Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's Resolutions - What Will Your's Be?

What will your New Year's Resolution be this year? Will you make one for 2013?

40 to 45% of Americans make one or more resolutions each year.  Weight loss, exercise, and cutting out cigarettes are among the top ten resolutions that are made. Dealing with better money management / debt reduction is also high on the list.

As time goes on, many of the resolutions are either forgotten or not met. The following statistics were taken from a sample of people who did make resolutions last year. This is the percentage of people who kept their resolutions over time:

- past the first week: 75%
- past 2 weeks: 71%
- after one month: 64%
- after 6 months: 46%

While there are a lot of people who make new years resolutions and don't keep them, research shows that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions.

What should our resolutions be for the new year? To make a resolution is to make a firm decision, a change, to make a declaration. Psalms 51:10 is my hope for all of us. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." If you are struggling to make a resolution here are some suggestions:

1. Pray that God will reveal your resolutions to make.
2. Pray for God to help you full fill your goals.
3. Pray for strength and perseverance.
4. Find someone to hold you accountable to your commitments.
5. Allow failure to motivate you to keep going.
6. Give God all of the glory for meeting your goals.

Psalm 37:5-6 "Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun."

Blessed in Christ,


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Filling Life with the Right Stuff

I read a story posted on Facebook this week about a physics professor giving a lecture to his students. The professor brought to his class an empty jar and next to it was golf balls, pebbles, sand, and liquid. The professor put the golf balls in the jar and then held it up to the class and asked them if the jar was full. The students all replied, "Yes". Then the professor poured the pebbles in the jar and shook it a little so they would all fall around the golf balls. The professor held up the jar again and asked, "Is the jar full?". The class all responded in unison, "Yes". The professor then proceeded to pour the sand in the jar and it filled the empty spaces between the golf balls and the pebbles. The professor once again asked, "Is the jar full?". The class again said, "Yes". After pouring the liquid into the jar, he asked, "Is the jar full?", The class all yelled, "YES!"

The professor said "The golf balls represent the important things in life, like God and family. The pebbles represent money and jobs, and the sand represents the small things in life that really don't matter much. If you put the little, mundane, things before anything else, there isn't room in the jar for the important things in life. If you put money and your job in first, there isn't room for the important things in life, but if you start with what is important, then your life will be full and there will still be room for everything else!" The students all impressed with the analogy agreed. One person spoke up and asked, "What about the liquid?" The professor added, "Well, the liquid represents there is always room for a couple of drinks with a friend!"

I loved this story! How true is the analogy the professor used to explain living for what is important first; God and family! He shows that if we put God first everything else falls into place. Let's remember that over the holiday season. Remember the reason for the season first, live for God and spend time with family and remember what is most important in life. Then, there will be room for the rest!

May you and yours be blessed during the holidays and Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

By Faith, Not by Works Alone

Some people fall into a trap of believing that if they just go to church when they are supposed to, tithe every month, and serve in areas where they are comfortable (where they feel they are in control), they are living right with God. In Galatians, Chapter 2, Paul confronts Peter about his hyprocrisy allowing the Gentiles to believe they were not living right as the Jews were. The the Gentiles were not living by the Jew law. Paul reminded Peter that  "we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law."

The point Paul is making is that a works based philosophy is not what brings us closer to God.

Paul goes on to say in verse 17, "But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law it condemned me. So I died to the law - I stopped trying to meet all its requirements - so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make use right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die."

The grace of God is so binding and all we have to do is believe that Jesus loved us so much to die for our sins and trust in Him. That is all we have to do to have that binding grace and to be righteous in the eyes of God! Serving others is what comes when we give our lives to pleasing and glorifing Him! Praise God today that He sent his son during this holiday season. Jesus Christ alone is the reason for the Christmas season. I pray that all of us grow in our relationship with Christ, that we feel that binding grace and feel that we are uninhibited in our worship and praise of God. I pray that because we are thankful for God's grace, we serve in areas where we are not comfortable so that God will have all the glory and not ourselves.

Hug your kids a little tighter this week and remember the families in Conneticut that lost their young ones, teachers, and principal in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Blessed in Christ,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Present Yourself as a Gift to Christ

This is the time of year we begin to think about the gifts we want to give those we love. A lot of thought goes into getting that special gift that will make people light up and be excited. What if we put that much thought into what we want to give Jesus? Since the reason for the season is the birth of our Savior, how much time do we give to presenting Him with a gift?

Our sermon series this week is about "Being Present". How could we be a "Present" for Christ? Is there a difference between giving Christ a present and being present with Him and for Him? Could it be the very same? Christ wants us to be devoted to Him. He wants us to be present with Him and the Holy Spirit the same way we are present with our friends, our work, or our hobbies. When we are doing something we love to do, we give everything to it; our time, money, focus, and attention. We are fully engaged in our hobbies and/or our work---we are fully present.

Jesus wants us to be His gift; to love Him and others the same way He loves us. Luke 10:27 says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart,  with all our soul, with all our strength and with all your mind, AND Love your neighbor as yourself."

This week think about how to become a present and be present for Christ. What could you do to strengthen your relationship with Him to present yourself as a living sacrifice... a gift to Christ?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Taking Things for Granted

This week, I have learned a little more about the families that live in our town. Until I went out and looked for myself at some of the living conditions people have to live in, I didn't know how much I took for granted. I have taken a lot for granted!

I drove around this afternoon and took long back roads through the country and discovered an area where most people would refuse to go. I was amazed at some of the living conditions that some families live in and thought to myself, I have so much to be thankful for. I thought back about what I have had the opportunity to give to others and haven't. How many times do we hesitate to give our time, donations, tithes, offerings, or give to charities. Some people don't because they aren't sure where it goes, or if it will make it harder to get something THEY want. If we are all honest, we have all had those thoughts at one point or another.

There are so many opportunities to do good things for people around us. If we just stepped out of our little world once in a while, we would see so many opportunities to help others and improve the spirits of families that haven't had much hope. Hebrews 13:16 (MSG) says, "Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets."

We just finished a holiday that reminds us that we should give thanks for all things, even the trials and tribulations we face. The next season is an opportunity to give back; to give to those who are less fortunate than us and to sacrifice for God as an act of worship. I would like to challenge all of us to look for opportunities to share in the blessings that God has given to us and use the opportunity to give back to others who are in need.

In Titus 3:14 (NLT), Paul writes, "Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive."

Some of you may have seen on Facebook this week the picture of a New York City police officer helping a homeless man. The story went viral and received so many hits that it was big enough to be a story on CNN this morning. The show Starting Point, just this morning, shared the heart touching story of a police officer who saw a homeless man on the street and offered him a pair of boots. He took notice that the man didn't have any shoes or socks. He had blisters on his feet and knew that it was very cold that night. The police officer took the time to talk to the man and give him some boots to wear. A lady saw the officer and was so touched at his sensitivity to the man that she posted the picture and a comment to the NYPD Facebook page.

Blessed in Christ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving For All Things

During the Thanksgiving holiday season there may be those that struggle with being thankful especially when they are finding themselves in dire straits. Some people struggle with being able to give thanks when circumstances in their lives are not what they have planned or are outside their ability to control or change. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

God's purpose for our lives is worked out through the events that happen to us...good and bad. We can take comfort in knowing that His love for us is not determined by our circumstances. Our marital status, finances, and relationships may fluctuate or totally break apart, but in spite of that, we must give Him thanks, praise and glory in all things.

Being thankful to God honors God, 1 Samuel 2:30 says, "those who honor me I will honor". So, when we honor God, he will honor us. God has a purpose in every trial and tribulation we face. This season remember the good that comes out of the bad. Thank God for the blessings you have and the blessings that are to come.

May you all have a blessed holiday season!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pressing on Toward the Goal

While in prison, Paul writes a letter to the church in Philippi. In the letter he describes his deep desire to have a personal relationship with Jesus and know "the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings". (Philippians 3:10) Paul longs to have such a deep personal and intimate relationship with Jesus that he wants to endure the sufferings and resurrection that Jesus experienced so that he can have that intimate relationship with his savior.

This scripture, written by Paul in Philippians 3, really spoke to me. Paul knows that he isn't perfect and that he still hasn't obtained his goal, but he "presses on to take hold of that which is Christ Jesus". Paul also writes that he has forgotten what is behind him but he continually strains for what is ahead...."To press on toward the goal to win the ultimate prize for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14)

Isn't that ultimately what we should want? Instead of accepting a complacent superficial existence, shouldn't we all strive to have the same intimate relationship Paul desires? In order to reach that goal, we need to forget our past sins and the guilt that consumes us because of them. Jesus wants to have an intimate relationship with all of us so that we can have the joyful personal satisfaction in knowing we met that goal on earth and the reward granted to us in heaven! It is my belief that if we continuously strive to obtain the goal it will, in turn, fullfill our existence here on earth.

I know that I am not perfect! Knowing that Jesus still wants to know me and have a personal relationship with me, despite my imperfections, is an amazing feeling. I can rejoice in knowing that whatever I endure in the future, whatever trials or tribulations I face, as long as I have a relationship with Jesus, "whether I am fed or hungry, living well or in want, I can do all things through Him who gives me strength!" (Philippians 4:13)

Take a minute today to praise God for sending us his perfect son so that we can strive to have an intimate personal relationship with Him which will in turn allow us to win the heavenly prize that God has provided for us all.

Blessed in Christ,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stress, Anxiety, and Worry

Have you ever had days when you are overcome with negative emotions, you are discouraged about your work or your financial situation, or you are feeling disconnected from others? Days when I feel really stressed about work or something is weighing heavily on my mind, I find it hard to feel the desire to do anything.

For the past several months, anytime I begin to feel discouraged, I break out my praise and worship music. Somehow, just singing and listening to songs about God's love, goodness, and mercy relieve the inner stress I feel. By doing this, I discovered that transforming a heavy heart and mind can be done through praising and worshiping God.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

My challenge to you - Don't allow negative thoughts to consume you! Renew your mind, body, and spirit by worshiping and praising a God who created joy and peace! 1 Timothy 1:7 says "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Give all your worries and stress to God through prayer (Psalm 55:22) because He will sustain us and never fail us.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Blessed in Christ,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Compromising Situations

Earlier this week I began to think about my daily walk in Christ and how I have begun to devote my life to be a living sacrifice. I find it very challenging, as some of you may as well, to remain in God's will when all around me are temptations to regress back to past habits. I found myself caught in making plans this week where I didn't realize I was about to put myself in a position that would potentially compromise my integrity and my walk with God.

Fortunately, I felt very led by the Holy Spirit to remove myself from those plans knowing that if I continued to pursue the plans "I" were making, that I would be opening up the possibility to fall back into old habits that would compromise my spiritual growth.

Although, I don't think drinking is necessarily a bad thing for others to do, for me, it presents a challenge to remain spiritually led when my mind is not clear on what I need to be doing. For me, drinking alcohol opens up a greater opportunity for me to mess up somewhere else. So, removing myself from making plans that would temp me to want to have a drink was very important.

Is there something in your life that you need to remove yourself from? Are there any situations where you find yourself in a mind battle where you could possibly compromise your walk with God?

Romans 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing, and perfect will."

I pray that you continue to grow in your walk with Christ and that if there are any times where you feel you are being led into a compromising situation, you are able to stand strong in His will!

Blessed in Christ,