When we exercise, we usually develop a routine that we follow on a daily basis. My question is, do you have a spiritual exercise routine? Do you wake in the morning and, the first thing, praise God for another day’s journey? Do you schedule prayer breaks in the same way you schedule breaks at work? Do you pray before all of your meals, regardless of where you are eating? And finally, do you pray before you go to sleep at night thanking God for all he has done, his direction, and the fact that he saved you from things that you were not even aware of?
If not, perhaps, today is the day to establish your spiritual exercise routine.
Prayer only becomes difficult if it is not intentional.
“Being intentional simply means to pray on purpose or as intended.” Spiritual exercise while designed by you is led by the Holy Spirit. This being said, God’s time is not our time. Your routine is your template, the Holy Spirit is your guide. Stay on track and let him guide you. You prayer may be only a moment long, or lengthly. Gid will provide the time and everything else will fall in place.
Looking in the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to be purposeful—to pray always. (biblestudytools.com)
Prayers About Praying:
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalms 145:18 NIV
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 NIV
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1 NIV
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV
Forest fires begin with a single spark. Our world can change with a single spark, the spark is agape love. Agape love is the love that God has for each of us. And, the love that we, Christians, should emulate and extend to everyone.
Is agape love easy to extend? As humans, we tend to offer love to those who are aligned with our belief systems. Agape love means, extending ourselves beyond loving those who think and live like us. Agape love is unconditional love. “Agape love is a sacrificial love that unites and heals.” Alyssa Roat published an article in Christianity.com entitled, What Does Agape Live Really Mean on the Bible. Alyssa described agape love as being the love of God, that we see through the cross of Jesus Christ. This love saves and restores humanity, in the face of sin and death.
When we practice agape love, we do so out of choice, not out of obligation or attraction, which is conditional. Conditional love chooses to love this group and not that group, this culture, and not that culture, this race, and not that race, this gender, and not that gender, this religious culture, and not that religious culture, those politically leaning in the same way I do, but not that other group. As mentioned earlier, agape love is unconditional, which means that we do not have the freedom to pick and choose.
It is difficult because we are a fallen people who look for satisfaction and things that make us feel good. If we extend agape love to the world in the same way that God sacrificed His only son to save us. It will become a difficult task because the effort does not seek a way to pacify ourselves to feel good, or be satisfied.
The challenge is to step out of our comfort zone and become a ray of love and light for ourselves and for the world to see and experience.
Loving does not necessarily mean that you must like the persons actions or behaviors. It does not mean that you condone those who are doing wrong. It is not a position of compromising truth for non-truth. Agape love focuses on the inner person, the child of God.
Some define agape love as charity. Charity is defined as tolerance, and choosing not to judge other. It means extending yourself beyond your current belief systems.
According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, pages 381-382, agape love expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to God‘s commands. Agape love is not an impulse from one’s feelings, it does not always run with one’s natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those whom some affinity is discovered. Agape love seeks the welfare of all. Agape love seeks opportunity to do good to all men. Agape love is a declaration that you are a child of God and reciprocate His love by loving others.
When we declare agape love, we step out of our comfort zone and obey God‘s commands. Our character steps back when we become more like Christ. At this point, we can begin to extend agape love, at which time agape love becomes the spark that changes the world.
One of the focal points for 2023 is entering the application season of agape love. When you put agape love first in your life, all things come together for your good and the good of the world.
You pray and pray and pray, and God blessed you within His Will. Did He bestow a blessing that mirrored your prayer?
My husband and I lived in the Midwest for ten years. I wanted to move back to the West Coast, meaning Los Angeles. I prayed without ceasing, with self as the center point. I wanted to move back to L.A..
My pray was not one that reflected dependence upon God. I did not ask what His Will was for me, instead I told Him what I wanted, not thinking about His big picture for my life and where I was best suited to accomplish His work.
The place I would accomplish His work was not Los Angeles, as I desired. It was Oakland, a place I refused to move to earlier in life. I did not care for the Bay Area. My husband had been offered a job in the Bay 10 years earlier. He was also offered an opportunity in Kansas where we moved. I would do anything to avoid the Bay.
Looking back, God planted me in Kansas to prepare me for the position as administrator at a charter school in, of all places, Oakland, Ca. Life was not easy in Kansas. We were in a recession and our jobs did not materialize as planned and offered. The state froze government jobs, i.e., the University of Kansas. I scrambled for employment and ended up taking two part time positions and a quarter coordinator position, yes that is equal to a full time plus job. We were also raising three sons who needed our attention. The jobs kept me going, made ends meet even though I was a college graduate and felt under paid with little to do with my degrees. Crazy right? Amazingly to the untrained eye, these experiences did not mount up to the reality. It turned out to be my training time in the desert. Each position offered experience in some component needed to succeed in my next task God was preparing me to undertake.This season was actually a blessing and also served to advance my husbands career.
All to often we can not see the forest for the trees. The trees are in our line of scope. Similarly, our prayers are in our line of scope. The forest is where God chooses to plant us to acquire the skills and knowledge to accomplish His work. The next time you feel you are in the wrong place, take time to recognize God has you where He wants you for that period in time. We are His apprentices. Apprenticeships often feel demeaning, without purpose or cause. But, within the context of doing things you feel require little of your abilities are the nuggets, the diamonds, that once connected prepare you for your next step.
I like the NLT version of Isaiah 55:8-9 because the message is clear –
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” https://bible.com/bible/116/isa.55.8-9.NLT
God chooses us and prepares us to do His work, His Will. In the case of Paul, (I am not implying any of us are Paul’s in the truest sense), we are God’s ambassadors on earth, sent here to accomplish His Will.
In the article, The Preparation of Paul, the writer shares: “Paul said that when Christ called him, he did not go to Jerusalem to receive instruction from the apostles. Rather, he retired into Arabia for a time and not until three years later did he go to Jerusalem… It has often been remarked that Paul clearly implied that he spent three years being taught by Jesus Himself (1:12), either directly or (perhaps more likely) through the study of the Word. Thus, like the other apostles, Paul studied with Christ for three years before beginning his ministry (compare Acts 1:21). Ligonier.org. March 19, 1992.
Paul spent three years preparing for his mission, career if you will, before God placed him in the role.
David is also a good example of how God applies His Will.
David did not become King over night. David was the youngest, least hardy and not handsome like his brothers. His father taught him a skill because there was little hope of him becoming anything more. But it was precisely the skill, being a good sheppard, that was needed for him to become a man of God and a great king.
Did you know that God sent Samuel to tell David that he would be king when he was just 15 years old? At that time, David was just a shepherd boy who was always overlooked by his older brothers. But God had a plan for David’s life, it just took a while for it to happen. David had to be patient and trust that God would do what he promised. David had to run away from King Saul who hated David. When King Saul died, David was finally made king. In total, David had to wait 22 years to be the king of all of Israel! Have you ever had to wait for something that you really wanted? If you have, you know how hard it is to be patient. But, maybe you’ve only had to wait a few days or a week…maybe a month. David had to wait a lot longer than that. So kids, here’s the lesson. Sometimes God will make us wait. He may not answer every prayer just how we want or he might take longer to answer than we like. But, we can trust God’s timing because he’s God and he knows what he’s doing. His timing is always perfect. Be patient! (David Becomes King. Pursuegodkids.org)
When David was a teenager, he was anointed as the next king of Israel. It was then that he faced Goliath, was banished by Saul, hid in the desert, lived on the run, forced out of the nation, and fought many battles. It was nearly 15 years between the time that he was anointed king and actually became king. He was tested, just like Joseph, so that God could convert him from a shepherd into a king. (Quota.org Gert Britz)
Paul and David are great examples of how God prepares us to accomplish His Will. The Bible is our manual, our guidebook. If God trained them, placed them in desperate situations, sent them places he would not have chosen on their own, why would it be any different for us today?
God also chose women to accomplish His Will, in a time when women were second class citizens if you will. He chooses the unlikely so the world will know it is not our doing. In fact, the vast majority of the hero’s and heroines throughout history were ordinary individuals who God planted a seed in before they were born. What is the proof, read Jeremiah 1:5 where he penned God’s words, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”
We should always dig deeper when we are in situations that feel leads no where, or in a direction not of our choosing. There are hidden gems, lessons, skills, knowledge and wisdom that is being imparted in those moments, times, seasons, and years.
Again, our time is not His time, nor our thoughts His. We are His and He has plans for our future. Jeremiah 29:11 poignantly states:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” https://jeremiah.bible/jeremiah-29-11
I wrote this post days ago and my Pastor’s Daily Devotional focuses on this topic. Amazingly, we both spiritually matured in, that’s right, Oakland, Ca.
As Christians we* should always be alert. Selfish ambition and vain conceit are traps. ~ Lisa Blair
When we focus on others and not ourselves, we are the servants Christ encourages us to be.
The world promotes ‘it’s about you’ in every arena. Everywhere you look the focus is on the individual. The Internet is replete with Instagrams, TikTok, Facebook and many more. We have been indoctrinated by the evil ones ploy to separate us from God pushing the ‘me first’ philosophy.
God is all knowing and alerts us of the ploy of self righteousness and vain conceit through the inspired writings of Apostle Paul, the author of Philippians 2:3-4. I am inserting various versions to clarify, evil is always lurking and we must stay alert and dedicate our lives to making the world a better place by living like Christ.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/php.2.3-4.NLT
“Let nothing be done out of strife or conceit, but in humility let each esteem the other better than himself. Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 MEV https://bible.com/bible/1171/php.2.3-4.MEV
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV https://bible.com/bible/114/php.2.3-4.NKJV
Each version is clear – like Christ, we should esteem ourselves as servants. Servitude in this instance is not waiting for instruction by the world, it is knowing that we were created to build our personal and public lives with humility. We don’t have to daily announce our greatness or victories. We possess greatness and victories as part of our DNA.
Our DNA proves we are part of the bloodline of Christ, part of the Trinity. Our DNA began before the beginning of time, before God created the earth and everything on it, including us.
Jeremiah 1:5 and Ephesians 1:3-6 informs us that God made us and therefore knew us before we were born.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love; He predestined us to adoption as sons to Himself through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace which He graciously bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6 MEV https://bible.com/bible/1171/eph.1.3-6.MEV
* When I use the plural, we, I always include me. My posts are not written excluding me from the discussion. I am also struggling to live life exuding Christlike behaviors, by applying His attitude as Christians. It is not always an easy path, we are in the battle of good and evil and often find ourselves lured by the bright lights of this world. The scriptures in the Bible is the only thing that can point us to Christ, especially in our weaker moments. The Holy Spirit is the only person that can redirect us, though our Christian friends, as the scripture informs, can pull us aside and talk truth without offense-in short help set us back on the path.
Remember, we are not our own.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.6.19.NLT
In closing, please know that every time I think about you (my readers), I thank God for you. God knew us before we were born and knows the challenges that lie before us. I pray that He keeps you covered and places a hedge of protection around you.