“The God Nobody Knows” (October 23)

Scripture:        Job, chapters 13-14; Acts, chapters 17-18

Acts 17:22-31 (MSG) – So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them.  “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously.  When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across.  And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS.  I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself.  He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him.  Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.  He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us.  He’s not remote; he’s near.  We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!  One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’  Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better – but that time is past.  The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change.  He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right.  And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Observations: As I read this passage today, I thought of the comparisons with the world we live in.  I read an article the other day about a survey of religious beliefs and activities, and some of the results were surprising.  While we might suspect that the percentage of people who are either atheists or agnostics would be high, the fact is that while they have increased, the increase hasn’t been large: for example, atheists went from 3% in the last study to 5% in the current one.  The surprising thing to me was the growing percentage of what are called “nones” – people who state that they have no particular religious beliefs or affiliation. (I believe the article said that group is now 21% of the population.) It’s important to remember that just because people don’t have any particular religious beliefs or affiliation, that doesn’t mean that they are not “spiritual.”  It simply means that they are worshiping THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS.

That’s why it is so important for those of us who believe in Jesus to understand what we believe, to understand why we believe it, and to be prepared to share our story of faith with others.  That is not just a task for people who are called to preach, like Paul; it’s a task for every believer.  We all have a story of our relationship with Jesus; we can all talk about the life-transformation that he has worked in us.  As we’ve read the book of Acts, we’ve seen that some people came to faith through the preaching of Peter, Paul, and others.  But we’ve also seen people who came to faith without hearing any sermon; for instance, the jailer in Philippi heard Paul and Silas singing, experienced the earthquake that broke open the jail, and saw that Paul and Silas were different because they didn’t just run off.  They actually cared about the jailer – Paul called out to him to not hurt himself, because they were all there.  I believe that the jailer was touched by Paul’s care for him and the fact that Paul and Silas were different; he wanted to know what he needed to do to experience the same kind of life that they had. As we read through Acts, it’s interesting how many times we read about conversions of individuals, or families – the Ethiopian eunuch; Lydia and her family; the jailer and his family; or, in today’s passage, Dionysius the Areopagite and Damaris. God may give us the opportunity to share the Gospel with thousands – but every day there are opportunities to share it with someone.

Paul understood his faith and the Scriptures well enough to be able to talk to Jewish people about it, but he also understood them enough to be able to connect his faith and the story of Jesus to the pagan culture that he encountered in Athens.  If there was ever a day when we could expect people to understand the whole “Jesus story” when we started to talk to them, that day is long gone.  We’re living in Athens; we need to understand what people think, and why, and allow God to help us to share the Good News with them in ways that connect with their hearts – often, one person at a time.

Application:    God is reminding me how important it is for us to know what people are thinking, what their priorities are, and to recognize the ways to connect their lives with Jesus.  That doesn’t happen by us sitting back, wringing our hands and longing for ‘the good old days’; it happens by engaging people, talking to them, getting to know them, and being willing to dig a little deeper.  It happens when we are willing to open up to people and share our stories with them.  It happens when we stop thinking and acting like we’re spiritually superior to them, and we remember that we would be in the same place they are if someone hadn’t taken the time to love us, to get to know us, and to share Jesus with us. It happens when we love them the way Jesus loves us.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for the gift of forgiveness and life that we have in Jesus.  Guard us from the temptation to think that we are better than others because of that life; we haven’t earned it, so there’s nothing about it that we can feel smug or superior about.  Help us to see in others the people that you see; help us to share your desire to see them reconciled to you.  Help us to take up the “ministry of reconciliation” that you have entrusted to us, so others may find the life and the hope that we have in Jesus.  Amen.

Advertisements

“How to Live, and What to Live For” (October 22)

Scripture:        Job, chapters 11-12; Acts, chapters 15-16

Job 12:13-25 (MSG) – “True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for.  If he tears something down, it’s down for good; if he locks people up, their locked up for good.  If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought; if he lets it loose, there’s a flood.  Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.  He strips experts of their vaunted credentials, exposes judges as witless fools.  He divests kings of their royal garments, then ties a rag around their waists.  He strips priests of their robes, and fires high officials from their jobs.  He forces trusted sages to keep silence, deprives elders of their good sense and wisdom.  He dumps contempt on famous people, disarms the strong and mighty.  He shines a spotlight into caves of darkness, hauls deepest darkness into the noonday sun.  He makes nations rise and then fall, builds up some and abandons others.  He robs world leaders of their reason, and sends them off into no-man’s-land.  They grope in the dark without a clue, lurching and staggering like drunks.”

Observations: I think that sometimes when we read the book of Job, we just skip over all the speeches until we get to God’s speech at the end. Maybe we think that since none of the people making those speeches – Job and his friends – knew what they were talking about, we don’t need to listen to what they say.  But the problem with that approach is that they were not wrong in what they said. Their problem was that they didn’t know the whole story.  How many times have we formed an impression about a situation based on what we thought were the facts, only to find out later that we were missing some important information?  That’s what Job and his friends were doing; they thought they knew the whole story, but they were all missing some important facts.

That’s why we need to pay attention to what they say about God – because they knew things about God. They may have come to the wrong conclusions about God and about the situation Job was facing (just as we often come to the wrong conclusions about situations when we don’t know all the facts), but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore everything they said.  For instance, who could argue with what Job says in this passage about God?  “True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for…Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.

My attention today is especially drawn to the phrase, “from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for.”  Too often our focus is on “how to live” – or more specifically, what God wants us to do, the commandments set forth in the Word.  Those things are important, of course, but if we only focus on those and forget about the “what to live for” part of the equation, we will end up being legalists who are miserable because we’ve allowed ourselves to become enslaved to the law just as we were enslaved to sin.  We need to remember what to live for – the relationship with God that he created us to enjoy!

Application:  God is reminding me today how important it is to keep sight of what to live for.  If we’re fixated only on “the rules” – our own conduct and the conduct of others, and how that conduct complies with “the rules” – we will miss out on the joy that comes from experiencing God’s presence with us each day.  When we focus on our conduct, we get trapped in the tyranny of “results” – why did this happen?  Why didn’t this work?  Why is someone else more successful or more popular?  Don’t I deserve something better?

Whenever we come back to thinking about deserving something from God, we can be sure that we’ve gotten off-track.  God is gracious.  God gives us far more than we could ever deserve.  We deserve our ‘wages’ – the wages of sin – but God gives us the gift of forgiveness, life, and restored fellowship with him.  When we keep our focus on that – on what to live for – the how to live part actually becomes pretty easy!

Prayer:   Father, thank you for the incredible gift of life you have given me, the blessing of being adopted into your family.  Because of what you have done for me, I live for you.  Lead me each day in your way, showing me how to live – and reminding me what to live for. Help me to live in ways that bring glory and honor to you, for true wisdom and real power belong to you.  Amen.

Muscle and Sinew (October 21)

Scripture:        Job, chapters 9-10; Acts, chapters 13-14

Acts 14:21-26 (MSG) – After proclaiming the Message in Derbe and establishing a strong core of disciples, they retraced their steps to Lystra, then Iconium, and then Antioch, putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn’t be easy: “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.”

Paul and Barnabas handpicked leaders in each church.  After praying – their prayers intensified by fasting – they presented these new leaders to the Master to whom they had entrusted their lives.  Working their way back through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia and preached in Perga.  Finally, they made it to Attalia and caught a ship back to Antioch, where it had all started – launched by God’s grace and now safely home by God’s grace.  A good piece of work.

Observations: The phrase that caught my attention this morning is putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples.  It is hard work to build muscle.  It doesn’t happen by sitting on the couch, watching television; it doesn’t come by sleeping in and hanging around in your pajamas all day.  There have to be times in our lives for rest and recreation, of course, but that cannot be the norm for our lives.  In John 9, Jesus tells the disciples that we must work while it is day, because night is coming.  As Paul and Barnabas told the disciples whom they made on this journey, “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.

It’s interesting that we’re reading this passage at the same time we’re reading Job’s story, which is the ultimate “hard times” story of a person who serves God.  As I was reading our passages from Job this morning, it struck me that Job was a man who knew God and knew that he was serving God, but he was so stressed and oppressed by what was going on in his life that he was blaming God for things that were actually caused by Satan.  One sentence stood out to me in Job’s comments:  “So what’s this all about, anyway – this compulsion to dig up some dirt, to find some skeleton in my closet?” (Job 10:6, MSG).  Digging up dirt and dragging skeletons out of our closets is not God’s role; that’s what Satan does.  When we confess our sins, God forgives them and remembers them no more.  Satan is the one who keeps digging for dirt, keeps trying to drag us down into the pit with him.  God lifts us out of the pit and sets us on the solid rock, and then walks with us along the way.

But as Paul and Barnabas found on their journey, the fact that God was with them didn’t mean that they had it easy.  They had to work at it, and they encouraged their converts to work at it too – putting muscle and sinew into their lives.  Engaging and embracing the disciplines of prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, worship, and service are the things that put muscle and sinew into our lives; we need to pay attention to those things in our lives, and encourage each other to do so.

Application:    God is reminding me today of the importance of continually encouraging and challenging ourselves to put muscle and sinew into our lives.  It’s easier to sit around doing nothing, or to fill our lives with diversions and pleasures, but that won’t prepare us for the challenges ahead.  “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times,” and the only way to be sure that we are prepared for those hard times is to do the daily work of putting muscle and sinew into our lives through the study of Scripture, prayer, fasting, worship, and service.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for reminding us that you are preparing us for the challenges ahead – challenges that we don’t even realize are coming.  We know that you are aware of the challenges that are coming to us, and you know exactly how to prepare us for them.  Strengthen our faith and our discipline so we may daily do the work necessary to put muscle and sinew into our spiritual lives.  Help us to listen to you, and to walk in your way today.  Amen.

“He Opened Their Understanding” (October 11)

Scripture:        Nehemiah, chapters 5-6; Psalm 146; Luke, chapter 24

Luke 24:44-51 (TM) – Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this:  All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”  He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way.  He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations – starting from here, from Jerusalem!  You’re the first to hear it and see it. You’re the witnesses.  What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”  He then led them out of the city over to Bethany.  Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

Observations: One of the things that I enjoy about the daily reading schedule which we use is that it allows us to read the Scriptures in context.  We don’t jump around from one place to another; we read through the books the way they were written.  As I read this passage from Luke 24 today, I’m reminding that we will move to the book of Acts next – and that’s the next step in the story that Luke tells.  We need to remember that the books of Luke and Acts were originally a two-volume set, so the story of Luke 24 continues in Acts 1.  The reason that’s important is because when we read this passage in Luke 24, if we forget that context, we might be confused.  When we just read Luke 24, it seems as though the events that Luke describes all happened on the day that Jesus rose.  Acts 1 – which we will read tomorrow – he makes it clear that Jesus met with the disciples several times over the forty days after his resurrection.  The comments that Luke describes here thus took place over a number of occasions.

That’s important for us to remember, because we often get discouraged if we read a passage or hear a message and fail to understand it.  “Why can’t I get this?”  “This doesn’t make sense.”  Satan loves to jump in and tell us that we’ll never understand it, that we might as well give up – or that it doesn’t make sense, so why waste time with it?  At times like those, we need to remember that the disciples often struggled to understand what Jesus was teaching them.  Think of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; Jesus said that they were “thick-headed” and “slow-hearted,” and chastised them for failing to believe.  And then, even after they realized that he was alive, he spent 40 days meeting with them to explain everything to them – and even then it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came that they really began to grasp it.  And don’t forget – even after the Holy Spirit came there were times that they struggled to understand what God was saying and how he was working.

The point is that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if at times we struggle to recognize how God is working, or what he is saying.  The important thing is for us to keep at it, to not let confusion turn into disobedience and rebellion.  We’ve experienced the total life-change through the forgiveness of sins that Jesus came to bring, and we’re called to be witnesses to what God has done in our lives.  That’s not difficult to understand at all!

Application:    God is reminding me that when we’re struggling to understand what he is saying or how he is working, we need to stay grounded in what we do know – total life-change through the forgiveness of sins.  If we stay focused on that – and on bearing witness to the life-change that God has worked in us – he will help us figure out everything that we need to know!

Prayer:   Father, thank you for reminding me that you will reveal everything that I need to know, right when I need it.  Help me not to get discouraged if I don’t understand it all right now; help me to stay focused on hearing your voice and walking in your way.  Amen.

Working Alongside (October 10)

Scripture:        Nehemiah, chapters 3-4; Luke, chapter 23

Nehemiah 3:6-12 (TM) – The Jeshanah Gate was rebuilt by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah; they repaired it, hung its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.  Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, and the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, which was under the rule of the governor from across the Euphrates, worked alongside them.  Uzziel son of Harhaiah of the goldsmith’s guild worked next to him, and next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers.  They rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.

The next section was worked on by Rephaiah son of Hur, mayor of a half-district of Jerusalem.  Next to him Jedaiah son of Harumaph rebuilt the front of his house; Hattush son of Hashabneiah worked next to him.

Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab rebuilt another section that included the Tower of Furnaces.  Working next to him was Shallum son of Hallohesh, mayor of the other half-district of Jerusalem, along with his daughters.

Observations: Usually, we read passages like this very quickly – at least I do – thinking something like this:  “A bunch of people with funny names did some stuff to help rebuild the wall.  Yada yada yada.”  But today as I read chapter 3 of Nehemiah, I was struck by the wide variety of people who were involved in the work.  Just in these verses that I’ve quoted, we see people from different parts of the country working alongside one another, with tradesmen and political leaders, and with sons and daughters.  And as we read on through the rest of the chapter, we find that to be the case all around Jerusalem.  Everybody was involved in the work of rebuilding the walls of the city!  

In chapter 4, we see opposition starting to arise from those who wanted to keep Jerusalem down – Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite began to mock the workers to try to discourage them.  When that didn’t work, they made plans to attack the workers and tear down the wall before it got too high.  But God was with the people; he revealed their plans to Nehemiah, and he led Nehemiah to prepare their defenses and keep the work going.

As we read on in Nehemiah in the next few days, we will see that challenges and opposition continued to arise.  When one attack didn’t work, they tried something else.  That’s a good reminder to us that just because we’re doing the work that God has called us to do, that doesn’t mean that we will be free from opposition and difficulties.  But as God’s people stayed at the job – “working alongside” the people around them – God protected them and blessed their work!

Application:    Two things stand out to me today from this passage.  First, the work of rebuilding the wall was the work of the entire community.  The goldsmith was working next to the perfumer; the mayor was next to them.  On the other side, people from Gibeon and Mizpah were there working; further down the wall there were families working together.  Everybody was involved, everybody was committed.  There were those who God chose to be leaders – notably, Nehemiah, but there were others – but everybody was involved. In the same way, everybody is to be involved in the work of the Church – building God’s Kingdom, sharing the Gospel, and doing the work that needs to be done day by day.

The other thing that stands out is the reminder that there will always be opposition to God’s Work, but those who are part of God’s Kingdom need to stay faithful and stay involved.  We never know where the next attack will come from, but we can be sure that the Enemy is looking for a way to attack!  At the end of chapter 4, we see the people protecting each other, working together, and encouraging each other so the work would carry on – and it did.  In the end, God blessed their efforts, and the wall was built.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for reminding me today that you know what attacks the Enemy will try to use to derail your work among your people.  Give us wisdom to recognize his schemes; give us strength to be able to stand against them; and bring us closer together as we seek to do your work.  Help each of us to know what you have called us to do, and help us to do it – that your Kingdom may come and your will be done among us as it is in heaven.  Amen.

A Dark Night, a Dark Hour (October 9)

Scripture:        Nehemiah, chapters 1-2; Psalms 133-134; Luke, chapter 22

Luke 22:39-53 (TM) – Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives.  The disciples followed him.  When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”  He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed:  “Father, remove this cup from me.  But please, not what I want.  What do you want?”  At once an angel from heaven was at this side, strengthening him.  He prayed on all the harder.  Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief.  He said, “What business do you have sleeping?  Get up.  Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”  No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him.  Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. Jesus said, “Let them be.  Even in this.”  Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.  Jesus spoke to those who had come – high priests, Temple police, religious leaders:  “What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal?  Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against me.  But do it your way – it’s a dark night, a dark hour.”

Observations: A dark night, a dark hour.  As we read chapter 22 of Luke’s gospel, it’s easy to agree with that assessment.  Think of that night: Jesus gathering with the disciples to celebrate the Passover – what should have been a celebration – and announcing to them that it was the last time they would celebrate it together until they did it in the kingdom of God.  Then, as they were eating the Passover meal, Jesus announced to them that one of them was going to betray him.  The way The Message renders that statement is very powerful to me:  “Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table?” (22:21, TM).  Obviously, most of them did not realize it; only Jesus and Judas knew.  

How must Judas must have felt at that moment?  He had secretly been meeting with the religious leaders, planning to hand Jesus over to them, but he surely must have believed that Jesus was unaware of it.  Imagine his shock when Jesus tells everyone what is going to happen!  The other disciples were shocked that one of them would betray him, after all the time they’d spent together; Judas was shocked that Jesus knew about it – and then probably even more shocked when Jesus did not identify him and foil his plan.  The other gospel accounts tell us that shortly after this, “Satan entered Judas,” and he went out from the place where the disciples were meeting.  But earlier in chapter 22, Luke tells us that Satan had already entered Judas – as the time for the Feast was drawing near, and the religious leaders were “looking for a way to do away with Jesus” (22:1-2, TM).  Judas came to them, they made the deal, and things were set.

It was a dark night, a dark hour.  After the meal, Jesus took the rest of the disciples out to the Mount of Olives – a familiar place, one that Judas would know.  Jesus began to pray, agonizing over what he knew was coming.  We must not miss the description of Jesus’ prayer – Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.  This was the time for which he had come, and he was committed to obeying the Father, but that didn’t mean that it was easy for him.  We have grown too accustomed to thinking that commitments should be easy – and that if they prove to be “too hard,” we should be able to get out of them.  Jesus demonstrates to us that a commitment is something that we do, no matter how hard it is, no matter how much it costs us.  “But please, not what I want.  What do you want?”  He knew what God wanted, but in his humanity he still hoped that maybe there could be another way.

But there was no other way – and he knew it.  It was a dark night, a dark hour – but morning was coming.  It was Friday morning, but Sunday was coming.  No matter how dark the night, when God is with us, we can trust that morning is coming!

Application:    God is reminding me that the world is full of the “deeds of darkness,” and because of that, it is a dark night, a dark hour.  But the light of the world has come, and we are called to reflect that light into the dark night around us.  There are people who are looking for the light, and they need to see it from us!  And they need to see us demonstrate the hope that even though the night is dark, morning is coming!  We must not be people who are “sleeping” through the night like the disciples did, “drugged by grief” or by fear or despair; we must be people of hope, who reflect and demonstrate the living hope that we have because Jesus lives.  It’s a dark night, a dark hour – but we have the light!

Prayer:   Father, thank you for reminding me today that even though it may appear to be a dark night, your light cannot be extinguished.  You call us to reflect the light into our darkened world.  Help us to draw close to you, so what we may reflect more of your light; help us to draw close to others, so the light may shine more brightly for them.  Encourage us with the warmth and the light of your presence today, and give us the light to walk in your way.  Amen.

Keep Your Edge Sharp (October 8)

Scripture:        Ezra, chapters 9-10; Psalm 131; Luke, chapter 21

Psalm 131 (TM) – God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain.  I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.  I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.  Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.  Wait, Israel, for God.  Wait with hope.  Hope now; hope always!

Luke 22:34-36 (TM) – But be on your guard.  Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping.  Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once.  So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch.  Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.

Observations: As I was reading today’s passages, I was caught by the connection between Psalm 131 and what Jesus says to his disciples about “the End.”  The Psalmist describes an attitude of humility, of not wanting to know things that are above his ability to understand – which is exactly the attitude that Jesus tells us we should have about his return:  “No one knows…not even the Son…only the Father.”  Our focus is not to be on when it will happen; instead, our focus should be on always being prepared for it, because we don’t know when it will happen.

That’s why Jesus warns us, “Be on your guard.  Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping.  Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise…”  Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that we shouldn’t do those things; he simply warns us not to get so wrapped up in those things – in the “business and busyness” of this life – that we lose focus and fail to be prepared for his return.  That’s where Psalm 131 comes in, especially the last verse:  Wait, Israel, for God.  Wait with hope.  Hope now; hope always!”  When our hope is in Jesus, we live each day in that hope, knowing that he is in control.  When our hope is in something, or someone, else, we cannot have the same degree of hope, because deep down we know that nothing else, no one else, can do what God can do.

So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch.  Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.  Pray constantly.  No matter what else we do, we need to stay focused on God, on his will and his purposes.  We need to pay attention to what is going on around us, and learn to see with spiritual eyes instead of getting absorbed in the activities and attitudes of this world.  As Paul says, whatever we do we should do to the glory of God – which means allowing him to direct our activities, and purify our attitudes, and adjust what we’re doing to what he is doing. I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart…don’t go to sleep at the switch.  Pray constantly… Keep your edge sharp.

Application:    God is reminding me today to stay focused on today, on the things that he places before me, and on the ways that he is working in my life.  My hope is in him, not in myself, not in the things I do or the things I have.  Staying centered in him is the way to peace; living in an attitude of prayer – praying constantly – is the way to do that.

Prayer:   Father, thank you for reminding me that my hope is in you.  Help me to stay focused on you today, and to follow on the path that you have set for me.  Help me not to get dulled by the activities and priorities of this world, but to set my heart and my mind on you.  Amen.