Thought for the day: Advice. Who do you go to for advice? Why? We all have that person, or people, we seek advice from when we are at a crossroads. The real question is: do you follow their advice? It has worked both ways for me. There are a handful of people who I go to. And by handful, I mean less than five. God is included in that count. Sometimes I listen and follow, other times…. Perhaps I didn’t like what they said (including God), so, I did my own thing anyway. You? I’m pretty sure, our stories of doing our own thing all turned out similar. Difficult, and stressful. Can you relate? Why, do we do that? Two words: pride, easy. Our pride that we know best gets in the way, and we want an easy, comfortable, life. Yet, we get the opposite. You? There was a man that at every trun in his life sought advice from God. Moses. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. No simple task. Throughout the Book of Exodus we can read over and over, he cried put to God. May we take his example and when we cry out to God for advice, DO what He says. “Then Moses cried out to the LORD,… So Moses did this…” Ex. 17:5-6 #spreadthewordacrosstheglobe #advicelistenanddo
Lately all the messages I’ve heard, and things I’ve read talk about praying and giving thanks. This morning those last four words jumped to the center stage of my mind, and danced around – praying and giving thanks. The word “and” was the lead dancer. That’s not difficult to do when life is good, is it?
As I thought about those four words I wondered if God gave any conditions, or exclusions, such as: if you are sad you don’t have to give thanks; if things are difficult, you don’t have to give thanks; or if you are facing a big unknown situation in your life, you don’t have to give thanks. With those questions in mind I scoured the scriptures to check.
Whenever we have a question we should always go to God’s word first. With three translations in front of me I sat out on my journey through the pages. My eyes focused in like magnifying glasses, and my fingers walking through the pages as if searching for any trace of bread crumbs to lead me to my destination – the exclusion!
In my journey God showed me His answer. Over and over with each scripture verse I came upon it was the same.
The thought that provoked the journey began with the teaching, and example, of Jesus when he fed the 5000 (Jn. 6: 1-13). Before Jesus fed the multitude with only two fish and five loaves of bread, it says:
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” Jn. 6:11
It is noted in my study bible along with several commentaries there were estimated to be more than 5000 people, because in verse 10 it says “there were 5000 men” (Jn. 6:10b italicizes mine). According to the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible, “The men numbered about 5000, plus women and children (Mt. 14:21), totaling perhaps as many as 15,000 people” (Jn. 6:10 footnote p. 1816).
It wasn’t Jesus that was facing sadness, difficulty, or an unknown in that situation. It was His disciples that were with them. Perhaps it is you also. Perhaps you are facing sadness, a difficulty in your life, or you are in a situation where the outcome is unknown. When we stand face to face with any of those circumstances it can be a bit daunting, and intimidating.
The disciples looked at the sea of people surrounding them, their location, resources, and the unknown answer to the question of:
“How will we feed them?” Jn. 6: 1-13
If you are like me when faced with the unknown I want to know the answer to the outcome before anything else. And like me, you may find it hard to pray and give thanks. Sometimes my journey through the scriptures is quick, other times it is longer. I figure the journeys that take longer are because God is trying to cement something in my mind, and heart, that needs reinforcing. That needs to be implanted into the recesses.
This morning my journey took some time, it was not a quick run to the 7-11 store of verses. I had to search, read, cross reference, and search some more. At times it is because I am looking for the answer I want. Can you relate? Yet God, being patient, waits as I go from book to book, and verse to verse.
During my journey I had a phone conversation that did not end well. It left me in tears, as I thought God my heart is breaking, and I am supposed to pray and give you thanks – for this? As I choked back the tears, not wanting the other party to know, we ended the call. You may be able to relate. As I hung up the phone the three verses that lay in-front of me dancing on the page were:
“Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Th. 5:16-18
Pray and give thanks. My journey continued and stopped at three other places.
The verses on this morning’s journey:
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil. 4:6
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind, and a thankful heart.” Col. 4:2
“Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; and pray all the harder.” Ro. 12:12
God’s message came full circle. Sometimes God allows us to experience the question along with the answer in order to teach us. Other times it is so we can share it and teach another. If that is you, and you find yourself soaked in saddens, darkened by difficulty, or unsure by the unknown dig deep into untapped strength stop to pray, and give thanks.
As the words danced across the page, tears streamed, my heart prayed for the other person’s happiness, and I gave thanks.
Today – find something to be thankful for – pray and give thanks!
©Gentle Whisper Ministries re-post from 2/10/15. Edited 2/10/17
*picture by thebloggingdisciple, 1millionwallpapers, pinterest
Last month I kicked off a new initiative “Guest Writer of the Month.” Each month a different person will tell his or her story of how God has seen them through a difficult time, and proven to remain faithful. Amidst pain, trials, struggles, uncertainty, doubts, and fears, these individuals will share a portion of their walk, and tell of a faithful God.
Please feel free to be encouraged, and reconnect to the God of the Universe, through this month’s guest as she tells her story – When Life Crushes You.
A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a woman at work. There are some things that make an impression in your memory, and this was one of them.
Earlier in that morning I remember one of my posts on Gentle Whisper social media site was “Who will you share your faith with today?” The scripture that inspired that was based off Matt. 9:37
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”
I remember asking when I typed the words out – God, what does that look like? A word of warning two of the best things you can ask God when reading, and attempting to understand His word is:
What does that look like?
Teach me to understand.
My friend, when you do just keep your eyes and ears open. He will show you. He will put opportunities in front of you, and He will give you experiences to teach you.
On that day the answer was “this is what it looks like. Now be a worker in the harvest field.”
In everyday language the scripture verse translates to there are many people that need to hear about Christ, yet only few that want to tell. Maybe because there is apprehension, you may say something to the wrong person, and before you know it they have expressed their thoughts rather emphatically. Perhaps you don’t know what you believe in yourself, or could be that the person you are talking to will ask a deep theological question that requires the mind of Billy Graham, and you find yourself stuttering through trying to answer.
If those are some of your reasons, I understand. I myself have them at times. And therefore, at times I remain silent.
Yet, on that day God presented an opportunity and I was not going to let it pass. I asked, He answered. Since it was just she and I in the room if she gave me a piece of her mind I thought, it won’t be too bad because there’s no audience.
Our conversation began like many others with sharing similarities: same job, likes and dislikes, length of time, and favorite places to work.
As we spoke she asked me “what will you do in the summer?” I replied “I will write.” That led to “write what.” This was one of those times where, as earlier explained I try to remain silent, or in the very least vague. I replied, “I write a blog.” You can guess the next question…. Of which I answered “it is a ministry blog.” See – vague answers.
After that it opened the door to a host of other questions and conversation. Most of which was me listening to her telling me what she knew of the bible. Then she said “we are lucky to have the internet.”
At the end of those seven words I could feel my eye brow raise. It was now my turn. In one word I ask “why?” Which began the next few minutes of her answering my question. Not once did I feel my eye brow lower. About half way through I heard
“The harvest is great and the workers are few.”
God had given me a harvest with this woman. See a harvest with God does not have to be 5, 10, 50, 100, or even thousands of people. It can be one. And, I had the one right beside me. Apparently God wanted to make sure I knew because she then asked me “do you believe you have to follow what the bible says, all the commandments?” Well if I had any doubt God solidified it, and it was time for this worker to get to work. I responded “yes. I do. And, I also know that I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I know we are to strive to be like Christ. That He came for us. And, that He is God’s Son. And, in our mistakes it is He that makes us right with God.” Silence. Then came seven very powerful words, she muttered “I need to get right with God.” I smiled. Silence was my turn. That would be between she, and God.
We don’t have to have high powered jobs, be CEO’s, top sales agents, a business owner, a famous pastor, or bible teacher to influence or impact those around us. All we have to know is:
“The harvest is great and the workers are few.”
There’s a saying “many people have come to know Jesus because of a Christian in their life. And, many people have chosen not to know Jesus because of a Christian in their life.” – Unknown. My desire is to be the kind of Christian (worker) that brings people to Jesus, not away from Him.
Ask God to show you the harvest, and then trust Him to give you the ears to hear, eyes to see, and words to say at the appointed time. Sometimes we are the first person they will hear that starts the harvest in their life.
Just start where you are. When the time comes you will know when your 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, or more are ready. And He will say to you
“The harvest is great and the workers are few.”
There’s your cue.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
*picture by getupwithGod
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Pe. 3:15a NIV
This verse burst out in song like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in my head. It played its melodious tunes over and over, as I was in the midst of a conversation this weekend. The conversation was somewhat of a role play scenario. We were talking and I had asked a simple, or so I thought, question. Perhaps simple was not really what it was when I began with the ever popular two words that sets up the stage – “what if.”
“What if someone came up to you and asked you – Who is Jesus to you. What would you say?”
Apparently the person I was talking to thought that would be the end of it. It wasn’t. The answer was simple, and comprised of two words; “God’s Son.” The answer was correct, yet did not tell me who Jesus was to the person. The question was personal in nature. As I asked for clarification and then went on to ask “why.” Answers were vague, and at a 30,000 feet level.
Having been a corporate trainer one of the questions I would ask frequently in class of my participants would be – What does that look like? Describe it. This requires much more detail, specifics, and examples.
Yet, that one sentence continued to belt out the tunes like a number one hit in pop music! And the first seven words was the chorus “Always be prepared to give an answer.” Are you prepared? Then – it turned to me. Am I prepared? Can you, or I, answer the question? “Who is Jesus to you?”
Allow me to present these three scenarios to you. Picture it:
#1 – A child is searching, seeking, and now curiosity has gotten the better of him/her. This child comes to you and asks you the question. This child is looking to you for an answer.
#2 – A teenager is struggling, seeking, and searching. This teenager has heard of Jesus, and is now face to face with you, and asks you the question. This teenager is looking to you for an answer.
#3 – An adult is facing difficulties, had a rough life, and/or is discontent. This adult has heard of Jesus, maybe even at one point “tried” church, yet still asks you the question. This adult is looking to you for an answer.
Are you prepared? What do you say? To answer the way God instructs means we have to get real, and personal. What!? Yes. You will have to share some of your personal experiences about Jesus. How He helped you. What He is doing right now in your life. Even when things look bleak – we know He is still there. So what do we say? Do we encourage, or discourage?
Anyone of those scenarios could involve people right in your sphere of influence: family, friends, co-workers, clients, or neighbors. From the young to the old. So let me ask again – Are you prepared?
The rest of verse fifteen God tells us what our attitude should be when we answer; “But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pt. 3:15b NIV) When we answer to be gentle. Speak to their situation, and if we can relate then to share how Jesus helped us through it.
One of the biggest things I would see over and over with managers when I was coaching them on how to assess readiness levels in their employees was not to forget what we at one time didn’t know. What happens is we begin a new job, skill, trade, and when we master it we forget what it was like to be in the learning stage, and then expect everyone to be where we are. Minimal time around the curve, so you can speak at a 30,000 foot level. No specifics, just high level instructions.
Those of us that are Christians may we not forget that at one time, when we were seeking, searching, and perhaps feeling discontent that the person that helped us didn’t just tell us to “read the bible,” or “just go to church,” instead they took time out of their day, talked with us, and shared their life with us. They became an open book, an example, of who Jesus was to them.
Are you prepared to give an answer? If not, maybe some practice is in the forecast. This is for me also. Am I prepared?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col. 4:6 NIV
Heavenly Father, I pray that those of us reading this that we are presented with the question at just the right time, given just the right words, and season our speech with salt. That we are fully prepared to give an answer to everyone, and may there be many, who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. In His name, Amen.
©Gentle Whisper Ministries 2015
*picture by hdw.eweb4