“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16
This. This verse right here. It gives me the chills. It’s one of those things that makes you sit up straight. It reminds me of coasting on a bike. The thing about coasting is – you can’t coast up to God, you’re always coasting somewhat downwards and away from him.
I don’t want to coast. I certainly don’t want to be looking at the world and living my life, only to die and find out – I was never really that close to him to begin with.
Whoops! Big Whoops! Eternal Whoops!
You all know I just wrote the book, Fear Fighting. So, it’s not that I have to fear what I am doing wrong, it’s just that I have to fear God. Get my eyes on him. Seek him. Be with him. Pursue him.
Like dominoes, everything falls in line when we do this. We get near him and he gets in us. I like that.
With this in mind here are my 25 Ways Not To Be Lukewarm:
3. Practically search out ways to love others
4. Read scripture
5. Ask God for help.
6. Submit all your plans to God.
7. Enjoy creation with God.
8. Remember Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
9. Forgive others.
10. Forgo anxiety and replace it with praise.
11. Encourage another person.
12. Hold fast to the belief that trials are training you into the image of Christ.
13. Grab on to faith, even when you feel like you are falling.
14. Thank God for everything.
15. Die to your selfish ways and live for Christ’s.
16. Renew your mind in truth, throughout the day, every day.
17. Worship through songs and Psalms.
18. Seek to understand others, verses judge them.
19. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then follow.
20. Seek holy in everything you do.
21. Put on the armor of God (Eph. 6)
22. Proclaim the gospel, no matter how scared you may feel.
23. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Speak it over your life.
24. Receive and extend grace. Repeat.
25. Uncover your heart and ready it for God’s transformation.
The good news is – even if we’ve lived lukewarm, we don’t have to fear our salvation. If we are saved, it is as done and done is done. We also don’t have to fear that we messed up, drifted away from God or turned our back for moment. Why? Because God’s love is greater than our deep worry we won’t be loved again. It extends beyond our feelings, thoughts and hurts. It reaches in – and once again – accepts us.
I snapped off the news. Nothing there but terrorism and guns. Who needs all that?!
My heart felt tired, unsure, but, all the same, I figured I should get with God. Maybe try to muster the strength to get up and fill my mind with excellence and good report.
“I should watch something uplifting.”
Unable to discern what, I just stayed put on the couch. Immobile. In tiredness. In a body unable to even gain the strength to end the day’s war under the covers of “tomorrow’s going to be better.”
I just lay there.
“God, why am I missing you lately? Why do you seem far?”
I got the sense of God whispering back to me, “Kelly, I am not far, you are.”
I used to spend my days looking for God, now I spend my days looking at how I am messing up.
I used to offer thanks, now I offer myself solutions for how I can improve.
I used to consider momentary lessons, now I consider how God really needs to teach me a lesson.
I used to just delight with letting God be, now I pressure him to show up.
I used to let fears fly out the window, now I roll it up.
I press my eyes tighter and ask, “What happened God?”
I hear nothing. Figures.
“You’re missing the moment where I am, because you fear the moments where you are.”
Let in love.
Land in my arms.
Let me carry you.
Leave behind demands.
My closed eyes – relax. God is inviting my mind to travel – with him. No demands. No requirements. No facades. No prerequisites. No achievements. No guilt. No shame required.
He wants my attention in the moment. So, without distraction, I can see him in the moment.
I open my eyes.
And then I see. God brings clarity: He loves me. He died for me. His light is always pursuing me.
My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. Ex. 33:14
Have you ever gotten permanent marker on your hands? Maybe you did a project or just got a little wild on paper. Either way, when you get marker on you, it is a bear to get off. You can scrub, and scrub and scrub and sometimes – it can take days and days to get off. It sticks.
Press hard. It still sticks.
Add more soap. Even more it sticks.
The same is for Jesus’ blood. It sticks. Jesus’ blood is not washed off by I-should-have-done-that moments. It not removed by an off thought. It is not erased in accordance with our doubts.
Where have you felt that the full atoning sacrifice of Jesus is not enough? Maybe you feel like you’re a bad wife? Your past marks you a bad child in the mind of God? Your failings disqualify you from God’s goodness? Your shame will never go away?
I make repeated mistakes. I think this is what most aggravates me. I go back to the well of I-am-sorry 100% in a week. Then, I start to think, “God, if I’m always having to say, ‘I am sorry’, what good am I?’” I start to think, “Daughters of a good daddy don’t shun him away.” I follow the lie that says, “I will never improve.”
Jesus’ blood seemingly washes off of me – in my mind, but in truth, Jesus blood will always cover my heart – through my life.
Do you believe you are covered by God? Jesus’ blood shed for you is as permanent as the blood that is in you. If you are his, he is yours.
If you are in Christ, his protective armor of grace – his blood shed on the cross – is always over you. It is like a force field that cannot be broken. It is a rainbow that always reminds you of his faithfulness. It is an umbrella that protects you from your worst errors.
What miracle Jesus did on the cross, cannot be broken by the mess we do in a day.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Heb. 10:10
In this, as I reflect on my story, the story that plays in my mind at night – the one that plays on repeat…me, not being so nice, so instructive and so godly with my kids, I am struck by this: Jesus Christ’s blood, his forgiveness of my sin, sets me off on a fresh course of freedom the next morning.
Will you let Jesus sacrifice sit permanently, like a mark of his great love for you, on your heart, mistakes, and inadequacies?
“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.
All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.
The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.
I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.
A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.
The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.
Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.
We humans are forgetful people.
As I repeated the mistakes I made with my firstborn, God brought me to some timely words from a fellow sojourner. And I realized in my sleep-deprived state I was assuming this battle against depression was purely an emotional one.
I was negating the spiritual side all together.
We have an enemy who loves to use our seasons of physical and emotional weaknesses to whisper spiritual lies. We are so much more gullible when we’re tired. We’re more likely to accept his lies as truth when we our bodies are healing from surgery, illness and pain.
But you want to know the beautiful irony in all this? Those times when the thief creeps in are also the times when God can do his mightiest works.
His power works best when we’re at our weakest point. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I tried to wrestle with God and walk in my own strength, but He just wanted me to let him carry me. Sure, I could take my vitamins, drink my coffee and catch cat naps here and there. All those things were needed.
But what I needed most was his grace. I needed it when I snapped at my husband and kids. Most of all, I needed it when I disappointed myself.
We can say his grace is sufficient for us, but change won’t come until we truly believe it. And it doesn’t just cover us enough for our shortcomings.
It drenches us.
The more I embraced this, the more the darkness shrank back and I saw the sun breaking behind the clouds.
The more I let him cover me, the more I saw that I didn’t have to pretend I had it all together. I could just be me, imperfections and all. And because of Jesus, that was enough.
Order Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fear Fighting today! Or, get all her blog posts by email. Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
Parked in my car, I stared at my neighbor’s perfectly ornamented outdoor tree. I’d missed it; I missed the moment. It was there for the taking, but I drove right past it. I couldn’t see past my path – to God’s path.
Reflecting on the morning, I considered how it went. My son called out, “Mom…our neighbor liked it. She…” I screamed from the other side of the car, “Buckle up, we’ve got to get to school, son.” At the sound of his click, I was off…
And, like I said, I missed it. The moment. He wanted to celebrate my sweet neighbor’s tree. But, the fact is, in my haste, I didn’t even notice the tree. I hurried past the display of reds and greens, of joy and peace, of excitement. But, most of all, I rushed past the little wind-chimes my son had made her a few months before.
She could have removed them off her grand display. But, she didn’t.
He wanted to let me know that she cared enough to keep them there. He wanted me to know that he was worthy to be part of her Christmas. He wanted to let me know that his heart to love and to show kindness was being celebrated where Jesus is. He was a special part of her Christmas; he loved and felt love.
He wanted to show me the meaning of Christmas.
But, I rushed on.
I saw destination and nailed it, with precision.
I saw my time sans kids, and grabbed it with strength.
I buckled up, grabbed my sunglasses, and peeled out of that driveway like a mother descending on a 3-hour vacation.
I wish I would have stopped. I am sure my son wishes I stopped too.
How often does God wish we stop?
That we stop to see His ornaments of goodness and kindness? That we stop to soak in His still small voice? That we stop to receive His oh-so-gentle prompting to call a neighbor in need, to hug a child or to observe a tree that points to the tree that made up the cross?
But, upwards and onwards we go! We make money. We get coffee. We buy presents. We speed through that yellow light. We answer that cell phone call. All the while, we miss God.
If we want to be led by the Spirit, we have to make room for Spirit. If we are so filled with the angst of progress, we will miss Him in the process.
This has happened to me. My heart is aching, because I’ve left no room. I’ve only left room to keep my heart in comfortable control. Yet, if God decides I should be 5-minutes late to something – can’t I sacrifice? Jesus gave far more than 5 minutes, he gave up his very body; He let it break and tear for me.
There is no shame. There is no condemnation, today, friends. Not for you or for me. There is just a ticket, extended to us, that invites us to go somewhere new. Every time, no matter what kind of pain in the side it feels like, it drives us to the point of joy and to the horizon of new peace.
God’s tickets to slow down and see Him always bring you to the peace that – is Him.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11
Please God, don’t let me brush past your workings anymore. Please God, stop me in my tracks. Awaken my heart to what you are doing in the moment. Give me eyes to see brilliance and the brilliance within others as I welcome them into my heart in a present moment. Help me rest, with you. Help me go, with you. Help me be, with you. Amen
I was recently at a friend’s house with some other gals and the subject of prayer came up.
We all agreed our heart’s desire was to stay in the presence of God more and the best way to do this was through prayer. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and that does seem to be the logical way to stay connected because God is always listening. (Psalm 34:15)
But how in the world do we pray without ceasing when our distractions never cease to end?
We talked about food fasting (you can read about this numerous places in the Bible, Luke 2:37, Matt 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Matt 6; 16-18) but the two who were hypo-glycemic (yes I was one of them—I get hangry) nixed the idea. So for that night we went our separate ways with no solution.
The next morning one of my friends texted a brilliant idea on how we could remind ourselves to pray. She didn’t present it as a challenge but being the competitive gal I am I took it as a challenge. A holy one.
She said the phone was her biggest distraction. The plan was, if her phone rang she would answer it (might be one of her kiddos) but if she wanted to look at Facebook, text, Instagram, email, or Google, she would offer up a prayer first.
Fast the phone and feed the prayer.
It was a brilliant idea to me because I pick up my phone like a nicotine addict lights up a cigarette. If I’m bored, nervous, sad, hungry, agitated, frustrated, impatient, or fidgety I pick it up. I thought, if I were to pray before I lit up my phone, others would be blessed and in the process I’d get a blessing of being less bored, sad, agitated, frustrated, impatient and fidgety.
Perks of staying in God’s presence.
It took me a couple of tries to get in the habit but that’s exactly what it became—a habit.
A praying habit.
I prayed while I was driving. I prayed while I was shopping. I prayed while I was exercising. Every time I heard an alert on my phone I prayed or praised God.
And this is what ihappened:
~ I became much more aware of time and space and what I was doing with each. I must have prayed 25-30 times between when I started in the morning and dinner.
~ I felt more connected to God. (But I guess so, we talked a lot!)
~ My attitude and the quality of my day changed. I couldn’t contain my joy and I shared with everyone else what I was doing.
~ And with all this I came to understand a deeper meaning to the verse in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. in all your ways submit to him and he will keep your paths straight.”
That’s exactly what happens when you pray without ceasing. You are in a virtual all day extended conversation with The Almighty, asking Him about your every step.
And this phone thing, it had a pleasant ring. The message began spread.
I shared it with this sweet woman who owns a gift shop I frequent. And about an hour later my friend who unknowingly gave me the challenge walked in the door and the shop owner shared it with her!
I told another girlfriend about it and she told her mother…and so on.
The Holy Spirit sets our hearts a blaze when we pray.
Today I challenge you my friend, if only for a day, to use your phone as a prompt to pray. And share it with someone else. See what a difference it makes in your life and the lives for whom you offer petitions.
And if you choose to take this challenge I will make this guarantee:
When you light up the heavens instead of your phone you’ll not only get better reception but you’ll also get a holy connection every time!
May God bless you as you stay connected to Him.
Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump and twist in the road.
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Christy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law (soon to be grandmother), mentor, and speaker. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward, and press on while seeking God’s presence in every bump and circumstance they encounter.
Christy is also a girly girl at heart who chases tennis balls for recreation and at the end of the day does her best thinking in the tub.
I cuddled with coffee (which is no doubt one of my favorite things to do). It warms me better than mittens on a cold day, which it was. I was sitting on my outside bench and enjoying the frosty morning. Not expecting to see what I was about to see…
Because, after you’ve sat on your porch day in and day out, things start to look, well…monotonous. Been there…seen that – the tree placed on the side of the yard, the bird house a little off to the side and the neighbors car – almost out of line’s site.
I know what’s out there – I can see everything.
My kids? I know their story and what their day will entail. My husband? I know him well, if not, too well. The blog? I know what I do each day. My problems? I can see them ruining me.
I know things – and maybe, this is precisely my problem.
What if by knowing everything, by relying on what I see, I am missing the chance to believe in what I can’t?
What if by seeing things as they are, I am not seeing by faith?
What if, by slightly changing perspective, I could change everything?
If, by believing in what I do not see,…
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1)
I might receive what is best for me…
…so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (Gal. 3:22)
Why don’t I full rely on God’s eyes to see…
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Eph. 1:18-19)
Maybe my life feels dull and ordinary because I’ve relied far too much on my own vision. God wants me to push pasty my might so I adopt his sight of that frees the captive, that brings beauty out of ashes and that overpowers the forces of darkness. I think I’ve missed out. And, what hits me is – when I seek to see like God sees, I experience a new way to be.
What appears like a shut door,
is really God’s way of sending me off in His new way.
What looks like a kid with a bad attitude is
really an opportunity to bring the gospel to her heart.
What lives like a long waiting period is really time
for me to prepare my heart for what God might want to do.
What comes at me like an in-your-face rejection,
is really a reminder God gives better gifts.
What appears to be time-lost is the chance to see God reclaim, miraculously, what was lost.
If we don’t believe, how will we ever see – God’s greatest works?
For the one who believes God can do all things, for them, they get to see these things – and greater things.
When did I become such a jaded Christian? I am sorry God. Heal my unbelief. Restructure my faith. Pour out grace. Enliven me in belief with no bounds. I don’t want partial faith in your goodness, but an all out allegiance to your way, your truth and your life. Amen.
And, as I sit there on that bench, surrounded by commonplace things on a commonplace day, I see something far less common. I see, beyond a stone’s throw, a leaf – one I had never seen before in my life. It was oddly shaped, as if it should be in some exotic locale. It is beautiful, awe-inspiring and special. It teaches me – when we get expectant to see, God puts his beauty before us.
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Sometimes praying feels like throwing darts – with your eyes closed. You hurl some words heavenward and wonder if you’ve hit the bulls-eye of progress. You hope something sticks.
What have you been praying for? Do you wonder if God hears your prayers? If they matter?
Lately, I’ve been thinking, I don’t want my words to just touch heaven, but I want them to move heaven’s power on my behalf. I want to pray knowing, all I am – needs all of Him . I want – what I throw up, to fall back down with such strength – God’s fingerprints, clearly, handled my every word. Even more, I want the Lord’s will to fall on earth, not because I am good (far from it), but because He is good, all good. And, more than enough.
I want God to touch even the smallest details of my life and the lives of those I love.
Do you desire the same?
I’ve been wondering how to be effective in prayer.
And, when I think of it, if ever there was a prayer warrior – it was Paul. If there ever was a man who moved the needle of this world (besides Jesus) – it was Paul. And, if there was ever a man who prayed with power – it was Paul.
What would happen if we prayed like Paul?
God got me asking this question. So, I searched every prayer Paul prayed (below) to find the essence of God’s power held within his words. What I found were 12 categories of prayer. I hope they bless you as much as they did me!
Here are 12 Power-Prayers Sourced from Paul:
“God, I thank you for others. I ask you to fill them, and myself, with knowledge of your will, with wisdom and understanding. Even more, may I pursue others with love, through prayer, while building unity. “
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3–6)
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. (Romans 1:8–10)
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Eph. 1:15)
We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord. (Col. 1: 9-10)
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3)
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. . . . (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. (2 Timothy 1:16-18)
2. “God, may others be saved. May they understand the fullness of your love.”
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. (Philemon 5–7)
3. “May my life, and the lives of those around me, be filled to the measure of the fullness of God (through love, hope, power, strength, faith, grace and mercy). Through this, may your name be glorified.”
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 215–23)
For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (1 Thess. 3:13)
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 1:11-12)
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
4. “May the power of Jesus Christ continually fill with joy, grace, peace and hope, through the Holy Spirit. Encourage our hearts, Lord God, so we may we be pleasing to you.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. (1 Corinthians 16:23)
We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:9–14]
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
5. “May our hearts be in continual prayer. May you open doors to our messages. May we proclaim Jesus. May we refresh others. May the mysteries of Lord Jesus Christ be open as we fearlessly convey the gospel.”
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:2-4)
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Romans 15:30-33)
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
6. “God, praise be to your name for all your goodness. All goodness is you. We praise you for who you are, what you do and how you’ve blessed us with a new standing in Christ Jesus.”
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. . . . (Ephesians 1:3)
7. “We offer all thanks to you, God. You do all things, You bring life and You deliver hope. Thank you for enriching us, keeping us and equipping us with spiritual blessings. We lack nothing. We praise you.”
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way— in all your speaking and in all your knowledge—because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has give you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:12-15)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
8. “God, may you heal us. If we do not see healing, please speak your truth into our heart. May we know that all you give is more than enough and that, in us, you are still working.”
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take (thorn in flesh) away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12: 8-9)
9. Father, may holiness and love – thrive. Sanctify us more and more.”
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. [Philippians 1:9–11
Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. [2 Corinthians 13:7–9]
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. [1 Thessalonians 5:23–24]
10. “God, may grace abound in me, to me and through me.”
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. [Galatians 6:18]
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Philippians 4:23]
11. “May you protect me and those I love. Strengthen us too.”
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. [2 Thessalonians 3:2–5]
12. “God, again, we cry, thank you, Father. Thank you for blessing us with the ability to serve you.“
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. [1 Timothy 1:12]
You. I know you feel sad, down or discouraged that things aren’t going so well.
That person? Yep. They aren’t so much changing.
That dream? Yep. It isn’t so much happening.
That pain? Yep. It isn’t so much going away.
That trial? Yep. It’s very much still there.
That bill? Yep. It’s not going away.
And, there you are in the middle of that rainstorm feeling tossed to and fro. You can nearly feel the pain of things that are going to hit into you. You nearly see the rocks and pebbles heading towards you. Add, the past? It howls with the whipping of regrets of yesteryear.
The power of God moves, you just aren’t sure if it is moving for you.
Do you just lay down and give up? Do you run?
But, run where?
There appears to be no covering, no safety from the onslaught of water falling. There appears to be no parting in the sky.
But, what if, what I saw as doom and gloom, God was working for my good?
I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Lev. 26:4
While we see rain, God sees gain.
While we see storms, God sees the seed of new starts.
While we see downpours, God sees the fruit he’ll bear.
While we see darkness, God sees the light that will shine the next day.
God calms calamity and turns it into spiritual prosperity.Believe.
There is more than the eye can see.
There is more than the ear can hear.
Faith is more than your senses can perceive.
There is more than your mind can conceive.
God is higher than your loftiest vision.
God is bigger than your largest memory.
God is not contained within your own perceptions.
Even more, he is good.
Not good sometimes.
Good all the time.
Not good on some days.
Not just good to other people. Good to you.
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)
Easy, right? Hardly. This is just about one of the hardest callings.
You toss potato salad at my face? I smile and speak in an angelic tone to soothe you.
You throw me under the bus with my boss and steal my promotion? I make allowance for your mistake and let go.
You con me out of all my money? I humbly confront you with words of kindness.
How is this possible?
Not by my own strength, I’ll tell you. My own strength would have you pressed up against the wall with a lesson stuffed down your throat. It is not easy to respond with humility, gentleness, patience and allowance for mistakes.
In fact, it’s pretty much impossible.
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags… (Is. 64:6)
It’s impossible by our own strength because we are weak. We either muster up humble-arrogance, which looks a whole lot like pious Christianity, or brute force, which ruins relationships. Either way, the result is not from God and it’s quite ugly.
…For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil. 2:3
God works in us and God wills us to act out his good purpose. God moves then we move forward in love.
Yet, I often live backwards-grace. This is where I muster up good within myself and force it on the world. It usually ends up looking a whole lot like manipulation rather than ministry. Yuck.
Backwards-grace is fruitless. It leaves Christians dejected, demoralized and discouraged. It flat-out doesn’t work. What does work is getting with Savior. Seeking his heart. Letting him mend yours. Allowing him to grow you. Returning again to the wealth of his truth. Letting his grace cover your failings. And then, from the place of heart-change, allowing that very shift, within you, to work kindness, patience and humility into the world.
If you let God into your heart, you’ll find he changes it.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10