"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
Did you know that our brains are bigger in the morning? According to a new study based on an analysis of almost 10,000 MRI scans, people’s brains are bigger when they’re scanned in the morning, compared to afternoon or evening scans of the same people. Studies have show that the brain shrinks over the course of the day, ending up smaller in the evening - before returning to it’s full size the next morning. Why is that? Some have suggested that fluids may be the key. Like a sponge, the brain gets bigger when it’s well hydrated. (read more) Others have suggested that sleeping plays a big role in helping rewire and reenergize the brains trillions of brain cells and allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. (read more) & (read more)
So, if our brain's are more bigger, more receptive and more alert in the morning, perhaps we can also find ways of helping our heart and our mind be more fully present, more alive and more intentional as we get out of bed and prepare for the day ahead of us. Are you a morning person? Whether you are or not, have you ever woken up to a flood of thoughts and feelings rushing into your heart and mind? I wonder if this happens because our brains are more alert and more responsive in the mornings. As I think about this some more, I can't help but visualize a time when I've stood and looked out into a peaceful and still pond. Have you ever done that? I like to think that our mornings are kind of like open waters yet to be explored. And like at most ponds, they are surrounded by all kinds of rocks of shapes and sizes. If you are like me, I always look past all the big and ugly heavy ones and go straight to the smoothest rocks I can find and then one-by-one begin tossing them out into the still waters so I can watch them create ripple effects as they skip across the pond. Here's the thing about those thoughts and feelings in the mornings, often times they can begin setting a tone for our day. Sometimes the tone is positive and other times not so positive. If I may ask, what kind of thoughts or feelings have you been waking up to lately? Have they been thoughts and feelings of optimism and excitement about the day ahead of you? Or maybe you haven’t been waking up feeling so optimistic, it's just another day and not really expecting much to happen. Maybe you’ve woken up feeling really anxious and worried about all that has to get done at home, at work, at school or at church. Maybe you've woken up kind of frustrated and disappointed about what happened the other day or because life isn't turning out the way you had hoped. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve been starting out your mornings saying good morning God, thank you for another day of mercy and grace. Well, whichever one of these morning persons you have been lately, I want you to know that today is a GIFT and every morning, you and I get to set the tone that has the power to shape the kind of day we will create for ourselves. (Tweet This) I'll be the first to admit, I've woken up feeling like ALL of the above. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things in our lives that need our attention, but how do we faithfully give ourselves to these things without letting them overwhelm or overcome us? As we live out today, how can we stay fully present and alive in the promise of God? My prayer for us, as we read and explore a little more on this, that God would speak to our hearts in a real way and help us to see and experience the kind of life Jesus is inviting you and I into today.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist". - Oscar Wilde
I don’t think I’ve ever woken up in the morning and said to myself, I can't wait to live a meaningless life today or ever said, I can't wait to have the worst day of my life today. In my heart, I want to believe that we just don't wake up each morning with that kind of determination. I don't know about you, but I don't want to just merely exist today, I want to live on purpose because today matters. I want to seize the day and make the most of it. I want to find the smoothest rocks I can find. To "seize the day" literally means to “act now” or in other words “there’s no time like the present”. You might be asking yourself, how does one begin seizing the day? Well, there are different kinds of ways. Let me share one with you now, in Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) it says that "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit". You see, our words have the power to create life or to take life. We can either bless it or curse it. Let me share an example, when I arrive to work each morning and walk through those business doors, the first thing I do is begin blessing that work space and begin praying for my community. I begin setting the proper tone for my day. Lord, thank you for this job. Today is gonna be awesome! Help me to be a blessing to my team, to this community and to this organization. By your grace help me to be your presence of love, joy, peace, patience, empathy, and confidence to those whom you have called me to serve today. Give my mind the focus and my body the strength that it needs to get through today. Because at the end, it all belongs to You Lord. You see, I can choose to seize the day and live life to the fullest or I can choose to not seize the day and miss out on God's promises. (Tweet This) And just as our heavenly Father desires to give us life, there is another who desires to take life away from us. Scripture warns us of a thief who is on the hunt. In the book of Peter, this thief is described as, your enemy the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Listen to me closely here, this thief's number one mission here on earth is to steal, to kill, and to destroy your joy, your peace, your hope, your faith, your confidence, your purpose, your trust and security in God, your identity, your potential, your calling, and everything that God is desiring for your life today. But here is another interesting thing about this thief, he can only steal, kill and destroy what we allow him to take from us. (Read Luke 10:19) In the book of Matthew, we see this thief attempting to steal, kill, and destroy God's purpose and plans for his Son Jesus, but Jesus did not give in to Satan's trickery and deceiving ways. You see, Jesus knew that his father had not abandoned him. Jesus knew that Satan had no real power over him and his situation. Jesus knew he was the Son of God. Jesus knew that this thief only offered empty promises that would short change him at the end. Jesus resisted and stood firm in his faith and upon the Word of God and the devil lost the battle and had no other choice but to flee from his presence. (read James 4:7)
God speaks words of life, Satan speaks words of death, and I have the power to agree with one of them. I can agree with the One who speaks life over me or I can agree with the one who speaks death over me...and now death and life are in the power of my tongue."
Let us also not forget, that prior to Jesus’ encounter with the devil that day, he had been praying and fasting for forty days. And even then, I am sure he woke up that morning with many thoughts and feelings rushing to his heart and mind about all that would occur on that day. And instead of being overwhelmed and overcome by them, he acknowledged their presence, surrendered them at the feet of God and began speaking life over himself and for the day ahead of him. Jesus was blessing it and setting the proper tone that would help him live, lead, and serve from a place of rest, confidence, and strength. When you and I begin setting the proper tone for the day ahead of us, we are reclaiming once again who we belong to and who God says we are. When we do this, we welcome God to take his rightful place in our lives again. (Tweet This)
"Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life...A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances...The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart-this you will build your life by, this you will become." - James Allen (As A Man Thinketh)
Yes, there has definitely been moments in my life when I have taken things into my own hands and given into my fears, my frustrations, and my weaknesses only to end up short changed, hurt and disappointed again. Those were the moments when I looked past those smooth rocks and went straight for that big and ugly heavy rock and angrily chucking it into the pond with all the strength I could muster up (movie clip example: Dan in Real Life). And as I calmed down and try to pull myself together again, there was Jesus the whole time, he had never left my side, extending his hand out to me again saying, "my son, today, is a New Day! And it is full of mercy, grace and promise." And that is still true for us today, I can either choose to live in fear, live in despair, live in anger, live with anxiety, live in the past or live with un-forgiveness in my heart. Or, I can choose to invite Jesus in it all and say, "Lord, here is all of me and I need you to be at the center of it all again. I not only give you my hopes, my dreams, and my desires, but I also give you my needs, my concerns, my frustrations, my weaknesses and the unknown. It is only by your grace that I get through today. It is only by your faithfulness and goodness that I can live life today knowing that you are with me and for me. You alone give my life it's true purpose and it's meaning. Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight. And may you establish the work of my hands, make them worthy and use them for your glory." This is what living in communion with our God looks like. As we surrender and cast our cares at the feet of Jesus, we rediscover once again the kind of life Jesus always intended for us today. As we step out in faith and learn to trust again, God in return will faithfully sustain us with his peace, with his joy, with his hope and with his protection for the day ahead. As you open your eyes to a new day and stand and look out into the peaceful and still waters, what tone will you set for yourself and for your today? There may be a thief on the loose today, but let me also remind you that there is also still a KING on the Throne today and his Name is JESUS! (Tweet This)
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." - Isaiah 43:19 (also read John 4:13-14)
After reading this blog, what is weighing on my heart and on my mind? If I were to ask Jesus, what is your greatest desire for me today, what would He say? What are you hoping He will say? What is He saying to you now? (feel free to jot down what you are sensing Jesus is saying to you in your journal or on a piece of paper)
Whether you have a morning ritual or you don’t, here are some helpful practices to help your morning start off on a positive tone. (feel free to edit it and make it your own)
You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. — John C. Maxwell
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