Acts, Galatians, Matthew, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

6.18.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Freedom & the Power of Belief


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When a baby elephant is tethered to a stake, it will pull against it.
However, over time, the elephant will become convinced that the rope is too strong, and it will stop trying.
Even as the elephant grows in strength, the psychological hold of the rope is so great, the elephant’s mind is conditioned to believe that it’s inescapable.
Isn’t that so sad?
I couldn’t help but think about this when I read Acts 12 this morning.
(It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but I pray you’ll see where I’m going with this.)
In this book, King Herod Agrippa arrested Peter with plans to put him on trial after Passover.
Verses 6-7 say, “The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, ‘Quick! Get up!’ And the chains fell off his wrists.”
Skipping down to verse 9, it says, “So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening.”
And again, skipping to Verse 11a, “Peter finally came to his senses. ‘It’s really true!’ he said. ‘The Lord has sent his angel and saved me…’”
While the elephant’s captivity is based on belief, Peter was physically held prisoner.
However, he doubted his rescue through the process until he got to the other side.
In fairness to Peter, he had experienced visions from God before and he was just woken up from a sound sleep (at least I have to assume it was a sound sleep since the angel had to nudge him awake…)
We may believe false perceptions about ourselves, other people, or the situations around us.
But we don’t have to remain prisoner to those beliefs that hold us back in fear.
Galatians 5:1 says, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”
Just as the angel woke Peter and the chains on his wrists fell off, so is Jesus waiting to set us free from the things that hold us back.
It’s a matter of trust.
We can’t believe a rope that tethers us.
It has lied and deceived us from believing the truth that we are free in Jesus and that with God, anything is possible (Matthew 19:26).
And the confusion of Peter, even when he was unchained, led out of a prison, then out of the city gate before he realized how God had saved him… well, I find that very relatable.
Most of us can cite at least one memory when, at the time, we were confused or devastated, but with hindsight, we realized God’s hand on the situation protected us from something much worse.
And in that moment of hindsight-clarity, we too can say, “It’s really true! The Lord has saved me…”
At the end of the day, life lived with Jesus is the only true freedom because with Him, we no longer have to experience doubts.
We know He loves us and He has a plan.
We can trust that He has a purpose, even during seasons of pain and sadness.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the freedom He offers.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you break free of any ropes or chains that hold you back and to trust in Jesus, even when you don’t understand His plans.

1 Thessalonians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Habakkuk, John, Matthew, Philippians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

5.31.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: Blessings & Perseverance


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In Galatians 6:9, we are given a challenge and an encouragement all rolled into one.
It says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
The part about a “harvest of blessing” jumped out at me this morning.
That’s the part that is emphasized in the graphic, and that’s what I thought I’d be writing about.
However, I did some volunteer work yesterday and used this verse in a graphic I made for them.
As I finalized this morning’s image, I realized that the emphasis I put on yesterday’s graphic was different.
On that one, the emphasis was on “at just the right time.”
I think it’s so cool when God shows us different viewpoints like this.
And there’s a whole lot of great content in this little verse, so let’s unpack the whole thing together.
First part: “SO LET’S NOT GET TIRED OF DOING WHAT IS GOOD.”
I don’t know about you, but I totally relate to this.
I appreciate the encouragement to keep going because the Christian journey is a lonely one at times.
Even among Christians.
To the world, we are different.
Even the good we do in the world can be looked at disdainfully because of the faith we profess.
Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”
We just have to remember when discouragement knocks on the door, looking for that entry point in our lives, we don’t do good for people or personal recognition.
We do it for Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us “Christ’s ambassadors” and in Philippians 1:6, we’re reminded, “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.”
The fact is that the good we do may not be fully understood or appreciated until we’re in heaven with Jesus.
We may not know the impact of our work in this lifetime, and that’s okay.
We don’t do what we do for personal accolades but we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us for God’s glory.
Second, “AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME.”
I love this part of the verse because it goes back to my word of the year, “timing.”
Y’all, I’ve been amazed at how one word can teach me so much.
God’s timing is not like ours and as I’ve been learning this year, He will not be rushed.
But He won’t be late either.
He loves us too much to do anything for us that is less than perfect.
Even His timing.
When the prophet Habakkuk asked God about His plan, God answered.
And in Habakkuk 2:3, He said, “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”
I love this verse.
No one likes waiting, but I promise — our God with perfect timing will make it worth the wait!
Third, “WE WILL REAP A HARVEST OF BLESSING.”
Blessings take different shapes and sizes.
Some may see blessings as financial security and success, while others see blessings as a good medical report or something else.
Everything we do in life has a consequence—sometimes positive consequences and sometimes negative.
And sometimes, just as we discussed in the first section of this verse, we may not see the fruits of our work in this lifetime.
When we hear about a harvest of blessing, let’s remember Matthew 5:12b, when Jesus said, “…a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
Finally, “IF WE DON’T GIVE UP.”
Let’s head over to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 for this part.
It says, “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Always be.
Never stop.
Be thankful.
All present tense phrases of action.
To give up removes the action or activity and we’re clearly told to keep going!
And in Philippians 3:14, Paul wrote, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
So let’s press on too.
Keep going.
Don’t be discouraged because we are called by Jesus and with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
Since all things are possible with Him, why quit?
If He’s called us to a project or assignment, He’s promised to be with us.
He’s not going to abandon us halfway through.
Today, as you pray, praise God for the challenge of this verse.
This short little verse that has a ton of wisdom and encouragement in it.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you persevere, and remember what lies ahead.
Just because our vision is limited doesn’t mean that there’s not something spectacular waiting for us on the other side of the horizon.

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.

2 Timothy, Galatians, Luke, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Romans, Titus

5.18.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Self-Control


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Nine 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 SELF-CONTROL.
This is one of the most challenging fruits, isn’t it?
Of course, I tend to view it more about “put the cookie down,” but in this conversation, that’s not what this is about.
In Luke 9:23-24 ESV, it says, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’”
Jesus was telling us to abandon our will and surrender to God’s.
And that requires self-control.
Our sin-nature wants what we want.
We want our way and don’t like giving up our own agendas.
2 Timothy 3:2-4, describes people quite accurately, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”
Know of people who fall into these descriptions?
Do any of them describe you?
Romans 8:7-8, tells us how these attitudes impact our relationship with God, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
If we’re focused on me-me-me, we can’t pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
But in Titus 2:11-12, we have hope, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…”
Did you catch that?
TRAINING US.
Giving up our will is hard!
It requires self-control but the beautiful thing about this isn’t we don’t do it by ourselves!
The Holy Spirit TRAINS us to live self-controlled lives that honor God and enable us to pick up the cross and follow Jesus.
I just think our God is so amazing!!!
It’s overwhelming how much He loves us that He not only allowed Jesus to die for us, but He takes a personal interest in our lives and sent us His Spirit to teach, guide, coach, and train us!!!
Don’t you LOVE that??
Self-control isn’t easy, but those who have accepted Christ as their Savior have the ultimate Encourager who is with them every step of the way.
24/7.
Today, as you pray, praise the Holy Spirit for investing in us, growing us, and encouraging us.
Pray He will continue to develop your self-control so you can willingly surrender your will and follow God’s.

1 Peter, Galatians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Proverbs, Titus

5.17.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Gentleness


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Eight 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 GENTLENESS.
This is totally my opinion, but of the Fruits of the Spirit, I think gentleness may be the most underrated.
Maybe it’s because as I see it — the world doesn’t have much gentility in it.
It’s the antithesis of a very harsh me-me-me society.
In Proverbs 15:1 NLT, it says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Or as any Southern grandma would tell you, “You draw more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”
Let’s talk about this.
Unless you’re one of the few social media hold outs in the world, you’ve likely seen a Facebook argument.
It’s amazing the bravado people have from behind a keyboard!
I have a mental image of opposing sides going into battle, armed with a keyboard as a shield, coffee in the canteen, and an acerbic tongue as the sword.
Not much gentleness goes on in a Facebook argument.
While I make it a point to NOT to discuss politics on my personal Facebook page, I couldn’t help myself during the last election…
I put up a post that essentially said, “Do you honestly think that calling someone a ‘big, fat, stupid, dummy head’ is the best way to win an argument and champion people for your side?”
The point is the truth of Proverbs 15:1.
We’re not going to win people for Christ if we hit them in the head with Bibles and tell them they are headed straight for hell.
We win people for Christ with love and kindness, and a gentle spirit.
The same gentle way Jesus loves us.
In 1 Peter 3:16, it says Christians should share their faith in a “gentle and respectful way.”
And in Titus 3, verse one begins the chapter with what believers should do/not do and in verse two, it says, “They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.”
Gentleness is rooted in kindness, humility, respect, and meekness.
It’s not self-serving, but it’s an others-first way of thinking.
Think of a person who personifies gentleness.
What attributes do they have?
I know several people who have gentle souls and honestly, I just love being around people like this.
They are humble, not prideful.
They are soft, yet strong.
They handle challenges with diplomacy and grace.
It’s the way I would hope others would see me, but if I’m honest — the Holy Spirit is still working on me.
Today, as you pray, praise Jesus for setting the example of true gentility.
And ask the Holy Spirit to give you a gentle Spirit that tames you to a point of kind humility and respect for others.

Galatians, Hebrews, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

5.16.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Faithfulness


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Seven 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 FAITHFULNESS.
The Bible is God’s infallible Word to man, every detail divinely orchestrated.
With that said, the order of the Fruits of the Spirit may seem arbitrary, but does anyone else find it interesting that faithfulness is the seventh fruit listed?
Faith — the very thing that is required of us to be saved — falls in line with the number associated with divine completion.
I don’t mean to try to read something in between the lines of Scripture, but I find that very interesting.
(Side note, if you want to learn more about the significance of the number seven, please go to GotQuestions.org and search “What is the biblical significance of the number seven/7?”)
Faith, in its most simple form, means “belief,” or “trust.”
It’s the choice we make to believe God is trustworthy; He keeps His promises; and that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God.
It’s the very foundation of our Christian walk.
Faith is the only thing God has asked of us since He first created Adam and Eve.
Their original sin was a result of not trusting in what God said would happen if they ate the forbidden fruit.
With that said, let’s step back a few verses ahead of the Fruits of the Spirit verses and look at Galatians 5:19-21 NLT which says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Without faithful obedience, all of these things listed in verses 19-21 set us up for heartache and misery.
Any “fun” is short-lived and temporary; the consequences are eternal.
These verses then segue into what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives if we surrender to God.
It’s FAITH that enables us to let the Holy Spirit produce in us the fruits of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
And what’s super cool about this—we don’t have to rely on ourselves for faith.
Any truly repentant heart who wants to believe will be empowered to believe!
Hebrews 12:1-2a says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Verse one refers to a crowd of witnesses to the life of faith— this refers to faithful powerhouses such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and more!
We can look to their lives of faith, and learn from them.
And by doing so, turn our backs on the sin that hurts us, focus our eyes on Jesus, and believe that He died to save us.
From there, the Holy Spirit works to grow our faith and thereby, help us develop a closer relationship with God.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Of course, we serve an Amazing God!
Today, as you pray, thank Him for the gift of faith and ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe, when everything in the world seeks to trip you up.
Ask Him to give you a trusting heart that is utterly dependent on Jesus because of what He’s done for you, and the eternal future He is planning for you.

2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm, Romans

5.15.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Goodness


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Six 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 GOODNESS.
Psalm 14:3b NLT says, “No one does good, not a single one!”
Well, that’s a disheartening way to start off an essay about being good, right?
But hang tight… there’s hope.
This is the passage Paul was referring to when he wrote Romans 3 which includes one of the Bible’s most popular verses, “No one is righteous— not even one.” (Romans 3:10b).
From Adam and Eve’s first bite of forbidden fruit, sin has been passed down from generation to generation.
Goodness is listed as a fruit of the Spirit because any goodness we do is obtained when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us.
Before we dive into that… yes, unbelievers can do good things, and be morally upright.
But they will fail to measure up to God’s standards of goodness every single time.
We all fail to measure up – believer or not.
But the goodness of the Spirit recognizes that our goodness isn’t about us, nor is it about morality. It’s about God’s goodness.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul wrote about the “thorn in his flesh,” and in verse 9, he shared God’s words, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We all share the same sin struggle.
It may not be the exact brand of sin, but it’s sin nonetheless.
And since we all struggle with a sinful thorn in our flesh, we all need God to help us fight it.
From that, His great goodness can work in us and produce good works.
And we do good, not to earn God’s favor (because there is nothing we can say or do that will be good enough), but we do it out of grateful hearts for all He’s done for us!
My favorite verses in Scripture are Ephesians 2:8-9.
They are the foundation for my blog’s name and purpose.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

The fruit of goodness is never of our own doing.
It’s the direct result of surrender.
Today, as you pray, praise God for being good.
Thank Him that while you are a sinner, He still loved you enough to send Jesus to die for you (Romans 5:8).
Ask the Holy Spirit to use you to do good things in appreciation for His love, and so that through your weak, sinful nature, God’s goodness can shine.

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.

Galatians, James, Jeremiah, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt, Psalm

5.13.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Patience


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Four 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 PATIENCE.
Ah, patience.
What we want from everyone else, but what we don’t want to give.
Right?
God’s timing is perfect though, as always.
After all, this project was put on my heart with patience lined up just in time for Mother’s Day.
Moms, for the most part, are masters at patience.
I’m sure there are many who disagree with my assessment.
I certainly know how impatient I was with my son at times.
But moms are always hard on themselves.
The comparison game is alive and well in the world of motherhood…
So if you’re a mom who is reading, let’s take ourselves out of this equation.
Let’s think of our own moms, or grandmothers, or mother-figures in our lives.
Didn’t they patiently care for you when you were sick?
Even staying up all night when she had to get up early the next day?
Or teach you how to bake a pie, even though you made a colossal mess in her kitchen?
Didn’t she spend hours upon hours at the ball field, waiting for you to finish practice?
Help with homework and science projects?
Moms demonstrate extraordinary patience with their children.
Even if they don’t think so themselves.
My own mother and grandmother are paragons of patience.
I’ll never measure up to their caliber of patience.
Galatians 6:9 NLT says, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
What an encouraging thought!
And I’m living proof of that!
For 18 years, as I struggled as a prodigal, my mom and grandparents prayed for me.
Their efforts weren’t in vain and eventually, I came around.
Parent or not, the same applies to any Christian.
When we stand up for our Christian values and grow lonely or discouraged when we pray and don’t see any progress or change, it’s easy to think, “What’s the point of continuing?”
But a key component to patience is understanding that God’s timing isn’t ours.
We may wonder if His watch stopped, but He’s never late.
He always comes through.
But He expects us to be patient and wait.
He will not be rushed.
Psalm 37:7a says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.”
Oh so much easier said than done.
If we stand there, tapping our foot, the wait will be frustrating.
(Watch a pot boil much?!)
But if we can wait on Him in trust, our patience grows and is perfected.
James 1:3-4 tells us, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Going back to moms… Seasoned moms know this truth.
And it’s their counsel to younger mothers that helps them when it feels like life has become an endless cycle of diapers and spit up.
And for mature Christians, we have the same responsibility to nurture and encourage new and younger Christians.
God’s working.
He hears us.
And if He’s asking us to wait, He has a reason.
Because His plans are perfect.
Jeremiah 29:11 is the ultimate go-to verse for that promise, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Let’s wait patiently for those good plans.
Today, as you pray, praise God for His perfect timing, and ask Him to help you praise Him during the wait.
And thank Him for the extraordinary moms and mother-figures in your life who have given of themselves, and patiently guided you through countless situations.

Galatians, John, Praise Prompt, Prayer Prompt

5.12.18 Praise & Prayer Prompt: The Fruits of the Spirit — Peace


PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This is Day Three 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 PEACE.
I am so excited that “peace” fell on the third day! I know it’s cliche to use fruit-graphics for this study, but I wanted these images to be fairly consistent, so this seemed the best way.
And I decided to organize the colors in a rainbow-esque way which means yellow!
Lemons!
I think lemons are a great analogy to peace.
We all know lemons are super-sour.
Who eats a lemon straight, right?
But under the right circumstances, lemons are delicious.
A little sugar and water—lemonade (and if you’re at Chick-fil-A, all the better… their lemonade is the best!).
A few egg whites and sugar — lemon meringue. Lemon cake; lemon bars; lemon chicken; lemon broccoli (my favorite!)—all amazing.
It’s the addition of something else that turns sour lemons into something enjoyable and good.
Let’s keep that in the back of our minds while we think of people.
People left to their own devices are pretty sour.
We’re talking about egos, pride, self-centeredness, jealousy, anger, and a whole host of emotions.
You mix up all these people and all these emotions and you’re going to have conflicts.
Because at the core of our sinful human nature’s, it’s all about us.
Putting others first isn’t a natural instinct.
But, when you add the Holy Spirit, willful nature’s can be tamed.
It is no longer about us, it’s about Him.
And that brings sweet peace because we can recognize the One who loves us, made us, and saved us.
The addition of Jesus in our lives turns us from bitterness.
Now, with all that said, of course there are unbelievers who seem to have it all together.
They are kind, they volunteer, they show compassion.
From a worldly perspective, they are “good” people.
But good people can still be lost.
We are all sinners—believers and unbelievers.
But it doesn’t matter how “good” someone is, they will not experience true peace without Jesus.
In John 16:33 NLT, Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
It’s a part of so many Christian testimonies… that before they surrendered to God, they never felt peace.
It’s a part of my testimony.
Through my prodigal years, peace evaded me.
Even though I was secure in my salvation, I had walked away from the will of God.
When I came back and surrendered my will, peace overflowed me.
Jesus gives peace.
He takes us from being sour, bitter lemons, and creates something good in us.
He uses us to wonderful purposes when we allow Him to take the lead.
And the side-effect is perfect peace.
Today, as you pray, praise Jesus for the perfect peace He gives.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you focus on God’s will and allow you to enjoy the perfect peace that He offers.