Getting rid of locusts

It’s easy to get sucked into time wasting activities. 

For example, I have to be careful to not let YouTube videos suck me into spending hours doing nothing productive.The struggle is real…

Paul told the Christians at Ephesus to [Be]careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Matthew Henry’s commentary on verse 17 says:

Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment.

Joel 2:25 is a verse Christians love to quote:

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
    to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.”

I’ve seen grown people cry over this verse…

And it’s truly an awesome verse because God is merciful when we completely miss it.

Most of us, like the children of Israel, waste our time on things that eat up our fields and take away opportunities.

My encouragement to us all is to not wait until the locusts, i.e the time wasters, strip our fields before we start getting serious about managing our time. 

If you see a locust, squash it!

Ask the Lord to help you stay on track. 

This is not about legalism, either.

Don’t get busy doing a bunch of stuff out of obligation, thinking that religious activity is like a can of locust repellent.

When I talk about asking the Lord for help, I mean to ask Him to open your eyes to the people who could benefit from you making the most of every opportunity.

 

 

 

Not-so-fun lessons

IMG_1566If you know me, you know that I like when things are fun. The more fun something is, the better! 

And, today, I had to learn a not-so-fun lesson…

 

I had to bite my tongue and walk away from some unnecessary rudeness that was directed towards me. 

What I wanted to do was react–I was angry!

What I chose to do was to walk away and to forgive.

Everything within me wanted to lash out. The words were right there, aimed and ready to be fired.

Honestly! I’m a student at Rhema! I sit under the Word for 3 hours a day. And I can’t control my tongue? 

It was this thought that stopped me from doing something stupid, from tearing someone to shreds over nothing, really. The lady was being herself and I know her heart was not to send me into a frenzy. 

Why am I sharing this story?

Because words matter and reputations are ruined in minutes. 

And here’s a reason even better than not making yourself look like a fool:

Every person matters. Tearing someone down is destroying what God says is most important. 

This is why the Bible talks a lot about how to interact with others–and giving someone a piece of your mind is not one of God’s instructions.

Now, let me throw the grenade, the thought that had me repenting pretty fast: 

How many times have I been forgiven for being careless with my words? 

BOOM!!!!

Put down your weapons, Audra. This is no time to attack.

Some lessons are not fun to learn. The sooner you learn them, though, the sooner you can get back to helping and loving others, which is the most fun you and I will ever have. 

 

 

Grace is the greatest motivator

“But for the grace of God” is one of my favorite phrases to describe how blessed I am. 

Paul was the first person to use this verse as an explanation of his life and ministry:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬). 

In this verse Paul was talking about who he was because of the grace of God. The phrase I grew up hearing talks about who we’d be without the grace of God. 

Either way, the greatest common denominator is grace. 

Grace is the best motivator. 

Nothing empowers you toward change, toward action like the undeserved gift of grace. 

I try my best to see everything through this lens, especially as I hang out with non-Christians. They need to see that grace is for them. 

Do you remember what life was like before Christ?

Do you remember the patience and mercy of God during that time?

How often we forget where we started. I know that I’m guilty of this mentality. 

As a child, I was reminded quite regularly of how fortunate I was to end up on top despite of the abandonment of my parents. 

And it’s true. 

I should’ve been placed in foster care. 

I shouldn’t have graduated from college. 

I should’ve ended up impoverished or inprisoned. 

The statistics were not in my favor.

But for the grace of God…

Redemption and restoration is found through grace. There is hope for the seemingly hopeless. 

Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and Christ is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). 

This is what makes the gospel such wonderful news. 

 

Showing kindness

Today at church we talked about kindness. 

I was voice interpreting and did pretty good. (I’ve only done it a five or six times so it was stop and start.)

The critic inside me was screaming, though, that I didn’t do a good job. I tried not to listen but it was hard. 

Maybe I can’t do this…

But I persevered because my mentor is teaching me to not give up, to give myself grace. 

We talk a lot about extending grace and kindness to others. And we definitely should!

My problem is that I’m great at giving it to others and terrible at giving it to myself. 

The voice I was hearing was me–expecting to not mess up, which is impossible because I’m a beginner. 

Talk about unrealistic expectations. Geez…

If we want to be gracious, merciful, and kind to others we must first understand that grace, mercy, and kindness is for us too. 

As Christians, God tells us to show others the love He gave to us. 

We can’t show love–or any of God’s characteristics–to others if we haven’t received it ourselves. 

Let’s remember this week to be kind. 

Start with yourself and go from there.