Sunday, January 27, 2013

Second Chances

“God, my God, I yelled for help and You put me together. God, You pulled me out of the grave and gave me another chance at life when I was down and out.” (Psalm 30:2 MSG)

Do you ever have one of those days when you’d like to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again? I have noticed that about the first hour of the morning can determine the outcome of the day; when things don’t go right from the beginning and our routine is messed up, or our attitude isn’t in a joyful state, it can lead to a pretty awful day! The way we start our day can easily determine the tone for the entire day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we never had to experience a bad day? I have learned that it’s really a matter of my attitude, and if things start to fall apart I have a choice to let it beat me down or turn what started out as a bad day into a good one. One thing I know for sure, no matter how many times we fail, we can pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and start over again because God doesn’t give up on us too easily.

We don’t always have control of some of the things that happen around us or to us, but we can control the way we react to them…

…Start off with a prayer; it is a powerful thing that can change our circumstances into joy and thankfulness

Don’t dwell on it! Face it head on and let it go!

Put out good energy and do your best to create good vibrations        

Think positive rather than dwelling on the misfortunes of the morning

Get moving and do something that you enjoy and that you find fulfilling

“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. When I cleaned up my act, He gave me a fresh start. Indeed, I’ve kept alert to God’s ways; I haven’t taken God for granted. Every day I review the way He works, I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes.” (2 Samuel 22:21-25 MSG)

Everyone needs a second chance now and again, and that’s what God does; He says “Go ahead and try again.” There are many ways to turn a bad day into a good one; you can change the moment, and in doing so change your day. Even when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, it doesn’t mean we have to start (or finish!) our day with a negative attitude.  Our days are filled with ups and (sometimes too many!) downs, but how thankful I am for second chances! Even through our moments of failures we are humbled with God’s compassion and understanding as He forgives us and gives us a second chance.  When we focus on God instead of our faults, we feel a change in our hearts and regardless of what we have done or how we have acted we can discover the blessing of another opportunity.

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down ; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG)

Even when we fall, we can get up again when we repent and lean on God for strength and submission. We can’t ever believe that just because we have fallen that we are headed for a day of doom! God wants to pick us up and start afresh, and He gives each of us chance after chance!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Are You Wearing?

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair or the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

What do you clothe yourself with in the morning? Do you worry or fuss about what to wear so that you will make a good impression to your family, friends, and/or co-workers? Or perhaps it is in garments suitable for a day of housework, hiking, or sports events. Appearance is quite the deal in today’s society, and people are often even judged by what they wear and how they present themselves. Every morning we get up and spend time taking great care in clothing ourselves, and the daily dilemma of what to wear can be exhausting! But at what point are we more concerned about our outward appearance than what we wear in our heart? I am pretty sure that what we wear doesn’t have near the impact on others as what is in our hearts.

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)

What attitude do you put on in the morning and wear throughout the day? Do you spend time getting ready to ensure that your attitude and actions will line up with scripture? We are instructed to clothe our spirits with kindheartedness, humility, tenderness, patience, and compassion. But do we sometimes (or often) carry around blame, resentment, unforgiveness, or jealousy?  Sometimes we let life “stuff” sneak up on us and rob us of our joy and peace, and most of us can identify when our bad attitude and behavior is displayed outwardly in our words or conduct. There are times when we react with negativeness, criticism, impatience, self-centeredness and rudeness (to name a few!). These are attitudes we must reject, because it is our duty in all circumstances to have a humble and submissive heart as defined by scripture. Our wardrobe should consist of encouragement, humility, unselfishness, generosity, comfort, joy, thankfulness, and victory! And as we clothe ourselves with these virtues, the last garment we are to put on is love, which holds all the others in place.

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth, and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14,15,17)

God gives us the perfect dress code in the Bible; His dress code is about the heart. When we dress ourselves in the mornings we need to clothe ourselves with the beauty that comes from within and put on God’s armor. We must put on…

  • ·         The belt of truth that helps dismiss the lies Satan tempts us with

  • ·         The body armor of God’s righteousness to guard our hearts throughout the day

  • ·         The gospel of peace so that we are prepared for any circumstance that comes our way

  • ·         The helmet of salvation which protects our thoughts and helps us to speak the truth from God’s Word

To dress up spiritually fashionable we must make a commitment every day to doing life God’s way. What matters the most is that our manners, character, opinions, and the way we treat others reflect our love for Him. It is our obligation to clothe ourselves with tender-hearted mercy, confident and with the full assurance of the armor of God. No matter where we are, we must always take great care to wear love, clothe ourselves spiritually just as much as physically, and make a conscientious effort to put on the attire of a servant.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Have Mercy!

“For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” (James 2:13 MSG)

Having mercy is all about showing human kindness towards others who have betrayed us. I am pretty sure that we have all been offended and endured all kinds of hurt in our lives, many times from those who are the very closest to us! And oh my goodness; isn’t it just so exhausting to turn the other cheek and be compassionate to someone who has offended, criticized, or wounded us deeply? But when we withhold forgiveness from others, we are not showing our appreciation for God’s mercy toward us. It’s easy to be nice to someone who is nice to you, but what about having mercy towards those that assault or insult our character and dignity? Sometimes mercy is raised to a new level when we are called to show mercy to people who are unkind or do wrong things to us.

“If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”(Romans 12:8 NIV)

God calls us to be real and show mercy that goes beyond being hypocritical and polite. It’s human nature to regard others’ offenses more highly than our own, and to react in a ‘tit for tat’ way to get revenge. We naturally want to be treated fairly, and as a result we are driven to get restitution. But what about when we hurt others? We have a completely different attitude and expect a certain amount of grace….right? I believe we all need to remember moments like these, and when we experience a time of outrage at someone else’s behavior or fault, we must remember to apply mercy that will take over and help us overcome our annoyance and ill temper. God is a God of mercy, and He expects His children to be merciful as well.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Mercy is a heavenly quality that is a characteristic of God himself. And understanding how important it is to God that we show people mercy helps us to clearly define and distinguish our Christian individuality. We have to realize that we are all imperfect, and haven’t we all at one time or another approached the throne of mercy to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made? How can we deny any measure of grace to others when we so desperately desire it for ourselves? God’s mercy is needed by all people, and the benefit of showing mercy and kindness to others is that we will be shown mercy and grace as well. According to God’s definition, grace is the power to be self-controlled, upright, and live a godly life. And those filled with His grace are eager to do what is good. When we are filled with His grace, it is so much easier to remove the scales of resentment and anger from our eyes, and allow us to see and treat others as God does. Mercy is a divine quality, and it is to the merciful that God will show mercy!

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's on YOUR "To-Do" List?

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

 “To-Do” lists; those little lists that supposedly keep us on track, but can certainly send us rushing for cover! I like order; I like everything to be in its place. I like the feeling of accomplishment when everything on my to-do list is checked off each day. And I know from experience that if I don’t make a list, I usually forget important things that I either want or need to get done. However, the problem with any to do list is that they can quickly get out of control and become “un-doable”. And as our to-do lists grow in size we wonder how in the world we will accomplish each item? 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
We all have days when we are running on empty, and no matter how much we try to accomplish, the list of things just seem to get longer. The best solution is to set our goals and expectations in line with what God desires for our lives. I am pretty sure that the crazy stress that we feel as a result of our list is not on His list. Maybe making a “don’t-do” list is a good solution to this madness! If we focus on the desires and purposes that God has created for us, maybe we would have the ability to say “no” to some of the things we put on our agendas.

“He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those that hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I think that we all learn over the years that it’s really not such a bad thing if everything is not in order all the time.  And as difficult as this may seem, it’s time to do some list swapping and exchange our list for His list; I think that His list might look a lot different! Throughout our days God is calling us to help accomplish HIS purposes, HIS “to-do” list. And if we yield to His purpose for our lives He will equip us with everything we need to accomplish it. It takes discipline to truly spend time doing what is worthy, and instead of trying to ration out our physical and emotional energy to all the commitments we make for ourselves, we need to listen, rest, and be filled with Him. God’s list is very short, but His grace is never ending! And when we spend time with God and allow Him to write our to-do list, the other important things end up getting done as well.

Remember: no matter what you have on YOUR to-do list today, spending time with YOU is at the top of HIS list!
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

One Word

What if you chose one word to guide you this year instead of the traditional New Year’s resolution? What would your one word be?

I know this year I must choose to be content in all things.

There has been little in my life that has made as much an impact as learning to be content in all things. Whether I have little or much, feel good or bad, whether it’s a work day or a play day, the secret to contentment and being fulfilled is believing that God and what He has provided for me in this very moment is all I need.

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11)

Feeling uneasy or troubled seems to plague many of us in our world today. Life is full of challenges; each day we are faced with the challenge of balancing work, family, and personal time. But worry and anxiety cause discontent in our lives, and they are the opposite of faith and steal our peace and happiness. If we are unhappy or dissatisfied in our current state of life, we miss seeing the good things that God is providing for us, and I have learned over and over that contentment and joy can only be found when I allow the power of God to control my life instead of trying to change my circumstances or control my own life.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

To cure my anxious state and achieve contentment in all things has everything to do with my attitude and my faith. Faith is stronger than doubt, negativism, and fretfulness. And there are techniques that will help me in my resolve to live a fulfilled and content life.

ü  Learn to give thanks in all things

ü  Always rest in God’s purpose for my life

ü  Keep life simple

ü  Practice cheerfulness in every situation

ü  Don’t take myself or others so seriously

ü  Learn to live above life’s circumstances

ü  Have a sense of humor

ü  Learn to be satisfied with little

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

I have nothing to gain by giving into anxiety, and nothing to lose by giving in to being content! To live a contented Christian life I must allow the power of Christ to reinforce and build up my life. I need to change my perspective and gain a new appreciation for what God is doing in my life. God is more than happy to teach me how to be content in all circumstances!

What’s your One Word?

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