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Having the right attitudeĀ 

Colossians 3:23-25 – “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

My children are both in Spanish 1 this year. As we were driving home from soccer practice yesterday, my son was complaining about the trouble he was having remembering the Spanish words. He feels that the teacher is going way too fast. They learn a few words and have a quiz at the end of the week. My son feels that he doesn’t have enough time to digest it and learn it. And oh, was he complaining about the teacher! Whine, whine, whine. And he usually doesn’t do that sort of thing. So, it took me aback a little because of it. I guess he had had enough and needed to vent. I get it. We all need a safe place to let it out every once in a while. 

However, I felt that this was a great time to try to convey the message that we need a good attitude even through tough times, because a poor attitude makes the tough times even longer. So, I tried giving him an example of when I was in college and I loathed a class. I talked to him about the fact that I had to daily remind myself that I had to have the right mindset for class or it dragged on forever. 

And then Mr. Reason comes out – “Mom, that sounds really good. But do you understand how difficult it is to actually do it?”

I love that kid. He doesn’t just take what I try and teach him and keep his mouth shut. He challenges and brings out thought and reason. It’s great…and difficult sometimes. 

You see, there are just some times in our lives that are hard. Our schedule may look like a toddler had a hay day with a pencil because it is so crazy. Our instructor may ask us to do the impossible – learn a foreign language. Our boss may expect more out of us that we think we can muster. Or Jesus may ask us to leave it all and follow Him. 

Whatever it is that we have been asked to do, we need to do it with a willing heart. We have to choose to be pliable and ready to learn. We have to choose to be flexible and decide that we are going to face this challenge with a smile on our face. 

And that’s hard. But in doing so, we allow ourselves the opportunity to be blessed by God. And what greater blessing could there possibly be than hearing – “Bien hecho, mi hijo” (Well done, my son – thank you Google translate!).

Living Translation

Colossians 1:10,11 – “that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”

“Be a living translation.” I heard that phrase not too long ago and I have been thinking about it every since.

What does it really mean to “be a living translation”? I have always heard that “you may be the only Bible that someone may read”. I’m sure that is true, in a sense. But shouldn’t it be more than that?

I mean, people aren’t going to read the story of Noah and the ark in my actions. They aren’t going to see Esther bravely stand before the king on behalf of her people. They aren’t going to see Jonah in the belly of a great fish in my life, are they?

People could see faithfulness in my life, a willingness to do what God tells me to do even though it seems crazy to everyone else – just like Noah. People could see bravery in my actions as I stand for what I believe in when everyone else falters, just like Esther did. People could see humbleness in my life when I return Jesus after I have messed up, just like Jonah did.

These three people grew in their walk with the Lord during trials and tribulations in their life. They displayed fruit that magnified God in their actions. It wasn’t easy for them and it certainly wasn’t fun, but they persevered through it all because they trusted in God.

So as I contemplate whether my life is a living translation of the Bible, I just know that I want to do my best. I may mess it all up sometimes and go down the wrong path, but this just gives me an opportunity to show His mercy and grace in my life.

We don’t like to think that others are watching us, it is kinda creepy, but they do. They see our actions, our responses and our growth. They observe our determination to do the best we can. They hear our words complain and praise. It is all out there for them to critique and judge.

But what will they say about you? Will they see you as a living translation or an actor on a stage?

Take some time today to evaluate what others see in your life and actions and hear from your mouth. It is all fruit – some of it is sweet and delightful and others are fake and bitter.

Being Epaphras

Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

Yesterday in morning services, our pastor did something usual during invitation. He asked that if anyone had been diligently praying for someone, to step out and let them know. You see, he was preaching a message about  really being a praying church, and he felt the Lord leading him to do this exercise. It really touched my heart, in more ways than one. For one thing, I was moved by the number of people who participated and to whom they went to. And I was also convicted. I realized just how selfish my prayers can be. We have lots of people in our church that are hurting. And I know several people who are unsaved that I need to diligently pray for. Yet, I find myself selfishly praying time and time again. 

So, today, I want to take a look at Epaphras. Paul mentions this fellow in the book to the church at Colosse. We know Epaphras was from Colosse because Paul calls him “one of you”. So he belonged to this church. And even though he was not with his home church, he was laboring for them – in prayer. This man was a prayer warrior, so to speak. He was diligently praying for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that were back home in Colosse. Back then they didn’t have cell phones and Internet to keep up on the latest that each person was going through. Yet, even though Epaphras had no clue who was sick or injured or having a bad time at work, he prayed. He prayed that they would stand in the will of God. 

I don’t need to know every detail about every situation in order to pray for someone. I just need to know that they need it. And whether they tell me they need it or not, they do. We all need prayer. 

I want to encourage you, Princess, to ask God to burden your heart for someone today. There is someone that you may know really well or not all who needs your prayers. You may or may not know all the details of what they are facing, but you can pray that they stand firm in the will of God. You see, we desperately need to draw closer to Him. And when we draw closer to Him, we draw closer to one another. We need to fervently pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we need to fervently pray for the lost. We need to have a real burden for them. I need to have a real burden for them. Prayer is powerful, sister. Don’t ever forget that. 

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.

Praisin’ the Lord

Psalm 100 – “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come be for his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Every fifth Sunday at our church, we have a Fifth Sunday Sing. It’s a lot of fun. All we do is sing praises to God for our worship service.

Last night was a fifth Sunday. Lots of people got up and sang. Some older, some younger, some on tune and some….not so much. But it didn’t matter! They were making a “joyful noise unto the LORD”.

We had a few mother and child groups. My daughter and I sang separately. She did an awesome job on “Amazing Grace, my chains are gone” by Chris Tomlin.

But there was one lady that really touched my heart and encouraged me. She is an older lady in our church. If I had to guess, I would say late 70s to early 80s. Sweet, sweet lady. Always there. Always active. Last night, she got up in front of our little congregation and sang. She said that she had never done anything like that before last night. She didn’t use any type of accompaniment. She just poured out her praise to our Savior. And it was beautiful.

So, you might say, nice story. What is the point? The point is this. You are never too old or too young to praise Jesus. He is worthy of all our praise! No matter if you can sing or not, praise His name! You may not feel led to get up in front of your congregation and sing a solo. But who’s to say that you shouldn’t take some of your study time and sing a song of praise to Him? Who’s to say that singing Christian songs along with the radio while you are driving to work doesn’t praise His name? Colossians 3:17 – “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” This includes singing, you know. Whatever you choose to do, wherever you choose to do it, just praise The Lord!

A beautiful reminder

Colossians 1:21-23a – “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”

To me, this verse is a beautiful reminder of all that I have gone through.

At one time, I was far from God. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age. It is hard for me to remember a time when I didn’t know Jesus. But nonetheless, I was lost, even as a child.

But now, because of salvation, I am reconciled to Christ. He has made me blameless in the sight of God. I remain blameless by doing what He has commanded.

Now, what do I do? Do I have some big, majestic, trumpet-sounding purpose in my life? Double door entry, if you please! No, not really. I’m just an ordinary girl serving an extraordinary God. My job is to keep on truckin’.

My pastor was telling a story last night about William Carey. He was a missionary to India in the 1800s. He preached for 10 years without a convert. Ten years of day after day telling people about Jesus without one single person accepting this truth. Can you imagine? Could you have gone that long in a foreign country without phone support for 10 years and see no fruit for your labor? That just blows my mind. But God blessed his faithfulness. And when someone did finally come to the truth, the floodgates opened. Many people were saved.

No, sometimes it is hard to know what to do and how to do it. How do I live my life not knowing if I am making a difference? Why do we think that God is going to let us in on His plan? Do we really need to know? No. Not really.

So, what am I telling you today princess? I’m encouraging you to keep going. Keep doing what you know you need to do. Keep studying. Keep praying. Keep looking for opportunities to share Christ. Don’t give up. You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of His plan. You just need to know He has a plan.

Work, work, work

Work. It is a necessary evil. One in which we need to survive. We need the ability to take care of ourself and our family. But sometimes work gets in the way. It gets in the way of the family we are trying to protect and serve. It gets in the way of our happiness and joy and peace. It even gets in the way of our health.

How do we balance it? How do we balance what needs to be done in order to pay the bills with what we need to do to keep our sanity?

Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever live. And for all his wisdom, he was a hot mess. He accomplished so many things, solved so many problems and had so many women. Read Ecclesiastes. Many believe that this book was written by him. It almost sound a depressing when you read it. He was searching for true meaning to what he was doing.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 – “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” This verse stopped me in my tracks. The root of why we do so much of what we do – to keep up with the Jones. Or to keep up with the competition.

Why? Why do we kill ourself and our family for that? You cannot take one single thing with you when you die. It is all gone. Left for someone else who did not work for it to take it over. (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23) Crazy, right?

So how do you work and work with the right attitude? How do you desire to do your best without trying to keep up with someone else?

Colossians 3:23,24 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for The Lord, not for men, I since you know that you will receive an inheritance from The Lord as a reward. It is The Lord Christ you are serving.”

Hmm…

It is your heart. Your heart is the key in all of this. Why are you working? Why are you striving? Why are you awake at night thinking about work? Is it for you or for God? I know you want to be successful. I know you want to do your best. But I also know that you want to serve The Lord. I also know that you want to be with your family, awake. It is tough. It is hard to let go and let Him lead. It is hard to trust Him to take care of it all. Does that mean you sit down and do nothing? No, but it does mean that you allow things to not be perfect all the time. God is not a fairy that grants wishes right now. He is a “work-in-progress” kind of being. Things aren’t always pretty as you work to complete it. Look at a house being built. Does that million dollar mansion look that way before the windows are in? Nope. Sometimes it is ugly.

Princess, or prince, stop working for yourself. Stop trying to keep up with someone else. Solomon said it is meaningless. Why do something meaningless? Don’t stop doing your best. Always do your best. But don’t be afraid to let things be ugly now and then. You don’t have to keep things perfect all the time. Life is too short for sleepless nights spent worrying about problems that you can’t take care of at 2 AM. We are not working for man or manna. We are to be working for The Lord. “It is The Lord Christ you are serving.” (Vs. 24b) Remember that. Hold tight to it.