A WORD for the Week
Hot Blood, Cold Heart by Julie Luetke
How long does it take for your blood to boil when talking politics? Shamefully, not long for me. I don’t want to hear anything that disagrees with my opinion. I cannot imagine how anyone can think any view other than mine—surely they have lost their mind to think the way they do. When my blood begins to boil, it turns my heart into ice, even with family. It ruins my entire day. In my mind, I justify my words and beliefs, and plot for just the right comeback, which thankfully God keeps me from voicing. My soul gets no satisfaction.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; (Psalm 51:4a NIV)
I am so frustrated. I don’t want to take this to the Lord in prayer, because I know Jesus will show me my faults in the conversation. He’s done it before. When I seek His wisdom, He will open my eyes to a lack of humility, an unwillingness to listen, and the consideration to
end the conversation before feelings get hurt. He will patiently show my unwillingness to give the same grace He unconditionally gave to me. He shows me that when my blood is boiling, I have chosen anger and hate over love.
In Matthew 24, Jesus includes the decline in civility and faith when describing the End Times. In verses 10 and 12, He warns, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,”
Who am I fooling? I can ‘say’ that the other person, article, newscaster or politician makes my blood boil, but it is my own choice, my personal responsibility. In the face of an opposing political view, I choose to get angry. No one has the power over my feelings but me. When my blood boils it is because I choose to take off Jesus’ white robe of righteousness so it doesn’t get dirty and deliberately jump into the mud of sinful self-righteousness.
Jesus, forgive me! I don’t want a cold heart, ever! Spread your love over me, melt my frozen heart, and help me be an instrument of Your peace.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18, 21 NIV)
356. Stop talking so much by Diana Kerr
The title of the book sounds iffy, but overall I love "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Basically, this book teaches you how to make people feel appreciated, liked, and understood, which in turn also makes life better for you.
One of the book’s hardest lessons is this: stop talking so much. That’s not easy! All of us have a bit of an ego, and most of us like talking about ourselves more than we like listening.
Not surprisingly, the Bible was touting this concept of listening more and talking less way before Dale Carnegie got around to writing about it. Proverbs is full of juicy, applicable advice on this topic (which, if you saw me in social situations, you would see I am not the best at following). Proverbs 12:23 hits me hard, right where it hurts the most: “The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.”
My heart’s convicted by the missed opportunities God may have placed before me to build people up or grow a relationship with them that I ruined because I couldn’t shut up, even though I thought I had interesting knowledge to share. If you’re in the same boat as me, let’s pray that before we go into each social situation God would help us focus on others and remember that the wisest person in the room is not usually the one talking the most.
Devotion used by permission of Time of Grace®. For more information visit Time of Grace ministry.
355. Rejoice in Rejection by Karen Spiegelberg
When my daughters were young and growing rapidly, I took their outgrown clothing to a local consignment shop. I always made sure that everything was in very good shape. Yet, many times the store would only keep a few pieces and give me big thumbs down on the others. Then I’d have to endure the walk of shame as I took the rejected items back to my van. Anyone who does consignment selling knows the feeling! For some reason, you don’t just feel like your items have been rejected; you feel personally rejected as well.
Feeling rejected is never a good feeling. But, Jesus calls rejection a blessing in the beatitudes as he instructs the disciples in his final days.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Luke 6:22-23)
We are blessed because our reward is not of this world! And our reward is not of this world because of the One who gave his life for all who rejected and hated him. In spite of knowing that and as a response to that, Jesus further proclaimed, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
Next time my box is rejected by the consignment store, I’ll be reminded that Jesus calls rejection in his name a blessing and an opportunity. I may even leap for joy in the parking lot!
354. 30-Day Philippians 4:8 Social Media Challenge—WRAPUP! by Emily Krill
On September 1st, I began a “Philippians 4:8 Social Media Challenge”. The goal of the challenge was to keep both 1) what I posted and 2) what showed up on my feeds supporting the virtues found in Philippians 4:8. So, it’s been 30 days and here’s what I learned:
The problem is not so much WHAT I see on my social media feed.
The problem is WHY I’m using my social media.
As I went through the 30 days focused on being intentional about my social media interactions, I began to notice something else. Even after I had cleaned up my news feed to only represent Philippians 4:8 values, there was still a problem. The problem was that my social media scrolling had become more of a compulsion than an intention. And a very popular compulsion at that! Whenever I had my phone in my hand, I somehow found a way to sneak in little social media scrolls here and there all day long.
I removed the supporting apps from my phone to test that theory and found myself still randomly trying to open my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram apps even when there was no app to open. It was kinda like how I open the fridge and stare into it even when I’m not hungry. (What am I looking for?!?!)
Then it occurred to me - wouldn’t it be amazing if I spent this much time in the Bible? Wouldn’t it be incredible if I mindlessly tapped open God’s word instead of social media whenever I was feeling stressed, hungry, tired, frustrated, or needing to “check out” for whatever reason? I don’t, though. If I want to make sure I get time in God’s word, I have to carve it out of my day. How backwards is that?! AGH!!!
God warns us in Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
I’m not guarding my heart very well when I completely bypass my brain and just let my fingers call the shots on what my eyes see. I’m also not guarding my heart very well when I’m filling it with more human thoughts than God’s thoughts. Ultimately, I realized that even if I make my social media feeds full of positive Philippians 4:8-type images and words, it still can’t even come close to spending time at Jesus’ feet.
To that end, I’m implementing these two changes to my daily routines:
1. All social media apps are now removed from my phone. If I want to become more intentional and slow my scroll, I will have to use my phone’s browser to access social media.
2. I spent some time getting to know my Bible app. It’s now my go-to for daily scrolling. (I use YouVersion - it’s SOOOO good!!! You can even make really pretty scripture images and connect with friends on what they’re studying in their Bible reading time!!!!)
353. Prayers for Pastors by Julie Luetke
["Pastor Appreciation Day" is October 11, 2020. In preparation for this day of appreciation for God’s faithful shepherds, we offer this devotion of prayer and thanksgiving.]
I have asked a number of my pastor friends what they want people to pray on their behalf. The answers varied. Oft repeated were wisdom, guidance, understanding, and for church members to be patient. All of these requests circle around love. Love from the pastors to their members, love from members for the pastor and each other, and love to those who do not yet know Jesus.
Pastors expressed the frustration of not being able to do ministry face to face, and of gatherings postponed or cancelled entirely. Pastors are carrying heavy loads right now. People who have lost loved ones have had to grieve alone. This pulls at your pastor’s heart. Young couples who
have gone through premarital counseling cannot set a wedding date. The pastor feels their disappointment. So many people sick or shut in that cannot be seen. Not everyone can use the online services or hear over the phone. More technology to learn, more to purchase, more glitches in trying to do online worship. Bible classes are less satisfying to teach online and become a lecture. Truly, ministry is much more challenging than usual this summer.
Just like the rest of us, pastors have their own personal issues with the virus…
“Could I have it and be passing it on without knowing it?”
“Am I being patient and understanding, or judgmental?”
“Are my personal actions offending someone?”
Some people feel it unwise to be in church right now. With no contact, the pastor fears for their faith not knowing if the online options are being utilized. Yes, it is possible to see how many viewed, but not possible to know if they listened or even stayed in the room.
The bottom line: Pray for pastors!
Dear Father in heaven, spread your wings over your shepherds and calm their fears. Give them the gift of wisdom as you gave generously to Solomon. Instill patience and love into the hearts of your people and so lighten the load of ministry.
Dear Savior, Jesus, thank you for taking away the sins of our pastors and teaching them to love all whom you died for. Help pastors be fishers of men and women, the young and old. Give them endless ideas and means to reach out with the Gospel.
Dear Spirit, your pastors work to build faith in the hearts of their people. We ask you to build faith in pastors’ hearts too. Move us to pray for them often, and to comfort them with cards filled with Scripture and encouraging words of thanks for the sermons and ministry given.
Lord, open my eyes to ways I can be of help to our pastors. Open my eyes to the spiritual, emotional, physical and financial needs of the pastors. Forgive me for the times I have been critical or impatient. Forgive me for not appreciating the knowledge my pastor shares from Your Word.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.