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,

Amanda

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!

Amanda

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,
Amanda

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?