Monthly Archives: July 2013

Vanity! It’s all Vanity!

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

After an extra long day at work, I roll into the drive way at home much too late for dinner, with not enough light out to enjoy my evening run, way too tired to clean the bathrooms and feeling hard pressed to drum up the desire to write the next day’s devotion. I know I have little to complain about. I’m blessed to have a nice home, a loving husband, kids who are old enough care for themselves, and a sloppy big dog to greet me every day. But I get to spend such little time enjoying these blessings. It can be discouraging to say the least. What good is all of this striving if I enjoy none of its fruits? All the stuff I accumulate will not last! All the cosmetics and facial creams won’t keep me from getting old! All the outfits hanging in my closet will be out dated in less than a season! “Vanity! It’s all vanity!”

If I let my heart camp out by the fire of disdain I will miss out on the blessings right before me. More than just the physical blessings, but the spiritual, the eternal, all lay up in the heavenly realm. The work I do has much farther implications than just the roof over my head or the clothes in my closet. Working hard blesses my family; it is a means to support missionaries and other ministries. The fruit of my hands builds and brings God glory and to Him the first fruits belong. If my heart is not set upon the corruptible but the incorruptible than my work is not in vain. At the end of my days I will be able to say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.


Don’t walk on by

Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

While I was out for my evening run tonight, I came upon a young boy, sitting on the curb with his scooter. His eyes were red, his face tear streaked – he couldn’t have been more than 10-years old. I was about to pass him, but our eyes met and my heart broke. I stopped. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Yes, I’m okay.” He said in a shaky voice. I started to run on but couldn’t. I turned around to ask again, “Are you sure you’re okay. Do you want me to walk you home? Are you hurt?” He smiled a little. “No thank you. I’m okay. I live across the street right there.” He pointed to a large apartment complex across the busy street. “Well, if you’re sure you’re okay…” He smiled more fully, “Yes, ma’am. I’m sure. Thank you though.”  Reluctantly, I passed on by leaving the little boy to sit alone on the curb.

Everything inside me wanted to do more, say more, sit by him and talk to him to cheer him up. Maybe there was something wrong. Maybe he needed help. But I was too afraid of crossing boundaries. Would I scare him or would too much attention towards a young boy bring false accusations doing more harm than good? While my heart was moved to compassion, my actions were halted by caution.  I went on my way wondering if I missed an opportunity to offer tangible assistance.

As I sought to understand, I remembered Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan. All the other religious persons who passed the naked and beaten man on the side of the road chose to ignore his need for help. (Luk 10:31-32) There is no indication even one thought to stop, but instead purposely went out of their way to avoid him. But a Samaritan; a man from a despised nation, had compassion and helped the gravely wounded man. Praise God for his word! It helped me put my dilemma into perspective. While I did not offer the young boy the physical help I thought I should have, I also did not ignore him. I stopped.  I did not avoid the boy, but offered my assistance; even double checking his resistance. Most of all, I did not hesitate to pray for him asking God to intervene – for HE is able and HE knows no boundaries. I trust it was God’s hand upon the situation, guarding both of us from the wiles of the enemy to use the moment to discredit His good name.  The next time I have an opportunity to minister to the needs of a stranger, I will again stop and not ignore, I will purpose in my heart to seek the Lord for wisdom and if the Lord allows I will pour out love and compassion upon my neighbor as He commands.

James 3:17–18  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Praying according to His will

1 John 3:21–22 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

There are many things I have prayed to receive and did not get. Today, I can say I am thankful I did not get them. But in the moment I felt rejected, ignored, and denied what I believed to be rightfully mine. Many times I became bitter or pursued the “thing” fervently, wasting much time and energy on something not meant to be. My heart’s desire in the moment was not to please the Lord, but to please self. Even if I convinced myself it was for Him, it really wasn’t – it was for me. Not receiving what I asked for resulted in my feeling denied and the true position of my heart revealed.

I’m not saying that God denies our prayers when we are selfish to punish us. No, God does not punish us – Jesus has already justified us so therefore there is no need for punishment. But I know in those moments, our loving Father tested my heart to show me to whom I had aligned my will.  I was not pursuing righteousness or following hard after God. I was not waiting on Him at all. He weighed my heart and I was found lacking. Humbled by the revelation, I confess my sinfulness and receive His comfort. In my heart I hear Him saying, “It’s going to be okay. I love you. Trust me. I will take care of you.”

While our prayers for our basic needs and special requests may not always be selfish, they can still take our eyes off of God if not put in proper perspective. We must ask ourselves: “Will I trust Him with the answer? Will I thank Him and praise Him for the ‘no’s’ with as much as the ‘yes’s?’’’ If we seek to please Him, to glorify Him and to serve Him alone, our prayers will be aligned with His will and our hearts in a better position to say, “Yes, Lord! You know best!”

Matthew 6:31–33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.