The exhausting events of the last month have left me feeling tired. The New Year kicked in hard this week and even thoughÂ the scheduleÂ is back on trackÂ a rest and renew sounds like it should be in order. What comes to your mind when you think about or visualize the words, rest and renew? Perhaps it is de-stressing by lying on the warm beach under a blue sky listening to the waves roll in one after the other or maybeÂ rest and renew to youÂ is reading by a roaring fire in the fireplace of a mountain cabin while the snow banks up against the windows. Perhaps though it is the simple comfort that is found away from your busy life or collecting strength to make it through the day-to-day challenges you face. Whatever our idea of resting and renewingÂ is we can find the ultimate respiteÂ and peace with God by the trusting assurance of this week’s focus verse ”“ Matthew 11:28;
Then Jesus said, ”Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest”. (NLT)
Our Will versus God’s Will – Placing God in Control
Yield to God’s Will
For most of us, the words, “Your will be done” that places God in control of our lifeÂ is difficult to utter and truly mean. We really just want things to go our own way and of our own thinking. This is because we generally strive for the easier, more comfortable, or more convenient way of doing things. Often however the easier route of the present is not what is best. This really came to light to me this week as I passed by the closet in the upstairs hall and found the door left open. As I explored why the door was open I found that my daughter had thrown the empty gift boxes that I had asked her to clean up in her room on the closet floor. She did what was easier ”“ her will by half-heartedly doing mine. How many times do we half-heartedly tell God that we want His will to be done but yet we don’t really follow through with it? We do it only part of the way because it was easier, more comfortable, and seemed more logical to our thinking. The moreÂ however that we grow inÂ our relationship with Christ the moreÂ we realize that His way of thinking isn’t likeÂ ours and in fact what often seems more logical and easy isn’t usually God’s will at all and that is because we can’t see the ”big picture” the ultimate plan.
My daughter didn’t see anything wrong with throwing the empty gift boxes on the floor of the closet. It solved the problem she had in the immediate and accomplished what she needed to do. She didn’t see the ”big picture”. She didn’t see the problem of the future that when we needed to find something in that closet we would have to dig through the boxes and tissue paper thrown in the closet to search and find what we truly needed. She didn’t see that a hasty andÂ easy decision of her will in the present could lead to a bigger mess and frustration in the future. Isn’t that how it is with us and God’s willÂ too?
We often don’t see that by half-heartedly doing what God intends for us to do we aren’t preparing for the futureÂ situations that sit in place to bless us. We know this because God does not make plans to harm us. (Romans 8:28)He loves us too much and isn’t setting plans in place for us to suffer. He often has to work around the choices we or others have made against His plans in order for His plans to take place. Can you imagine how upset, angry, frustrated and the emotional list could continue if every time we made plans for and instructed our children, spouse, friends, employees, or anyone to do something our way for a more successful outcome they either did not comply, did so in their own frame of thinking, or only half-heartedly did the job often resulting in aÂ job needing repeated? If this happened day in and out would we give up, move on,Â or perhaps say ”to heck with you all”? Would we feel disrespected and wonder why we even care? God doesn’t. He very patiently continues to love us and adjusts or reroutes the plan because ultimately His plan will succeed with or without our or the world’s cooperation. So if we think about it like this shouldn’t we strive to comply with “Your will be done” and not ours?
Our focus verse this week is from Matthew 26:39and the words of Christ.
”He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ”My Father! If it is possible let this cup of suffering be taken from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (NLT)
Should there be more now that the gifts are no longer hiddenÂ , theÂ feasts eaten, the family and friendsÂ departed, and for the most part the travel to and from along with the season is passing on? Do we hear the echoes of…Â butÂ waitÂ there’s more? Did your Christmas feel like an infomercial where just when you thought all the gifts were given out and the food servedÂ someone shouted wait”¦there’s more? Perhaps you were lucky enough to close out Christmas with allÂ that your family and you wishedÂ orÂ wanted and then some? Maybe you feel that your familyÂ gained more blessingsÂ than they needed or perhaps there were additions during the bargain after Christmas sales that heralds through the land each year? Do you find yourself looking around your home, like I do, and thinking we just have too much? If so perchance it is time to evaluate the true necessities of life that will move us closer to Christ.
As the New Year approaches I find myself vowing to get rid of the things we do not need or use. A New Year appears to bringÂ a fresh start and so it is time to get rid of the old and find a place for the new or maybe transform the old into new. Sometimes I think we need to stop and contemplate not only our possessions butÂ on what is really important in our eternalÂ life and God provided just the verse I neededÂ for this week’s focus, Isaiah 40:8.
Many of us are beginning to see the end of the frenzied pace of Christmas preparation and getting ready for the activity packed and carefully planned celebration of Christmas ”“ the celebration of Christ’s birth. Perhaps you have already attended elaborate, feast laden, joyful pre-celebration events, maybe you have the most spectacular tree ever decorated,Â delectable meals planned, and great numbers of family and friends expected to sweep in and enjoy the long-awaited celebration thatÂ someone createdÂ full of hard work and attention to detail. Because that is how many ofÂ us celebrate, it is how we show recognition, it is whatÂ we have come to expect in a celebration in which we honorÂ the birth ofÂ Jesus Christ. It is what we understand, our best, itÂ is the right way to ring in the birth of a king”¦right? Well”¦ it wasn’t that type of celebration over 2000 years ago when Christ was born. But God didn’t sweep in with roaring winds, and great fires. It was not loud; no planned feasts or impromptu onesÂ thrown. It was quiet and dark. He came in softly in the still of the night hidden to most. How can we of reason understand that? This week’s focus verse is Proverbs 3: 5- 6
”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” (NLT)
By now most of us have the decorations up, the gift list almost completed, the menus planned, and the travel arrangements mapped out and we hope everything will go according to our plans. But when we use this word, hope, is that just wishful thinking? Are we simply wishing our hard work, plans, and gifts will turn out? Do we truly understand what hope really means? If so should we not expect with confidence that everything will go as planned? If we hope, we should believe fulfillment will occur with our plans. Are we willing to do whatever is necessary or needed for our Christmas plans to come true? Hope sounds a bit daunting when we put its real meaning behind it. Have we come to rely on only what we can see then to make things happen? Is that what gives us confidence, what we can see? Is Christmas about whatÂ we seeÂ or what is unseen? Our focus verse this week is 2 Corinthians 4:18:
The Christmas season is among us and it has bounded in full force this year in a hectic race against time as Thanksgiving came at the end of November. We are pushing the limits of the clock to get everything done that we “feel” we “must” do; the decorations placed just so, the gifts purchased, the food prepared, the parties, concerts, and events attended, and travel plans made…whew!, but where is God? Have we lost our values or most importantly our priority of why we are feeling so stressed and pushed for time? Does the way we celebrate the season, spend our money, and live our lives show that God is first in our life? Our focus verse this week is Haggai 1:6.
You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (NLT)
Many times we find ourselves thinking that from our perspective the current situation is hopeless and there is nowhere to go. We may get to this point over health issues, a sudden death of a loved one, or just an overwhelming situation thatÂ is spiraling out of our control. It is then we must stop, refocus, and remember that God is always in control and knows all that is happening to each of us. God is the impossibility specialist. This week we will look at impossible situations made possible through God as our focus verse is,
Luke 1:37; ”For nothing is impossible with God” (NLT)
It was Christmas Eve and he felt himself sinking down in a fog of depression that was bellowing up. He had tried to sound as cheerful as he could under the circumstances. His call with his wife had ended abruptly as the call disconnected. They had spoken, as long as the time allowed, but it was not enough. HeÂ should beÂ with her and his family at this very moment but was not. Continue reading Impossibilities – The Control and Power of God Seen with Faith→
This is the last week of November and although we continue our theme of faith it would be remiss not to tie thanks into this special week as we celebrate Thanksgiving on this Thursday,Â in the United States. As we consider all we have thanks for there are many who feel the burden of life so overwhelming that they cannot seem to find any thanks to voice. It is from this thought pattern that we address and challenge ourselves to remember that the giving of thanks comes from our hearts on the inside and not our outside circumstances. This is what faith and trust truly is and gives us hope for the future. To help put this in perspective we chose as our Bible focus verse this week, Habakkuk 3:17 ”“ 18;
Â ”Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the field, and the cattle barns are empty,
This week we are challenged with the question if we have faith and use trust can there be pride?Â Our Bible verse weÂ are focusing onÂ is Habakkuk 2:4;
”Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (NLT)
This month our verses, unintentionally, have seemed to all be about faith and trust in God. If we will commit our actions, plans, ideas and lives to God, Proverbs 16:3 taught us we will succeed. Last week in John 15:5 we learned that by keeping ourselves in Christ and he in us and not separating we will see our lives full of the fruits of the spirit making our lives here on earth better as we will be better people of Christian character allowing us to serve God’s will and our purpose here on earth.
Our theme of faith and trust continues as the Lord instructs us to ”stick with Him”. We must wait patiently putting our faith only in God and not the world around us as this week’s verse tells us. This is so very hard much of the time at least for me as I am not a very patient person and I want the problems of today ”fixed” yesterday. We want control of our lives and problems mean things are out of our control. We know God is there but we want the problem solved now and because of this we often put our faith andÂ trust in the things of this world over putting our faith and trust in God. Continue reading Faith with Trust Leaves No Room for Pride→
Do you often feel overwhelmed with all yourÂ tasks and can’t seem to get anything done? When I get to this point I realize that my focus is not where it needs to be for I am trying to accomplish tasks on my own and without Christ. It is time for me to refocus my direction at this point and accomplish things with Christ and not alone.This week our focusÂ Bible verse is