Remembering What Matters

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PRIORITIES

Luke 10:38-40 – “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’”

There was a period, about a month ago, where I found myself praying and journaling about feeling overwhelmed by the weight of my responsibilities and my “to do” list. My brain constantly goes a mile a minute, mentally juggling all of the balls that I have in the air, trying to ensure that not even one of them drops. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I always have. It’s definitely an areas of growth for me—acknowledging that the world WILL NOT END if I take a breath, take a break, and take care of myself for a moment. I’m trying hard these days to be intentional about finding balance; about shutting off my phone and laptop and spending time with the people and things that matter most to me.

I was reading the Word one morning, when I stumbled upon a nice little divine reminder of the importance of remembering what really matters. The story? Mary and Martha! I’m sure you know it well. Jesus drops by Mary and Martha’s house with a big crowd, and the two women are technically responsible for providing a meal for the group. While Martha gets right to work, fretting about all that needs to be done and worrying about getting everything just right (or so I imagine); Mary, her sister, leaves her to it and simply sits at Jesus’ feet to soak in as much peace and love and wisdom as she can. When Martha realizes that Mary has left her to do everything alone, she is furious and complains to Jesus that Mary needs to get up and get to work!

Jesus responds to her (and it felt at the time I read it, to me) by saying, “Martha, Martha…you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

I’ve read this story so many times, but on that day, I was truly convicted. How often do we run around, frantic, because we have so much to do and so little time to do it. We believe that if we don’t carry the weight of it all ourselves, or take responsibility for the lion’s share of work, it won’t get done, and…well…the world will basically end (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves). We work ourselves to death sometimes trying to do it all…have it all…but in the end, we wind up neglecting what really matters—our relationships, our spirit, ourselves…

This scripture is a great reminder that although we may have a tendency to worry about the countless tasks, situations, responsibilities, and challenges in our lives, few of those things really matter in the grand scheme of things. Most of the time, the world really won’t end if we stop and take a moment to rest our minds and bodies, renew ourselves, revive our relationships, and reconnect with our Lord and Savior, who promises to give us peace, rest, and relief from our heavy burdens. (Matthew 11:28)

Shine Your Light!

Additional Scriptures

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Photo Credits

Photo 1: https://online.jwu.edu/blog/how-make-your-priorities-priority

Photo 2: http://www.lifechurchbuffalo.com/podcast/2018/1/3/first-things-first

Photo 3: https://lutonmuslimjournal.com/heart/which-acts/attachment/priorities/

Photo 4: https://www.davidirvine.com/tyranny-urgency-many-priorities-means-nothing-priority/

Speak Life

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THE POWER OF THE TONGUE

Proverbs 18:21 – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

A couple of months ago, I found myself having a bit of a rough time, and I didn’t felt like myself for weeks. At the same time, my professional life ramped up to the point where I would feel overwhelmed even had I been in a normal state of mind. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time filling my husband’s ears with all of my woes, bemoaning the challenges that this confluence of events was presenting to my relative sanity.

Eventually, though, God reminded me during my daily study about the key role that the words that we speak can have on our reality. I can assure you that my rants included very little positivity, and I realized that I was contributing to my own challenges simply by focusing on (and reinforcing through my words) the negative.

The Word says that death and LIFE are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and what we say matters; the things that we speak over our lives affect our attitudes and our energy, and have the potential to reinforce both the good and the bad in our lives.

Even when the trials come, and the outlook seems bleak; it is still incumbent upon us to speak life over our situations…even the ones that seem dead and without hope of revival. Romans 4:17b states that God “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” No situation is truly dead when our God is involved, and your word of faith—which can set off a chain reaction in your spirit and that of those around you—may be just what God was waiting for to move in a mighty and miraculous way in your life.

The next time you find yourself in a situation that seems hopeless or insurmountable, make a conscious decision to speak life over your circumstance. You’ll create an atmosphere for God to breathe life into a seemingly dead situation.

Speak Life!

And Shine Your Light…

Additional Scriptures

Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)

Matthew 12:36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (ESV)

Matthew 12:37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ESV)

James 3:3-6 – “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (NLT)

Photo Credits

Photo 1: https://dashthebook.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/speak-life-in-the-parcc/

Photo 2: https://churchgraphicsinc.com/product/speak-life-sermon-graphic/

Photo 3: https://lorettachandler.com/speak-with-faith/

Waiting for Rain

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PERSISTENCE AND FAITH

1 Kings 18:43-44 – “Go and look toward the sea, [Elijah] told his servant. And he went up and looked. ‘There is nothing there,’ he said. Seven times, Elijah said, ‘Go back.’ The seventh time, the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” (NIV)

I love biblical stories about Elijah and Elisha. To me, they’re like biblical superheroes. With their mighty faith, they were able to achieve such miraculous wonders, second only to Jesus. But I’ll explore them more fully on another day.

In today’s passage, the land of Israel experienced a great drought because they had turned away from the Lord. After three years, God sent Elijah to King Ahab to tell him that the drought was over and the rain they so desperately needed was on the way. After delivering the message, Elijah went up to Mount Carmel to pray. At first, he saw no response to his prayers, but he persisted. He sent his servant seven times to look for any evidence of a rain cloud, and on the seventh time, a small rain cloud had begun to swell…

It didn’t matter the report, what eyes saw, or ears heard, Elijah trusted the Word of God, believing, persisting, until he saw its manifestation.

It’s often challenging to have that level of faith today. There are so many things to distract us from the deep, singular relationship with God that such faith requires. But Elijah stands through the ages as a model of what real faith looks like, and what it can manifest in this earthly realm, particularly when we are seeking God’s will above our own.

Are you in a posture of waiting? Hoping for a response from God? Stand firm and persist in your faith. God will ALWAYS answer in time.

I mentioned before that my husband and I are in a posture of waiting in faith. We have received several reports that things were not looking good for us, but we have persisted in prayer and have continued to stand firm in our faith that God has the final say. A few weeks ago, during Sunday service, I sought God for confirmation that our waiting would not be in vain, and I received it! Our blessing, our miracle, is on the way! I see the tiny rain cloud and will continue to pray in faith as I “wait for rain!”

Shine Your Light!

Additional Scripture

1 John 5: 14-15 – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (NIV)

Songs

There Is a Cloud (Live) – Elevation Worship

Rain on Us – Earnest Pugh


God’s Plan

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SURRENDER

Jeremiah 29:11-12 – “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’”

This scripture is a great companion to the one that I noted in my previous post (This Little Light of Mine):

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

My husband and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary (we’re marriage veterans now! 🙂 ). I know I’m still technically in the newlywed/honeymoon phase, but I have to say that I really do love being married. I highly recommend it (with the right person 😉 )! Despite the joy that my husband brings to my life, our journey this past 1.25 years has had its challenges, and life has definitely thrown us a few curve balls; but with God’s strength, we have made it through each and every trial.

Since we first married, my husband and I have been praying and hoping for a specific move of God; and as yet, the move we seek has not manifested. We have experienced disappointment and frustration because of this delay, but we remain steadfast in our hope, because we know that God’s plan is to prosper us and give us hope and a future. This faith has given us certainty that, at the right time, God will move in a miraculous, undeniable way!

Now, while we would prefer that this move happen sooner than later, we have to remind ourselves (often) that God’s perfect timing, His perfect plan, is always better than anything that we could imagine. Ultimately, we have to trust Him, leaning not on our own understanding, or on our own vision of how and when things should be. We have to maintain that trust…that faith…when (even in the temporary) the miracle doesn’t manifest.

God is sovereign. He is in control. And if we say that we surrender our lives to Him, we must do it completely, even if it means a delay, or even an outright denial, of our most ardent prayers. God knows best, and as always, we must remember that ultimately, everything will work for our good and His glory.

Shine Your Light!

SONGS

I Surrender – Hillsong United

I Surrender All – Israel Houghton

This Little Light of Mine

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FAITH

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

I love this scripture. It is definitely one of my favorites. It’s a poignant reminder that God’s work and move in our lives is not always going to make sense to us…and that’s okay. “His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

What we do know, and can always cling to, is that our God is all-powerful, all-knowing…He stands outside of time. He sees and knows things that we cannot, and He can see an infinite number of moves ahead to perceive how everything comes together to work for our good and His glory. Knowing this makes it easier to trust Him, even in the trials of life, because we understand that He is guiding our path and leading us through the test.

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I was watching a TV show the other day, about a woman who was waiting on a miracle that never came. She waited and prayed in faith. She remained steadfast throughout it all. During a conversation with a nonbeliever, after all was said and done, she shared that she was okay, at peace, even though she did not receive her miracle. She explained to him that faith was about continuing to trust and believe, even when the miracle doesn’t come. Touched by her faith, the nonbeliever declared that even though it wasn’t something he did, he would pray for her. She smiled softly and replied, “Wow, that’s a miracle right there.”

I loved that scene, and must admit that I was touched, as well. It was a great depiction of how our decision to trust God, with all our heart, in the midst of our struggle, when we don’t see Him move, when the miracle doesn’t come…can be just the thing that someone observing our walk may need to come to Christ. Your faith shines bright and draws other to God.

Shine Your Light!

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE

Matthew 5:14-1614 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

SONGS

This Little Light of Mine – Addison Road

Peace in the Storm

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Peace

Mark 4:39 – “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”

Psalm 46:10a – “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God'”

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”