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Friday, August 31, 2012

Letting Go Of Discouragement and Doubt

In summary of Joshua 1:9 it says, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Bottom Line:
This is my command, be strong and courageous.  To not be afraid or discouraged.  God will be with you wherever you go.

What this means to me:
God has told me that he will be with me to help me wherever I go.  He commands me to be strong and courageous, and to never be afraid or discouraged.  God reminds of this and even commands to be strong and courageous because he knows that doubt on my part is one of the single greatest enemy of have regarding confidence which will limit my potential.  Doubt can cause me to procrastinate (which is one of my default actions) and cause me to miss God’s best.  There are also two other things that rob my confidence resulting in doubt:  
1.  Comparing myself to others.  I need to remind myself that I should never go there.  God has made me unique and not to be like someone else.  Comparison is bad, because I can always find someone who’s doing a better job - leading to discouragement on my part, or someone who is worse than me, which would possibly cause me to be filled with pride.  
2.  Dwelling on my past failures.  God can use me even given my past.   I should not waste time dwelling on them.  
So it doesn't matter where I’ve been. What matters is the direction my feet are headed right now.  Today I will take any doubt and choose not to believe it.  I’ll keep in mind today that God wants to use me for a purpose.  I will not let doubt or lack of confidence keep me from doing what He wants me to do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Using Caution In What You Fill Your Mind With

In summary of Philippians 4:8 it says, “Fix and fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.  Don’t ever stop thinking about things that are excellent and truly worthy of praise.”

Bottom Line:
Fill your mind with and concentrate on things that are good and not the worst stuff.  Don’t stop thinking about these good things; weigh them and take account of them, all them to fill your conscience thoughts..

What this means to me:
I am so much better off filling my mind (meditating) on the things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling and gracious - all the best things, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things worthy of praise, not of cursing.  I should think on, weigh, and take account of these things continuously, mainly because the more I think about something, the stronger it can take hold of me.  In my life temptation begins by capturing my attention and arousing my emotions.  My emotions then activate my behavior and I end up acting on what I feel.  Overall it would be better for me to ignore temptation than it would be to try fighting it.  I might need to physically leave a situation, turn off the TV or change the channel, or re-direct an internet search.  My mind can be my most vulnerable organ, so I can choose to keep my mind occupied with God’s Word and other good thoughts to help me ignore/reduce temptation (defeating bad thoughts with good ones.)  Today (and over the next several days)  when I find myself in the midst of temptation I will consider what will be the “true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honorable things” instead.  I will manage what is feeding my mind.  This means I need to monitor my media intake and avoid those things that would entice me away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making New Choices

In summary of 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, "Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come."

Bottom Line:
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  Their old life is gone (their past is forgotten); and a new life has begun.

What this means to me:
When I decided to make Christ the leader of my life and admit my wrong doing, ask for his forgiveness he cleared the slate for me (forgets about my past) and makes me a new person from the inside out.  A fresh and new life has begun in me.  My identity is based largely on my choices.  So, I can choose to get healthier; I may ever be the fittest person, however, I can find ways to increase my energy, lower stress, get more sleep and how more power for living.  I can also choose to deepen my relationships by reducing fear of rejection, I can learn better communication skills, reach out and risk connecting with someone allowing love to be my highest goal.  I can choose to trust God no matter what happens and have a confidence that built on my relationship with him.  I can also choose what I allow in my mind and what I think about; I can feed my mind with God’s word and truth.  And I can choose Jesus as my savior every day allowing him to give me the power to follow through on the choices I make.  I can choose how much God will bless me by changing in these areas.  

Here’s my prayer for today:

“Dear God, there are some things you’ve dealt me and life has dealt me and others have dealt me that I don’t like. But I thank you for the wild card. Thank you that you made me in your image and that I can make choices. Today, in your power and your strength, I choose to get healthier. I choose to do the things that will give me more energy and a healthier mind, body, and emotions. Lord, I choose to build healthy relationships. I’m scared to death, but I’m going to risk building new, healthy connections. I want love to be my highest goal; I want my life to be built on love.  “God, I choose to trust you regardless of the circumstances. I will praise you no matter what happens! I will trust that every detail of my life is being worked out for good. Lord, I choose what I will think about — no more junk. Help me to fill my life with positive memories and the Word of truth. Most of all, Jesus, I choose you as my savior. I need your salvation, but I also need you to save me from myself. I need you to help me rewire my body, my heart, my mind, and my relationships so that the rest of my life is the best of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life Is Shaped By Our Thoughts

In summary of Romans 12:2 it says, “Don’t be like others and copy the behavior and customs of this world, but instead let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good, pleasing and perfect.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t become so adjusted to this culture and it’s way of thinking that you fit into and copy what it does without even thinking.  Instead let God transform you into someone new by changing the way you think.  Then you’ll be readily able to recognize what he wants you to do, which is in line with what he has planned for us to do.

What this means to me:
This verse tells me that I am not to blindly follow the behavior, customs and culture of this world.  Instead I need to conscientiously allow God working in my life to transform my thinking and make me into a new person.  If I do, then I’ll be able to recognize what he wants and has planned for me to do.   It is very easy for me to become adjusted to the culture around me (TV, News and prominent cultural thinking) that I begin to fit in and adopt it without even thinking about it. Current culture can drag me down to it’s level of maturity (it’s all about me and self satisfaction, being able to do what I want.)  God and his ways will bring the best out of me and develop a well formed maturity.  I cannot become all God has created me to be until I understand the factors that influence who I am (my identity.)  Part of these factors are how I’m made and the relationships around me.  I am an end product of the way God created me and all of the relationships he has surrounded me with.  I can also be influenced by my circumstances (things that happen to and around me) and my consciousness (how I speak to myself.)  My thoughts can be filled with lies I’ve heard around me from the influences in the culture around me.  When I dwell and think on these things or just not control or filter what comes in, they can go deeper and deeper and begin to shape my identity.  I need to be careful because much of my life can be shaped by my thoughts.  While circumstances around me may be out of my control, I need to remember God is in control of everything.  I can trust him to work out things for his benefit and my growth.  My thoughts can shape who I am and change the way I think, so I need to be careful in how I respond to circumstances.  I need to think today about how I respond to difficult situations, circumstances and relationships.  Am I trusting God or am I trying to handle it on my own or with worldly thinking.  I need to keep close in a daily time with God so that I can keep my mind refreshed with God’s truth and not the stuff of this world that is so prevalent.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Four Benefits To Understanding My Uniqueness

In summary of Psalm 139:14 is says, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it.”

Bottom Line:
I thank you for making me wonderfully complex!  You work is marvelous, and internally I have no doubt.  

What this means to me:
God you have made me so wonderfully complex and I thank you for this.  What you have done is marvelous and internally I know it to be true.  You have established within me spiritual gifts, a heart, my abilities, my personality and even all of my experiences to date.  This makes me who I am.  Because of this and knowing your hand it it, I can begin to further flesh out my shape.  I can really benefit from continuing to discover and build my life around my shape (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences.)  

Knowing my shape will:
1. Reduce my stress - Confidence comes from how I’m shaped and in not comparing myself to others.  With this I can build on my strengths, recognize my limitations, maximize what I’m good at and not worry about the rest.
2. Increase my success - success from God’s standpoint is not about making a lot of money, it more about knowing God’s will and being right in the center of it.  It’s figuring out who you are and then being you!
3. Deepening my satisfaction - satisfaction comes to my life when I do what I’m shaped to do.  Real freedom comes from doing what I’m gifted to do and enjoying what God made me to be.  I’m in harmony with his plan.
4. Build my self-esteem - its not about positive thinking but living based on convictions that come from living out biblical truths.  I matter to God and I have been shaped by him for a purpose.

I need to spend time today thinking about my shape and evaluating how my time is being spent, “am I pursuing activities or goals that God has specifically shaped me to do?  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Relax And Just Be Me

In summary of 1 Corinthians 15:10 it says, "I am what I am by God’s grace, and God’s grace hasn’t been for nothing.  In fact, I may work hard however it wasn’t me but the grace of God that is with me."

Bottom Line:
Whatever I am now is all because of the special favor (grace) he has poured out on me, and it’s not fruitless.  Even though I work hard, it is the grace of God working with in me.

What this means to me:
God is so gracious, He has poured out his special unmerited favor and blessing on me.  This grace towards me is not for nothing (fruitless or without effect) and I should not let his grace go to waste.  Although I work hard, it’s not me but the unmerited favor and blessing of God which was working through me.  It gives me the energy to be productive.  God doesn’t want me to hide who I am or be like someone else, he wants me to be me.  I can relax in this knowing that when I do so I am bringing glory to God (he created me to be just who I am.)   I want to strive to be true to who I am and I will move forward using the God-given gifts and talents he has bestowed upon me.  Today I will spend some time reviewing potential places in my life where I may still be trying to be someone else.  I will ask God to help me just be me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Holy Spirit Can Free Me From Uncontrolled Thoughts

In summary of Romans 8:5 it says, “Those who are dominated and ruled by their desires think only of themselves.  Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks and seeks things that gratify the Holy Spirit.”

Bottom Line:
If you are dominated by your desires, you’ll be out to only satisfy only what you want, which may not always be best for you in the long run.  If you allow yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, you will seek after the things that gratify the Spirit.

What this means to me:
God knows that left on my own that it is difficult for me to not pursue my own desires and to satisfy what only I would want (in fact this is the way most of the world thinks and does.)  After making Jesus the Lord and leader of my life God provided his Spirit who lives within me.  If I seek to be guided by this Spirit, then I will tend to seek after the things that will gratify the Spirit and God.  There is a constant battle going on within me and personally I know it is way too difficult for me to try and control this on my own without daily guidance from Him and His Spirit.  To win this battle I’ll need to change my default ways of thinking.  The best way to do this is to spend time with him daily, it helps to re-energize me and sets my desire to be in line with his.  I can ask the Holy Spirit to give me new thoughts to overcome difficulties I may be having or temptation thoughts that come from the enemy.  I can ask him to replace my thoughts with new ones and re-steer my focus (a replacing of one mindset with another.)  Thinking of positive things will help the old negative things lose their appeal.  Today I’ll invite the Holy Spirit to have free access to my mind to help replace those uncontrollable thoughts or bring up verses that I can memorize and have handy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Unique For A Purpose

In summary of Acts 20:24 it says, "But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for finishing the work assigned and entrusted to me (my mission,) with joy by the Lord Jesus; it’s the work of letting everyone I meet know all about the Good News about the wonderful grace (unmerited favor) of God."

Bottom Line:
My life is not worth anything unless I use it to finish the work assigned to me by Christ, the work of letting others knows all about the incredibly extravagant generosity of God (His unmerited favor.)

What this means to me:
Given all that God has given to me, my life would be worthless unless I used it to proclaim the good news about his amazing unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, grace and mercy that is available to all.  My life’s goal needs to be about doing this.  I must realize that I’m the only one who can live my life and that no one else is in competition with me to complete the task Jesus has given me.  God created me with such a unique mix of spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, personality and experience that only I can be.  No one else can duplicate me, and I should never try to imitate someone else.  I am an original masterpiece from God’s hand.  This uniqueness means I’m the only one who can fulfill the mission God had assigned me to complete.  I shouldn’t really waste my life doing things that don’t matter, especially if they keep me from doing his will.  I should never consider myself inadequate, God designed me with the very skills he needs to do what he asks of me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Only God’s Approval Matters

In summary of Galatians 6:4 it says, "Pay careful attention, examine and test your own conduct and work, and sink yourself into that..  Then you will have the satisfaction of doing well and something to be proud of.  But don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others."

Bottom Line:
Look at yourself and your work first, do it well.  Have satisfaction in doing it well, something you can be proud of (because you're doing your best.)  Don’t get over impressed with yourself and don’t compare yourself with others.

What this means to me:
God is telling me to carefully scrutinize, examine and test my own conduct and work.  When I do it well, then I can have the personal satisfaction and joy that come from doing something very well without resorting to boasting or comparison with others.  God warns me to never compare myself with anyone else; as I will probably find someone who seems to be doing a better job than me - making me discouraged or I’ll find someone not as effective as me - become full of pride.  So it’s best just for me to stay away from doing any comparison since they can dis-rail me from doing what God would want for me to do.  So I should ponder today am I comparing myself to others?  Am I doing the things God has called me to do?  Is my life producing fruit?  In the long run it doesn’t matter who praises me, if my life is not fruitful then it’s not making a difference for his kingdom.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Letting The Holy Spirit Guide Me

In summary of Philippians 4:13 it says, “I can do and face all things through Him who strengthens me and makes me who I am..”

Bottom Line:
Christ provides the strength and the ability for me to face anything.

What this means to me:
I have strength in all things because Christ empowers me.  I am ready for anything.  When I trusted in Christ, God provided me with a Guide, the Holy Spirit within me.  The Holy Spirit has
been teaching me ever since to listen and respond to his counsel.  The Holy Spirit is always with me as I live life.  He knows every step of the journey and understands the blessing and dangers ahead.  He knows where I’ve been and where I’m going, and knows the best path to take.  I don’t believe that God ever intended for me to figure out the steps of my journey without him.  How I get on a mission and how I succeed in it are God’s responsibilities.  I only need to seek his guidance and obey his directions.  This requires me to trust God will all my heart and to not lean on my own understanding.  When I do, he will set my path straight.  I may not always know the reason for everything, but that is no excuse for completing my mission.  I just need to trust and obey.  Today I will consider where I’m attempting things in my own guidance versus relying on my well experienced guide (the Holy Spirit.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trust: God Cares About My Concerns

In summary of Matthew 6:33 it says, "More than anything else, live righteously putting God’s work first and do what he wants.  Then you will find that He will give you everything you need."

Bottom Line:
Seek first all things related to his kingdom and his way of doing things and do them, then the things He already knows you need will be given to you.

What this means to me:
God already knows perfectly well what I need.  He will give it to me if I give him first place in my life and live as he would want me to live.  God knows my real needs, so this means that he will grant all my selfish desires.  If I line my will up to his, I will end up with new desires that are in line with his and he will provide for my basic needs while I pursue his kingdom/ways.  To give God first place in my life I need to aim or strive after things of his kingdom and his ways of doing things / right thinking.  Then I can just trust enough to never worry about my circumstances.  When I worry I’m in essence saying that it all depends on me and not him.  I always want to trust God with my life.  He word tells me that anything I put above God will become a source of anxiety.  I need to remember my security is not in what I have in the bank or own but rather Him and that he has already solved the biggest problem I could ever have faced by saving me.  I am going to trust God to do what he says he’ll do, and as evidence, I will trust enough to do what he tells me to do.  I will reflect some today on anything I may be giving a higher priority than God and reverse it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Issue Is Not If God Can Be Trusted

In summary of Psalm 33:4-5 it says, "The word of the is Lord is solid, right and holds true, we can trust everything he does in good faith.  He loves what is righteousness, just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the whole earth."

Bottom Line:
What God says and does is solid, right and holds true.  We can trust everything that he does.  He loves what is righteous and just.  The unfailing love of our Lord fills the earth.

What this means to me:
God has proven himself trustworthy, he is sovereign, he is ruler of the universe, and powerful enough to overcome any problem or defeat any enemy.  God is love, he is patient and kind, never rude or self-seeking, he’s not easily angered and he keeps no record of wrongs for those who have adopted his son as their lead in their lives.  He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  He always protects, persevered and never fails.  God is always fair, he’s pure and honest.  He cannot break a promise.  What he says and does is solid and unchanging.  He will always will always do what is right and just.  The earth is full of his loving kindness.  With all God is, why is it that I sometimes struggle with my ability to trust him, he has proven himself time and time again.  I think what happens for me is that I turn my focus off of him and to myself.  I need to remind myself daily that God is for me and will never rip me off.  I should do what he instructs of me, this way I can be of service to him and to those he has put around me.  I pray today that I may learn to trust him more and receive the peace that only he can provide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

God Made Me Unique To Benefit Others

In summary of Jeremiah 1:5 it says, "Jeremiah I am your Creator, I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world, a prophet to the nations."

Bottom line:
God created Jeremiah, he knew him before he even formed him in his mother’s womb.  Before he was born, God had set him apart and appointed him to be his spokesman/prophet to the world.

What this means to me:
Like Jeremiah, God was my creator as well and he knew and approved of me to be one of his chosen instruments before I was even formed in my mother’s womb.  God had separated me and set me apart, consecrating me and appointing me to serve his desire, include others (the ones he has placed around me) and to build his kingdom.  God had created Jeremih to share his message with the nations.  In much the same way God created me to share myself with those around me.  If I choose to hide myself; keeping my skills, talents, insights, joy and pain hidden away from others then I diminish what God created for me to be.  God wants me to share myself.  He created me uniquely that I can enrich the world and those he has chosen to put around me. I need to use what He created me for to be of service to others.  In the theme of what he was teaching me last week, I need to pursue what I’m supposed to give away and determine whose life I can influence by the giving of my time and talents.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Learning To Get On God’s Timeline

In summary of John 7:6-8 it says, ‘Jesus replied don’t rush me, “for you, anytime is fine you have nothing to lose, but now however is not the right time for me to go.  The world can’t hate you, but it does me because I expose, accuse and testify that its work are evil.  You go on, I’m not going, my time has not yet come.”’

Bottom Line:
Jesus replied that his time had not come yet, but any time would be suitable for them.  At this point the world doesn’t hate them, however it does hate him because Jesus exposed, denounced and accused the leaders for their evil works.  He told his followers to go on, but he would be staying as his time had not yet come.

What this means to me:
Jesus told his followers to not rush or pressure him into going on to a large upcoming festival.  His time (or opportunity) had not yet come, however anytime would be suitable for them and the opportunity for them is ready for them at anytime.    Two key elements are present here for me.  1). We shouldn't rush or be pressured to do something if the timing for us is not right.  The only way for me to know the correct timing is to spend time and check in with God daily.  God has a plan for me, but I can better understand that plan by hearing from him daily.  2.)  Sharing about the truth and what Christ has done for me is suitable at any time.  I shouldn’t be afraid of being rejected/hated outright.  Many may not agree with me because I follow his truth because they have come accustomed to living to the world's standards and for themselves, however I will likely not be hated like Jesus was.  The world hated him because he denounced it for its wicked works and revealed how what it was doing was evil.  So he instructed them to go ahead to the feast, he would not be coming because the timing for him was not right.   Typically I live my life by the calendar, going from one meeting (or conference call) to another.  There is also work assignments that have time commitments.  So often I get home at night and not really want to do anything else.  If I reflect on Jesus, I see that he was never a hurried person.  He never seemed stressed over getting things done.  Jesus simply knew his father's timetable. He didn’t allow himself to be swept up into events that might distract him from his purpose or that might push him off of God’s timeline.  Jesus knew he had been sent by God for a purpose, and he stuck to that purpose.  Funny, as I am spending time this morning studying this verse and writing out my thoughts and trying to complete and head out to work I find myself being notified by an employee of a problem at work, my sister called asking for assistance to put together and install some Ikea furniture and one of my clients has called asking to speak to me about an existing project.  Seems I’ll need to always try to manage my time.  Probably the best thing for me is to continue to pursue what God has created me to be and do what he has in mind for me to do, then resolutely set out to accomplish His purpose.  I can think through a typical day and write out my major activities.  I can then consider which of those are in pursuit of God’s purpose for me and then what steps I can do to reduce the busyness of my life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Follow And Be Prepared To Explain

In summary of 1 Peter 3:15 it says, “In your hearts keep your attention toward Christ, setting him apart as holy and in adoration acknowledge him as the Lord of your life instead of worldly things.  If you are asked about the way you live or the hope that you have, always be ready to explain or give logical defense of it, but do so with the utmost courtesy.”

Bottom Line:
Keep your focus on Christ, he is worthy of being set apart as holy and in adoration acknowledge him as the Lord and leader of your life.  Be ready to explain or give logical reasoning for the way you live or the hope you have.  When you do, be sure to do so in a courteous and respectful manner.

What this means to me:
I am to always keep my attention and adoration toward Jesus Christ, the holy one.  I need to continuously acknowledge him as the Lord and leader of my life.  I need to be ready to explain the way I live or the hope I have because of him to anyone.  But when I do so, I must do so in a courteous and respectful way.  To prepare for this, I need to recall all that following Christ has done for me or to compare the way I was before to how I am now.  I should always be filled with the passion and happiness that my God has rescued me from going my own way with no way to pay my penalty and made me his son again, all through the living sacrifice of his Son.  I need to recount what I had learned in the “Truth Project” video’s, how the world is communicating and wanting everyone to follow the biggest lie ever and that God’s truth is what is real and what should be used to base our lives on.