PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• When I was a little girl, I loved bubbles. To be honest, if you were to hand me a bowl of soapy water and a pink plastic wand right now, my inner 5-year-old would squeal with delight. I loved the iridescent sheen and the gentle way they bounce and float. Besides getting that one incredibly huge and perfect bubble, I loved the ribbon of bubbles that would pour out of a generous wand and result in what seemed like a million bubbles dancing around me!
But remember all those failed attempts to get the bubble to appear? The times when no matter how gently you blew, the soapy water wouldn’t cooperate? The result was just a sad spray of soapy water instead of a glorious bubble.
Yet, even when our best efforts didn’t yield results—we persisted. We continued to try until we got our perfect bubble.
We persist in many things in life, knowing that the best things come to those who don’t give up. But one area that we give up on too quickly is prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV, it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
To pray without ceasing is a tall order. But not an impossible one. It’s an opportunity to continue reaching out to our Father and then, watch the generous blessings and beauty of His answered prayers pour forth. The thing is—because His answers don’t always come out as we expect them to, we sometimes miss them.
That’s why praying without ceasing and being diligent to His will matters so much.
In 1 John 5:14 ESV, it says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” And in Galatians 6:9 ESV, it says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
We don’t give up on prayer because, in God’s timing, He will answer us when we’ve prayed according to His will. Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Just as the judge acted on behalf of the widow who refused to give up, so can we count on our Heavenly Father to act on our behalf.
To clarify—this isn’t about any and all requests. God isn’t a genie to grant us our three wishes (or the wish for more wishes). He examines our hearts and our motives. But we can rest assured that if our prayers line up with His will and in accordance with Scripture, He hears us! His answers may not look as expected, but we can count on them to come through.
So keep praying. Don’t give up. Let God honor your patience and persistence and when He answers, be in awe of His great goodness and how when He answers, it’s always for our benefit and better than we could expect.
Today, as you pray, thank the Heavenly Father for His blessings. Thank Him for His willingness to hear our prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with confidence when giving up seems easier. Ask Him to help you be persistent and constant in prayer.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, we said goodbye to pink and today, we say hello to… I’m not sure what the color name is. I can tell you the HEX code, but saying, “Hello, #009c93” doesn’t sound particularly warm or inviting! It’s darker than teal but not quite green. Facebook readers voted on it. It’s pretty. And so there you go! Let’s call it “Emerald-esque.” That’ll work.
A new website will be coming soon too and after checking on my website history yesterday, this is the 900th blog under My Grace-Full Life!
All this newness is the culmination of three years at She Speaks. It’s time for me to get serious about what I’ve learned. I just want to be used by God to share my crazy random thoughts in a way that hopefully, honors Him first and helps others second.
Today, let’s go to Isaiah 43:19 KJV. It says, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
It’s always a great verse choice when we’re looking at change.
But this isn’t about OUR new thing. These are the Lord’s words. It’s about HIS new thing. This commentary sums it up beautifully, “The Lord always has greater things in store; he is revealed in the past, but he is always more than the past revealed” (“Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary,” by J. Alec Motyer).
God is at work in our lives. If we will surrender to Him, He will demonstrate new things that will draw us closer to Him and enable us to learn more about His character and goodness! I’m not a proponent for “prosperity preaching,” so I’m not going to say that everything new He does or allows will have a shiny red bow on top or be what we hoped for or imagined.
But just as we spoke of “purpose” yesterday—He always has one. And His purpose will always be good and beneficial, whether we understand that immediately or not.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is at work and He is doing new things. Thank Him for what He’s doing in your life and trust that even in the worst situations, He has a plan. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see God at work in your life and ask Him to help you honor Him first in all you say and do.
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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 ••• Jeremiah 31:25 ESV says, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
I love this promise. It gives peace and hope.
We joke around that part of being an adult is going around telling everyone how tired we are, but let’s face it—that’s our fault. God didn’t design us to go at this kind of pace. We’ve set it because the world expects it.
Choosing to slow down and rest is not something that comes easy for most of us and if I may be so bold—I’m at the front of that line. (My husband often says that if I have five free minutes, I’ll fill it with 30-minutes of something to do.)
This verse says nothing of water, but that’s the visual I have. Water refreshes us and cleans us. And for me, this verse is a “Woman at the Well” promise that applies to all of us.
The woman was offered a drink of Living Water and while initially skeptical, by the end of the passage, she had hope (John 4:4-42). In my mind, I picture her arrival being one of exhaustion.
• Physical exhaustion from the exertion to get water in the middle of the day.
• Mental exhaustion since she knew she was an outsider in her community due to her poor choices.
• Spiritual exhaustion because she had no hope or peace.
But after an encounter with Jesus, she was energized, her past no longer mattered, and she had the hope and peace that is only offered through the Living Water of Jesus.
We are all that woman. Deep within each person is a spiritual thirst that is only quenched and satisfied by Him. And for those who believe, He has promised replenishment and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, we spend too much time trying to accomplish this with other things.
However, that promise is there. No matter what our past, our circumstances, or where we are. Our Heavenly Father always allows a u-turn on the paths we walk. That promise is ours for the taking if we ask and trust. It may not change our situations, but it will always change our hearts.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being the Living Water we all need. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you look to God alone for all your soul longs for. Ask Him to replenish you as only He can.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• One of the biggest challenges for a Christian writer is the dreaded word, “platform.”
Every writer I know pretty much cringes at the term.
It feels contradictory to the call to write.
Speakers tend to feel the same way because they have to face the p-word too.
But it’s not about being a writer or a speaker.
We all have a God-assigned purpose and personal mission-field.
Our endlessly creative God gives each of us a unique set of gifts to achieve His call for our lives.
He may give us an audience of millions or an audience of dozens.
Whatever our circle of influence and whatever shape our individual calling takes, we ultimate serve an Audience of One.
And as long as we obey Him and follow His plan, the numbers don’t matter.
It’s a liberating statement to make as a writer.
(Whew! Take that, Platform!)
But my personal ministry doesn’t start and stop with my keyboard.
Our mission field isn’t defined by one adjective.
There are a lot of shapes and packages in which God will use us—writers, speakers, musicians, teachers, caregivers, parents, husband/wife, neighbor, friend, student, etc.
And what is amazing to me is that every person’s gifts are manifested in different ways and used to bless others in different ways.
In Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV, Paul wrote, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Let’s zero in on that phrase, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
My calling isn’t going to look exactly like yours, his, or hers.
And yours isn’t going to look exactly like mine or theirs.
God may have one person ministering in a very direct, bold manner.
He may use another person to minister through compassionate care in the medical industry.
He may ask another to minister as a ray of His goodness and light in a negative work environment.
Not every ministry is overt.
Consider John Maxwell whose ministry is leadership.
Or Dave Ramsey who ministers through financial guidance.
Or Chick-fil-A who ministers through great service and food.
Then we have people like Lysa TerKeurst who ministers through raw emotion.
All of these people and organizations are Christians with a calling and each one is handled differently.
What is your calling?
How can you serve and minister exactly where you are?
Could it be through compassionate leadership?
Could it be through acts of service?
Maybe you’re ministering with a toolbox in hand.
Whatever medium God uses for your ministry—the point is to be willing to be used and “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
To be the one who others look at and wonder about what makes you different.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His plan and purpose for your life.
Ask the Holy Spirit to use you and guide you…
To not feel the pressure to be anything other than who God has asked you to be to the circle He has called you to influence.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My husband hates glitter.
I mean HATES it.
Every year, I have to open the Christmas cards over the kitchen trash can in case the card is covered in glitter.
If the card has glitter, he will not handle it.
I will brush off as much glitter as I can before putting it on the fireplace mantle.
And I understand his phobia (technically known as sparkalaphobia).
Glitter sticks to everything and it’s impossible to get off.
The glitter bombs that some company came up with a few years ago are nothing short of evil genius… because sending an explosive package of glitter to someone takes vengeance to a new level.
But then there are those people who view glitter as a fun accessory.
Those are the ones I don’t understand.
I’m not a makeup girl on any given day but makeup with glitter in it?!
I remember this girl I saw at a restaurant one time whose lips were purposefully covered in glitter.
Red glitter lips.
I hope it tasted good because she undoubtedly ate a good chunk of it with her meal.
All of this to say—there’s something else in our world that is as pervasive and persistent as glitter—sin.
And we all have it.
1 John 1:8 ESV says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
We are born with it and are covered in it.
Paul wrote of his frustration with sin in Romans 7:7-25, and his ongoing battle with wanting to do right and fighting his sinful nature.
We can relate, right?
Especially in verse 15 which says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (ESV).
I so get that.
I want to do the right thing and then I do or say something colossally stupid, and wonder what in the world is wrong with me.
Why can’t I simply obey?
Why do I screw up?
And I have the analogy of looking at my hands that I just washed to find them covered in the sparkly glitter of my own selfish and sinful nature.
I feel the urgency of Lady Macbeth trying to rid herself of the spots of sin.
But our hope is found in Jesus.
The only One Who can remove the sin.
Let’s go back to 1 John. In 1 John 1:9 ESV, it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus is ready to clean us from sin when we confess and repent.
If only glitter were removed that easily, right?
Sin will continue to pop up in our lives, just as that random bit of glitter from an unknown source occasionally makes its way on our person.
But all we need to do to be made whole and clean is to confess.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for cleansing us from sin.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you resist your sinful nature and lean on Him for all you say and do.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Fun fact for you—up until about 1450, the same person who cut your hair was the same person you would go to for wound care and surgeries.
That would have given a whole new plotline to “Sweeney Todd!”
Beyond the sanitation issues of floating hair and open wounds, there are so many issues our modern-day perspective can identify with this former practice.
Thankfully, the two professions parted ways, but it’s a history that is still represented in today’s barbershop poles.
The red stripes represent blood, the white represents bandages, and the blue represents veins.
It is an important reminder that sometimes, we count on the wrong people for what we really need.
And while you’re not likely to go to your hairstylist for stitches these days, we often do we seek help from the wrong sources?
How many of us, when faced with a problem, turn to friends before we turn to Jesus?
How many of us rely on our own strength when we need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s?
In John 15:4-5 ESV, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
If we are to abide in Him, we need to be dependent upon Him for everything.
Just as the branches cannot be independent of the vine, we cannot be independent of Jesus.
We need Him.
He knows the number of hairs on our head and He is the one saves us from the disease of sin.
If we look at the barbershop pole again, we could look at the stripes in a different way.
The red represents the blood of Jesus, shed for us.
The white represents how His blood washed away our sins leaving us white as snow.
The blue is a color that represents faith and trust.
He is the ultimate solution for all that we could ever need.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being the vine on which we can all depend.
Thank Him that by His stripes, we are healed.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be dependent on Jesus before you try to be independent or dependent on anyone else.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Yesterday, my mom and I picked up some of my grandmother’s jewelry that we had repaired, including Mamo’s original wedding/engagement rings and a cocktail ring.
These pieces are worth more to me than the crown jewels of London.
It’s not about monetary value.
Actually, I have no idea what they are worth financially.
It’s the sentimental value that makes them priceless in my eyes.
Mom and I went to lunch after we left the jewelers and talked about how glad Mamo would be that we are wearing and enjoying her jewelry.
With further reflection about that conversation, I have a little different viewpoint on it.
I do believe that the earthly version of my grandmother would be thrilled.
But my Mamo is with Jesus.
She walks on streets that are paved with gold.
Her jewelry pales in comparison to where she is and Who she’s with.
Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV).
So my grandmother left these pieces behind and I’m confident that she’s not pining for her jewelry in heaven.
The value we place on things here on earth is not the same that we’ll have in heaven.
The jewelry that represents my Mamo and even the most priceless jewels in the world are completely worthless in the heavenly perspective.
And to be honest, that makes my sentimental heart weep.
But I’m looking at things right now from the only point of view I have.
Right now, I’m wearing this jewelry and it serves as a reminder of a woman I’ve loved my whole life.
And I have to confess something.
After all, we’re all friends here, right?
I’ve actually prayed that God would spare things I’m sentimental about and make sure they find a place in my Heavenly mansion that Jesus is working on for me.
I know God has to laugh at my naivety sometimes.
I know He’s planning something far more incredible for me.
Plus, I’ll actually be with my grandparents again!
I’d trade the jewelry for that any day.
All this to say—I’m working on reminding myself of the importance of perspective.
I’m grateful for these gifts that remind me of Mamo but I pray that the Holy Spirit will use them to help me remember where she is, not reflect on where she was.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is preparing a place beyond our imaginations.
Thank Him that the things we value and hold dear now will evaporate in comparison to what is coming.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prioritize what you value from a heavenly perspective versus an earthly one.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Tomorrow, our church’s new pastor will lead our congregation in worship for the first (official) time.
It’s going to be an exciting day and it’s one we’ve all look forward to.
We know from his Call Sunday that he is a great preacher!
Many of us have also listened to past sermons that are available through podcasts.
And he’s got a true heart for Christ.
We are so happy to have him and his family at Ardmore Baptist Church!
As we’ve looked forward to having Tyler lead us, I’ve thought about how easy it is to assume that ministering and sharing God’s Word is the responsibility of the preacher.
But all Believers share in this.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, He didn’t make any stipulations or give any acceptable excuses to NOT share His Good News.
He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 CSB).
Further, He told us in Matthew 5:14-16 CSB, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
We lean on our pastors as spiritual leaders and guides, and while that is their job, we can’t leave it entirely up to them.
We are called to be the light, so we need to shine.
We need to let others see the love of Jesus in us and through us.
As the saying goes, “You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”
Make sure you shine brightly enough so they can see the message.
Today, as you pray, thank God for our pastors and leaders!
Thank Him for entrusting them with the heart to share Jesus with others, including ourselves.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide them, but to also guide you as you go about life.
MAsk Him to help you shine and radiate the love of Jesus so you will have many opportunities to tell others about Him.
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.