But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Daniel 1:8
Does every person really have a price? Their purity? Their integrity? Their lifestyle? Their identity? Daniel’s price was death. He was willing to die rather than defile himself with ungodly influences. Behind enemy lines he could have easily blended in with the culture. However, fear of the Lord is not conditional on the cultural mores of the day. An uncompromising life resolves not to be bought by any force outside of faith in Christ, Not bowing to money or status, only God.
What is your price? Are you willing to be a little dishonest to gain a lot of authority? The enemy does not try to destroy your good name in one fell swoop. He shrewdly chips away at your character with questions like, “Did God really mean this for me?” “Haven’t I grown beyond the need to be accountable?” Indeed, a weakened character is set up to fall, but a character grounded in God withstands the Tempter’s trysts. The Bride of Christ is faithful to One, Jesus alone!
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
Yes, be shameless and humble to declare your focused allegiance to your Heavenly Father and no one else. Take your marching orders from your Master Jesus. Let the Lord define your lifestyle, not those whose style of life tip God and flirt with sin. Culture and less honorable friends and family will attempt to mold you into their definition of a meaningful life. But, you look to heaven for your standard of living on earth. Embrace by grace an uncompromising lifestyle.
Above all, accept and enjoy your identity in Christ alone. Yes, rest in the way your Creator has created you. Be who you were made to be. Be content with the lot in life the Lord has given you. If you strive to be someone you’re not, you will have an inner knot of anxiety that haunts you. However, you enjoy peace when you accept yourself for who you are in Christ. Indeed, you are loved and forgiven by your Heavenly Father. His Spirit strengthens your uncompromising life!
He [Job] is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you [Satan] incited me against him to ruin him without any reason. Job 2:3
Prayer: Heavenly Father give me the righteous resolve to stand uncompromising for Christ.
Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 25:21; Proverbs 11:3; Mark 12:14; 2 Corinthians 1:12
Post/Tweet today: Fear of the Lord is not conditional on the cultural mores of the day. #fearofGod
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)
As I crawled in bed, fear came over me. My husband was out of town for work and I was afraid to go to sleep. Fear had become a constant companion during his nights away.
I needed to trust God, but I didn't. I went through the motions of what I knew I should do: pray, read scriptures, and tape verses to my bedside table and bathroom mirror. But there was also a phone on my pillow, and a neighborhood directory and Bible next to the bed.
One night I took it a step further. I put toys on the stairs to trip possible burglars, brought my children into my room to sleep with me, and moved the dresser in front of the bedroom door.
Still fear kept me awake. I thought I was controlling my circumstances, but instead fear had taken control of me. Frustrated I still couldn't sleep, I opened the Bible and read these familiar words:
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:1-2).
That night God showed me something I'd never seen: my fears were like flames and my efforts to protect myself were like gasoline. Every feeble attempt to ease my fears was like pouring fuel on the fire, and now fear was consuming me. Gently, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God had not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
The only way I would overcome fear was by walking through it.
I had to put away the props in which I'd placed my faith and go to bed trusting God, realizing that even if my fears came true He would be with me. Crawling out of bed, I started putting everything away. The dresser went back in place. My kids went back to their rooms and I went to sleep without my phone on the pillow.
For me, it was like walking through the flames of fear, doing what God was calling me to do–to fear not. And you know what? I slept better than I had in weeks.
Fear lost its power when I actively put trust in God's promises.
To be free from fear so we can walk in faith, we have to hold on to God's truths, replacing our natural ways with the steps He offers to guide us.
Let's ask God to show us fears that paralyze our faith and keep us from living confidently in His peace and freedom. And then let's give God a chance to come though for us as we courageously walk through our fears, holding God's hand and trusting His heart to lead, protect, and preserve us each step of the way.
Dear Jesus, help me walk through my fears by facing them instead of being paralyzed by them. I want to take Your hand and trust Your heart with all that is within me. Give me courage today to take the first step. In Jesus' Name, amen.
Could you use the encouragement of a friend to help you overcome your fears? In her life-changing book, A Confident Heart, Renee Swope will walk you through a powerful process of identifying and overcoming any fears and insecurities so that you can live with confidence and courage!
Reflect and Respond:
Are there fears that paralyze your faith or hinder your everyday life? Ask God to show you one step to take today to walk through a fear that keeps you from trusting God completely.
Psalm 34:4, "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (NIV)
They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Daniel 1:5
Thorough training precedes effective service. Even the most gifted need their skills developed under the watchful eye of a wise mentor. As a virgin blade of steel is honed down to its sharpest condition, so a novice to a new field of study or work needs time to gain understanding, acquire wisdom, grow accustomed to the culture and increase in physical, emotional and spiritual maturity. Wise are those who take the time to prepare, before rushing off unequipped to serve.
Daniel and his friends made sure not to compromise their conviction in God, as they trained under a hostile authority. The Lord also continued His hand of favor on their faith. He worked through a sympathetic supervisor to carry out His purposes. Perhaps you face a college professor who dismisses your beliefs in Jesus, or you have a boss who blames God for a tragic event he experienced. Regardless, use your training time to learn and grow into a skilled leader for Christ.
I [Paul] studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. Acts 22:3
Your training may seem laborious and long, but in the Lord’s big picture it is a small dot on His eternal thread. Stay mentally engaged where you are and do not become distracted by overly anticipating the future. Maybe you engage a mentor outside of your formal training, so you have a trusted advisor to help you process what you are feeling and learning. A seasoned sage can help you clarify your calling, coach you in your commitment to Christ and your wobbly convictions.
Above all, stay in the training process, so you become a better ambassador for the Almighty. If you give up, you are giving up on God. He is faithful! He will see you through! He will not put on you more than you can bear! If you stay true to the process, you will use a similar process the rest of your life to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. The Lord is using this defining season to place His faithful fingerprints on your life. He is preparing you for His purposes!
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Prayer: Heavenly Father keep me in Your training process, so I can represent You better.
Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 25:7; Luke 6:40; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Post/Tweet today: Stay mentally engaged where you are and do not become distracted by overly anticipating the future. #focus
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children." Titus 2:3-4 (NIV)
Mothers-in-law are often the source of unflattering jokes. But my mother-in-law, Catherine, was the furthest thing from a punch line.
Catherine was a spiritual giant wrapped up in a tiny 4-foot-10-inch bundle of sunshine. Down-to-earth, kind, and unpretentious. She modeled the woman we are urged to be in Titus 2.
When you entered her home you were greeted with warm hugs and the aroma of her latest creation wafting from her tiny kitchen. She was one of the best cooks I ever met. Preparing food never seemed arduous or tedious for Catherine.
She took great pleasure in feeding her family, spending days preparing a sumptuous dinner just to have it consumed in moments. Empty plates and platters were her delight. Sending home leftovers were her bliss. Before the meal we all would bow our heads to hear her words of blessing and gratitude.
Catherine's spiritual life was a lot like those meals. It was satisfying and full of nourishment. She poured the Word of God into our lives as easily as she filled our glasses with sweet tea.
Toward the end of her life, she broke her wrist and needed personal care. It was my privilege to assist her with bathing and dressing each morning. After I feed her breakfast, I'd sit on the floor at her feet while she fed me from Scripture. My mother-in-law recited her favorite verses from memory and read to me from her daily devotion book. Her prayers were like honey, sweet with remembrances of God's goodness and faithfulness to her. Those prayers were infused with gratitude for His enduring strength and perfumed with her love for Jesus.
The angels surely paused long enough to add an amen!
I used to wonder how she managed to turn out delectable meals from her small kitchen and how she became a professional at serving up God's Word to her family.
She told me, "Honey, it all begins on your knees. If you spend enough time with my Jesus, He will teach you everything you need to know about feeding your family."
Not long after Catherine went to be with Jesus, I found this "recipe for life" in her belongings.
Begin with a case of Joy
Add a heaping spoonful of Gratitude
Fold in a large dollop of Kindness
Stir in a handful of Forgiveness
Sprinkle liberally with Love and cover with Peace
Always serve with a large side of Faith
Warm angel biscuits and sweet tea aren't the only things I miss about my mother-in-law. I miss the fresh servings of prayer she whispered while feeding her family and the filling scriptures she served in our conversations around her table.
Yes, her kitchen now sits quiet and dark, but her family is feasting on her spiritual legacy of love for God and His Word.
Dear Lord, help me to be a wife and mom who feeds her family from the kitchen and from Your Word. May I leave a legacy for those You've entrusted in my care. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Try the "saltshaker encouragement" over dinner tonight. Each member of the family takes a turn at holding the saltshaker. Every other person at the table should share one thing they will pray for the person holding the saltshaker.
1 Peter 2:2-3, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (NIV)
Then they asked him, “What did he [Jesus] do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too? John 9:26-27
Hearing does not guarantee listening. Eye contact and engaged body language can still lead to no heart comprehension. Someone can act like they are listening without really understanding. People who lack humility and empathy lack the ability to really listen well. Pride and ego run over another’s sentences before they finish. An unbridled intellect interrupts with solutions and new ideas before they truly listen to the heart of the one making conversation. Hubris is deaf.
So, there is skill involved in learning to listen with understanding. Good listeners lean into the one speaking and seek to know what the one speaking knows. They take in the spoken words, but simultaneously they process the emotional meaning behind the speech. Listeners hear without any preconceived notions or preemptive conclusions. We hear and listen well when we enter into the emotional world of the speaker. We learn to listen by asking clarifying questions.
After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:46
The Holy Spirit is also involved in illuminating true meaning and providing discernment to humble and wise hearts. So, we prayerfully listen beyond the logic of the spoken language to the unspoken promptings of God’s Spirit. A person’s words may say they want one thing, but in their heart of hearts, they know they need something different. The Lord’s Spirit working through your spirit will give you insight into what they need to consider. Listen for the Spirit’s quiet leading.
Most of all, be a hearer, listener, and a doer of God’s word. Scripture is like fertilizer for your faith. If the Bible is only revered on a bookshelf it is useless, but if it is spread over your life it makes things grow. Therefore, hear, listen and apply God’s Holy Word to your life. Once you listen and learn then allow His truth to transform your being. Wise listeners of Christ’s words integrate His principles into their behavior. They pray, “Speak Lord for I am listening for You.”
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9
Prayer: Heavenly Father speak to my heart and I will truly listen to You and obey.
Related Readings: Deuteronomy 34:9; Job 38:1-3; 1 Corinthians 14:21; Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 4:6
Post/Tweet today: Prayer listens beyond the logic of spoken language to the unspoken promptings of God’s Spirit. #listeningprayer
If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock. The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.
Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.
As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.
This year, Phil wrote a book (Happy, Happy, Happy) that shares about his journey, his faith and his family. I recently sat down with Phil to talk about those three things.
John: Phil, I'm wondering if maybe you can break down for us how you felt your sense of calling. I know in your life football is certainly part of your past. You have either served as a pastor, or certainly you have preached many times in your life, and yet you are also an avid hunter as well, and you have made a lifetime career out of that. How does one who is pursuing Christ identify a great calling?
Phil: Well, I think old Thomas Jefferson said it best, "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal, and they've been endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty..." and that third thing there really caught my attention way back, "...the pursuit of happiness.” So, we have a god-given right to pursue happiness.
In my case, you have to remember, John, it did my heart more good to get about 35 or 40 mallard ducks coming down through the trees in front of me, than it did to throw a touchdown pass. When I was playing ball over at Louisiana Tech, I said, "Bradshaw, you're a second-stringer and I'm ahead of you. I could play my last year and that would keep you back a year." I said, "What I'm gonna do is I'm going to start chasing ducks full-time when I leave Louisiana Tech here," and I said, "You can step up and go on to the NFL and let the good times roll." I said, "I'll be thinking about you down in the woods while them big bruisers are stomping you in the dirt, my man." He laughed and I laughed.
Amazingly, 44 years later I saw him the other day a couple of months ago, and he was … we met up, you know, after that little speech I gave him. He said, "Robertson, you've done pretty good chasing ducks, man, you know, you have a television show." I said, "Well, you've done pretty good yourself, my man." We reminisced a little bit, you know. The bottom line is both of us ended up happy, happy, happy there.
John: Phil, do you appreciate preaching? Is that something that you enjoy doing?
Phil: Well, you have to remember I'm not ordained, like a bona fide, certified, preacher. I'm just a guy that builds duck calls. I do love God and I love my neighbor. I was converted at 28 years old, and before that I had never heard the gospel of Jesus, that God became flesh 2,013 years and died on a cross for my sins, was buried and raised from the dead.
So I zoned in on all my rotten, filthy ways, all my sins being removed, and on top of that being raised from the dead. I looked at that and said, “You know what? I never had anything that I've ever studied or looked at that gave me the opportunity to have all my sins removed and forgotten and be guaranteed my dead body could be energized and raised from the dead.” It got my attention! I basically just went forth from there, from the time I was converted. Since I didn't know that until I was 28, I just tried to make sure that the people I come in contact with at least hear that story. I just go forth across America, amazingly even before the television show. Now, the audience is just far bigger.
I've been going around all across America. They invite me to come, so I get on a jet and I go. How they all started inviting me to come is kind of beyond me, but I just started going across the country and still am. Now, all my sons do the same thing. We're just trying to infuse a little good into our culture, you know. We just think we're better off because of loving God and loving our neighbor, for crying out loud. We think the country needs it. We love them; that's why we do it. That basically is the story, and that is what the book is about. Just a family structure. I am the head of the family structure, Miss Kay and I, you know, grandma, grandpa, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. We eat together, pray together, hunt together, and that is just one little glimpse of one American family, my man.
Phil: Basically, happy, happy, happy just describes the ultimate, rarest of commodities: peace of mind. That's what I meant by that phrase. I didn't know the little saying was going viral, John. You know what I'm saying?
John: Yes. I do know what you're saying.
Phil: You never know, man.
John: Basically, when you talk about the concept of the book, is that primarily looking at the family structure and how you guys have done things in your family?
Phil: Yeah. That, plus, you know, it's a family structure and a worldview. We just think society, our culture and our world would be better off if we just loved God and loved our neighbor and did what was right. You know, our founding fathers… you know, if you read, I have researched them carefully, and I'm on the same page as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson. They all were godly men. Someone told me one time, "Yeah, but they made mistakes." I said, "So have we. We've all made mistakes." I said, "But they founded the greatest nation on earth and we didn't, and that's the difference right there."
John: Yes. When you look at the church here in the west, when you look at the Christian culture, what is your thought? Are we okay? Are we doing good? Are we loving our families well enough? Are men standing up and leading their families well?
Phil: I think we need some help in that area. I think, my view is, we sort of got zoned in into going to church. That phrase, "going to church," is not even in the Bible. So you say, "I wonder why that wouldn't be in the Bible," because everyone you talk to, they say, well, “we're going to church, yeah, we're going to church, we're going to church.”
What's happened is we were so busy “going to church,” as we call it, the American model is you report in Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. You can be there every time the door is open, but, really, when you get to looking at 168 hours in a week, if you're in a spiritual setting only four or five of them—Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night—what's happened in my opinion, is we got so busy attending that our culture started disintegrating around us. And our family structures started being torn apart. We didn't infuse Christianity as much as we should have into our culture around us. The people we meet, where we work, where we play.
My idea is, when I was converted, I just go forth, and I reach out to my neighbor, and it's far more than just going to a church building two or three times a week. Do you see what I'm saying?
Phil: We need to be more light for our culture, more salt, more leavening, though, in whatever vocation you happen to be. I'm a duck horn builder, but I made sure that all the people that I came in contact with I did in a nice way. I didn't beat them over the head with it, but I just want to tell them the good news about Jesus. That went … man, did that ever get … now the audiences, John, are like, you know, tens and tens of thousands at a sitting. So it went way past anything I could have ever asked or imagined. It just seemed like God just kept … the doors just kept getting ... the crowds kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
What is amazing to me is that these large crowds now that we go to all started from just a little TV show with a prayer at the end of the show. You wouldn't think that would have that much impact on our culture but, man, there's probably 30 or 40 million every week that watch that. I'm having to put up a gate down here because there's hundreds of vehicles pulling up in my yard. I was dumb enough, I've never turned on a computer in my life. I do have a master's degree from Louisiana Tech in education, but I've never turned on a computer here in my 67 years, and I don't own a cell phone.
Someone says, "Well, Robertson, you're all over the Internet, you're all over the computer." I said, "Well, how did I get there?" They said, "That is a good question, but somebody's putting you on there." The bottom line is, it just went beyond anything I could ask. I've never seen anything like it, I tell you that. I'm not quite sure what it is except maybe the Almighty is working in it.
John: Phil, do you think your life, or your wife's life, or even your family's life has changed since the start of the show?
Phil: Well, you have to remember, with us, simplicity is sort of the key. In other words, Miss Kay and I, we raised our boys to love God, love their neighbor. They saw us interact with so many people who had marriage problems and drug problems and alcohol problems that we'd invite them in, and Miss Kay would feed them and I'd tell them the good news.
Well, my sons were standing around or sitting around listening to all that. The impact that we had on them, and we all gathered up as a family and thanked God for our food, we just kept life simple. Now that the fame has come, and the money... well, you got to remember, the way we operate, with the removal of sin from our lives, and on top of that being raised from the dead, trust me, my man, and this is one family group that believes that takes precedent over any kind of fame or money. Because money and fame can't raise you from the dead, my man. Only the Almighty can do that.
Phil: You just keep the first thing, the important things the important things. Do you see what I'm saying?
John: Absolutely. Ten years from now, what do you want this whole thing to be? Where do you see yourself? Where do you see your family from now?
Phil: Well, at the end of the day, all you have when it's all over is your name and what you stood for. I'm kind of like old Patrick Henry. He said, "The United States was not founded on religions but by Christians." He said, "The United States of America was founded on the gospel of Jesus." I'm just carrying the good news forth. At the end of the day, that's about the only legacy I would care about, that they say, you know… someone asked, I think it was Daniel Webster, "What's the greatest thought that you've ever had in your mind?" He said, "My accountability to God." That's basically where I am.
John: Phil, besides the founding fathers of our country, what other influencers do you have? Are you a book reader?
Phil: Only the Bible. Very seldom do I read books or commentaries. I just stick with the Bible itself, and I keep it within arm's reach. I have a set of encyclopedias and I have a dictionary from old Noah Webster, the father of public education. He's the one that came up with the dictionary, and it's still his heir, it's still here to this day. I have encyclopedias, a good dictionary, and my Bible within arm's length of myself. I always tell people, I said, "I'm just short-circuiting the computer world."
John: I love it. I love it. Would you share with me a little bit about what God has been bringing you through, maybe in the last week or month or so?
Phil: Oh, my goodness, what are you talking about? If someone had told me that at some point riches would come, fame would come, and the opportunity to go across the United States of America and proclaim the good news, I would have said, literally I would have said, "Impossible." So, man, look, I just look back at it. All I can tell you is the audiences are getting bigger and bigger. This weekend I'll be at David Lipscomb University, and there will be about … I have to give three speeches because the building wouldn't hold but 4,500 at the time. They got three sellouts.
First, they said do one. Then they called and said, "Mr. Robertson, we filled the building up again, can you do two?" I said, "Yeah." Then they called back and said, "How about three?" I said, "I'll do it." Basically, the opportunity is there. To answer your question, with all these things, we just are sort of like men with a mission.
The good news is Alan, my oldest boy, goes out and does the same thing, and Jason does the same thing. By the way, Jase and Al are great speakers. Old Willie, and even old Jep, and as shocking as it sounds, even Si. Most people don't realize Si, as nutty as he is, Si is a very godly man. I mean, he's one of the godliest people I know. I mean, that guy is straight as an arrow, but it's beyond my pay grade to understand why so many women want to marry Silas Roberston. I said, "What are y'all thinking?" I said, "It's scary, Si, I tell you." He said, "Well, boys, you know, I've always blown a little smoke," he said, "but I never had some fool come along and say he'd pay me money to do it." He said, "They want some smoke, I'll blow it for them." Si is a very godly man. Most people don't realize that, and he is happily married up there on the side of the road. It's been a hoot just kind of watching my brother, you know, and all my kids. We've had a big time with it.
It's just a good format for a family group, a functional family, which I think the United States needed to see.
Phil: Face it boys, it's been a while since America saw actually a functional family who just loves God or their neighbor and hunts ducks. I mean, give me a break. I just don't see the downside of it. Evidently, there are at least 30 or 40 million who feel the same way I do, so there is still hope for America, boys. We're just trying to infuse a little good into our culture.
John: Amen. Phil, how can we be praying for you and your family?
Phil: Pray that the Almighty will continue to protect us, because you remember the Bible says that the gospel has divine power that demolishes strongholds. Looking at the world all around us and all the murder, the mayhem, and the mischief and all the immorality and all that, just remember this particular little family group literally is going into the teeth of the tiger. I would pray, if I were you, I'd pray for the Robertson clan as they go forth for divine protection and strength and boldness as we go forth. That's what I would pray. I would appreciate it, too, my man.
It isn't often a person can live a dream, but Phil Robertson, aka The Duck Commander, has proven it is possible with vision, hard work, helping hands, and an unshakable faith in the Almighty. If you ever wind up at the end of Mouth of Cypress Road, sitting face to face with Phil Robertson, you will see that his enthusiasm and passion for duck hunting and the Lord is no act- it is truly who he is.
Tim Timmons, Reunion's newest artist, strives to invite believers about Jesus to become followers of Jesus through his own personal story. Tim's story is not living with an incurable cancer, but it is his perspective through it. That message is passionately put forth on his label debut, Cast My Cares, out June 4, 2013. It's a record filled with tender ballads and powerful anthems that speak profoundly to this generation. Timmons' earnest and compelling voice on the first single, "Starts With Me," spurs the intellect and moves the heart. Cast My Cares inspires an awakening within the church. Join the revolution.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Remember when you were younger, family and friends would ask, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"
My answer would change each school year.
In 3rd grade, I wanted to do puppeteering. My mom was my hero when she signed me up for the puppet class at the library! Fourth grade brought change. Sketch pads were filled with my amateur drawings of figures doing life together. As I grew, so did my aspirations of what I wanted to do as an adult.
While I enjoyed the attention the "growing up" question gave, I really wish someone had asked me a different question. Instead of emphasizing what I wanted to do, how powerful it would have been if grown ups had asked, "Who do you want to be?"
The great thing is, it's not too late to ask myself this question. And I'm old enough to know where to find the perfect answer.
Galatians 5:22-23 describes many characteristics of a godly woman: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Bible describes these as the "fruit of the Spirit." They start in seed form when God's Spirit enters our heart, and they grow and develop with care and attention to the things of the Lord.
They're cultivated by reading the Bible, praying and listening to the Lord, and living them out. The more I practice them, the more I become them—and the woman God wants me to be.
Now, I am no longer the one being asked, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" Instead, I have the opportunity to be the one asking. My daughters, ages 18 and 16, are just around the corner from living out their own adult lives. Posing the question to them, "Who do you want to be?" is so much more important than "What do you want to do?"
Do you want to be one who loves the least and the lost? What fruit of the Spirit do you want to be known for ... the girl with joy even in the struggles? The faithful friend who was loyal no matter what the cost?
By asking our kids these types of questions, we're teaching them to care more about their character than their career. When we do, we empower them that no matter what they do, they have developed a character they feel confident about.
Today, I'm going to ask my children: "Who do you want to be when you grow up?" If they can't come up with words on their own, I'll offer some help. The fruit of the Spirit is the perfect place to start: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, full of kindness and goodness, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.
Dear Lord, help me care more about my character than my career and to be more intentional about who I am rather than what I do. Give me words to teach Your wisdom on how to live a life that honors You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1-3)
Contentment is not concerned with matters out of its control. Anytime you try to manage circumstances out of your purview, you grow discontented. The world of discontentment is a dangerous place to live because it may lead you to make a hasty or unwise decision. Decisions made under the duress of discontentment are not always the best. Contentment, on the other hand, is patient and prayerful in decision-making. Most things do not have to be decided right away. You can wait and watch God unfold His will. It may be time to make a bold move, but execute your transition smoothly, not in a jagged fashion. Contentment does not try to change people. That’s God’s job. Contentment accepts the fact that some people are best left to themselves. God will deal with them in His way and in His timing.
Contented people do not have to be "in the know" about everything around them. Too much information can get you into trouble for you are responsible for what you know. It may be that you are not ready for that level of authority. Be content and trust God with those issues that exceed your capacity to understand or implement. There will come a day when you are prepared for that role of confidant, but for now, be content with where you are. Do the best in your current position and let opportunities come your way. The world of contentment is a great place to live in peace and quiet.
Contentment is found by placing your hope in God. Hope in the Lord can never be taken from you. All hell can break loose, but He is there. Hope in God is a perk for today. If you can trust Him with your soul for eternity, you can trust Him during this incredibly brief time on earth. Hope feeds contentment the way an appetizing meal feeds a hungry body. When you lose hope you grow discontented. Hope can be found in Jesus Christ, so don’t make it hard. He is not illusive or hiding; He is available for you. Contentment’s hope is in God.
If you place your hope in anything other than God, you set yourself up for major disappointment. Everything else in life is capable of letting you down, but not your heavenly Father. He is there for you, and His desire is contentment. He desires contentment because He knows that pure joy and happiness are nurtured and able to grow there. Sad are the discontented; glad are the content. Driven are the discontented; called are the content. Restless are the discontented; peaceful are the content. Addicted are the discontented; satisfied are the content. Pessimistic are the discontented; hopeful are the content. Be content and enjoy the outcome. Contentment’s concerns are few.
Post/Tweet: Decisions made under the duress of discontentment are not always the best. #becontent
“Then Jesus said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (Mark 4:9).
Spiritual receptivity is necessary for the growing follower of Christ. Jesus knew that there had to be a willingness to want to know and understand before there could be any comprehension of His teachings. This hunger for God is an innate appetite that only He can satisfy. Even if you do not hear, you can want to hear. This is the attitude of a growing disciple of Jesus Christ. A willing heart is what the Holy Spirit infuses with insight.
Spiritual receptivity is born out of your attitude and validated by your actions. Actions are an indicator but not an initiator of openness to the Almighty’s agenda. Have you ever grown weary working for the Lord, struggling to have a patient attitude? Yes, we all have from time to time, but it is a patient and grateful attitude that hears Christ communicate the most clearly. Gratitude for His grace, love, and forgiveness leads to hearing His voice.
His Word lodges alive and eventually bears fruit when the ears of your heart humbly listen to the Lord with an attitude of obedience. Jesus explained the results of a spiritually receptive heart; hearing and understanding His Word, thus finding faith and healing. Indeed, the comprehension of His ways is not limited to a select few “professional Christians.” In fact, their ministry vocation can become a stumbling block to belief.
“‘For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:15–17).
Spiritual receptivity means I submit to the Holy Spirit’s prodding to preempt my pride. Instead of reacting to raw data, I wait and process with prayer so I am able to gain God’s perspective and not be rushed by the world’s way of doing things. Spiritual receptivity sees the face of God and hears the heart of heaven.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).
Prayer: Do I hear with a heart toward hearing from heaven? Is my heart humbled to hear from the Holy Spirit?
Related Readings: 2 Samuel 7:22; Jeremiah 6:10; Romans 11:8; 2 Timothy 4:3
Post/Tweet: A soul’s hunger for God is an innate appetite that only He can satisfy. #satisfied
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