Praying James 5 – Suffering Patiently

Praying James 5 – Suffering Patiently

 Suffering

Suffering patiently is not a characteristic we look forward to building. How fast will this trial end? Lord, save us from these times!  These are our cries. Cries that fall on ears of one who is very familiar with suffering.

From heaven he suffered heartache as He watched Adam and Eve choose to disobey and eat of the only tree they were forbidden to them. From heaven, he watched as the prophets he sent to proclaim his love and justice were ridiculed and killed. From the cross, his physical life slowly faded breath by suffering breath as people hurled insults upon him. He was the ultimate suffering servant proclaimed in Isaiah 53. Jesus knows what suffering is.

Jesus us calls us to be willing to suffer patiently too.

James 5:7

Lord, how we long to be with you! To be away from the troubles of this world, the pain, the suffering, and grief. We praise you for the joy we get to have in us constantly while seeing the chaos of this world.

We pray we will take you at your word. May we wholeheartedly believe that you will come back soon! We pray for patience as we continue to serve you and others while we are waiting. Help us to focus on you so that we will continue to tend to what you have planted in our hearts and in the hearts of others. Let us grow our faith and share this faith with others until the day of your return.

In the One who is coming back soon – Amen!

James 5:8

Lord, help us not to just stand firm, but to stand firm on the Rock, our Salvation! The devil is twisting your words and creating division. Lord, let us search your word and make sure what is being taught it true. Let us act in ways that bring people together instead of tear them apart. We pray that we would stand firmly and patiently in a way that will bring you honor and glory.

In the One, who through his death, brought about the opportunity to be united with you once again – Amen!

James 5:10

Lord, we praise you for how you take care of us physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually.

You know that we will have highs and lows and there will be times of loneliness, heartache, and suffering.

Thank you for prophets and their patience in the face of suffering. When we pour over your words written through them, it fans our hope and reminds our hearts that putting our trust in you will never fail.

In the One who inspires us daily with the past to live in the present and have hope for the future – Amen!

James 5:11

In the midst of the trials that overwhelm us completely, its verses like this that give us hope. Hope for how you will use the trial to bring us closer to you and encourage others going through the same thing.

Lord, help us to cling to you in the midst of our trials. Helps us to trust you even when it doesn’t make sense and the devil is trying to make us think that you’ve left us.

Help us to stand firm in your truth and continue to build our faith through the struggles.

In the One who is full of love and mercy – Amen!

James 5:12

We praise you, Lord, because you are a God who keeps his word! as we read your promises for us in the Bible, we can’t help but rejoice knowing that they will happen.

Lord, we pray we will honor you by being people of our word too.

When we fail at this, we pray we will make it right. We don’t want our own words to condemn us.

In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!

Praying James 5 – A Warning

Praying James 5 – A Warning

When Praying James is Hard

We are entering into the last chapter of James.  I’ll warn you, the first part is a scolding. It’s easy to read this passage and want to apply it to someone else. But let’s be careful not to do that. Let’s focus on our own hearts, because those are the only hearts we can change. We can encourage others hearts but it’s better if we take care of our own first. This goes back to taking a splinter out of someone else’s eye before we take the plank out of ours.

I know, you probably feel like this warning isn’t for you, but be careful. None of us are perfect. If we have been blessed at all by God, we are wealthy! One day every single material possession we have will be gone. Will what is in our possession to glorify God or will it eventually rot away without being a blessing?

Lord, instead of waging our finger at someone else, we pray that we will look into our own hearts. Let us take this warning to heart personally. Show us where in our lives we are holding on to the things of this world instead of sharing your blessings with others. In Jesus name – Amen!

A Warning

James 5:1-2

Dear Lord, when you warn of condemnation that is coming we want to believe it’s for someone else and not us. But your warnings are to help all of us re-examine our hearts to make sure that we are not putting anything including wealth in your place.

Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit and how He helps us examine our hearts. May we be honest with ourselves to see if we are putting our hope in money and the things we have or in you.

You are the only truly secure thing in our lives. Help us not be deceived into thinking that the blessings you have given us are more important than you. Those things can all disappear in an instant. They will not save us. Only you will.

May we put our trust fully in you so that in the end we will not be weeping and wailing but will be rejoicing in you.

In the One who is coming soon – Amen!

James 5:3

Praise you, Lord, for your patience! You do not want to lose anyone. You are constantly warning us to look outside of ourselves. To look to you, a God who gives and meets all our needs, and share the blessings you have given us with others. It helps no one to hoard blessings and keep them from being used.

Oh, Lord, may we not allow your blessings to be wasted! Instead, let us hold onto your word in Luke 6:38,

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Let us have a grace and a giving spirit that not only exceeds the expectations of others but shows your benevolence and goodness. Not only in how we love others but in how we give as well. Let this continue to echo in our hearts so that when Satan tries to get us to place security in things instead of security in you, we can hold onto you tighter and let those things go.

In the One who will provide in ways we can’t imagine – Amen!

James 5:4

How thankful we are, Lord, that you are just and hear the cries of those suffering at the hands of others. When they have been deceived and not received what was promised to them upon completing their work, they along with their entire families suffer. They cry out to you for help and justice and you hear them.

Selfish greed overtakes honesty and steals right out of the mouths of others.

Lord, let us search our hearts and see where selfishness is hidden. We cannot fathom ourselves doing this to others but selfishness starts out small and snowballs into injustice. Bring to our attention where we allow selfishness to reign in our lives, so that with your help we can deal with it swiftly and be able to help care and stand up for those who are mistreated.

In the One who knows us better than we know ourselves – Amen!

James 5:5

When we fix our eyes on anything but you, Lord, we miss a glorious opportunity to live the life of self-sacrifice that you call us to live.

Your life showed us that denying self for a little while will bring you honor and us eternal joy that starts now. Help us, Lord, to not become entangled by the luxuries of this life. Help us to choose your comfort over the quickly disappearing comforts of the world.

We never want to hear that we chose anything over you. May we search our hearts daily to make sure these things are not taking top priority.

In the One who sacrificed himself for us – Amen!

James 5:6

Lord, we want to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.

Living without mercy or considering the needs around us, but instead hoarding all of the blessings we have been given just for ourselves is evil in your eyes. It is careless and unloving. Does this equal murder in your eyes? When we could have helped someone by sharing what we have, but keep it for ourselves is this condemning them to death, when we could have otherwise saved them by sharing?

You say that “anyone who knows the good they out to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Lord, help us not to overlook those you have put in our path to serve. We don’t want to miss the opportunity to serve you because we are fixated on holding on to things that will eventually fade away.

May we truly act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you.

In the One who always takes our actions to the heart of the matter – Amen!

 

 

My Valentine’s Day Confession

My Valentine’s Day Confession

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. I perceive it differently.This perception has inspired me in how I love.

As a child we had fun with it. Getting to choose, who got which valentine’s card and what treat went with it.Taking the time to make cards that weren’t perfect but heartfelt.

My Valentine’s Day Confession

As I grew, my fondness for Valentine’s day wore off. My girlfriends and I would gather together to have anti-Valentine’s Day parties. We would make cookies with black frosting and celebrate our friendship even if we were dating someone at the time. We were determined not to let one day determine whether or not love was in the air.

That has seemed to carry on into my marriage as well. I no longer make cookies and frost them with black icing but my husband knows that gifting me something on the day doesn’t thrill me. That sounds kinda rude or mean, but the truth of the matter is because this day seems commercially forced upon us, it feels more like a day of obligation than of love.

I’d rather have a year full of small expressions of love than a day of forced love. If this day was not called Valentine’s Day would there still be a compulsive out flowing of love? 

What does our “love” look like to God?

I wonder how often God looks down on our time of worship and pines for our love to flow throughout the week instead of just seeing it expressed for a couple of hours. Do we pray, read our Bibles, sing songs, or even worship with the church out of obligation and compulsion or because we can’t help but express our love that way?

That has to be part of the reason why God gave us the choice to love Him. Forced love is no love at all but simply submission to what has to be.

Real love is willing to sacrifice itself and die to self for the sake of another.

“I will find you!”

My husband and I have a running joke. Sometimes, when we say good-bye or don’t know when we will see each other again because of hectic schedules, we will say in a husky voice, “I will find you!” (Think Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, my favorite movie.)

This simple phrase when said, not only makes us laugh, but conveys the thought that no matter what  is going on, we will be there for each other. We will go after and sacrifice ourselves for each other, if need be.

Jesus came from heaven to earth to find us! He came to save us long before we ever realized we need saving. He knocks on our door and we get to choose whether or not we open our hearts to receive his love and love Him back.

A Valentine’s Day Question

As you ponder what love is on this day, will you ask yourself this question:

Are you loving God and willing to sacrifice your life for Him, or are you just going through the motions because you feel this is something you need to do?

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

Anger unchecked is explosive. It can leave physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. Learning how to keep anger from exploding into sin is a must in this society. We must not only teach ourselves but our children what to do when anger arises.

Watching the news makes it pretty obvious that we as a society are not doing a good job. Instead of encouraging others to not let their anger spew, it has become acceptable and encouraged. Then people wonder why it seems like every other day violent outbursts are literally killing others.

Being Cautious with Anger

Anger is a tricky thing because it is not a sin to be angry but if we do not deal with it then we can sin in our anger.

We have a set of questions that gets repeated often with a houseful of strong headed kids. These typically get asked when someone becomes angry:

Is it ok to be angry? Yes.

Is it ok to sin in our anger? No.

It is ok if a situation brings feelings of anger, but it’s how we choose to handle that anger that determines whether or not we sin in our anger. So how do we keep anger from exploding into sin?

When Anger Erupts

The other night one of our precious children’s anger erupted into a sinful flow of burning lava. The child at first tried to control it, but then gave completely into it. The child’s demeanor changed and the anger that was boiling inside his heart was so evidently displayed on the face and spewed out through his actions.

It was obvious that our son was struggling. Wanting to lash out was the last thing he wanted to do but he couldn’t figure out how to keep his anger in check.

Keeping Anger from Exploding into Sin

After cooling down a bit, my precious son walked up to me with a Bible in hand, asking for Bible stories about anger. Knowing full well what this child needed to hear, God put a passage on my heart and his. It was amazing how they complimented each other and taught the lesson he needed to hear.

Holding onto to our anger

Because the anger our son had was geared toward another sibling, I chose for us to read Genesis 4, which is the story of when Cain killed his own brother Able.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:4b-5

After reading that passage, I pulled our son in close and we started to compare his situation to Cain’s.

Me: Did you notice the description of Cain’s face? It was “downcast.”  Do you know how your face looks right now?

Looking into a mirror, he was quickly able to see what a downcast face looks like. His demeanor changed a little upon seeing the anger written upon his face.

Then we refocused on verses 6-7:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

God came to Cain. He asked him why he was angry and warned him not to let sin overtake him. But Cain chose to allow anger to rule his heart instead of leaning in and giving it to God. The result was horrific. He allowed anger to not only rule that moment but his life. He killed his own brother.

In turning back to our son, I asked, “Are you willing to hold onto your justified anger and let it stew in your heart against your brother? God doesn’t recommend it and doesn’t want you to sin by holding on to it. Do you know 1 John  says hating your brother is like murdering him? Do you really want to murder him?

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

Giving our Anger to God

The passage my son asked to read could not have been more perfect for this situation. I was amazed that he even remembered it. We’ve only read the story once while reading through the Chronological Bible, but it obviously made an impact with him. He wanted to read the Number 16, which is the story of Korah leading a rebellion against Moses.

His specific request was, “Mom, can we read the story about when the earth opened up and swallowed those people?” So I’m not sure if in that moment he was hoping for some justification as to why his annoying little sibling should be swallowed up whole or if he remembered how Moses handled his anger. Either way, God was about to use this story to remind both of us of a valuable lesson.

This was the perfect passage because like my son Moses had a reason to be angry, but Moses chose to handle his anger in a completely different way than Cain did.

Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”
Numbers 16:15

Do you see the difference? Moses went straight to God with his anger!  This is exactly what we need to do. When anger balls up in us and we want to lash out, take it to God instead of taking it out on others. Allow God to deal with those who hurt you. Let him dispense justice, but even more pray for them that the person’s heart and attitude will be changed.

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written [Deut. 32:35] : “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Romans 12:19

And boy did God avenge Moses!

As soon as [Moses] finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart  and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions…And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
Numbers 16:31,21,35

When Anger Flares up – Stop, Drop, & Pray

Anger much like fire is all consuming. It destroys what holds it as well as everything around it if it is not properly cared for, so when anger flares up in our lives, we need to be like Moses. Stop, drop, & pray!

So that’s exactly what we did. We took the time out to pray and ask God to calm his spirit as well as find better ways of dealing with his siblings.

I don’t want to raise Cains that think it’s ok to let the sin of anger overtake them and unleash their wrath on the world. So we will continue to keep anger from exploding into sin and pray our children will encourage others to do the same as well.

 

 

 

The Real Love Game

The Real Love Game

What is love?

In our house, we decided to turn learning about love into what I call “The Real Love Game.”

So many movies, books, magazines, songs, and TV shows have attempted to answer this question. Although some of the answers (like Saturday Night Live’s skit versions) are obviously not the right answer, there are many others that have added confusion to an already confused world.

The Real Definition of Love

That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is one of my favorite passages.  In black and white, it explains what love – real love – looks like.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hope,
always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

1-corinthians-13_4-7

Every year when February rolls around and LOVE starts to fill the air and the store shelves, we try to instill God’s meaning of love in our hearts as well as our children’s hearts. We do this so that as they grow and are introduced to the things of this world, they will know the difference between real love and fake love.  

The Real LOVE Game & Different Ways of Teaching our Kids about Real Love

Now, stop for a second.  Did you notice anything really interesting?  If you’re a numbers person, you might…within verses 4-7 there are fourteen different descriptions of love.  One for every day from February 1-Valentines Day! A few years ago, when I noticed this, we made a point to make sure every morning when our children woke up a heart with one of these descriptions was hanging somewhere in the house.

There are so many different ways to play with these hearts:

  • For several years, we hung them on a Valentine wreath in the living room.
  • We’ve even given them to our children like Valentines from God, one a day from February 1st-14th.
  • Last year we hung them on our kitchen window, where we do our school work during the day.
  • This year, I decided we are going to play a game with it.  Every morning when our children wake up, they will go searching for love!  Because isn’t that what most of us have done in life? As we are growing up, aren’t we always on the look out for true love? Once they find the heart, we will sit and talk about what it means and memorize it.  Then we can add it to our memory verse wall so we can add to it daily and by day 14 we will have these three verses memorized.
  • I actually plan on having two sets of these hearts.  One set to hide and hang up and the other set to use as a memory verse scramble.  Every time we add another heart the kids will mix up the hearts and then put them in the correct order.
  • What immediately pops into your mind?

 

Let Us Know How Your Family Plays the Real Love Game!

If you would like to play this game with us or your own version, here are the fourteen hearts. We would love to see how you use them.  Share your ideas with us by posting to social media and using #CaGDRealLove

Real Love Heart Game

Real Love Game Printable

Not only do we want our kids to know what love is, but we want them to know where it is found: in Christ Jesus.  If we are letting Jesus fill our hearts with His love, then we will not be easily swayed by the world.  And we want them to know how to share his love too.

Craving God’s Love

There is a song by For King and Country called “The Proof of Your Love” that recites parts of 1 Corinthians 13.  So many people who have only heard this song and have never read the Bible have come up to them and said how amazing and beautiful those words are and how that idea of love just captivates them. You see, the world is craving God’s love and they don’t even know it yet!

As we play this game with our kids, maybe we could also sprinkle some of these hearts around our neighborhoods too.  Share God’s amazing love with our neighbors, with store clerks and with whomever we run into during the day.  Just for fun one day maybe you could go love on some cars by putting these hearts under windshield wipers in a parking lot.  You never know how that little heart just might open someone’s heart to God’s word now or later.

Lord, we thank you for loving us like you do.  We absolutely do not deserve it and yet you give it freely and without reserve.  Your mercy and grace are showered upon us daily.  Our hearts sing songs of thanksgiving and praise for all the love you have bestowed upon us.  Give us courage to freely share this amazing love with others. In the One who did not hesitate to show what true love is all about – Amen!

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Unified Church Living Out Love on Valentines Day Family Prayer Wall Building Up Your Leaders

so-let-my-life-be-the-proof

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