A note on gratitude and loving your enemies

Following Jesus is a path of gratitude.  Don’t forget to look back at all God has done for you.  Rocky, my husband, was sharing some wisdom with me, telling me it’s important to be thankful for all that God has done already in our lives. He and I both see that God has blessed us with so many spiritual blessings (and other types). Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had our fair share of trials, okay?  Anyway, I consider myself a thankful person; my heart is full of gratitude. Despite that, I admit sometimes I easily start to lose my focus on what God has already done and my focus shifts to the future on what is yet to be done. I am sure I have many friends like this; those who are progress and future-oriented. As soon as I complete a goal, I start another project or goal and only think about that because I view time as a gift not to be wasted. I know productivity is a good trait, but sometimes I need to stop and look back and see all that God has done for us. When I do, I am blown away and humbled mostly at the deep spiritual blessings. It is true that God is good to all people, even those who don’t love Him:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:35).

What can you be thankful for today that has already happened? How can you show kindness to others today, even those who hate you or will be unthankful for your kindness? There is truly nothing special or noteworthy about loving those who love you. Every human being on the planet is capable of that; even the most evil person. That’s easy. What’s a challenge is loving those who don’t love you and who are not thankful for you. If you do, your character will be like God’s because that’s exactly what He does to every human being on the planet. Even when I didn’t love God or give thanks to Him, when I ignored and rebelled against Him when He was trying to get my attention in many ways (because of His great mercy), He gave to me and was good and gracious to me. Why? Because He is kind and good even to the unthankful. He gives us our breath and even our intellect; the ability to work and make a living, etc. Really, what do we have that wasn’t given to us? There is really no room to boast about anything. Rocky and I are at the point where we both see His hand in our lives and His blessings.  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

Tyndale Life Application Daily Devotion:

“But be sure to fear the LORD and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.”
— 1 Samuel 12:24 NLT

Insight:
Samuel reminded the people to take time to consider what great things God had done for them. Taking time for reflection allows us to focus our attention upon God’s goodness and strengthens our faith. Sometimes we are so progress- and future-oriented that we fail to take time to recall all that God has already done.

Challenge:
Remember what God has done for you so that you may continue your life accompanied with gratitude.

© 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers

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Could your weakness be your strength?

Have weaknesses? Like an illness, maybe? Or a mindset? God is strong in the weakness. God uses the weak and flawed, like Gideon, not the high and mighty. That way, His strength shines through and He gets the applause. He alone is worthy of praise. He does not use the “elite”. He does not need the high and mighty of this world to do His work; an elite troop. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. The Gnostic sects have always claimed elitism and certain privileged, secret knowledge just like the Pharisees. His strength is made perfect in weakness. He uses the weak to lead the strong, not the strong to lead the weak. Also, He blesses the poor in spirit; the broken. The Apostle Paul admitted his weakness. God’s power rested on Him (2 Cor. 12:9). I have personally seen God turn my biggest weakness and sorrow into His strength, and it has become my joy and a witness to His power and goodness.  The following is written by the Bible League International:

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

Gideon had a low opinion of himself and his clan. His assumption was that if someone was to save Israel out of Midian’s hand, then it must be someone of greater status than him and from a stronger clan than his. It never occurred to him that God may have selected him for the task precisely because of his low status and weak clan.

God, however, seems to specialize in selecting what is low and of no account for the accomplishment of His purposes. He selected the Israelites as His chosen people not because they were numerous, but because they were few (Deuteronomy 7:7). He chose David to be King of Israel even though he was the youngest son in his family (I Samuel 16:1-13). The Apostles Peter and John were “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13). Many more examples could be added to the list.

The reason why God so often chooses what is low and of no account is so that the chosen will be more reliant on Him and through that reliance His glory will be magnified. God often chooses the foolish, weak, lowly, the despised, and the things that are not so that no one may boast before Him (I Corinthians 1:26-29). If God were to exclusively choose those who are high and mighty, then they might be tempted to boast of their own abilities and take credit for any successes.

If you are confronted today with a calling that seems beyond your status and abilities, then consider Gideon. It is God who makes us able, not we ourselves. Indeed, God declared Gideon to be a “mighty warrior” before he ever accomplished anything.

‘When Mercy Found Me’

I love this song, by the Rhett Walker Band.  Enjoy!  A reminder that as Christians, we are a new creation! (Please skip the ads).

 

 

Take off your past experiences: Moving on from the past and straining toward the future

So I had a dream the other night.  In it, I was taking off shirt after shirt and laying each one down on the floor in a stack.  Each shirt was white.  It was rather uncomfortable and burdensome to wear so many shirts.

When I woke up, I got to thinking what this meant.  I asked God if it meant anything or if it was just a silly old dream.  The thought that came to my mind after that was…

“Take off your past experiences.”

What does the Bible have to say about this? Are you carrying around some experiences, regrets or burdens from the past that you should lay down?  Imagine doing life with several shirts on.  I know I would get uncomfortable and it would keep me from my purpose!

I realized God wants His children to do a few things.  There perhaps is a time to mourn about the past but also a time to move on!  Learning from the past, living in the present and straining toward the future is a beautiful thing.  How many shirts are you wearing?  Are you choosing to keep those shirts on?  Does God want you to wear that many shirts?

It is interesting that the shirts were white.  Often the experiences we carry around and replay over and over again in our minds have been cleansed by Jesus.  They are “white” so to speak.  God’s grace and forgiveness cleanses.  Is there anything you need to let go of from the past and lay down at the feet of Jesus?  I know there was for me, and now I can live freely for today and the future – with one shirt on!

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13,14

Sort Your Mail

Do you ever feel bombarded with mail?  Whether it be paper or electronic, there is a lot to sift through.  It crossed my mind the other day that life is much like sorting the mail.  When we get the mail, there is a huge stack.  Much of it is junk.  The junk mail contains lies for the most part – “if you buy this, you will be happy”.  So many advertisements.  The rest is valuable and worth keeping.  Those are the bills and the truthful items.  It is the truth that if we don’t pay our power bill, we will not have power!  Better not discard that one.  If we lie to ourselves, we may say that the junk mail is good and worthy of keeping.  In reality, so much of the mail we get just sucks our energy.  It is unneeded and wasteful.  That’s why it’s called junk mail.  If this stuff is not dealt with right away, it can pile up and become very burdensome.  It occurred to me that life is much like going through mail.  Every day, new things come our way.  New people and new experiences.  New situations and new demands.  If we don’t sort through the junk mail, it piles up and overcrowds all the good mail to the point where we cannot even see the good mail anymore!  Let’s face it: God sends things our way; so does the devil.  Both God and the devil send things (situations, circumstances, people, etc.) into our lives.  God sends truth.  The devil sends lies.  Is there anything in your life that you think you could throw away or donate?  Physically and spiritually speaking, is there anything that weighs you down that you have kept unknowingly that prevents you from running a good race?  Going through our physical possessions and minimizing can certainly be freeing.  I just went through our entire house and was honest with myself about what we truly needed to keep.  If it did not bring me joy, I threw it away or donated it.  Going through emails and de-cluttering our computers can also be freeing.  Same with our inner lives.  Is there anything that is toxic that you would be better without?  Maybe you have kept some junk mail not realizing it was junk?  Sometimes too much clutter and too much toxicity can effect our health and even start to poison what is good in our lives.  What is weighing you down?  Ask God to show you if there are any changes you could make to make your life more free, light and joyful.  God wants us to walk in freedom and joy.  Sometimes an inventory is needed of our priorities. Galatians 6:2 says we as Christians are to carry each others’ burdens and thus we will be fulfilling the law of Christ, and that is a noble thing.  Christians are responsible to love others and carry each others burdens.  We must make sure that the burdens (baggage, excess mail) we are carrying around with us day-to-day are truly Godly burdens that God has willed us to bear.  Sometimes, we think God has planned we carried certain burdens when He actually has wanted us to let go of such burdens because they are out of our control or sphere of responsibility.  Such burdens can actually do us harm in our race with Him.  Some points to think about.