Monday, June 27, 2016

The Compass of Peace


Peace, or lack thereof, is often a compass I use to check whether I am in step with God or not. I suppose it is not surprising then that I find this wisdom in Scripture as well ...


Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.



James 3:13-18 ESV

It may be a decision, a trial, a conversation waiting to be had, an e-mail awaiting send, a phone call that needs to be made ... but if it doesn't leave you with peace, stop! Peace is not happiness ... joy ... celebration. Peace, namely His peace, is much deeper. It's contentment in trials, struggles, and challenges.

I've had both conversations in the flesh, and in His Spirit, and the differentiating factor has always been peace. When I do not have it, I often regret my words and actions - when I do have it, I can't recall regret, even if the conversation or decision was a difficult one to make or stand on.

May peace be your guide ... and if you don't have it? Seek it ... pursue it ... our faith is every active.


Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:13-14 ESV


His,
~Matthew

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Know Him, and Let Your Prayers Take Flight

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 ESV

What is your reaction when you read that passage? Certainly there is a bigger context outside this passage, and lots of wonderful theological stuff I can throw at this, but what is your reaction?

You know what, first let's narrow this down a bit ... how about just verse seven ...

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord

If you had to put one word that comes to mind what would it be?

If I'm honest, and life is too short not to be, I think sometimes part of me would use this word:

Discouraging.

If that's your word - or something similar - I would like an opportunity to change mine and your perspective. First though, why? Why discouraging?

Perhaps because I read this and reflect on my own prayer life. I'm not sure I always (often?) pray with real expectation. I do indeed feel like a wave of the sea at times. Sometimes I may say during my conversation with the Lord "... but whatever Your will is Father ... " ... it sounds good ... and sometimes I truly mean this ... but sometimes I think it is really just a cover phrase for being unsure and doubtful.

However first of all, being discouraged, is not from Him. Nor does this passage mean that God will never give us anything if we doubt ... and frankly, I believe sometimes God uses His wonderful element of surprise (let's call it Grace in this case) to counter our doubt in hopes that we see how amazingly trustworthy He truly is. After all ... sometimes our darkest hours when He comes to comfort us does not always match with our most confident hours.

Challenge me if you wish, but I think this passage is to remind us of our relationship with Him, not just confidence when we pray.

The more strong our faith, the more strong our confidence and expectations will be in prayer. How do we increase our faith? By deepening our relationship with the Lord.

Don't read this passage and let it cause you to do mental acrobatics during prayer to force yourself to be confident. It doesn't work that way, I know, I tried! Just draw closer Him ... know Him ... love on Him ... learn to trust Him ... submit to Him ... let that control freak in you turn it over to Him ... and in turn that relationship will grow your faith, grow your confidence, increase your expectations, and will lead to a bountiful prayer life.

How do I know? Because I've been there ... the more I draw myself away from Him and focus on the business of life, the less confident my prayer life becomes. Why? Simply because I'm talking to a God I know I am distant from ... why would I feel confident in someone helping me that I'm essentially pushing away due to a priority problem? The days, weeks, months, and on that I'm closer to Him ... spend time with Him ... my prayers feel like they are scrolls with wings that are instantly lifted to His throne and read before a multitude with indescribable power.



His,
~Matthew

Monday, June 6, 2016

Finish The Race

Looking back, I see how my fears have changed over time. Things I used to fear (public speaking and flying for example) have been replaced with others. As a parent, husband, and provider for my family, some of my fears I now have are more 'what if' based around things I can't control with respect to them and what the future holds. Don't get me wrong, many of my fears are still quite selfish when I think about it, but regardless, they continue to change as my journey on this spinning rock ages on.

There is one fear however that is perhaps ... helpful? It keeps me focused.

I fear complacency, laziness, and apathy. I fear watching a burning flame for Christ dwindle into a spark, buried by the everyday routine of life. I fear hiding behind the doctrine of Grace, and forgetting the doctrine of suffering ... serving ... and sacrifice.



As I reached to grab my cross this morning, it really just hit me yet again. I sat down on the bed and just stared at this Image ... this Image with a Story. It's not jewelry, it's not advertisement, and it's even more than a reminder. 

It's a charge ... a calling ... a purpose.

I want to finish well.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 ESV

As I clutched the cross, threw it around my neck, I was also reminded of another important goal; starting well. A need to reflect on my daily reliance upon Him each and every morning.

In Christ,
~Matt
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