Catch a glance

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” James 1:22-23

How do you feel about mirrors? Some folks can’t seem to get enough of them. You’ve seen them – gazing at their reflections in actual mirrors, or in glass or polished steel if those aren’t available! They post several selfies a day, each one modified and filtered until they are no longer recognizable to the naked eye. Instagram has become the modern mirror through which we see ourselves.

We can put filters on our lives and try to make them look better, but God sees that too. The face we present to the world may be different from the one that He sees. Our Father knows what we truly look like. He sees through the filters, into our hearts and intentions. We may be so good at it that even we don’t recognize our true selves, but we’ll never fool Him.

And God’s word is just like that. If we think we are “listening” to Him, but we don’t then “act” on what He says, we aren’t fooling Him! He knows exactly what’s up, and His word is like a mirror to show us who we really are – the good, the bad, and everything in between. No filters. No disguises.

Don’t try “filter” your way into God’s abundant life for you. Let God’s word show you who you truly are, and then let Him remake you in His image. We can put whatever spin on it that we’d like, but it’s best for us if we look at our spiritual selves head on and use His teachings to correct what is wrong and make that reflection look more like He intended.

All my words, all the time

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

I was praying about a situation where I was going to have to speak with someone about an important matter, asking the Holy Spirit to help me with the words I needed to say.

A thought began to form in my brain, one I was surprised hadn’t been there before: I need all the words I say to be but there by the Lord.

Not just when I have an important conversation on the horizon. Not just when someone is coming against me and I need to respond. Not just when I’m conscious of what comes out of my mouth. All the words, all the time.

How much of a difference would I make in the relationships around me if I only spoke things that God was pleased with? How different would the world be if we all made that commitment?

Lord, all my words, all the time – may it all be pleasing to you!

His delight is in us, our hope is in Him

“He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:10-11

If Psalm 147 was written today, it might say, “God doesn’t care how many Twitter followers you have or what your stock portfolio looks like.”

All He cares about is your heart.

He reminds us over and over in His word – it’s the heart that matters. Not the externals that man thinks are important, but what’s deep inside where no one sees.

My prayer lately, more than ever, has been that my will be His will; that my wants be His wants; that I will always and only be right where He wants me, doing just what He wants me to do.

And then I read in His word that this wish of my heart makes the Creator delight in me? How awesome and awe-inspiring is that?

So take courage today, brothers and sister. You don’t need a horse or human might, or even a bunch of Twitter followers or a rockin’ stock portfolio. None of those things that the world sees as making you successful are important. All you need is to center yourself on God, on His will, and on His path for your life. Focus on Him, put your hope in Him, and He will bring to pass what needs to be for you.

Whole hearted, or half-hearted?

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9

God doesn’t want just part of you. He wants all of you, and believe you me, He knows when you’re giving less than everything.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, gifted with supernatural insight from God Himself. When his father, David, was giving him the charge to build the temple, he also gave him some additional advice: Worship God with your whole heart. Not part of it, not just a smidge – the whole thing. And lest he (or we) forget that God is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (always around), David reminded Solomon that God sees every heart, and knows all of our thoughts. There’s no hiding our motives from Him!

Surely you know someone (or have yourself) who has tried to go after God in a half-hearted attempt. I say “attempt” because, as my daughter says, it never ends well. Serving God isn’t something we can do part time, when we feel like it, when we need something, or when we have nothing better to do. Serving God is a full-time, all-in, no-holds-barred proposition. There’s a reason the word “surrender” is used when describing turning our lives over to Him. It’s all or nothing.

Today, let’s give Him everything. Let’s try shutting out the distractions and concerns that try to crowd in, and focus on God alone. Let’s resolve that we are in it to win it, all in, no holding back, and serious about our service.

Good ideas, GOD ideas

Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time—pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

It seems, sometimes, like there are no good ideas out there anymore. I dare you to look at the listings for your local multiplex theater. How many movies are sequels or “reboots?” How many television shows are tired, recycled plots from a generation ago, just spiced up a little?

There may be “nothing new under the sun” as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, but make no mistake: there are good ideas, and then there are God ideas!

A God idea is something that you know you could never have come up with on your own. It’s a hint dropped in your spirit, an answer to a question that supposedly comes out of thin air, or a sudden new way of looking at a situation.

A good idea can change your life. A God idea can change the world!

Sure, we can spend hours on Google and Pinterest, trying to come up with the perfect solution to a problem. But divine inspiration can strike at any moment, if we’re only listening for His call.

But you say, “I’ve got the inspiration – now what do I do?” Paul made it clear in his second letter to the Thessalonians that it’s God who gives us the energy to work out the calling and ideas He has placed in us. If He isn’t behind our effort, it won’t amount to a hill of beans. He expects us to put feet to our faith, and He gives us the strength to do it.

God has never, and will never, run out of ideas. He is infinite; we are finite. If you are in need of divine inspiration today, do as Paul suggested all those years ago: honor God with your life, and He won’t just give you good ideas – He’ll give you God ideas!

Walk in truth!

“Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!” 3 John 1:4

There is a difference between knowing the truth, and walking in the truth.

For instance, we can know the truth that it is 15 degrees outside, and yet not dress appropriately for the weather. Even in the worst conditions, you will almost always see someone out in shorts and a short sleeved shirt!

John knew this, and he didn’t say he was happy to hear that other believers knew the truth. He was overjoyed to hear that they were walking, or as The Message translation puts it, continuing diligently, in it!

Walking in the truth means application of God’s principles to our lives, our character, our way of thinking. It means that when a questionable situation arises, our behavior depends on the unbending word of God and not what the trend of the moment is. It means filtering everything we see through the lens of scripture.

You may know the truth of God’s word. Many of us have heard scripture or even committed it to memory over the years. But are you applying that word to your life daily, to your interactions with others, to your outlook on life? There is a difference, and it makes a difference!

I don’t want to just know the truth. I want to walk in it every day! How about you?

Light – AND salvation!

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” Psalm 27:1

I tend to be an ostrich-in-the-sand type person when things get messy. I mean it. Even down to my checkbook. I’d rather hand it over to my husband, and say, “Here, honey! I trust you to fix it and make everything bad go away!”

(I learned from Dave Ramsey that I couldn’t do that anymore, by the way.)

There are several times in scripture where God is referred to as our light, the light of the world, the light to our path. But here in Psalms, He isn’t just light – He is our salvation!

What an odd pairing. But maybe not.

Remember when the Hebrews were crossing the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was chasing them? And then as soon as the Israelites got across, the sea collapsed upon itself and drowned the mightiest army on the face of the earth? It was a faith builder for God’s people!

And Gideon? The scared little guy hiding out in a winepress with his wheat, who God sent into battle with fewer men than I had people in my high school graduating class? What two things did they take with them? A clay pot. And a torch. So they could see what God was doing!

God is our salvation. But He is also our light. He wants to show us what He is doing, so that our faith can be built and our strength renewed. It’s all well and good when He delivers us, but if we don’t recognize it, we miss a golden opportunity to grow.

He is our light – showing us His salvation. How cool is that?

You gotta move!

We pray for God to open doors for us, and He does. We stand amazed at the opportunities He brings our way that we never could have gotten to on our own.

But what about the ones He wants to open, but we are standing in the way?

My dogs want me to open my bedroom door each morning and let them out. But if they don’t move out of my way, I can’t open it! We all end up frustrated, because I want to open that door, but they refuse to move and let me act!

Sometimes we are praying for God to open doors, and His answer is move. God has created us with a free will, and we have a part to play! We stand in His way when we have things in our lives that keep us from a close relationship with Him. We stand in His way when we neglect time in prayer and the word. We stand in His way when we insist that He answer a prayer only in the way we think He should.

My prayer today isn’t just that God would open doors for His children, but that we won’t stand in His way and hinder His plan. He wants to work His plan in our lives. He wants to move mountains and open doors for us. I don’t want anything in my life to hinder His purpose. I pray we will learn to listen to His voice, and if need be, move!

Stock up!

“Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3

Oh my goodness. The weather in my neck of the woods has been ridiculous. Although I live in the South, we’ve gone through two rounds of winter weather in two weeks, with another storm on the way! And what is the first thing Southerners do when they hear the word “snow?” Why, we head to the store for milk and bread, of course!

We’re encouraged by weather forecasters, emergency management officials, and the guy behind us in line at Sam’s Club to stock up. After all, you never know how long you might be “snowed in!”

If only we were as diligent about filling our stores with the word of God.

Good thing the Israelites didn’t have to worry about snowstorms while they wandered in the wilderness. God’s instructions with regard to the manna He provided kept them from hoarding the miraculous stuff, or else it would spoil. They had to daily rely on God’s grace, His provision, His care for them.

And that’s how we “stock up” on God’s word. Daily. We don’t binge-read one day, and lay off the rest of the week, and expect to see results. It’s a daily walk, and daily we have to restore our faith stores.

Every day He wants to commune with us. The Creator is never too busy to meet with you! He designed us to have regular communication with Him.

His mercies are new every morning. His love endures forever. And we ask Him daily for manna from Heaven, His word giving life and light to our hungry souls.

What’s your logo?

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” John 1:4

I spent several years in the media and promotions industries. And although that’s no longer my “day job,” I am still fascinated by the ways in which companies, people, and organizations choose to portray themselves.

Take a company’s logo, for instance. It’s supposed to be a short, sweet message to the world of what the company is all about. It’s supposed to be distinctive, memorable, and bring the company to mind whenever it’s seen. It should be simple and represent the essence of that company.

Sometimes, it’s clear that a graphic artist took great care to design a logo, and that the higher-ups actually took his or her advice! Other times, it looks like someone with a copy of Print Shop Plus put it together using clip art from a Google image search.

Which one is more memorable to the general public? Usually the one that had more thought put into it.

The word logo is very much related to the Greek word logos – meaning word. It’s what John used in the first chapter of his gospel to describe Jesus – the Word, there before the world was made, sent down to earth to be an example of how to live.

Jesus is our logos, and our logo. He is the epitome of what our lives should look like. When we put on Jesus as our logo and our logos, we are a simple, unmistakable sign to the world around us that points to Him. The people we meet every day should immediately thing “Jesus” when they encounter us!

That being said, what is your “logo”? What do you wear around each day, and what to those who encounter you first think of when they meet you? Is it Jesus? Or is it self, envy, greed, anger, or any number of other things? If we are to bring light to this dark world, we have to do it like Jesus. We have to use His image as the example by which we live.

Successful companies have standards by which to judge their logos – did you know that John Deere Green is actually a patented color? And successful Christians have standards to judge their effectiveness by too – the life of their Savior. My prayer is that when the world looks at us, they will at once recognize Him.

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