If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?…But you have dishonored the poor…when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin.
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."
by Ashly Cooley, Executive Assistant to Locations & Care at Resurrection
James 4 brings our attention to the realization that we don’t know what the future holds. We can plan all we want but only God knows what will happen in days ahead of us. We cannot live in the past, as we may begin to drown in the malaise of what can no longer be. We cannot live in the future because it is unknown to us. Is the future a dystopian nightmare of famine and war as some say, or is it a place of perfect bliss where the decisions we make today won’t matter and it will all work out as we sometimes like to tell ourselves? We don’t know. What we do know is what we are capable of doing right now.
I heard once that God gives us days in 24-hour chunks because that is all that we are able to handle. Anyone who has had their entire day go off the rails knows this is true! Forget about the rest of the week, I just need to get through Monday. Success in recovery depends on taking life one day at a time. So, how do we set our days in intentional ways?
Prayer is the one true constant in my life. I follow the same pattern every day. I sing the doxology in my head and pray the same prayer to start my day:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
I then follow with: "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be found pleasing in your sight. May I walk humbly next to you all of my days and dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
I do this every morning, even when I am sick. During my morning coffee I read a prayer from a prayer book. Later in the day I pray my prayers of thankfulness and petition, often lifting up many members of our staff and congregation who have different needs. Prayer can center us. Prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude are about being grateful for what we have today, at this time.
I do not know what the future holds but I do know that day after day of living in close connection with God builds a lifetime of well-spent days. I encourage you to find a prayer routine. Start with something simple you can begin every day with. Perhaps set an alarm for 7, 12, 5 & 9 where you say the Lord’s Prayer. These words repeated often begin to seep into your heart and make your days bearable while shining light towards a bright future.
Dear Jesus, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the gift of these hours and the chance to spend them in connection with you. Help us stay grounded in the present with you by our side. Amen.
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