Archive | November 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

Colossians 2:6-8 – “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Thanksgiving is two short days away. I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner. But, oh my, with work, running my son to soccer and laundry, I’m just praying to get it all done this year. I just got my 20 lb. turkey in the brine this morning. The bread for the dressing is drying. But there is still a lot to be done.

And then there is “Black Friday”. The insanity of it all is wild! Stores are opening on Thanksgiving day just for the almighty dollar. How sad! Their employees don’t get that special day with loved ones. They have to be at work. And for what? For somebody to get a present that may or may not be appreciated and that may or may put them deeper into debt.

Oftentimes, we loose sight of Thanksgiving. It gets gobbled up by Christmas every year. I think part of the reason that the world does this is so that we won’t remember and recognize all that we have to be thankful for. Because in doing that, we realize that we don’t need as much and then we don’t buy as much. And then I loose sight because of my preparation for the meal. In trying be and do it all, my thankfulness goes out the window.

Our pastor reminded us Sunday of some little notecards that had been left in the vestibule at church. They said, “What if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things you were thankful for today?” I’ve heard that little question before but never really took it to heart. There are days when I would have a lot and days that I would have nothing at all.

One year I did a thankful journal. I think I’m going to do another one next year. It seems to me that by purposefully writing down what I am thankful for each and every day helps to keep my heart in an attitude of gratitude all year long.

You know, Christ lived a life a gratitude to the Father. He knew His time on this earth was limited and He wanted to make the most of it. The world tried to take His attitude of gratitude away. He knew the power of gratitude. He knew that it holds the key to humbleness and love.

With gratitude and thanksgiving comes a realization that you would be and have nothing without Him. There is no way you could love without Him. The job you have, the car you drive, the food you eat, the home you live in – all are blessings from Him. And even when things are sparse or poor, He still is blessing you in some way – you may just have to look a little harder for it.

So, as we face the two days before Thanksgiving, my challenge to you is this – be thankful. Be grateful. Let the distractions fall away and choose to see your blessings. And then, thank Him. Because without Him, we would be nothing.

Practicing flexibility

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 – “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

It is hard to be flexible sometimes. We have our plan and we want to stick to it. But sometimes life happens and throws a monkey wrench in all that we have laid out to do.

My son came down sick yesterday. I should have known something was terribly wrong when he only at one of the three waffles he usually has for breakfast. All of my fears of him being sick were confirmed yesterday when he didn’t play in his soccer game. He LOVES soccer. We got him home and he had a fever of 100.5. Off to bed he went with no school in his future for today.

A sick child can really mess with your plans. Oh, I know, it’s not the “persecution” and “cast down” mentioned in these verses but it is important nonetheless. These verses do encourage us to be the light through all that comes along beside us. But it is hard to be the light when your plans take an unexpected turn. It is difficult not to feel troubled and perplexed. Yet these are the times when we are supposed to show the Light even brighter. That Light shines brighter when we trust Him completely with all the things that might be bothering us.

So today, princess, if your plans go all wacky, don’t become perplexed and troubled. Just put on your big girl undies and be flexible about it. Trust that God is bigger than an illness or an unexpected delay or a car break down or traffic or whatever comes between you and your plans for today.

Meet the need

1 John 3:17,18 – “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Last night at our youth group meeting, one of the young men brought a lesson based on these verses. He did an amazing job. So this morning, I’m giving you my take on the verses.

It’s one week until Thanksgiving. One week before we stuff ourselves full of holiday goodies. One week until the shopping frenzy officially begins. One week until the world tries to continue its quest to make us forget the reason for the season – the day we celebrate the most perfect Gift making His way into His creation as a baby.

It’s the time of year that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our hearts may make that proclamation but do our actions? Christ’s coming as an infant was about love. He loved us so much that He was willing to give up the wonders of Heaven for the burden of human life. He was willing to be our sacrifice. He provided us with the gift of forgiveness by His death on the cross. He also provided us with the gift of eternal life by rising from the grave three days after His death.

Jesus’ life and ministry was all about love. Not necessarily the warm squishy kind, but always the true kind.

So, how do these verses relate? Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are probably in America. (If not, I would love to know where you are at!) God has truly blessed us here. Even the poorest people have more than the poorest in other countries. Yet, it is not enough. We want more. But in these verses, we are encouraged to give. Give of our self. Give of our time. Give of our blessings. There are so many organizations and people out there asking for assistance this time of year. It’s not hard to find someone to give some of your blessings to.

Giving a gift takes sacrifice. It costs something. It requires you to be humble. It makes you realize a need and choose to step up and meet it. Jesus saw the need for salvation and forgiveness in our life. He stepped up and filled the need. We have the opportunity to see the need in others. The question is: Will we step up to meet the need in others lives or will we continue to focus only on the wants in our own life?

Love is an action word. The word “love” can be said all day long but until there is some action behind it, it is nothing more than a word. Giving and love go hand in hand. A true gift given cannot be given with the attitude of begrudging. If it is given in this attitude, it is more of a prize – something you get for doing something. Not near as special in that light.

The young man who brought the lesson last night challenged us to complete a random act of service this week. He asked us to give the gift of service to someone unexpectedly. One example he gave was paying it forward. Have you ever been in the drive through line of a restaurant and found out that the person in front of you paid for your purchase? That is what a random act of service could look like. Or maybe you shovel someone’s driveway early in the morning. Or maybe you rake someone’s leaves from the yard. Or maybe you take a day off and go and volunteer at a shelter of some sort. Anything that puts you in the position to choose to serve someone other than yourself.

You see, love requires action. We are expected to show Jesus’ love to the world. We are expected to tell others about His gift. How can we love the world and tell others of His gift when we “seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him”? We have to live and love out loud and with action behind it.

So this week, don’t get caught up in the insanity of the holidays. Choose to see a need and meet it. Meet it without expectation of recognition or praise or honor. Meet it because Jesus would have met it. Meet it because love requires action. Meet it because His Gift is so worth it.

Impressions

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Have you ever met someone and immediately made a judgement about them? You see the way that they act and dress and immediately form an opinion about them. I am so very guilty of this. And that is wrong.

I met someone recently that dressed nice, had a bit of a boisterous personality,seemed nice but at the same time a little rough around the edges. This person had told me that they are getting a divorce. I immediately thought that it had to be in part because of her personality. I found out yesterday that this person is getting a divorce because of domestic battery. God has really convicted my heart over this one. My heart is broken for this person. I can’t imagine.

Every day we meet so many people and we really have no clue about what is going on in their life. It’s like that song “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath. Every day we see people. We watch people. We make judgements about people. And we have no idea about what people are feeling or going through or dealing with – we need to get involved in people’s lives. We need to make ourselves available to people. We need to open up the door of opportunity to share Christ with the world.

We can’t just live in our own little spiritual bubble and expect the world to come to us when they have a problem. No! Jesus was out there, elbow deep in the problems of the world. He didn’t just sit on some mountain waiting for the lost and dying world to come to Him. He got out there in the nitty gritty and proclaimed the Good News.

Why do we sit back and judge when what the world needs is Jesus? Do we think we are too good to talk to them? Do we think that by involving ourself in their lives that we will somehow become tainted? If we think these things, we are guilty of sin, just like the people we are hesitant about.

It’s coming upon Thanksgiving in a week or so. We have so much to be thankful for and so many blessings to count. Yet, we need to reach out. We need to show someone that yes, I have been blessed immensely but I see your hurt and I want to share a bit of my blessings with you. Do something for somebody without expecting anything in return. Ask God to show you who He has in mind for you to bless and to be blessed by helping.

And choose not to judge until you have heard the whole story. The details are so very important. Life is too short to live high on your mountain away from everything that is important in life.

Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2 – “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Sunday is a day of praise and worship. It is supposed to be a day of rest. It is supposed to be a day of peace and reflection.

For some reason, my life missed that memo. Yesterday was a wild and wacky day for me. We had a potluck at church to celebrate our pastor and his family being there for 15 years; I had to present our Operation Christmas Child information; I am leading the youth in their Christmas program; laundry had to be done so that the family had clothes for this week; projects had to be completed that are due today for school (that is a whole other blog on forgiveness and patience right there!) – my brain and my heart was overwhelmed. And the devil knew it. He made sure that I was feeling every minute. I’m running around he church building like the Tasmanian devil. Everyone is asking me if I’m okay. “You looked stressed,” they would say. “Oh no, just busy.”

And then I get home. The insanity starts all over again. One hopes that her home is a place of refuge and peace. Mine was anything but that. We only had so long at home yesterday; we had Christmas program practice last night. We had to get homework and laundry done at a lightning pace. That, my friend, causes stress. And stress like that oozes. It’s like a nasty blister. When one person has that kind of stress, it leaks out onto everyone else. And that makes all the attitudes nasty. I was the one leaking yesterday.

I was overwhelmed. I wanted to have the right heart and attitude, but I just couldn’t find it. And that was my problem. I was looking for it in me. I have been at this life for long enough to know and understand that I can’t find it in myself. But I forget. I chose not to remember. I thought I could handle it all on my own.

But I can’t. I have to run to the “rock that is higher than I”. That is where peace is. That is where love and understanding abides.

So, as I was getting out of the car last night to go to practice, my husband says to me, “Have a good attitude.” And I responded, “I hope so.” And somewhere in between the car and the door, I ran to the Rock. Peace overtook my heart and mind. Practice went smoothly. I got to hear my darling husband bring the message for evening worship service and it truly touched my heart. God reminded me over and over again just how truly blessed I am. I learned yesterday, again, that when I take my eyes off of myself and choose to see Him that things go much smoother – life is much more manageable.

Me and the mirror

James 1:22-25 – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard this message being preached. It was based on these verses in James.

When you go to church and hear the Word of God preached, are you changed? Are you changed every single time? We should be. This shouldn’t be something we have to contemplate or wonder about.

The speaker I heard gave this example. When you go to a golf match, do you leave before the players have played the 18th green? Probably not. You want to stay around and see the whole match. You want to see the last shot taken to win the match. And when you do see the shot, you don’t typically leave right when it is finished. You stick around and marvel in the moment. You just saw a great shot that won the match. It was incredible. You want to remember this moment forever. You go home. You talk about it. You think about it. You draw encouragement from the struggle and subsequent success.

The point is this – do you do this with the worship service that you have at church? Does it change you to the point that you don’t want to leave or do you bolt to the door as soon as the last prayer is “amen”ed? Do you think about what was said throughout the week? Do you contemplate applying the truths of God’s Word to your life?
Why is it that we let a sporting event change us more that the Word of God? Why is it so hard to allow God to change us? Why are we only hearers and not doers?

I can only speak for myself. I think that sometimes I fall into a routine. And that is wrong. Serving God should never be routine. God is constant and doesn’t change but that doesn’t mean He is routine.
I’m at church pretty much every service. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the means. I listen and occasionally take notes. But I’m a “forgetful hearer” sometimes. I want to be more of a “doer of the work”. I want to have a change in my life every time the Word is opened.

It’s a challenge – to not let the stuff of the world take you over and consume your thoughts. It’s hard to choose to let His Word change you, every single time. But I don’t want to become hardened. I don’t want my service to be routine. I want to revel in the moments where He has changed me. I want to remember them often and fondly. And although I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, I must remember. I cannot loose sight of what and who I really am – a sinner saved by grace.

The day after

Titus 2:11-14 – “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Have you ever disappointed yourself? You get caught up in doing something that has no eternal value and you find that you have wasted three hours. Wasted. Totally gone. No way to get back that time – ever. Then you come out of your stupor and think about all the things that you could have done in that time – all the things you should have done. And then you come across this verse and the guilt continues.

We were encouraged this weekend at church to live each day with the thought in mind that today could be the day of the Lord’s return, to look for that “blessed hope”. When I came out of my stupor of wasting time, I realized that I was not living this verse at all. I was not being a peculiar person. I was not zealous of good works. I was frustrated and mad at myself.

It’s tough to have a good rest of the day after that. I kept thinking of all the things that I could have done in that time. I asked God to forgive me. I know that He did. I John 1:9 reminds me of that assurance. But the question is, how am I going to make today different? God has given me life this morning. He has given me another opportunity to live out these verses. He has provided me with breath and choices today. Today I have to choose to live more like Him.

Princess, I want you to know and understand this – when you mess up, Jesus stands waiting to forgive you. And when He does, you have to forgive yourself. You have to choose to turn and walk away from that bad decision and move on. You can’t wallow in the could have and should have beens. That is exactly where the devil wants you. He wants you to feel sorry for yourself for the choices that you have made. When you do that, you aren’t being peculiar. You are acting like everyone else.

These verses in Titus encourage us to be different, to see things differently. We have a reason to do so – Jesus. All that Jesus went through for us, all that He suffered, and all He asks is that we choose to be different and follow after Him. Life is going to happen. You will make bad choices. Jesus will forgive you. It’s what you do after that forgiveness that makes you peculiar and zealous of good works. So get out there, princess, and look for that blessed hope while you are living a life worthy of Him.