PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God” (Psalm 51:17).
This is a powerful verse.
And I’m going to use an analogy for which I have zero frame of reference: horses.
I’ve never ridden a horse.
They are pretty, but horses have free will and they don’t come with brake pedals.
So I admire them from a distance.
Despite my lack of personal experience with horses, I’ve read enough books where the characters dealt with horses, including training them.
Or breaking them.
The breaking of a horse is about teaching them to obey and follow direction.
There is some controversy in the term “breaking” as it has a negative connotation, but the point isn’t to break the spirit but to break the bad habits.
To help the horse learn self-control and how to surrender to the will of the trainer.
Y’all are smart people, you know where I’m going with this.
Before we give our lives to Jesus, we are willful, stubborn, prideful, self-reliant, and selfish.
When we surrender our pride and selfishness and come to God with humble hearts, that’s when we can truly experience the overwhelming magnificence of God’s grace.
In James 4:6, it says, “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
It’s a hard look in the mirror that examines our hearts and allows the Holy Spirit to convict us, correct us, change us, and point us to Christ.
And the broken spirit isn’t negative at all.
There is unparalleled freedom in offering our broken spirits to God.
It’s the very reason Jesus allowed Himself to be broken for us—“But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him” (Colossians 1:22).
Today, as you pray, thank God for the circumstances that broke your spirit to the point of humility and surrender.
Thank Him for His immeasurable grace.
Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and make you more like Jesus.
Ask Him to help you focus not on your wants but on the freedom that comes from a humble life that is lived for Christ.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Sometimes, we work very hard to convince ourselves that our wants are part of God’s will for our lives.
We focus so hard on the object of our desire, and we justify it as a plan God has for us.
Yet, we have a lingering unsettling in our hearts.
Here’s the truth…
If we feel unsettled, it’s not from God.
Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Then we have the words of Jesus from John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
And, Paul wrote, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” (Colossians 3:15a).
The Holy Spirit will allow us to feel unsettled when we are not on the right path.
It’s not God being mean.
It’s because God has ordained a path for each of us that is greater than any shiny object we may fixate our attention on.
He wants better for us than we want for ourselves.
So when we can’t feel His peace that is repeatedly promised to us throughout Scripture, it’s a clue that we have to surrender our wills and allow His to come first.
And that means letting go.
Saying goodbye to the things or people who distract us from God’s perfect plan.
It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His perfect peace.
Thank Him for His goodness in creating a plan that is for our benefit.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you wisely discern an unsettling.
Ask Him to give you clear discernment to recognize God’s peace (or lack thereof) in any situation.
Ask that your greatest desire will be whatever God’s will is.
And finally, ask Him to empower you and give you the courage to obey God’s will, even when it’s not what you wanted or hoped for.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We all know the saying, “Open mouth, insert foot.”
I’ve been there more times than I can count and often, it’s not so much “Open mouth, insert foot,” as it is, “Open mouth, insert a shoe store.”
We all know what it is to have our mouths work faster than our brains.
It’s completely understandable why James called the tongue “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” in James 3:2-10.
So many problems in the world are caused by restless chatter when the stillness of silence would have been far more beneficial.
The signature verse today comes from Psalm 141:3 and says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
It’s a prayer I pray frequently, paraphrased of course because I’m not as articulate as David.
My version is more like, “Lord, please let me know when to shut up and please don’t let me say something stupid.”
I pray frequently for God to give me the right words…
Whether I’m speaking to someone who has a vastly different set of values than I do…
Or trying to explain something…
Or trying NOT to say what I really want to say…
The words we speak matter and we know that better than ever in our easily-offended society.
And it’s for that reason that so many Christians stay silent.
They don’t know what to say or they are afraid of offending or sounding stupid.
Y’all, God gave us the gift of speech and we need to use it.
But we have to regularly incorporate David’s prayer into our prayer lives.
Left to our own devices, our mouths can get us into trouble.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our words.
Proverbs 16:4 equates gentle words to a honeycomb while in Colossians 4:6, it says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Salt enhances flavors and Jesus told us we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).
We are meant to use our words to bring peace when there is strife…
To bring healing when there is sorrow…
To bring love when there is hated.
And in Ephesians 4:29, we are told, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Let’s not be afraid to speak up, but instead, ask our Heavenly Father to guide our words.
Today, as you pray, thank God for the gift of speech and the ability to communicate.
Thank Him that with your voice, you can pray, and lift up praises to Him.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide every word that you speak that they will be God-honoring, kind, gentle, and a reflection of grace and goodness.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Colossians 3:14 says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
In our tumultuous, embittered world—don’t you wish this truth were more embraced?
What really aggravates me is that if someone removed the scripture reference and credited it to Buddha or Confucius, it would be spread like crazy.
Our Christian values are under attack.
As tempting as it is to get defensive and argumentative, both reactions are counterintuitive to the Christian faith.
Remember, Jesus’ treatment of the one who would betray him (Judas) was still loving kindness…
To the point that when he announced the betrayal was coming, the disciples had to ask who was the betrayer.
The example Jesus gave us of acting in love isn’t easy, especially when the media and our culture treats Christians as if they are hateful bigots.
We can’t shrink in fear or hide our beliefs for fear of what others think or assume.
We have to live the truth of Jesus and in doing so, live it with loving compassion.
As they say here in the South (and my husband and son have heard me say a million times), “You’ve got to kill them with kindness.”
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for modeling the example of loving your enemies.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you live your faith boldly each day and to react in love to negative situations.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We’ve all heard the saying, “Life is a gift,” and sometimes, we become a little dismissive of that.
We expect it.
And until an emergency or tragedy happens, we take for granted what goes on inside our bodies that enable us to live.
Our heart beats without conscious effort on our parts.
Our lungs take in oxygen while expelling carbon dioxide.
You and I aren’t responsible for this.
Job 12:10 says, “The life of every living thing is in his hand, as well as the breath of all mankind.”
So each morning, we wake up because our Creator gave us another day to get out there and make a difference.
What kind of difference are you going to make?
We weren’t designed and created to just go about doing our own thing.
The Bible says we were created for His glory and to worship Him.
Consider Colossians 1:16, which says, “For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him.”
Since we are created by Him and for Him, we have an obligation to obey Him and seek His will.
Solomon summed it up in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands because this is for all humanity.”
As we are in Holy Week, it’s a good time to reflect on the gift of life and how we can use this gift to His glory!
After all, He died on a cross for us and sacrificed Himself so that we could have abundant life (John 10:10).
Let’s consider how we can give ourselves back to Him and use our respective gifts of life to glorify Christ.
Today, as you pray, thank God for allowing your life to continue today.
Ask the Holy Spirit to use your life according to God’s plan and purpose.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Most of us like things done our way.
I admit I do.
And I’ll give you an example.
I always reload the dishwasher behind my husband or my mother.
They drive me nuts with the loosy-goosy way they load dishes.
When it comes to loading a dishwasher, I am a Tetris master.
My way is the best way.
And I’m not hesitant to tell Wayne or Mom what I think of their dishwasher loading skills (or lack thereof).
It did kind of backfire on me though…
While my son has been doing his own laundry since he was 11, he won’t even attempt to load a dishwasher because he says, “I don’t know how to do it the way you do.”
I guess, since I’m a chronic reloader anyway, it makes sense to not try when I’ve made it clear that no one in my family has measured up to my dishwasher-loading-standards.
When I consider my high expectations when it comes to the way certain things done, I recognize that my arrogance comes with some irony.
With few exceptions, most of us don’t like to have others tell us how to do things, and I’m the first to admit that I definitely fall in that camp.
In the business world, we call that micromanaging and that is the biggest pet peeve I have—right up there with being chronically late and taking phone calls during a meeting.
Today’s signature verse is Colossians 3:23, and it says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…”
And it’s a verse that has been so heavy on my heart lately, I keep asking myself, “Didn’t I just write about it?!”
I have it on the footer of my website for my new business as a kind of mission statement.
But my point is this…
I know I’m being trivial about the dishwasher.
And as much as I despise being micromanaged myself, I do it to my family when they are trying to help, albeit in their random, haphazard, willy-nilly fashion.
But if they loaded the dishwasher with a spirit of gratitude and praise for the technology that takes care of this particular chore, then does it matter that I don’t like the arrangement of the dishes?
No, it doesn’t.
When we have Micromanagers in our lives, it’s tempting to hold grudges and be bitter.
It really disrupts our attitudes.
But if we look past the micromanager, and focus our eyes on Jesus, our tasks and duties are no longer about them, but they are about Him.
And as long as we do everything to our best ability for the sake of Jesus, then nothing else matters.
Today, as you pray, thank God for this reminder.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep your eyes on Jesus in all things and remember that we work for the Lord, not for others.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In Colossians 2:2, Paul wrote of the congregations, “…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ…”
Let’s zero in on the part that says, “knit together in love.”
If you are a knitter or crocheter, you know how this works.
A piece of yarn is continually looped and pieced together until instead of a strand, a finished piece is put together.
And once the yarn is knitted, short of deliberate destruction, those loops and stitches aren’t going anywhere.
It’s united into a piece that can be functional and beautiful.
As a knitter myself, when I read that verse, I wonder how united we are as Christians.
Are our stitches strong, or are we unraveling?
Are we knitted together with our brothers and sisters in Christ?
The act of knitting isn’t really complicated.
It’s simply a matter of using two sticks to manipulate the yarn into the right place.
It’s hard at first, but easy when you know what you’re doing.
And the act of loving others and serving isn’t hard, but we don’t make it easy.
We complicate what is a pretty straightforward process with instructions that have all kinds of exceptions to the rules.
But Jesus put it simply—love God first and then, love your neighbors as yourself (Matthew 22:34-39).
He didn’t say “unless they do this or that…”
He told us to love one another without exception.
And when we are committed to living that, our knitted hearts can be both beautiful and functional as we go about as the Church to serve others.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the wisdom of His instructions to love one another.
Thank Him that through this truth, we are stronger united.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you love others as Christ commanded.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When my husband and I were looking for a house a few years ago, there was one I was super-excited about.
It had a lot of neat bells and whistles, including a backyard that had been modeled like an extended living room from the house.
It was in the location we wanted and in our budget.
It even had a pool, which for those of you who know me—may be surprising.
I have issues with pools.
But that’s really more about public pools (“people soup”).
I’d love to have a private one.
Granted, no one would be invited to use it because of my “people soup” issues…
But I’m getting off track.
There were so many great things about this house except for one major thing.
A crack in the foundation.
It was tempting to ignore that crack.
But we knew it would be a costly repair so we crossed it off our list and moved on.
Sometimes though, cracks happen in the best of foundations.
Even our faith foundations.
The best thing to do when a foundational crack occurs is to address it early before the problem gets out of hand.
However, how often do we let those cracks sit there, inching out and expanding?
Colossians 3:14 says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
When our foundation gets rattled or cracked, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get on our knees in prayer.
Not roll up our sleeves and try to do it ourselves.
This is not a DIY job.
This is the kind of project for which we need to call in the Professional.
And there’s no one better qualified than Jesus.
What makes Him qualified?
First, Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith.
And second, 1 John 4:8b says, “God is love.”
The cracks in our foundation can be repaired by the one who writes and perfects our faith when we ask Him to; who is the very love we need to bind up the crack.
Plus, Jesus was a carpenter!
How cool is that?!
When life shakes our foundation and cracks begin to appear, I love the idea of Jesus bent down with a heavenly caulk gun, repairing the damaged places in our lives as no one else can.
Great news—He’s always on call, 24/7, and He is always available if we ask for His help.
Plus, He offers Himself for free to anyone who trusts in Him.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus that He’s the professional who can fix our faith and that we don’t have to do it ourselves.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where there are areas in your life that need the repair that only Jesus can offer.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• We spend time every morning reviewing the options in our closets before picking out clothes to wear for the day.
We take into account where we’re going, what we’ll be doing, the weather, and whether or not those pants will still button.
But as Christians, we have another important part of our wardrobe— things we should wear every day.
They are outlined in Colossians 3:12-14 which says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Today, as you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to clothe you in these Christian attributes…
Ask Him to drape you in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love knowing that they will never go out of style, wear out, and they match everything else in your closet.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Do you ever wonder…
There’s two reasons…
When we “add salt” to our words and actions, it enhances what we have to say, just as salt enhances the flavor of food.
It’s a way we can help others see the difference Christ makes in our lives.
The second reason is that salt is a preservative.
When we add salt to our words, we can show how we have been preserved for eternity by the very grace of God.
As we will all be enjoying a big Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, let’s keep this in mind.
You’ll never hear “Pass the salt,” the same way.
Today, as you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to help you speak words seasoned with salt.
Ask Him to help you speak words that have been enhanced with kindness, compassion, and words of integrity while living a life that reflect all the grace God has poured out on you.