4 Things to Pray about Each Morning

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

The best way to start the day is by talking to God. Before you even leave your house for the day, there are certain things you need to ask God for to help you with your day.

Althought we can’t predict the future we can ask God to prepare us for whatever life will throw at us that day. After all, God knows even the smallest details of our lives before they even happen.

  1. Pray for strength to turn away from sin. Life will throw many subtle but sinful things at you through out your day. you may not even realize that you’ve stumbled over them! Things like gossip, negative thoughts, jealousy, are easy to fall into without even knowing it. Pray for God to give you a conscious mind to turn away from the things that displease Him.
  2. Pray for others to see God through you. One of our missions on earth is to witness to other people about God’s redemptive love. If we’re not radiating the love of Christ to the world around us, then we’re not doing our job as followers of Christ! We should be excited to talk to others about the things God is doing for us that He, too, can do for them.
  3. Pray for energy. We could all use some extra strength to get through our day.
  4. Pray for resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover readily from adversity. Not every day is filled with hardships, but when that day comes that is filled with adversity, God can empower us to get through it. When we pray for resilience, God will give us the mindset of perseverance, and the ability to approach these situations confidently and courageously. When we change to a mindset of resilience we turn these difficulties into mountains that God can move!

If God is all about Love why Does He Get Angry in the Bible?

Jeremiah 31:3

He has loved us with an everlasting love.

Then why does it say he gets angry with a sinner?

Anger is one of the strongest evidences and expressions of God’s love. If you had a child who lied, swore, and stole and you DIDN’T care what he does THAT would be a sign of no love, of indifference. Because I love him, because I want him to grow up with integrity and character, it makes me angry to see him not live up to his potential and take that course.  Now how I channel that anger determines whether it is motivated out of love or something sinful in my own spirit.

God loves the sinner that he gets angry with them, with us, when we willfully disobey.

3 of the Most Common Leadership Weaknesses

  1. Lack of Trust…which manifests itself through (1) micromanagement; (2) lack of transparency; (3) lack of risk; (4) lack of creativity/spontaneity.
  2. The need to be liked…which manifests itself through (1) making popular decisions instead of right ones; (2) surrounding yourself with people who only say yes; (3) over avoidance of conflict; (4) indeciciveness; (5) emotional decision-making.
  3. Stagnancy…which manifests itself through (1) seldom seeking out constructive improvement; (2) asking for constructive improvement without any intention to act upon suggestions; (3) risk avoidance; (4) fear of the new.

These weaknesses can all be traced back to pride or fear. When pride is in the way we’ll have “greater than” thoughts about ourselves and when fear is manifesting itself we will display “lesser than” thoughts. It’s when we understand the WHY behind our weaknesses and commit to dealing with their root causes that we’ll be able to overcome it by God’s grace.

Criticism is not a Spiritual Gift

Criticism is a two-edged sword in the life of a leader. On the one hand, a leader who only surrounds himself with “yes men” limits his perspective. On the other hand, the voice of too many critics will leave a pastor wanting to bail on ministry and find a new vocation.

James 3:17 says,

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure: then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

There are eight characteristics given in this verse. If someone comes with a pure heart and no ulterior motive, is peaceful and not hostile, is considerate in word choice, has a history of being submissive and not rebellious, speaks with mercy and is not accusatory, has good fruit in their life, is impartial in the sense that they aren’t going to profit from the decision, and they speak with sincerity, then we should be all ears. As you can imagine, few pass this test. Does this mean everything they said was wrong? No. However, the lack of these characteristics raises red flags as I’m listening.

Many times, when a person criticizes a leader, there can be a kernel of truth in what’s spoken. Some people just don’t have tact. If you can get past the anger and rudeness, there may be something for leaders to learn. This is not easy to do. It’s nearly impossible to gain that kernel of truth from only one comment even if they say, “There’s a group of us concerned….” I always ask for each person in the “group” to come talk to me but that has never materialized which even erodes that person’s credibility more. Yet, if a leader hears the same criticism repeatedly, even if the messenger can’t communicate in a loving way, good leaders try to sift through the chaff to find the kernel of truth.

Chronic complainers don’t stop complaining with explanation; they simply look for something else to complain about. Argumentative people are always looking for arguments.

It is unhealthy for pastors to listen to continual negativity. This wears pastors down and eventually leads many ministers to abandon the ministry. So pastor, surround yourself with people who believe in you, who believe in what God has called you to do, and who are loyal to you as a leader, but also value honesty. If a criticism has merit, it will make its way through the ranks and get to the appropriate channels. If not, then those with the “gift of criticism” may have to find another church.

Jeremiah 29:11’s Real Application

Jeremiah 29:11 is a really popular verse for Christians to recite to give them hope. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I know a lot of Christians who trot that verse out of memory. It’s a good one. It should be memorized. It’s an encouraging verse.

But a lot of people don’t realize the context of that verse. It’s part of a letter to exiles from Israel who still have 70 years of captivity ahead of them! God isn’t saying those words to happy, comfortable people in their comfortable homes with their comfortable families. God is speaking to people going through some tough stuff–stuff that won’t necessarily get better in this life.

The principle application we get from this verse today is not that everything will work out TODAY. It’s that everything will work out SOME DAY. Ultimately God does have plans to prosper us and give us a hopeful future.

Moral Living is not why Jesus Died

It bothers me to believe that God would localize salvation in one solitary person–in Jesus. But that’s what the Scriptures plainly say. There’s no way of getting around that without gutting the Scriptures. I’ve looked for a loophole. None exists.

Even today, I prefer to talk about the tragedy of people living and dying without knowing Jesus, rather than to get near the subject of the eternal consequences. Deep down in my heart, I know the truth of the matter–without Jesus people are in serious trouble. Believing that is the only reason I would ever consider giving my entire life to the ministry of Christ.  Not believing it is why so many pastors and leaders can spend all their time in struggling churches playing nursemaid to a bunch of spiritual pygmies. They have no urgency to share the Good News. They don’t believe that people’s eternal destinies hang in the balance.  Since Jesus isn’t the only hope to the world to them, Christianity is a way of living morally rather than a life and death issue.

There’s nothing wrong with moral living; it should be the outcome of any legitimate faith. But moral living is not why Jesus died. Jesus died to save everyone from their sin. To not believe that guts any form of urgency to give one’s life to spread the Good News.

Make the Most of Time

Ephesians 5:15-17, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

That passage teaches us to live wisely making the most of time.

As a child, summer seemed to last forever. But I can still vividly remember a time when my mom looked me in the eye through the rear-view mirror while driving and me sitting idly by during some trip and saying, “Marc, don’t blink. Life will go by faster than you can imagine.” She was most certainly younger at the time than I am now. Since then life seems to have sped up even when I pause to savor the moment at hand.

How do I make the most of my time? By looking for God’s opportunities to show and tell the Gospel. Time is ticking. From now on, I will listen to God and get busy.