A Change of Plans

Proverbs 16:3

Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out.

What plans do you have in mind for yourself today? Tomorrow?

In this passage from Proverbs, we can ask the Lord to bless them and look upon them as favorable and good. It might be something as mundane as driving to work. Do we ask the Lord to bless our “plan” to get in the car and drive? Maybe! But we can also ask him to bless us as we go about our day. What plans do we have once we get to work? Is there a meeting that you’re nervous about? Is there a co-worker you need to have a discussion with that you are not looking forward to having?

Think of your plans as not just ordinary tasks that you must check off a list. Think of everything you have to do as being blessed by God. Almost like asking Him for approval. Think about something you never ask God to bless…perhaps a task you know in your heart is not right. Perhaps it’s risky or conflicts with your values. Maybe it’s acquiring a new client through your job but you have doubts as to whether they will be a good fit. Or it could be you neglected to invite someone to an outing with friends on purpose because you don’t get a long with them. We wouldn’t ask God to bless those events would we? But maybe, if we pray beforehand, we might get a sign from God that these aren’t good plans and we should reconsider what we are doing. He could talk us into a better plan for ourselves in order to be successful.

Fit In Your Faith Today:  What are your plans for the day? For the week? Have you asked God to bless them so you can be successful? Think about the last thing you did that you feel wasn’t right or just or appropriate. Next time, ask God for guidance in these situations. He might change your plans for the better!

What God Wants From Us

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

To be joyful always, to pray constantly, to be thankful throughout our lives – This almost sounds like an impossible task.

We can always find a reason to be unhappy, a reason to stop praying and a reason to be ungrateful. We can find many reasons to think, “Prayer doesn’t work,” or “What’s there to be happy about? I can barely pay my bills!” or “Who should I thank for hitting my car and not even bothering to leave a note?!”

It’s difficult to turn those unfortunate circumstances around and think, what’s so good about this situation I’m in?

This passage from St. Paul reminds us, no matter what, there’s always something to be thankful for. We kind of have to search for it sometimes. It’s not always so obvious.

For instance, to be joyful always, even when it’s not exactly a joyous occasion can be really challenging. It’s not in our nature. But let’s some circumstances and try and reverse them:


 

Loss of a loved one after a long battle with a debilitating disease. How can we find joy in such a sad circumstance as this?

The joy can be found in the friends and people who come to support you during the wake or viewing. The joy can be found in the stories and memories that are always with you and never leave. The joy can be found in the photographs when your loved one was healthy and vibrant. The joy is found in the life that person lived while they were here. And there’s joy knowing your loved one is no longer sick. The pain and suffering is now over.

Praying at all times in our lives can also be challenging. People may think that prayer couldn’t possibly work because they don’t see the results instantaneously. But the way prayer works is not always instant, it works on God’s time. Also, there’s always something  and someone to pray for. You can pray for the blessings in your life, you can pray for someone else who needs help, you can pray to God for the ability to find the JOY in all circumstances.

Being grateful is also a challenge when times are tough. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going right for us. But to be grateful when things seem like they’re going downhill can be especially difficult. Perhaps you have lost your job or having a hard time getting over a breakup or divorce. What’s there to be grateful for in these situations?

One saying I like to share is: “No matter what is going on with you, there’s always someone somewhere who has it much worse.”

So although you might not have a job, be grateful for your former boss who wrote that letter of reference for you so you can find a better job. Or be grateful for your previous job that gave you experience that you can put on a resume. If your relationship has just ended, you may feel lost or incomplete.

What’s there to be grateful for here? You can be thankful for a new beginning. You can be grateful that you are now in a position to be solitary and spend time alone, but not lonely! You can be grateful that someone you may have thought was the person for you, is not and that means perhaps the one you ARE meant to be with can now find you.

Fit In You Faith Today: What do you struggle with currently – Lack of joy? Showing ungratefulness? Never praying? Focus on one of these actions this week to grow in your relationship with Christ. As St. Paul has said, “This is what God want’s from you.”

 

 

Will You Pray for Me?

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

“I’ll pray for you.”

Do you think this or say this often to your friends or family members who are in need of help? And if you do, do you mean it?

It’s good practice to pray for people and for things that don’t directly benefit you. Often, it’s those that are near and dear to us who need prayer, too. Sure, it’s easy to assume that they’ll just pray for themselves but wouldn’t it be nice to know that you are earnestly praying for them as well?

Not only is prayer the best way to communicate with God but confession as this passage from James reminds us is also a huge part of our faith. Discussing our faults, our problems and our troubles with a spiritual adviser, priest, minister or even a friend can help us become closer to God and become better Christians overall. By discussing and praying and confessing, we build that relationship with God that we need, even though we might not think this to be true sometimes.

Too many times we might think, “I’ll solve this problem on my own,” or “I can do this myself, I don’t need anyone’s help.”

Think of prayer and confession as the telephone line linked directly to God. He is the first one you should call upon when you need help, not the last resort.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Who will you pray for today that needs help? Even if they didn’t come out and directly as you to pray for them, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you are praying for someone else other than yourself?

 

Knock, Knock.

Revelations 3:20

Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me.

From the New Life Study Bible: The Laodicean church was complacent and rich. They felt self-satisfied, but they didn’t have Christ’s presence among them. Christ knocked at the door of their hearts, but they were so busy enjoying worldly pleasures that they didn’t notice that he was trying to enter. The pleasures of this world- money, security, material possessions- can be dangerous, because their temporary satisfaction makes us indifferent to God’s offer of lasting satisfaction. If you find yourself feeling indifferent to church, to God, or to the Bible, you have begun to shut Got out of your life. Leave the door of your heart constantly open to God, and you won’t need to worry about hearing his knock. Letting him in is your only hope for lasting fulfillment.

Jesus knocks at the door of our heart because he wants to save us and have fellowship with us. He is patient and persistent in trying to get through to us – not breaking and entering, but knocking. He allows us to decide whether or not to open our life to him. Do you intentionally keep his life-changing presence and power on the other side of the door?

Fit in Your Faith Today: If you find yourself feeling indifferent, not caring either way about Church or God in your life or anyone else’s, you are not leaving yourself open to God at all. Being casual or indifferent about your faith is almost worse than having no faith at all. God promises us in this passage that He’s knocking and He wants us to listen, as the first word boldly states. Are we listening? Do we hear Him knocking and will we open up that door? If you hesitate, ask yourself what is holding you back?

Pursue Righteousness

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, Timothy, are a man of God, so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 

St. Paul has a final message to Timothy in his letter to him. But the letter is also addressed to all of us!

This is a prime example of picturing the author speaking directly to you when you read scripture. (Some translations say “But you, man of God,”)

The first thing I noticed is Paul’s language here. I love his use of the word “pursue.” And he uses the word “run” from evil. These action verbs definitely give us the impression that Paul was extremely passionate about how he viewed Christian life. There’s no sitting idly by and watching the world around us. Paul wants us to be active participants!

So how do we become active in our faith?

  • Speak up! Maybe you join a committee for the pro-life movement. Perhaps you start a group yourself dedicated to feeding the hungry or helping others less fortunate in your neighborhood. If there’s something you are passionate about like a social concern or health and safety of others, start your own group or committee dedicated to awareness.
  • Run! Training your body is just as important as training your mind. If you want to become active in your faith, you need to study up on it. Open your Bible, read the scriptures, go to mass, become involved in a bible study, write down and share your thoughts with others. Get them to “Train” with you!
  • Sacrifice for good! Giving up something doesn’t have to mean suffering for God. Think of sacrificing something like time. Volunteer your time to help someone else. Do you use social media as a break from reality? Give up the internet and use that time to do something nice for someone else like writing them a note, praying for them, or making them food.

Fit in Your Faith Today: There are plenty of ways to stop being idle and start to being active. Stand up for what you believe in. Stop making excuses for doing works that you know St. Paul would not consider “righteous” or “godly.” Get creative and think of your own way you can run from the evil and pursue righteousness that will contribute to your faith.

 

Trust in the Lord…

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.

When faced with big decisions in life, it’s hard to know who to trust. Who can you turn to for advice and guidance? You might have doubts with whom you can go to in situations like this. You might think people you work with or even people in your own family are not trustworthy. They might not have your best interests at heart and could steer you down the wrong path.

But there is always someone you CAN trust in 100% and that’s God.

These verses from the book of Proverbs tell us just this. By discerning and coming to God with our questions and what path we need to take, He will lead us in the right direction. Who knows us better than the one who created us? He has the answers.

Yes, we have the ability to reason and think carefully because of the mind God gave us. But we shouldn’t forget that He wants us to come to Him when faced with difficult decisions and problems.

The second verse is also an important part of any decision-making process: Remember God in all that we do. This means each area in our life has to include God. What’s important to us? Is God a part of it or do you exclude Him?

Fit in Your Faith Today: What are your priorities in life? Is God present in those areas or do you exclude Him for some reason? If you feel like God cannot help you in an area of your life, ask God to intervene. When was the last time you had to make a difficult choice? Did you pray to God to help you decide what to do? Next time you are faced with a challenge, pray about it first. God has your back.

Honor, Courage and Duty

Philippians 1:20

My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

From the New Life Study Bible: To those who don’t believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values; money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him. Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face. If you’re not ready to die, then you’re not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve- devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death.

St. Paul has some awesome words for today’s devotion. He’s praying that he will never fail in his duty. That he’s full of courage and brings honor to Christ, whether he lives or dies. He’s clearly unafraid. His words are truly inspiring and although they were written thousands of years ago, we can still use them today in our daily lives.

We can pray that we never fail in our duty – Our duty to others, our duty to God, our duty to live a Christ-like life.

We can pray for courage – Courage in all that we do, courage to stand up for what we believe in, courage to be brave in the face of illness or adversity.

We can pray to bring honor to Christ – Honorable acts of kindness to others, honorable words to our family and friends, and to make Christ proud of our efforts to honor Him in all that we do.

If we pray for all of these things, we can help others become more like Christ. Although it’s not easy to be Christ-like every minute of every day, we can pray like St. Paul. We can pray for the courage he had. We can pray for the honor he showed. And we can pray that, whether we live or die, we have lived a life worthy of being called Christ-like.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you honor the worlds values of money or social status or power? Or do you honor God? If you struggle to follow God and are tempted by the world’s pleasures, pray for the courage St. Paul had. Pray for unfailing love to the Lord and the ability to turn away from the things the secular world considers valuable.

The sheep of His flock

Psalm 100:3

Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

From the New Life Study Bible: God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and center of their own little world. This mind-set leads to pride, greed, idolatry, and if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself, But when we realize that God created us and gives us all we have, we will want to give to others as God gave to us. Then, even if all is lost, we still have God and all he gives us.

Just as it was discussed in past posts this week, we belong to God. But the first line in this Psalm has a powerful commandment: That we must acknowledge that the Lord is God. We are commanded to believe that this is the truth. Equally important is the commentary from the study bible which says We did not create ourselves.

There are plenty of non-believers in the world. Some believe in a force, some believe in a creator but some of those same people don’t acknowledge that the Lord is God and that we were created by Him. It’s difficult to relate to people who don’t believe in God. I personally have a hard time talking to these people because God is such a huge part of my life. But I respect their opinion although it doesn’t match mine.

Then there are people we might encounter that forget about God and think only of themselves. Pride is a dangerous trait to have. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of our lives and forget that God is actually at the center of it, not us. We tend to think in terms of “I” and “myself” and “me.”  What about God? What about “Him” and “Lord” and “Jesus.” Those are the terms we should be thinking in. Those are the best ways to begin a prayer.

You can get rid of the pride and self-centered attitude in your own life by re-reading this passage everyday. Even when you get up in the morning, “Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He created YOU. And He gives you all that you need.”

Fit in Your Faith Today: Start your day – or even if it’s the middle or end of the day – with a prayer that begins with the words “God” or “Lord” or “Jesus.” Remember to acknowledge Him before you mention Yourself. Picture the entire world with God at the center as you go about your day. He is there to help us. We don’t need to rely just on ourselves for help, we have God on our side.

 

Show the Goodness of God to Others

1 Peter 2:9

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

From New Life Study Bible: Christians sometimes speak of “the priesthood of all believers.” In Old Testament times, people did not approach God directly. A priest acted as intermediary between God and sinful human beings. With Christ’s victory on the cross, that pattern changed. Now we can come directly into God’s presence without fear and we are given the responsibility of bringing others to him also. When we are united with Christ as members of his body, we join his priestly work of reconciling God and people.

Something not to be overlooked in this passage is our duty: show the goodness of God to others.

As people believed to be created by God, God’s own creation, how well do we show this to others? If we imagine as envision ourselves as God’s very own possession as this scripture says, then our actions and thoughts and decisions need to reflect that.

This can be very challenging to do. It’s not easy to be a Christian. It’s even more difficult when you want to show your goodness to others. You may be met with adversity, rejection, or conflict. Many people don’t want to hear about our goodness. And they might not want to hear about our godliness. But that’s not a problem. Persevere in your goodness. Shine your light into the darkness of those who don’t know God. Because that’s what God wants us to do.

Fit in your Faith Today: Do you find that you show others your goodness, especially during dark times? Do you find it difficult to be a Christian sometimes? Persevere in your faith knowing that you are God’s own creation and your light shines no matter how dim the situation might be.

 

You have a Purpose

Jeremiah 1:5

“I knew before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

From New Life Study Bible: God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He thought about you and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that he has a purpose in mind for you.

At times, many of us must wonder what our purpose in life is and how can we figure it out? How do we discern what that purpose is?

We’re all called to something, some kind of role in life. Many people feel a pull, or even a PUSH! from God in a certain direction. More often, I think we know when we are NOT meant to be in a certain role (like a job, or living in a certain city, or in a relationship). Sometimes you can feel that it’s wrong, or just not meant to be.

We should be careful not to obsess over this. Pray about it, of course. But a better way to go about finding our purpose might be to choose to become the best version of ourselves in every action we make. If you wake up everyday attempting to live your life in a godly way – choosing good over evil, choosing hard work over laziness, choosing smiles over sadness, how can you not say you’re not living your purpose?

Fit in your Faith Today: Are you constantly searching and discerning what God’s purpose is for you? Recognize that this is something we all wonder about. But spend more time in prayer asking God to open your eyes to your purpose so as not to close your eyes to other things around you that require your attention.

A Little Help: Listen to this Podcast from Busted Halo as they discuss this exact same question.