Hurdles & Hallelujahs

Overcoming the Hurdles from: The Praying With Paul devotional (link at bottom)

Many Christians thank God in good times, pray urgently in hard times, and forget to pray in busy times.

It may strike us as strange that the apostle Paul overflows with thanksgiving and prayers for other people while he is confined to a dingy, dark Roman prison cell.

Even in the most challenging and uncertain personal circumstances, Paul expresses his deep gratitude and joy to God for the believerspartnership in the gospel and his unflagging confidence that the Sovereign God will finish the good work He began in their lives.

Paul’s short prayer in Philippians 1 can help us overcome our spiritual dryness and excuses for prayerlessness. The gospel should:

  • define our relationships with other Christians and
  • guide our priorities in prayer.

Paul perseveres in joyful prayer for the Philippians even while in prison because of his gospel partnership with them, his heartfelt love for them, and his unshakable faith that God will finish the good work He has begun in their lives. 

In verses 3-8 Paul prayed for the Philippians with:

  • gratitude and
  • constant joy.

and why he prayed this way for them:

  • their gospel partnership,
  • God’s faithful work, and
  • Paul’s heartfelt love.

Verses 9-11 explain what specifically Paul petitioned God for:

  • the content and
  • aim of his intercession for
  • these beloved believers. 

Paul’s aims in this prayer for abounding love,

“So that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

What does it mean to “approve what is excellent?” Paul uses the same phrase in Romans 2:18, where he says to the Jews that they,

“Know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law.”

Then in Romans 12:2 we read,

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So, we see that excellence is defined by God’s standards and accords with,

Knowing God’s perfect will. Approving what is excellent flows from abounding love for other people. Love seeks what is excellent, what is best, for another person.

Paul’s prayer encourages us to overcome the obstacle of perfectionism and self-fulfillment by re-focusing our attention on “what is excellent” (Phil. 1:10) according to God’s standards.

We will “approve what is excellent” (v. 10) when our hearts, minds, and entire value systems are reordered around God’s purposes in Christ.

Prayer provides us with the daily opportunity to root ourselves in God and love others out of the overflow of that time with God.  

May we all spend some more time with our thoughts on God’s will, His ways. A priority we truly can’t live without.


He is always right where we are.

God’s Word:

Every time that I think about you, I thank my God because of you. I am always praying for you. Every time that I pray for you, I feel very happy. I am happy because together we tell people the good news about Christ. You have always helped me with that work, since the first day that you yourselves heard the good news. I know that God has begun to do good things in you. And I am sure that he will continue to work in you. Then, on the day when Jesus Christ returns, his work in you will be finished. It is right for me to feel like this about all of you, because I love you very much. God has been very kind to all of us. Because you know that, you have continued to help me. You have helped me while I have been here in this prison. You also helped me when I was free and I could teach the good news. I explained to people why the good news is God’s true message. Together, we have known how kind God is. God knows that I very much want to be with all of you. I love you very much, just like Christ Jesus himself loves you.

This is what I pray for you.

I pray that you will continue to love each other more and more. I pray that you will know God better and better. I pray that you will understand all those things that are true. Then you will be able to choose what is best in the way that you live. Then, on the day when Christ returns, you will be completely clean. You will not be guilty of any bad thing. Because of the work that Jesus Christ has done in you, you will be right with God. And your lives will be full of good things. As a result, people will praise God and they will say that HE is very great.
Philippians 1:3‭-‬11 EASY


This was day 5 of 8, the @YouVersion plan ‘Praying With Paul’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/2zq

https://bible.com/bible/2079/php.1.3-11.EASY

Happiness Doesn’t Just Happen. Gotta Sow It

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Matthew 5:1‭-‬10 NLT

As promised yesterday, here day 2 of the @YouVersion plan ‘What Makes You Happy‘. (Link at bottom)

Sow and Reap Your Way to Happiness

How would you like a list of things you could do to be happy?

Sound helpful? Well, you’re in luck. 

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He details what happy people do, how they behave, and what they should think. He does this by giving a list of statements, known as the Beatitudes, that start with the word “blessed.” “Blessed” comes from the Greek word “makarios,” which means “fortunate” or “happy.” So, as you read the Beatitudes, try replacing the word “blessed” with “happy” at the beginning of each statement.

If you do, you may be surprised at what’s included in Jesus’ happiness checklist.

  • Happy are those who mourn.
  • Happy are those who are persecuted. 

Wait…what?

Jesus’ list doesn’t make much sense until you look for what all eight things have in common.

The common denominator is the secret to happiness, and it’s this:

“Happiness is an outcome.

It’s a result.

It’s about something now 

that leads to something later.

It’s not immediate.”

In other words, you can’t hear a song or read a book or buy an item and instantly find happiness. You have to sow your way to happiness. Like a farmer who plants seeds now that he’ll reap later, you have to do some (perhaps counterintuitive) things now if you want to reap happiness later. 

What are those things? Look at Jesus’ list and think about what you’d have to do now in order to one day be what He described.

  • To one day mourn, you have to be in loving relationships right now.
  • To one day be called someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, you have to start picking what’s right over what’s easy today.
  • To one day be merciful, you have to forgive current grudges.

Jesus punctuated the principle that happiness is sown and grown with a parable about two men who build houses. One does the wise thing now and is happy later. One doesn’t and he pays greatly for it later.

So, we gotta ask ourselves, Are we willing to be like the wise man and practice hard things now to ensure happiness in the future? If so, Jesus has a list to get us started documented for us in Matthew 5:1‭-‬10 NLT, as stated at the beginning of this post.


Here is the short parable about two men who build houses. Jesus says,

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”
Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 NLT

Go with God, Beetle

This is from day 2 of the 5 day @YouVersion plan ‘What Makes You Happy‘. 👈click for link

Happiness Is Not Haphazard

I just finished day 1 of the @YouVersion plan ‘What Makes You Happy‘. It’s only a 5 day plan but really worth reading. Here is day one. Also, I include link at bottom.

No Thing Will Make You Happy

If only I had…if only I drove…if only I wore…if only I knew…if only I won…then I would feel better about myself. Then I would be happy. 

We all think this, but is it true? Day after day, we try to accomplish goals, have clean houses, make it to every meeting on time, dress for success…the list goes on and on. But no matter how much we get right, how much we own, or how often we’re the best-dressed people in the room, we’re still not happy.

That’s because no thing is going to make us happy. Happiness is more about who than what.

If you look back on your childhood, you probably had many happy times, like when you were on the playground with your best friends or when you celebrated a birthday with your entire class. You were happy because, at the time, it didn’t matter what you had as long as you had friends and family around you.

You’ll have a similar mindset when you reach the end of your life. You won’t long for the what. You’ll long for the who—for better, healthier connections with others. That’s because peace in our relationships is what makes us happy.

We know this is true because we’ve all experienced the opposite. Have you ever been out of sync with your spouse or in trouble with your boss? When that relationship was in turmoil, were you happy? It didn’t matter what you owned, drove, wore, or accomplished; you probably couldn’t shake the unease that something was wrong in the relationship.

You simply can’t be happy if you aren’t at peace with the people around you. Perhaps this is why Jesus talked so much about loving others and making things right with them.

Take a minute to think about your relationships. Are you holding a grudge against a co-worker? Is there a secret you’re keeping from your spouse? Are you jealous of a friend? Try Jesus’ advice to “go and be reconciled to them.” You might discover that happiness comes from who, not what.


God’s Word:

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
Matthew 5:23‭-‬26 NLT

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:34‭-‬40 NLT


You and I finished day 1 of the @YouVersion plan ‘What Makes You Happy’. Check it out all 5 days here: http://bible.com/r/4Yp

One thing I took away from this plan is that Happiness is an outcome or result. It’s about something now that leads to something later. It’s not immediate. The seeds we sow or plan now will be reaped or harvest later.

That is from another day in this plan. I’ll share that here on my blog tomorrow.

Go with God, Beetle

A Good Fences

Talk about fences, the Apostle Paul was behind prison walls!

While in prison, not for just being a believer in Christ but for sharing his beliefs, Paul wrote,

Do not think that you are better than other people. Always be kind and patient with each other. Love one another, so that you do not quickly become angry with each other.
Ephesians 4:2 EASY

There is no doubt that some people are toxic and we need to avoid them (put up a fence or wall) so we don’t get a seed of bitterness planted in our souls; however, we need to remember that there is a big diff. between good judgment and living in judgment.

There is a big difference between good judgment calls and living in judgment.

The “Message translation” of the verse of the day, and a few verse around it, gave me the Christ like fuel I needed. Paul wrote,

In light of all this (what was shared in Eph. 3), here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
Ephesians 4:1‭-‬3 MSG

Really enough said right there. Now it’s time for me, with Christ’s help, to live it, to “Be” love, not just give and receive love but become love.

For Christ sake, Beetle

Done With Religion?

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:26‭-‬27 MSG

I just finished day 3 of the @YouVersion plan ‘Hearing and Obeying His Word’ and wanted to share it here on my blog.

It is By Caleb Young, Australia

At some point in our lives, we have all said something we wish we hadn’t. 

For some of us, this has happened more often than we’d like to admit. It could be something as embarrassing as uttering a social faux pas, or something as hurtful as lashing out against a friend or loved one. In the social media age, it could take the form of an offensive joke, or an angry, unfiltered comment in a Facebook post. 

In a society growing increasingly hostile to Christianity, the instruction James gives to believers to keep a tight rein on their tongues (v. 26) is more relevant and needful than ever. It is crucial that the love of Christ be evident in the way we talk to others—especially on social media. 

In fact, James goes so far as to say that if we’re outwardly religious—for instance, attend church, pray, fast, serve in ministries—but fail to control our speech, we’re merely deceiving ourselves and that our “religion is worthless” (v. 26). 

Instead, what God considers as pure and faultless religion involves both our speech and our deeds. In verse 27, James tells us—on top of keeping a tight rein on our tongues—to care for “orphans and widows” and to keep ourselves from becoming polluted by the world.

The orphans and widows of James’ day were the most powerless and had the lowest status in society. In today’s context, James would be instructing us to look out for the marginalized groups—for example, the homeless, mentally ill, poor. We are called to look beyond our social circles, to serve and care for those in need. This point ties in with a recurring theme throughout the book of James where a Christian’s faith and deeds should work hand-in-hand.

On top of that, James adds another piece of instruction: to not let the sinful behaviors of the world corrupt our actions (v. 27). As we go about our daily lives, especially in the area of performing good deeds in the name of Jesus, we need to be consistently on guard against subtle temptations and influences. When we allow these things to creep into the area of service (such as dishonesty about finances or impure motivations in our acts of charity), we undermine the positive actions that we make and jeopardize the good Name of Jesus.  

This task is not an easy one. However, as we control our tongue, care for the marginalized, and guard our motives and methods from worldly corruption, the world will take notice and wonder why Christians behave in this way. Then we can share the goodness of Christ’s love that we have experienced and invite them to become a part of the family of God.

Questions for Reflection

  1. In what ways have I failed to “keep a tight rein” on my tongue?
  2. What practical steps can I take to help the powerless in my community?
  3. How can I guard against becoming “polluted by the world” (v. 27), particularly in the area of service?

Reading & applying God’s Word:

Maybe some of you think that you are serving God well. But if you also speak bad things against people, you do not serve God well at all. You are doing something bad even when you think you are doing good things. If you want to serve God in a completely good way, do things like this: Care for children who have no parents. Also care for women whose husbands have died. Help them in their troubles. If you serve God our Father like that, he will be happy with you. Do not let the bad people in this world make you dirty too.
James 1:26‭-‬27 EASY


This was day 3 of the 5 day @YouVersion plan ‘Hearing and Obeying His Word’. Check it out here: http://bible.com/r/3IK

I ❤ You more than cotton Candy

One of my 4 daughters called me with a serious dilemma. She was turning 17 in a few days but at the time of this call to her father she was still in that 16 year old, teenage, girl state of mind.

Are ya with me so far?

Ok. So, she said,

“Ah, okay. Like, so like Dad, like the county fair is this weekend and it’s only Friday night now and so like I can pay $20 and go with Madi and then also go Saturday and Sunday with my boyfriend but like he wants the first time at the fair to be with me to make it like soooo extra special so like I don’t know what to do. What do you think?”

So I tested the waters first and point blank asked,

“Are you asking for my opinion or advise or have you already decided what you really, really, want to do?”

Loaded question I know.

She was torn. She was so excited to go and wanted to go 3 nights but also wanted to make her bf happy by waiting to go with him.

Then she quickly said, I gotta go bye (he was texting her).

She called me back. Her boyfriend made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. That offer was that when they go together they would ride every ride and also kiss on every ride. It was oh so sweet and nice. I wanted to say, “Gag me with a spoon!”, but I didn’t. I told her that decision was hers and she would have to decide.

We are all faced with a lot of choices in life aren’t we? All of us, no matter how young or old we are, one thing is for sure God is calling us and he’s asking us to go with him, go steady with him, through life.

The scripture I want to share in this blog post is from Isaiah 55 and I’m going to share it from the message translation because it brings it into a language that we can all identify with. God offers us something so much more valuable then just thrill rides, junk food, and a temporary relationships. He is more than able to handle and manage decisions, that to us seem all so important and perhaps even unmanageable.

Isaiah 55:1‭-‬5 MSG

“Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything’s free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. I set him up as a witness to the nations, made him a prince and leader of the nations, And now I’m doing it to you: You’ll summon nations you’ve never heard of, and nations who’ve never heard of you will come running to you Because of me, your God , because The Holy of Israel has honored you.”
Isaiah 55:1‭-‬5 MSG

https://bible.com/bible/97/isa.55.1-5.MSG

As we seek Him he meets our every need.

Taking God At His Word

Day 1 of the @YouVersion plan ‘Reading The Bible 101’ (link for all 3 days at bottom).

Simply Get Started 

Are you ready to be Bible engaged? Maybe you have been a believer in Christ for a while now and are ready to learn more about what God’s Word says. You may already know some of the common Bible verses, but there is a profound desire in your heart to know more of the Scriptures.

The Bible can seem a bit intimidating to read. It’s a big book with an Old and a New Testament. There are 66 books – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. There are numerous chapters and verses. Some of these passages were written before Christ and others were written during and after the life of Christ. The Bible contains so much that it may seem overwhelming. I would encourage you by saying that this is the greatest of books, and it will guide you in your walk with Christ. This guidance is more vital even than attending church or reading a Christian book – and these are things which are great and important for you to do, but nothing can replace opening God’s Word. Words that He breathed on, to teach you more about this life you’re living. It is a book that guides you towards purpose and the promises God has for you. 

In the book of Hebrews, it says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The Scripture is no ordinary book. It is alive. It is a book that transforms your mind and heart. Reading God’s Word is a way to know God’s heart more. Through this book, your faith will be strengthened. The Bible has action, history, wisdom, and the greatest love story ever written. 

Now that I have briefly mentioned the benefits of reading His Word, you may be feeling enthused. You may have had this desire to read the Bible for a while now, but have absolutely no knowledge on where to begin. I have some good news for you. Reading the Word of God is going to be a pursuit of the rest of your life. It is a lifetime pursuit. You never stop reading it. You never get enough of it. You never stop learning or growing in your faith through His Word. It is like this for all of us. 

Where do you begin? Well, like you begin anything else: you just have to get started. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s a joyful pursuit. Simply get started.

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 GNB

https://bible.com/bible/296/heb.4.12.GNB

For more on this plan, visit the following link https://straighttruth.net/reading-the-bible-for-beginners/ 

You’ve just read day 1 of the @YouVersion plan ‘Reading The Bible 101’. Check out all 3 days here:

http://bible.com/r/3a0

Need A Fix?

Thoughts from day 2 of the 4 day @YouVersion plan ‘How to Battle Fear’. Link at bottom

Look Up

It’s such a challenge when we find ourselves in a place where we’re bombarded with fear. We want to overcome it,  yet we have a hard time doing so.

The issue & The Solution

Often, the issue is where we fix our sights. Sadly, we often gaze at our problems and merely glance at God. We need to reverse that. Let’s gaze at our good, mighty, powerful God and simply glance at our problems. Life works better that way. 

Remember

So, to find out where your thoughts are directed, ask yourself these questions: 

Hebrews 12 is a great reminder for us. Are we spending our energy focused on the trials and struggles in front of us, or are we focused on the God who is over all of them? Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “keep our eyes on Jesus.”  Why? Because He authored & perfector our faith. HE continues to perfect it.

Don’t entertaining fear by imagining what-if situations.

Because we’re humans, we’ll still battle with what our flesh desires. And not just that, but our flesh will always drift toward our feelings.

It’s easier to let our minds roam towards the unpredictable and uncertainty that life brings. But we can change that. 

We need to look up towards Jesus. When we do this, our minds are less likely to stay fixed on the problems below. We won’t grow as weary, which in turn will give us the strength to stay the course. Let’s not give up. 

At the end of this @YouVersion plan, ‘How to Battle Fear’ (link at bottom), we’ll have some verses to equip you to fight fear when life is uncertain. But…

For today,

wherever you are, simply lift your chin up a few inches and allow your eyes to follow. Voice a simple prayer telling God that you’re choosing to trust Him. Repeat this whenever you start to feel flooded with fear. 


God’s Word:

We must continue to do things that are good and we should not get tired. If we do not feel weak and stop doing good things, then we will receive a good harvest at the proper time.
Galatians 6:9 EASY

So, we have learned about many people who trusted God long ago. They are like a very big crowd all round us and we should copy their example. We must be like people who run in a race . We must throw away everything that stops us from running well. The sins that we do make us fall down very easily. We must not let those sins rule us. God has prepared the way that is in front of us. We must continue to be strong while we run along that way. We must choose to run that race well. As we run, we must always look towards Jesus. He is the one who trusted God completely. Our faith starts with him, and he will help us to trust God all the way to the end. Jesus accepted punishment on the cross. HE chose to receive much pain. HE did not think about being ashamed to die like that. HE knew that God had prepared something very good for HIM that would make HIM happy. Now HE has sat down at the right side of God to rule with HIM in heaven . So, think carefully about HOW JESUS lived on earth. Bad people did very bad things against HIM, but HE continued to be strong. Think about HIM, and then you will not become weak as Christians. You will not stop trusting God.
Hebrews 12:1‭-‬3 EASY


You just finished day 2 of the @YouVersion plan ‘How to Battle Fear’. Check it out the other 3 days here: http://bible.com/r/4vB