Archive - May 2016

Lessons learned about prayer and service 

It’s been a long and exhausting week. Actually it’s been an exhausting couple of weeks. The days have run together and the nights have been short. So has my temper at times.

I spent all of Wednesday in a state of high anxiety not knowing whether we would make it church or not. It’s become a familiar feeling. I work in our church’s AWANA program on Wednesday nights, and although they know my family’s situation and understand that I can’t always be there, I still feel guilty when I can’t.

And this week it was my turn to teach.

I’m not sure, I haven’t counted, but I think I’ve missed more than I’ve been there this year.

All day I think over and over, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. Surely if this is what I’m supposed to be doing it wouldn’t be this hard.

I was so convinced that we wouldn’t make it that almost didn’t prepare a lesson. I had even texted my friend to let her know I wasn’t sure I’d be there.

Up until the time we’re pulling out of the driveway, I was panicking that I would have to find some way right before time to start to get a hold of someone to tell them I wouldn’t be there. It’s happened before.

All the time I’m praying over the lesson I plan to teach. It’s one I tried to teach before, but changed at the last minute. I’m sure about it this time, but I feel compelled to bathe it in prayer more so than usual.

I pray over every lesson I teach, even the ones that are prepared for me, but this time I feel pushed to pray more. I assume it’s my distracted state of mind leading me to pray this way, a desperate attempt to find focus.Prayer

I remember later that Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”

This overwhelming compulsion to pray doesn’t stop, doesn’t let up, even while I’m teaching I pause to pray.

Afterward was when the moment came. When in the stairwell in between spending hard earned AWANA bucks, and ant bites on little toes, I had the privilege of witnessing a new birth.

And God used that moment to remind me of something that my weary bones had started to forget, and to teach me a lesson or two about service.

He reminded me of the importance of prayer.

I realized that night that my prayers weren’t for me. I was reminded once again how important prayer is. Prayer isn’t preparation for the battle; prayer is the battle.

Long before I gave my awkward lesson, long before we sat on those stairs, before I felt that little tug on my arm somebody prayed. Maybe it was a mother, or a grandmother, or maybe a stranger, but this child was in someone’s prayers.

Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. Oswald Chambers

I’ve always believed in the power of prayer, but sometimes I need a reminder not to neglect this most needful thing. It’s easy to put it off, excuse ourselves from it all together, but prayer is the glue that holds the Christian life together. And it’s the tether that draws the unbeliever.

The world looks on and sneers. “What good does your prayer do,” they say. According to the book of James, quite a lot.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.                                                                                   James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

Never give up on prayer. It is the best thing we can do for anyone in any circumstance.

Service is often hard.

I had another realization when my friend that I had texted earlier in the day said, “See, you were supposed to be here tonight.”

Anyone could have led that child down the Romans road, but for some reason it was me. For some reason that night a little heart was stirred.

We sometimes think that if God wants us to do something it will be easy. But that’s not always the case. It was God’s will for Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, but it was long hard fight. In the end he didn’t even get to see the fruit of that battle.

Just because God wants it for us, doesn’t mean it will be easy or come automatically. 

I do believe that sometimes God closes doors, and when He does we shouldn’t try to open them. But I also believe that when God opens a door, He expects us to walk through it, not sit and wait for something to happen.

Where you are matters 

Maybe you’ve thought at some point, that surely you are supposed to be doing something bigger and better for God.

We see pictures and hear stories of children starving in Africa, and we feel burdened. Or we hear statistics about suicide in Asia, and our hearts break. We see news stories about young girls being abused in the Middle East, and we want to help. How can we not?

We look around at suburban Americans, with their first world problems, and think there has to be someone who needs us more.

But, if this is where God has put us, then no one needs us more than the people around us. He puts us where we are for a reason. We shouldn’t try to force our selves into situations where God hasn’t called us.

Those suburban kids matter just as much as the children in other parts of the world. And they do have real problems, hard problems, and heart breaking problems. Problems kids shouldn’t have. Trust me when I say they are in darkness just as much as the children in Africa.

I will add this though; if God is trying to move us we shouldn’t let this be an excuse to stay. If God is leading you to one of the hard places in the world, He’s already made a plan to replace you where you are now. You will risk more staying, than you will by going.

Service isn’t about us.

It’s not about us and our comfort, and convenience.

It’s about Christ, and bringing others to Him.

When we compare our struggles to the cross, we’ll see them all fade into insignificance. If He can endure the cross for us, we can endure our trials to bring others to Him.

Service for the Kingdom might not always be easy, but it will always be worth it.

We sometimes think that if God wants us to do something it will be easy. But that’s not always the case. It was God’s will for Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, but it was long hard fight.

 

Meeting With The Master In The Middle Of The Messy: 4 tips to save a day gone haywire

Ever had one of those days?

You know, one of those days where you’re awakened by a tiny person in the predawn hours, and it’s one urgent need after another, until noon when you realize that not only are you still not dressed, but you haven’t eaten anything, the cup of coffee you poured yourself six hours ago is still sitting on the counter, now cold, and your Bible is somewhere still unopened.

Yeah, one of those days.

They happen.

And for the Christian woman trying to maintain her walk with God, they can be discouraging. They can even leave us feeling defeated, and spiritually dry, especially when we have several of them strung together, like when there’s an illness in the family.

There are many good reasons to start our day in prayer and Bible study, but sometimes despite our best intentions, and efforts, it just doesn’t happen.

So what do we so on those days?

Here are a few things that I’ve found that make the difference between a day gone haywire, and joyful living.

1. Don’t Complain

I know this is hard. I’m a world-class complainer. I can whine with the best of them.

But it doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t make anything better. In fact it makes it worse, because all those negative thoughts build on each other until your whole day is ruined.

It also sets a bad example for our children, and makes them feel like a burden.

When you are tempted to complain, and those negative thoughts threaten to invade, turn to Philipians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”‭‭ Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬

One of the best ways to turn your attitude around is to focus on the good stuff. It’s there just adjust your vision to see it.

2. Chose Compassion

Would it surprise you to know that Jesus had times in His life when He was interrupted? In Matthew chapter 14 we find an account of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus’ reaction to the news was to get on a ship and head for the desert. Strange right?

Not when you realize that He intended to be alone. He was grieving and wanted to talk to His Father about it.

But of course He was followed. He was followed pretty much everywhere He went. Sound familiar?

What did He do? Did He get annoyed that His “me time” was being interrupted? Did He get irritated and tell them to go away? No, He had compassion on them. He healed them and then He fed them, all five thousand plus women and children.

After they were healed and fed, Jesus sent them away, and then He went into the mountain to pray. (Matthew 14:23)

He met their needs first, and then went to be alone. Sometimes we have to wait too. There will be times when we have to meet the needs of our families before we go to the mountain to pray. But the mountain will still be there after our multitudes are fed.

Which leads me to:

3. Don’t Wait For The Perfect Time And Place

Take it from someone who knows, if you wait for the perfect time and place to connect with God, you never will. I know all the excuses. I’ve used them myself.

“I can’t wake up early enough.” “I don’t have a private space.” “My kids, or husband, won’t leave me alone.”

Maybe it’s not an excuse. Maybe you really did try, but your family had legitimate needs that needed to be met. That’s me more often than not these days.

The good news is, there’s no rule that says, if you miss your appointment with Jesus, you have to wait till tomorrow. He wants to meet you whenever and wherever. All that’s required is a heart that sincerely desires to meet with him.

So let the toddler dump the Legos on the living room floor, and pull out your Bible. Let the little ones see you doing this. They need to see you studying Gods word and on your knees in prayer. And they need to see you fighting for this time.

Our children mimic the behavior they see in us. We lead best by our example. A frightening thought when we’re not on our best behavior. 

It’s okay to let them know they have to wait for your attention sometimes. It’s necessary even. They need to know they’re not the center of the universe.

4. Reshuffle Priorities 

Most of the things we think we have to get done today can wait. Those dirty dishes don’t really have to be tackled first thing in the morning. There will be time for that throughout the day. Housework is important, but we can’t let it be more important than sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Remember Mary and Martha?

And what about all those things we impose on ourselves that aren’t really important at all?

Is it important that all the children be dressed in matching outfits? Or is it enough that they are clean and dressed? Do they have to have Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes? Or will another easier to prepare food feed them just as well?

What could we have done last night instead of watching television or scrolling through Facebook that would have made this morning go more smoothly?

A Pinterest perfect life won’t bring us the fulfillment we seek. Only our Savior can keep our souls filled and hearts watered. We can’t let the haywire days keep up from Him.

It’s probably not an attack from the devil when those days happen. It’s just life. But he loves it when we let those days make us irritated by the presence of our little ones, or resentful toward our husbands.

Jesus wasn’t opposed to being served, but he knew when that service was an act of worship and love, and when it was done out of obligation. (Luke 7:36-50) It’s our attitude that makes the difference. And He can make a difference in our attitude.

Take a deep breath and look into the face of your Heavenly Father. Go to Him and sit at His feet for just a little while. 

Right now.

I’m linking this up with Grace & Truth, and Moments of Hope.

There are many good reasons to start our day in prayer and Bible study, but sometimes despite our best intentions, and efforts, it just doesn’t happen. So what do we so on those days? Here are a few things that I’ve found that make the difference between a day gone haywire, and joyful living.

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