Have You Prayed?

Do you have a yearning to pray? Then pray.

Do you sense that you do not know how? Definitely.

You want to talk to God, but you do not know what to say. Pray.

Are you afraid to spend time with the almighty? Pray anyway.

You feel you are unworthy to call out to God. Always.

What do I do with these emotions? Talk to God about them.

You may ask, “Will he hear me?” You can count on it. What if he does not answer? That’s a wrong thought. He is always answering for the best. Our problem is we do not know what is best. Our best request may not be the best in his eyes. God can see into the future. He knows what is best. Our problem is our short-term vision. We want immediate answers. But God has a far-reaching vision.

Being confused about how, where, when, or posture to pray are the least of our concerns. God cares about our hearts—hurting, aching, breaking, lonely, sad, angry, or even disappointed. It doesn’t make any difference. Pray.

All things do work together for good for the trusting child of God. Accepting all things is our responsibility. The Bible is true whether we believe it or not. Our unbelief is our problem, not his. We need to pray about accepting what God has for us, especially when we do not understand. When life’s happenings are beyond our comprehension, he has a door ready to be opened by the hand of faith. What’s behind the door is God’s gift. He is ready to do what is best.

Are you ready to spend some time with God? If so, find a quiet spot and start talking to God. He is ready to listen. Heavenly Father, here I come.

Pray constantly is God’s answer (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Overcoming Discouragement

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so the saying goes. It took time. 

Discouragement is not eliminated in a moment, day, or week. It takes time. The focus of your thinking needs time to change. Our thinking needs to leave the rut and jump onto the highway of progress. It’s our going forward that will diminish our depressing thoughts of the past.

Whatever brought about the despair needs to be eliminated. If it’s financial, one payment after another will eventually reach the paid in the full mark. Hurt feelings may get an apology. Then again, maybe not. But even if there is no, “I’m sorry,” let it go and move on. The other individual will have to deal with themselves and their emotions. But then maybe they will not. If you have debilitating injuries making permanent hindrances, make the necessary adjustments and go on. Things may not ever be the same, but God can still use you.

Learning and changing are part of progress. At times, the adjustment is unpleasant. But that is what life is all about. I’m glad for the change, at least, some of them. For example, I’m a slow typist. Manual typewriters are considered obsolete. So are electric typewriters. Computers are today’s wonders. Most have programs where you can speak, and voila! Words appear. Someone invented this technology for me. Sure, I make corrections because of my diction, but it is still faster than a manual typewriter.

We cannot let the old hinder progress. Neither should we allow discouragement to handicap our future. Progress is all about moving on. You can take the past with you, but do not let it tie you down. Experience is preparatory for the future. Progress may move slowly in our lives, but at least we’re going forward.

Attitude is our biggest hindrance or help. Improvement is the foundational motive for most of our desires. Desires to go forward and help others, including ourselves, are necessary for progress. When we focus on something or someone other than our discouragement, progress happens. Without it, the future looks dim. What do you see in your future? Change or the refusal to change? Only if you are committed to progress will you overcome the discouragements of life.

No Stopping It

It was a snippet. Only one derogatory comment. And it was not the whole truth. It was like a stone pushed down a steep hill. Moving slowly, gaining speed as it traveled downward. It bounced off a giant rock, jumping into the air and skipping the other little stones. But now, the speedy boulder increased in velocity. There was no stopping it.

That is how gossip moves. Leisurely at first, then gaining momentum. It’s rolling over whoever is in its way. A careful observer will point out the path of destruction. The havoc becomes wider in influence, forcing hearers into choosing sides.

Organizations are being destroyed or handicapped by the mischievous. Leaving only a skeleton of a once-thriving body. The originator of the derogatory comment has since disappeared. Others have sought greener pastures, regardless of their position in the matter. What was once a booming organization with excitement is now only a handful of innocents. They are now responsible for holding the organization together, at least what remains.

In another scenario, the troublemaker remains, and many others leave. One sad thing about this is the organization does not regain its previous posture. The momentum robber never sees the source of the decline. They justify themselves by stating, “we are smaller, but we are better.”

The power of God builds upon the purity of heart, not the outward appearance. God loves purity. He hates gossip. It was just a snippet, but it started rolling. It didn’t stop. Only the innocent suffer and remain.

Good and Very Good

Discovery is finding something out previously unknown. It is an eye-opener. You ask, why haven’t I seen this before? Familiarity and prior knowledge did not see it. For years and years, you have overlooked this detail.

Genesis chapter one describes creation. It gives the day-by-day account of the creator and his work week.  

On day one, God created light. Then on day two, the heavens, evening, and morning, were formed. On the third day, the dry land with vegetation and the seas came about. God placed the sun and moon in the heavens on the fourth day. On day five, the Lord produced the inhabitants of the waters and the sky. The land animals came about, and then man was formed to complete day six. On the last day of the week, God rested.

The creation sequence reveals some notable insights. Every day God created, he said it was good except on day two. Our creator does not express his evaluation of the expanse. Day three states, God said it was good twice. Then the final day, God created the land animals and said it was good. The capstone of his creation—man—God said Adam was very good. 

So, what is the takeaway from the days of creation? God had good days, an okay day, and a good and very good day. Should we expect our days to be any different from our Lord? We cannot have great days every day. They are the exception, not the rule. Every day we breathe is a good day. It is a day to serve our Lord. 

God set an excellent example before us; he rested one day. We need to follow his example and put aside the cares of this world—rest the body and worship him.

Oozing Inspiration

Inspiration often leads to perspiration. An idea is a thought. The thought leads to the task, the task to the plan, and then its implementation. The implementation is the work. The work can give way to encouragement and excitement. If the process is long, potholes of discouragement may be on your road.

If you let discouragement win, then inspiration also is lost. Maybe forever. But when the big D (discouragement) comes, two thoughts to consider. One is to step back and regain your focus by taking a break—the rest of mind and body. Two will be to reload your plan. Examine the original starting point. Where are you in this process? Have you strayed from the plan? What are the steps you have left out, and what steps do you need to complete?

Life always has discouragements. It could be insufficient materials. Maybe it’s your health. It could be people who did not fulfill their areas of responsibility. Whatever or whoever disillusioned you, they were not part of the original inspiration. Remember, God never leads you to begin something, only to quit. He will see you through to the end. 

The plan is still God’s plan. It belongs to him. What he is looking for is a willing person. Remember the example of putting your hand to the plow and not looking back (Luke 9:62). The 21st-century application is to keep going and put the past behind you. Focus on what is in front of you. If you are busy with your forward progress, somehow, it all works out. Because God is in the details and the timing, it is a matter of trust and commitment on our part. The results are in God’s hands. 

One more thing to consider, sometimes inspiration does ooze out. It is not like a flash of lightning. It is the oozing that will accomplish the plan for God.

Your Memory Is Better Than God’s

Our memory works better than God’s in some areas. Do you believe that? It is true! You know God forgives our confessed sins. You also know He does not remember them ever again. Psalms records,” As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (103:12 ESV).

Sadly, we remember, even though God has forgiven us. The Apostle Paul, who imprisoned many Christians, encouraged himself by writing, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way…” (Philippians 3:13-15 ESV).

We can go forward only if we forgive ourselves for what God has forgiven us. Somehow, we still waddle in the mud of those forgiven sins. We continue to beat ourselves up over and over again with guilt. By doing so, we are disobedient to God because we are letting those forgiven sins hold us back from doing the next thing God wants us to do. 

God has work for you to do; he is not finished with you. As long as you have breath and your heart beats, let it beat for you to do the work of God. There is a world outside your front door. God-given opportunities are waiting for you to do and conquer for the Lord.

As sure as the grass grows, the birds sing, and trees sprout new leaves, God has spring-like opportunities for you. Look around, what do you see? What has God set before your eyes and heart to do for him? When you see it—do it. It may not be a one-time thing. It could be ongoing for his glory. Whatever it is, he will confirm it to you in some way. His confirmation is your playbook, guide, motivator to begin the journey with him. It may also require you to seek a day-by-day sequence for the plan to be accomplished. 

However, you will not accomplish the Lord’s plans if you do not forget the past. The past will haunt you only if you let it. No, you cannot undo the past. The forgiven sin is just that—forgiven—forever erased in the heart of God. If it does not exist in God’s memory then it should not hold you back. God has work for you to do in the future. Press on to the prize of the high calling of God for his glory. 

Life’s Priorities

What if you had everything you ever needed, but there was something missing inside of you? It kept your stomach churning. First, it started slowly. Over time the uneasiness became more intense. You tried to calm it down. Change of diet did not work. Then, you tried some medicine and it still churned. Do you see this was the case for the rich young ruler in the Bible?

Then Jesus came to town. The rich young ruler sought the Lord. He wanted a solution to his stomach’s churning question. Upon finding Jesus, the young man asked Jesus one question. “What do I need to do to have eternal life?” 

Everyone who hears the gospel explained, wonders about eternal life—their eternal life. Jesus said no one may go to heaven on their own merits. Then, the Lord repeated six of the ten commandments (Mark 10:19). Each of the six commandments related to man’s dealings with other people. The young ruler replied, “I do these.” Jesus directed the conversation to the young man’s relationship with God. The Lord basically asked, who is your God? The Father in heaven or your possessions.

Everything a person has is by God’s grace. Health to work, wisdom to prosper, and insight to give. We cannot take our earthly possessions with us into eternity. However, we can build up eternal rewards by our giving practices here on earth. 

Giving is a choice we make. Obeying God is another choice we make. It’s all about who we love, trust, and serve. 

Life is all about priorities. Who comes first, second or last? Christ lived as an example; he was never selfish. His life was always about others. His life now is still about others. Jesus wants what is best for each of his children. Best for eternity, not for the here and now. 

One of the great things about our Savior is he can see into the future. He knows what is going to happen tomorrow, next year, and the rest of our lives. So, if we are wise, we will be happy with each of his decisions. And we will have all eternity to thank him for his wise provisions and protection. 

Honesty vs Truthfulness

I learned a bitter but true lesson in writing my last blog. It was an extended definition of two words. Words I thought meant the same. Words I have been interchanging all of my life.

So, what two words did I have confused? Underdeveloped definitions have hindered my thoughts.

So, what brought about this new development? Not actually a what, but a who—my wife. A retired first grade teacher. In proofing my last blog, she went to her phone. AKA information database for the answer. She said what I had written did not make sense. Being the hardheaded husband that I am (did I really say that?), I wanted to justify my writing. Finally, after reading the phone’s content, I said I need to do some rewriting—again. Back to the drawing board to correct and improve the edition. 

This brings me to the point. What is the difference between being truthful and honest? Is there a difference? Now I can say yes. 

Being honest is telling the truth, but to a point. It can involve leaving out some crucial details that change the meaning. It may get you to draw a different, but wrong conclusion. 

An illustration I heard years ago fits here. Johnny got in trouble at school. But when he related the incident at home, it came out like this. Mommy, I didn’t do anything. That was an honest answer. But the truth is, he did not do any math, spelling, reading, homework, or any other assignment. 

Johnny was honest, but not truthful. Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth reveals the entire story. 

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Our Lord was saying, I am telling you everything. I am not leaving anything out. Without me, there is no salvation or no other way to heaven. It is only through me. That is the truth. 

Jesus did not leave out any details. He was truthful.

That is the biblical example of truthfulness. Maybe if we learned and practiced the difference between being honest versus truthfulness, we would improve our lives and those around us.

Practicing Truthfulness

Honesty is said to be the best policy.

It’s Saturday, my blog writing day. Today is like some other Saturdays. The blogging thought wants to relax for an hour, maybe two. But I also hear, “take the whole day off.” These thoughts wrestle in my brain. It’s quite a scene. They squirm and try to evade me for a while. Finally, I throw them off the mat? Once they are gone, the brain starts to work, so here goes. 

Truthfulness demands more than honesty. Honesty says we are not lying, but we are not revealing all the truth; we can leave out some crucial facts. Truthfulness means telling all the truth, and it gets me in trouble sometimes—with myself and others. No one is perfect. Imperfections will either make us liars to look good, at least for the moment, or help us to realize we are human.

Personal integrity strongly suggests we apologize for our wrongs. For some like me, apologies are not easy to do. But when I do, I get rid of that guilty feeling, the kind that nags at your insides. Saying I’m sorry brings relief and lets me go on with my day.

Years ago, I remember lying to my parents. I found it easy to do at first. Then I realized I had to tell another lie to hide the first lie. Then say another lie to hide the first two lies. Then the fourth and fifth came from somewhere, then I would forget lie number one, and the truth finally came out. As I matured, I realized it was better to tell the truth, the first time. 

Jesus makes an applicable statement regarding this. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 CSB). The analogy for me and maybe others is to follow his way of doing things. Tell the truth. Our life goes much better when it becomes a regular practice in our lives.

Truthfulness is the best policy to practice every day. Believing it and practicing it is less of a burden on our memory! Even on a Saturday when my brain wants to rest.

ENCOURAGEMENT—Arrives After Discouragement

The relief section in your local pharmacy has multiple selections for pain, allergies, etc., but none for discouragement.

God gives us several thoughts on conquering disheartenment. Joshua, the successor of Moses, experienced it. He led Israel through the Jordan River, marched around Jericho, and watched their walls crumble. Then came Ai. Joshua and Israel ignored the Lord’s directions. The defeat came and then dismay. 

Sometimes, when we see the success of the wicked, discouragement comes. The righteous do the right thing, but cannot get ahead. It happens all the time. God’s people are not to put hope in prosperity, but our heavenly destination. We are to keep our eyes on the Lord, not man nor circumstances.

Sickness can bring us to the lowest of lows. The misery of ills can cause a man to fall into despair. Why is God permitting this, we ask? Sickness can be for the glory of God (John 11:4). 

Ezekiel was concerned over the spirituality of his country. He was even saying, “The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing” (Ezekiel 12:22 ESV).

Paul realized, “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us” (II Corinthians 7:6 ESV). Later, Paul said, “I ask you not to lose heart” (Ephesians 3:13 ESV). 

When your body and heart are hurting, look to the day when God will make them better. It is helpful to remind ourselves; he is with us in all our agony. He promised never to leave us. That’s God’s word. He cannot lie to us nor back away from his word. 

Life has its unpleasantries for sure. It may seem everything is working against us. Circumstances get tough, and people are mean. However, we are never alone as believers. God is always with each of us. That’s his word.

Look on the bright side after a time of discouragement; encouragement is coming.