I love fortune cookies. My kids love fortune cookies. I remember racing through my meal when I was younger, just to get to the little folded cookie at the end so that I could see what the future had in store for me! Would the tiny slip inside tell me that I would be rich? Famous? Beautiful? Or would it give me some tiny bit of wisdom that would enrich my life immensely if I applied it to my life?
I canâ€™t say that I ever received any profound thoughts or advice in all of the years that I ate Chinese food, but as I sat in church on Sunday and listened to the message, when the subject of a fortune cookie came up, it peaked my interest. Maybe someone else had received some noteworthy message inside of the sweet little folded goodness.
He unfolded a fortune that said this: â€śCatch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come from miles to watch you burn!â€ť Of course, this elicited giggles from the congregation. How funny! The first thing that I thought of was someone standing in the middle of the street all aflame, and people gathering to watchâ€¦.maybe a few even pulling out the marshmallows and weenies!Â Then I got realâ€¦.
As the speaker continued with his message, it turned out that this quote was originally written by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. How interesting. All of a sudden the quip took on a whole new meaning for me. â€śCatch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come from miles to watch you burn!â€ť
Can you see it now? A sidewalk preacher standing on his soapbox, preaching the good news of the gospel? An animated bible teacher excitedly telling her class the message she is there to convey? Maybe a high school student retelling an event in his life that somehow changed him, due to Godâ€™s hand in that situation?
When we are on fire for Jesus, it shows. Our light begins to blaze the message that was put within us; that God is always there for us, guiding us, loving us. There are many who need to hear this, who need the comfort that accompanies the message. Sometimes we donâ€™t even know that we need it, but when we see someone that is excited about something that has happened to them, donâ€™t we take notice? Do you pay attention to what they are saying while their hands are waving around and their voices are raised in animation of the story? If you see a noticeable change in someone, and they tell you it is due to something that has happened to them, donâ€™t you want to know what it is? Donâ€™t you want that too, for yourself?
Everyone wants to be happy, to have comfort, to have good things happen in their lives. If you knew how to do that, wouldnâ€™t you want to share that secret? So why do we keep our stories to ourselves? Have we become too good at keeping secrets? If everyone around you were happy, how much happier life would be! Isnâ€™t this what we want?
The message of Jesus is a happy message, a powerful message. It is loving, peaceful, encouraging and life giving! It has the power to transform the world. Why wouldnâ€™t we want to tell others about the things that it has done for us? Maybe you donâ€™t see true change in your life coming from God. Maybe you still need to take that first step, have that relationship with your Savior, and put God first and the rest will follow.
Donâ€™t keep it all to yourselfâ€¦. catch on fire with enthusiasm for God and what he has done for you; people will come from miles to watch you burn!
Lord, help me to be on fire for you, to show others the excitement that you have placed within me. Let me shine like the stars in heaven so that others may see your goodness and power and seek you as they watch me burn! In Jesusâ€™ name I pray!
Reflect His Light!
Fear is a very destructive force in our world and can reek havoc on our lives, our relationships and our very beings. Vanessa addresses an important aspect of conquering this; by filling the darkness with light.
My son has been stricken with fear and panic attacks since Christmas. Heâ€™s terrified heâ€™s going to die or someone will kill him. It all started after the school massacre/shooting in Newton, Connecticut, right before Christmas. We shielded him the best we could from the news, but of course they talked about it in school and his friends were also talking about it. My husband and I have hit a brick wall. How do you tell a 9 year old that “yes, there are bad people out there, who do bad things, but you canâ€™t let fear take over and keep you from living and doing what you enjoy doing everyday”?Â I have had extreme anxiety in my life as well, and I feel for him, I donâ€™t want this to paralyze him.Â Do you have any advice here?
Sincerely concerned parent,
Have you spoken with your child about heaven?Â Â I remember as a child I was so scared of dying, I would pray every night for our house not to start on fire.Â Â I donâ€™t think my parents knew…Â I cannot even remember where the fear and anxiety came from.Â But you know, maybe you can give him a picture of heaven for him to understand.Â Â It is often difficult to bring the images of heaven down to a childlike level.Â Â
This place of heaven is designed for us; I imagine that it is full of light, love and warmth.Â Â Because I had this fear of death, I wanted my children to understand death is not the end, but the beginning.Â It has taken me a good portion of my adult life to understand the concept of death, and to let go of the fear.Â Â Â Something to keep in mind Charlene, is that God smiles on us when we let go of the fear.Â Â
When I hug my baby boys (yes I still call them babies now 5 and 8) I have an overwhelming feeling of peace and love.Â Â My children feel the same too; a parentâ€™s hug warms the heart and soul from the inside out.Â Â One night I said to my boys that heaven is like the same feeling of a hug multiplied by a million.Â They were in awe, and said â€śreally mom? Is it that good?â€ťÂ I replied by saying, â€śIt is better than that, beyond our understanding. It is a place where all we feel is love.â€ťÂ I then went onto explain that Lions are our friends, that there are rainbows and colors beyond our comprehension, and heaven is a place where faith, hope and love are one.Â Â
In bridging my understanding I have read a couple of books (which have calmed my soul):
Heaven is for real http://heavenisforreal.net/Â - a book about a young boy visits heaven and comes back.Â This website has some interesting resources, and if you look online â€“ there is an interview with the boy.Â This might be a good starting point as well.
To heaven and back by Mary C. NealÂ Â - interesting account from a physicianâ€™s perspective
Charlene, you have a lot going for you, the fact that you suffered from anxiety reveals that you have experienced this but have grown beyond.Â Â Deep down I can tell that your fear is that your child will not be able to cope with this, but who is better than you to enable your son in dealing with this anxiety or fear?Â How have you coped?Â What strategies have you put in place to deal with your anxiety or fear?Â Â
What you need to concentrate on is that God loves you and your child.Â He is here to protect you.Â Sometimes bad things happen, but good always comes out of it.Â Â In this case, it is a learning opportunity for both of you, which will bring you closer.Â Â The root of dealing with this is bringing a new level of understanding for your young child.Â Speak his languageâ€¦ Get him to write down his fears â€“ give him a few magazines and show him how to put together a collage of it all.Â That way you will be able to see exactly as he is seeing the fear, and this exercise will also help you navigate through the discussion.
Fear is something that the devil feeds upon, so bring your anxiety to God, and he will help you through it.Â Â
A few things I want to leave you with:
God is good, He is here for us to present our worries to Him, He will help us through, He is infinite.Â
Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares about you.Â (1 Peter 5:7)
You love your son, just as God loves you.Â In all things where love is present; evil cannot exist.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
Finally, remember the evil one is always lurking, waiting to prey upon our minds, souls and bodies.Â Â I have practiced prayer in the morning, and throughout my day, to help ward off his attempts to control me.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Submit yourselves, then, to God. Â Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
You are a mother that loves her son, and you can help him through this little bump.Â Â Prayers for you beautiful lady.
Dear Lord God, I ask that you bless all of the parents and families dealing with uncertainty in this world.Â Bring them peace, understanding and discernment in the uncertainty, so that we can enable our children to walk in your ways.Â I ask this in Jesusâ€™ Name.Â Amen
â€śPaul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, â€?Stand up on your feet!â€™ At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.â€ťÂ Acts 14:9-10
As I sit and ice my knee from an injury that I sustained skiing last weekend, I contemplate my thankfulness for the pain. I asked for healing, and I did receive it. Yet many would argue that the injury is still there, Iâ€™m still in pain, and face a period of healing before I will be able to jump and twist and do all of the things I used to do.
The healing that I requested was to deliver me from surgery, for I knew when it twisted and I felt the â€?popâ€™, that surgery was going to be a definite if I wanted to be the same again. And deliver me He did! No surgery! In fact the doctor says that itâ€™s just a small sprain, I donâ€™t even need physical therapy. Now that is something to praise God for! I am truly thankful!
Would it have been nice if even the sprain was gone and I didnâ€™t have to ice my knee or take breaks during the day to rest it? Yes. But I believe that I need to see the lesson here, the lesson of rest. You see I am one of those people that have a million things going on all at once and tryâ€™s to manage them all, no matter what. Â God says slow down, so slow down I will, and praise Him for it too, for he knows what is best for me; and like a child to her fatherâ€¦.I will listen.
Father, thank you for your healing touch and your concern for the busyness of my life. I praise you for who you are and pray that I will learn your lessons well. Continue to provide healing for me in all your good ways, and help me to always be thankful for whatever trials I may face, for I know that they will do me good. Be my crutch, the one I lean on through all that I encounter and teach me the lessons you have for me to learn. I love you!
Reflect His Light!
Patience is not my virtue, but I do trust. Waiting for healing is not something that I relish, but I know that God is working on my behalf. I have started day three of a knee injury, and honestly, I had hoped that, by some miraculous deed, I would be healedâ€¦yet I am still hobbling along in need of ice, pain relievers and a knee brace.
As I sit here and look above the mantle of my fireplace, I see the words of wisdom that I had placed there some years back: â€śWhen you canâ€™t see Godâ€™s hand, trust His heart.â€ť And I begin to see just how impatient I really am, where I am lacking in my faith, and what I need to do to fix my heart trouble.
You see, I need to realign my heart with Godâ€™s. When I am frustrated because I canâ€™t do something that I could do yesterday, I need to ask instead of pout. I know God loves me, but do I show it by wondering why I havenâ€™t (after only 3 days mind you) received the healing that I asked for? And if the doctor tells me today that I do need to have surgery, even though I have prayed for deliverance from this, will I be angry or wonder if he really loves me?
When you canâ€™t see Godâ€™s hand, trust His heartâ€¦.There is a reason and a season for everything and today I am going to choose to trust that God knows what lies ahead, and whatever I need to do along the way to participate in His great plan, I will do it and thankfully.
Lord, teach me to be thankful in everything; the good times and the bad, the pain or sorrow as well as the joy and fruitfulness. I know that you love me and want what is best for me, so chisel away at my life and form me into your perfect creation. Walk with me in my trials and fears and comfort me. I trust you.
Reflect His Light!
In the worldly context of today, love can mean many things. We throw the word out callously to describe something that we want, something desirable to us. We love chocolate, flowers, presents. We love to play games, watch television and the new Bradley Cooper movie. This love, worldly love is self-serving; directed inwards toward ourselves. Lust is another feeling that we confuse for love. Lust is immediate but seldom long lasting, yet we say we love and then when the moment is gone, we take back our love and leave in its place a holeâ€¦a God sized hole.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes the qualities of real love; the outward expression of love.
â€śLove 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.â€ť
This is not what we usually see in life. This is what we see: Love is demanding, love is brief, love is dependent on an action of some sort. It makes us do crazy things and tends to bring out the worst parts of ourselves when it isnâ€™t returned. A pretty sad picture I would say. But we are called to more, to be more, to do more and to give moreâ€¦more love.
Â Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord you God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul; with your whole beingâ€¦and the second is like itâ€¦.to love your neighbor as yourself.Â He only gave us two commandments here, and they are both commands to love. Not as the world loves, but as God loves.
Evaluate the way you love and are loved in the world. Are the characteristics like that of Paulâ€™s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, or more like the worldly love? Our goal is to be more like Christ, and to do that we need to do really one thingâ€¦Love. Love like crazy….. everyone!
Itâ€™s easy to love your kids, your husband, your parents, a friendâ€¦but do you love the annoying person at church who just rubs you the wrong way, the neighbor whom you know is cheating on their husband, the child that lives across the street who has been breaking into houses. These people may be a bit more difficult to love. We pass judgment on things that honestly we donâ€™t know anything about.Â That is not our place, it is Godâ€™s. Our place is in Jesusâ€™ arms; generously loved and mercifully forgiven! And we are to react in kind to our fellow man.
Letâ€™s look at the way we love today, on this national holiday of love. Are we withholding love in expectation of something in return? Do we let anger at a situation keep us from showing love to another who needs it? Have we said unloving words to our neighbor because of our own frustrations? Are we patient in our love, thinking only of the other and their feelings? If this is something that you are experiencing; this type of love, it may be time to re-evaluate.
Let God fill that God sized hole, fill you with His unconditional love, and turn your stony heart to a heart of flesh, so that you may love as he loves and receive love that is life giving instead of self-serving.
Lord, I want to love others as you love me, with unconditional abandon and completeness. Give me a new heart so that I may show others your great love; that they may fill their God-sized hole with something lasting and fulfilling; your love for them. I want to change the world Lord; one heart at a time!
Reflect His light!
Have you downloaded your 40-day fast manual yet? You can get it here…. fasting journal 2013
I am going to have a giveaway for everyone who participates in the 40 day fast from Tuesdayâ€™s post and returns the journal to me.Â I havenâ€™t decided exactly what yet….TBD!Â So stay tuned! Everyone will be a winner. (please email me and let me know that you plan on participating - [email protected]) If you have started…..how are you doing?Â I had an awesome, inspiring day yesterday.Â I decided to start with worship music…..all day!Â Music so inspires me, I donâ€™t know why I donâ€™t listen to it more! While listening to some great tunes, I came up with 6 new ideas for posts….coming soon to a blog near you!Â
Lent is a time to remember. To remember how Jesus lived and how He died, why He came and what that means for us as a body of believers; as His bride.
Fasting as a spiritual discipline has lost its popularity and practice over the years, but is founded in Â biblical teachings as far back as the beginning of the Old Testament. Prophets of old used this practice to further develop their relationship with their creator and to experience profound transformation through humbling themselves before God and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal their true spiritual condition.
This opportunity is available to us too, as believers, through the practice of fasting. When implementing this discipline, prayers have been answered as well as questions of the spirit through the repentant heart of the fast-er, and lives have been changed.
Over time, we have become a self-obsessed people, dispelling the notion that we should ever deprive ourselves of anything we desire including food, entertainment, clothing or the latest technology. Our â€śgimmeâ€ť society is so accustomed to having it all; that the notion of doing without is the farthest thing from our mindsâ€¦ it is time to change that.
Have you asked yourself what is keeping you from a deeper relationship with God? Possibly, there is a part of your life that you have worked to reform, with little success, a habit that you canâ€™t seem to let go of, or a discipline that you have tried to learn but continually seems to escape you. Discouragement can be devastating to your resolve and your strength wanes with each moment of perceived failure. Fasting done as a spiritual discipline could be your answer.
The practice of fasting separates you from an inner desire, denying the body of what connects it to the world and therefore separates you from your father. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.â€ť
There are a lot of action words in that sentence. Not only are we to pray, repent and look for God, but also humble ourselves. How do we do that?
King David humbled himself through fasting (Psalms 35:13); Moses fasted at least twice for 40 days each as did Jesus and He then instructed His followers, â€śbut when you fast, put oil on your heads and wash your face.â€ť You notice that He said when not if. In Jewish culture, fasting was expected along with prayer, especially when a reformation of the people was needed. The people would dress in sackcloth, put ashes on their heads and fast until their situation was changed. This action showed God a humble heart, the sorrow of the people and a desire to change. We are still living in biblical times(we have not yet experienced the second coming)â€¦fasting, therefore, is still necessary and expected. Change can happen with the right heart and the right petition.
Fasting today can have the same effect for change, but it doesnâ€™t necessarily have to be done in the same way. The point is to deny yourselfâ€¦make a sacrifice. There are numerous ways that this can be accomplished.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â a partial fast (like the Daniel Fast, or from a meal 1-2 times a week, possibly just a dessert or treat that you like)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A full food fast (water only â€“ check with your doctor before doing this please and only undertake this if you know that it is the will of God)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â a media fast (facebook, twitter, computer activities, phone texting)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â an entertainment fast (movies, tv, video games)
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â aÂ music fast (from secular music primarily)
These are the things that, today, separate us from having a more intimate relationship with our Father. They are worldly influences that threaten to replace God in our hearts and time,
I think that it would be valuable for most people to experience all of these options as the majority of us today indulge in most of these activities, and spending a period of time in denial of them, will be beneficial in discovering which truly present a problem for us. We all have different trouble areas, and some could be problematic and we arenâ€™t even aware of it.
I propose that during the 40 days of lent (that is Monday through Saturday, Sunday being your day of rest from the fast) we devote ourselves to (4) 10-day periods, fasting from a different aspect of worldliness each period, and placing that concentration on God himself. The results could be astounding, life altering even. God desires this, but it is up to us to take the first step.
I have been doing some research lately, on this subject and would love to have you participate if you are willing. If you would like to participate in the research, I have a link below for you to follow to download a 40 day guide to journal in while fasting your way through lent. At the end of your fast, if you could simply email the journals back to me so that I can review the results for an upcoming book on media fasting, I would be very grateful. If you do not wish to share your journals, I understand and would love for you to participate anyway. Feel free to download the journal for your personal use.Â Consider sending me a simple message about how your fast went and how it enriched your relationship with God. Also, I welcome comments or suggestions about the fast itself.
Regardless of how you decide to spend your Lenten time, I pray that it includes thoughts of our Savior and leads to a deeper and more spiritual relationship with Him.
Reflect His Light!
Download The Fasting Journal ~ fasting journal 2013
â€śWhen the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.â€ť Â
Â Daniel 12:7b
At the end of the book of Daniel, he is given a vision of many things including things that have not yet come to pass. In the above passage, Daniel sees a man clothed in linen, hovering above the waters with his hands raised towards heaven, swearing by Him who lives forever. No reference is made as to who this man in linen is but the point to understand here is that Godâ€™s will, will be done, when our power has been finally broken. If we look back on history we see that many times over this has happened. Persecution of Godâ€™s people, near destruction of the remnantâ€¦our power seems to be crushed over and over again.
God has a recurring purpose here, and that is to break the pride and self-sufficiency of his rebellious people.
We are not just talking about the Israelites here.Â We are His people, His rebellious people. Many times we donâ€™t see it, but when we worry about losing our job, we are telling God that we donâ€™t trust His provision. When we pass judgment on someone who wronged us and harbor hate in our hearts, we become judge and jury instead of trusting in Godâ€™s perfect timing for retribution or judgment of the sins of man. Â We donâ€™t look to God anymore to improve our situations, we donâ€™t count on Him for the things that we need, we donâ€™t ask for His guidance in decisions we need to make, we just make them ourselves. Â Self-sufficiency. Then we wonder why we experience trials and tribulations, when we should be wondering when we stopped trusting in our Father.
Growing up we placed our very lives in the hands of our parents, the ones we knew loved us. We trusted that they would feed us, clothe us, provide love and security and we never doubted their sovereignty over our lives. This is what God wantsâ€¦to love us and provide for us, to be our â€śgo-toâ€ť guide and to be the sovereign Lord of our lives. But somewhere in our rebellious teenage years, we started to think that we were all grown up and didnâ€™t need our parents anymore, that we could make all the decisions and provide all that was necessary for our happiness and security. Just as a loving parent lets their child experience independence, God lets us decide for ourselves whether we need Him or not, if we want to trust Him or not. Sometimes we take enough rope and hang ourselves with it, causing troubles in our lives that sometimes could have been avoided if we had only listened and obeyed.
Self-sufficiency, relying on our own power and capabilities to navigate through this life, is something that we all are guilty of, and also something that we are all capable of giving up.Â Prayer and petition and reliance on our Father doesnâ€™t make us weak. Jesus relied on the Father for everything; I doubt anyone would call Him weak.Â Many other biblical giants trusted in Godâ€™s provisions, and while they may have faced trials and adversities, they ultimately had the favor of God and they lived a fruitful life.
The second step in our journey to our Lifeâ€™s Blood is to relinquish our control; give it to God. Self-denial is a good place to start. This would mean giving up our desires for Godâ€™s. How do we do this? Biblically speaking, many of Godâ€™s people achieved this by fasting; denying themselves what their bodies craved.
We are leading into the Lenten season on Wednesday which is a perfect time to enter into a period of self-denial or self-sacrifice. Tomorrow (fat Tuesday) I will present a lesson on fasting. This is not just a fasting of food, but much more, it is a fasting of the mind and of what is replacing God in our lives. There will be a downloadable booklet for you to use to track your fast which will be broken down into (4) 10-day periods, concentrating on different aspects of secular concentrations that are not of God. This should make the experience more manageable and hopefully lead to a closer understanding of the things that separate us from the Father.
Tomorrow: A 40-day Fast
My Prayer: Lord guide me in your will for this coming Lenten season, I wish to honor you and your sacrifice with my desire to give up my self-sufficiency. In Jesusâ€™ great name I pray.
Reflect His Light!
In my last post on Monday, we talked about the marrow (the center of our bones) being the very life source of our body. The marrow is where our blood is made and is directly responsible for feeding the systems in our body that regenerate and healâ€¦this is how God made us.Â This is how he intended our bodies to remain healthyâ€¦.interesting how the marrow is the very center of the bone which are throughout our entire bodiesâ€¦.Marrow is the life source as is Godâ€¦.Am I the only one who is seeing a correlation here?Â Marrow needs to be in its proper place and in proper working order to do what it was intended to doâ€¦God also needs to be in His proper place in our life, working in His perfect way, in order for us to have the life that He intendedâ€¦.that He planned for us, before we were even born. â€śBefore I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart.â€ť Jeremiah 1:5
In order for us to have this life we have to accept it.
We simply have to reach out and open the gift from God ~ Jesus. Believe and accept him as Savior and Lord over our livesâ€¦this is where it gets difficult. Contrary to what you hearâ€¦.it isnâ€™t about just believingâ€¦even Satan believes that Jesus is who he says he is. There is a call to action here; a call to have a changed life and a new heart. This can be a daunting task if you really think about it, but Jesus is willing to helpâ€¦if we simply ask.
Here are some practical steps to get you started:
- Accept Jesus (if you havenâ€™t already) for who He is and what He has done for youâ€¦made Himself a sacrifice to God for youâ€¦in replacement of you. This is central.Â Even if you have belonged to a church your whole life, it doesnâ€™t mean that you have accepted His gift. I know many who have been leaders in their churches, but only recently truly accepted Jesusâ€™ offer of salvation. Search your heart and ask God to reveal what is truly there.Â And then when you hear His voice ~ Listen!Â Donâ€™t ignore His prodding to make a change, or to move forward. This is your chance to have the life that God intended. If you need help in this process go to this link and receive guidance:Â Do You Know Him?
- Commit to making God the center of your life. Ask for His guidance every step of the way. If you ask Him, He will guide you, but you need to recognize His voice in your life. This can be as simple as an impression on your heart â€“ one that wouldnâ€™t normally be there if you hadnâ€™t asked for help. Or it could be a person or situation that presents itself to you that fills the need that you are having, or answers your question. The more you ask and are thankful for the guidance He provides, the more you will receive.
- Set up a Bible reading or Bible study plan. This can be hard if you are not a reader, but you donâ€™t have to sit down and read the entire bible from cover to cover. I have read entire books of the bible, in order at times, but generally speaking, I just flip open to a pageâ€¦.any pageâ€¦.and low and behold there is always a lesson there for me. God will speak to you if you are listening. I use a life application study bible (NIV) which is helpful because the language is easier to understand and the commentaries below the scripture make it real for me and help me to apply its lesson. Choose a version that is easy for you to ingest so that you can take its message to heart. We need to have all the information available to us in order to
- Know the Lord. Know who Jesus isâ€¦not just who but how and what and where and when. Evaluate the way he acted, treated people, went about His day, and the things He said. We are called to be the image of Godâ€¦to know the Father we must look at the Son, and if we look at the Son, we will know the Father. Jesus was an exact representation of His Father. And this is what we should be working towards. Jesus came also to be an example of right living ~ Godâ€™s way!
This is actually just the beginning steps towards your lifeâ€™s blood. These 4 things are necessary before we can even start to make changes to the rest of your life.Â If you donâ€™t have this first, the rest wonâ€™t mean what it should and you will find yourself on the roller coaster ride of life, unable to keep things in check and worldly values begin to sound better to you. You have to keep yourself rooted in who God is, and why He is.
Monday: The next stepâ€¦.
My Prayer:Â Lord, Reveal to me today what is truly within me so that I can make the changes that I need to make in order to have your greatest blessings. Show me who You are and reveal to me your plan for who You want me to be. Not my will but yours be done. Jesus be my center and lead me to a healthy marrow. In your great name only!
Reflect His Light!
January of the New Year can be filled with resolutions, promises to do better, be better, usually promises that donâ€™t last more than a couple of weeks.Â Last week on Monday and Thursday we talked about the possibility that God has left our nation, because we have left Him.Â As a nation we are considering taking Him out of our courts, have already taken Him out of our schools and our cities, and most of us have even taken Him out of our lives. No longer do we consider God most important in our schedule. We do not put Him first. Our days start out chaotic, and progress from there in a never ending frenzy of busyness. We claim that we donâ€™t have time, that we just canâ€™t fit anything more into our calendar.
Iâ€™m here to tell you that we canâ€™t afford not to.
My husband always tells me that if you say that you didnâ€™t have time to get something done that the real problem is that you just didnâ€™t make it a big enough priority. A busy â€śto-doâ€ť list can masterfully manipulate your day if you let it. Itâ€™s not that these things arenâ€™t important or even necessary; but are they THE most important thing.
God should be our first thought of the day and our last thought before we fall asleep at night. Making God the center of our lives can actually put everything else in perspective and be helpful in managing how we spend our time. God should not be one more thing on your to-do list, as many like to think of Him, He needs to be your priority, and then everything else will fall into place.
Consider days that you have had an unbelievable schedule. You start off running as your feet hit the floor because the alarm that you set didnâ€™t do the job, breakfast falls by the wayside as you try to cram in that last little bit of computer time before you have to jump into the driverâ€™s seat and race off to work, or school, or the storeâ€¦wherever your day is taking you. Youâ€™ve barely had time to throw down a cup of coffee let alone breathe, and for yet another day, the bible that beckons you from the table in the corner is shoved on the back burner. Maybe tonight before bed, you can catch up on that, spend some God-time. Your intentions are good.
By the time you get home you are in full blown panic because you didnâ€™t take anything out of the freezer to make for dinner this morning, and your whole family is standing there with half-starved faces, asking for food. So you throw down the supplemental groceries that you picked up on the way home, and get to rummaging through the pantry for something that resembles dinner. Two hours later as you are doing the final dinner dishes, you start to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnelâ€¦the table in the corner beckons you yet again with promises of peace and res,t and you feel the pull as you begin to walk in that direction, but you are body slammed by homework and activities for the kids, so your dreams of peace are again postponed.
Time: 10:00 pm.
The kids are in bed, the dog has been fed, the dishes cleaned and it is finally time for you. The chair in the corner by the table is no longer an option, so you grab the bible that sits upon it and trudge off to that sweet mattress that screams comfort. You fling your weary body upon the sheets and snuggle up with a good book â€“ your bible. Opening to the chapter where you left off eons ago, you yawn and begin to readâ€¦â€¦zzzzzzz.
Does this sound familiar?Â It does to me.Â I have days like this. They start out crazy and end in weary defeat. Did I accomplish my to-do list? Mostly. Do I have any sense of peace about that? Rarely!
Why? Because I was just going through the motions.Â Iâ€™m sure that I had moments of joy in my day, times of satisfaction and accomplishment, but I donâ€™t recall them now.
Now letâ€™s consider a different scenario: I set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal, and instead of closing my eyes to squeeze in just two more minutes of sleep, I sit up straight and let the weary drain from my body. Shuffling off to the coffee pot, I refuel with pseudo â€śawakeâ€ť and head over to my chair that sits next to the table that houses my peace for the day â€“ my bible.
Opening to the place that I left off the day before, I begin to read, letting the words soak deep into my soul.Â I donâ€™t read too much, just enough to get a sense of the message that is in store for me today. Just enough to hear the very words that my Father wanted me to hear, life giving words.Â I jot down a few key words that seemed meaningful, for me to look up later and close the book of my Lord. Still weary, I close my eyes and speak quietly in my soul to the one who can sustain me today, the one who can guide my steps and create a peace within me that I would not otherwise have.
We talk for a while, about life, friends, family. About my day, my week, my future, and the plans that He might have for me. I submit my day to Him, give over my plans in the event that He has something different in mind, something betterâ€¦..and on with my day!
As I drive to my first destination of the day, I smile and hum happily a song that I learned at the worship service on Sunday, and the traffic seems to flow right out of my way, like the parting of the red sea. It doesnâ€™t really, but the road congestion doesnâ€™t seem to have that negative effect on me today. And I proceed â€“ taking everything as it comes with grace and patience.Â Even the checkout clerk at the store who is slow beyond belief does not bother me. She looks frustrated, and as she deals with difficult customers and dirty looks, her mood sours.
When it is finally my turn, I smile at her, a genuine smile, and she gives me a tentative grin back. â€śIâ€™m really sorry about the waitâ€ť, she says. I assure her that itâ€™s fine and ask if sheâ€™s having a bad day. Itâ€™s her first day she says and the new system is confusing to her. The impatience of the people isnâ€™t helping; she wants to get them out quickly, but she has to find her way through the keyboard and asks many questions of the clerk next to her.Â I tell her that she can take all the time she needs and assure her that it will get easier and not to let the customers discourage her. Another genuine smile.
This reprieve seems to calm her and I can even see a bit of a smile on her own face, a weight lifting, a glimpse of hope. Hope. That is what we all need isnâ€™t it? Hope of a better day, a prosperous future, a happy ending. I feel like Iâ€™ve helped in some small way.
Finally home, I fix something simple for dinner given the late hour and that means an even easier clean-up than normalâ€¦homework is next and then time to simply sit with the kids and ask them about their day. As I finally crawl between the sheets that night, I reflect on the day. Busy. One of the busiest ever, but satisfying. I remember the face of the clerk and say a little prayer that her day will be better tomorrow. I thank God for the opportunity to help her, even just a little, and total relaxation envelopes my body. As I begin to drift off to sleep, I hear a small still voice in my soul saying, â€śwell done, good and faithful servant.â€ť
We are responsible for how we spend our time, what we do with what God has given us. Not only our possessions, but our time as well. What kind of days would you like to have? Really both of those days were almost exactly alikeâ€¦busy, chaotic, full of needs and expectations, and roadblocks. The difference is the attitude going in.
Next time we will talk about how to change that attitude. Practical application for a peaceful life.
Lord, instill peace within me today, even in those frustrating times. Show me the things that I can do to give others peace and therefore hope. I pray this with my whole heart in Jesusâ€™ name.