Personal, present needs.

Luke prays for us every morning before work. It was a habit that was forced into practice by our mentors when we were going through a rough patch in our marriage a couple years ago. It was hard to start, but it’s become a part of our morning routine that we both continue to show up for.

This morning, after praying for my day, Luke asked Jesus to help him and his coworkers with a difficult project. I was immediately inspired, and followed up with praying for focus and organization for my projects as well.

It was actually a really powerful time of prayer for me, despite the fact that it was all of about five minutes. I realized that I spend a lot of my time praying for the big picture stuff, like health and provision and God’s will to be done. But I don’t spend time in the details. But the details is where I need him most.

Earlier this week I read the following passage in the gospel of John, chapter 2:

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

When I read this passage, what stuck out to me was that Jesus didn’t have to turn this water into wine, and he expressed as much to his mom. But he did it anyway. In my study bible, it mentioned that weddings during this time were week long celebrations, and for them to run out of wine would be a huge embarrassment. So in essence, this was a culture problem. A personal issue. Not a problem of biblical proportions. But do you see what Jesus did? He turned the water into wine. The best wine. He may have saved the entire celebration!

This was the first time he revealed his glory, and it was personal. It was a present need. I love that.

I’m very inspired this morning to bring my personal, present needs to Jesus.

Resources:
New Living Translation Bible
NLT Life Application Study Bible

A poor widow. A rich man.

A few mornings ago I took to my journal and began writing out my prayers.

Lord, thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. Please forgive me for my selfish heart, going to social media and the news before you. I still get anxious about what you might say to me if I open up and pray, so I push it off. But you are what I need. The other things suck me dry and fog my head and make me sad and grouchy. That’s how I feel now.

But then I stopped. I realized that while everything I wrote was true, I was trying to put on my best face. Trying to put a good spin on it. So I continued…

I need to be honest with you.

Honestly, I’m tired and hungry. I wish I were back in bed. My expectations for this time with you are low in a bad way, and I’m mad at myself for going to electronics before you. I can never seem to get it right. I tried to pray, but it was a flop. No power. No idea what I’m doing. I don’t see the power in prayer.

But, this is why I need to spend time with you. You, Lord, are the safest place to process all this. With you, I’m free to fail and grow. And I need you to develop me. You’re the one with the answers. But… you’re not just some guru…you’re where I belong.

At this point, I decided to start digging into the bible. My bible study group is reading through the gospel of Luke, and the next section read,

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Luke 21: 1-4 NLT

I stopped here because it showed me something. We’re all bound by our own circumstances.

This showed me that we can’t all offer God the same things. But there’s also not a specific standard he’s holding us to. In my Americanized understanding of this passage, the widow had two pennies. On their own, two pennies are worthless. Compared to the rich who gave, say, hundreds or thousands, the two pennies are shameful. Embarrassing. Pointless.

In his commentary on Luke, titled BE Courageous, Dr. Warren Weirsbe said, “God sees more than the portion; he also sees the proportion.”

This is why I can find no help in comparing myself to another. This is why, when I spend time with the Lord, it is not helpful thinking about how much better someone else is at it than me. Or how much better someone is at prayer or why it seems like someone else has something figured out better than I do. When I do this, I get frustrated and discouraged and I feel like I’m never enough. Never even close.

The widow is also talked about in Mark 12:43. In this telling, Jesus called is disciples to him when he saw what the widow was giving. They weren’t watching the people like Jesus was. They were doing something else, I suppose. But it was so important to Jesus, that he called them to him.

Digging in further, I noticed that the rich people “gave a tiny part of their surplus.” This implies that they had an abundance. They had more than they needed. And, they also kept as much of it as they could.

But the widow, she had “given everything she had to live on.” That tells me volumes about her heart. She didn’t have a surplus. All her needs weren’t being met.

In 2 Corinthians it says,

“For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”

2 Corinthians 8:12 ESV

We aren’t judged by what we don’t have. So, what someone else does bears no weight on my own value, purpose or calling. I am judged by what I have and what I do with it.

God looks at my heart, my experiences, my choices, my resources, and my capabilities ….independently of others.

The rich man could have pleased Jesus by giving everything he had.

The widow could have given nothing at all.

Again, it’s not’s not about how much or little I have. It’s what I do with it.

I think that’s why comparison, or envy, is so dangerous and why “do not envy” is one of the ten commandments. Instead of focusing on what we have available before us, we get trapped into how it compares to others.

But God isn’t looking at everyone else when he’s looking at me. He looks at me. And only me. And wonders what I’ll do with what I have. He wonders about the state of my heart. He wonders about my motives. How will I respond? How will I react?

I guess to sum it up, I don’t know how to pray, be generous, or live my life well. But, I know who does. And he’s willing teach me everything I need to know. So, without looking to the left or to the right, I’ll set my heart on him and follow where he leads.

I hope you’ll do the same.

My Shelter

Only God could have prepared me for the coronavirus pandemic like he has. Had I known ten years ago, five years ago, even this time last year that this world crisis would come, I would have lived in total fear and tried in my own wisdom and power to prepare.

But in the midst of planning and worrying and preparing, I would not have learned all I have about God. I would not have learned how good he is. I would not have learned how deeply he loves me. I would not have learned of his faithfulness and power. I would’ve ended up living in a panic, ultimately doing it all without him. And when the crisis came, I would not have known him.

Instead, I am living through this with anticipation for all he’s about to do, and in wonder of all the ways he’s already provided. Looking back even over the last three months, I see how he’s made me ready for this.

Over the last week and a half, since this pandemic came to the US, I keep hearing over and over again from different people the reference to Psalm 91. It seems to be the hallmark passage for this crisis. Today more than ever, it means so much to me.

My take away today is that I don’t have to live in fear of what the future holds. I just need to always, in all things, trust the Lord my God. He will direct my steps and set me on the right path.

Psalm 91 NLT

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”