Monday, June 20, 2011

First Thought, First Choice

"You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God."
{Exodus 23:19} 
What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? Can you even remember? Recently, I heard a startling statistic from a recent poll which really shed some light on the state of our culture and the role that technology plays in our lives:
"...Thirty-four percent of women aged 18-34, roughly a third of the women polled, have admitted to Facebook being their first thought when they woke up; many said they check Facebook before doing anything else in the morning, including going to the bathroom."
Wow.  In light of this recent survey, it got me thinking: 
What are my first thoughts each morning?
Now, take that a step further in light of the fact that our actions stem from our thoughts: 
What is the first choice I make with my time, mental energy, and physical efforts each day?
The great thing about thoughts is that we have the ability to choose whether we will entertain them or not. I wonder what would happen if we chose to intentionally entertain certain thoughts and chose to decline others.
  • Are you quick to look for nuggets of wisdom or truth from social media outlets before plugging yourself into the wisdom found in the Word of God and prayer? 
  • Are you quick to approach your computer or your Creator? 
  • Are you quick to send a status update or to savor time with the Savior?
Tweets and status updates may appear to be short and sweet but the reality is that, if we're not careful, what might start out as a few minutes of 'short and sweet' reads has sucked us in for more time than we should be devoting to the higher priorities in life. Twitter wisdom and savvy status updates may be quick to tickle our ears and give us food for thought, but the important question is, after they've gotten our attention for any length of time do they really have the power to add value and meaning to our lives or sustenance for our souls? ...Or are they just another fix for our flesh's 'sweet tooth?'

Ok, so maybe you're not like 34% of women who struggle to keep social media in its place... maybe your first thoughts in the morning are completely unrelated to social media. What do you turn to first to satisfy the needs and cravings of your soul?
  • Do you tend to reach for devotionals, self-help books, email newsletters, or blogs in hopes of receiving some inspiration or motivation before reaching out to God in His Word and in prayer?
  • Turn pages of the newspaper before turning pages of Scripture? 
  • Getting busy with your to-do lists before taking the time to be still in the presence of God? 
  • Bogged down by worries or concerns before you've given any thought to bringing them to a Sovereign Lord who cares and is capable of handling them all?
Just to be clear, please don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not knocking any of these things but merely posing questions for your consideration as well as mine... BECAUSE... I wonder what our everyday lives would look like if we worked hard to establish a good daily habit of making our first conscious choice to put our highest priority first... starting in our minds and then in our actions.

What do you think?

For Further Reading: Psalm 104:34, Proverbs 13:16, Luke 8:18, 1 Corinthians 15:34, Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33-34

For Further Thought:
  • What was your first thought this morning?
  • What do you want your first thoughts to be each morning?
  • How can you make an intentional effort to change your first thoughts each day?
  • How is your first conscious choice a reflection of your first thoughts each day?
  • What can you do to make your first thoughts and first choices of the day line up with your priorities?

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Line of Defense

Today I offer a few empowering and encouraging reminders for those not-so-gentle days filled with drama, doubt, or discouragement... for days you are filled with confusion or when life feels out-of-control... or when life has taken you off-guard. It is my prayer that you will be built up in your defenses and become more alert to attacks that you might walk in the fullness of life and victory that Christ paid to give you!
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." 
{1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV} 
Through Christ, you are empowered to resist, withstand and overpower ANY resistance you may be facing from the enemy...

Every line of scripture is your first line of defense. Speaking it enables you to stand strong in the struggles you face. It has power as a prevailing, conquering force in both heavenly and earthly realms.

Confessing the word of God grounds your faith... guards your heart... and enables you to hold your ground.

Christ didn't pay so great a price or fight so hard for your life only to have you sit down, back up, or shut up. When you feel weak or when life feels out of control, look to God's Word to encourage you. His Word is what feeds our faith and it is important to learn how to take the time to encourage yourself and build up your faith if it's faltering.

Don't ever let the enemy convince you to shut up, back down, or give ground. You are worth far too much for that! Think about how much Christ resisted for your sake and for all that He stood for to be able to give you. If you shrink back from the battle, you allow opportunities for oppression... opportunities for your life to be destroyed or devoured.

I pray you feel empowered and encouraged today to stand your ground in the battles you face and remember to wield your weapon... the Word!
"But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back... But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved."

{Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV} 

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Response

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
{Ephesians 3:17-19}

There are many people I know who have been experiencing really difficult life situations recently. They've shared their story, revealed their burdens and asked for prayer. When you see someone going through hard times, it's hard not to want to be a part of their solution... to offer physical help, ideas, solutions, etc. I'm not negating that we are never supposed to offer help in those ways, but there are times when we forget what our first and best response should be: prayer.

Respond to the needs of those around you first with prayer.

There are all kinds of prayers you can offer, but offering to pray not only for someone but with someone will many times accomplish exactly what is needed most. I don't know about you, but I tire of hearing the phrase thrown around in the Christian community, "I'll be praying for you." There are times when what I really want and need is for someone to pray for me right now. Things can be settled in both heart and mind instantly through prayer... in both the physical and spiritual realms as well. Many times our best intentions to pray for someone who really needs prayer go unfulfilled unintentionally because of our lack of first response. And I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of it. 

This week I'm going to make an intentional effort to make my first response to be one of immediate, on-the-scene prayer. How about you?

How does it feel when someone agrees with you in prayer?
How do you feel about offering to pray with someone who expresses a need to you?
Do you have any unfulfilled intentions when it comes to your prayer life?
Do you need to ask someone to pray for you?
Ask God to use your prayers as a first response for someone else this week.

Further reading: Philippians 4:6-7, Jeremiah 33:2-3, Matthew 18:18-20, Romans 8:26, Psalm 68:19, Galatians 6:1-3