I lift up your name. I praise you because you’re worthy. You are the omnipotent and I recognize that. Where I am weak, you are strong. When I can’t, you are able. When I am limited, you are unlimited. You own the cattle on a thousand hills as the Psalmist out it. You own everything we see. You created this universe and are beyond the vastness of it. You can create something out of nothing with just your voice. Your words are powerful. More powerful than anything any one of us could ever imagine.
Today, I ask you to speak into my family. I pray that you would speak protection over them. As each of us go different ways, you are the only one who has the ability to watch over us and to protect us. Guard our paths. Expose the enemy when he’s lying in wait to steal, kill and destroy those I love. Rebuke him and keep him away so that he cannot lay a finger on anyone in my household. You are the One who gives abundant life and I ask that you speak that life into my family.
Next I pray that you would order each of our steps. Your Word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you, so I ask that you would shine your light on the paths that each of us are to take. If anyone of us stumbles, reach out your hand to catch us, pull us back up and set our feet back on your path. Keep us from wandering off the paths that you have chosen for us. We want to do your will and go where you tell us. Make your way clear to each member of my family so there’s no question where you want them to walk.
For the members of my family in relationships, I ask that you would strengthen them. Draw them closer together through their relationship with you. Help each one to be selfless in their responsibilities in that relationship. For those who are yet to be in a relationship, I ask that you would bring someone who is godly into their life to challenge them in their relationship with you in order to help them grow. Put that person you have for them in their path so they will see them and your hand in the situation. Remove all fear and doubt from their mind in order to help them trust your plan for them.
Above all, I ask that you would place on each of us a hunger for more of you. Give us an appetite, a craving for your Word. Cause us to never be satisfied with anything less than you. Help us to put away spiritual junk food and to focus on putting only healthy things in our minds and hearts. When we do, I know we will be a reflection of you in all we say and do. We want to be good examples of who you are to those we meet. We want to be able to speak life into others, to build them up and encourage them. Let our lives lead others straight to you. Help us to represent you faithfully as we become more like you every day.
I ask all these things in Jesus’ name.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was away on business and couldn’t get home. The airport was shut down due to weather and my flight had been canceled. The roads were closed due to ice so I couldn’t drive home. The only other option was to take a train. I realize that other countries and even parts of the States have adopted rail as normal way to commute, but it hasn’t caught on where I live. The day was ripe for adventure.
People are more friendly on a train than on a plane. I guess that’s because you are going to spend quite a bit of time together. I got to know a father from Australia who came to the US to rescue his wife and daughter. They were going to see the world together when the daughter developed a fear of flying. He came, figured out a way to get the daughter from Florida to California and then back to Australia without having to fly. It has cost him a great deal of time and money, but He was happy just to be taking care of his family.
It reminded me of the great lengths our father will go for us. When we’re suddenly afraid to take that next step of faith, even after having taken several, our Father will come to our rescue. He will leave His throne in Heaven, meet us where we are and guide us the rest of the way. It may not be the way He intended for us to take, but He’s good at finding work arounds. He doesn’t come and demand that we do it His way. He comes and gently encourages us to find a way to follow our faith.
I also met a Filipino who is an associate pastor in Long Beach. He, like many of the disciples, loves to fish. His trip had taken him from California to Florida to go on a fishing expedition. His eyes lit up as he talked about all the different types of fishing he had done. They really lit up when he talked of his seven daughters and only son whom God blessed him with “late in life.” Here was a man in his sixties who had a five year old son and referred to him as a blessing from God.
He reminded me of Abraham who had a son at one hundred years of age. He was supposed to be beyond the years of having children, yet God decided to bless him with a son. Abraham considered it a blessing and Sarah thought it was a joke. They both loved their son very much and God used that miracle to be the way to fulfill His promise he made to them 25 years earlier. I’m sure the older Abraham got, the more he doubted God’s promise. He must have become content with living in the land God showed him and had given up until the angel spoke. That son became the embodiment of the promises of God that seem too far fetched to come true. It gives us all hope that His promise to us is still coming.
I don’t know where your adventure is taking you, but I do know that all around you are reminders of who God is. To me, He proved He is the father who will go to lengths of the earth to find me. He’ll make a way for me even when I don’t see how. He also showed that the promises He made years ago are still alive. I don’t see the path to make them come true and I’m not getting any younger, but He knows when the timing will be right. Until then, I’m to be faithful, ready to call Him when I need help and open to blessings in disguise. God is good at using those to fulfill his promise.
I read an article yesterday about a teenage orphan in Florida who decided to be proactive in finding adoptive parents. He chose to go to church and address the congregation in order to see if someone would make him their child. He was born to a woman who was in jail and immediately taken into social services. The only thing his mom gave him was his name. He spent most of his life being angry at his situation and pushing people and prospective parents away hoping his birth parents would show up one day.
While searching for them, he found out that they were both deceased. He had to make a choice to continue being angry or to let it go. He chose the latter. His grades began to improve and he began to become the person he knew he was inside. His comments are what stuck out to me the most in this article. He said he had never had a home or felt loved. He said, “I’ll take anyone. Old young. Black, white or purple… I would be appreciative.” And then the article finished with him saying, “I know God hasn’t given up on me. So I’m not giving up either.”
My mind wants to go in so many ways with this. His whole life, all he’s wanted is what all of us want, to be loved. He wanted it from his birth parents, but now that’s not a possibility. He now will take it from anyone. Thankfully he reached out to a church. Sadly, no one offered to adopt him. I’m hoping at least someone there had a burden to show him love, to accept him for who he is, and to begin to fill the void in his life. He knows he’s going to be on his own in a couple of years and would love having the support of a family. That’s something most of us take for granted.
He said that he’d take anyone. He’s like a lot of people in this world. They’re broken and hurt. They’re looking for a place to belong. Are our churches a place where people like him can find refuge from their pain? Or are they a clique for the self righteous who feel they’re better than others? Have we become like the Pharisee in Luke 18 who looked up to Heaven and said, “I thank you, God, that I’m not a sinner everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector. I fast twice a week and I give you a tenth of my income”? Have we become so caught up in our traditions and rituals that we’ve turned a blind eye to those reaching out to us?
This kid found rejection where he should have found acceptance. He found doubt in a place of faith. He was looking for love and walked away empty handed. May God forgive us for all of the times people like him have walked through our doors and walked out alone. May He open our eyes to those who come in this week and give us the courage to be His hands and feet. May we be His expression of love and acceptance to those the world has rejected. May we be a safe haven for those who need to find a refuge. If God hasn’t given up on them, neither should we. Let’s open our eyes today and find someone who needs love and offer it to them. Both of your lives will forever change.
If you’d like to read the article I referenced, you can read it here.
Update: Over 10,000 people have now inquired about adopting this young man! See that article here.
In order to teach people to prioritize their time, I do a little demonstration with them. I have them hold a paper plate and then ask them what all they are involved in or have going on in their lives. Each time they name something, I place an object on the plate they are holding. Sooner or later one of two things happen. Either the plate slips out of their grasp or it buckles and everything ends up on the floor.
It’s a great demonstration of what happens when we’re involved in more things than we have time for. We either need a bigger plate, fewer things on our plate or to find a way to prioritize the things on our plate better. Each one of us lead busy lives. We have more demands on us than ever before. The question is, “What falls off your plate first when life gets crazy?”
For too many of us the answer is God. We get so caught up in making a living that we forget why we are living and what we were created for. Our goal is not retirement. I’m not saying don’t save up for retirement. I’m saying it shouldn’t be such a priority that you fail to give God your time. I know what it’s like to work so hard that on your only day off you want to sleep in instead of going to church. It’s also easier to hit the snooze button than to wake up and pray.
The problem is that we’ve not made God a priority. I heard someone recently say, “We’ve made God a luxury and not a necessity.” When that happens and things need to be cut in our lives, He’s one of the first things to go. God must become a priority in each of our lives or the balancing act with the plate is all for nothing. Job 1:21 reminds us that we were naked when we came into this world and we’ll be naked when we leave. If we can’t take it with us, why have we made it such a priority in our lives?
What we do take with us is our soul. Romans 14:12 says that each one of us will give a personal account to God for what we’ve done and how we’ve lived. What we do on earth for God will echo in eternity. He should be our number one priority in life followed by doing the things that matter for eternity. We still have to provide for our families and to do the things necessary to live. It’s finding the right priority that is the key to living the way God intended us to live. There is a way to balance the things in your life without having them fall on the floor.
It starts with having God at the center of your life. When you make Him your number one priority in your life, you begin to see what matters and what doesn’t. You learn what matters for eternity and what doesn’t. You begin to see where things belong in your life. You find the balance He wants you to have. You may have to let go of some things you have as a high priority right now. You may find you’ve been focusing on the wrong things and need to put different things on your plate.
To help you determine how you prioritize things in your life, I ask again, “What falls off your plate first when life gets crazy? What falls off last?” The answer to these questions is where you currently have your priorities. What order do you want or need your priorities to be in? What changes can you make today to begin to put them in the right order? Putting God in the center will help you to find the balance you’re looking for.