Awkward Gracefulness

duck---a-waddle-and-a-quack-a918While I was fishing a day or two ago, I startled a duck that was sleeping on a boat dock.  I smiled at its awkward waddle as it hurried down the ramp and into the lake.  I smiled again when I saw how fluid and graceful its movements became as soon as it entered the water.

God created waterfowl to be more at home on the water than on the land.  Like that duck, we’re also the creation of God.  Paul described God’s creative gifting in an interesting fashion.  Depending on which translation you read, the believer is described in Ephesians 2:10 as God’s workmanship (NKJV), masterpiece (NLT), or handiwork (NIV).

In The Voice, it says, “we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

God created you to be you and to be a masterpiece of His creative endeavors.  He has gifted you with the talents and abilities you need to accomplish His purpose.

When you live within the framework of His will, you are as graceful as a swan on a pristine pond of water; however, you’re as awkward and clumsy as a waddling duck when you reject the plans He has for you.

As Max Lucado said, “You are the only you God made… God made you and broke the mold.”  So, thank God for the uniquely magnificent manner in which He designed you and then dedicate yourself to sharing your gifts with the body of Christ.

Have You Met The New You?

newuI have never found evidence of the long-sought after fountain of youth, but I do know that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about renewal:

If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him,  then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust— to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit.  Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.                  ~Ephesians 2:21-24

Paul says you have the opportunity to get rid of the old, step into a new life, and take a fresh breath of life.  Spiritual renewal shapes you into the “likeness of God,” and you begin to realize that you are:

You’re not a crumpled model of this old world; you’ve been freshly fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, and this is why you:

Forget your former way of life, “that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust.”  Embrace the new you.  It’s time to “take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit.”

Disciplined Discernment

discernmentAfter I read Psalm one, I am always struck by the contrasts it offers as it looks at the differences between two men, two ways, and their two destinies.  The first verse serves as the thematic sentence for the rest of the Psalm:

“How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers (NET Version)!”

The message of this verse is that the input you receive and believe will determine your output.  Being aware of this, the “blessed” will not:

  • Receive and believe the “advice of the wicked.”
  • Follow the “pathway of sinners.”
  • Set in the “assembly of scoffers.”

To accomplish the three points above, you must learn to discern, so you’ll know what to spurn. The apostle Paul refers to a discerning walk as walking in a worthy manner (Ephesians 4:1).  To reach this goal, Paul gave some instructions to the Ephesians:

  • Don’t walk like the Gentiles who walked in the futility of their mind (Ephesians 4:17).
  • Make sure you “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you (Ephesians 5:2).”
  • “Walk as children of Light (Ephesians 5:8):
  • Don’t walk as “unwise men but as wise (Ephesians 5:15).”

The key component of the discerning life is found in the second verse of Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 15:16:

  • Ps. 1:2: “He finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night.”
  • Jer. 15:16: “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16)

Once you begin to practice a life of spiritual discernment, you will gain a greater understanding of verses like Psalm 16:11: “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

The pleasures and treasures of the Lord are promised to the blessed man of Psalm One, and through a life of disciplined discernment, they can be yours as well.

Developing the Habit

consistency_quoteEven though he did not use the exact words each time, there are at least four distinct places where Paul calls you to a life of disciplined prayer:
• Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17)
• Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12)
• With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity (Ephesians 6:18)
• Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.

When you read the verses above are you overwhelmed? Do you wonder, “How can I pray without ceasing?” Does God actually expect me to do what Paul instructs these believers to do—pray constantly and consistently?

The answer is to this is yes and no. Practically speaking, it is impossible to be on your knees and in prayer every moment and second of life, but that isn’t what Paul calls you to do. I think Paul’s idea of prayer is to have an attitude of prayer.

You begin to maintain the habit of prayer when you “set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).” How will you know when you are doing this?

A habit of prayer is being developed when you:
• Begin to live with a God-consciousness—everything you see and experience becomes a kind of prayer
• Are tempted, you immediately go to God and ask for His help
• See the good in someone or experience the beauty of nature, you thank the Lord for it.
• Meet someone, you have a concern for their spiritual well-being

Paul may had an extraordinary prayer life, but remember that he was still just an ordinary person; and, what Paul did, you can do as well. I encourage you to fine-tune your attitude of prayer by giving careful consideration to these words of Paul:

“Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a chance to make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not to cut them out. (Colossians 4 ~The Message).”

To get started, read the Scripture above with each meal you eat, and before you go to bed. Do it more than just today—practice it each day for the rest of this week.