1 Corinthians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

12.16.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Definition of Love

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Every night, my husband programs the coffee maker.
And every morning, I wake up to a fresh pot of coffee.
This morning, I found a note beside the coffee maker that simply said, “1 Corinthians 13:4-8.”
These verse are a staple for wedding ceremonies throughout the world, and are a good reminder for anyone — married or unmarried — about the definition of love.
The verses say, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
My husband’s note was a wonderful way to start the day, and I’m thankful to be married to a man who is constantly seeking God’s will and plan.
I love that this note wasn’t about a romantic love, but about the love modeled by Jesus Christ Himself.
Every attribute and description about love in this passage has the face of Jesus attached to it.
He bore all our sins on the cross.
He believed in the assignment given to Him to be the sacrifice for the world.
He offers hope to all who believe in Him.
He endured undeserved and indescribable agony and humiliation for us.
And His love continues.
And will continue forever.
As we are just over a week from Christmas, let us remember that the greatest example of God’s love for us came to earth as a baby — the very Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being the model of perfect love.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you love others as Jesus told us to do.
And ask Him to help you keep the truth of these verses to mind in all circumstances.

1 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Ephesians, Hebrews, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

12.7.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Purified by the Consuming Fire

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When it comes to descriptions of God, “a consuming fire” paints a vivid image.
But God is a loving God, and the description of Him as a consuming fire is based on His perfect holiness.
Several passages in Scripture refer to being tested by a refiner’s fire.
1 Peter 1:7 discusses our faith being tested by fire…
1 Corinthians 3:13 discusses our works being tested by fire (though I always feel obligated to add the footnote when we discuss good works — our actions won’t save us! Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because a refiner’s fire burns up impurities and leaves the valuable metal good for use, so will God’s consuming fire consume the unholy, leaving only the holy.
Our sin is the impurity that separates us from God.
And when we allow God’s consuming fire to burn through our lives and allow Him to filter out our sin, we can withstand the fire.
We can safely have a relationship with God because Jesus’ death and resurrection took care of our sin debt.
And all we need to do is repent, and let God refine us.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His holiness.
Thank Jesus for making it possible for you to be purified by God’s consuming fire.

1 Corinthians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

11.5.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Working For His Glory

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• So have you ever noticed how each generation has a sort of style about their handwriting?
You can sometimes look at a list someone made and make a fairly educated guess about what era they grew up in…
Today, I downloaded two new (free!) fonts as I do every Monday and the font on today’s graphic was one of them.
It reminded me of my grandmother’s handwriting (though neater).
It reminded me of that time in history when people embraced the idea that you work hard, don’t live beyond your means, and the simpler time that generation tends to represent.
But it really wasn’t simple…
Slower, yes, but they dealt with economic uncertainties, war, and the same kind of issues we deal with…
Minus the computer technology and social media drama we get to “enjoy.”
It’s the work ethic of that generation that I greatly admire…
You did a job with pride and you did it well…
If it had your name attached to it, you weren’t content with anything less than the best.
Things aren’t always like that these days.
We’re so busy and in such a hurry to cross things off the list that the attention to detail and pride in a job well done can be pushed to the side.
But in 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul wrote, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
It’s Monday and a brand new week.
Let’s slow down and embrace the work ethic modeled by earlier generations who took life a little slower than we do today…
And most of all, in all we do — do it not for personal praise, or to please others, but to God’s glory.
Today, as you pray, thank the Holy Spirit for the opportunity to work.
Ask Him to help you work with a good attitude, and in all you do, let it be done with a grateful heart for God.

1 Corinthians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

10.4.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Exit Signs

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I love the promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
We all sin, but God always gives us a way to escape temptation.
But just as the landscape of our lives is littered with exit signs we tend to ignore and take for granted, we often overlook God’s way out.
It’s because we rely on ourselves for change, instead of depending on the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out.
So we miss the warning signs.
But when temptation comes, and we turn to prayer, the heavenly exit signs become evident!
Today, as you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to help you make prayer so much a part of your day — as common as breathing in and breathing out — so that when temptation comes, your instinct is to turn in prayer.
And with His help, you will find a way to escape temptation through the exit He’s promised to provide.

1 Corinthians, Galatians, James, Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

7.21.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Temptations

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I have a major sweet tooth, but there’s one dessert I’ll never order in a restaurant…
Anything chocolate.
Don’t get me wrong, I like chocolate just fine…
I’m just not the chocolate fanatic like some people I know (you know who you are!).
But if I’m going to eat chocolate, I’m kind of particular about it.
I don’t care for insanely rich chocolate desserts and it seems like most restaurants do all they can to ramp up the decadence and richness factors of any chocolate they serve.
I’ll stop here…
I have a feeling if I continue, I’m going to have to answer for this opinion in a staff meeting on Tuesday.
We’ll just suffice to say, my sweet-tooth temptation comes in other ways.
I’ve never met a Creme Brûlée I didn’t like…
And I love pound cake…
Strawberry shortcake…
Anything with caramel…
Cherry or pecan pie…
I’m so glad words don’t have calories…
I haven’t had breakfast yet.
If you have a sweet tooth, you know certain desserts are incredible temptations for you.
And while I don’t really understand non-sweet-tooth people, I’m sure you have your own food cravings.
I’ve never been one to crave potato chips for instance, but maybe you have a favorite kind that you can hardly resist.
We all suffer from some form(s) of temptation.
It’s not always food.
And just as our taste buds have preferences, we have particular sins and temptations we’re more drawn to than others.
James 1:14 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.”
One could argue that this could be the signature verse for a Christian weight loss group.
But in all seriousness, this is a very serious issue.
I may not face the same temptations you face and vice versa.
But we have to be diligently aware of where our personal stumbling blocks are.
And that’s challenging because we don’t always see ourselves accurately.
Jesus even acknowledged mankind’s ability to be ignorant of our own shortcomings (Matthew 7:3, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”)
By immersing ourselves in God’s word and through prayer, we can ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to avoid the temptation pitfalls that lead us down the road of sin.
And He’s promised to help us.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
No matter what your particular brand of sin, those who have trusted in God can trust that He will enable us to overcome our temptations.
Galatians 5:16 gives us these comforting words, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
Just as we don’t have to let past choices define our future, we don’t have to remain victims to temptations.
Jesus died to free us from sin.
If we’ve accepted Christ, He’s empowered us to escape it.
Of course, we’ll still make mistakes.
But as my health coach Liz keeps reminding me, a single bad choice doesn’t mean we give up.
It just means we need to ask for forgiveness, stand back up, and move forward.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for dying to set us free from sin.
And thank the Holy Spirit for being with us, and His constant redirection from the temptations we face.
Ask Him to keep you focused on God’s word and in constant prayer so you can avoid temptation.
And pray for clarity…
If there’s an area of sin in your life that you may not even be consciously aware of.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal that to you so you can overcome it with His help.

1 Corinthians, 1 John, John, Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

7.14.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: A Higher Standard

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• So it sounds like Papa John’s has some issues.
If you haven’t heard the story yet, the founder made some disparaging comments and resigned from the board.
In the aftermath, Papa John’s is doing damage control as schools, universities, and professional sports teams around the country sever relationships with the company.
One offensive word has sent this international company into a tailspin.
You’d think people would know better.
Whether you’re the Chairman of the Board or an average Joe, the things we say and do have consequences.
Sometimes, significant ones.
And for Christians, we are held to a higher standard.
I touched on this briefly a couple of days ago when I wrote about judgment versus accountability.
But it goes far beyond that.
We are being watched.
(Cue the scary music.)
If you are known to be a Christian, those who aren’t are watching you.
They may not be consciously aware of it, but they are…
They may be watching to gauge your sincerity or frankly, they may be watching to see when you fail.
And if you do fail, or if you compromise Christian standards, I can almost guarantee the thought, “I thought they were supposed to be a Christian,” will run through their mind.
This is something I take very seriously.
As a Christian writer, I know there’s a tremendous weight of responsibility that goes with what I do every day.
I’m far from perfect, but it’s always on my mind.
In Matthew 18:6, Jesus said, “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
While He was speaking of children, I believe the words apply to all Christians, whether we are dealing with children, unbelievers, or even those Christians who are young in their faith, or who are backsliders.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Your exact brand of sin may not have been listed, but either way, as Christians who have been bought, paid for, washed, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus — we have to be constantly diligent of what we say and do.
We are in the world, not of it (John 17:16).
And because of that truth, we are held to a higher standard.
We know that being a Christian doesn’t make us perfect and it certainly doesn’t guarantee we won’t sin again, but the world expects that.
It’s a ridiculous and unfair expectation but that’s because the world does not see our faith the same way we do.
They view it as a ritualistic religion.
We view it as a relationship between imperfect sinners and a perfect Savior.
So while the expectations of us may feel impossible, we are called to do all we can to be like Jesus.
1 John 2:6 says, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for modeling for us the type of life we should strive to live.
Ask Him to help you be ever-mindful of the standards and responsibilities that come with Christian life.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and direct you to live a life that is vibrantly full of love for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians, Galatians, Leviticus, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Romans

5.19.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruit Bowl

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• So I said it was going to be a nine-day study, but… here’s Day 10.
Or a bonus day to wrap up our study of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
We’ve gone over them all.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Now, let’s talk about the last sentence of these verses: “There is no law against these things!”
Why does this matter?
In those days, the idea of being free from the law of Moses was a radical idea.
If you’ve read Leviticus, the atonement process was overwhelming.
All those laws were in place to help set apart God’s chosen people and to restore the relationship that was broken because man’s slavery to sin.
However, the death and resurrection of Jesus offered freedom.
Romans 6, verses 7 and 14 say, “For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
So we live in the Age of Grace.
We don’t follow the laws of Moses.
And our generation is too far removed to fully appreciate the radical transition from sin offerings, guilt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, etc. to the grace of Jesus Christ.
But the Bible demonstrates again its timelessness; this verse is still so relatable to us.
Just before the Fruits of the Spirit are listed, Galatians 5:19-21 lists examples of our sinful nature, including, “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins.”
The sins of yesteryear remain commonplace in our generation.
Let’s consider some of the legalities and rules on some of these sins.
Whether the consequences of these acts land a person in a court of law isn’t the point — these are the types of things that create hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment, confusion, disorder, and more.
They may feel good at the moment, but the effect and impact cause heartbreak and regret.
They created hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment, confusion, disorder, and more 2000 years ago.
They create hurt, anger, bitterness, resentment, confusion, disorder, and more today.
But because of the redemption offered by Jesus as the free gift of salvation, we can choose.
The Holy Spirit can help us fight against sin and recover from the impact sin has on our lives.
1 Corinthians 10:13 offers the promise we can cling to when faced with a choice of sin or obedience to Christ.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
And we come full circle back to the Fruits of the Spirit.
With the Holy Spirit’s help — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come together in the veritable fruit bowl of Christianity to help us seek His will, lay down our own, take off the heavy cloak of sin, and embrace the freedom God’s grace gives us.
And no one can criticize us for showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
No government can arrest us for showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
No one can accuse us when we act in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
There are no laws against these things!
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the freedom from sin that He offered us when He died on the cross.
Thank the Holy Spirit for His guidance and for filling you with good things and teaching you as you grow in Christ.
Ask for His help in bringing your fruit bowl to any and every situation.

1 Corinthians, Galatians, John, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs

5.14.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Kindness

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Five of our nine-day study of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
Today, we’re looking at KINDNESS.
In the New Testament, our word for “kindness” was translated from the Greek word “chrestotes.”
It’s a word used to describe behaviors such as gentleness, goodness, uprightness, generosity, and graciousness.
Just a quick review of that list, isn’t that what we want from other people?
When we embrace this fruit, it’s in short an act of the acronym “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do?)
Of course, ALL the fruits of the Spirit are a reflection of Jesus, but every time I read Scripture, I’m always struck by His kindness and compassion.
This morning, my Bible reading had me in John 8, and the story of the adulterous woman the Pharisees wanted to stone.
It was Jesus’ kindness and compassion for the woman that set her free.
And kindness is one of those things where the giver benefits as much as (if not more so!) than the receiver.
Proverbs 11:17 ESV says, “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”
I’m going to have a bragging mama moment here…
One of my favorite memories of my son was a moment of random kindness.
When he was in elementary school, we used to stop at a little deli on the way home and have cookies and root beer.
An elderly woman came in while we were eating, and she sat behind me.
My son kept watching her, and I told him to stop staring.
Then he asked (very loudly), “Mom, can I go help that woman?”
Of course, she heard him.
She was struggling to open a can of Coke, and when she heard his question, she asked him, “Will you open this for me?”
He wiped his hands on a napkin (another proud mama moment), opened her drink, then went to get her napkins and utensils.
As I sat there, with tears in my eyes, I was humbled beyond belief.
The care and kindness he extended was beyond my expectations.
But for me, the memory of my 8-year-old interrupting his afternoon snack to help a stranger, gives me hope.
We weren’t active in church at the time, but my son went with my mom and grandparents on occasion.
Hindsight shows me that was a moment when my son was used to be the hands and feet of Christ.
It demonstrated that He can work in people of any age.
It taught me that kindness can be given, even when the world around us is chaotic and confusing.
I love the hope wrapped up in that memory…
Today, as much as our society talks about kindness, we don’t see it enough.
In fact, on Friday night, a friend came over for coffee and we had this very discussion.
I told her that it bothers me that within my news apps, there’s usually a story of some bit of kindness.
Let me explain.
We’ve got a society that thrives on being perpetually offended.
Our headlines are full of accusations and he said / she said statements.
So why would it bother me that random bits of kindness are thrown into the mix?
It bothers me because kindness is such an anomaly these days, we have to point it out.
What would it be like for kindness to be so commonplace in our society that it DIDN’T warrant a headline??
I hope that my weird train of logic makes sense.
Of course I’m not criticizing acts of kindness.
So far in this Fruits of the Spirit series, we’ve covered love, joy, peace, and patience.
And 1 Corinthians 13:4a tells us that kindness is a part of two of those fruits—“Love is patient and kind;”
Love and patience.
In the fruit bowl of Christian attributes, kindness is a key ingredient.
Today, as you pray, praise Jesus for being the greatest example of kindness.
And thank Him for acts of kindness you bear witness to or receive.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you opportunities for kindness that you will embrace as you model what Christ did for us.

1 Corinthians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Romans

5.8.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: What Have You Done for Me Lately?

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Sometimes, I catch myself in my prayer life and it’s all about me.
“Lord I need you to do this, this, and that for me. And while You’re at it, can you bless this and give me peace about the thing we discussed last week?”
My prayers can turn into heavenly to-do lists real quick.
While I believe my deepest prayers line up with God’s will, and I also believe our God is incredibly generous and wants to give good things to His children, I also recognize there’s more to prayer than just me and my wants.
Now disclaimer time: the rest of this Praise & Prayer Prompt isn’t meant to insinuate that we can earn anything from God.
We can’t.
Salvation is a gift none of us are good enough to receive and yet, it’s freely given to anyone who trusts in Jesus as God’s Son.
He loves us so much.
Romans 5:8 NLT says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
So here’s today’s question: what have you done for God lately?
We are inundated with self-absorption.
Our culture virtually demands it between social media selfies; advertising campaigns that tell us we are worth the things we can’t afford; and the whole me-me-me way of thinking.
It’s nothing new.
Remember Janet Jackson’s song, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?”
That came out in 1986 and while the child-of-the-80s in me wants to say, “Oh that was just a couple of years ago,” it was over 30 years ago.
That’s another conversation.
But my point is, to some degree I feel like our society is more selfish ever, but that’s just humanity.
Any history book will demonstrate that truth.
Y’all we have so much to be thankful for.
Most of us could go for years without any purchase beyond the basics of food and shelter and be fine.
So instead of asking God for what He can do for us, are there opportunities for us to ask, “What can I do for Him?”
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
While He doesn’t need us, He does want our time.
He wants a relationship with us, so we can give Him our undivided attention for a period of time every day.
We can be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone we meet.
He loves it when we do that!
Doesn’t have to be big, but just small gestures that show a Christ-like love to the cashier at the store or the woman who drops her kids off at daycare at the same time you do.
So many ways we can give to God by giving to others.
In what other ways can we do things for God?
There are countless ways!
And each one is deeply personal because we have an amazing God who made each of us unique, Who values our individual talents and gifts, and Who wants a personal relationship with each of us.
What can we do for Him today that shows our love for Him and all He does for us?
Today, as you pray, first praise God for His generosity in giving us what we need; and praise Him for wanting to be a part of our lives.
Ask Him to show you ways to give back to Him a small fraction of what He does for you.