PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Say, “Buh-Bye, Pink!” Today is the last day for the My Grace-Full Life pink logo. For the last week, a new logo with color options has been posted on the MGFL Facebook page for voting. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow, but pretty much know which one it’s going to be.
Several have been kind enough to say they like the old logo. I appreciate that, but I’m revamping the website too and it’s a good time to re-do the logo.
Change is always hard. It’s just a logo, and as much as I’m ready to change it up, it is a little sad.
My Grace-Full Life may be a very small blog compared to others, but the Holy Spirit has used it ways I never imagined. I created the blog in November 2016 to practice faith-based writing because I was starting a MGFL column in Forsyth Family magazine. In March 2017, I decided to take on the ambitious challenge of a 30-day prayer prompt series. Then, it kept going. It will be three years of daily prayer prompts in 2020.
All credit goes to the Holy Spirit because He has been driving this project. It’s very seldom that I wake up with any idea of what I’m going to write about, and some days, I feel like I’m rambling. But He has enabled me to write even on some of my darkest days, including the day my grandmother died and when my son was in intensive care.
As a fairly reflective person, I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about the MGFL journey. And of course, who can think of time and Scripture without turning to Ecclesiastes or humming the tune by The Byrds?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”
Change is inevitable and God ordained it from the moment of creation with the creation of day and night and the seasons throughout the year. Despite the idea of change being change, it’s kind of predictable. We know it’s coming, even if we don’t know what it is. But this passage of Scripture, which inspired a 1965 rock classic, is full of wisdom about seasons and change. It’s a comforting passage to turn to when we’re facing new seasons—including those changes that are welcome as well as those that are not so welcome.
Let’s hone in on the word, “purpose.” A common word we use all the time—a reason, an intention, an objective.
In anything we do, God’s purpose will prevail. He’s with us through the changes and seasons because every change and season leads to His ultimate plan. While He never condones sin or evil, God will use even the worst situations to accomplish His ultimate purpose.
So, when we think of change and “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” we can rest in the promise that God has everything under control. He will use everything accordingly… from a sickness to a diagnosis to a new job to a new relationship to something as simple as a new logo. Let Him have the wheel for all the change you meet and watch Him use it for His glorious purpose.
Today, as you pray, thank God that no matter how much changes in our world, He never changes. He knows everything that’s happened and everything that will happen. Thank Him that change is never s surprise to Him and that He always uses it for His purpose which is good. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you embrace change as a part of God’s plan. Ask for the wisdom to understand that even when you don’t know the reason for the change, God does.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Who has ever had a knee jerk reaction?
I’m pretty sure if you’re reading, 99% of you are raising your hand (or at least nodding in agreement).
The other 1% may have not have had enough coffee yet to understand the question.
Read it again and then, I’m sure you’ll join in with the rest of us.
The thing about a knee jerk reaction is that once we calm down, the most common side effect is that we end up feeling stupid.
Don’t you just hate that feeling?
Ecclesiastes 7:9 CSB says, “Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.”
When I read that, I wonder if God ordained those words with me in mind…
Because I need to remind myself of this often.
Especially when I am interrupted.
That’s usually my trigger for a knee jerk reaction, and most especially when I’m interrupted while I’m writing or working.
Those reactions are not among my finer moments, as my family would agree.
Here’s the thing though—when anger rushes in, we have the option of self-control.
It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Yet, despite so many self-professed control freaks, we don’t often utilize self-control when it comes to our own tempers.
Why is that?
Could it be that our pride wants us to be justified in our anger?
But is it worth it?
Certainly not at the expense of relationships.
One method to choose self-control over anger is to adopt the attitude of “I love this person than I love being right.”
I’m far from perfect at it, but from the times I’ve practiced it, it helps diffuse my temper.
And usually, when I calm down, I may discover that I’m not as right as I initially thought I was.
(Y’all, my husband is going to hold this admission over my head for the rest of our lives.)
When we follow Jesus’ command to love others, enemies too, there isn’t room for knee jerk, pride-rooted anger.
There’s a time and a place to be angry.
But anger without self-control is sin.
Today, as you pray, thank the Holy Spirit for the gift of self-control.
Ask Him to manifest His fruit in your life so that when you’re tempted to have an angry, knee jerk reaction, you can choose to love first and maintain your self-control.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, I shared about a book I started reading called, “Warfare Praying,” by Mark Bubeck.
The quote I highlighted was, “Hope and courage are vital words in spiritual warfare. Courage is not only necessary in facing our relentless foe, but it is also the believer’s purchased possession” (Introduction, page 18).
Yesterday, we used this reminder to talk about hope and today, we’re talking about courage.
My favorite verse on courage is Joshua 1:9 ESV, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
How often I need this reminder. I have a particular situation that I pray over regularly and I often have to remind myself that there is no need to be afraid.
I know that the Lord has His perfect timing (Ecclesiastes 3:11 and 2 Peter 3:8) and that through the waiting, He will strengthen me (Isaiah 40:31).
I also know that whatever we pray in God’s will, He will answer (John 14:13-14) and that for the prayers of one who is surrendered to Jesus accomplishes much (James 5:16).
God does not want us to live in fear but to live in the courageous truth of His victory.
The story is already written and we know the end—God wins!
Fearful living doesn’t have a place in the Christian life because we have the Savior of the world and the One who sits on the throne is victorious over the enemy.
Going back to Mark Bubeck’s quote, I love the way he described courage as a “believer’s purchased possession.”
That goes straight back to 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Doesn’t that just encourage your heart?
Today, as you pray, thank God for reminders to embrace courage over fear.
Thank Him that He emboldens and strengthens us by His power.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus on these truths and not be tempted by the lie of fear.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• One of the most popular verses for a wedding comes from Ecclesiastes 4:12b, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
The illustration is for a husband and a wife to include God in their marriage in order to strengthen their bond.
And though I’m married, I’m sensitive to those who are single since I was for a long time…
So let’s look at this verse from a different angle.
I believe this is something we can look at in a more general sense.
If one strand of the cord represents you…
And one strand represents God, what is the third?
What if we assigned ownership of the third strand to our churches?
When God’s people are united with the purpose of seeking His will, He will do powerful things.
He loves it when we come together for Him.
When Jesus prayed for us in John 17, He said, “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me” (John 17:21).
So you, Jesus/God who are one, and other believers.
When we are united with Jesus and the church, then the world can see the love of God (v 23).
As David wrote in Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Today, as you pray, thank God for the strength He brings when He is a part of a cord of three.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep Christ at the center of all your relationships.
Whether you are married or you are united with the church in following God—ask the Holy Spirit to bind you together with His strength.
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 ••• Have you ever felt empty?
Have you wondered, “What’s the point?”
Most everyone feels that way at some point or another.
But that’s not how God designed us to feel.
More on that in a minute.
When King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, he talked a lot about life and vain pursuits that have no meaning.
For example, in Ecclesiastes 1:2,8 NLT, he wrote, “‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’ Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.’”
Now, we’re all friends here, so I’m going to be honest.
I think the book of Ecclesiastes is fairly depressing.
I’m not a scholar or a theologian and since it was written by the wisest man who ever lived, I feel extremely under-qualified to try to get really deep here.
But let’s flip ahead to chapter 12.
After pages and pages of calling life meaningless, Solomon wrote, “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
These verses give me hope.
God is present, seeing everything we do and hearing everything we say.
Yes, I admit there were times that would terrify me.
But not so much anymore, because I understand His judgment isn’t designed to condemn those who have accepted Jesus.
And when we’re told to “fear God,” it doesn’t mean fear as in “shake with terror.”
It means to acknowledge His infinite power and greatness with the respect it deserves.
But when we go through the motions of life, feeling empty, and ponder, as Solomon did, “what’s the point?,” we need to read 1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT, which say, “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
God does not want us to feel empty.
He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us in order to fill us with hope and give us an eternal future in Heaven.
And that love is designed to fill any empty space we’ve ever felt.
Seriously, how humbling is that?
We say it so much, it becomes routine and we take it for granted.
But sit for a moment and think about that.
God loves you so much, He thought you were worth the very life of His Son.
As a parent, I can’t say that I’d feel that way about anyone, that I’d let my son die for them.
It puts in small perspective the immeasurable love God pours out on us.
Because, my friends, if you were the only person who ever lived and breathed on this earth, Jesus would have still died for you.
If that doesn’t bring you to your knees in humble gratitude, I don’t know what will.
And with a love that profound given for you, how can we wonder, “what’s the point?”
The point is to share the Gospel with others!
The gift of salvation isn’t a gift we keep to ourselves.
Sharing it with others doesn’t diminish our portion.
Living life for Jesus is never a waste.
It’s never pointless.
And it’s the only way to fill the empty spaces.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He sent Jesus to die for us, so we could be saved.
Thank Him that life does have meaning—our purpose is to obey Him and share the love of Jesus with others.
Pray that you will embrace the truth and magnitude of God’s love and be willing to share it with others who need to fill their own empty spaces.
PRAYER PROMPT ••• If your view through a camera is always dark, it’s doesn’t mean the view isn’t beautiful.
It means you’re looking through a camera with the cap on.
Similarly, if we try to take a picture with a telephoto lens, we’re never going to capture the panoramic vista before us.
When we focus on why God allows bad things to happen, we’ve either got the cap on, or the wrong lens on the camera.
God’s ways aren’t our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
And life isn’t fair.
In Ecclesiastes 9:11b, it says, “The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives.”
No one is promised a win.
Maybe our loss teaches us humility and emphasizes our need for God.
Maybe our experiences are meant to be a life lesson for someone else, and help lead them to God.
Whatever the reasons for our successes or losses, God knows.
We also have to accept some ownership.
God gave us both commandments and free will.
If we exercise our free will against what He commands, we have to be prepared for the consequences of our choices.
Though God forgives us when we ask, that doesn’t mean the side effects of our choices disappear.
But we can be assured of this: God has a plan.
There’s a picture so much bigger than what you or I can see.
Those who have accepted Christ know from Romans 8:28b, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
And we know that if we lose, or suffer hardships, God’s not finished with us.
Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Today, as you pray, ask God to help you take the cap off the lens and look at situations through His eyes.
Ask Him to help you see the bigger picture.
Though we may not understand His ways, ask Him to help us trust His plan.
It is good, and designed to bring us closer to Him and through Him, abundant, eternal life in heaven.
PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, I had an Ah-Ha moment.
I was writing in my prayer journal, and God impressed on my heart that some details don’t matter, at least in the long run.
Be still my inner-detail-loving-control-freak.
I’m going to share straight from my prayer journal: “Help me keep perspective of what I think is important now, versus what is important for eternity.”
Don’t get me wrong.
God can use even the most infinitesimal, seemingly insignificant detail to His glory.
Small details do matter, but that doesn’t mean we should lose sight of the big picture.
Consider the inconsequential dandelion that has transitioned to a puffy white weed.
You pick it, blow its petals off, and then you go about your day.
You don’t spend hours pondering, “where did those little puffs of petals go?”
Yet by the same token, God cares about those petals.
He’s the one Who designed the flower.
(I encourage you to look up a time-lapse video of a dandelion if you think the details don’t matter to God.)
That flower is one of countless representations of God’s magnificent handiwork and creativity.
But not every puffy dandelion has a lasting impact on our choice to spend eternity with Jesus.
Maybe one does.
That’s between you and Jesus, and He’s personal enough to work with us on an individual basis, even through a dandelion.
For me, it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the details.
That’s not always a bad thing, but it can cause us to lose sight of what’s important in the long run.
And even more concerning, focusing on details can cause us to shift our focus from Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 3:11b says, “He has planted eternity in the human heart…”
And Colossians 3:2 reminds us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
God has put a challenge in my heart to be aware of the details and weigh them against eternity.
Obviously, some I won’t know.
But if my focus is on Jesus, rather than the details, I can trust He’s got it figured out.
Today, as you pray, ask God to help you focus on Jesus, and let Him worry about the rest.
If details are distracting you from God’s purpose and plan, ask Him to remind you of what’s eternally significant.
PRAYER PROMPT ••• I’m going to clean the house today.
I’ve been planning this day for weeks.
My husband and I have spent the last several weekends reorganizing, purging, and basically – spring cleaning in the fall.
I can’t wait for tonight.
That wonderful feeling of everything cleaned, dusted, in its place.
I like for things to be orderly and tidy.
It feels refreshing.
And when the house is clean, don’t you feel like having company over?
And since we’re all friends, I’m going to admit something I used to do a lot: I used to spend the whole day cleaning, have company over, then apologize for the mess so that I could get a compliment on how nice the house looked.
I know I’m not alone in that tactic.
I don’t do that anymore, but I’m sure you can relate.
We want to have our house in order before people visit because of the unspoken illusion it gives – “if they have their house in order, their life must be in order too.”
We know how wrong perceptions can be.
But how often do we have the same idea in place when it comes to our hearts and relationship with Jesus?
We feel we need to “clean” our lives before we can go to church, join the Bible study, or even pray.
But like the illusion of clean house equalling ordered life, it’s a deceptive lie.
Outward appearances don’t fool Jesus as His specialty is the heart.
He sees beyond the polished exterior and knows exactly what we have shoved in the closet that holds all the broken, damaged, embarrassing parts of our lives.
Mark 2:17b says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
He’s not looking for perfection.
We are all sinners, but we can take comfort that Jesus knows exactly how to bring order from the chaos.
He will make things new.
Ecclesiastes 3:11a says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Today, as you pray, ask Jesus to look into your heart, where He alone can see.
Ask Him to make your heart clean and renew in you a beautiful hope found through his grace and mercy.
PRAYER PROMPT ••• Today is my sixth wedding anniversary, but it feels much longer.
And I promise, I say that in a good way.
It just seems so crazy that we’ve been through so much in six short years!
Starting out with my move to Ohio… relocating back to North Carolina four years later… trips… memories… laughter and tears…
As Wayne and I have worked on this marriage-stuff, I’ve increasingly understood the verse from Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Because as any married person knows – marriage is hard!
Wonderful, but hard!
And it’s not 50-50!
It’s each person giving 100%, but not just 100% to each other… the most successful marriages will also give 100% to God as the third – and most important – strand in the cord.
It’s great that my husband has my back, but he’s not enough.
Putting God in our marriage is what gives it endurance.
And let’s face it.
I know my husband would protect me, but he can’t save me.
Only Jesus can.
Wayne and I aren’t really doing anything this anniversary beyond acknowledging the day.
We’re going to church, which may seem routine, but that’s hardly the case.
This is the day the Lord has made and we are going to go worship Him together, knowing that with Him, all things are possible, and thanks to Him, we have the perfect, never ending love of God as our third strand in our cord (Psalm 118:24; Matthew 19:26; 1 John 4:8).
Today, as you pray, thank God for His presence in your life and ask Him to be the heartbeat of your marriage and other relationships.
Ask Him to be the foundation for you as a parent, a child, a sibling, and a friend.
Thank Him that through His divine mercy and grace, He can unify relationships and marriages, and make them stronger.