Are You Leaving God on Read?
What do you do when the world starts returning to normal? Calendars that were once empty are filling up again, and life is picking back up its pace. It's normal to feel anxious about responsibilities and expectations that felt second nature, especially after a year like 2020. In today's blog, Lynnaea Martin encourages readers to accept daily invitations from God to receive more of His abundance so you can also extend it to those around you.
Am I the only one noticing that, despite continued mask-wearing and social distancing, the hectic pace of life has crept back in? It has overtaken that bizarre quarantine time not too long ago where we were obsessively baking bread and doing 1,000-piece puzzles? It seems our pandemic lives are filled with more demands than ever before, and we must choose which tasks get our daily attention. If your to-do list is anything like mine, often the urgent wins over the important. Yet, I’ve noticed in Scripture that God has a thing or two to say about how we use our time each day.
“...God is not demanding more from us daily. Rather, he is inviting us to experience more of his abundance each day.”
Now before your overwhelmed-self stops reading any further, I want to encourage you that God is not demanding more from us daily. Rather, he is inviting us to experience more of his abundance each day. And what if this abundance were to spill over into your everyday relationships, bringing much-needed encouragement and healing?
You may be thinking, “What’s the difference between a demand versus an invitation?” Imagine opening your mailbox to find only two pieces of mail inside. One is a government-issued envelope addressed with your full name and identified by the county seal. In bold-faced letters you read, JURY SUMMONS INSIDE. Even though I know the jury system is a great privilege afforded to our democracy, usually, our panicked response to this citizenship honor is, “Oh no, jury duty! I don’t have time for this! Who is going to supervise my kids all day with online school?” We don’t excitedly say, “Hey, the county clerk just invited me to attend a potentially multi-day affair requiring me to miss work for very little pay in return!” The government clearly demands we respond to the notice or suffer the consequences for shirking our duty as a citizen.
On that same trip to the mailbox, you pull out an entirely different kind of envelope. This one is pretty, shimmery even, with your name handwritten in beautiful calligraphy. When you open it, you see that it is an invitation to attend a backyard wedding for a dear, young couple. You may think to yourself, “I’m so happy I got invited to this fun celebration! I can’t wait to attend!”
Our different responses to the two pieces of mail say it all. One lists a duty that can feel burdensome and annoying, necessary like a root canal. The other beckons you to enjoy an intimate time of celebration and meaning.
“...when we accept these invitations, we make it possible to receive what we may need to offer to our spouses, our kids, our co-workers, and neighbors on any given day.”
Now, imagine that there are several pretty envelopes lovingly addressed to you waiting in your spiritual “mailbox” today. Each envelope contains a verse inviting you to experience daily, meaningful time with the Lord. Saying yes to these heavenly invitations opens the door for us to fully experience the abundant life promised to us in Christ. And, as a bonus, when we accept these invitations, we make it possible to receive what we may need to offer to our spouses, our kids, our co-workers, and neighbors on any given day.
Here are just a few of God’s daily invitations from Scripture to both receive for yourself and extend to others:
1. PRAISE GOD. “This is the DAY the Lord has made. Let us REJOICE and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
We woke up today with breath in our lungs, and this verse invites us to use our breath to praise God who graced us with yet another sunrise. God is the giver of every good gift in our lives (James 1:17). Why not start the day out praising him for his generosity and care? When we open this invitation to praise God, we might find ourselves joyfully remembering the greatness of God more than we remember the difficulties that our days might bring.
If you are a parent of young children, you can encourage them to participate in this invitation by playing some favorite worship music as they get ready in the morning. Or you can help them start the day with a simple prayer thanking God for a new day and praising him for who he is – a loving, strong, and wise Heavenly Father. Praising God can bless them (and us!) with a positive outlook on the day.
2. SERVE GOD. “Choose this DAY whom you will serve….as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15
Jesus isn’t just our good buddy or our holy parachute to call on when things get rough. He is the King of the universe and Lord over all that his children say and do. Scripture invites us to choose TODAY as the day we follow Christ in our decision-making and how we steward the resources he has given to us. Intentionally choosing to serve God reminds us that God’s priorities trump any of our own.
Once we've accepted the daily invitation to serve God over serving our own agenda, we leave room for God to direct us to ways we can better serve others. We might notice how we could help an overloaded co-worker with their responsibilities instead of signing off work a little early to run a few errands for ourselves. Serving others is a natural extension of our desire to serve God.
3. CONFESS TO GOD. “TODAY, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” – Hebrews 3:7-8
If a verse from the Bible jumps off the page at you, God is likely inviting you to immediately act on what it says – even if it makes you uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit can quietly tie our stomach in knots after we’ve acted wrongly; this is called the conviction of sin. This verse invites us to respond right away with prayers of confession and repentance. If we ignore his voice, we miss out on his promised forgiveness of sin and our chance to realign ourselves with his ways.
If God speaks to you through conviction, it’s easy to understand why you may want to ignore the invitation to apologize - especially if you are feeling hurt or even justified in your action. But what if this is God’s ordained path to some much-needed relational healing? James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Imagine the bridge that you might be able to build with your spouse if you apologized today for any wrongdoing. Nothing starts the reconciliation process sooner than humble confession.
4. ASK GOD. “Give us this day our DAILY bread.” – Matthew 6:11
It’s hard to comprehend sometimes that the God of the universe invites us to regularly ask him for what we need, but he does! Certainly, this includes asking for necessary food and finances to sustain life. But I also think we are invited to ask God for the daily patience needed this afternoon to parent a willful child or for wisdom in how to best approach an unpredictable boss today at work. Take time each day to ask God to meet your specific needs. He wants you to!
Have you ever thought that God might want to use you to be the answer to someone else’s prayer by meeting one of their needs? Take this opportunity to think about those nearby who have needs you could meet. Does a new mom down the street need a hot meal for her family? What about that elderly neighbor who has had an empty driveway for months? A 10-minute visit at her front door may soothe the deep loneliness she has been feeling lately. Your simple actions might be the way God chooses to meet their needs today.
5. RELEASE BURDENS TO GOD. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who DAILY bears our burdens.” – Psalm 68:19
Have you ever awakened in the morning only to feel pinned to your bed by the same crushing circumstances that you faced the day before? Jesus is there to carry your burden. Scripture invites us all to experience his lightness and ease when we bring our troubles to Jesus in daily prayer. He goes before God on our behalf day and night, carrying our struggles and sorrows to the throne of grace, thereby lightening our load.
Since Jesus helps us bear our own loads each day, we end up with reserved strength to offer other believers as they struggle. Galatians 6:2 instructs us to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” How do we do this? Imitate what Jesus does for us by bringing each other’s cares and concerns before God’s throne of mercy and grace in prayer. Pray with and for people in your church who have been hit especially hard this past year with unemployment or the loss of a loved one. And don’t let social distancing inhibit you! Type your prayer to them in a text. Gather a small group to pray over someone in a Zoom call. Nothing lightens a heavy load more than sharing its weight with others.
Is there any heavenly “mail” that you haven’t opened in a while? What great joys might you be missing by not accepting God’s invitations each day? Are you forfeiting personal blessings or moments of relational power and healing? It’s not too late. God’s invitation is still open!
My prayer is that we be a community of believers who receive ALL that God offers us in Scripture so that we might both experience and share the ABUNDANT DAILY LIFE offered to us in Christ.
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed DAY BY DAY.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16
Lynnaea Martin is a proud mother of 2 Biola alums - Aubrey ('17) and Braden ('19) Martin. Unless she is on one of her frequent trips to visit to her children in CA, you will find her living in suburban Chicago with her husband, Chuck and beloved boxer dog, Hobbes. A graduate of Gordon College on Boston's north shore, she began her career teaching high school English. Now, she works as a decorator and home stager. Some of her greatest joys are spent traveling with her husband, hosting family gatherings and reading fabulous books. But she is most passionate about studying the Bible and takes every opportunity she gets to teach others encouraging truths from God's Word.