What Motivates You?

The answer this week has been a palmetto bug, a missing filling, and a sick cat. I’m pretty sure none of those are on any list given by motivational speakers. Still pain and potential suffering are always strong motivators on a good day. However, at the time I couldn’t see the purpose in any of the events, but God does have a way of getting our attention. It all started one morning when I was brushing my teeth and seemed to go downhill from there.

33 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 24:33-34

Earlier this week, a 4-week-old filling fell out of my tooth for no apparent reason. I was merely brushing my teeth, gently, when it was suddenly gone. The truth is the tooth had felt rough to the touch since I regained feeling the day it was put in, but I was just dealing with it, hoping it would smooth out over time. After all the dental work I had done this year, I didn’t want to go back to the dentist for a while. I was willing to make do, but when it fell out, the nerve was exposed. Talk about motivation to get back to the dentist ASAP! Now, it is smooth and comfortable, and I am grateful it is repaired.

The palmetto bug was a gift of sorts from Sassy, one of my cats. On the night I was trying not to disturb the exposed nerve of my tooth, the cats decided to stay by my side to support me. However, she decided to bring the entertainment. I remember her dropping something on the bed. I assumed it was a toy mouse because she does this quite often; however, the other cats soon got involved in the “hunt” for said mouse. At one point I turned on the light and looked myself because they were keeping me awake, but I found nothing. The next morning when I made the bed I still saw nothing. That night when I pulled back the covers, there was a palmetto bug. She had brought it up on the bed to play with and then lost it. I am now motivated to strip the bed and wash the sheets. I would have been tempted to put off the chore for another day or maybe week (Don’t judge!). Now, it is next on my agenda.

The same night my geriatric tomcat, who has IBS, woke me up by walking across me multiple times and whining in my ear. I tried to ignore him. Then, I heard the sound of a cat getting sick somewhere near, which motivated me to make sure it wasn’t on my bed. I got up and found the issue and proceeded to clean it up at 2:30 AM. However, it is better to clean it up when it happens than to find said places the hard way.

I didn’t realize it when it was happening, but all of these irritations were motivations to get up and get moving when I just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep. There was the temptation to just deal with it tomorrow, but as the saying goes tomorrow never comes.

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

John 9:4

I know it is better to take care of issues as they come up, whether it is a bad tooth or just a task we don’t want to do. The same is true of the good things in life, like enjoying a sunset or using the fine china. We only have today, so let’s make the most of it. Let’s get those pesky chores done early and then go enjoy what the day may bring.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34

So, get the things you dread the most off of your list first and then go get a cup of tea or coffee, pet an animal or hug a kid, and do something you enjoy. Let God handle tomorrow. He’s better at it anyway.

Heart’s Desire

Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?

How many times have you heard someone ask this question? How many times have you asked this question? The Bible says in Psalm 37:4 that he will give us the desires of our heart. Usually, the request is for something good, so why isn’t God fulfilling our heart’s desire?

Many times we take verses or phrases out of context without looking at the complete picture. We see the promise, but we don’t look at the requirements for the fulfillment of the promise, or we don’t look at the specifics of the verse in its context.

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:4-5

The first part of Psalms 37:4 says “delight thyself also in the Lord.” What does it mean to delight thyself in the Lord? It means to make God your greatest desire and, like King David, be a person after God’s own heart. If we want what God wants, then we will have the desires of our hearts. While what we are asking for may be good in and of itself, it may not be the best or it may be for the wrong reasons.

So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.

Psalms 78:29-31

The Israelites were wandering through the desert and cried out for meat. So, what’s wrong with meat? They were hungry, so why shouldn’t they ask for meat? First, they weren’t starving. God had been providing food for them each day. Second, manna was considered food of the angels, the best of the best. The issue wasn’t so much their request as it was their attitude. They were ungrateful. God had provided more than enough food on a daily basis, and they didn’t even have to go find it. It magically appeared each morning. They also were asking for common meat when they were getting the food of the angels.

The results are very different as well. When we commit our way unto God and trust in Him, he will bring about the best for us. The result of asking for desires out of our sinful nature is destruction. The phrase “be careful what you ask for” is very appropriate in this situation. How many times have you begged and pleaded for something only to find out what you wanted had negative consequences? You wanted to stay up late, so you woke up tired and grumpy. You wanted to have another doughnut, so you ended up sick and uncomfortable. The Israelites wanted meat, so they ate until they were sick, and then suffered the wrath of God for their ungrateful attitudes.

You see, it wasn’t that they asked for meat. God had rescued them from the hands of Egyptian bondage through signs and miracles. God had parted the waters so that they could cross on dry land and watch their enemies drowned in the same water. They had been given water out of a rock and manna from Heaven on a daily basis, but it was never enough. The sinful nature is never satisfied, but a spiritual nature that makes God’s desires their own is content. The truth is we don’t know what is best for us. We can’t see what the future holds, but God can. He only wants the best for us, so if we delight in him and let Him have His way, then we will have more than we ever dreamed possible.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalms 78:41

Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), but we can get in the way of God’s blessings when we try to tell Him what to do and how to do it. Someone sang a song at church recently that said I pray that you would “keep me in your will so I won’t be in your way.” When we delight in God, we will be given more than we ever thought possible.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20

He wants so much more for us than we even can imagine. So, delight yourself in the Lord and be a person after God’s own heart, and then watch what He will do.

Test Prep

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

When do you study for a test? Do you start from the moment you are given new material, or wait until the last minute and try to cram all the information into your head at once? Either method could work, but what won’t work is waiting until you are in the midst of the test to try to learn the material.

I remember having to take an open book test once and everyone was so excited. Many of the students decided they didn’t have to study because they could just look up the information. However, when we got the test, I was thankful that I had already read and marked the chapters because it was easier and quicker to find the answers. Since there were a ton of questions to answer, it was possible to run out of time before completing the test. It pays to prepare.

The truth is that tests are always coming. Most of the ones we face in life are not given a letter grade. Sometimes it is pass or fail, and sometimes it is comportment or how we behaved. So, how do we prepare for life’s tests? I have found I get the best results from good study habits.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Matthew 6:7

First, we have to actually study, which means reading the material, taking notes, and even memorizing verses. However, memorizing only takes you so far because memorizing is not the same as learning. Ever memorize information long enough to take a test and then promptly download the information afterwards? If you really want to pass life’s tests, you have to let the words seep into your soul so that when you find yourself in the midst of a test, the words will come back to you. We do this by meditating on the words and what they mean.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

Second, we need to do more than just meditate. James tells us that we have to do more than just listen or read the words; we have to do what the words say. When studying any topic, you learn by applying what you are reading. I can read a knitting pattern all day long, study the notes, and look at the pictures, but if I never pick up my knitting needles, the pattern is relatively useless.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4:9

We learn by practicing, knowing that we probably won’t always get it right, but we will get better. We can’t just do it one time and do it perfectly. We have to keep doing it on a consistent basis to maintain our skill level and even improve.  The end result is the peace of God in our lives even during the test.

With that in mind, you might want to get a jump start on studying because you never know when there might be a pop quiz on the horizon. I often find that God uses my daily Bible reading to prepare me for what is coming next. It’s not a pass or fail on a pop quiz that I worry about though. My goal is a “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). So don’t beat yourself up over a failure because learning from your mistakes is still learning, and God is looking for those with a willingness to learn. Are you ready?