Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Example of Thankfulness: Choices and perspective

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Philippians 4:4-8

A few weeks ago, my daughter started complaining- a lot. About everything. At first, I let it slide, because I thought she was just tired. But it became more and more constant, and really bothered me. We began talking about why we should focus on what is GOOD in our lives, as opposed to what's always wrong. 

I know I'm as guilty (or more) as she is in this. My husband teases (not so jokingly) that I am a pessimist. Its hard for me to see beyond what's wrong, to see what is RIGHT. So, in order to speak into her life about thankfulness, I had to take a good look at my outlook on life. My example to her speaks volumes. Remember when mom used to say "Do as I say, not as I do." I think that's near impossible for kids to follow, since we usually end up mimicking those we admire most. I've come to realize that thankfulness is a choice, an attitude of life that we have to work at. Thankfulness doesn't come naturally in our human nature. I wish it did! Thankfulness is a work of the Holy Spirit in us made possible by each choice to see the positive in each situation.

Our family used to spend each night before the girls went to sleep thanking God for all He has given us, and then asking for His protection as we slept. We fell out of practice in this, and I believe this is where our family's outlook changed. Adding this back into our routine, and remembering each night, (and all through the day) the things we have that we don't deserve, helps keep our perspective right. Remembering that we are sinners, saved by the GIFT of grace, we know we don't deserve any of this good life. In fact, we deserve everything opposite of good. But He has given us a GOOD life. Even with all its ups and downs. 

The devil would hope we would only think about what's wrong and how deserving we are. That is pride and selfishness that ends up mocking the sacrifice our Lord Jesus made. Ungratefulness can be dangerous...and does NOT lead to life. Ungratefulness leads to the need to "get" as much as we can by our own hands (because if we don't get it for ourselves, no one will). It does not seek to give away what was so freely given to them. There is no peace for them, as they are always worried of not having enough. 

There is a peace that comes from a thankful heart, a contentedness that transcends any circumstance, and guards our hearts against bitterness and ungratefulness, which ultimately leads to selfishness. 

If we keep our minds on all the good things in our lives, the noble things, the things that are RIGHT, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, we will see that we always have enough and more!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Faith revealed through Christ

Galatians 3:17-20

What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[h] that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
 26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

Gal. 4 : 9-11, 17

9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

These verses explain that God's covenant promise came FIRST, and the LAW second. He first gave us the promise of our inheritance (as heirs- through Abraham), and then the law in order that we would be led to Christ. 

Jesus' life and death and resurrection are fulfillment of the first covenant, we are led to Him by the law (knowing that we are sinners). Faith was revealed through Christ and our Faith in Him is the catalyst of release from the Law

It goes on... we are all to walk in Unity - clothed by Christ, not our nationality, our status or who we are personally. 

And people who try to get you to follow anything else but Christ through faith are trying to alienate you and to make you "zealous for them". (flat-out idol worship). 

It makes me sad that some people feel the need to turn  "back to those weak and miserable principles....wish(ing) to be enslaved by them all over again..." We are free to be Sons of God through Christ Jesus. We should hold on to that, and love Him well by living for HIM. If we don't love Him, our actions might as well be a banging gong or a clanging cymbal. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

selfishness kills

Selfishness kills any kind of relationship you have. I was watching the show "Clean House" the other day and the chaos that people live in because they won't let go amazes me. They think that by holding onto all they have, that their lives are better for it. One guy actually said, If I let that go, then what will be next? I'll have to give up everything I want, and she'll get her way.

Yup. When you decide to be in a relationship, such as a marriage or a friendship, you have to give up most of yourself (I say most because none of us are able to give up ALL- There is only One). Think about it: Jesus gave it all. In order to be in a relationship with us, He gave up everything, even His life was not off limits.

Do you really want to be in a relationship? or is the relationship just to make YOU feel better, and not about the other person at all. This selfishness destroys lives and undermines relationships. How can you love someone by standing on the opposite side of the room from them, arms crossed, unwilling to let go of anything you want. I don't understand.

I would do just about anything to be close to my husband. Being selfish puts a rift between us, and usually we end up fighting. Its not that you "give in" but that you lovingly put yourself aside so you can enjoy being with the other person. Acts of kindness, or unselfishness, let the other person know how valuable they are to you. When they know they are valued and loved, watch them reciprocate it back. Pretty soon, you'll both have all you ever wanted, but its not by being selfish, its because you care more about the other person than yourself. Kindness is contagious, watch it grow!

just my thoughts... :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hold on to Righteousness

Job 27:6
I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.

(in the Amplified Bible) My uprightness and my right standing with God I hold fast and will not let them go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days and it shall not reproach me as long as I live.

There are many times in Job that this thought is stated. Job held his righteousness and right standing with God as the most important thing he had. It meant more to him than any of his belongings, his family, his wealth. He clung to it as if it were all he lived for. It was the only thing the devil couldn’t pry away from him. Nothing can touch our relationship with God. He says we can never be separated from His love, and the Bible tells us that we have been made righteous through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. Why then do we let the devil condemn us, judge us, point the finger at us, like Job’s friends did? We should be so adamant about our righteousness and we should allow Christ to fully cleanse us, including our conscience, so that when the devil does come to point at us and try to rip away our right-standing with Christ, we stand firm on the Promises of God.

There is no hope when we are cut-off from God. The devil knows this, and keeps so many people bound by their past and thinking they are so far from God. When in reality, all we have to do is repent, accept forgiveness and believe.

Once you have been saved, CLING to your RIGHTEOUSNESS as if it were your life. There you will find the confidence to come before the Holy God as you are: blameless by the blood of the Lamb. That is the one thing the devil never wants you to realize, that you can walk in boldness of righteousness. Its only when WE let sin separate us can there be a separation.

SO no more WOE IS ME! No more, “I am such a bad person”. No more allowing the devil's lies tell you that you are not good enough. You are qualified because you have been made righteous. Allow Him to guide you and to love on you….because He’s right there next to you. Just believe in the truth.

You never know how close you are...

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

“Greatest success comes just one step beyond the point at which defeat overtakes you.”

When we feel overwhelmed by circumstances, we must dig in and keep on going. One of my favorite poems ever is called "Don't Quit" (author seemingly unknown):

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This is more of a reminder to me as I write this, just to keep going. (for those in our church: OP:52 will be finished one day!) All things in life may not all be right at the same time, but there is much to be thankful for now, much to live for now, and we never know how close we are to breakthrough. And if we all stand together, hold each other up, we may all make it there!
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Stephan Grellet

Kindness seems to be a trait of humans, whether we delve into that trait or not is up to us. Knowing we are only here but for a little while, and only once, can give an urgency to the need to make other's lives better.  Much of the kindness goes unnoticed, and the change may be small, but it is always worth it. Making another person feel that they are "worth it" can go a long ways.  Knowing we are loved, and feeling loved are two very different things. Love is an action, in action, and actively giving. 

Kindness doesn't have to be random, it almost always SHOULD be thoughtful.