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With the Christmas season in full swing, it’s frightfully easy to become engulfed in the Christmas frenzy. Busy and frazzled, we rush around to find the perfect presents for our loved ones, host the perfect party, amid perfect decorations, while presenting a table full of perfect food.  In all the bustle, we risk the season of love, joy, and peace passing us by along with all that really matters, like spending time with those we love.

All too soon, the season comes to a close. Once the decorations are stuffed away, our home looks as barren as our hearts feel. What went wrong? we wonder.

 

Before we get too far in, here is a practical list of 8 ways to savour the season:

  1. Be grateful. There are always things to be thankful for. Look around and you’ll find it won’t take long to see how blessed your are.
  2. Be intentional with your time. To stave off exhaustion, instead of accepting every invite, consider limiting parties and activities. By intentionally protecting your time, you’ll be less likely to reach the end of the season, or Christmas Day, completely depleted and will have more energy for those closest to you.
  3. Slow down. instead of rushing from one Christmas activity to the next, set aside enough time to fully engage in each moment.
  4. Create memorable Christmas traditions with your loved ones and take time for old traditions.
  5. Buy less stuff.  So often the plethora of things we were told we needed: the newest gadget, the latest and greatest piece of technology, the you name it toy-of-the-year doesn’t fill the space we were promised it would. Consider a memory-making trip or other activities that will outlast the many items you might have purchased.
  6. Donate time or money to a cause. Christmas is a great time to look beyond ourselves and help others. Helping those in need naturally raises our internal gratitude meter.
  7. Celebrate advent. Many Christians spend time leading up to Christmas in spiritual preparation for celebrating when Christ was born.
  8. Focus on Jesus. Let His presence – not presents – be at the centre of your celebration. With your heart and spirit full of His love, you’ll enjoy all the festivities that much more.

May you be blessed this Christmas with the fullness of God’s love.

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  1. In what ways could you be more intentional about celebrating Christ this Christmas?
  2. What new traditions could you include to help make Christ more central to your celebrations? What might you need to take away?

 

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I’ve been working on decluttering. It started when I decided to tidy up my diet. It spilled over into activities and over-involvement, then finally my home. No matter how much attention I place in these areas, there is consistent work to ensure it’s maintained. We all know how easy it is to slowly add junk food back into our diets, to say yes one too many times, or let a small pile build up on the counter.

Our thought life is no different. Like the mess in our homes, it needs to be cleaned up by regular attention and care. It’s easy to get busy and not set aside the time needed to declutter. A little bit of junk food here, a bit of compromise there, a small pile of unattended ideas left to mount, and suddenly, things get messy.

Cleaning up sounds so simple, but it takes diligent work. It requires we stop other pursuits long enough to examine ourselves, to listen, and pray in order to regularly deal with the clutter of thoughts, false motives, and sin that builds up on a daily basis. Adding to the challenge, the clean-up effort can easily be compromised by the enemy’s efforts to distract, deceive, distort, and detract from our identity and purpose in an attempt to destroy us.

Distraction

The enemy of our soul wants to keep you preoccupied to ensure you don’t see your faults. He knows that once you recognise your failings, you have the opportunity to change. With that, comes healing and power and he wants none of that for you. He works diligently by enticing you to fill up on junk food so you fail to ingest the riches of the kingdom. If you don’t indulge in his offerings, he will go to great lengths to further distract you with busy work to try to ensure an unexamined life.

Deception

This is the attempt to ensure we overlook the mess or fail to see sin for what it is. If distraction failed, Satan tries to deceive us into thinking we’re perfectly fine. In this proud state, we disregard our own faults because we’re too busy finger-pointing with one hand and patting ourselves on the back with the other. Even if healing is offered, Satan tries to prevent it by veiling us from our faults and keeping us preoccupied with our good works.

Detraction

This is the attempt to beat us down, make us forget who we are and how much we are worth. This compromised state often comes amid Distraction, as the result of too much junk food and not enough time with the One who aides the clean-up effort. Self-esteem wanes as pieces of our identity are chipped off and added to the mounting mess.

Distortion

Satan bombards the believer with lies, truth-twisting, and accusations in an attempt to utterly destroy them and their faith. He wants us to believe we are beyond help, the mess too chaotic and ugly to be cleaned up.

Destruction

Satan will stop at nothing to ensure our ruin. We are warned to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). Destruction may come in the form of lost hope, crippling fear, disabling illness, shattered faith, poor choices, or relational breakdown to name a few. Though there may not appear a solution to the mess, there is still a way out.

Deliverer

God delivers us out of disastrous messes, even if we made them and even if we failed to do our part in the clean up. He responds to willing hearts turned to Him, and in His extraordinary mercy, sometimes He performs clean-ups even before the mess-maker fully notices Him.

We do well to be mindful of mounting messes, taking inventory on a daily basis and an active role in the areas God shows us require attention. But take heart, even if you have a mess on your hands, know that you have a Helper ready and willing to remove the clutter in order to free you from disarray and discouragement.

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  1. Set aside regular time for clutter control. You could pray this prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
  2. Are there things in your life creating unnecessary distraction from time with God? Is it possible they are filling a need that can only be filled by God?
  3. Bring any messes to God and watch how He makes beautiful spaces in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our thought life is where the battle is won or lost. Not unlike food, each day, several times a day, we are offered a thought or idea we might be tempted to ingest. Some ideas are life-giving while others leave a bad taste in our mouth.

Here’s a little story. I’ll call it The Bitter Pill.

I’m having a conversation with a coworker and something she says hits me the wrong way. I could choose to ignore it, to not take it personally, and move on. I’ve done so in the past, but this time I’m caught off guard. She’s done this before, I think to myself, and no sooner have I thought it, I’ve ingested a chunk of bitterness.

Later that night, while I’m brushing my teeth, I feel something in my throat. I spit it up and realize it’s that piece of bitterness. It tastes worse now having been partially digested, and carrying the nasty residue of another bitter pill I’d swallowed a few days prior. I have an opportunity to spit it out, but I’ve taken offense, so I chew on it some more and swallow it all over again.

When I wake the next morning, I don’t feel so great. The bitterness has taken effect and now it’s in my bloodstream poisoning other areas. I take another dose by talking the situation over with a friend, thinking it will act as an antidote. It doesn’t. Instead, I feel worse. I read the side-effects on the back of the pill bottle. I don’t like what I see, but even so I commit to another dose, and another, and one more for good measure.

Eventually, my body can’t process the intake, and I get toxic. I stagger to the Doctor with my sickness. He asks me what I’ve been eating. A steady diet of bitter thoughts, I tell him. He suggests I need to detox my system. I assure Him I understand it would have been better if I hadn’t ingested the pills in the first place. He gently reminds me I have a choice, and offers me this prescription for next time:

“…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

How? I ask. He says the next time I’m tempted to swallow a bitter pill, I instead toss it away. If I hold onto it, even for a short time, let alone swallow it, well, you know what happens. Instead of accepting the offered thought or idea, He tells me, I have the choice to reject it. Once I do, I’ll feel healthier and will even thrive. As an added bonus, He tells me this will help too:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

It takes practice and discipline, he continues, it doesn’t happen all at once, but He assures me it’s a habit I can change with His help. I ask what happens if I mess up. He tells me, just say sorry and start over…as many times as needed.

I feel satisfied with that.

And maybe you do too, knowing that whether you’ve taken a bitter pill, an anger pill, a dishonest pill, a fear pill, a you-name-it pill, there is always the opportunity to not only say sorry and begin again, but lean on the Physician’s prescription for next time. His word, His strength, His love, and His forgiveness are readily available.

Know that you aren’t defeated. You CAN take every thought captive. You CAN forgive. You CAN overcome those habitual patterns of thinking or behaving! After all, we’ve been redeemed, given a Helper, and are dearly loved! It doesn’t get any better than that!

You’ve got this, because He’s got you!

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  1. Take a moment and make a list of habitual thoughts or actions that are harmful to yourself or others.
  2. Now ask God to help you focus on them one at a time until you begin to default into taking your thoughts captive. You might also find new life-giving habits to replace the old ones. My example was taking offense which lead to bitterness. Ideally, I choose to take my thoughts captive, and refuse to get angry or take offense. But if I fail to do that, I have a second opportunity to forgive quickly, pray for and bless the offender, and disallow any other bitter thoughts a parking place.

 

 

 

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People who are mad at God aren’t always truly mad at God – they’re angry at a person or system linked to God.

That system or person failed them in some way, and because it somehow represented God to them, they transfer ownership for the wrongdoing to God. Even though God didn’t deal the blow, He’s been made responsible for it.

Disillusioned, the wounded leave the faith and walk away from God, carrying deep pain and anger with them for years. What’s sad about this misrepresentation is they miss the true nature of God.

Religious systems and religious people are imperfect. They fail. They sin. The sin harms. The harm hurts. The hurt runs deep.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been hurt in this way, I want to say sorry on behalf of the people who caused you harm. But I also want to encourage you that they are not God. God is love and His love never fails (1 John 4:8; Psalm 136). Although you may feel you want no part of God if this is how He looks, don’t mistakenly bundle God’s infallible character with the flawed character or behaviour of human beings.

What they said or did, or failed to say or do, is no reflection of the true nature of God. I hazard a guess that God is deeply saddened when people leave Him on account of people. He understands this kind of pain and is likewise pained when His relationship with those who have been wounded is fragmented. He offers healing, counsel, direction, and the gifts of deep love, joy, and peace; being severed from Him doesn’t afford these pleasures.

Sometimes the anger toward God isn’t misplaced. Instead, the wounded one isn’t mistakenly blaming God but rather asking why God let it happen. As difficult as this is to absorb, we’re not often privy to these kinds of answers. Sometimes, we merely need to trust. That’s where faith comes in.

Can you believe in a God who doesn’t always tell you why? Who allows hurts this side of heaven? Who isn’t a divine Genie? Bad stuff happens to good and “bad” people alike. We aren’t living in heaven…yet. We just have to trust, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time…Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” James 4:8-10 (Message)

Let’s not make it about people, but about God. He’s trustworthy, perfect, and loves us unconditionally. Let Him heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

May you have the courage to trust God despite the wounding.

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  1. Make a list of those who have wounded you.
  2. Can you forgive them one-by-one? Can you forgive God for allowing it? Return to God and ask for forgiveness for your anger, knowing He is quick to forgive, then rest in Him believing it’s done.

 

 

 

Before-Bookcase

Somewhere between the industry (sometimes drudgery) of our days turned years, we might be lulled into thinking our life hasn’t made an impact.

Possibly at the halfway point in my life (only God knows for sure), I’ve been earnestly reflecting on the state of my personal nation. I’ve painstakingly decluttered my schedule, and am doing the same within my home – and though I know it’s a lifetime effort, my thought life hasn’t escaped this scrutiny.

Since our inner thoughts form our external actions and reactions, constant decluttering is needed. I’ve noticed there’s a relentless battle for our minds in the form of a steady offering of lies. Fortunately, we can choose whether or not we allow these and other superfluous junk to clutter up our thought life.

My most recent battle was the unsettling feeling that my life hadn’t amounted to much. Whether a mini mid-life crisis or melancholy, it was an idea worth wrestling with.

Along with a plethora of tactics, the enemy of our soul would have us believe our efforts have been futile in hopes of devaluing us and rendering us ineffective for future difference-making.

Battling for truth is critical, because in doing so we cancel out the lies.

And the truth is, my life matters, your life matters, our collective lives matter. You were created for beautiful acts of worship only you can perform on this earth.

Every time you create, love, and live true to who you are, you make a difference. Fingerprints on the things you touch get impressed into the lives of those around you, which, in turn, encourages them to keep running the great human race.

Every time you cheer another on, you make a difference.

Every time you relinquish some of your time to another, you make a difference.

Every time you put into motion one of your creative ideas, you impact your circle of influence.

Every time you love, you fill a human tank with more fuel to keep on.

You see, your life will never be wasted.

Even if lived in a rather unremarkable fashion, your life is remarkable to the One who fashioned it.

Even if you never hear how any of your actions impacted another this side of heaven – even if you never get an award of recognition or some trophy to put on your mantle – God says:

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  ~Revelation 22:12-13

Satan would have us to believe that both our good deeds or our not-so-good ones are of no consequence. That way he can feed us the lie that none of this matters. Make no mistake, it all matters! This day, moment, this very breath matters. It’s a gift you can wrap and give back to God and this world.

May you live in deep understanding of God’s love and acceptance of you and know you – and your life – matters.

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  1. What lies are you believing that simply aren’t true?
  2. Ask God to show you the truth and listen to how He answers.

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You aren’t alone.

There are others out there who feel like they’re different. Like they participate on the fringes. Like they aren’t accepted.

So today, I want to send some truth your way.

1. You belong.

2. You are accepted.

3. You have something to contribute that no one else has.

4. Everyone feels the same.

5. It’s not about you anyway.

Let’s start at number five and work backwards from there.

5. It’s not about you.

At my introverted worst, I enter a room and worry that no one will want to speak to me. I worry that as they stand in their groups, I’ll remain alone. It takes a lot of effort for me to be proactive and say hello, begin a conversation, and especially to break into a group. All this to say, I can easily make it all about me. So here’s something I’ve found helpful and more useful than acting like wallpaper…

I can try to change my mindset and resolve to enter a place and make it about others. There are some who are feeling uncomfortable too, and the extroverts are all bursting to connect, so what am I worried about? It sounds so simple, but I can mindfully choose to say hello to someone new, ask about how another’s day has been, or remember someone’s name or their child’s pursuits. In a coffee shop, I might make a special effort to connect in some small way with the person serving me. A smile goes a long way, as does an honest compliment, and a bit of small talk can dramatically improve a person’s day!

If you’re an extrovert, the above might be second nature to you. Making it about others might mean you ask more questions than usual, allowing the quieter types time to engage. You could also make a special effort to include the “fringies” who are waiting/longing to be invited into the fun you naturally help create.

#4. Everyone feels the same.

Everyone wants to feel loved, accepted, connected, and experience belonging. If I make it about me, in moments of insecurity I might draw back sending the message that I don’t care, when nothing could be further from the truth. When I make it about others, I engage, listen, and show another acceptance and loveindependent of their response or level of acceptance toward me. Realizing you’re not the only one who desires meaningful connections gives you the courage to be relationally proactive. You never know what impact these small acts of kindness can have as you move through your day making others feel less invisible.

#3. You have something to contribute that no one else has.

One of the great relational fears is that if we put ourselves out there, we’ll face rejection. You will at times be met with rejection (or perceived rejection), but when your thinking is other-focused instead of only self-focused, and you believe that you have something to offer that can positively impact another human being, your fear of snubbery shrinks. You and I weren’t made from a cookie-cutter. Your different way of thinking, your unique viewpoint, your encouragement, may be just the thing someone needs to hear.

#2. You are accepted.

The truth is, we’re already accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6). When I make it about me and disengage, I miss the very thing I have to offer the world, or a single person, in that moment. Yes, you are a quirky, different, one-of-a-kind human being. There isn’t another out there like you! You don’t need to be ashamed or apologize for all that God made you to be, or all that He is making you to be. It’s the very thing you have to offer the worldthe ONLY thing, in fact, save Jesus himself! So engage and loveregardless of what others say or think of you.

#1. You belong.

Camp out there for a minute and let that soak in. You belong to the One who took care of your sin, forgave everything, and is healing you by His grace. The more you tap into who you are in Christ, the more comfortable you feel in your own skin. You’re free and easy to love others and their judgments cease to matter. You realize you don’t need to be like everyone else to be with everyone else. YOU are more than enough!

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. ~ Ephesians 1:6 (Message)

May you be surrounded with a deep sense of belonging by the One who created and adores you, and share who He made you to be with others!

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  1. In what ways have you felt on the outside?
  2. What steps could you take to engage more fully with others?
  3. Take three opportunities today to positively impact another’s day.

 

 

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“Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
    a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” ~ Psalm 51:17 

In the middle of our round table there is a lazy Susan. One time, my son decided to give it a quick, strong spin. There were a few items on it, namely a ceramic salt and pepper shaker.  Enter mom as the fragments lay scattered on the floor. My son said he thought it could be glued back together and demonstrated how. I said it might not be worth it since you’d always see the cracks. Insistent, he began salvaging the broken pieces.

Ever felt like that broken pepper shaker? Like things were spinning out-of-control, falling apart, and you could no longer hold them all together? Brokenhearted, all that you thought were the makings of your life lay in pieces, and you stare stunned at the shattered fragments.

Though painful, brokenness is a blessing. You see, when we are broken we need fixing. All the while we’re working like a perfectly useful pepper shaker ready to spice up a gastronomic delight, we run the risk of functioning independently. We might be useful, but we may also be a little too self-ruling, or, in other words, too spicy for our own good.

Conversely, when we’re broken, we have come to the end of self. We’ve tried to hold it together and realize it’s impossible. Staring at the pieces, and failing to see a way to put it back together, the tears come freely. We’ve only enough strength to choke out a cry for help.

And the Helper comes.

Like my son with the pepper shaker, God sees something worth saving. Carefully picking up the broken pieces, He places the bits before Him. He assures us everything will be okay but asks that we trust Him. Then, He begins to painstakingly glue the pieces back together, slowly, meticulously, lovingly; only He leaves out some pieces.

When He’s finished there are cracks and even some holes. We think it looks messy and incomplete. He thinks it’s well on it’s way to beauty. He explains that the cracks are the lines that trace where we have been and form a story of our life. The missing parts are the unnecessary bits, and form gaps for others to see into a formerly closed vessel. As they gaze, they see the life of a now transparent person and begin to understand the miraculous work administered to one remade by their Maker.

Don’t be afraid if you are broken just now. Let yourself be miraculously and lovingly put back together by the Father. It takes trusting the only One who can perform such a delicate task. It may be uncomfortableeven painfuland you may question the final product. But the Lord is over-experienced and knows just how to fit everything together and leave out the excess. There will be beauty again.

I bless you in the midst of your brokenness that you would surrender to being remade.

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  1. Brokenness offers an opportunity for God’s deeper work in your life. Perhaps in it God is offering to heal something within you, or maybe taking you further in your faith journey with Him, or possibly both.
  2. Ask for His help to trust Him in the process.

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Years ago, I planted tulips with my two-year-old who is now twenty. I’ve never had much success with bulbs. Whether the squirrels’ vigilance or my negligence, they never seem to return in proportion to my planting; some flourishing for a time then gone, some never blooming at all. But this past spring, I was surprised to see random splashes of colour sporadically brightening the earthremnants from those by-gone days.

It strikes me that just like these tulip bulbs, all that we painstakingly plant in our lives isn’t always seen right away. Sometimes the things we’ve sewn take years to bloom, buried in the dark recesses until just the right season. Sometimes they don’t bloom the way we expected, and other times we don’t see the results this side of heaven. But no effort is ever wasted, and even if we don’t see the results, God does.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  ~ Galatians 6:9

When beauty takes too long to flourish, we can be tempted to believe that our toil was wasted or that somehow we didn’t quite work hard enough, well enough, or smart enough. But even then, we don’t give in because we trust that even when all looks barren, God not only makes a way, but makes beauty as well.

The beauty might take longer than you thought. It might turn up unexpectedly and in a location you hadn’t imagined. But anywhere you nurture the soil, in time, beauty will flourish.

Whether a kind word deposited into a child’s heart, a hug given to a hurting soul, money given to help a cause, or time spent building into a life, or a communitynone are wasted. Every kindness, every determined effort, every weathered struggle, all the good that we didn’t give up on doing will bring an eventual harvest.

It’s always a blessing to see the fruits of our laboursome kind of beauty flourishing where it was plantedbut with God’s help, strength, and grace, even when there is no evidence of anything growing from the good we tried so hard to cultivate, we can also remember:

…we live by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Be encouraged! It’s not over ’till it’s over…and even then, it’s not really over! Heaven awaits!

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  1. Are you weary with trying? Bring your cares to God and ask Him for faith to continue doing good.
  2. Don’t forget, God’s word says you will one day see a harvest if you don’t give up!

 

trials-900x420Sometimes, life gets tough. Maybe you can relate.

The hard stuff life throws at us can be confusing, blinding, and disabling. Physical, financial, emotional, relational, or any number of issues can wear on our faith and leave us feeling raw. During times of suffering it’s easy to believe lies about God, so it’s helpful to be reminded of what is true.

Below are 5 lies you might be tempted to believe when experiencing trials:

Lie #1: God is mad at me.

After an extended period of hardship, you might think God is angry with you. You might even believe He’d rather not have anything to do with you. This isn’t true. God always desires a relationship with you.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

We all make mistakes. More than any other person, God understands your weaknesses. He knows the mountains you’re scaling. Even more than you do, He knows how difficult these obstacles are for you and precisely the reasons why. He is a compassionate, faithful Father whose love is unconditionalwhich means He loves you all the time no matter what. He doesn’t turn His back on you and leave you to deal with these hardships alone – even the ones you bring on yourself.

 

Lie #2: I’ve done something to deserve this.

Similar to #1, this lie stems from the belief that you are being punished. There are times when the suffering we experience is a result of cause and effect as we are faced with the result of our own actions. Other times, bad stuff simply happens. God is not capable of evil, so whatever it is, God will use it for goodeven if it doesn’t feel good right now. Be encouraged! Pain always has a purpose. If you allow it, God will use the trial to grow you in Christ-likeness, will use it for His glory, and even the benefit of others.

If you’ve sinned, be assured that even then, God always forgives. You only need ask. Once you do, know that it’s over and forgotten. He’s not going to hang your sin over your head and remind you of it. Here’s what he does instead:

“Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”  ~ Micah 7:19

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”  ~ Psalm 103:12

 

Lie#3: God is tired of me asking.

When we have askedeven pleadedfor something and He hasn’t given it to us, it’s helpful to remember that God is all-powerful and has unlimited resources. He could give us everything we ask for, but he doesn’t. Being a good Father, He knows what to give us and when. He knows whether it’s better to delay or not to give it at all. He is for you and only after your good. He knows better than you do what you need. God’s delay is often because He knows whatever you’re asking for isn’t good for you, or He wishes to give you something better, or He is growing a kind of beauty in you that wouldn’t otherwise flourish. Delays also make room for miraculous spectacles of God’s power. Your prayers are always heard. And they are always answered, but not always in the way you anticipate.

I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

4. God has forgotten about me.

When your prayers go unanswered, you might think God has given up on you, He won’t help you, or that He just doesn’t care. In such times, it’s easy to lose heart. But God has said, 

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  ~ Hebrews 13:5

Don’t sell God short. His love is limitless and unfailing. He isn’t like some earthly fathers who leave or lose touch with their kids. Jesus said,

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  John 14:18

So if your prayers have yet to be answered, trust that God is doing something else. He sees the big picture; you only see a fragment. You may not understandand may never know why it happenedbut that’s where your faith is refined; when you can continue to walk with God without knowing where you’re going or why. Just trust and be lead.

 

#5 I’m not worth it.

Oh, but you are! Jesus died for you. That says it all. He was thinking of you as He suffered to save you. He not only wanted to give you life in eternity with Him, He wanted to offer you a relationship with His Father in the here and now. In understanding this, and declaring Him as your Saviour, you are His and He is yoursforever. Nothing can take His love from you.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  ~ Romans 8:39

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  ~ Ephesians 1:13-14

You are loved by the God of all creation. You matter! Be assured, He is with you and will never leave you!

Here are some parting verses of encouragement:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

~ 1 Peter 5:6-10

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  1. The enemy specializes at sneaking in during times of trauma and offering lies to undermine God, our thought life, and, ultimately, our faith. Can you think of a time of suffering when you may have agreed with a lie about God’s faithfulness?
  2. Ask God to show you any other lies you may believe about Him.
  3. Look to scripture for verses that give the truth to oppose the lies. Pray to ask forgiveness for believing them, and ask for God’s help to remain free from them in your thought life.

 

English-Point-July-2010-sisters

My mom always taught us that if we were visiting somewhere, it was polite to leave the place better than we found it. That meant pretty much spotless. It’s a decent principle to live by, and, surprisingly enough, it transfers to many areas in life.

I’ve even thought about it this way: we’re visitors to this world that God has entrusted to us. He’s given us family, friends, co-workers – a whole circle of influence – whom we impact (whether we realize it or not) on a daily basis. We have free time to expend on whatever we choose from hobbies to holidays. And though there are many activities we can spend our time and resources on, when our life comes to a close, what will really matter?

It’s easy to get it wrong and think what can I get out of life, or, how can I show others how accomplished I am? But, in the end, it isn’t what you get out of life, or what you take from it, but what you deposit.

We have a choice to leave here better than we found it.

While we can easily leave a place better than we found it, we can also leave a person better than we found them by treating them with love and respect, offering help, or giving a simple compliment. We can contribute to our workplace or colleagues by doing our best work with a positive attitude. We can put aside what we’re doing to play with a child, listen to a teen, or sit with the elderly. We can expend time to help build a better future for a underpriviledged community or a better day for one single human being. We can speak kindnesses instead of insults or criticism.

There are countless ways we can improve the lives of others through selfless acts of kindness. You can probably think of many I haven’t listed. These are things of great beauty and be assured, they matter in eternity. Don’t be fooled; not one of these actions is wasted. And if no one ever notices – if you gather no accolades or awards for doing them – consider yourself blessed. God sees and is pleased.

When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Matthew 6:2-4 (Message)

In these ways our actions not only leave this place better than we found it, but we please our Father in heaven while growing in Christ-likeness.

At the end of the movie Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler takes inventory of his actions. Take a moment to watch the clip below. What deposits will you leave impressed on the lives of others? In what ways could you make a difference?

Watch the ending of Schindler’s List

With God’s help and wisdom, we can wisely choose how we will spend our time and resources so we can leave deposits of beauty that may touch a life, a generation to come, or eternity.

May you leave this place, even this very day, better than you found it. 

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  1. Choose one activity today and use it to make a difference. It can be as simple as a smile to a stranger, buying a coffee for the next person in line, or providing a listening ear. Pick some way to begin to make a difference to someone and leave this place better than you found it.

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