Today’s Worship Walk – Wednesday

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Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

Ephesians 6:18

We say grace at our table before dinner, usually by my husband. But the other night he was out, so I took on the duty. And after I finished, my daughter’s fiance said ” I really liked your prayer.” He went on to explain that it was longer than prayers of other people he’d heard (one of my trademarks, for good or bad!), and that it sounded like I really meant what I said. Thinking about his comments later on, I felt humbled and grateful for how much God has taught me about prayer. Any growth I’ve had in this area happened when I finally decided to submit my mind and heart to Him!

A Zig-Zag Day

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”                                                                                                   Ephesians 5:15-17

 

I’ve had a zig-zag day today – do you ever have those? I started out with a plan – a good one, I thought. Not too busy, with just right amount of to-do’s on my list. But, it was not meant to be. From the get-go, things and people conspired to distract me: a husband on vacation, computer and car troubles, phone calls…

(Ironically, just after I finished typing that first paragraph, I got up and made myself a snack. Yummy, but not helpful to my cause!)

Now it is nearly 3 pm and I’m taking a quick inventory of what’s been accomplished. The short answer is, NOT MUCH. That’s kind of discouraging. But is the short answer totally accurate?

No, I didn’t get my blog done by 9 am, but I was able to give my husband a ride home from the mechanic’s. No, I didn’t make the big batch of lentil soup for lunch like I planned, but I did some shopping so my daughter could make a special dinner that she’s been craving. And no, I didn’t put time into working on my new website, but I got to connect wtih a couple of people and offer them some support.

I guess whether I see my day as a success or not depends on what I use as a measuring stick. If I rely soley on my original plan, then yes, my day was a distracted mish-mash. My verdict would be: “Oh well, I’ll just try again tomorrow.”

But after starting down that road, the scripture from Ephesians came to mind.  And that phrase, “making the most of every opportunity” especially caught my attention. What kind of opportunity was Paul talking about? The context was a teaching on how to walk in love, so the oppotunity had to do with modelling Christian behavior wherever and whenever we can.

What does that have to do with my zig-zag day? Well, I think Paul’s overarching theme here was to aim  be as Christlike as possible, and to use whatever the day brings as a way to show God’s love to others. If I look at what I actually did today in those terms, it paints a more positive picture.

I had opportunites to help, to support, to equip, to pray, and to encourage other people. And though I could have just stuck to my own plan, I chose to take advantage of the opportunities the day offered me.Did I align myself with the will of the Lord in doing those? I think so, at least for the most part. And that makes for a successful day, doesn’t it?

I still hope I can get more of my stuff done tomorrow. But in the meantime, I can thank God for providing so many chances for me to show that love to others – that doesn’t happen every day!

 

Morning Stretches

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The first thing I do every morning is a quick assessment of how stiff my joints and muscles are after a night in bed. Then I launch into a set of stretches to warm up. Today started out no different. But as I wiggled my fingers, an unexpected prayer popped into my head:

“Father God, let my hands do work for you today.”

I smiled a little at how cheesy that thought sounded. But then another one came while I did some jaw-loosening movements,

“Let my tongue speak things that will bless you today, God.”

I started to suspect that these “popcorn” prayers were not coming from me. Maybe they weren’t so cheesy after all! As I continued through my routine, I kept my ears tuned for more, and I wasn’t disappointed –

  • With my shoulder rolls came: “Let me not take on burdens that aren’t mine to carry.”

I’ve got a tendency to carry other people’s problems on my own back. The load gets awfully heavy. Better to let God show me how to help someone without becoming too caught up in their life.

  • With my arm raises: “Let me reach for You today for what I need.”

It’s easy for me to seek out the opinions and advice of other people. That can keep me from receiving God’s wisdom. Better to lift up a prayer and wait for His perfect answer.

  • With my neck turns: “Let me look for You wherever I go.”

I sometimes attempt daily life all on my own. It isn’t long before I feel lonely and worn out. Better to include God in my plans and decisions, so I can walk with more confidence and peace.

  • And you can probably guess what went along with my eye exercises: “Let me look on wholesome things.”

I don’t always monitor what I’m watching or reading carefully enough. And those outside influences truly can bring me down. Better to take a moment to make sure than an article or show will add value and build me up.

Along the way, I was reminded of the book of Ephesians in the Bible. The last part of chapter 6 is known as “The Armor of God” section because Paul connects the different pieces of a warrior’s armor to attributes that belong to Christians. The first verse in that passage says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His might power.”

However I think of it, the bottom line is that I have to connect myself to God each day – it’s His power that carries me through. By the time I finished my stretches this morning,  I felt a lot more equipped for the day, both physically and spiritually.

What’s your way of connecting with God each day?

God’s Handiwork

Do you know how special you are? I hope so. You are unique, a one-of-a-kind creation. And you were put here on purpose – there’s nothing accidental about you. You were made to be exactly who you are.

God said to this to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart…” Wow. And if you think that only goes for Jeremiah, listen to what Paul wrote about all of us in Ephesians:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Paul understood the amazing truth that God designed him, you, me, everyone, by His own hand – individually and intentionally. And he not only accepted it, but embraced it.

That can be hard to do, though, can’t it? Most of us have gotten the message somewhere along the way that we’re not very special at all. Whether someone told us that directly or we’ve spent years comparing ourselves to other people, we can end up feeling that “different” equals “less than.”

Well, that is a lie. And I’ve seen too many wonderful, incredibly valuable people buy into it. I spent years doing the same thing, and I know the pain it causes: low self esteem, discouragement and even depression.

I think Jeremiah and Paul might have struggled with this, too. And how did God answer them? With reassurance and encouragement that they were crafted by His hand, and that He delighted in His work!

If you’re ever unsure about your value, these verses can start to change your attitude. Try lifting them up as prayers, and soon you’ll feel better about being exactly who you are – a beautiful example of God’s handiwork.