Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Some is Better Than None...And More is Better Than Some...Except When it is Not

"Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD."  Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

There were 30 minutes left before my daughter and I needed to leave for her piano lesson.  My consistency (in the last week or so) in walking had been good.  I wanted to keep that going.  I decided that I could make a quick round of the neighborhood before we had to head out. 

I put on my sneakers and took off...at a brisk clip.  I got winded going up the hill, but pressed on.  I focused on the straight stretch beyond me...still uphill...and kept going.  I finally reached the summit and headed downhill.  That's when the enemy started talking.  "You know that you're really not walking that far.  It probably doesn't even count.  How much good can a 20 minute walk do?"

I said, "Surely some is better than none."

He continued to taunt me.  "You know you'll never keep this up.  Why even try?"

Again, I encouraged myself..."Surely some is better than none."

As I pondered that scenario, I couldn't help but relate it to my spiritual walk.

Like on crazy busy mornings when my hubby is out of town and I'm trying to get breakfast and lunch fixed and get my girlie to school on time and myself to work on time and I didn't get up extra early to spend time in the Word...but I make sure that I get at least a snippet of devotion time.

Some is better than none.

I believe that God has spoken volumes to me in times of devotional reading.  Even when I didn't have time to leisurely sit and soak up His Word.

So it's better not to skip either...the walk...even if it's short...time to hear from God before you start your day...even if it's a brief word.

Now...more is better than some.  I hope I'm going to lengthen my walk as I build endurance and get in better shape.  And I long to spend time just soaking in the goodness of His Word.

But let's not get discouraged with our offering of "some."

I must add a disclaimer. 

The some...and the more...that are better apply to things that are actually good for us...as our key verse said, of heeded instruction...like obedience to God, time in His Word, time in prayer, and so on...as well as healthy eating and exercise...and fiber (well maybe not too much)...and wise choices.

It doesn't apply to butter...and cookie dough...and sugar...and ice cream...and the biggest steak on the menu.

God, thank You for accepting my "mite."  Thank You for hanging in there with me when I fall down...or when I'm inconsistent.  Thank You for taking my smallest offering and multiplying it because that's just what You do.  Help me with my somes...and mores...and to stay away from the things that don't apply.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Prayer...Like Incense

"May my prayer be set before You like incense..."  Psalm 141:2a (NIV)

Do you ever wonder, with your prayer life, if you're doing it right??  Do you ever feel like you're just an asking machine?  Do you ever puzzle as to whether God thinks, "Oh no, here she is again....What is it this time?...What does she need of Me now?"

I've been mulling over that lately.

Over the years I've heard several formulas for praying...given in acrostics.




Honestly, I'm a little baffled by the word supplication.   I'm guessing that means asking...could look it up in the dictionary, but choosing to move on.

I want to do it right...Praying.

I feel like I do alright with the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray continually."  Throughout my day I find myself saying things like, "Wow!  Thank You, God for this beautiful weather!"  or sometimes I am reminded of that little rhyming prayer that I learned as a child that says, "Thank You for the world so sweet.  Thank You for the food we eat.  Thank You for the birds that sing.  Thank You, God, for everything."  I think of that often when I hear birds singing in the morning...their praise to Him.  I don't think He minds that I recite it.  I offer other random words of thanks throughout the day...and at mealtime...and before I go to sleep.

But I feel like so much of what I do is asking.  Very little of it is for myself.  Most of it is intercession for people that I've told, "I will pray for you."  I really try to take that commitment seriously.  Of course, a huge amount of my requests involve my family...my daughters, their husbands, my husband, my parents, my grandmother, my brother and his family, and so on.  From the time I wake up...and throughout the day...and night, I keep asking.

I've been trying to be intentional in reminding myself of those acrostics and "following the plan".  But it seems that as I'm "thanking," I always ending up moving into another request.

So I prayed about it...yes, asked God to help me pray right.

I think that He said, "Don't put Me in a box.  I'm not about a formula."  I'm pretty sure that He led me to His Word and guided me through reading and then turning His Words back into prayers of thanksgiving and praise.  Yes, and even confession.  Then He brought songs to my mind...mostly hymns...that propelled me into worship and more praise.  And I didn't have to do any of those in a particular order.

Of course I took a little tour of prayer via Bible Gateway and I was encouraged by my findings.  Throughout Scripture there was a LOT of asking going on...by Abraham, Moses, Hannah, Samuel, Daniel, David, Elijah..the list goes on and on...and includes Jesus.  I even felt encouraged by the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1, which says, "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Also in Luke 11, as Jesus taught on prayer, in verse 9 we are told, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  And in Ephesians 6:18, Paul tells us to "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."  I could go on and on.

So, my "take away" was this.  Yes, even the asking is "incense" to God...because He cares about everything that concerns me (and you).  He loves me...beyond my ability to fathom...and loves to hear from me.  When I speak to Him throughout the day, it doesn't need to follow a formula.  It is vital, however, that I spend time in His Word...and respond in prayers of thankfulness, praise, confession...and then, yes, with asking.  I also need to yield to His drawing me to praise through hymns and songs of praise.

Here's the one He gave me today.

Surely God is smelling some incense.

Our God, we worship You.  We praise You.  We lift our requests to You.  Thank You for Your great love for us...love that knows no bounds.  We love You.

Friday, March 11, 2011

There's Reigning and There's Reining In!

"For as [she] thinketh in [her]heart, so is [she]...."  Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)

I've been thinking about thinking.

Actually it started with thinking about someone else's thinking...and her words...words that were critical...even snarky...words that hurt my feelings a little bit.  We're a little more than acquaintances, but a little less than close friends...but her words stung.

The scary thing is that as I wrestled with my response to her snarkiness, I realized that I had become a snark myself...about her.  And that I can venture off into snarkiness with the best of them!  Not a good thing.

I prayed, "Lord, reign in my thoughts!"  And I meant it in two ways.  It's a matter of spelling...and homophones. 

The first was REIGN in my thoughts.  In other words, "Lord, be the God of my thoughts! Be present in them.  Help them to honor You, to glorify You."  As Psalm 19:14 says, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, LORD, my rock and my redeemer."

And then the second is to REIN IN my thoughts...like stopping a horse by pulling in on the reins.  Control them!  Keep them from charging off in the wrong direction!  Help me to follow the words in Philippians 4:8 that say, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."

As Matthew and Luke tell us, we...I...must to be careful to remove the "plank" from my own eye...allow God to work in my heart...watch my way of thinking...and my way of speaking.

Thanks, Lord, for that lesson.  Please help my heart to "thinketh" in a way that shows I belong to You and desire deeply to honor You.  Reign in and rein in my thoughts...and thus the words I speak.  Keep me from being snarky.  I love You.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Laugh With Me!!

"...God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me."  Genesis 21:6 (NIV)

Have you laughed today?

My day got off to such a wonderful start.  My hubby and I had such a great laugh together...the kind with snorts...and re-starts...you know, how you laugh hard, and then sort of make a sighing noise, and then start all over again with renewed gusto!  That has made me smile all day...and even laugh some more.

We all need more laughter.  As Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine." (NIV)

Studies show that laughter releases a variety of chemicals that make you feel better...and reduces chemicals that make you feel anxious and stressed.  Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells...and giving you more energy!  It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and can even help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol!  Now that's some "good medicine"!

So, when was the last time you went from a chortle to an all out guffaw?  You know, the kind that makes your belly hurt and tears run down your face?  Take action!  Tell a funny joke!  (Clean, of course.)  Watch an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.  Watch a funny movie.  Reminisce about funny family moments.  Be silly.  Let it go!  Erupt into laughter!

What about you?  What makes YOU laugh??

Lord, thank You for creating laughter.  It is fun to picture You..."the One enthroned in heaven laugh[ing]...."  Just that thought makes me smile.  We praise You that "[You] will yet fill [our]mouth with laughter and [our] lips with shouts of joy."  We love You!