Category: thoughts by Mike Woodard

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“‘Father,” he prayed, ‘my Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet not what I want, but what you want.’ Mark 14:36 (GMT)

Recently I arranged an overnight visit with a longtime friend. Our lives had gone in two very different directions. He went down a road of addiction and broken relationships, yet we have kept in touch.

Clutter and the odour of cigarette smoke greeted me as I stepped into his home. It made me feel very uncomfortable. After reminiscing about our shared history, it was time for bed. My lodging was a dishevelled bedroom. Piles of boxes and clothing surrounded a bed with a broken leg. The stained mattress had no sheets and a well-used pillow had no case. I did not want to sleep in this room, but in that moment, I decided I valued the relationship more than I valued comfort. It was not one of my most restful nights. The tilt of the bed landed me on the floor in the middle of the night. Yet, I knew I had made the right decision.

Comfort is of high value! For some, comfort is the determining factor for decisions. Jesus did not live in that world. It is clear from today’s verse that he wanted discomfort removed but he had a higher priority — to do the will of his Father. This value caused him to step from heaven to earth, to be mocked, beaten, and die on a cross. His motivating desire was obedience to his Father and a desire for a relationship with us. His death on the cross declares his love for God and for us even though it was extremely uncomfortable!

Father, I surrender my desire for comfort. May the beauty of your plan and purpose be reflected in and through my life. Jesus thank you; your love and obedience have given me the gift of forgiveness and a relationship with God. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

It was winter and the buses were on strike. I picked up a student who wanted a ride on this cold day. He was from Africa and this was his first experience with a Canadian winter. As we talked, I noticed he didn’t have gloves. In that moment, it seemed that God prompted me, “Give him your gloves and tell him I love him.” I hesitated, not because I had a special attachment to my gloves, but what would the student think? How would he respond? As we approached his destination, I surrendered my fears and gave him my gloves. I told him I was doing this because God loves him. He thanked me, took my gloves and got out of the car.

Shortly after I got home, the phone rang. A friend was phoning with a question. “Do you need a pair of gloves?” Before I could answer, she explained she had purchased a pair of gloves for her son but they didn’t fit. For some reason she thought of me. Amazing.

God knows all things — the number of stars, the hairs on our heads and even when a sparrow falls to the ground (Luke 12:6-8). In his knowledge, he can guide us to special places in order to touch lives if we will listen and act on his direction! We may never know the results. I never saw that student again. But we can know our simple obedience will fit in God’s good plan!

Lord, I confess that so often I trust in my own thoughts and perceptions. I want your spirit to guide me in each area of my life. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is — what is good and pleasing and mature.” Romans 12:1-2 (CEV)

Yes.

The answer was not someone yelling or even speaking loudly. In fact, it was not even audible. But it was clear and my answer in response was “Yes.”

I was in my last year of university. Like most forth year students, I was asking, “Now what?” I had my list: grad school, seminary, teacher, student ministry, naturalist…. I prayed and went through a list of pros and cons, considering the options as they related to my passions, desires, and giftedness. I attempted to hold all the options with an open hand: “God I trust You. I know You love me and have the best plan for my life.

The discernment process involved talking to friends, reading the Bible, seeking wisdom from others, and asking God for direction. After a few months, I was alone in a prayer room:

God it seems You want me to be in ministry; is that what You want?

The answer came clear and simple, with deep conviction:

“Yes.”

But more than a call to a specific ministry assignment, God’s call was an invitation to surrender to His love and plan, and to have a deep, intimate, moment-by-moment relationship with Him.

This close relational connection is the secret to direction. Our surrender will be the soil from which God directs. His direction becomes clear as we gain a deep wisdom and understanding of who He created us to be.

Since God’s call is primarily to have a relationship with Him characterized by daily surrender, what we do vocationally or ministry-related is an expression and over flow of God in us.

Father, I surrender. I rest in Your perfect love, wisdom, and plan for my life. I present myself as a living sacrifice. I hold this day and all I desire before You with an open hand. I trust you. Amen

By Mike Woodard
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Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10

We were on a walk along the edge of the ocean. The trail was rough but my grandson enjoyed the challenge of climbing over rocks, up steep banks, and over trees. The trail went up along the edge of a cliff. At one point, I looked back, just for a moment, and saw my grandson hanging by a root over the ocean and the rocks below. I’m sure my heart skipped a beat! He didn’t say a word. I grabbed his wrists and lifted him back on the trail. He simply said, “Thanks Papa.” And off he went along the trail.

That moment played over and over in my thoughts for days. I had been with him every step along the way, many times saying, “Let me help you.” To which he replied, “Me do it, Papa.” When it came to a need, he seemed confident I was there. He did not understand the danger but his “Thanks Papa” communicated his appreciation of unrequested help.

God promises to be with us always. In fact, we cannot escape his presence. God’s commitment is to journey with us each step along the path we are on. He seeks to provide for us and protect us. We can resist. Apart from his grace, the consequences could be grave and life altering.

Each day we have a choice. We can walk under the guidance of his direction or independent of it. How will you respond to his presence with you today?

Dear Father, thank you for your presence in my life today. Show me any areas that I’m walking independent of your guidance. I confess my predisposition toward self-reliance. I desire your leadership and am so thankful that your right hand will hold me fast. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2

Dad, why are you different?”

This was the question my daughter asked on a family vacation to the farming community where I was raised. She noticed how different my life was from that of my siblings. Broken relationships, addiction, and poverty characterized my roots.

Why the difference? There could have been a few answers. I had some good friends growing up that were good influences. I’m the only family member that went to university. None of these came to mind. Just one word seemed to be the right answer. God.

My early years were marked by alcoholic parents — anger, physical violence and neglect. A cloud of despair moved into my life. I began to wonder if life was worth living. Through a simple question from a friend, “Have you ever invited Christ into your life?”, I began a spiritual journey that gave me an unshakable foundation to stand upon. I discovered God’s love and forgiveness.

At first I didn’t understand the question. Fortunately, they explained that God loved me and as proof of that love sent his Son to give his life as a payment for my debt of sin. No one had ever told me they loved me; now someone was telling me that God loved me! Plus I could invite God to forgive my sins, to be a constant companion. I would also receive the gift of eternal life. This was good news! That day, just like Jonah, I called for help.

That choice is what makes me different! It can make you different, too — in the best way.

God, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. Today I invite you to work in my life and in my heart to make me different and more like you. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked? Or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1

In our living room we have a blue recliner. We’ve had it for years, and it’s my favorite place of contemplation, naps and relaxation. One day I sat on my chair and something felt off. Upon investigation, I discovered a bolt had gradually come unscrewed over time. Fortunately, with merely a few adjustments, it was back in its full glory.

If only life was that simple.

I asked myself: are there areas of my life that are gradually slipping? No one wakes up and says, “I think I’ll become unhealthy… go into debt… destroy my relationships … or grow distant from God”. Yet, it happens; and unlike my chair, often it is not a simple fix.

Just as regular maintenance keeps machines working, regular spiritual self-assessments would keep you aware of “loose bolts”.

God’s wisdom can change every area of life! Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. God gives us wisdom and knowledge but we need to take action. You might need someone to help you and keep you accountable. Ask God for his resources each day to stop the slippage!

How do you keep regular maintenance in your spiritual life? Is there something in your life right now that needs adjusting?

Holy Spirit, please help me to be more aware of areas in my life that need attention. Please bring to light specific areas where I am lacking in love, generosity, and patience. Please help me to become more aware of my spiritual well-being. By Your grace, help me to find the discipline to always be attentive to Your promptings and to Your guidance. I commit my life to You. Please forgive me of my shortcomings and all the ways that I have offended You. All this I ask in Jesus’ most precious Name, Amen.

Thought: During your time of prayer today, set aside a few minutes where you ask the Spirit to reveal to you an area in your life that is slowly slipping. Prayerfully decide how you will act on it. Write down your resolution and post it in a place where you can easily remind yourself.

By Mike Woodard
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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.Isaiah 1:17

Think for a moment… who do you admire? On the top of the Gallup Poll list of the most admired people of the 20th century is Mother Teresa. We often admire people that have shaped the lives of others through a dedication that brings help to those most in need. Deep within, we know that a profound indicator of noble character is how someone treats those who can do nothing for that person in return.

God has this same view. In the opening words to the nation of Israel, God called His people to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed, and care for orphans and widows. Isaiah then pronounced God’s displeasure and rejection of their religious observances because their actions were not consistent with their profession of faith. They were being hypocrites.

God’s longings for his followers have not changed since the days of Isaiah. James restated God’s perspective:

“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world (James 1:27 GNT).

Jesus is the ultimate example of a person with a willingness to help the helpless.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

How do you respond to those in the greatest need near you? Is it consistent with your experience of God’s grace and compassion in your life? Or do you do it to be admired?

Father, may I reflect your grace and compassion to each person in my day. I want to see myself and each person as you see them, as loved, valued and uniquely made for your purposes. Thank you for your love and forgiveness in my life. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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We all have special people in our lives. The question is, “Do they feel special?” Sadly too often the answer is, “No!”

Here are 7 things you can do to make the one you love feel special on Valentine’s Day or any day.

Hand Written Note: Write specific things you love and appreciate about him/her.

Act of Kindness: Do something that you know will say, “I’m doing this because I love you.” Maybe it’s something they don’t like doing or a special help around the house. Vacuuming or mopping the floors is the ticket at our house.

Thoughtful Gift: Emphasis on thoughtful. Ask yourself what is something special that would say, “I know you, and you will like this.” For my wife it would be Blackcurrant Tea and a jar of cashews. Not expensive but has thoughtful written all over it.

Special Dinner: This could be taking your spouse out to a nice restaurant but could also be a candlelight dinner at home. If you don’t usually cook the meals, take over the kitchen, and make dinner. Set the atmosphere with flowers, candles, good dishes or a table cloth.

Time: In the high paced world we live in, time has become a precious gift. Slow down. Linger over the meal and dessert. Sit and relax, talk, reflect on special moments in your relationship. Last week my wife was having a bad day. After dinner she started debriefing from her day. She talked for over an hour. I just sat and listened. Finally she said to me, “Are you okay, you have not gotten up to do anything this whole time.” I have this bad habit of thinking I can do little things while she’s talking to me. Later in the week she commented how much it meant that I just sat and listened.

Words: Think about what you would like to say if you knew it was the last time you were going to see them. If words come hard, great, think how special they will be, and write them out! If you need some help formulating your thoughts, finish the following sentences:

– Thank you for being…
– I appreciate you/your…
– I look forward to growing old with you because…

Intimacy: Make your spouse feel special.   Do what you know will satisfy. (If you don’t know, then ask, “How can I express how much I love you tonight?”.) Linger in the embrace of each others arms. Go for the best lover of the year award!

Thought:  Don’t feel like you have to do everything on this list.  Pick a couple ideas and make the one you love feel special, because they are!

Apostle Paul gives us a standard to follow:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
– Letter to the Ephesians 4:32

By Mike Woodard

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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

My deepest fear was realized when I was 10 years old. I rode my bike along a narrow path that followed the bank of a swiftly moving river. I fell, with my bike, into the deep, swirling water. I began to thrash about, pleading to my older brother, “Help I’m drowning!”

With a strange calmness in his voice, he yelled, “Stand up!” I then realized I’d drifted to a shallower place in the river. Embarrassed, I did as he said. His command probably saved my life.

Over and over God calls us into relationships. God wisely pronounced in Genesis,

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

In the New Testament, the directive is clearly stated,

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus modelled how relationships can transform lives, even in situations which may seem uncomfortable.

Then turn the question around. Who needs your life-giving words, like the ones my brother spoke to me?

I am convinced I still need people in my life who will, with clarity and calmness, speak words that will save my life. Friends, mentors, or sometimes strangers, who will tell me the truth.

Are you drowning in a situation in which you need the clear words of a good friend?

Lord, I confess my desire for comfort, for shunning those uncomfortable conversations that are ultimately needed. I desire your wisdom and strength to speak, and also to receive, words that give life and save lives. May I intentionally act “as iron sharpening iron” with a godly combination of grace and truth! Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

During a recent family road trip, fast food became the restaurant of choice. My youngest daughter escorted me to the counter to help order what we all wanted to eat. As I paid, the cashier gave me $10 too much in change. I showed her the error and returned the money. As we walked away my daughter smiled. “Dad, I noticed too and was watching to see what you would do.” Wow!

The expression, “actions speak louder than words” comes to mind. Jesus was criticized on many fronts but His opponents became quiet when confronted with His deeds. The account of the blind beggar illustrates this when he was questioned by the Pharisees about Jesus’ identity. The Pharisees demanded, “‘Give glory to God by telling the truth, they said. We know this man is a sinner.’ He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!’” (John 9:24-25).

Jesus told His followers on another occasion: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:2-3). That holds a lesson for us today.

Our duty is to speak the truth, and then illustrate the truth with actions that are consistent with God’s Word. We never know who is watching to see if we do the right thing.

Dear Father, I desire to honor you. Show me the areas of my life where my words and actions do not match. Thank you for your Spirit’s presence in my life that gives me the strength to live consistent with your word. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!
Proverbs 15:23

We all have moments in life that have been really significant. They have shaped our thoughts and perspective. They are important moments!

When I was 12, I spent the day with a family friend. This friend had become like a second mom to me. We were engaged in a variety of household odd jobs when she paused and said, “Mike, you are a good boy.” My first thought was, “Really?

I had experienced few affirming words up to that point. This honored friend’s words echoed in my heart that day and somehow imprinted on my identity, and then lingered as a poignant moment in my memory for decades. Years later, I told this cherished lady how important her words had been in my search for identity. Joy shone in her face at the knowledge that her simple words had impacted me so deeply.

In God’s economy there is the principle of reaping and sowing. As we are intentional to bless and encourage, we will be blessed and encouraged. Paul states this in strong language,

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

He continues with the admonition,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

What words are you saying to someone else that will imprint on their memory and shape their identity? The seeds of your words can reap joy, today and later on.

Dear Father, help me to be an encouragement. You know every deep thought and need of those I will intersect with today and this week. May your Spirit give me simple and timely words or motivate me to acts of kindness to bless others. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
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Each of you has been blessed with one (or more) of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ, who is glorious and powerful forever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (CEV)

2019 is Upon Us! I’ve been thinking a lot about personal goals and what I want to change this year.

A general question someone asked me years ago has stuck with me: “If I keep doing what I’m doing now, will I be where I want to in one year, five years or ten years?” I’ll ask you the same in regards to your spiritual walk – if you keep doing what you are doing today, where will you be by the end of this year? In five years? In ten? Are there things that need adjustments? Are you using your God-given gifts to impact your world and make a difference?

As I think about my walk with Christ this year, three questions come to mind:

  1.  Are there any activities, books, seminars, or men’s groups I could join that will teach me something new?
  2.  What one or two things can I do in 2019 that will make me be a better reflection of Christ?
  3.  Where does Christ want me to give special attention to in 2019?

– Physical
– Relational/Family
– Financial
– Spiritual
– Intellectual
– Professional

I know from past experience my chances of success go way up if any action step or goal is clear, makes it into my weekly schedule, and I have some form of accountability. I’d like to challenge each of us to pray through and answer each question above, then make goals that will be incorporated into our everyday life, and have some way to hold yourself accountable to them. Think about the things that could happen in and through you in 2019! Christ is waiting and ready to help you make a difference in your world this year!

Lord, I want to reach new heights this year and I want to glorify You. Would You show me where you want my focus to be? Help me to choose well and to be a proper representation of You this year. Thank You for fresh beginnings. Amen.

Question: How will you answer the questions above?

By Mike Woodard

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“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 (NASB)

I don’t love him. I can’t.”

These words came out of my mouth when a friend questioned me about my relationship with — and feelings toward — my father. My father was an alcoholic. In his drunken state, he created many painful memories. At one point, my mother ended up in the hospital because of his uncontrolled actions.

In response to my protest, he simply suggested I ask God to give me His love for my father.

As I began to pray, the words, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another” came to mind. Was God suggesting that I owed a debt to my father, a debt of love?

I realized God, who is perfect, loves me without conditions. If God could love and forgive me in all my failing, how could I not extend the same to my father? I asked God to give me the capability to love and forgive my father. Slowly I began to see him through God’s eyes.

The day came. I said the words to my father — words I had never heard from him — “I love you.” He wept. Debt paid.

This step of faith changed the course of our relationship and gave me a deeper understanding of what God’s love can do. I’m so grateful my friend challenged me to love my father and so thankful to God for His love and forgiveness, and for His presence in my life, which gives me the capacity to love. Is there someone you need to love who has been unlovable?

Father God, thank you for your forgiveness and unreserved love. I need your wisdom and strength to love as you love. Thank you for your unlimited resources to live life to the full each day so that I can pay the debt of love to the people you have placed in my life. Amen

By Mike Woodard


If a relationship with God is something you crave, it can start here and now.  God cares far less about your words than the attitude of your heart.  So tell Him what you’re thinking.  Here is suggestion:

God, I believe that you created me to know you.  Thank you for sending your son Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay the penalty that I deserve.  I believe that his death and resurrection has restored me to you.  Please forgive me for everything that has offended you.  Take first place in my life and help me become the person that you created me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.


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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard

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I grew up in an alcoholic home where both my parents drank and were verbally and physically abusive.  There were not a lot words that brought life or encouragement.  Maybe that is why I remember two moments so vividly.

When I was in my early teens, a lady who was like a second mother to me said, “Mike, you are a good boy!”  I remember thinking, “Am I?” No one had ever said that to me. Those six words gave me a new picture of myself.

When I was attending university, my father said, “One of the neighbors told me that you were on the dean’s list.  I’m proud of you.”  I can’t remember any other moment quite like that one, in terms of my dad’s words to me.

Solomon says that “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24)

Bring healing and sweetness to someone’s life today through your words. Bring some as well to yourself by embracing what God says about you as His child in Ephesians 1:3-10 and Ephesians 2:10 You are:

1) God’s Best Work/Creation,
2) Chosen/Adopted as His Child,
3) Forgiven and Redeemed as His Wayward and Disobedient Son/Daughter and
4) Blessed with Everything that a Loving Father can give His Child.

by Mike Woodard
Used by Permission

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“Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” Numbers 22:28

When I considered pursuing full-time ministry, I asked a good friend if he thought God could use me in ministry. He turned to Numbers 22 and shared the story of how God prevented Balaam from cursing the people of Israel. God opened the mouth of his donkey, who then spoke to warn Balaam. As my friend read the story, I wondered out loud, “What does this story have to do with me?” His quick response: “If God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through you.”

I took great encouragement from my friend’s use of humor to communicate a profound point. God did not need my ability; He wanted my availability. If I was available, He could make me able for his purposes!

Consider some of the characters in the biblical record: Moses reluctantly responded to God’s call, but God transformed him to preserve and deliver His people. The formula for Christ’s disciples was “follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). That troupe of unlikely recruits was changed forever by making themselves fully available to Jesus.

What does availability look like? Think of a servant. When a servant wakes up, his or her main concern is the wishes of the master. Think of someone in love. Not many moments go by without thoughts of the one they love. Any request becomes a priority. The loved one’s desires are anticipated and fulfilled. Availability to God is a beautiful blend of a love and servanthood.

Dear Father, today I give You may plans, desires, and time. I desire to be available to You each moment. I long to be used by You to accomplish Your purposes. Speak through me to communicate Your love to those around me. May my ears be attentive to Your voice in the noise of my day. Amen.

By Mike Woodard
Used by Permission

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Thoughts by All Thoughts by Men thoughts by Mike Woodard