Jesus did come, and He began teaching the crowds. The boy listened intently, trying to understand His parables. Then he overheard Jesus asking His disciples where they could buy food for the crowd. After laughing, one of the men responded, it would take a year’s salary to buy enough food! Just then, another one of Jesus’ followers began approaching the boy, eyes locked on his basket. He didn’t know what to do! He wasn’t expecting to be noticed. The young man shyly offered his lunch. But He couldn’t imagine how it could feed so many people.
I imagine Jesus knelt down in front of this little boy, because Jesus loved children and valued them as much as He did everyone else. Jesus took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks, and the disciples began to distribute the food to the crowd. Much to the boy’s surprise, there wasn’t only enough food for everyone to eat until filled, but there were also twelve baskets left over! The boy, who had started his day just hoping for a glimpse of Jesus, became a part of His story.
Sometimes I feel a lot like I imagine this young man did: not important enough, talented enough, or (fill in the blank) enough to be used by Jesus. I find myself lowering my expectations, not really expecting to be a part of anything special. Do you ever do this, too?
When I was in high school I heard a song called “Ordinary People.” This song comes to mind every time I read about the boy in the crowds, with the meager lunch basket. The lyrics emphasize the truth that God uses ordinary people to do His extraordinary work. We just have to be willing to give him what we have, no matter how little or insignificant it may be. Jesus takes our “ordinary,” and turns it into much more than we could ever imagine.
As for me, my “basket” holds a passion for baking. God has taken that gift and used it to bless and encourage people in time of need. Whatever is in your basket— no matter how seemingly quirky or insignificant— rest assured: God can use it.
Next time you are feeling insignificant or wondering if you even have anything worth offering to God, remember the little boy and his little lunch. He gave it all to Jesus and he turned it into a meal for thousands.
He is waiting today to make much out of our little. Open your hands and your heart and give all you have to Him.
He was desperate. The disciples had tried but could not free his boy of the spirit. Upon Jesus’s rebuke, the father cried, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out screeching and throwing a fit.
The disciples had authority yet they failed to free the boy. They had authority, but their belief in that authority was now challenged. Had they grasped the attitude authority affords?
Have I adopted that attitude? Have you?
I exercise authority in my role as a parent, but do I have an attitude of authority over my emotions or moods? Or over my words, both spoken and thought? Over my perception of circumstance?
Am I walking in authority knowing I am the thinker of my thoughts, or am I letting those pesky worries steal my focus?
I have authority to proclaim the kingdom of God in all areas of my life. Do I proclaim it? Or do I make excuses? Excuses come between us and receiving what God has for us.
Prayer and fasting keep me in tune with who God is and who I am in Him so I can receive God’s love and power from a posture of complete surrender to His authority. (Maybe that is why Jesus answered the disciples’ confusion by sharing the need to pray and fast.)
When I am surrendered, I can operate with an attitude of authority--
I can claim kingdom authority in all areas of life. So can you.
So my question is: which father are you? Do you recognize Jesus’s authority and walk in it yourself? Or, like the other father, do you struggle?
So often, in my life, I struggle. To me, it can feel scary, bold, and completely out of my comfort zone to walk in the authority of Christ, but it is part of our call as believers to do it.
Can we, sisters, commit to try? Will you join me? We can be comforted in knowing that when we fail, just like the desperate father, we can cry “Jesus, help my unbelief!”...and He will.
I didn’t realize it then, but this mission can be summed up in one of the most familiar prayers of all time; a prayer that Jesus Himself invited us to pray. The “Lord’s Prayer” is spoken far and wide, but when we really dig in, we find there is enough power to change our lives in the first two verses alone.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name...’”
This prayer is a beautiful invitation into a different kind of life than the common self-reliant life most of us live. ‘Hallowed’ is a bit of an ancient word, but a synonym for the word is the word ‘honored.’ When we honor His name, we honor all of who He is. He is Provider, Healer, Friend, Banner (Victory), Shepherd, Peace, Refuge, Present, Righteousness, Holy, Love, and so much more.
Can you imagine if we rehearsed who He is every single day in this prayer? I imagine our fears would be calmed, our trust would deepen, we would be inwardly at rest and our identity would become fixed in Him. Focusing on God shifts perspective, gives courage and promotes love. It changes who we are and in turn changes how we live. Looking at Him paves the way for the next verse.
“‘...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”
When we pray these words, we are asking for His Kingdom ways to infiltrate the earth. It can feel overwhelming to pray this until we realize His ‘Kingdom come’ is simply the result of individuals living differently. When we live with a “Your Kingdom come, your will be done” mentality, we begin to live our days on mission. We want HIS will to be done, not our own. This kind of heart changes our actions. We don’t get to choose other’s choices, but we always get to choose ours.
His ‘Kingdom come’ in our lives may look like…
Handling a temper tantrum with grace
Responding well when offended
Staying up late speaking life to a hurting friend
Welcoming others into our home with open arms
How many of the most important moments of Jesus’ ministry were, at the time, seemingly small and inconsequential? What if ‘His Kingdom come’ isn’t always a splashy moment in time, but a display of His grace, love and kindness in our hard world? What if like our friend’s home, our homes become a refuge, a sanctuary of sorts where His Kingdom ways are operating more and more?
What if we lived like that wherever we find ourselves? Never perfect, but always growing.
Father, who is above and over all, honored be your name. May YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done, in our lives and in our homes as it is in Heaven today.
That’s how I found myself in the ER, just my son and myself. My mind became filled with the anxiety of “what if...”
What if my baby boy needs emergency surgery?
What if my husband can’t make it to the hospital in time?
What if something goes wrong?
As moms, it’s easy to become anxious when it comes to our kids. Having a piece of ourselves running around outside of our control is not for the faint of heart. Yes, us mamas have worried about our babies since the beginning of time. Even Jesus’s mom, Mary, showed signs of anxiety. The first time the Bible mentions Mary’s worry was when she discovered He was missing, after visiting Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. She had assumed he was in their large traveling caravan— when they got home she discovered she was wrong.
Mary and Joseph made the long trek back to Jerusalem, in search of their young child. After THREE days they finally found him in the Temple. The Temple! When Mary saw him, she asked “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48).
Though Mary had moments of anxiety, she had learned to trust 100% in God. Remember when the angel told her, as a virgin, she would become pregnant and give birth to the expected Messiah? She responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” It would have been easy for Mary to become anxious, but she chose to believe the promises of God.
As followers of Christ, there will be times when we become anxious. The good news, friends, is that we don’t have to be slaves to our feelings. In times of stress, we can look to God’s promises. We can remind ourselves that the God we serve is full of unfailing love and faithfulness. I love our memory verse this week, in which Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The answer to our anxiety is being honest about it, and releasing our situations to God.
That day in the ER, the doctor confirmed my worst fears: my son did have to go under the knife that day. I sat there in tears. Even in that valley, God orchestrated the timing, the doctors, the nurses, and every detail with precision. My son was made well, and was able to receive the nutrients he needed.
I love the rhetorical question Jesus asks, in Luke 12:25, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” The obvious answer is none of us can.
Worry is our attempt to control what only God can. The only change it produces is stunting our growth in Him.
Whatever you are anxious about today—whether it be your job, kids, health, or finances— admit your need, and release it to Him. When anxiety rears its ugly head, again and again, keep taking it to the One Who is in control, and growing your trust in Him.
Truth be told, I don’t know very much about the 924 accounts I’m following. But I do know that what or whom we choose to follow can lead us to truth, or the twisting of it. I say “twisting” because sometimes the lies are subtle, and if we don’t recognize lies for what they are, they become intertwined with the truth. That’s when all the “noise” can make us feel overwhelmed and confused.
As Christians, it is imperative that we correctly handle the word of truth. And I think that’s increasingly important in our current culture. We have become a culture obsessed with influence, personality, fame, likes, and follows. It’s natural to want to follow someone whom we admire. Our challenge is to follow the Gospel of Christ versus the gospel of a personality.
Our ultimate goal should be to become more like Christ— not someone else. In Malachi chapter 2, we read that “the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge.” If we are following messengers of the Lord to instruct us, we also need to be rightly dividing the knowledge they profess. Is it in line with God’s truth? Do they preach the gospel, or push their personality? 2 Timothy 2:15 requires me to periodically take stock of what I’m following, because after all, I feed on what I follow.
I enjoy following encouraging and beautiful accounts on Instagram, and social media can be a helpful resource when used with caution. But I also know how easy it is to “follow” without following through to vet the sources that influence us. Let’s challenge ourselves to hold the modern day Priests to the standard of God’s truth. Ask God to give you discernment when you read a post or comment about Him and His word.
Even in “happy places,” we need to be on the lookout for twisting of half-truths. Make it a point this week to pray about the feeds you follow, and ask God to fill your heart and mind with His truth.