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,