Last Sunday I sat on the deck early for prayer and coffee. I began to read over one of the passages I was going to use in the message I was speaking at church. As I read, Matthew 6:25-34, I could hear all of the birds in the trees throughout my backyard. The incredible sound began to overtake my attention. For a few moments all I could think about were all of those birds. Jesus said,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
God takes care of the needs of those birds I could hear singing. He cares for our needs as well. I say “His blessings are beautiful…” because God deeply cares for all of our needs. Lent this year was such a powerful time. One of the great blessings that came my way when I wasn’t looking was my pastor and Expedition Church. This all came about shortly after the beginning of Lent. We ran into each other at a restaurant on a Friday night. I visited on Sunday… 3 months later, give or take a few days, I am speaking on a Sunday morning. I know more opportunities will arise and God will continue to pour into me so I can in turn give to others. That’s what is so beautiful about serving God. He gives to His people – His people have a choice to do with what He has given. To hold on to it or to share it. It’s when we share what God has given us with others that our lives really are fulfilled.
Do you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? I encourage you to seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness. Trust Him. As you trust Him, be obedient to the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew,
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent. It is a time that many Christians take to prepare themselves leading up to the celebration of Easter. I have heard of those who are giving up things like chocolate, Facebook, Coke, or some other daily habit during this time.
Lent is not something my church tradition has observed. But I have grown increasingly curious to look at it more the past couple of years. After reading Margaret Feinberg‘s book, Wonderstruck, I have decided to take the next 40 days as a time to focus my prayer life.
Margaret writes about how she fell in love with this time of Lent. She talks about God leading her to give up prayer… at least prayer in the form that she had grown accustomed – lengthy prayers. God had instructed her to shorten her prayers to three words. Imagine that! Condensing every prayer down to three words. I don’t know if my brain has the vocabulary or creativity to accomplish that kind of prayer.
During Lent, I’m not going to cut my prayers down to three words but I am going to cut out praying for my personal needs over the next 40 days. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (New Century Version). I’ve been noticing how much my praying is focused on me… my needs… my wants… I have made prayer about me and not about Jesus.
Jesus says if we will seek God’s kingdom first – what He wants – THEN our other needs will be met. It seems like I have had my prayer life backward. Praying for my needs and not necessarily seeking first God’s kingdom. Over the next 40 days I want to grow closer to God and I want to get to know Him on a deeper level in the power of His Holy Spirit through prayer.
Oswald Chambers states,
The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. (My Utmost for His Highest, February 13).
Over the next 40 days I want my life to be marked by being devoted to the right things. To the pursuit of walking in His presence. How are you going to spend these days leading up to the celebration of Easter?