kindness, but don’t you think He likes to hear it?  I think He does.  It also works as a great reminder for me about who God is and that I have access to such glory!

Next, I move on to intercessory prayer for others.  This changes from day to day depending on my prayer list.  Since my daughter has been beating cancer for the past three years, there are always children and families we know from our time at the hospital that top my list.  Of course, I pray over our church prayer list as well as others I may know who need prayer.  I pray for our church and our church workers, I pray for our nation, state, and local governments, I pray for the staff and school where I worked last year.  I just pray over things that I feel led to lift up to God.

I pray hard for my family too.  I cover my husband and our marriage in prayer every day.  I pray for my daughter.  I pray she will always walk in health and wholeness.  I pray for her mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well.  I pray God would surround her with Godly friends who will be positive influences in her life.

Finally, I pray for myself.  I ask God for wisdom.  I ask God for forgiveness.  I ask God to help me become the wife, mother, and woman He designed me to be.  I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me with the words, thoughts, and actions I need to get through each day.  I pray my family be able to fully embrace and follow God’s will for our lives.

A few years ago, my prayers began to feel routine and a bit repetitive.  I asked God to help me feel alive and renewed in my prayer life.  Soon after, a lady shared with me about using scripture in her prayers.  She told me she would find specific scriptures that related to her requests and pray them to God.  I began doing it also.  Now familiar scriptures flow in and out of my prayers.

Why incorporate scripture?  For me, it totally rejuvenated my prayer life.  It helped me to incorporate my love for God’s word in to my prayer time.  Also, scripture is God’s very word and will, what more perfect words could we offer up to Him than His own?  Yes, He knows what the Bible says; He is the author.  I believe He loves to hear it lifted back up to Him.  His own words coming from a sincere heart has to be pleasing to our God.

Sometimes I open my Bible and read entire chapters aloud over my family or over a situation or a specific need.  It refocuses my mind on His promises and His truths.  It offers up my requests in a way that I just can’t do on my own.  Sometimes I use verses from Psalms to offer up praise and thanksgiving.  The words are so beautiful and precious.  They flood in my soul in a way my own words never would be able to do.

There are many beautiful prayers throughout the Bible that we can use as examples or offer up as our own prayers.  Here’s a link to Five Biblical Prayers you may want to read and incorporate in to your own prayer time http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/05/five-biblical-prayers-that-teach-us-how-to-talk-to-god/

I also offer up many, many prayers throughout each day somewhat “on the fly”.  For instance, last night I accidentally put a DVD in our DVD player without removing the DVD that was already in place.  Whoops!  Needless to say, the DVD player began making a horribly uncomfortable noise.  My sweet hubs tried in vain to open the DVD door to remove the discs.  While he was fixing our issue, I quietly and quickly prayed that the DVD player would spit out the discs and work perfectly….and it did….Did God directly intervene with my ancient DVD player?  I don’t know.  I do know that we were able to watch our movie without any further issues.

Praying in that moment was a first instinct.  Yes, it was something trivial and my prayer was not very distinguished, but I was thankful that it came as naturally as breathing for me.  I utter these types of prayers all day long.  Sometimes I have praise and worship verses or songs playing through my head.  I consider those a form of prayer as well.  They keep my mind focused.  They keep my spirit calm and renewed.  They keep me in tune with God.

Scripture

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18, NIV

Prayer

Father God, we thank You for the gift and privilege of prayer.  It is such a blessing and an honor to be able to come before You at any time to intercede, offer thanks, and lift our requests.  Thank You for hearing our prayer and for answering them.  Help us to grow in our prayer lives.  Show us how to pray so that we can grow in our faith and our love for You.  We love You and we desire to become closer to You through prayer.  In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Action

I challenge each of us to examine our prayer lives.  What can we do to grow?  What can we do to improve?  Are you lacking confidence in your prayers?  Ask God for help.  Do you need resources on prayer?  There are many wonderful books and articles; however, the best book you will ever read on prayer is the Bible.  Do a little research and you will find a wealth of scriptures devoted to prayer.  Do you have a favorite?  I do.  I’m very partial to praying Psalms 91 over my family.  Dig in and find what you need, then offer it up to God.  He’s waiting.

Psalm 91