“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.” Matthew 6:26a
It is easy to compare ourselves with other people—their home, car, education, family, vacations, etc. Yet, we know nothing of their true inner life and well-being. You alone know the things that keep you up in the middle of the night.
A friend has a challenge kid (don’t we all!), who has come home to roost for awhile. Her fears have ramped up, and her thoughts are that he will never be independent again. Recently, she shared with me that Matthew 6:26 gives her hope. Intellectually, she knows worry can’t change anything, yet her mothering heart has yet to give her fears and anxieties to the Lord.
As we observe the birds in our yards, we see they exist only to survive and to keep the species alive. That’s all. Jesus reminds us, “You count far more to him than birds.” (vs. 26b)
Lord, when we complicate our lives with unreasonable expectations, help us feed our worries and fears to the birds. Amen.
“Breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!” Psalm 80:18
The capacity of the lung decreases around 40 percent by the time a person hits 50 years of age. (Source on the web: “Are Your Lungs Shrinking?” By Dr. Al Sears.) This is why older folks catch a cold or have the flu, and often end up with pneumonia.
If you have to stop and take a breath while walking or talking, or find you tire easily while doing moderate work, your lung capacity is shrinking. However, through exercise, lungs have an amazing ability to rehabilitate. No special equipment is needed (unless the lungs are already suffering from disease).
Because breathing is natural for us, we forget to breathe deeply. If you can’t workout, run, or do other high-lung capacity exercises, it’s good to pick times during the day just to breathe. Try this: breathe deeply from the diaphragm and move it up to the top of your lungs; expel slowly—get rid of as much air as you can, repeat a few times.
Our faith is much like lung capacity. If we don’t exercise it, it will not sustain us when we need it the most.
Living God, breathe life into us as we take oxygen into our lungs. Amen.
“How can I bear to stand by and watch the massacre of my own relatives?” Esther 8:6
When Esther ran for “Queen of Persia” she was advised by Mordecai, her adopted father, to keep her Jewish heritage a secret. During her reign, King’s Xerxes’ highest-ranking official, Haman, became incensed with the Jews and wanted to annihilate all of them living in the king’s provinces.
When Esther learned of this, she went to the king, and knowing that she could be sentencing herself to death, fell on her knees in front of the king and confessed her true identify. She begged that the king would overturn Haman’s decree and in the end, the Jews fought against their enemies and won.
Many people cross the border from Mexico and live in the U.S. with false ID’s. They come with the hope that they can make a better life for their families. All it takes is one disgruntled acquaintance to blow the whistle, and they end up where they started. How would Jesus handle these seekers?
Dear Lord, help me face what my identity is, and if I need to defend it, give me strength to do so. Amen.
“Each girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes after she had completed the twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months’ treatment with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various cosmetics.” Esther 2:12
It was time to choose a new Queen of Persia—only beautiful virgins would be eligible. After a search by appointed officials, Esther was among the women picked to go through the yearlong preparation to become even more beautiful. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could be pampered for a whole year. Occasionally, I give myself a treat and get a pedicure or a massage, but normally I spend no more than five minutes with makeup and hair every day.
Esther made the cut and became the Queen of Persia. However, it wasn’t her beauty that gave her a prominent place in biblical history. It was her integrity, loyalty to her Jewish people, and the ability to approach the king and persuade him to do what was right.
Dear Lord, thank you for reminding us that beauty is more than a pretty face. Amen.
“Stronger than wild sea storms, mightier than sea-storm breakers, Mighty God rules from High Heaven.” Psalm 93:4
My friend Verla told me she and her husband Ronnie would never go on another cruise. The only cruise they had been on turned into a disaster when a storm hit and the sea began to rock and roll–enough to shatter glass items in the gift shop. Verla spent the week in bed with a bad case of seasickness.
A few years later, my husband and I invited Ronnie and Verla to go with us to the Grand Bahamas for a few days. One of the attractions, a semi-submarine boat trip, caught my attention. My husband (a former sailor) convinced Verla it would be nothing like the bad cruise she had experienced on the open sea.
We got out of the harbor and went below where the large glass windows allowed us to see the fish. However, as soon as we got into the open sea, the boat began to rock from side to side. Out of fifty passengers, only two left the boat without caring the little brown bags provided for “just in case.” Glen was one of the two who didn’t get sick. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” I’m grateful we remained friends after that stupid idea.
If you don’t understand just how mighty God can be, take a cruise during a storm.
Thank you Lord for being a strong God. Amen.
“It [Grace] was all his [God’s] idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:9
One time I spent a whole day at a women’s seminar on the topic of grace. I’m not sure I understood the concept of being saved by grace any more at the end of the day. Grace is complicated! How can anyone give me something I don’t deserve—and do it over and over, day after day. I do understand that someone is God.
I came away from the seminar reminded that God is love and he can do anything he wants! God believes in you and me. He believes we are worth a first, second, third, and even more chances to figure out that life is better if we live it in a Christ-like manner.
I can’t buy anything as precious as grace. Fortunately, I don’t have to. Jesus died on the cross and paid the ultimate price for my sins—and yours.
Dear Lord, I may never understand the concept of grace, but I understand how grateful I am for the gift of grace. Amen.
“Come, let us worship: bow before him, on your knees before God, who made us!”
Psalm 95: 6
God made everything we see—if not through nature, through the hands and minds that invented and engineered almost everything we touch. To think that someone had to make the screws that holds my office chair together and the staples under the seat, etc., etc., is mind-boggling. Then think of the complexity of the machines that make the product and how many hands touched the screw from the moment it came off the machine until it got into a tiny bin at True Value! It is no wonder good products are expensive.
Of all the things man has made, nothing compares with the mountains, caverns, oceans, rivers, trees, plants, etc. that God created. We should never get so comfortable with what we can create with our own hands that we forget about God’s handicraft in making it all possible.
A autumn morning along the Delaware River in PA.
Dear Lord, thank you for creating everything and being the God of all gods. I will give you the credit for what is yours—everything. Amen.
As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms.” Ezekiel 34:12
These are God’s words spoken to Ezekiel. The people of Israel were suffering from despair and denial and huddled together without hope.
According to Wikipedia, sheep are a gregarious animal—they congregate together and rarely will one break loose and go off on its own. No wonder God refers to himself as a shepherd of his people, and later, Jesus took on the same title as he prepared his followers for what was to come.
Jesus is the shepherd of our church congregations where people come together with common beliefs and ministry goals. When someone within the church becomes dissatisfied or loses the sense of the spirit of the church, they will move on. Instead of gathering them back into the fold, they are encouraged to find a new flock—not to wonder aimlessly without the help and security of a congregation to help them in their faith journey.
Dear God, thank you for being the good shepherd that helps us find our way through life. Amen.
“But if that person [the worker] only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases—abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends—the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him.” Matthew 24:48-50
I used to work in a church, and sometimes when the boss didn’t come in, my co-worker and I took a little more time than a normal coffee break to chat about our life outside the church. When that happened, I tacked time onto the end of the work day because I felt as if I had stolen a quarter from petty cash and tossed it into the garbage can for each minute wasted.
The parable Jesus told of the worker in the Matthew scripture is about how we need to live our lives as if the boss (God) is going to walk into the office at any time, and if he catches us hanging around the water cooler, we may miss the chance for a promotion (eternal life)when Christ returns.
Dear Lord, give me the sense of responsibility to fulfill the commitments I make to serve you. Amen.