Day 21: “Smile at the Future”

she laughs

Laughter – good medicine. Nothing like a big belly laugh when you hear a funny joke or your kids do something hilarious. Have you ever smiled so much your cheeks hurt? Maybe it’s a day at a theme park or a show? Your wedding day?

Can you smile at your future?

Unfortunately, some of you feel dread with your approaching calendar. Unless you’ve got a holiday planned, you’re stressed about work coming up, bills that need to be paid, a problem you have to deal with… you think ahead too much and rather than hilarity, it’s a headache.

What does your future look like after these 21 days of prayer and fasting? How much of it pleases you, knowing your family is prepared to take on its next season? Your mind and heart are in a better place than they were three weeks ago. Your position is strong and secure. Your future is bright.

You know how to put your problems in the proper perspective. You’re secure in your position in your community as part of a larger world. You pray more. You encourage often. You allow vulnerability.

You close your eyes and envision what’s to come and you can’t help but crack a grin.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

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2015 Fasting Devotion, Day EIGHTEEN

Read Matthew 6:25-34 (MSG)

A new year causes us to both reflect on last years wins/losses as well as plan for the year to come. How can we get ahead? Earn more money. Ensure our kids have a good year in school. Lose weight. Pay off debt. Buy a house. Grow our church! Stay on top of schedules, school work, housework! Cook healthier meals. Keep closets organised. Make new friends. And the list goes on…

We must not turn all this planning and forward thinking into WORRY. Jesus reminds us to focus on today and encourages us to look around at how well he takes care of the birds and flowers. Don’t we matter much more?

When we spend all our time preoccupied with “getting,” we miss out on God’s amazing “giving.” The more we get to know God and the way he works, the less we should worry about the future. God is at work in our TODAY. Beauty and blessing all around. Learning to BE in the moment with our families brings honour to God. Finding rest in our crazy lives means trusting Him with our tomorrow. Turning our focus outward instead of on ourselves and our problems shines the light of Christ in a dark world. God is doing his best for us, working on our behalf. Let’s allow this to be enough for today.

Jesus, you bring great perspective and wisdom to my situations and worries. Thank you for reminding me that you’re in control of my life and that you WILL provide everything I need. As I set goals and look toward the future, help me to trust YOU ultimately and receive what you’re giving each day with gladness. You’re the giver of all good things and for that I am grateful. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Willie, Cowboys, and 2014

willie

I had the privilege of seeing a legendary country music star at an iconic venue while I was in Texas last month. Willie Nelson has transcended generations with his music and many of his country ballads have famous one-liners everyone could sing whether he likes country music or not and no matter whether she grew up in West Texas like me. One of those classics entitled, “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” describes a cowboy much like many of us could be labeled:

“Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of, themselves and their slow-movin’ dreams.”

As I look ahead at my 2014, I don’t want to be in search of myself but always one step behind. And as much as I love a good cowboy, I certainly don’t want my dreams to be “slow-moving.”

A lot of us live this way, though. We really don’t have an expectation of this year to be any greater than last. We don’t have any new goals. Fridays are the only thing we have to look forward to and we seem to have more worries than we have wishes. Our lives are lived the same year after year, just getting older each time.

Personally, I’m thrilled about what 2014 has in store for my family and our church. I expect God to bring more people to Lift; I believe we are going to move ahead with our dream of a community centre and pregnancy resource centre; my kids are going to accomplish more, growing wiser and stronger with more purpose and fervor behind their relationship with God.

I believe our roots in Australia will go deeper and our relationships will thrive and multiply. God is in the business of changing lives and I expect to be right alongside him impacting our city and neighbourhood and school. I want to look back at 2014 and see a compression of time that only God can do! That we will accomplish more in one year than years past combined.

I’m praying and believing the same for you and your families. In the words of Willie, let’s “insist the world keep turning our way” in 2014 and live more like this than a lonely cowboy:

On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been.

Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again –
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning our way.