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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Best Time to Love Is Now

In review of Proverbs 3:27-28 it says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it. Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now”

Bottom Line:
Help whenever it is needed.

What this means to me:
Whenever I can, I should do good for those who need it. I should never put off for tomorrow that which I could help out with now.

Another truth that I need to build into my that will help me focus my life and strengthen my relationships is know that the best time to love others is now.

Today’s verse in Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it. Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now” (GNT).

The reason why now is the best time to express love, is because I don’t know how long I’ll get the opportunity to do it. Circumstances often change. Things happen to people. Children grow up and leave home. I am not guaranteed a tomorrow. So If I’m going to express love, I’d better get after it and do it now.

Recently I heard of two real life examples, Charles Colson and George McGovern. Both were at opposite extremes in the political spectrum. In fact in the 1972 presidential campaign, they worked on opposite sides. But they both ended up with the same regret.

Colson wrote, “As I think back on my life, my biggest regret is not spending more time with the kids. Making family your top priority means going against the culture where materialism and workaholism are rampant. It means realizing you may not advance as fast in your career as some do. It means being willing to accept a lower standard of living, knowing that you’re doing the right thing for your children, giving them the emotional security that they will draw on for the rest of their lives.”

McGovern wrote a book about his daughter Terry, who died of alcoholism in 1994. After the tragedy, McGovern poured over Terry’s diaries and discovered that he was not as good a father as he thought he’d been. While he was spending 18-hour days fighting for political causes, Terry was at home writing in her diary that she missed her daddy, but he probably didn’t miss her because he probably didn’t care about her. McGovern wrote in his advice to parents, “Show more love to your kids by spending more time with them, especially during the adolescent years, no matter what it costs your career. That way neither of you will have regrets.

So I should never hesitate. It’s never too late. The best time to love is right now.

Today I will consider who I should be spending more time with and what I may need to cut out of my schedule to make time to love the people in my life.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Best Expression of Love Is Time

In review of 1 John 3:18 it says, “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words”

Bottom Line:
Show love for others by truly helping them, and not just talking about it

What this means to me:
Actions speak more than words. I should not just say I love people, I need to really love them, and show it by my actions and my time.

Today’s verse comes from 1 John 3.  In it John explains that the message we have heard from the start is that we should love one another. If we do this, we shouldn't be surprised if the world hates us. After all, we know what real love it because Jesus gave up his life for us, so we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If we have the means to live well and see someone in need but show no compassion, then how is God's love in us. So do not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident in where we stand before God. God’s command is that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.  Those who obey God's commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them.

Another truth I need to remember is that if I want to reduce the stress and overload is knowing that the best expression of love is time. Today's verse from 1 John 3:18 says, “We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words” (GW).

The most desired gift of love is focused attention and as such the greatest gift I can give anybody is my time. It’s the most precious and desired gift because my time is my life.

Time is my most precious commodity because I only have a certain amount of it. God’s already decided the number of days I’m going to live. While I can always get more money or things, I cannot get more time. So this means that every time I give someone my time, I’m giving that person a portion of my life that I will never get back. That’s why the greatest gift I can give someone is my time.

In our quick paced culture many people are in time-starved relationships. We live in the same home, but we pass each other by night like ships, the relationship can shrivel and dry up for lack of attention. There are a lot of things can rob a relationship. For instance work, hobbies, and even church involvement or ministry can rob a relationship.

In order for me to revitalize a relationship I should start by investing more of myself by giving away my time. As I express my love through time, I will be a blessing to others, and I can enjoy a deeper, more meaningful relationships.

Today, I will consider how to give my time away to show love, care and service to others.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Learning That The Best Use of My Life Is Love

In review of 1 Corinthians 14:1 it says, “Let love be your highest goal!”

Bottom Line:
Let love be what drives you.

What this means to me:
I am to let love be my motivation and highest goal.

Today's verse comes from the first part of 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul speaks of encouraging, strengthening and comforting others.  He starts by saying to let love be our highest goal. We should desire the gifts the Spirit gives us, but especially the ability to prophesy. One who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.

There are truths that I need to keep in mind that will help me focus my life and reduce overload and stress. Practice of these will lead to better relationships.

The first truth is this: The best use of life is love.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Let love be your highest goal!” (NLT) I am to make it my number one priority, my primary objective, my greatest ambition and my life's purpose. It can’t just be in the top 10 things, it must be number one. I make it number one because God says love is what life's all about. The Bible says, “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (1 Corinthians 13:3 MSG). Loving relationships aren’t just something I squeeze into my schedule. God doesn’t just say that loving relationships are an important part of my life. God says loving relationships are my life. That’s what life's all about. It’s all about love.

Second, God says I need to focus on love because that’s all that’s going to last: “Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). The way for me to leave a lasting legacy is to fill my life with love.

Today I will consider what legacy I would leave behind if something were to happen to me and I would no longer be around?  What would others say and would it have anything to do with the way I loved others?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Can Accomplish More By Doing Less

In review of 1 Corinthians 6:12 it says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial”

Bottom Line:
You may have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial

What this means to me:
While I may be able to do anything, not everything is good for me. I should especially not allow myself to become a slave of it.

Today's verse comes from 1 Corinthians 6 where Paul speaks in particular regarding avoiding sexual sin. He starts by saying that while we are allowed to do anything, not everything is good for us. We should be careful to not become slave to it. We can't say that our bodies were made for whatever we want. In reality our bodies were made for the Lord and he cares about them and what we do with them.

While the context Paul was speaking of relates to sexual immorality it’s also helpful for realizing that I can’t keep doing all kinds of things and filling up my schedule. I must periodically prune the activities I engage in.

Gardeners prune trees and plants for the health of the plant and for fruitfulness in the next season. If there’s no pruning, there will be no fruitfulness in the next season.

Every year, I sprout new activity branches. I’m doing some things now that I didn’t do a year ago. I’ve added them on. But I need to consider what have I cut out or pruned in exchange? I can’t just keep adding and adding to my schedule without cutting back, without pruning my overall activities.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial” (NIV).

God has given me a free will and with it I permitted to do anything. Which means that I can go out and overload my schedule 10 times over, and God’s not going to stop me. But it doesn’t mean it’s the beneficial thing to do.

I will have to learn to say “no” far more than I say “yes.” I cannot do all the good things in life. Since I can’t do everything, I need to determine what are the right things to do. What are the things that God wants me to do with my time and energy?

Selection is the key to being effective. I’ll be more effective if I figure out what I’m not going to do as well as what I’m going to do.

If I don’t periodically prune the activities in my life, God will do the pruning for me. It will happen through an illness, crisis or something, because I cannot live beyond my limits month after month (and I’ve experience this before.)

Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). But no matter how bad things may seem, I can know for sure that God always has my best in mind. I tend to think I can do why more than is realistic.

Today I will consider why is it so difficult for me to admit that I have limitations?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Margin Will Help Me Plan for Unanticipated Problems

In review of Proverbs 22:3 it says, “A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences”

Bottom Line:
When you see trouble coming, don’t be stupid and walk right into it, plan for it.

What this means to me:
It would be prudent for me to look ahead and foresee difficulties ahead and prepare for them, otherwise I can be caught off guard and suffer the consequences.

Planning margin into my schedule will always pay dividends, as it’s inevitable that I will experience some kind of problem or delay.

Putting together a plan is always wise and prudent. God’s Word even tells me that I ought to plan. Planning ahead helps lead me in the right direction. It helps me think through some potential roadblocks or issues.  And we all know that nothing ever goes as perfectly as we’d want. So without margin and a good plan, I’d be setting myself up for big disappointment, as there will always be bumps in the road.

In fact scripture tells me that thinking ahead is the mark of wisdom. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences” (TLB).

So putting in margin helps in two ways.  First, with proper margin, I can think more clearly without the pressure of a time crunch on a commitment. Secondly, margin helps if some comes up I didn’t plan, I have some extra time to work on or solve it.

Today’s verse is a great reminder for me to build margin into my projects, schedules, plans and life in general.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Learning My Limits

In review of Psalm 119:96 it says, “I have learned that everything has limits” (Psalm 119:96a TEV).

Bottom Line:
Everything has limits, except your teachings

What this means to me:
I am learning that everything has limits, however your teachings are boundless.

Today’s passage comes from part of Psalm 119 were the psalmist, King David wrote to teach his young son Solomon the alphabet of the spiritual life.  In it he explains about his relationship with God. He says, your eternal word stands firm. Your faithfulness extends to every generation. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans. If your instructions hadn't sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget your commandments for by them you give life. I am yours; so rescue me! I work hard at obeying your commandments. Even though there are those who are against me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws. Even perfection has its limits, but your commands don’t.

If I am to build margin so that I can do the work God wants for me to do, then I must remember that I am only human. I am not a god. I am not invincible. I’m just human and I have limits.

David mentions in Psalm 119:96, “I have learned that everything has limits” (TEV).

Interestingly enough what I’m learning is that God is the author of my limitations. He put them in place for my good. What I’m learning is that He does this because he loves me. So rather than me fighting my limits, I should just embrace and accept them.

I guess I’m guilty of not recognizing my limits. I often overestimate my abilities and underestimate the problems, and how much time it will take to do something. Our culture doesn’t help, because it's constantly telling me that “we can do, have and be all we want to be.”  However, I can only be all that God wants me to be, there are limits.

First, I have physical limitations.  For instance I can’t go for long periods without food, no matter how much I tell myself I can. Even positive thinking has it’s limits.

I have emotional limits. And these are much harder for me to judge. For instance how many people can I carry emotionally? How many problems of other people can I handle? Not as many as I probably think.

I have mental limits. Modern media is constantly pumping new information at me through radio, TV, and the internet. I’m mentally on tilt, unable to handle more.

I have time limits. No matter how many time management seminars I go to, I’m never going to have more than 24 hours in a day. And I need to sleep part of that time.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could get a warning when we reach our limits? Well, God has given me a warning system! It’s called pain. It’s called fatigue. It’s called stress. It’s called loss of joy. It’s called irritability. When I’m feeling any of these things, I’m on overload and have exceeded some kind of limit in my life.

I cannot just keep cramming my life full of things that are not important and do not help me accomplish my purpose. So today, I will ask God to give me the wisdom to recognize my limits and then build margin into my life so that I’m not living in overload.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Even Though I May Be In A Hurry, God Is Not

In review of Ecclesiastes 3:11 it says, “God ... does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing”

Bottom Line:
God’s timing is perfect even though we may not fully understand what he is doing.

What this means to me:
God does everything at just the right time, however it’s difficult at times to completely understand what he is doing and why it doesn’t fit my timing.

Today's verse comes from the first part of Ecclesiastes 3. Solomon is telling us that there is a time for everything. He tells us that for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. However, what do people really get for all their hard work. Even though we may endure burdens, God has made everything beautiful for its own time. God has planted eternity and a future into our hearts. However we do not realize the whole scope of God's work, from the beginning to the end. So I, Solomon, conclude that there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. We should eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of our labor, for these are gifts from God.

Part of adjusting my life and following his priorities is learning to trust in God’s timing. When I get impatient, it shows a lack of trust on my part. It like telling God that I don’t think He has my best interest at heart. He doesn’t know when I need it and doesn’t he realize I’m in a hurry. This turns to worry and I get hurried and start to scurry because my lack of trust in God to do it at the right time and in the right way.

In reality, fast isn’t always better. Today’s verse from Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “God ... does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing” (NCV).

His Word tells me that he has a plan and a timetable for my life.  However, he doesn’t always explain his timetable. Unfortunately, this can be source of frustration, because I’m in a hurry and He’s not. However, like a when a child grows up, part of maturing is having to learn the difference between “no” and “not yet.” A delay is not necessarily a denial. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I need to learn the same thing with God: A delay is not a denial. God knows the right time and the right way. He has a plan and a timetable. And his timing is always perfect.

Habakkuk 2:3 has a great verse regarding waiting and patience, “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed” (Habakkuk 2:3 NLT).

Visions God has given me that haven’t happened, are coming. It’s just on God’s timetable and not mine. In the meantime, I should keep on trusting God and slow down. So while I wait the best thing for me to do is to be happy and enjoy myself as long as I can. I should eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of my labor, as these are all gifts from God.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Learning to Pause and Pray Before Adding

In review of Proverbs 20:25 it says, “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows”

Bottom Line:
Think carefully before making a promise. You may regret it later.

What this means to me:
It’s a trap for me to rashly dedicate myself to a promise or commitment and then regret it later when I really realize and count the true cost.

Today’s verse is a great reminder that I can’t do it all just because I’m asked. Learning to pause and pray before making a decision will help to slow things down so that I can think reasonably.  Today’s verse from Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows” (NIV).

This verse encourages me to ponder first before promising. Deliberate before deciding. Muse before I choose. Reflect before I select. Consider my commitments prayerfully and carefully before I decide. Pause and pray before deciding.

I’ve learned by personal experience that I can’t just keep adding things to my schedule without eliminating something else. The mark of good leadership is knowing what to stop and what to cut out. If I’m burning the candle at both ends, I’m not as bright as I think I am. I’ll end up burning out!

When things come my way here are three things I can ask:

. Is it worth it?
. Is it worth my time, energy, effort, reputation, or even money?
. What am I going to give up?

I need to fully consider the cost and be willing to say “no” if it doesn’t fit within my goals and priorities. Any new things that come should be thought through carefully before making a commitment to it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Slow Down By Learning Contentment

In review of Philippians 4:11 it says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”

Bottom Line:
Learn contentment, regardless of your circumstances

What this means to me:
I need to learn true content with what I have (little or much), regardless of my circumstances, in order to get along happily or satisfied.

In order to slow down or create margin in my life, I need to consider my heart and in particular contentment rather than my schedule.

Paul explains in this verse from Philippians 4:11 that, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). Worth noting is the word “learned.” By nature I’ve noticed that I’m not naturally a contented person. It seems my nature to want things to be different, to want them to be better. It is not my default to be contented. However, if I’m going to slow down and build margin into my life, learning contentment is key. It’s something that doesn’t come overnight, rather it is learned over time.

So how do I do this?  Paul also mentioned that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8). He’s indicating that life isn’t about things. I didn’t have anything before I was born. I’m not going to have anything after I die. Things are not what my life is all about, so learn to be content with what I have.

Contentment is not abandoning ambitions. I need to have ambition and to make the most of what God has given me. God says it’s good to have godly ambition. And contentment doesn’t mean I don’t have any goals, dreams, or plans. Contentment simply means that I don’t need more in order to be happy. Contentment is being happy right now with what I’ve been given.

Happiness itself is a choice, and I’ll be as happy as I choose to be! So I shouldn’t blame unhappiness on my circumstances. If I’m not happy with my current circumstances, I’ll probably not be happy with different ones. There will always be something wrong, as I live in a broken world, and nothing is perfect.

So I believe that God wants me to learn to be happy in spite of difficult situations by my trusting that he will give me exactly what I need when I need it.

Giving that learning contentment is a process, today I will consider one or more steps I can take to practice gratitude?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Making My Talent and Skills Matter

In review of 1 Corinthians 6:20 it says, “Use every part of your body to give glory back to God”

Bottom Line:
God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor Him.

What this means to me:
God had paid a very high price for me. In return I should use every part of my body to serve and give glory back to God.

Today's verse comes from the last part of 1 Corinthians 6. In this section Paul tells me that my body was made for the Lord, and as such the Lord deeply cares about it. I need to realize that my body is actually part of Christ. As such I should not take my body, which is part of Christ and do worthless and immoral things with it. After all, my body's a temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in me. I am not my own, rather I’m his, bought at a very high price. Therefore I must honor God with my life (my body, talent and skills.)

Today, I’m reminded that God wants me to use the talents and skills he’s given me in view of eternity. Today’s verse from 1 Corinthians 6:20 says to, “Use every part of your body to give glory back to God” (TLB).

I’m not quite sure exactly what to expect in eternity, however, I beginning to realize that it’s likely not going to be place where I just kick-back, wear a white robe and play a harp while floating on  clouds. So, it makes me wonder what I’ll do for trillions of years to come.  

I believe God has plans for me to serve in eternity. There will be enjoyable things to do. What I’m doing here on earth is learning to practice serving. After all, God won’t place me in serious service in eternity if all I do is live here on earth for my own sake. This life here on earth is about developing the serving skills for the future. So I should hone and use them.

Ultimately, when I leave this earth there will only be two things I take with me into eternity: my character and my skills. So right now is my chance to get ready for the real thing. Now is my chance to develop my serving skills and building my character to be more like Jesus.

Today I will consider what I’m doing with the talents he has gifted me with. Am I using them on myself or to serve him here on Earth, and forever in Heaven?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Making My Time Count

In review of Colossians 4:5 it says, “Use your time in the best way you can”

Bottom Line:
Use your time in the best way you can

What this means to me:
I am to be wise in how I interact with others, especially those who are not believers. I should make the best use of my time and opportunity I have.

Today's verse comes from Colossians 4 where Paul encourages prayer for sharing the Good News. In his encouragement Paul tells me to devote myself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. I should pray encouragement that God will give opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ, regardless of our circumstances. Pray that I can proclaim the message as clearly as possible. He then encourages me to live wisely among those who are not believers, and to make the best use of my time and seize opportunities around me. I should always let my conversations always be gracious and attractive, so that my response that will not deter or push others away.

This verse reminds me of the need to use my time in view of eternity. Colossians 4:5 says, “Use your time in the best way you can” (ICB). I’m learning that time is my most precious resource. It’s far more important than money. While I could always get more money, there is no way for me to get more time. There is only a certain amount allotted to me in this life. I can’t make, borrow, save  or extend time. It can only be used. Everyone has the same amount of time each week: 168 hours. Learning to manage time is extremely important. If I can’t, I won’t be able to manage anything else, because time is my life.

Here is an interesting thought, God is watching to see how I manage my time on this earth to determine what he’s going to have me do in eternity. He’s giving me a test, because life on Earth is preparation for eternity. One of the Enemies strategies is to get me so busy doing unimportant things that I don’t have time for the important things. Satan doesn’t have to get me to sin. If he can’t get me to be bad, he’ll just get me to be busy.

The Bible tells me exactly what I should be doing with my time in Acts 20:24: “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus” (NLT).

God wants to use me, but he wants to make sure that I’m investing my time in the most important things. I need to use my time in view of eternity. Today I should consider, “How much of what I’m spending my time on is going to count five or 10 years from now? How much is going to count in eternity?”  What does my calendar / schedule tell how much of my time is spent on things that matter in light of eternity? What is the work that God has given me to do while I’m here on Earth?

Once I determine this, then I can refocus and spend my time differently so that I can accomplish the work God has given me to do.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Preparation Steps For Eternity, Relationship With God

In review of John 1:12 it says, “To all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them”

Bottom Line:
To those who receive and trust him, he gives the right to become his children.

What this means to me:
When I believed and accepted him, he gave me the right to become his child. All I needed to do was to trust him to save me.

Today's passage comes from the first chapter in the book of John. John explains that the one who is the true light, came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. Reborn, not with a physical birth, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

If this life is preparation for eternity, how can I use my life here on earth to prepare?

First, I continue to get to know Jesus Christ.  Today’s verse reminds me that, “To all who received him, he gave the right to become children of God. All they needed to do was to trust him to save them” (John 1:12b TLB). This verse tells me that not everybody’s a child of God, it’s only those who receive him into their lives. God wants me to continue to establish a relationship with him by trusting in him.

I can establish a relationship with God the same way I would establish any relationship. Spending time, showing I’m invested in getting to know him, and making time for him. It’s very difficult to have a relationship with somebody I would never spend any time with.

This means that I continue to schedule time for him. In fact, making him the first and most important part of my day through a daily quiet time. Getting alone with, worshiping and learning from him. I spend regular, significant time with him.

The second thing is prayer/talk. I need to continue to be intentional about my prayer life. Whatever it is I need to do to increase my conversation with God, do it!  So far I have never regretting investing my time, energy, and life in getting to know God.

Today I will consider what evidence does my life display that indicates that my relationship with God is the most important in my life.