“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Philippians 4:6 (KJV)
I don’t know about you, but I grew up hearing, “Be careful.” I was supposed to “be careful” about many things that could hurt me in some way. Sometimes, it felt like I couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything, because I was always supposed to “be careful”. Have you been told to “be careful” before? Have you told anyone to “be careful” before?
Now, we see that Paul is telling us to “be careful for nothing”. Hmmm. That is different. So, why is it so different? Why do some of us grow up hearing “be careful” and now see that Paul said not to “be careful’?
Well, parents want to protect their children from danger. They mean well, when they say, “be careful”, but often that isn’t the most healthy and productive statement. Many times, children are more capable than we think and are in less danger than we fear. Sometimes it is better to say, “slow down, so you don’t slip on the wet floor” or “when you climb, make sure you hang onto something, so you don’t fall.” You aren’t teaching the child to “fear” something or not to try something that could be out of their comfort zone, you are just making him or her aware of the danger and giving guidance in awareness and ways that could make it less dangerous. (I came across a nice blog post here, by Let Grow, if you would like to further research this train of thought.)
This concept of being careful is also misguided with our prayers. Often times we under estimate God’s power or willingness to give us good things. We think, “Nothing good ever happens to me, I can’t ask for something so nice. I will never get it.” God wants to give us good things. He can and will care for us much better than any human parent could or would.
Yet, it isn’t just what we ask for in prayer, it is also how we ask. Sometimes we tend to ask sort of timidly, not sure of the results, or demand like a laundry list of things that we want accomplished as if we were entitled. None of the above are very respectful, reverent, or loving of God. We are to ask without being afraid of whether or not God can do it, because he most definitely can. We are to ask with a humble and thankful heart. We are to thank God for His love and blessings even before we see it and trust that it is on its way. We are to ask for things that are in alignment with God’s will for us.
In the example of parenting and in the example of prayer, the words “be careful” are more destructive than uplifting and supportive. They can bring fear, confusion, distrust, and other negative effects. Yet, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zone and rely on God. We may have to “be careful” in specific ways such as “not get too close to the fire” or “go slow on the wet floor, so we don’t slip”. We don’t have the power to still the winds, calm the storm, and move mountains. But with God, all things are possible. God doesn’t have to be careful. And, when we go to God, we don’t have to be careful, if we go with a right heart in alignment with His will.
Thank you for this day. Thank you for your infinite wisdom, love, and care. You are an awesome God capable of many and all things. Help us to “be careful for nothing” as we pray. Help us to pray with all humbleness, supplication, and thanksgiving. Help us to pray for things in alignment with you will for us and with a right heart. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective questions for Philippians 4:6 (KJV):
*What does Philippians 4:6 mean to me?
*When I pray, am I afraid to pray for awesome things?
*Do I under estimate God’s capability and willingness to give me wonderful
things, when I pray?
*Do I pray with thanksgiving and a humble heart?
*Do I say, “be careful” to others?
Now, it is your turn.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive the Faith Blog posts in your inbox or you would like to get the FREE offer, sign up below.
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)
How are you today? I hope you are all well. Last week, I wrote about encouraging one another by role modeling love, kindness, and good works. (You can read that post here.) This week’s post, also talks about encouraging each other, however it is for a little bit different reason.
The words in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 also call us to encourage one another. Yet, I think, this is encouragement is meant to keep each other on the right path and to lift our spirits when we are down.
In this verse, St. Paul was kind of telling the Thessalonians that he knew they were encouraging each other and they should keep up the good work. You may also be one to encourage others and if that is so, great job! Keep up the good work!
Yet, even if we already do encourage others, I think it these words are good to read and think about at times. We all need encouragement at times. And, sometimes we try to encourage others with the greatest of intentions, but we don’t encourage well.
Yes, I think there are pitfalls in the intention of encouragement. Let’s look at how we encourage or what we encourage. For example, when someone says, “You do what feels good to you. Don’t worry about what anyone else says.” Is this good encouragement? I would humbly submit that when the Bible usually encourages us NOT to go with our own feelings, are we being helpful in encouraging each other to go with our own feelings? Am I being too nitpicky? Or, should that be rephrased to better suit God’s words and meaning in the Bible?
There was a time when I wouldn’t even have thought about it. Yet, I believe that words are powerful and shape what we think and how we feel. And, there is a difference between generally saying, “do what feels good to you” and in saying, “do what you feel God is calling you to do.” This may seem trifle and petty, but I do think that these subtleties in what we say have resulted in a society that feels entitled. These subtleties have changed our beliefs, and us slowly, over time. I don’t believe we are truly helping or encouraging others, if we “encourage” them to do something that isn’t in accordance with God’s Word.
It also may be unhealthy to promise someone the world, when you have no business making the promise or have no idea whether or not it will come true. I can remember being estranged from someone and well-meaning people would say that this person would come back to me. I was upset by those words, because the people who said them had no way of telling whether the person would come back to me or not. My heart knew that they were just hopeful words, but nothing concrete. I wanted something concrete that I could hold onto. It meant more to me to have someone comfort me with truth, than hopes.
I don’t say all this to discourage you from encouraging others. I don’t want you to think that, “Oh, I better not say anything, because I might say something wrong.” I say this just for thoughtful reflection. Encouraging others is what we are called to do. So, let us pray that we all take the opportunity to encourage others and do it in a godly and Biblical way.
Thank you for loving us. Thank you for knowing that we need to be encouraged. Thank you for your instruction. Help us to take the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to heart. Help us to encourage one another in faith, hope, and love, especially in trying times. Yet, help us to do so with words that align with your holy words out of love and compassion and obedience to you. Help us to be mindful in our words and the message we are actually sending each other. Let our encouragement be something that glorifies you and shows us to be your people. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflection questions for 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV):
*What does 1 Thessalonians 5:11 mean to me?
*Do I encourage others?
*If I encourage others, do I do so with words that align with God’s words?
*Can well meaning encouragement be wrong if the words aren’t right?
*What can I do to better fulfill the calling in 1 Thessalonians 5:11?
Now, it is your turn.
I would like to read your thoughts. Leave a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive the Faith Blog in your inbox or download the FREE offer, sign up below. Thank you.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”
Hebrews 10:24 (KJV)
How are you today? I hope all is well. Have you ever been so inspired by someone doing good things, that you wanted to do good things as well? That is the point of Hebrews 10:24.
There are things, people, and events that happen which help shape who we are and who we become as we grow. Some of these things aren’t so good and some are truly inspirational.
Sadly, I think we tend to remember the bad things that shape us more than we remember the good things that shape us. It is easier to name or blame things or people that may lead to us being grumpy, rude, or downright violent. Sometimes, we are the ones who provoke bad behavior and sin in others.
Yet, instead of bad behavior, we are called to provoke love and good works. So, how do we do this? Well, just like in provoking bad behavior, one of the best ways to provoke good behavior is by role modeling. For example, if you call someone a name, more than likely he or she will call you a name. If you hit someone, more than likely he or she will hit you back. This is role modeling and provoking bad behavior. Alternatively, if you smile at someone, more than likely he or she will smile back. If you are kind to someone, more than likely he or she will be nice to you. This is role modeling and provoking good behavior.
Simple role modeling of love and kindness is a wonderful way to provoke others to act in a similar manner. However, sometimes, we are blessed enough to have someone inspire us in a deeper way to do something loving, kind, and good. I have been blessed in this way before. It is how I chose one of my church families.
I had been looking for a church family and had gone to a couple of churches in the area. Yet, I came across someone who was sewing dresses for children in Uganda. (She does other ministries as well.) I had never known anyone who did anything so special, especially in my local area. The sewing ministry and heart of this person inspired me to go to the same church as she. She is truly a role model that inspires me. And through her work, God is nudging me to do even more. I feel blessed to have this person as a friend. I am thankful that God brought this person into my life.
So, do you role model love and good works and encourage or inspire others to do the same? Let us pray that we all can meet this kind of role model and we all can be this kind of role model.
Thank you for sending your only begotten Son, Jesus to be our ultimate role model in life to show us love and good works. Thank you for also sending family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to role model love, kindness, and good works for us as well. Help us to be such a role model for others. Help us to inspire and encourage others to love, to give, and to do good works. I ask you this, through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective questions for Hebrews 10:24 (KJV):
*What does Hebrews 10:24 mean to me?
*Have I ever had people in my life who has inspired me to love and kindness?
*Have I ever inspired others to love and kindness?
*What can I do to better live out the words of Hebrews 10:24?
Now, it is your turn.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive the Faith Blog in your inbox or would like to get the FREE download, sign up below.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting for nothing.”
James 1:2-4 (KJV)
How are you today? Have you ever been going through a difficult time and cried out to God and not felt you have gotten an answer right away or in the way you would like? Have you ever felt like God must not be listening to you, because you are praying and He hasn’t come through with an answer yet? It can feel discouraging or even depressing when God doesn’t answer us quickly or in the way we would like. Some times we may even wonder if He is still hearing us or even still with us.
However, we are not called to be down, discouraged, upset, or depressed when God doesn’t answer us right away. James writes that we are called to consider these times joyful times. We should be happy about going through tough times.
Yes, I know, that sounds a little strange. Yet, if we can do this, it will help us in ways that we can’t even imagine. We all must go through difficult times. They can, if we let them, have many good results for us in the end. We have a choice. We can let the tough times turn us into mean, hard-hearted people who begrudge everyone and everything. We can allow the difficult times to carry us farther and farther from God. Or, we can choose to learn and grow from these difficult times.
It may not be just that we should consider the rough times joyful, but maybe more correctly that we should consider that we were chosen to go through the rough times as a joyful event. Often times, we have tests in life to move up to the next level. We have kindergarten readiness tests, placement tests, college entry exams, etc. We have interviews and sometimes exams we need to take in order to get a job. Sometimes once we have a job, we need to take an exam in order to move up to the next job level within the company. These exams help test our readiness for something. In some instances, every one gets tested and in some instances only the best get tested. After all, not everyone can move up to the next job level, because there aren’t enough jobs to move everyone up. So, the employee who gets picked can feel happy that he or she was chosen as the best person for the job. We can see, through this example, that being tested isn’t always a bad thing. It can be considered a good thing.
You may feel that it is unfair of God to have “good” people go through difficult times. Yet, even as humans, we tend to be hardest on those we love. And, often, we are hardest on ourselves. Why should God be any different?
So, why does God allow us to go through or give us all the tests? What are we being tested for? Well, the difficult times may test our faith. Again, that isn’t a bad thing. Scripture tells us that the testing of faith, if we let it, results in patience. Patience can help us live a more happy and healthy life. If we allow ourselves, we come to realize that God will help us through and we don’t need to worry. Can you imagine constantly realizing that God is with you and you don’t need to worry? Worry leads to all kinds of stress and illness. We would be in better health if we didn’t worry so much and we realized that God is with us and things will work out in His time.
When we are patient, we can relax and enjoy life more. We aren’t moved by circumstances into feeling stressed and anxious, questioning God and ourselves. We can live our life in a healthy way, knowing that God has things under control and will lead us out of the difficult times according to His timing and will. We know we can rely on Him. So, we set back and “go with the flow”.
Thank you for loving us so! Thank you for being our Creator and Heavenly Father. We may not like it or feel comfortable when we go through difficult times, but help us to count is as “joy” when we do so. Help us to have the faith and patience to set back and know that we are in your good and loving hands. Help us to know that you have this and will help us through it. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective questions for James 1:2-4 (KJV)
*What does James 1:2-4 mean to me?
*Do I have true and enduring faith?
*Do I count difficult situations as joy?
*Do I have patience?
*What can I do to better follow God’s words in James 1:2-4?
Now, it is your turn.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive the Faith Blog posts in your inbox or you would like to get the FREE download, sign up below.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Ephesians 6:11 (KJV)
How are you? I hope you are well. In a busy and confusing world, it can be difficult to know and to do the correct thing all the time. Not only that, but we are all tempted from time to time. So, for us who want to do the right thing, what can we do to help us stay on the right track, especially when difficult times come?
We can, as we are called, put on the armor of God. I have read this and heard this many times. Most of the time, I wasn’t sure what it meant really. Yet, as I get older and closer to God, I am starting to get the true meaning of this statement.
You may be wondering, “So, what is the armor of God anyway? And, why out of all the words, the word ‘armor’ was chosen to describe these things?” In Ephesians 6, we see a great description of the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:13-18 list things such as breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit to help us in any tangles with the devil.
Not all of us have been to war, so we may not really understand how crucial things like breastplates, shields, helmets, and swords are for protection. And, actually, even if we have been to war, most of these items aren’t really used today.
This idea of being is kind of new to me as well. It is something that I didn’t think much about before. Yet, again, as I grow older and as I get closer to God, I can understand and see just what this concept of “war” means. There is a “war” and there are two sides. We are either for God or for the devil. That is the tug of the society that we feel, the difference of opinions, the not knowing what is right, the temptations, the stress, the lost feeling, the violence, the depression, the hate. All of that is provoked by the devil. God’s ways are the way of truth, love, hope, and faith. I don’t know about you, but I am for God. Every moment of every day, we have a choice: do we do something for God or do we do something for the devil? Sadly, sometimes we sin and do something that brings us farther from God and closer to the devil. Thankfully, we all can ask for forgiveness, repent, and get closer to God again.
I guess we could think of life as one big game of tug-o-war, but it isn’t a game at all. There are high stakes at risk here. On one side there is our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit and on the other side there is the devil. As we read the Bible, pray, grow in faith, keep the commandments, treat others as we want to be treated, we tug the rope and move ourselves closer to God. As we give into temptation, treat others badly, break the commandments, and sin, we tug the rope and move ourselves closer to the devil. We have multiple choices every day in what we think, do, say, feel, and believe. These thoughts, actions, words, feelings, and beliefs all tug the rope in one direction or the other. It is a war.
In order to resist the tugs of the devil, we need armor to protect us. We get that protection through God. We need to know Him, to believe in Him, to trust Him, and to love Him. We stay close to Him by reading the Bible, praying for ourselves and others, as well as others praying for us, having faith, and through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, I hope your day is going well. I hope your tugs have been towards God and not away. I pray that these thoughts have blessed someone. And, I pray that you are all cloaked with the full armor of God. God bless you.
Thank you for this day. Thank you for creating us, for being with us, and for giving us the tools we need to navigate through life and to ward off the devil so that we may be on your side of this war. Thank you for sending us your only begotten Son, Jesus, as a role model and savior for us, and your Holy Spirit as our guide and comforter. Thank you for allowing us and encouraging us to come to you in prayer. Help us to grow in faith with each step towards you we take. We thank you and praise you through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective Questions for Ephesians 6:11 (KJV):
*What does Ephesians 6:11 mean to me?
*How do I feel about the concept of life being one big tug-o-war?
*On which side of the tug-o-war am I? On which side do I want to be? Do
my actions reflect this?
*Am I wearing the full armor of God?
*What can I do better in order to be fully protected with God’s armor?
Now, it is your turn. What are your thoughts?
Leave a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive the Faith Blog posts in your inbox or would like to have questions to reflect upon as you read the Bible, sign up and take advantage of the FREE download below.
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”
Proverbs 6:6-8 (KJV)
I have read this passage over and over again and it still intrigues me that an ant is the one God has chosen to hold up as a good example here. I am sure that out of all the creatures God has created there is any number of creatures that could have been used as an example, but the ant was chosen. That still tickles me, especially since I am always trying to get rid of ants, which invade my home and seem to want to take over.
So let’s take a look at ants as our example. Ants are small creatures, yet they are great little workers. As a matter of fact, according to Pest World for Kids, ants can lift 20 times their body weight. Wow! They are definitely strong for their size. However, they probably don’t get that strong by being lazy and complaining that they are too small to lift such a heavy load. They are probably that strong, because they work at it.
Yet, it isn’t their strength that is considered here, but their work ethic. They dutifully gather food without being told that they must do it. Nobody is forcing them to do what they know needs to be done. They just go out and look for food and gather it in. Ants seem to “know” that if they don’t work together and gather the food, then they will not last. The work has to be done whether they want to do it or not or they won’t survive. Not only do ants gather food for their own survival, but also they do it for the survival of others in their colony.
Sadly, people are not always like that. Some of us do have a great work ethic. We do what we need to do whether we feel up to it or not, because we know that it is the right thing to do and that our survival and life style may depend on it.
It seems that the work ethic of our society in general is diminishing generation by generation. As time goes by and technology gets greater, we feel that the need to work hard gets less and less. As a matter of fact, it seems that the reason for technology is to create less of a need to work and enables us to be lazy. Don’t get me wrong; technology can be useful and helpful in many things. It can help save lives and can bring us closer to friends and loved ones all over the world. Yet, when it is used to ease our workload, is it really helping us?
I even wonder if our welfare programs aren’t doing more harm for our society than good. Not that I think that it is bad to help those in need. I think it is great to be able to help those who are going through difficult times. Yet, I also wonder that besides sometimes enabling some of those on the system to work less than in reality they may be able to work, it also takes away from those in society who loving want to help.
We are taxed more in order for the welfare programs to work. However, a good part of that tax also goes towards the running of the programs. And, sometimes we as individuals feel resentful, because we are being made to give and are not giving willfully from our hearts. Yet, since being taxed, we might not feel the same ability and desire to help others in the same way as if we weren’t taxed for that purpose. Not only that, but if we had the chance to give from the heart with that money instead of being taxed, we may be able to find more effective ways to put that money to use for our neighbors in need. It seems like it would be more of a win/win situation.
If we look back at Proverbs 6:6, the ant is even called wise, because of it’s good work ethic. This is something to really ponder. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be considered less wise than an ant. Do you?
So, in considering our society and our own personal work ethic, let’s ponder and pray about the words of Solomon in this passage. Let us think about God’s Word and follow His infinite wisdom for our life instead of the societal norms and our individual eases.
Thank you for loving us and caring for us enough to share your infinite wisdom with us. Thank you for showing us that a good work ethic is important and valued in your sight. Help us to work faithfully to do your will, no matter how difficult it may seem. Help us to follow your will for us, despite societal norms. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective Questions for Proverbs 6:6-8 (KJV):
*What does Proverbs 6:6-8 mean to me?
*What is God trying to show me with this verse?
*What can I learn from the ants?
*Do have a good work ethic?
*What do I feel about technology and its role as it pertains to work ethics?
*What do I feel about social programs and their role as it pertains to work
Now, it is your turn.
I would like to hear your thoughts? Comment below. Also, I created some questions to ask yourself while reading your Bible to further your understanding. If you are interested, sign up and download your copy below. It is free!
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 15:5 (KJV)
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Can you imagine this image? It is such a beautiful image to think about. Let’s kind of evaluate this thought for a minute. Maybe it will help to realize how beautiful this image really is for us.
First of all, it is interesting that the word Jesus chose here was “vine” and not “tree” or “plant”. A vine moves, wanders, and climbs. It doesn’t stand still as a tree or a plant does. So, to think of Jesus as our vine and us being his branches is like saying that Jesus moves us and helps us climb and reach places that we can’t get without him. He isn’t stagnant in our lives. He wanders and climbs with us and gave his life for us, so that we didn’t have to climb and wander in some ways.
We are his branches! Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus could have said that we were the soil or we were the pollen or whatever. After all, we don’t really deserve to be part his same plant. Yet, he did include us in that same plant. We are his branches. I wonder how many of us stop and think of how much of an honor it is to be included in the same plant as Jesus.
Including us as his branches, Jesus gave us a huge gift as well as a responsibility. If the branches don’t grow, the vine can’t bare any fruit. So, we have to take care of ourselves and do what we need to do to bear fruit. Yet, we can’t do anything at all without the vine. It really is a beautiful image.
So, what does that mean? What are we to do? How do we bear fruit? What kind of fruit are we to bear? These questions can be answered in a few different ways. In the physical sense, we are to take care of ourselves so we are better able to do the things that God calls us to do. If we let ourselves get run down, we won’t be fully capable of everything God asks us to do in life. Also in the physical sense, the fruit we bear may be children whom we teach to be God fearing and fruitful in their own right.
It can also mean the godly desires of our hearts. The Bible also tells us that if our thoughts are in alignment with God, He will give us what we want. So, we can be fruitful in our work, relationships, faith, or whatever we are doing.
Yes, once we are born, we can merely exist. We can do little, mooch off others, or do cruel things. We can refuse to put much into our lives or not be appreciative of anybody or anything. We can neglect others and God. That would be considered fruitless or bad fruit. Yet, we are called to be fruitful and have good fruit.
We are called to help God grow His kingdom, to be God fearing people who follow God’s word and love God with our whole beings. We are called to love our neighbors and be kind and helpful to those around us. We are called to realize that we can’t do any of this without God’s help. We wouldn’t even be alive without God.
Thank you for being our Heavenly Father. Thank you for being our “gardener.” Thank you for giving us Jesus, “our vine”. Thank you for making us the “branches” to the vine. Help us to see and appreciate just how wonderful a gift and responsibility that we have in life. Help us to see and appreciate You, Jesus, and your Holy Spirit. Help us to do our part in bearing fruit in life, not only for ourselves, but also especially for you. Thank you for life itself. I thank you and praise you, through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Reflective Questions for John 15:5 KJV:
*What does John 15:5 mean to me?
*What kind of fruit am I producing?
*Do I appreciate the gift and responsibility of life that God gave to me?
*How do I feel about the vision of John 15:5?
*What can I do to produce better fruit in the future?
Now, it is your turn.
I would like to hear your thoughts. Please, comment below. Also, if you would like to get "5 Reflective Questions to Help You Delve Deeper into God's Word", sign up below. It is free!
This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.