Friday, January 10, 2014

Make A Resolution That Lasts

A lot of people begin a new year with resolutions, normally all targeting self-improvement, such as, losing weight, eating healthier, exercising, etc., which are all good, definitely not bad things. There are others whose new year's resolutions may be about improving their spirituality, such as, reading through the Bible, praying regularly, fasting more often, attending church faithfully or maybe even finding a place of serving to help others grow in their Christian walk. All of these are definitely good things, both physical and spiritual. The sad thing is that most resolutions wain after January or February and so many find themselves making the same promises to 'do better' each year. Here are some helpful tips to going forward in life...

1) Make your goals realistic, something that is very doable. For instance, let's say you want to lose 30 lbs this year. Set a goal to lose 5 lbs. by March, then when you've lost the 5, set another target date to lose another 5. It is motivating to make progress, so baby steps accomplished are better than a monumental target that's not!

2) Chose a top 3 to shoot for! Select 3 of the most important things you need to improve in your life & target your determination on them instead of having an overwhelming list of 10 or more. When you've gotten those 3 in your 'done!' pile, then go ahead and select 3 more. Once again, accomplishing a little is better than a lot that's not!

3) Make improvement resolutions more than once a year. Don't wait 12 months before addressing things in your life that need to change, do it monthly! There's nothing different about January 1st from February 1st, or March 1st, or August 1st, etc., the point in case is to 'move forward'! The longer amount of time that you don't make a new start the more difficult it is, and the longer time you have to feel down about not accomplishing your goals.

4) Keep a journal concerning your goals and accomplishments. It can act as a personal accountability tool as well as an encouragement to not give up when you read it and see how far you have come. 

Here's to a GOOD Ye
ar ahead!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Those Who Have Been Forgiven Much, Love Much

Luke 7:36-50 Tells of a visit that Jesus made to a very religious man's house (Simon, a Pharisee).  A sinful woman from that town entered the home (obviously uninvited) because she had heard that Jesus was there.
She brought with her a jar of perfume which was very costly & precious.  She lavished Jesus with this perfume and worshiped Him.  Simon scolded Jesus for having anything to do with such a woman & quickly pointed out her sins.  Jesus confronted Simon's judgment with this...

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

The woman humbled herself at the feet of Jesus, recognizing Him as The Lord & herself as a sinner.  She was so busy lifting up Jesus that she didn't have eyes to see nor mind to care what others thought or said.

Simon, on the other hand, was so busy looking for other's sins and flaunting his own righteousness that he couldn't see nor worship Jesus for Who He really was!

I believe that this is a lesson that we Christians need to keep fresh in our hearts.  'Tis better to be humble at Jesus' feet than full of religiosity!  Repentance = Humbleness

When I am repentant of my wrongs I am not so focused on the wrongs of others, thus, I am able to love others more!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Life Is Full Of Questions

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)  “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we shall see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”

Life is filled with so many questions and puzzling situations.  From the time we are born, we are asking questions.  This is how we learn.  We ask, we receive an answer, then we are more knowledgeable than before, however, the older we grow, the more questions that go unanswered.  Now, we can come up with many alternative answers to ease our questioning minds, but we have to admit, many of those don’t settle the uneasiness of our hearts, in that, we know the answer is still beyond our reach. 

Many of us have said on more than one occasion, “One day I’m going to sit down with Jesus and ask Him all of my questions.”  I personally believe that when we arrive in heaven, we won’t need to ask any questions, we will suddenly know the answers.  I John 3:2 (ESV) “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”  We will have a perfect body and a perfect mind.  We will be like him!

Knowing these things helps me deal with life’s questions.  I know that one day, all my questions will have answers and all the puzzling dilemmas of this life will be over.  I can rest as a child, trusting that my Father God will take care of me, knowing that even in death, life is not over; I will be embarking on a new beginning that will have no end.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Strong Tower

Psalm 61:1-3 (NIV) “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

When I think about a strong tower, I am reminded of a fortress.  One definition of the word 'fortress' found in the dictionary says, “a place or source of refuge or support”.  In Medieval times, regions of land were ruled by a king and that king lived in a castle.  The castle was usually surrounded by something that formed a barrier, like a body of water (moat) or a thick wall.  The castle had towers that were high and strong, built both for the ability to see a far distance and to be high above the battle.  It would provide protection from flying arrows that could not reach that high.  This is the type of structure the Psalmist compares God with.  He calls Him a rock that is higher than he was.

II Samuel 22:4 (NASB) “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation.”  Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV) “My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

We should be reminded that it’s not only when trouble shakes us that God is that strong tower for us, but also when we fail.  Both are brought on by an enemy.  Sin entered this world through Satan when he led man into disobeying God.  Man hid from God because of his failure.  But he should have run to Him instead, because God was the only one who could remedy what he had done.  It’s kind of like a child that has broken a beautiful vase.  That child hides the vase and tries to repair it, to no avail.  When the parent discovers the deed, the situation is now worse because of the lies and secrecy the child has done.  The parent is the one who can either repair or replace the vase and give the child discipline so that he will take more thought and care in the future, possibly preventing something worse from happening.  When Adam and Eve tried to repair their situation, they wove clothing made from fig leaves to cover them.  Have you ever taken a fig leaf and rubbed it on your skin?  Not very comfortable!  When they finally gave their deed to God, He made clothing for them from animal skins.  Fur must have felt much better than fig leaves!

We so need to run to God and dwell in Him, whether our trouble comes from an attack from the outside or from the enemy leading us to a failure on the inside, God is the rock that is higher.  He is the place where we can find rest for our souls and food for our spirit.  He is a strong tower where we can hide from the flying arrows that are aimed at taking us out of the battle.  Run to the strong tower and find safety, comfort, mercy and grace.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Lazy Is NOT Cool

Proverbs 24:30-34 (NIV) “I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.  I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest– and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”

I grew up with parents who taught me not to be lazy.  In fact, everyone in our household had jobs to do.  When I was just a little girl, my mother had me helping with the laundry, dusting furniture, washing dishes and taking care of our pets.  As I grew older, my tasks expanded, according to my abilities.  When we moved to a small farm, I began helping my dad with outside chores, cutting grass, trimming hedges, caring for the farm animals and working in the vegetable garden.  As most children, I complained at times, but in all honesty, I truly enjoyed staying busy and experiencing the results of my work.  As an adult, I have never been without a job when one was needed and I still enjoy the results of a job well done.

This scripture speaks about the writer seeing someone’s vineyard that had been left untended.  He calls the person a sluggard.  Webster’s Dictionary uses these synonyms to describe a sluggard: couch potato, deadbeat, do-nothing, drone, idler, layabout, loafer, slouch, lazybones.  Because the owner of the vineyard was lazy, it had gone to waste and had become worthless.

Proverbs 13:4 (NLT) says it best, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”

Very few things in life come without effort.  Sadly, there’s some people who put a lot of effort into getting things through fraud or crime, but be assured, just as a seed is sown into the ground, it will bring forth a crop.  Galatians 6:7 (NIV) “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”

It is best to sow diligence and hard work, you will surely reap its rewards and benefits!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Something New

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!”

Everybody likes new things!  At the moment, I am shopping for something new to give my grandchildren for their birthday.  They are triplets and will be two years old.  Needless to say, they will be excited to receive a new toy from their grandmother and I will be excited too!  That’s the way it is with something new… exciting! 

God encourages us with this scripture to look forward to new, exciting things that He is going to do.  When we dwell in the past, especially our failures, shortcomings, losses, misfortunes, disappointments and such, we are robbed of joy, peace and happiness.  There’s nothing more depressing than to spend time thinking on all these types of things.  But Isaiah says to forget these things and to not live in the past.

Micah 7:19 (NIV) “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” 

If God throws our sins into the sea, who are we to drag them up again?  If we’ve asked His forgiveness, He forgives AND forgets!  We actually block the new and exciting things God wants to do in our lives by holding onto our failures. 

Have you ever tried to walk somewhere while you’re looking behind?  You probably stumbled off the path if you did.  We need to keep our eyes looking ahead, not behind.  Whatever we have our focus set upon is exactly where we set our life to go.

Heavenly Father, help us find
Joy in thinking
Of Your love.
Help us lose
Thoughts of our sins,
And leave them in
The sea of forgetfulness.
Heavenly Father, help us rest
On Your promises,
They are best
Suited for life’s every test.
Help us expect something new
Straight from heaven
Straight from You!   

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baa Or But?

Matthew 25:31-33 (NRSVB)  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

As I was I in prayer this week over a dear sister who has befallen into dire physical complications, already spending many weeks in the hospital, with seemingly more weeks yet to come, I was not only distraught about her condition, but also about the growing indifference of believers who declare they are too busy to visit her or even give her a call.  This sister has been a member of our church for twenty years, so it’s not that she is new and relatively unknown, and sadly, this is not the only case that I’ve noticed this growing dilemma.  When asked if they’ve called or been able to drop by, they excuse themselves because their lives are so busy; jobs, children, grandchildren, etc.  If anyone understands busy, I do, and I must admit my own shortcomings, too, that I haven’t always been as outreaching either.

As I was praying over this matter, this scripture in Matthew came to my mind.  I looked it up and even though I remembered basically what it said, I was quite taken aback for the distinction it made between the sheep and the goats.  Let’s read on.

 34 “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Now I’m sure you have heard this scripture taught many times, just as I have, and it is usually during a mission outreach or missions fundraising effort, reminding us that as we give to send missionaries out, they are doing these things, and there is truth in that.  I can’t go to India and Africa, or to the Amazon, but I can help send someone else and thus, I have a part in it.  But in the next verses, it appears that Christ is talking about something far closer to home.

37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

In the King James Version of the Bible, verse 40 says, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible says, “members of my family”.  It appears that Jesus is speaking about our brothers and sisters in Christ!

So these are the people who are seated at the right hand of Jesus in Glory, the sheep who know the voice of their Shepherd and follow where He leads, John 10:27.  What would Jesus Do?  He would visit the sick, encourage the downtrodden, give to one who has a need, make a stranger feel welcome, visit those in prison.  As Christians (like Christ) we follow our Shepherd and obey His voice when we do these things. 

What are the characteristics of goats?  Well, let me tell you, if you want to deal with something that is exasperating and annoying, deal with a goat!  We have raised a few goats in our time and even used our Billy goat in a couple of church dramas.  That Billy never did what we needed him to do when he was supposed to do it.  In one drama, just as the shepherd character walked in front of the congregation with Billy, he just fell down on the floor and laid there!  The guy finally had to pick him up and drag him to the spot where he was supposed to stand!  Then Billy stood beside the shepherd and tried to eat the scenery and chewed on the shepherd’s robe the entire time.

Our goats would continually press their boundaries, even though we had electrical wire fencing in front of the regular fence.  Eventually they would make a way to get out.  They also climbed trees or anything else that would get them higher than the ground, and there’s nothing worse than the sound of a silly goat who is not a happy camper! 

Goats are "restless" and like to roam. Goats constantly challenge the boundaries set by the Shepherd. (They are never satisfied with where they are) In Jeremiah, God speaks of his sheep being scattered in the mountains like he-goats before the flock.
Goats are very curious, always looking for something to get into. Psalms 104:18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;
 Goats don't like to follow, they like to lead, always have to be out in front. They are always sure "they" know where the flock needs to go.

 “41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

John 13:12 – 17 (NIV)  “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

So the Great Shepherd is asking us today – which section do we want to be seated in, the Goat Section or the Sheep Section?   I pray that we will be His sheep!