The Birth of Grace to Give Away

 “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you” These are the words that the Angel Gabriel said to Mary when he came to bring her the news that she would be the mother of Jesus, and the Bible says she was perplexed at this greeting. I imagine so, it’s not every day an Angel shows up to say hello and tells you you’re going to have a baby and oh wait, you’re a virgin! (most of us would probably want to go in hiding or have our heads examined) And a few verses later the angel follows with “do not be afraid Mary, for you have found FAVOR with God”.

 That word FAVOR is very important , it comes from the word “chairo” which means to rejoice, be glad, be well, rejoice exceedingly. Favor used by the angel Gabriel is “charis” and means filled with Grace, that which brings joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, grace of speech, and loveliness.

 Mary being filled with Grace, chosen by God to bring His son to this earth, sets a good example for us, to be joyful, be a delight, be sweet, be charming and lovely, from the inside out. As women, in the culture we live in today we don’t have very good examples of what favor, or being filled with Grace would look like. We are pounded from every direction with the things we are told in ads or commercials of what things will bring us joy, or pleasures, clothes, makeup, hair that would make us look lovely… temporary things that we can delight in.. and when was the last time you saw a leading lady in a movie, or TV show that was the example of sweetness, charm or loveliness? (only on the Hallmark channel) it will not happen because culture teaches us “it’s all about me”, “things” make me happy, I want what I want any way I can get it. But being filled with Grace, Grace from the inside out, is the opposite of that and will make people question why you are different. And it should be noted, that in Luke 1 : 46-55 in Mary’s great poem, sometimes called The Magnificat it is obvious that Mary knew who God was, her King and Father, and knew His scriptures. This is our tool for living like grace, living with bestowed favor.

 Can you imagine being greeted “oh favored one”? Guess what, if you have trusted Jesus for your salvation, as daughters of the King… you are His favored ones. But the thing is, being favored… having been shown Grace, the unmerited favor of God, we just can’t keep it for ourselves. Jesus was born for it, Grace was costly, Jesus gave His life for it, God gave His Son for it and we must Give Grace Away, extend it to others.

 Now, don’t go greeting anyone with “greetings favored one”, yes… they will think you have lost your mind! But live with Grace on your face, Give Grace Away… live joyfully, be a delight, have your speech full of grace. 1 Peter 3:3-4, teaches “let your adornment be.. a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

 And finally, practice these things, In Philippians 4:8 Paul wrote ..”whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. “

 So go share Grace, bestow unmerited favor on your children, your hubby, your coworkers, your family, your neighbors, and so on and when you do, you put skin on Jesus. Give the gift of Grace away, move people, give it away freely, because you understand the cost baby Jesus paid, because it’s been bestowed on you with love unimaginable at the greatest price … you are not alone, “the Lord is with you” and You Are Loved.

                                                               Giving is the beginning of Grace.

You know you need a Parenting class when…

  1. Preschool teacher calls home on several occasions concerned about your child’s behavior
  2. Extended family members tell you that you have a lot of patience with your kids
  3. A new church you visited calls you and tells you that they don’t have any room for your 2 year old
  4. A friend tells you

Well, I wish I could say I got the message above when it happened to me but to be honest, I really didn’t see it.  We were brand new Christians when we moved to Georgia and finally found MHCC (formerly called The Church @ West Cobb) it was definitely a “God directed appointment.”  After another church that we were visiting handed me my two year old and said they didn’t have any room left, (she was quite a handful!) I knew we needed to find a different church.  And this church was offering a parenting class which was suggested that we look into it!  It may have been offered just because of us, I’ll never know, but I’m eternally grateful for it.

A little history before I get started.  When MHCC was launching a bunch of small groups they were encouraging everyone to plug into one of them and get connected.  I really wanted to do a marriage bible study but my husband wanted to do a parenting bible study.  We had a very “child focused” home and I thought our marriage could use some attention.  However, I let my husband decide since I was so grateful we were doing something together!  One of the first lessons we learned in good parenting was…..put your marriage first ☺  Isn’t God good!  If you’re looking for more on marriage, check out the marriage blog!

Our parenting Bible Study was based on the book called, Love Them, Discipline Them by Betty N. Chase and of course, the Bible.  In the very first week my husband and I had learned so much and realized that we had not been doing or known to do any of the suggested parenting tools that were based on biblical principles in the 10 years since we had become parents.  I was devastated and with that, and I started to cry in front of everyone because I thought it was too late.  I was quickly comforted by all the members of the small group and I distinctly remember one Dad telling me it’s never too late with God and that God will meet us where we are and He will help us.  And that, He did indeed!  

Consistent discipline is biblical, necessary and a gift to you and your children!  The form of discipline may vary from child to child and age of the child, however don’t neglect God’s wisdom in the Proverbs.  Proverbs 13:24 he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.  Proverbs 22:6 train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you stay in control and have the upper hand.

  1. Daddy & Mommy are always united (at least in front of the children) If one parent says “yes” and the other says “no” then you will have chaos.  Always be united in front of the kids and discuss the differences later in private.
  2. Maintain a schedule/routine and stick with it!  Children thrive with structure and a daily routine i.e. dinner, bath, bed (bedtime is very important, it requires a lot of follow through and hard work on the parents end, but it is necessary for good health and good behavior.  Once a routine is established, it won’t be so difficult to follow and eventually they will automatically comply.
  3. There are 3 basic areas that require discipline –if the child’s behavior falls under this umbrella of behavior it must be addressed every time.
    1. Lying
    2. Disobedience
    3. Disrespect

umbrella

Don’t let any of these behaviors go undisciplined.  The earlier you start with your children the easier it is for you as they get older.  The more consistent you are with following through, the easier your life will be.  It’s tiring and you will be tested, but persevere and don’t give up, because the prize awaits you and is worth it!

A love affair: It can Happen to you

A love affair: It can Happen to you.  This is the name of the first chapter of a book by Ed Wheat, M.D. and Gloria Okes Perkins called Love Life For Every Married Couple.  Does that idea seem foreign or impossible to you at this time?  Don’t worry.  You are not alone.  Many couples, even mutually devoted Christian couples, struggle with marital issues at one time or another.  If you are currently struggling or feeling unfulfilled in your marriage, I recommend that you read this book along with the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.  These books give different but united and definitive instruction on how to have a satisfying and strong marriage.  Note that I did not say happy.  As you probably know, marriage was not designed to make us happy.  Our spouses can never make us happy, because this is not their design. God, our designer, is the only One who can bring true fulfillment.  God is the only One who can satisfy our souls.  Still, our Designer designed marriage.  Gary Thomas suggests, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  This is a concept worth exploring in his book, Sacred Marriage.  He goes on to say, “If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me happy, then I’d have to get a new marriage every two or three years.”  He believes that much of the dissatisfaction we experience in marriage comes from expecting too much from it.  So, what do we do?  Lower our expectations?  Well, let’s not think of it in that way, but what about if we do expect less of our husbands and more of God?  Expect God to meet our needs. Expect God to fulfill that emptiness.  Expect God to be sufficient.  Expect God to love us the way we need to be loved.  He is ready to do this for us.  He is able to do this for us.  We just need to spend time with Him daily and spend time in prayer and He will provide for us!  I have seen this play out with my own two eyes.  If you begin to rely more on God, you can begin to take the pressure off of your spouse to meet your needs.  As the Holy Spirit begins to work in and through you, you will begin to see a difference in your marriage.  Please take time to read these books if you struggle in any way or if your spouse seems to be struggling.

I know that some marriages are truly troubled and the challenges seem insurmountable.  That is where we let God teach us this concept of allowing our marriage to make us holy (more like God) rather than happy.  We must stop embracing the current thought of our culture, ‘do what makes you happy.”   Gary Thomas gives an example of this with the 23 year marriage of Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd.    Apparently, it was no picnic.  She was known for her extreme mood swings, fierce temper and public outbursts.  It is documented that Lincoln’s faith allowed him to see her through God’s eyes, as a child of God.  This enabled him to treat her with love and kindness. He chose to serve God and trust God in this area of his life.  It is believed that the difficult lessons he learned in dealing with his wife helped him then deal with a country that was divided and full of conflict and controversy.  His marriage taught him patience and endurance.  He certainly needed this as he led our country through one of the most difficult times in our country’s history.  Our 16th president is an example of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

With God’s help, Lincoln remained a loving husband as he worked to unite a hurting and torn nation.  His marital struggles helped mold him into a humble man who relied on God for his strength and peace.  

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  What if you can indeed have a love affair with your spouse that will change the current direction of your life and/or your current mindset?  It can happen to you…with God’s help! Begin praying today for your spouse and for your marriage.  Pick up one or both of these books as a starting point.  Seek Godly counsel.  I will be in prayer for those who might be reading this and with whom this struggle resounds. 

“So let us not grow tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9  

Gratitude is an Attitude

We are coming up on the season of Thanksgiving…. so it seems appropriate to start this month with a thought about words like Thankfulness, Gratitude, and Thanksgiving.   Being thankful isn’t something that comes natural to us, since our nature is tweaked to be selfish – “It’s all about me!”  Being thankful takes a little work.  Looking at Gratitude might be a good place for us to start… Gratitude is  defined as the quality of being thankful.   All of us can think of things for which we are thankful.  Students were asked to write a composition entitled “What I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving”.  One wrote, “I am thankful I’m not that turkey!”  Another child writes a thank you note to God, “Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I really prayed for was a puppy!”  Oh golly, kids little minds are fantastic! As adults, we would probably say we are thankful for our jobs, homes, spouse, children and so on, but what about having Gratitude when life is hard?

Paul shares a lot about thankfulness and gratitude. In Philippians 4:6-7 he writes, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus.”  The little part, (which is pretty big news) we sometimes miss here is what happens when we use thanksgiving,  it brings PEACE.  Colossians 3:15… “let the PEACE of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful”. In many other places Paul writes about gratitude and thankfulness, it appears he thought it was pretty important.

When life is hard, that’s when it is the most difficult to have Gratitude, to be thankful, you have to dig deep… BUT… if we can work to have an Attitude of Gratitude, God promises Peace.  What a comforting promise to know if we can put our mind to being thankful, that He will make us peaceful.  Sometimes it means looking at the challenges our world, friends, family or neighbors face and maybe our situation doesn’t look so difficult. Or maybe we look at our own hard situation and ask God to show us what is the thing I should be thankful for… someone said, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet”.   And maybe, just maybe, if we can have an Attitude of Gratitude then we can turn it into a giving attitude, and share a little thankfulness with others, and then when our hearts are so full with peace, we can turn it into worship toward God as David wrote in Psalms 26:7, “that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders”, or Psalms 9:1 “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart”.  

So as a practice of Gratitude, maybe to do with your children, your spouse, your girlfriends etc… every day in the month of November write down something you are thankful for, and see if you can grow that Attitude of Gratitude.  As Hebrews 12:28  encourages us, “therefore since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe”. And then turn that Gratitude into some Love, and share it with someone who desperately needs a little Peace in their world.

Be Mary So That You Can Be Martha

Jesus tells us a story that is found in Luke 10: 38-41.  It is about two sisters named Martha and Mary.  Martha was so busy getting the preparations done because Jesus and his disciples were staying at their house.  Mary, Martha’s sister, was not helping her but rather sitting and listening to Jesus.  Martha was upset with Mary for not helping and asked Jesus to please say something to Mary.  But Jesus defended Mary and said “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Years ago, as a new believer and a mother of four young children 9, 7, 5, & 2, I was knee deep and overwhelmed in “mommy” stuff.  I was flooded with laundry, dishes, housework, toys, homework, soccer, dance, basketball, doctors, dentists and orthodontist appointments.  There seemed to be no extra time to spend with God and I felt guilty if I did because there was so much work to be done.   

But then I received the absolute best parenting advice from a dear friend of mine MHCC and that was to “Put God First!”  Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Mary put God first, and Jesus said that is the best way.

So, on that first morning, not setting an alarm clock, somehow my eyes opened at 6:33 and I immediately was reminded by the Holy Spirit to seek first the kingdom of God!  I very quietly, got up, before the kids and made some coffee and spent 10-15 minutes with God.  The morning was so calm and quiet.  I could really focus on reading His Word and praying to Him and what an amazing gift that was!  My day went so well that I knew it was God.  He was revealing to me that He is faithful to His word!  I was in utter amazement of the amount of work I was able to accomplish and the smoothness of the day.  He ordered my steps, He made a way!  By me being like Mary and making God my priority, I could then be Martha and get the work done!  That was proof enough for me to continue this day after day.  In fact, I so enjoyed my quiet time with God that I would awaken earlier so I could spend more time with Him.

Try it for yourself!  Awaken before the kids and the chaos to spend 10-15 minutes with God and read His word and pray to Him.  Share your worries and concerns with Him.  Pray for you and your kiddos.  Ask for help.  Psalm 62:8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.

Are you on the “Struggle” train?

I have a really silly question…Do you struggle? I know it’s crazy to ask, because I know that the answer is “yes!” We all have our struggles, but sometimes in the church atmosphere it is easier to hide our struggles than it is to talk about them.  Satan knows our struggles, and he likes to remind us of them on a day to day basis. Satan has come to steal, kill, and destroy. He has come to steal our joy, kill our self-esteem, and destroy our lives. Today, I want you to be reminded of the promises in God’s word. Isn’t it wonderful that God gave us His word? We have the ultimate weapon to fight back these thoughts that come into our head!

I am reminded of the story in Mark where the paralytic man is in deep need of healing. He was so desperate for healing that he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way. I love the website shereadstruth.com. It is a site that has all kinds of devotions, but I love how she explains the parable of the paralyzed man. Here’s an excerpt from that site:

There’s a crowd in the way? No matter. There’s a roof in the way? No matter. Nothing deterred them from getting the help they were seeking. Their faith in Jesus’ power to heal enabled them to break through any barrier—literally.

Their tenacity moved Jesus. Scripture says when He saw their persistent faith, He uttered, “Son, your sins are forgiven!” (Mark 2:5). Jesus started with the inner healing of the heart, but didn’t stop there. He then commanded the man to get up and walk so the resistant religious leaders could see He had the authority of God to not only heal bodies, but also to forgive sins.

We want the external; Jesus goes after the internal.

We want what is seen; Jesus goes after what is unseen.

Did He want the man to walk? Absolutely. Did He go after the healing of his heart? Fundamentally.

The nature of Jesus never changes. He always heals, always redeems, always restores. Our role is to come. When we reach our moment of desperate brokenness, no longer denying our sickness of heart and mind, we will do whatever it takes to get well. There we will behold His face, hear His voice, and receive His healing touch.

That’s the gospel, simple and plain. Jesus said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

I want to be among the ones who know they are sinners—broken, weary, in desperate need of a Savior. I want to experience a break-through-the-rooftop kind of healing. I pray the Holy Spirit will convict me, moment by moment, again and again. His conviction is a grace, a kindness, and a revelation that all is not well. But the healing we need is found in the forgiveness of our Savior, Jesus.

http://shereadstruth.com/2016/08/16/jesus-forgives-and-heals/

Isn’t that a beautiful truth? Let’s be bold, and come to Jesus with our struggles. Let’s confess them to Him so that He can begin a healing work in us.

There is a zebra at the end of this post

I have been sitting at my computer now for over an hour, trying to figure out where and how to start this blog. How do you do a blog post about Mother’s Day? I mean, I used to hate Mother’s Day with a passion. I always celebrated my mom on Mother’s Day, but deep inside me I longed to be a mom…and I hated going to church on Mother’s Day. So, if you are one who is currently struggling with this…I GET IT!

As I started really thinking about this, I started thinking about other women who struggle with Mother’s Day too. I found this list on Lifeways website:

  • Women struggling with infertility
  • Single women
  • Moms who have lost a child
  • Women who have lost their moms
  • Women who live far away from their moms
  • Moms who have dysfunctional relationships with their children
  • Women who have dysfunctional relationships with their moms
  • Moms who have had an abortion
  • Moms who are waiting for adoption
  • Moms who have placed their children for adoption
  • Moms who have lost their children to the child protective services
  • Moms of children with special needs or facing health issues
  • Moms with children who are with their stepmom for the weekend
  • Stepmoms who are struggling with finding balance in the midst of a blended family

There are probably even more scenarios that aren’t here. As Mother’s Day is nearing, I find it safe to say that moms, women who aren’t moms, and women in all walks of life, need encouragement on Mother’s Day.

A precious hymn keeps playing over and over in my head. Here it is…I expect you to sing it as you read it 😉

“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word”. Do you realize how sweet this actually is? His word is full of promises to us, His children. Here are a few promises that he has for us. These can be applied to all  women, in any scenario:

  1. He is our help

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

**Let’s remind ourselves of this as we go about our days! He will help us!

 

  1. He strengthens us

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

**Now you know where you get your “superwomen” strength from. Keep this in mind and run to him for rest. I know you feel overwhelmed…but God has strengthened you.

 

  1. He will never leave us, or forsake us.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

And surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalms 23:6

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. – John 14:16-17

 

  1. He LOVES us!

I could list hundreds of promises God has for us in His word.

This Mother’s Day, I pray that you know that He sees you in your current place, know that He wants you to call on Him for strength, know that He will never leave you, and know  that He loves you. I urge you to rest, and find joy in His promises. Even in times like these…

He Has Risen

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

And our creator…  

“God so loved this world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. “

This Son, Jesus….

“was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.”

He was not punished with death eternally.  The angel testified:

“Don’t be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here.

He has risen!”

And hundreds of witnesses testified and died proclaiming this truth, the good news for all people.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. “

Acts 17:24-28,  John 3:16,  Isaiah 53:5 (prophecy of Christ 600 years BC),
1 Timothy 5,6,  Mark 16:6,  Hebrews 4:16, Romans 8:38,39

Finding True Love

We all yearn to be loved.  Every year we have a holiday to accentuate how loved, or unloved, we are feeling.  That lovely day is called Valentine’s Day.  It is a well-loved tradition for many and a boycotted nightmare for others.  Some feel that because it started out as a pagan holiday, we as Christians should not celebrate it.  You can find thousands of messages on social media calling for an end to Valentine’s Day.  One message I came across read, “Happy unimaginative consumerist-oriented and entirely arbitrary manipulative and shallow interpretation of romance day.”  Wow.  Those are some strong feelings for such a day that is supposed to celebrate love.  Love.  Love is one of the most over-used and misunderstood words in the dictionary.  There is no wonder why when we go to the dictionary for the meaning.  Our Webster defines it as, “An intense feeling of deep affection.” If we are all yearning to feel an intense feeling of deep affection, our human counter parts are bound to let us down!  They are set up for failure from the get-go!  

After my father died, I was going through some of his things and came across a poem scribbled out in his shaky handwriting.  It simply read:

One life is not enough. Not enough time.
Each sunset bothers me. Another day gone.
I want to be young again.
Something passed me by (or maybe I passed it by)
Life’s not so bad, just too short.
By the time you see how you should’ve lived your life, it’s gone.
When I think of life, I wish I had lived it.
When I think of love, I wish I had found it.

This breaks my heart.  My father did not feel that he had found that “intense feeling of deep affection.”  Oh, if he could only have known the real meaning of the word LOVE.  If we all could grasp the true meaning of the word, there would be no reason to feel so let down at the end of life, as my father did, or to feel let down by the celebration of a romantic holiday or let down by others in our lives.

Let’s define the true meaning of LOVE.  As you read this, please try not to be taken back to a time when you were standing in an ugly bridesmaid dress listening to a gal in a peach-colored dress suit quoting these words.  Open your heart and mind and hear them fresh and new:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.   1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is not that excited feeling you get.  It is not the warm-fuzzies.  It is not lust, it is not romance.  It is not “feeling intense deep affection” for someone.  It is NOT a feeling.  

True love is treating your husband with kindness even when you want to rip his head off!  Perhaps today he made you “feel” furious or worse yet – unloved. You make the CHOICE to treat him kindly.  You serve him and speak kind words to him anyway.  Perhaps yesterday a friend of yours did not include you in on lunch plans with the ladies in your neighborhood.  You CHOOSE to not become easily angered.  You hope that there is a reason you might be unaware of.  You do not allow pride or envy to take over, though you “feel” hurt.  You CHOOSE to bear all things.  You continue to treat others kindly.  The love our amazing heavenly Father taught us about is an ACTION, not a feeling.  It is making a choice to act out the above words even when we do not feel like doing so.  

Be patient.  Choose to be kind.  Bear all things.  Do not envy.  Choose not to be prideful.  Choose to hope and choose to endure.  That is what true love is.  True love is God.  We can never fully act out all of these words because we are sinful humans.  We live in a fallen world.  However, we can choose to seek God.  We can choose to accept the grace and love of Jesus Christ, freely given to us all.  We can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the strength to ACT in a loving way, even when we do not FEEL like doing so.  

So, today, make a choice to treat everyone in your life with God’s definition of love, allowing His Spirit to reign in you, giving you the help you need to live it out.

In closing I love this quote by Tozer and want to share it with you.  It gives an awesome picture of what it looks like to strive for God’s amazing LOVE.

“Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know, we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” 

 A.W. TozerThe Knowledge of the Holy

New Year’s resolution?

According to Gotquestions.org “the practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning.”

In our family, we celebrated the new year with tightly held-to traditions.  The Christmas tree and all decorations must be taken down before the New Year or we might have “bad luck.”  We ate greens and black-eyed peas for prosperity on New Year’s Day.  We would make a list of things that we wanted to change or do differently/better in the new year.  Sound familiar?  For years I made this New Year’s Resolution list.  

What was your tradition?  Did you make a list?  Do you still make a list?  I know one thing; it changes over the years, does it not?  

As a young mom I might’ve recorded that I want to spend more quality time with my children.  As a mom of teens, my goal might be more time away from them! (Just kidding, girls)

This past Sunday, a beautiful woman from our church asked me how my Christmas had been and if I had made any New Year Resolutions.  I paused.  I had not.  I have not in years.  For a moment I thought, “Should I come up with something wise and wonderful to say that I want to change in the new year?” Then, the truth came out and I said, “I am just working on all the things that need to change all the time.” (or something like that)

Years ago, I tired of making resolutions that I never fully followed through on.  After all, I really need to work on those things daily, not just at the beginning of a new year, right?

How does God feel about our tradition of New Year’s resolutions?  The Bible really does not speak against it or for it.  Our resolutions are usually positive things that God would want for us, are they not?  Most of you reading this probably would list something like this:  Read the Bible more, become more active at church, exercise more, lose a few pounds, eat healthier, be kinder, spend quality time with family, stay better in touch with friends/family, learn patience, control temper, and so on.  Pretty common list, I imagine.   These are all things that could be pleasing to God.  However, the place where we must check ourselves is in our motivation to do these things.  Is our motive to honor God with these changes?  Do we want to read the Bible more to feel better about ourselves or to check it off a religious to-do list or is it out of a desire to know Him better?  What about eating healthier and exercising more?  God wants us to take care of our bodies and be healthy, but if our motivation is in any way for our vanity or pride, then He is not pleased with this.  If we desire to be healthy so that we can serve Him better and be a more useful instrument to Him, then He is pleased and will help us as we strive for this goal.

1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

As we hold on to the promise of this life to come, a “new year” can be useful in helping us to refocus on what really matters. Let’s use this time of New Year’s reflection to evaluate if God is at the center of our lives as He should be. Perhaps our resolution can be to focus more regularly, in fact daily, on those things that we need to change, praying for the Holy Spirit to work on us from the inside out.  

Gotquestions.org lists some resolutions that fit with God’s desires for us.  Here are their suggestions:

  1. Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make;
  2. Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you;
  3. Rely on God’s strength to help you;
  4. Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you;
  5. Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead, allow them to motivate you further;
  6. Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6 says, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

God desires good for us.  He wants us to succeed and will help us succeed when our goal is to honor Him and to love Him more.  To begin the new year, Pastor Tom has asked us to read through Psalm 119.  Read or re-read this Psalm with me and let’s start this New Year off with an awesome, God-glorifying kind of BANG!

By Claire Christa

« Older posts

© 2016

Up ↑