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Monday, April 30, 2012

Friends, God Chose You Long Ago

In summary of Peter 1:2, it says "Peter explains that God, our Father knew you and chose you long ago to become his children, and his Spirit has made you holy.  As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood Jesus.  May everything good from God be yours."

Bottom Line:
Long before we were ever conceived God had chosen us to become his children.  It is by his Spirit in you that you are made holy.  As a result of his calling, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the sacrifice and blood of Jesus.  May everything good from God be your.

What this means for me:
The almighty God has chosen me to be part of his family.  This is not because of something I’ve done but more because he wanted to and had mercy on me.  This is something I cannot lose.  This is awesome news and helps me with a new perspective moving forward.  So when discouragement and disappointment come my way (and it will, It comes from all over; battles with health or not understanding where my career will go.)  The one thing I can count on is that God chose me to be part of his family.  This is something that happened long before I even chose to pursue him, he had picked me.  I need to realize that God didn’t choose me because of something I’ve done.  He saved me because he loves me, wants a relationship with me.  In following Him, he has made me holy (set apart for a purpose.)  He has placed his Spirit within and He lives in me.  This is a foundation that I can really rely on and build my life around.  I have a secure place in his family because of his mercy.  So no matter what disappointments might come my way, I need to keep the perspective that I will always be part of God family and part of his plan.  With God’s help, I can do anything he asks me to do.  I want to be used for Him and His purposes.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dead Ends Are Part of God’s Plan

In summary of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, it says "You ought to know about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.  We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it and it was all over for us and we expected to die.  But as a result it was the best thing that could have happened.  Instead of trusting in our own strength to get out of it, we were forced to trust and rely totally on God.  It turned out to not be a bad idea, since God is the one who can raise the dead!  And He did it, He rescued us from certain doom.  We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.  You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation - I don’t want you in the dark about that either.  Many will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety."

Bottom Line:
Paul shares an example of what appeared to be no hope, intimate death (he tells how they were crushed and overwhelmed beyond their ability to endure and that they thought they would never live through it, expecting to die.)  So instead of trusting in their own strengths to get out of the trouble, they instead forced themselves to trust and rely totally on God.  God is the one who can be trusted, He can raise the dead if he wants.  Paul explains how after putting all of their trust in Him, He then rescued them from certain doom.   As a result they have learned to place their confidence in Him.  Paul explains that we too can place our confidence in Him, and He will rescue us as well.  Also Paul explains that praying for others helps in part of God’s rescue plan.  It gives us a chance to ask God and to see Him deliver.  

What this means to me:
God wants me to trust and place my confidence in Him and Him alone.  God can and will deliver me via His way or means.  I must realize that God is more interested in developing me than making me comfortable, so times of discomfort and uncertainty will occur.  So when I face situations that look hopeless or beyond my control, I should first consider myself lucky, I’m in good company (Paul and the early disciples experienced the same things.)  If God can raise the dead physically, he can certainly raise any dead situation I can come across.  I’ll also need to realize that God will often let a problem that seems impossible occur in order to make me realize that I need to rely and put my hope in Him, otherwise I’ll rely on myself and not think to include Him.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

God Will Use Those With Simplified Lifes

In summary of Hebrews 12:1-2, it says "Therefore, all these pioneers who blazed the way for us on this life of faith, veterans they are cheering us on.  Let us rid ourselves of everything that weighs on us or slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  Get with it, start running with endurance the race God has set before us, never quit.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  He never lost sight of where he was heading, it was an exhilarating finish in and with God."

Bottom Line:
There are plenty of examples of folks before us that we can learn from.  We need to rid ourselves of everything that would weighs us down / hold us back.  This goes especially for the sins that easily trip us up.  We need to get with it, start running with an endurance that will never quit, the race that God has set before us.  Keeping our eyes on Jesus, who began and finished the same race we’re in.  Study how he did it, gain hope and faith from it.  Jesus never lost sight of where he was heading, he knew very well where the finish would end up, in and with God.

What this means for me:
God has set an objective for me and my life.  He has things He wants to do through me.  However, a complicated or busy life will keep me from reaching it.  Scripture suggests that I simplify my life.  Get rid of unnecessary baggage.  I shouldn’t try to do it all.  Instead I should determine and do what matters most.  To this this I need to remove things in the way, the ones that hold me back from doing the best things.  Often the things I’m doing in life appear to be good things.  I need to realize, that the enemy will often just make me busy just to distract me, even though the things appear to be good.  I need to realize that the busy good things are likely robbing me from having time to do the best things that he wants me to do.  It will be real key for me to determine what the best things are so that I can concentrate on doing them.  This will mean that I’ll need to setup some boundaries and make some clear statements about how I will live my life.
Rick Warren in his Purpose Driven Connection from today’s date suggested that some areas to look at are:

  • Trying to be like someone instead of what God created me to do
  • Trying to make everybody happy
  • Trying to meet expectations of others
  • Too many hobbies, too much TV time
  • Too much social media, entertainment
  • Wrong kinds of relationships
  • Getting hung up on mistakes of the past
I will spend some time on my day off tomorrow reviewing these and determining so life goal statements for myself and which to guide my actions and priorities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good Health Principles

A summary of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Don’t you realize or know that your body is a sacred place, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God.  You don’t belong to yourself, you cannot live as you please.  God bought you with a high price you do not want to squander it away.  You must honor God with your body, let others see God in and through your body."

Bottom Line:
Stop thinking like your body is yours you cannot live as you please.  God lives in you, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God bought you with a high price, so don’t squander it away.  Instead, honor God with your body, let others see God in and through your body.

What this means to me:
God paid a high price for me and lives in me through the Holy Spirit. This is not just a piece of God, but all of him in me (Emmanuel.)
I need to realize that I should be dedicated to God for his use, he paid an extremely high price to make it possible.  I must daily take my life and give to God for his use.  If I want to be fully utilized by God, then I need to make sure I keep my body it in the best possible shape to do the things God may call me to do.  I seriously need to re-consider balanced eating, exercising and good sleep.  When I do so, God can do a great work through me.

In my planning time (day off on Friday) I’ll revisit my daily routines and plan out changes that would usher in better eating habits, regular exercise and ample sleep.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Great Reversal: The Last Will Be First

In Summary of Matthew 20:16, it says "The Great Reversal; And so it is, that many of the first ending up last, and the last first (or so those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first now will be last.)"

Bottom Line:
In God’s kingdom there is a great reversal from what is in this world.  Those who seek to be first will end up being last and those who seek to serve (be last) will end up being first in his Kingdom.

What this means to me:
If I look to self promote myself or look to get everything out this life that benefits me, its like putting myself first.  In scripture Jesus tells us he who wants to be first in this life will be last in his kingdom.  Instead Jesus tells us to be a servant, these are the qualities that God will promote in his kingdom later.  As a son, God would want me to dedicate my life to serving instead of being served.  This is something I will battle constantly in my life, especially when I feel like I’ve worked hard and desire a break.  I really need to get up and doing something or serving someone.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Refocus On Pleasing God

A summary of Colossians 3:1-4, says "If you’re serious about living a new life, a resurrection life with Christ, act like it.  Set your sights on the realities of heaven, pursue the things over which Christ preside, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you, look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ-that's where the action is.  See things from his perspective.  Your old life is dead, your new life, which is your real life-even though invisible to spectators-is with Christ in God.  When Christ, shows up again on the earth, you’ll show up, too-the real you, the glorious you."

Bottom Line:
If you’re serious about live a new life, act like it.  Set your sights on the realities of heaven, pursue the things of Christ, as he presides over all and sits at the right hand of God.  Don’t shuffle along, head to the ground (being self absorbed with little things) look up and be alert to what God is doing around you, that’s where the action is.  See things from his perspective.  Your old life is now dead, your new life (which is your real life) is with Christ in God.  When Christ comes again, you’ll become the real you, glorious.

What does this mean for me:
God is in control and Jesus has dominion over all.  God wants to accomplish a good work with my life. All things are possible when I take my eyes off of myself and refocus it on pleasing God.  In doing this, it can remove the tendency I might have to compare myself with someone else or to be envious of someone else’s situation.

Seeing things from God’s viewpoint will help me recognize that the material things of this world are all temporary.  Instead I should focus on things that will last for eternity - loving, knowing and serving God.

I can shift my focus on what I have and be really content.  (I had the opportunity to practice this last evening in which traffic coming home from work was really bad due to an accident.  When I finally got home, I could tell I was somewhat grumpy.  But remembering my study from the morning reminded me to focus on what I have, a great wife and daughter and so many things he has provided.  I choose to change my frown to a smile and just enjoy what I have.  After doing this, I was able to enjoy an awesome dinner at a Japanese restaurant with my family.)
God has made me unique and for a purpose, re-focusing on pleasing him will allow me to accomplish this.

Today, I ask God to help me see myself as he would see me and to help me accomplish what he created me to be.  I will try to see things from his viewpoint and remind myself that material things of this world aren’t going to last.  Instead I’ll need to focus on relationships, these will last.  I’ll also need to realize that God may have a reason for not giving me what I’d want.  My own way will just distract me from my life’s purpose.  It’s time to get on with life the way he intended it be.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Be Grateful, Not Regretful

A summary of Ecclesiastes 6:9b, says "Enjoy what you have rather than desiring or having an appetite for what you don’t have.  Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless, it’s like chasing after the wind."

Bottom Line:
It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else.

What this means for me:
For me, I think the key thing is to just rejoice in what I already have and to avoid focusing on what I don’t have.  Everything I already have is a gift!  Scripture continually tells us that what we have is usually more than enough.  I already have more than I deserve!
I just need to watch myself and avoid thoughts about, “If I would get more it would solve some problems or make me much happier.”  I have learned from scripture (His Word) that happiness does not come from having, its a gift God gives as I surrender myself and my will to him and allow myself to be used by him.  
The world is full of constant messages that drive us to be discontent.  I can choose to battle this by just focusing on what I already have or what God has provided.  
This notion also ties into the last few days when I’ve come across scripture regarding envy and comparison.  The key for me will be to refrain from resenting others who already have the things I would hope to have.  I really don’t need more to be happy.  God will grant joy and happiness in the things I do as I learn to trust and follow him.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Envy denies your own uniqueness

A summary of Psalm 139:13-16 says, "God you shaped me first inside, then out; knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.  Your workmanship is marvelous.  You know every part of me, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared / laid out before I was born."

Bottom Line:
God shaped everything about me and made us wonderfully complex.  His workmanship is marvelous.  Like an open book, he designed and then watched me grow from conception to birth; he sees all the stages of my life spread out before him.  All of my days of are prepared / laid out before I was even born.

What this means to me:
God created me unique.  He knitted me together with traits that make unique for what he wants me to accomplish in this life.  What God creates is marvelous.  He can see from beginning to end what will take place.  He gives us our life to learn about who he is, what he has planned for us.  It’s up to me to understand, be settled on who I am and how he shaped / created me and then to proceed to accomplish it.
I have a custom life, I don’t need to imitate someone else.  (I should see me as God does, there is nobody in the world like me, so there is no reason to compare myself with anyone else.)
I just need to focus on what God’s plan is for me and to set out to please him. If I focus on this, then envy will escape my life.
I need to id my talents and traits that make me unique, then praise God for this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don’t compare myself with others

A summary of Galatians 6:4-5, says, "Pay careful attention (make a careful exploration) of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that (get the satisfaction of a job well done.)  Don’t be impressed with yourself and don’t compare yourself with others (be satisfied in a job well done.)  Each of us must take responsibility for our own conduct and doing the creative best we can with our own life’s."

Bottom Line:
Don’t look around and try to compare yourself with those around you.  Scripture tells us to pay careful attention, even make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given.  After doing so, sink or fully devote yourself into doing that, and get the satisfaction of a job well done.  

What this means for me:
God gives us work to do, it’s what’s in our life today.  God would expect us to do this work to the best of our ability.  Often what we have been given is to train us, or for us to be a gift or blessing to others.
So what keeps me from doing that?  It seems the grass may be greener on the other side.  I see other folks doing things that look more enjoyable (working from home, exciting or life changing projects, etc..) and I long for them.  Rick Warren talks about us being envious in this area.  He further explains one of the greatest secrets to having happiness/joy in your life is learning to eliminate envy.
I can change envy by changing my perspective and my response, by stopping any comparison of myself to others.  Instead, take satisfaction in doing my best with what has been given to me.
It is difficult to fulfill God’s purpose for me when while looking at someone else and not focusing on doing my best.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Principles for overcoming temptation

Christ died for us so that we we could live a different kind of life, ‘set apart’ for this life and for eternity!

A summary of Titus 2:11-14 says, "For the grace of God has been revealed (his readiness to give and forgive.)  Salvation’s available for everyone!.  We are instructed (being shown how) to turn from godless, indulgent  living and sinful pleasures and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.  This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ appears. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people (people he can be proud of), totally committed to doing good deeds."

Bottom Line:
God’s readiness to give and forgive (his grace) has been revealed.  Salvation is available to everyone.  Through his word we are instructed (shown how) to turn from a godless, indulgent type of living (filled with sinful pleasures) and how to instead take on a God filled and honoring life.  This new life starts right now, it whets our appetites for the glorious day when our savior Jesus Christ returns.  Jesus gave his life to free us from every kind of sin and to cleanse us and make us his very own people, ones totally committed to doing good deeds.

What this means for me:
God is ready to forgive me and give to me through his grace.  This has been revealed to me by those who have led to me to a closer walk and by his written word.  This teaching instructs me how to turn from a selfish, indulgent life.  It shows me the alternative, a God filled and honoring life.  The good news for me is that this life starts immediately.  I have no reason to continue to live a selfish life.  I want to make my life meaningful and useful for God.  I want to live differently and show by my example what a great life it is to have a direct relationship with God.  Only through his power (not my own) can I do this.
I need to remind myself to live and display in the way I speak/carry myself, what it is that I believe.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Difficulties while God delays

A summary of 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "In all of this, you greatly rejoice (be truly glad, how great this makes you feel.)  Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trails, there is wonderful joy ahead.  The trails come so that the genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which will perish, when your faith remains strong through many trials - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed and wraps this all up.  It’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory."

Bottom Line:
Even though you may suffer grief in all kinds of trails there is wonderful and great joy ahead (this should make you feel great.)  This is no accident - trials will happen to prove your faith, which in the end will be infinitely more valuable than gold.  As your faith remains strong this may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed and wraps things up. It’s your faith that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

What this means for me:I need to realize that trails is God’s way of refining my faith and character. To God, how I respond to trials (with faith in him) is of utmost importance.  He will use this (my growing faith) to continue to refine me and make me ready for the really big things he may be bringing my way. As such God considers my faith more valuable than precious gold or jewels.  He will gladly display our faith in the end of evidence of his victory.  Faith and handling trails is extremely important in God’s viewpoint.  It is an opportunity to show / point others to him as a testament to him and not us as an example of how I live my life.  If people ask, I can use it to point others to him.  Adversity may not come just as trouble, it can also be from critics about what I’m trying to accomplish, especially when it’s related to building his kingdom.

Friday, April 13, 2012

When God Says to Wait

A summary of Habakkuk 2:3 says, "Lord told Habakkuk to write his answer plainly and in big letters on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others (even read on the run).  This vision-message is for a future time, it won’t happen right away... it’s a witness pointing to what’s coming.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled (it aches for coming - it can hardly wait and it doesn’t lie.)  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place, it will come right on time."

Bottom Line:
God may very well choose to wait in making something occur in our lives.  He may provide some future vision, but it may not be for right now.  However, what he says will come at the right time.  If it seems slow, do not despair.

What this means for me:
I too, really hate to wait.  I’m sure this also relates to waiting for God to do something.  Often I think a delay means I need to find my own way to get it done, since I really want it.  Scripture is telling me that God may not be saying ‘no’ as much as he may be saying ‘not yet.’  He is using the delay to his purpose.  I need to learn to trust in him for what ever he feels best.  I ask the Holy Spirit to give me clear thoughts when this occurs or as I get impatient and try to make things happen on my own.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Decision Making - asking for wisdom, exercising muscles of faith

A summary of James 1:5-8 says, "If you need wisdom (or don’t know what you’re doing) pray and ask our generous God, He loves to help.  You’ll get his help and not rebuke you or be condescending for asking.  But when you ask, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  Do not waver (or “worry your prayers”), for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, they are unstable in everything they do. In other words, don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, keeping all your options open."

Bottom Line:
If you find yourself in need of wisdom about a decision or something you’re doing, pray and ask our generous God, he loves to help.  He’ll gladly provide this without rebuke or being condescending.  
But scripture tells us we must come to God boldly, believingly and without a second thought (trying to keep all of our options open.)  You must be sure that you’re putting your faith in God alone (not self or worldly ways.)  But not putting your full faith in God, you are unsettled with a loyalty divided between God and the world.  If we are like this, don’t expect to get anything from God.

What this means for me:As I am learning in scripture more about the character of God and truly studying and seeing in his word that he can do anything (even defy what I would think would be on the nature of how things work.)  So James tells us to come to God when we have a decision or need wisdom.  God loves to provide.  However, I cannot hold onto this world (maybe it’s comforts or easier ways - no sacrifice) and ask God as well.  Doing so is being unsettled, or saying “I’m keeping my options open for the what seems to be a selfish means to my end” and taking it instead.  I need to only look to what God provides as Wisdom and trust wholly in that.  If I don’t come into my asking of God with this attitude, or strong belief, then James says we should not expect to get anything.  
So I must treat requests for wisdom with a strong belief that God will provide what is best for the situation and trust what he provides as an answer (consistent with his character and his word.)  Don’t let myself be distracted by worldly things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

God gives us a dream to build our faith

A summary of
Ephesians 3:20-21, says... "Glory to God, He can do anything, far more than you could ever imagine.  He is able through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might even ask or think.  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us.  His Spirit deeply and gently within in us. "

Bottom Line:
Whatever we think, ask for or could even imagine, God can do infinitely more through his mighty power at work within us.  His Spirit deeply and gently works within us.  He won’t push us around.

What this means for me?I shouldn’t limit God to human terms or limits.  God can do a lot more than I can imagine.  The good news is he wants to do it through our lives.  Rick Warren in his PDC from this morning says that God provides what he wants to do via a dream and it will be something more than what we can accomplish on our own or by our own strength.  It will require faith in God to bring it about.   I need to consider what the bigger dream God is trying to communicate to me.  I must be missing it the bigger picture of what God may be saying through them.... I seem to dream at night more about solving problems.  It could also not be what I dream of when I sleep but the big picture things I think about in my conscience life.  I will add to my prayer list that God help me understand the bigger dream of what He wants me to be involved with.