Friday, May 30, 2014

Learning That Gratefulness Will Bring Happiness

In review of Philippians 1:3 it says, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.”

Bottom Line:
Every time I think of you, I thank my God.

What this means to me:
When I think of others in my life, I should give thanks to God for them and what they mean to me. Studies show a linkage between gratitude and happiness; the more grateful you are, the happier you will be. From what I’m learning, healthy relationships start with an attitude of gratitude. Philippians 1:3 says, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (NLT). I have to admit, that when I think of the people in my life, my first feeling is not always gratitude. Paul’s first thought for his friends was one of gratitude, and it is the model I should follow if I want my relationships to last. Often the longer I know someone, the more likely I’m to take that person for granted. The longer I know someone, the easier it is to focus on that person’s faults and the bad times instead of the happy times. It will take effort on my part to display gratitude for all the people in my life. Developing the habit of giving thanks to God when I think of my parents, siblings, neighbors, co-workers, and small group members, will have an eternal impact on my relationships. In my prayer and quiet times I do thank God for those who are closest to me. I need to start expanding this beyond my immediate family. I believe God is telling me this morning that the more grateful I am, the happier I’ll be.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Am To Do My Own Work Well, And Never Compare

In review of Galatians 6:4 it says, “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.”

Bottom Line:
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

What this means to me:
I am to do my own work well, judging only my own conduct and actions, then if it is good, I can be proud and have satisfaction with the work I have done, never needing to compare it with what someone else has done. I’m learning that the enemy will try to steal my joy of service in two ways: first by tempting me to compare my ministry with others and secondly by tempting me to conform my ministry to the expectations of others. Both are deadly traps that will ultimately distract me from serving in the ways God intended. This verse warns me to never compare myself with others: “Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others” (Galatians 6:4 CEV). There are two reasons why I should never compare my SHAPE, my ministry, or the results of my ministry with anyone else: First, I will always be able to find someone who seems to be doing a better job than me, and I will become discouraged. Secondly, I will always be able to find someone who doesn’t seem as effective as me and likely become full of pride. Either attitude will take me out of service and rob me of my joy. Paul said it is foolish to compare ourselves with others. He said, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV). The Message paraphrase version explains it as, “In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point” (2 Corinthians 10:12b). I believe I will always find people who do not understand my shape for ministry, they will criticize me and try to get me to conform to what they think I should be doing. I need to just Ignore them! Paul often had to deal with critics who misunderstood and maligned his service. His response was always the same: Avoid comparisons, resist exaggerations, and seek only God’s commendation. One of the reasons Paul was used so greatly by God was that he refused to be distracted by criticism or by comparing his ministry with others or by being drawn into fruitless debates about his ministry. Whenever I feel that my ministry is slow moving or taking a long time to bear fruit, I’ll ask God for perseverance and for the wisdom to stay on focus with what God wants me to do.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Understanding My Value and Worth

In review of 1 Peter 2:4 it says, “You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans but was chosen as precious by God.”

Bottom Line:
Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable.

What this means to me:
I have come to the Lord Jesus, the “stone” that lives, even though he people of the world did not want him. He was chosen by God as valuable, precious and to be honored. Overall I should never confuse my valuables or assets with my value as a person. I could be rich or poor, however it would have nothing to do with my value as a person. Ultimately there are two things that determine value in this life:  First, value is what someone is willing to pay for something. Secondly, value depends on who has owned something in the past. Based on these two things, I’m owned by Christ, and he paid the ultimate value for me; his own life on earth. The Bible says, “You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him” (1 Corinthians 7:23a LB). So I belong to God, and Jesus paid for me with his life. The cross proves my value. Nobody has ever paid a greater ransom price than God paid for me! Because of this, I’m acceptable, and I’m valuable. Peter uses the imagery of a building project to illustrate my value. He says that God is building this stone building that represents the Church, the family of God, and I’m one of those stones. “You are coming to Christ, the living stone who was rejected by humans but was chosen as precious by God” (1 Peter 2:4 GW). Jesus himself is the living stone. He was perfect, but even with that some people still rejected him. He was “chosen by God as valuable.” God is building his Church, but it’s not found in a church building. God lives in people, and I’m part of his spiritual house. Peter says that I’m also a living stone. When I gave my life to Christ, I became a building block in God's great plan. Given this, I really understand and can appreciate my value. Because of this I need to treat others as extremely valuable as well. In summary I should never confuse what I own with my value as a person. The cross of Jesus Christ proves my value.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Learning To Be Careful About “Gift-Envy” or "Gift-Projection"

In review of 1 Corinthians 2:14 it says, “Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God's Spirit.”

Bottom Line:
A person who isn’t spiritual doesn’t accept the teachings of God’s Spirit. He thinks they’re nonsense. He can’t understand them because a person must be spiritual to evaluate them.

What this means to me:
Because I have received God’s Spirit, I can understand spiritual blessings. Those who aren’t spiritual really don’t understand, it seems nonsense to them. Furthermore, I am not able to earn or even deserve the spiritual gifts I have, this is why they are called gifts!  They are an expression of God’s grace to me, “Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us” (Ephesians 4:7 CEV). Also, I did not get to choose the gifts I have. Paul explains that God determines that “it is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT). Because God loves variety, and he wants me to be special, there’s no one single gift given to everyone, and no individual receives all the gifts. If I had them all, I would not need anyone else, and that would defeat one of God’s purposes; to teach me to depend on others. My spiritual gifts were not given for my benefit but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for my benefit. The Bible says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT). When I use my gifts for others, they will benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, I’ll get cheated, but if I don’t use my gifts, they get cheated. This is why God wants me to discover and develop my spiritual gifts. Whenever I forget these basic truths about gifts, it will cause trouble in the church. Two of the most common problems are "gift-envy" and "gift-projection." The first occurs If I compare my gifts to others, feel dissatisfied with what God gave me, and become resentful or jealous of how God uses others. The second problem happens when you expect everyone else to have my same gifts, do what I’m called to do, and feel as passionate about it as I do. The Bible says, “There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:5 NLT). Sometimes spiritual gifts are overemphasized to the neglect of the other factors that God uses to shape me for service. So I need to keep in mind, my gifts reveal one part of God’s will for my ministry, but not all of it. I’m reminded by today’s study that I need to learn to depend on others and the gifts they bring. As I heal and get back to a normal life (back to work, etc), I’ll need to remember that I have gifts of mentoring, coaching, understanding and teaching that I need to be using. I also need to remember that my gifts and passion are mine and not everyone will always have the same zeal as me. I must not get disappointed when I see this.

Monday, May 26, 2014

God Is Never In A Hurry, He’s Always On Time

In review of James 1:4 it says, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed.”

Bottom Line:
Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything.

What this means to me:
I should not try to get out of anything prematurely but rather learn to endure everything until my period of testing or waiting is over. I need to let it do it’s work so that I can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. In the end I’ll have everything I need. This verse reminds me that I need to be patient with God and myself. Frustration occurs because God’s timetable is rarely the same as mine. I can be often in a hurry when God isn’t. At times I can feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress I’m making. I just need to remember that God is never in a hurry, he is always on time. He will use my entire lifetime to prepare me for my role in eternity. The Bible is filled with examples of how God uses a long process to develop character, especially in leaders. He took 80 years to prepare Moses, including 40 in the wilderness. For 14,600 days Moses kept waiting and wondering, “Is it time yet?” But God kept saying, “Not yet.” Contrary to popular book titles, there are no “Easy Steps to Maturity” or “Secrets of Instant Sainthood.” When God wants to make a giant oak, he takes a hundred years, but when he wants to make a mushroom, he does it overnight. Great souls are grown through struggles and storms and seasons of suffering. So, I am to be patient with the process. James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4b MSG). I should not become discouraged. When Habakkuk became depressed because he didn’t think God was acting quickly enough, God had this to say: “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” (Habakkuk 2:3 LB) A delay may not necessarily be a denial from God. I should keep in mind just how far I’ve come, not just how far I have to go. I may not be where I want to be, but neither am I where I used to be. God isn’t finished with me, so I need to keep on moving forward. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering! I’m currently in a long process of healing from my infection. My mind tends to want to speed my healing along to get to the next phase and return fully to normal. I need to remember that God works in his timing and he wants to heal me at his pace. I’ve grown up in a microwave society where things can cook very quickly and problems in TV shows are solved within an hour. It’s hard to be patient. I know God is at work and his timing is perfect, but I want problems to be over quickly. I will hold onto what God has done for me up till now to encourage me as I wait on God’s timing.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Learning That Real Spiritual Maturity Is A Gradual Process

In review of the second half of Ephesians 4:13 it says, “We shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ's full stature.”

Bottom Line:
Our spiritual leaders will continue to do his work and build up the church until we all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son.  Then we will mature, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection.

What this means to me:
I will continue to be trained to do his work and help build up his church until I am united with others in my faith and in my knowledge about God’s Son. Then I’ll grow in maturity until I become like Christ. Discipleship is the process of conforming to Christ; and my journey will last a lifetime. Every day God wants me to become a little more like him: “You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you” (Colossians 3:10a NCV). In today world we’re constantly obsessed with speed, however God is more interested in strength and stability than with swiftness. We always want the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the-spot solution. We want a pill, a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly resolve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pains. What I’m learning is that real maturity is never the result of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving. Growth is gradual process. The Bible says, “Our lives gradually [become] brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18b MSG). In life, we often build our identities around our defects. We say, “It’s just like me to be …” and “It’s just the way I am.” The unconscious worry is that if we let go of our habit, hurt, or hang-ups, who will I be? This type of fear would definitely slow down our growth. Habits actually take time to develop. My character is a sum total of all of my habits. I can’t claim to be kind unless I am habitually kind; meaning I show kindness without even thinking about it. I can’t claim to have integrity unless it is my habit to always be honest. My habits define my character. There is only one way to develop the habits of Christ-like character: I must practice them daily. This will take time. There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW). Part of my frequent routine is to spend time getting into God’s word and then trying to apply them to my life. It is helpful to have and meet with others that can help encourage me as a work to develop a habit of being Christ-like. As I heal and get better, It is my intent to get together with two other guys I trust in my church community and have them help me be accountable as I develop habits of being like Christ. I just need to remember that real spiritual maturity Is not an overnight thing, rather it is a Gradual process.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Learning That God's Family is the Church

In review of Romans 15:6-7 it says, “You will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God.”

Bottom Line:
All of you together will praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Honor God by accepting each other, as Christ has accepted you.

What this means to me:
Having the same goal, I will join together with my church family and praise God the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. I will accept others in the same way Christ has accepted me. He did this to bring glory to God. There are only two ways to get into a family: I can either be born into it, or I can be adopted into it. Incredibly God does both for me! It’s referred to as being born again, and it’s called being adopted into the family of God. God does both. From what I understand, In Roman law, during the time the New Testament was written, you could disown a child that you had birthed. However if you adopted a child, you were forbidden to ever disown that child. God tells me that I am not only born again into his family, but he has adopted me, and there is no way he could ever disown me, no matter what I do. Once I’m born, I cannot be unborn. Once I am born again, I cannot be unborn again. I can grieve the Father, just like I sometimes had brought grief to my earthly parents. When I did the fellowship could have been broken, but no matter what my parents said, everybody would still know that I was their child. In the same way, once I become a child in the family of God, I’m in!
The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15, “I want you to know how people who are members of God’s family must live. God’s family is the church” (GW). This means church is not just  something I go to. Rather, church is something I belong to. Together we are the family of God. I believe that many think that Christianity is a belief system, however it is a belonging system. There are beliefs involved, but it’s more than that. It means being a part of the body of Christ.
As explained in this verse, I belong to the family of God: “You will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God” (Romans 15:6-7 NCV). Being part of God’s family means that I will benefit now and in eternity from his blessings. As I have seen first hand, when I was ill and most recently when my wife was ill, my church family has surrounded us with prayer, assistance and has truly loved us. We are part of a great loving family that will last forever. As I heal and gett better, I look forward to spending time with my church family. I will pick back up where I left off in serving and will move forward with mentoring.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

God's Family Lasts Forever

In review of Galatians 4:7 it says, “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

Bottom Line:
You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and you will be given what he has promised.

What this means to me:
I’m no longer a slave but God’s own child. God will give me the blessing he has promised, because I am his child and part of his family. My spiritual family is even more important than my physical family because these relationships will last forever. Families on Earth are wonderful gifts from God, but they are temporary and fragile, often broken by divorce, distance, old age, and, inevitably, by death. The apostle Paul wrote, “When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God — some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth” (Ephesians 3:14-15 LB). On the other hand, my spiritual family and my relationship to other believers, will continue throughout eternity. It is a much stronger union, a more permanent bond, than blood relationships. God’s Family Lasts Forever. The Bible teaches, “To all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God. They did not become his children in any human way — by any human parents or human desire. They were born of God” (John 1:12-13 NCV). The moment I was spiritually born into God’s family, I was given some astounding birthday gifts: the family name, the family likeness, family privileges, family intimate access, and the family inheritance. In my own experience I know that my wife’s and my relationship to our church family is much stronger than our relationships to real family. We feel comfortable being in fellowship with them. I believe it’s much easier to relate to them because we have the same beliefs and convictions. As I’m getting healthier, I’m looking forward to spending time again with my church family.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where I Find True Freedom

In review of John 8:36 it says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Bottom Line:
If the Son sets you free, you are truly free

What this means to me:
Because I believe in Him, Jesus has truly set me free. The world around me defines freedom as a life without any restraint or hassles: "I can do anything I want to do and say anything I want to say without anybody telling me what to do." With this perception, everybody else may get burned, but I’d get to do it my own way. In essence the world says that I can have my freedom, but only by being totally selfish. Yet, the Bible tells me that the only way to true freedom is through Jesus: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV). Real freedom is to have freedom from fear, where I will be truly free from guilt, worry, bitterness, and death. I’m also free to quit pretending, because I’m free to be myself. I can get rid of guilt, worry, bitterness and fear of death by letting God love me. The apostle John teaches that, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a). I’m glad that I realize how much God loves me. I’m truly able to live in freedom. In fact, I worship God when I recognize that “God is love.” It is truly an act of worship to agree that he is a loving, caring, generous God and that I can “rely on the love God has for me” (1 John 4:16a). With my recent illness and how he is healing me, I can see where God continues to show his love for me. I can express my freedom in Christ by truly being myself and who he made me to be. I don’t need to act or pretend, I can just reflect the love and care the God gives me in all my interactions with others.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Learning That I’m Worth Being Found

In review of John 3:16 it says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Bottom Line:
God loved and cared so much that he gave up his Son. Whoever believes in the Son will not perish but have eternal life.

What this means to me:
God loved and cared for for me so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that as I believe in him I will not perish but have eternal life. There’s a difference between losing something and misplacing something. If I misplace something, it means it wasn’t important to me. But if I lose it, it’s valuable enough for me to try to find it. I would misplace a pen; but I’d lose my glasses. Likewise, people are only lost if they’re worth finding. The value of a masterpiece doesn’t go down when it’s lost; it goes up. I can lose a lot if I’m not connected to God. I’d lose my direction, God’s protection, my potential, my happiness, and my future home in Heaven. But there’s one thing I wouldn’t lose: my value. God loves me enough to send his very best; Jesus. The most famous verse in the Bible says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NLT). This verse tells me that I matter so much to God that he underwent a rescue mission to come and get me. He came to Earth as a little baby so that one day he could die on a wooden cross for my sin. Today’s verse reminds me of how valuable I am to God, the creator. I’m glad that I am spending time with him each day to get to know him more deeply. It is part of my role as a christian to share this simple truth with those who do not have a relationship with him.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Can Love, Because He First Loves Me

In review of Ephesians 1:4-5 it says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."

Bottom Line:
Before it all started, God chose us, through what Christ would do, to live with him and be one of his holy people, without blame.  God decided this through Jesus, in advance that he would adopt us.  This was his pleasure and purpose.

What this means to me:
Before it all started, God loved and chose me, to live with him and to be one of his holy, innocent and loving people. One without blame before him. God had decided through Jesus Christ, way in advance, that he would adopt me into his own family. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure to do it. When I experience times when I don’t feel I’m going anywhere with my spiritual growth, its not because I’m not loving God, but rather that I’m not understanding how much he loves me. Love is always a response to love. The Bible says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). If I’m thinking, “I don't love God,” it's because I’m forgetting just how much he really loves me. In understanding my life’s purpose and calling, I need to begin with God’s nature. God is love. Love is the essence of his nature. The only reason there is love in the universe is because of God. Ants and snails do not love, but I was made in God’s image, so that I can love as well. The reason I’m alive is because God wanted to love me. The first purpose of my life is to be loved by God! It is important to serve him, obey, and trust him, however, my first purpose is to love him. Food for thought today.. My first duty is not to do anything but just be loved by God. It is quite comforting to remember just how much God loves and cares about me. Resting in God’s love is a great way to remind myself that my life should be all about showing love to others.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Learning That God Would Never Forget Me

In review of Luke 19:5a it says, “[Jesus] looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said.”

Bottom Line:
Jesus knows each of us by name and wants to be part of our life today.

What this means to me:
When Jesus came by, he looked up and said, Zacchaeus, hurry down, I must be a guest in your home today.  This verse reminds me that Jesus knows everyone, including me by name. Jesus wants to be part of my life today if I will allow him. Zacchaeus was a man whose life had been ridiculed and rejected for his sinful life (he was a chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich by cheating and taking advantage of others.) But Jesus not only looked at him; Jesus also showed that he knew him by calling Zacchaeus by his name. What a shock it must have been for Zacchaeus to know that Jesus knew his name. What I have learned is that God not only knows where I’m at in my life; but he also knows who I am. He knows what I’m going through, why I’m going through it, and how I feel about it. He even knows me better than I know myself. He cares about me personally. Interestingly enough, Zacchaeus means “pure one.” That’s the last thing I would think of when thinking of a corrupt government official. He was anything but pure. And yet Jesus, by calling Zacchaeus by name, was saying, “Hey, pure one, I’m coming to your house today.” Jesus was affirming what he saw in Zacchaeus, not what he was. It’s natural to be afraid to get close to Jesus, thinking he’s going to scold me for all the things I’ve done wrong. But instead Jesus wants to affirm me. He wants to let me know how much he loves me. Isaiah 49:15-16a says, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (NLT). When Jesus died on the cross, stretched out his arms, and the soldiers put nails through his hands, my name was engraved there. When I get to Heaven, there will be no scars on anyone except Jesus. He’s going to have those scars for eternity to remind me how much he loves me, to say, “Do you think I could forget you? Not a chance! This is how much you matter to me.” Jesus can look and affirm what he knows is inside someone. It’s my job to remember first that He loves me unconditionally, and secondly that my life and my testimony can help others get introduced to Jesus. It can be a “when Jesus came by” scenario for them.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

If I Reject Myself, I’ll be Rejecting God’s Design

In review of Romans 9:20 it says, “My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?’”

Bottom Line:
You are only human, and human beings have no right to question God. An object should not ask the person who made it, “Why did you make me like this?”

What this means to me:
Whom am I, to think that I could ever argue, talk back or have the right to question God. Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, why have you made me like this. As I wrote about yesterday, there are five things that make me, me (SHAPE.)  Accepting the unique way that God made me brings glory to him.  It means that I should believe that God knows best.  It’s a matter of trust.  Do I think that God made a mistake when he made me, or will I trust that he has a plan for me.  When I say there are things I don’t like about myself and wish they were different, I’m basically telling God, “you blew it, everyone else is Ok but you goofed up big time when you made me.”  Rejecting myself is in essence rejecting God, he’s my creator. If I don’t accept myself, it’s rebellion against God. Its like saying “God, I know better than you and you should have made me different, with a different set of strengths and a different set of weaknesses.”  However God is telling me, “No, I made you exactly to be you because I want you to be you, with your strengths and your weaknesses. Both of them can give me glory, if you’ll just start doing what I made you to do instead of trying to be like everybody else.”  This verse reminds me that it’s actually quite arrogant to reject myself. The Bible says in Romans 9:20, “My friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?’”(CEV) Whenever I doubt God’s love and wisdom, I’ll get myself into trouble. The root behind all of my problems will be that I don’t trust God. I don’t believe God really loves me. I don’t believe that he really has my best interest at heart. I wish he had made me something different. As a result, there’s a spirit of bitterness in me that keeps you frustrated and keeps you from being the person God wants me to be.  Job 10:10 says, “You guided my conception and formed me in the womb” (NLT). God wants me, and loves me. Its my role to truly Believe it, and then trust it!  In the past, I didn’t like my skin/complexion.  I’m very light skinned and burn very easily.  I wanted to be darker and more tanned.  I also struggled with my weight and shape. However, my time in scripture in the past and today, reminds me that God has me this way, and I wholeheartedly accept it.  Part of my accepting myself brings glory to him, especially if I have opportunities to share this with others who also struggle with this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why God Made Me Unique

In review of Isaiah 43:7 it says, “Bring to me all the people who are mine, whom I made for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Bottom Line:
They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory.”

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that I am one of his people, He created and formed me to bring him glory. SHAPE is an acrostic that talks about the five things that make me, me. SHAPE is the way God wired me for my life. Every area of my life is influenced by the way I’m shaped.
Spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, experiences; these are the five things that make me, me. In that combination of spiritual gifts, I have heart, passion, and interests. I have these interests, because God gave them to me. Any interest I have, I received from God. He wired it into me. If everyone liked to do the same things, there would be a lot less accomplished in the world. So God made me unique, and there’s nobody else like me. This matters:
1. Because my SHAPE reveals God’s purpose for me.
The way you find out what God wants me to do with my life is to discover how he shaped me. But here’s the thing: God won’t force me to do his plan. I can waste your life. I can use it on all kinds of personal, self-centered things and totally miss God’s plan and purpose for my life. In fact, most people do. That’s the tragedy. And that’s why they’re so frustrated! They’re trying to be something somebody else wants them to be rather than what God wants them to be.
2. Because your SHAPE equips me to serve God.
There is a life mission that God has for me that nobody else on this planet can do. Maybe I’ve missed that mission. Maybe I’ve missed serving God. If so, “start today. Make the rest of my life the best of my life.” God will never ask me to do anything in life that he hasn’t already given me the ability to do. So look at my abilities, realize that the things I’m good is what God wants me to do.
3. Because life is a test.
This life is preparation for the next life in Heaven. God indicates, “This is a test. I’m testing you to see what you will do with what you’ve been given on Earth. Based on that, I will determine what I give you to do in Heaven for eternity.”
4. Because it shows God’s glory.
When I use my SHAPE and I do what God made me to do, it not only feels good, but it also makes God smile. God smiles when he looks down and sees someone using the talents that he gave.  Because they are using them for His glory.
Isaiah 43:7 says, “Bring to me all the people who are mine, whom I made for my glory, whom I formed and made” (NCV). If I didn’t bring glory to God, I wouldn’t be alive. God made me to enjoy me!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Learning to Give the Gift of Me

In review of 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 it says, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.”

Bottom Line:
There are different spiritual gifts, all from the same Spirit.  There are different ways of serving, yet we serve the Lord.  God works in different ways through each of us.  He produces every gift in every person and helps us in everything we do.

What this means to me:
I should remember that there are different spiritual gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. There are different ways of serving, yet we all serve the same Lord. There are different type of work to do, but the same God. It is the same God who does the work in all of us, he helps us in everything we do. As I learn and know more about what I’m shaped to be, then I’ll know what I ought to be, and can therefore start to focus on that, making a better use of my life. The moment I’ve stepped across the line spiritually and committed my life to the Lord, I’ve said, “I’m going to go God’s way, not my own way. I’m going to let him direct my life. I want to follow God’s purpose, not my purpose. I’m going to do what I was wired and made to do.” The moment I stepped across the line and put my faith in Christ, God also gave me four major gifts:
  • Forgiveness: Romans 5:15 says, “For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ” (NLT). The first thing Jesus did was wipe out everything I had ever done wrong. It’s forgiven! There is no condemnation.
  • Eternal life: God has long-range plans for me. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). I’ll never work my way or earn my way into Heaven. The only way I’ll ever get into Heaven is by God’s free gift that I have accept by faith.
  • The Holy Spirit: Romans 5:5 says, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” How can I know when I’m letting God live through my life? When I embody the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • Special abilities: In the Bible, these special abilities are called spiritual gifts. These are different from material or physical gifts. They are the abilities I need to get the job done that God wants me to do. Most people who are believers don’t even know they’ve got them, much less what they are. But I have them!

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person” (GW).  God has a purpose for my life, and my spiritual gifts are the equipment he gives me to do what he asks me to do. God will never ask me to do something he doesn’t give me the ability to do. It was given to me the moment I accepted Christ. I didn’t get to choose my gift. I didn’t earn it.  It’s also not for my benefit. My spiritual gifts were given to me to help others. And other people in my church family are given their gifts to help me.  When I use my spiritual gift, the people in my church get blessed. It’s like a puzzle. If you have one jigsaw piece missing, what’s the first thing you notice? It’s the one missing piece. If you don’t develop and use your spiritual gifts, then all get cheated.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Abilities are God's Map for My Life

In review of Hebrews 13:21 it says, “May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.”

Bottom Line:
I pray that God will make you ready to obey him and that you will always be eager to do right. May Jesus help you do what pleases God. To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever

What this means to me:
May God prepare and equip me with all I need for doing his will.  May he produce in me an eagerness to do his will and do what is right.  Through the power of Jesus Christ, I do what is pleasing to him. The glory for this belongs to Jesus Christ.  God has designed specific animals to excel in specific areas, and he doesn’t expect them to do all the other things. If I was to expect everybody to fit in the same mold, all I’ll do is end up getting frustrated, discouraged, and being failure. A duck is made to be a duck and not something else. Likewise I was made to be me. God has given me unique abilities, and he wants me to use them the way he intended.  My abilities are the map to God’s will for my life. It points the direction. When I know what I’m good at, then I can know what God wants me to do with my life.  The Bible says in Hebrews 13:21, “May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him” (NLT).  God has equipped me with the ability to teach and lead.  He has also given me some talent in playing the drums.  My heart is being drawn now to mentoring others that God has put into my life. I also enjoy leading small groups. I’m an introvert by nature, so most of what I’ll do is in smaller groups and one-on-ones.  As I continue to heal and get back to normal, I’ll resume these activities.  I’ll also re-engage with the worship team.  In my work life, I will continue to lead and coach others.  I would like to take my experience and new knowledge from my degree to help companies protect themselves in the digital realm.  Overall, I sense God wanting me serve as an example and to be a mentor to help others be what God intended them to be.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

God Gives Me Abilities to Help Others

In review of Romans 7:4b, it says “Now you belong to him who was raised from death in order that we might be useful in the service of God.”

Bottom Line:
You belong to Christ, who was raised to life so that we could serve God

What this means to me:
I belong to and am united to him, who was raised from death to life, so that I might be used in service to God.  This verse reminds me that God created me to help others. Regardless of my job or career, I am called to full-time Christian service. A “non-serving Christian” is actually a contradiction in terms.  The Bible says, “He saved us and called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose” (2 Timothy 1:9a TEV). Furthermore, Peter adds, “You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you” (1 Peter 2:9b GW).  It’s not just pastors, ministers, priests and missionaries that were called by God.  Every Christian, myself included is called to service.  It is when I use my God-given abilities to help others, that I am fulfilling my calling. The Bible says, “Now you belong to him who was raised from death in order that we might be useful in the service of God” (Romans 7:4b TEV).  Since I have been sick and recovering, I have not been able to do much to use my God-given abilities to help others.  I have however, tried to be an example of the power of God’s healing.  This has been my testimony as of late. Before I became ill, I had it in mind to begin to reach out for others and attempt to develop a mentoring relationship.  As I heal and get better, this is still my intention.  I will purposely get together with others to share life with them and my experiences walking with God.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Learning to Embrace What God Has Done for Me

in reviewing Romans 12:1 it says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

Bottom Line:
God is good. So offer yourselves to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God.

What this means to me:
I am to take my everyday, ordinary life; my sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life and offer it to God as a living sacrifice - pure and pleasing, because of what God has done for me.  This is the best thing I can do for him.  This verse reminds me to  “take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (Romans 12:1 MSG).  In prayerful movements, our faith and fitness connect and strengthen one another, reminding us that in God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV). He is the giver of life and breath.  As I walk, I should think of what it means to walk with God.  When I get up to take a break from sitting, I should make a mental list of my blessings, or pray for people in my life.  This will help me focus my everyday activities on God and what he has done for me.  One thing I want to focus on today is my thanks for God seeing me through and healing me in my most recent illness.  He has been so good to me, taking care of me each step of the way.  It as if, God took a big thing, which could have been life-threatening and made it into a process of healing and of health.  I don’t want to forget this.  This is an important chapter of my life and the story I can share with others.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Letting God Breathe New Life into My Healthy Efforts

In review of Psalms 80:18 it says, “We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!”

Bottom Line:
Then we will never turn away from you.  Give us life again, and we will call on you.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me to never turn away from God again.  I ask Him to continue to breathe life into my lungs and keep me alive.  I will worship you and call on you for help.  Psalms 80:18 says, “We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!” (MSG)  Breathing is one of the few functions of my body that I do automatically, but it can also be done mindfully. When I remember to breathe deeply, I can actually clear my body and mind. By slowing my breathing, I can lower my heart rate and my stress level! Breathing is a powerful way to strengthen my body.  Mindful breathing is a reminder that my need for intimacy with God is like my need to breathe in air. King David sang, “I live and breathe GOD” (Psalm 34:2 MSG).  God can breathe new life into me and my efforts to remain healthier. He says, “I will put breath into you and bring you back to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:6b TEV).  To “live and breathe God” means to have him at the heart or center of whatever I’m doing.  I need to remember him and call on him often for strength. When I fail, I can ask God to breathe new life into me and my efforts, as He offers fresh beginnings all the time.  In maintaining my health and eating habits, I will try to take five slow, deep breaths before I eat, so that I can slow down, eat less and enjoy the food more.

Using My Words to Build Others Up

In review of Ephesians 4:29 it warns me to “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building ...