Simple Math

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” – Jesus (Matthew 6:34)

There is a difference between planning for tomorrow and worrying about tomorrow. Careful planning can help you maximize your time and can actually help you not to worry. Worrying really doesn’t help you in any way and can actually cripple you emotionally.

Most of us know worrying isn’t productive, yet we still struggle with it. So what is the Biblical antidote to worry?

The best way not to worry is to be present to God. It’s simple math–when you are focused on Him, there is less time focused on yourself. When you are not focused on yourself and your ability or inability to perform, you worry less.

Spend some time confessing your worries to God. Ask Him to show you where He is working in your life. Take a minute to stop and listen to His answer. Write down whatever thoughts come to mind. Now go and join in on what God is doing!

Soul Talk

“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal
with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—
praise His holy name.
O my soul, come, praise the Eternal;
sing a song from a grateful heart;
sing and never forget all the good He has done.
Despite all your many offenses, He forgives and releases you.
More than any doctor, He heals your diseases.
He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death.
He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king.
When your soul is famished and withering,
He fills you with good and beautiful things, satisfying you as long as you live.
He makes you strong like an eagle, restoring your youth.” Psalms 103:1-5

When things stack up against us, when we’ve been numbed by sin, when the world creeps in, we have to remind our souls of God’s goodness.

Spend a minute praying through this Psalm of David. Remind your soul what is true. Remind you soul to praise Him with your whole being.

Sanctuary

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalms 9:9-10

How does this verse resonate with you? Is the LORD your refuge? With all that has been going on with this pandemic, have you found the Lord to be a sanctuary for you?

As true as these verses are, the reality is that a lot of times we find shelter in other things whether it be food, movies, video games, sports, books, or even friends and family. David, although certainly not perfect, consistently found refuge in the Lord. What was his secret? He was a man after God’s own heart. Regardless of how bad things got or how far he fell, David always got back up and pursued the Lord.

Spend some time with Him in confession about the ways you have run to other things instead of Him. Ask Him to help you to learn how to take refuge in Him. The Lord won’t forsake you, and He longs to be your sanctuary.

The Struggle is Real

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2

Man, this is a tough one. I confess, at times I am comfortable with these verses, and at times I struggle with them. I also find when it comes to this topic, anger is always present in some form.

If you are like I, you probably assume that just about all government is corrupt in some way, some more than others, so when you vote, you are forced to vote for the one you beleive is the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately with this view, it can be a real struggle to trust the governing authorities, much less submit to or even respect them.

As I write this, I realize that I am not going to be able to unpack this in two minutes, so I will resolve to say that we need to pray for our governing authorities whether we agree with them or not. It can be easy to get caught up in a heated discussion with someone concerning the government, but I find when I pray for those who I disagree with, it takes the fuel out of the fire that it usually causes.

Spend a minute praying for those who are governing over you, both the ones you agree with or at least tolerate and those who you don’t agree with. Maybe you need to spend some time confessing some anger in this area. Jesus was no stranger to oppressive governing authorites, and He seemed to navigate them pretty well. Maybe you should ask Him to help you with His perspective in this area.

Wait, There is a Battle?

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

The same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is living in you! You have the power, through the cross of Christ, to overcome evil. You have the Holy Spirit living in you. Yet why do so many let evil have it’s way with us in our hearts?

The Bible tells us to, “fight the good fight” Are you fighting? Scripture also tells us to, “be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. I think sometimes we forget that we have a battle to fight. There is an enemy. We have been given the power to overcome him. What causes us to shrink back?

For me, it has been the battle in my head. The messsage that, “I am not good enough” and “I don’t have what it takes,” can ring almost daily in my head, but you know what? On my own, I am not good enough, and I don’t have what it takes; however, the One who is more than enough and who absolutely has what it takes lives inside me. The truth is that I think I need to spend less time in my head and more time with the One who is in my heart.

Spend some time with the Lord asking Him to show you what makes you shrink back from the battle. Confess to Him anything that you need to confess. Take a minute to re-establish who you are in Christ. Now go and fight the good fight!

“Christ overcame evil with good, do the same.” – John Piper

You’re Gonna Pay For That

On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20

It seems like the prevailing thought in our culture is that if someone wrongs you, that you should make sure he pays for it. The punishment can take many forms; shame, guilt, public disgrace, or some will turn the tide and envoke fear in their enemy.

There’s something about watching Jesus with the woman caught in adultery that seems to fly in the face of this mentality. Everyone else was either armed with a stone to throw or waiting to watch the punishent be served, but Jesus showed compassion, kindness, mercy, and grace; he took the eyes of everyone off of the woman and onto Himself and then sent everyone else away. Perhaps even more countercultural to today’s way of thinking, was Jesus’ forgiveness that He showed on the cross, when people were hurling insults at Him, yet He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

If we are followers of Christ then this type of forgiveness should be our response. I realize that a lot can get lost in translation with the metaphors in this verse, but the message couldn’t be more clear: rather than pushing shame, guilt, public disgrace, or causing your enemy to fear, show him the compassion, kindness, mercy, and grace of the One we follow. He may not need food or drink, but forgiveness might just be what changes things for him.

Spend some time with the Lord confessing where you have taken matters into your own hands. Take a minute to ask Him to help you; even now, go show kindness or compassion to those who have hurt you or are currently against you.

Settle the Score

Again, my loved ones, do not seek revenge; instead, allow God’s wrath to make sure justice is served. Turn it over to Him. For the Scriptures say, “Revenge is Mine. I will settle all scores.” Romans 12:19 TV

In a world of lawsuits and social activism, this scripture seems impossible. People want justice, and they want it now. It seems that if you choose to not seek revenge, then someone will do it for you.

I’ve certainly partaken in my dose of revenge, and I can honestly say it never felt good. Harboring resentment weighs you down and can even affect your health. Saying all these things, I realize they won’t motivate anyone to not take revenge. When it comes down to it, it’s a choice for us. Do we trust in God’s judgement, or do we take matters into our own hands?

Trusting the Lord to avenge is just part of the process. There is also a need to forgive those who hurt you. I know this sounds like a big challenge. It is! Which is why we need to access the Supernatural to help us perform something that isn’t natural. Why not ask for help from someone who is the King of forgiveness? He forgave you after all.

Spend some time with the Lord, and ask Him to reveal where you are holding on to some unforgiveness. Maybe it’s not one person. Maybe it’s a a group of people like a political party, or a social movement, or the media, or the popular crowd. Whoever it is, ask the Lord to help you forgive them, and trust that He will “settle the score.”

As Far As it Depends on You

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Simple enough, right?

Notice that this command has nothing to do with anyone else but you. It doesn’t say if the the other side is working toward peace, then live at peace also. It doesn”t say if the other side responds kindly, then pursue peace. The assumption is to not rely on the other person to bring peace, but for you as a redeemed child of God to bring His peace into the relationship.

How are you doing with this? Are there any of your relationships that don’t have peace right now? Focus on your side of things for a minute. Have you been doing all you can to bring peace to this relationship? Are you praying for that person? Are you praying God’s peace that surpasses either of your understandings in the relationship?

This verse also assumes there are times when the other side will just not allow peace, but the charge here is as far as your side of things, do everything you can to bring peace to every relationship. Sometimes it may mean not having to be right, even if you are, to bring peace.

Spend some time with the Lord and ask Him where you my be getting in the way of His peace in your relationships. If there is one person in particular that is on your mind, take a minute to pray for them. Pray God’s peace over them. Ask the Lord to give you the strength to bring peace even if that person resists it.

Above Reproach

“Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.” Romans 12:17 AMP

I heard it once said, “You may be the only Jesus people see.” That can either be a sobering, scary, or motivating thought. How are you representing Him?

When you read through the gospels, you see how Jesus interacted with people. He never repayed evil for evil, never held a grudge, and never hit back. He maintained this remarkable behavior all the way through to the cross. More than that, Jesus made sure that his actions and life were “above reproach.”

When I was a in high school I learned this idea of being “above reproach,” meaning not just abstaining from sin, but rather not even having the hint of it in my life. For example, if I was at a gathering with my other teenage friends who were drinking alcohol out of red cups,I would make sure I didn’t use a red cup for my soda or water, so know one would even think I was under-age drinking. I know this sounds extreme, but I wanted my life to reflect Christ to my friends.

Now I want to be clear here: Living above reproach is not so much about minding a bunch of Christian Do’s and Don’t’s, but rather the goal is to more accurately reflect Christ.

How are you doing with living your life above reproach?

Spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to show you where and how you might not be representing Him well. Confess thes things to Him and then ask Him to show you a few specific ways to reflect Him to people around you. Take a minute to listen to what He brings up, write it down, and start incorporating it into your life today. Be the real life-transforming Jesus to a world that desperately needs to see it right now.

Your Way or the Highway

“Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest; instead, embrace common people and ordinary tasks.” Romans 12:16 TV

Unity and harmony sound like a great thing, and you will find few who would say they are opposed to it, so why is it such a hard thing to achieve?

Unity requires that you don’t just get along with those who get along with you and agree with you, but rather that you get along with those who are different than you and those who might not agree with you. Unfortunately, most of the big movements in the world today are not about unity and harmony; although they may raise these banners, they are more about getting everyone else to conform to their beliefs.

Jesus was a master at bringing people together and loving everyone regardless of where they came from or what social status they possesed. Even though He was Jesus, God incarnate, He never shyed away from associating with the outcasts and those who were of lower position. What is more, He always sought them out. Jesus met the where they were at and loved them even if they didn’t believe in Him. He also was a champion of serving others no matter how menial the task.

If we want unity and harmony, we’ve got to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and embrace those who are different than we are, even those who believe differently than we do. The only way to do this is to have a proper view of yourself, that you don’t know it all or have it all figured out.

Spend a miunte with the Lord asking Him to expose in you where you might think too highly of yourself. Spend some time confessing your sin to Him. Ask Him to show you how you can serve others better.