Pause

Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.

We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”

Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us… if only we ask.

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Listen

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”

Mark 9:38

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Think

The disciples had left their homes to walk with Jesus, and they saw him do miraculous works. They observed his close relationship with God and they heard him teach God’s ways. They watched him challenge the leaders of their world and overturn the expectations of their society. Just as Joshua had been protective of Moses, the disciples were understandably protective of Jesus.

These days, if you want to be a public figure or a business owner, you have to protect your brand. You have to be unique and protect your uniqueness. You have to protect your style, your product, and especially your name.

When the disciples saw other people doing works in Jesus’ name, they were suspicious. They recognized Jesus alone as the One whom God had sent. They had no lawyer to protect Jesus’ brand from copycats; there was no “Official Jesus Seal of Approval” to endorse other prophets and preachers. In their hurry to protect Jesus’ name, the disciples interfered with the work of God.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

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Pray

Forgive me, God, when I act like I can protect you. You are at work in more people, in more places, in more ways than I can imagine. Surprise me with signs of Jesus’ love in the most unlikely people, places, and ways. Amen.

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Go

God doesn’t only change us; God changes the world through us. When our attitudes are transformed, God can transform the people and situations we encounter.

If only we choose wisely when options are hard,
if only we respond kindly when people are cruel,
if only we act boldly when someone is hurt...

May God use us to answer the “if only” prayers of our world.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Rev. Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards. :)

Stillness

Carter Harrell: Making Space

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