'I'll Pray for You' – Now You Actually Will

Echo Prayer AppI’ve been using Echo since before it was Echo… watch the video and that will make sense. 🙂

This is a super-easy way to remember to pray for specific people, issues, etc. Coming soon – group prayer, where you can share a prayer list among friends, with your whole church, etc.

Download the Echo prayer app for iPhone on the App Store: appstore.com/echoprayer
Or for Android on Google Play: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cloversites.echo

Proverbs Challenge, Day 31

KeysWe’re learning God’s perspective on every aspect of existence. What does He say we should do for those beaten down by the circumstances of life?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
(Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT)

Well, that’s better than what we often tend to do, which is ignore them because
a) it’s their fault, or
b) it’s random, and too scary to think that it could happen to me.

If we accept the concept that sin had its origin when Adam and Eve believed a lie, and we’ve inherited that lie and all its variations, then what is “justice?” Is it not restoring everyone to God’s original design? And certainly that’s a spiritual exercise, but it’s also a practical one as we feed, clothe, and teach those who need help. I’m proud to belong to a church that does both.

Let’s be diligent in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone, and to every circumstance.

Proverbs Challenge, Day 30

KeysWow – boasting and evil plans are in the same category?

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself,
Or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.
(Proverbs 30:32)

Let’s look at that from God’s perspective – that’s the definition of Wisdom.

Adam and Eve believed a lie about themselves in the Garden of Eden – that they had to learn how to act in order to truly be like God. The truth was that they were created in the image of God. Every one of us were born believing that same lie, rather than what God says – we were created in His image.

In the Old Testament, God invites His children to see things from His perspective:

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:6, 9)

And in the New Testament, Jesus showed us the blueprint for Kingdom life, removed the stain of the lie by dying for us, and allowed us to be raised from the dead together with Him. We’re new creations!

The problem is that we look up to God for salvation, but look back down to what’s around us to define what “new creation” means.

God created us.

He still has the blueprints.

And He lives in us, making the same power that raised Jesus from the dead available to restore us to that original design. (That’s a pretty good definition of “predestination” right there, reckon?)

So:
Living life from God’s perspective = good.
Trying to figure it out ourselves = not good. The opposite of good, actually.

Jesus told us (Matthew 6:33) that if we focus on God and His principles, He will cause everything to fall into its proper place around us. I don’t see a downside to that. 🙂

Let’s be relentless in our awareness of His presence in us, and in learning to live the life for which He created us!

 

Proverbs Challenge, Day 29

KeysI tried to find another verse, so I wouldn’t have to talk about this one. 🙂

Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
(Proverbs 29:20)

I’ve been “witty” most of my life. Some of you that know me would replace that with “smart aleck,” or coarser variations. LOL  And of course, there’s sarcasm.

Words and responses come to mind easily for me. Sometimes, that’s helpful. Having responses ready is handy in sales situations, for instance –  but you still have to be careful to truly listen, and not simply listen for a cue for the next part of your sales pitch.

For most of my life, though, the stuff that came out of my mouth was more likely to tear down than build up. There have been times that I’ve tried to stop, but it didn’t last very long.

A lot of people say it’s hopeless to even try, citing James 3:8 – “But no man can tame the tongue.” In fact, most of that chapter seems to reinforce the idea.

(The near-universal problem with rash words lends credence to the Kingdom principle that we can create or destroy with our words. On our own, we certainly tend toward destruction.)

But let’s look at the last two verses:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:17-18)

We’re asking for wisdom for every aspect of our lives, right? Good news – with that comes the ability to tame the tongue!

And there’s a guideline for those of us than need it – be peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, and full of mercy. That means we deliberately decide not to “win” a contest of wits or words, when the next salvo would be something unkind or coarse. It means letting the other person think they’ve “won,” sometimes.

More good news – every time we catch ourselves and stop before we say something worse, the fruit of righteousness is sown and we make peace.

Rather than the quick-witted guy, I’d prefer to be known as the guy who sows the fruit of righteousness. How about you?

Proverbs Challenge, Day 28

KeysThis verse used to hold condemnation and a little fear for me, but now it’s a source of joy and hopeful anticipation.

He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
(Proverbs 28:13)

Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the Greek word for sin means to miss the mark. So, looking beyond the issue of bad behavior, we’ve all failed to live up to the glory God has planned for our lives.

The root word of the Greek word for sin includes the concept of destiny or design, so we could say that sin is to behave out of tune to God’s original harmony, or to live out of context with the blueprint of His design. (Begin reading The Mirror Bible, a selection of key New Testament texts paraphrased from the Greek, for more on this.)

So, as soon as we own up to the fact that our lives don’t measure up to God’s design for us, we receive God’s mercy. That’s good news.

But what if it’s someone else’s fault? Many of us miss God’s plan for our lives because of circumstances outside of our control. More good news –  Psalm 103:4 says that God redeems our lives from destruction, which means that our Father fixes our lives. There’s no disclaimer about whose fault it is. 🙂

So – as soon as we realize that any aspect of our lives would be better if it was restored to God’s original blueprint, He begins the restoration. Because He loves us.

Proverbs Challenge, Day 27

KeysThe book of Proverbs has a lot to say about friendship, a lot of it in this chapter. This verse is a little more touchy-feely than most. 🙂

Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
(Proverbs 27:9)

My daddy told me once, “You’re fortunate when you can find a few true friends in your life – and you’ll probably be able to count them all on one hand.”

It’s easy to make friends, and find people who have common interests. But finding friends who delight the heart… I think my daddy was right.

Proverbs Challenge, Day 26

KeysAnother minor theme of Proverbs is laziness. I’m reminded of the importance of following through when I read this verse:

The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl;
It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.
(Proverbs 26:15)

The mental picture that comes to mind is of someone who has what he needs within his grasp, yet fails to act until the potential is gone. I’ve done that too many times within my life.

The root causes for that can be many, but there’s good news. Psalm 103:4 says that God redeems our lives from destruction, which means that our Father will fix our mistakes. Even better, the Word says that we were created in the image of God, and the New Testament says that as we remain in His presence, we become like Him.

For the lazy person, for the chronic underachiever, that is the gospel. We don’t have to remain in any inferior state of existence, and the only discipline required is to keep spending time in the Word. Since Jesus is the Word, that means when we read the Bible, we’re hanging out with Jesus. And when we hang out with Jesus, we become like Him.

 

Proverbs Challenge, Day 25

KeysObviously, we’re not supposed to surrender to wickedness. But is there more to that than we realize?

A righteous man who falters before the wicked 
Is like a murky spring and a polluted well. 
(Proverbs 25:26)

Think about it – springs and wells are supposed to bring life, but that doesn’t happen if they’re murky and polluted. So the illustration is of something that just isn’t fulfilling its design

It stands to reason, then, that people who are righteous – in right standing with God (which was accomplished forever by the blood of Jesus) – are designed to overcome the wicked.

We might not feel like overcomers; in fact, we might prefer to ignore wickedness. However, God says that the finished work of the cross gives us that ability.

Let us be diligent in overcoming wickedness. Let us neither ignore it, nor falter before it. In Jesus’ name, we are more than conquerors.

Proverbs Challenge, Day 24

KeysWe need wisdom; that’s obvious. From reading the book of Proverbs, we know how to get it – ask God for it. Be transformed by the reading of the Word.

But – there’s another factor we need to remember.

Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;
For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

(Proverbs 24:3-6)

We need trustworthy friends, people who seek wisdom at least as passionately as ourselves. It’s easy to get sidetracked when we listen to our own thoughts for too long, and the quiet voice of wisdom can easily be lost in the cares of the world and the desires of the flesh.

Let’s be careful in our choice of friends, and let’s take care to be a good friend.