30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Our Outward Reverence

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 3:18

Holy Spirit, today as I stand looking into my closet in deciding what to wear today help me to not only have an inward Christ-like life but also an outward one so that I may completely glorify God in all I show the world. Amen”

I know it’s not fashionable or even politically correct these days to say things like, “the clothes make the man (or woman) but in the not too distant past this was understood as fact.  This well documented human behavior actually acknowledges a role in what our outward appearance says to the world.  You may think things have changed because of culture or “at home work” but human psychology is a pretty stubborn thing. Don’t take my word for it.  

“Through our clothing, we can send each other silent cues that signal to others how we expect them to treat us. This works because we tend to make very quick assessments of situations and people and put them into categories that we already understand. This cognitive shortcut, known as representative bias, saves us precious computational energy.” 

Sarah C. Newcomb Ph.D., Psychology Today

And in a 2012 study done through Northwestern University, researchers found that wearing certain clothes exerts influence through symbolic meaning.  So, when, as Christians, we leave the house each day do we ever consider what message we are sending out to our neighbors, the folks at the grocery store, at church or at the beach by our clothing choices?  That’s not to say we should be covered head to toe in some sort of hijab – the Bible doesn’t ask that of us women.  

“20 you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

Jesus wants us to present ourselves with honor in front of God.  That means we clean ourselves off and cover our private bits up.  When my youngest was home from college her last summer she wanted to find a modest one piece bathing suit.  Quite the change from her bikini days.  When asked why, she said she wanted to be more modestly dressed around her Christian boyfriend.  That’s the Holy Spirit work in a believer!  

Friend, when we leave our homes and go out into the world, we are God’s representatives.  And when we attend church, we should present our best as though receiving an audience in front of the king.  We glorify Him through our modesty of outward appearance and exuberance of inward love.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Let’s Eat

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

“Blessed God, we praise You for who You are. You are the God who cares for our needs. We see this meal before us as a demonstration of Your wonderful grace to us. We glorify You for the day we have had. Thank You for the family gathered here and for every blessing we enjoy. Amen.”

When my kids were little we started praying at dinnertime.  We found a simple prayer that they could take turns saying.  “God is great! God is good! Let us thank Him For our food. Amen.”  It was an easy way to add glorifying and thanking God into our daily lives.  The problem was it became rote.  After awhile, there was no feeling, personalization or even love behind the prayer.  It was just something we did – quickly – so we could start eating.  For some of us we never even pray before meals.  Or we pray only during certain meals.  But Jesus gave thanks at every meal, glorifying the Father for being a provider of needs.  

“30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” Luke 24:30

The beauty of this scripture is what came next.  You see, the disciples had been walking along with the risen Jesus chatting with him, not realizing who he was.  For whatever reason they urged this stranger to come stay with them and join them for dinner.  After they gave thanks and broke bread, “…their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.”

It wasn’t until 2020, when the Covid pandemic hit that the love and glorifying act of praying before meals finally sunk in for me.  Each evening when my husband came home from his job of caring for senior citizens exhausted, we decided to pray.  Before dinner we prayed for anything good that happened that day, we prayed for help, we prayed for the health and safety of his employees and residents.  We prayed for our leaders.  We thanked God for providing.   And my eyes were opened to Jesus.

“Lord God, not a sparrow is not known by You. Not a lily is not clothed by You. You know what we need, and we are thankful that You have provided the meal set here for us. Keep us from worrying about tomorrow but to be grateful for what You have provided us this day. Amen.”

A friend of mine has encouraged me to start praying before every meal.  Even yes, in public, which in the area where I live you just don’t see much.   Friend, at mealtimes we can see the obvious work of God in our lives.  Whether what’s on our plate is a feast or just enough to sustain us for one more day – we need to give all glory to Him who provides.


The prayers from today’s post came from https://connectusfund.org/25-beautiful-prayers-for-meals where you can find more prayers for meal times.  But I encourage you to just talk with God before you eat, having it come from your heart. 

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Wow, Just Wow…

"Who among the gods is like you, Lord?  Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" Exodus 15:11

“Wow, God, just wow. Amen”

A few weeks ago, I was travelling across country by plane.  My headphones were plugged in, my video played loud enough so I wouldn’t hear anyone around me.  My snacks were laid out and my drink delivered.  I was set up in my little bubble.   We were heading west, chasing the falling sun.  

About halfway on my journey my eyes took a break from my Ipad screen to look out the window.  I expected to see a muted landscape below flying by without much interest.  Instead, I was treated to the glory of God.  We found ourselves skimming the tops of a blanket of cotton.  Fluffy white clouds just below our plane for as far as your eyes could see.  Because we were so close it made our airspeed more obvious.  As my eyes adjusted to this phenomenon, I could almost feel the weight press me back into my seat like on a roller coaster.  And we floated.  Yes, that’s what it felt like.  Floating through the heavens. Some unseen force was blowing us across the sky skimming the cotton fields.  And the majesty of God was present in all His glory!

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

As I sat there watching the clouds fly beneath us, I couldn’t help but smile and thank God for such beauty.  It felt as though if I could just reach through the window I would touch the Father.  I can’t explain why exactly it felt different than other times I’ve seen clouds from a plane.  But it seemed as though God were putting on a show for us.  There was no beautiful sunset.  No purple and rose sky.  Just white clouds slightly below and blue sky above.  And all I could say to God was, “wow….”

At that moment I realized the huge difference between believers and those who refuse to acknowledge that everything in our lives has been created.  They could look out the window and think, “hey that’s really pretty.” But I looked out the window and said, “wow, what a cool thing You have done!”  

I mean imagine walking up to the painting masterpiece by Piero della Francesca, “The Resurrection,” called the most beautiful painting in the world by famed author Aldous Huxley, and saying, “Hey that’s kinda pretty.  It must’ve happened by accident.  Some cosmic dust or something.  Like maybe there was a canvas and some paint fell from a window and people accidentally stepped on it and ‘voila’ a painting is made.”  There’d be no credit to the master painter.  No recognition of his ability or desire to create something beautiful for the world to see.

But there is always a creator.  And God is the ultimate Creator.  Our recognition of that fact brings an awe inspiring sunset into clearer view.  It allows us to see the Grand Canyon from a new perspective.  That brief encounter I had on the plane that late afternoon with God’s glory and creation almost brought me to tears.  Of joy.  Knowing He loves making beautiful things whether we are present to see them or not.  

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Knowing Me, Knowing You

“But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house.  And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”  Hebrews 3:6

“Jesus, you know every single thing about me.  I cringe at times that you know the parts I try to keep hidden.  When I realize you still love me and want the best for me it brings me great joy.  I know your thoughts are higher than mine and your ways can be mysterious but I want to know you as best I can to bring up my end of this relationship.  Help me to get as close to you as I possibly can so that when I am faced with standing for your Name, I can fully glorify You. Amen”

I asked them what they would do if an acquaintance or stranger told them something horrible about another member of our little Bible study group.  That this sweet, kind woman we know from meeting with her each week had been terribly unkind to a child.  And without hesitation they all were willing to stop this gossiper in their tracks.  “That doesn’t sound like her.”  “That’s not the friend I know.”  “Are you sure you have the right person?”  They responded.  I asked how they knew their friend would never be unkind to a child.  And they all said because they know her character from spending time with her.

And then I said to them, “Now, a family member or friend comes up and says to you, ‘Jesus would be ok with an abortion.’  What would you say? “  Some hemmed and hawed a bit.  Another said firmly, “No He wouldn’t.”  For the former I asked them why they wouldn’t be so sure.  They didn’t want conflict.  They were a bit unsure if scripture was thrown at them what to do or say.

For the later, I asked how she could be so sure.  And her response was perfect.  “Because I know Jesus.”

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"  Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus recognized that there will be plenty of people who call themselves followers.  Who attend church and appear to be in a relationship with Him.  But He knows who is making a real effort to know Him as much as He knows us.  For my friends who struggled a bit with my question they work hard at knowing who God is and His character.  They KNOW the answer to probably every false statement said about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes it just takes practice being able to stand up for what we know to be true and good.  And that’s exactly why we meet weekly to talk about God – who He is, what He has done and will do and how much He loves His creation.

Friends, the next time you are at church take a moment to look around.  Is your church one that encourages everyone to bring their Bibles, open them up and take notes?  One that makes Bible study a priority?  A church whose focus is squarely on getting to know God – not being your personal counselor?  Because I don’t know about you but when I was in college and even high school, that’s how I learned the subjects well.  I studied, diligently.  And when we are given the gift of having someone either ask us a question about God or the chance to correct a falsehood about Jesus we need to be prepared so that we can speak of the glory of God, of how He knows us and loves us.  

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

A Bigger Kingdom

"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.  Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness."  1 Chronicles 16:29

“Holy LORD I am so grateful there is You.  You who are above all, above all kings and leaders.  Above my need to be ruler of my own kingdom.  Your Kingdom is full of the glory of your majesty and nothing, absolutely nothing is better than that!  Amen”

I kept hearing today about the glory of God’s kingdom, His presence being above all with nothing greater than Him.  Through songs, scripture and even the sermon from church.  “No one, no one, no one, no one but You LORD is higher or greater” is the song verse that happens to be playing right now as I write this. 

How often do we forget this?  We have our tiny kingdoms that we work so hard to protect and maybe even rule over.  Our schedules, our bills, our children, our stuff, our opinions – all things so much lowlier than what God’s kingdom has to offer us.  And we too frequently forget to look above our kingdom walls toward His holy skies and fall on our knees in reverence.

"For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him." Colossians 1:16

I just got through reading this verse in my current study about God the Son.  Yet another poke at me to remember who made it all and who is fully in charge.  And even more shocking to some – who it is all for.  

Look around, none of this is for your kingdom or mine.  It’s all for His glory.  Which, because God loves us so much, His kingdom is also ours – for those who believe and obey His commandments.  He wants so much more for us.  Not just our little kingdoms.  Yes, He wants us to take care of all He has gifted us but for the greater kingdom.  That means each time we have the opportunity to teach our kids about Him, we do.  Each time we should show love and forgiveness to our spouse, we do.  Each time we see the chance to use our financial gifts to glorify Him, we do.  Each time we can show hospitality in His name, we do.

Friend, the Kingdom doors are so wide, welcoming and beautiful!  Drop to your knees and give thanks to God He is so much bigger than this small world we have built. And turn yourself into the only offering He has ever wanted – you. 

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, politics, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Where Our Loyalty Lies

"Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."  Psalms 115:1

“Heavenly Father, when I enter into worship with you help me not be distracted by worldly pursuits.  I want to praise you with all my heart and mind – not as a divided servant.  In my busy day I carve out time to give you glory of which you are deserving of so much more.  So LORD, especially while I am in your house of worship I lift all glory, honor and praise to you and you alone.  Amen”

About a year ago I tried out a new church.  The people were very friendly and the staff welcoming.  We were asked to rise at the beginning of the service and the doors to the worship center opened.  As a color guard entered the room with the United States flag the small band played a patriotic song.  And I thought, “I love this place already.”  

We sang songs calling us to action and freedom and my heart swelled.  When the pastor began his sermon, he was riled up!  He launched into a religious-political speech like no other I’d heard before.  Now, granted many of the churches in my area were shutdown.  This church was in defiance of that action – something I was looking for.  And this pastor was fervent about pushing back against the oppressive state.

I left electrified and full of thoughts of civil disobedience.  It was all right up my alley.  Until I went to my current church’s life group meeting that next week.

I hadn’t even brought up the topic and yet God wanted to speak to me about “church” and where my loyalty lies. He did so through another member.  She, seemingly out of the blue, started talking about her past church searches.  And she said this, “I want to go to a church where the sole focus is on worship and learning about God.  Not about praising a country.”  Whoops.  Now I know some of you may take issue with this.  But notice she didn’t say she’s not a patriot.  She didn’t say praising a country is wrong.  She said she wants what goes on in the House of God to be about….God.

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

This simple statement by this woman suddenly shifted my perspective on who and what I was worshipping.  I was placing country first then God somewhere down the line.  

I recently heard a rumor that the church I am attending doesn’t have an American flag on the worship platform because the pastor worries it would be offensive to black Christians.  It sounded a bit odd so I shot off an email to a staff member seeking clarification.  One of the pastors replied with this:

“The reasons we do not fly a flag on our platform have nothing whatsoever to do with the pastors or elders feeling it might be offensive to black Christians (who I think would find it offensive that people would think they would find it offensive).  Our general philosophy for worship services is that we do not want to have anything on the platform that wouldn’t be on the platform in heaven, if you will. Second, we try to only sing songs that we would also sing in heaven. We have no problem with patriotic songs or the American flag, but we do not feel they have a place in a worship service where we have gathered to worship God.”

Friends, I’ve come to realize having a country flag is not the issue (would we be annoyed if we didn’t see a French flag on the church podium in France?).  It’s always about where our attention is focused.  It’s always about turning our hearts and minds completely over to giving glory to God – especially during set aside times of worship.  Having a country flag in our churches isn’t wrong but if there isn’t one, should we really care if the reason is to put our laser-like focus only on God?

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Forever & Ever

“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” Philippians 4:20

“Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live in me.  I can turn to you at any time, day or night, in times of joy and of sorrow and you are with me guiding me, convicting me and loving me.  Forever and ever.  Amen”

When I married my husband 34 years ago, we promised to be there for each other till the day we die.  I plan on keeping that promise, and I’m certain he will too.  However, I also recognize that we are both human.  We will disappoint each other.  At times we’ve felt betrayed by the other.  We’ve been angry and hurt.  We’ve also loved each other deeply.  And although I hope that our promise we made all those years ago stays true, you just never know what strange turns our sinful human nature may take.

In all our relationships there is only one that we can know without a doubt, that we could place a million dollar bet on and know it’s a “sure thing.”  And that’s the one we have, as believers, with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Before the glory of Pentecost the Holy Spirit only came and “visited” man.  He would come and direct various people in the Old Testament to do God’s work.  But Jesus made it clear that He would no longer make us orphans.  When He left He would step aside for the Holy Spirit to come and live IN us believers forever.  How beautiful, loving and glorious is that?  God – this magnificent, mysterious, expansive, all powerful being wants to be a part of me and you, always.  While we are taking a shower, making dinner, at work, running errands He is with us. 

“You have often left God.  Has He ever left you?”  

Charles Spurgeon

I’ve had friends that no longer talk to me.  I’ve turned my back on some myself.  I’ve even gotten pretty mad at God.   With one of my funnier moments telling Him, “I’m not going to believe in you anymore!” (Ponder the irony of that statement for a minute) But God has stayed true.

Friends, look at the very best relationship you have.  The one that brings you laughter, joy, loyalty and more.  And magnify that by a billion.  That’s God living with us and in us through the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know about you but I think that’s certainly something for which we should glorify and give thanks.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

His Word

"…encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory."  1 Thessalonians 2:12

“Jesus what would I be without your red letter words? Without the revealing words about our Father God?  Thank you Lord, for each time I open my Bible that your desire is to teach me about your kingdom and glory. Amen”

For many years I sat in a church pew without ever cracking open a Bible.  I didn’t even open it when the pastor told us what page to turn to – because the scripture was up on the screen.  My own Bible sat gathering inches of dust.  It wasn’t until just a couple years ago, when I was unable to attend church, that I realized all the teaching needed was available right at my fingertips.

“..my friends, stand over this volume, and admire its authority. This is no common book. It is not the sayings of the sages of Greece; here are not the utterances of philosophers of past ages. If these words were written by man, we might reject them; but oh, let me think the solemn thought — that this book is God’s handwriting, that these words are God’s.”

Charles Spurgeon on the Bible

How glorious is it that God – that omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being – gave us all we need to know about Him and how to best have a relationship with Him?  Not only did He write down what we need to know He sent Jesus to reveal even more!  If we needed to summarize the purpose of Jesus’ brief physical walk on this earth it might be to say so that we could be pulled even closer in this relationship.  To know the one who created us like we know our own hand.  To want to be so close to Him that we become one with Him.  To know how simple it is to receive His full mercy and grace by just saying, “yes I do and I will.”  Throughout Jesus’ life He pointed us back to the Father and forward to the Holy Spirit.  Reminding us who sent Him and why.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Yes, my friends, there’s still a lot about God and the Trinity that are a mystery.  His thoughts and ways are greater than ours.  But sometimes we just need to shrug and say, “maybe that’s not for me to know just now.”  Until then we can lift up our voices in praise for the gift of His Word.  It shouldn’t be taken for granted.  For most of our human existence we didn’t have this gift widely available.  The Bible is now translated into about 1,500 languages.  And for that we should give glory!

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Hope Eternal

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."  Luke 2:14

“Glory to you oh, God, for through you I have hope and peace!  The world cannot give me peace but only unfulfilled desires and longings.  The world relies on the seen and external for their hope but faith is through the unseen and eternal! Today as the world spins out of control I place my peace and hope in you, God. Amen”

I promise myself each day that I won’t check in with the chaos of the world and yet time and again I find my fingers creeping over my keyboard to read the latest news.  As a Christian and a citizen of this world it’s been difficult to find the balance of my responsibility as a “not yet.”  By that I mean I’ve been saved but not yet home with God.  I long for the day to see Jesus’ face and be free of this chaos.  But Jesus clearly wants us doing God’s good works while here on earth.

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." John 14:12

So that means we have a responsibility to be good citizens of our communities.  Spreading God’s Word through deeds and words.  It means we need to know what stresses and pains our world is experiencing so we can be God’s message of hope and therefore glorify Him.  

In the book of Jude he admonishes to take steps to help those who are new believers and not yet believers.  It’s important to note the danger he warns of by getting too close to the fiery chaos of the world.  

“…save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 23

Mixed with fear.  I think sometimes we Christians like to dabble in the world of chaos thinking a little bit is ok.  But each time we turn on the news or start discussing politics we should first give thanks to God for where our eternal hope lies and then proceed with a bit of Jesus’ Teflon surrounding us.  He let the Pharisees ignorance and at times evil ways bounce off Him.  Because He knew who He belonged to.  And He consistently gave glory to God when speaking back into the chaos.

Friends, it’s not wrong to be actively informed or involved with the goings-on of the world.  Jesus and the apostles jumped in with both feet to tell the world about the Father.  They didn’t turn away from the troubles of the world, they came to spread hope and glorify God.  But we must always remember the Kingdom awaiting us. 

 

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

Majesty Revealed

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  Acts 7:55

“Lord, there are so many times you quietly reveal yourself to me.  At times I miss the chance to see and glorify you while other times I realize the moment is very special.  Thank you for finding ways to communicate with me and showing me your full glory. Amen”

Each time I go play golf – which I’m fairly new at and definitely very terrible at – I say a prayer thanking God for the opportunity to enjoy this thing called “Creation.”  I ask for Him to help me remember that I “get to play golf” rather than it being some awful task that I’m being drug into.  Because if you’ve ever tried learning something new you know there’s a steep learning curve which can bring you to the point of wondering why you ever embarked on the journey!

The other day not only did God bless me with meeting three new golf friends but He revealed Himself to us on the second hole of the course.  And it gave me the opportunity to proclaim His glory to strangers.

At the green of the first hole, I noticed two large hawks hopping along the ground near the tee for the second hole.  I pointed it out to my new friends and we interrupted our putting to stop and notice the unusual sight.  And when we had finished there, we drove over to the next tee.  When we all arrived, I looked over to a post located maybe 4 yards away and there sitting majestically was one of the large hawks.  It was at least 2 ½ feet tall.  Just sitting and watching us.  I have never been that close to a wild hawk before because they are a bit skittish.  I gasped and pointed to the hawk and we all stood there and stared. He/She was stunning and slightly scary looking with its large beak and talons. And I realized God was reminding me of my prayer.  To not take playing golf too seriously that I don’t notice the beauty of His creation.  I found myself, amongst these strangers crying out loud, “Glory to God!”  And then he flew off.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

I certainly hope I never am in a situation like the disciple Stephen – being stoned to death.  In his terrible demise, God helped him take his eyes off the pain and suffering and lifted them to the glorious scene of God and Jesus.  Friend, it doesn’t matter if you are just going through the motions of life or you’ve found yourself in a stressful, painful situation, God will reveal Himself to you.  Seek Him and you will find Him.