December 29, 2010

The Choice

I am experiencing a heart transformation that can only take place when I make a choice.  It is because of what took place on Calvary that I am free to make this choice.  This has become my prayer.  It is not original.  I have spent years praying that I would display the fruit of the spirit in my daily life but this prayer spells it out for me in a more detailed way.  Maybe you will find it helpful in your own prayer time.

I choose love...
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness.  I choose love.  Today I will love God and what God loves.


I choose joy...
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.  I refuse the temptation to be cynical...the tool of the lazy thinker.  I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.  I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.


I choose peace...
I will live forgiven.  I will forgive so that I may live.


I choose patience...
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.  Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so.  Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray.  Instead of clinching my fist at a new task, I will face it with joy and courage.


I choose kindness...
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone.  Kind to the rich, for they are afraid.  And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.


I choose goodness...
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one.  I will be overlooked before I will boast.  I will confess before I will accuse.  I choose goodness.


I choose faithfulness...
Today I will keep my promises.  My debtors will not regret their trust.  Those around me will not question my word.  My children will not question my love or fear that I will leave them.


I choose gentleness...
Nothing is won by force.  I choose to be gentle.  If I raise my voice may it be only in praise.  If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.  If i make a demand, may it be only of myself.


I choose self-control...
I am a spiritual being.  After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.  I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal.  I choose self-control.  I will be drunk only by joy.  I will be impassioned only by my faith.  I will be influenced only by God.  I will be taught only by Christ.  I choose self-control.


Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  To these I commit my day.  If I succeed, I will give thanks.  If I fail, I will seek His grace.  

When God Whispers Your Name
Max Lucado

December 28, 2010

My Christmas Wish

I have always believed in the promise of Christmas and it has always been an incredibly special time of the year for me.  There are times when I find myself caught up in the trappings and expectations of what I think Christmas should be or how it should look or feel.  I expect the music to sound a certain way, the food to be amazing, and for people to actually be nice but how ofter times does Christmas really deliver those promises?

We are all guilty of running around trying to buy the perfect gift, attend the Christmas parties and take part in all the church activities. There can be pressure and friction to as you try and spread yourself out amongst all who want to see you and Christmas can end up feeling commercial, empty, crass and exhausting. 

When I think of Christmas at its best, I experience a glimpse of heaven and the warmth of the promise of hope. Christmas is a promise  Christmas cannot bring us happiness.  Christmas cannot bring peace into our lives.  Christmas cannot make all the wrong in our homes right.  Christmas is just a holiday.

Christmas IS though,  our reminder of the promise that was sent to us by a Heavenly Father who adores us and wants to fill our lives with hope.  Christmas is our reminder that Christ Himself was sent to bring us hope, love and peace.  Deep inside we long for those things and they can be found but can only be found in Him.

We long...
  • Not for Christmas but for Christ
  • Not for merriment but for the Messiah
  • Not for goodwill but for God
  • Not for presents but for HIS presence
We can have these moments every day when we realize that ALL we need is Jesus Christ.  When He is all we want, we can experience His hope, love and peace every day!


December 14, 2010

Sinking


"When I look beside me, I see that there is no one to help me, no one to protect me…Lord, I cry to you for help; you, Lord, are my protector; you are all I want in this life."
Psalm 142:4-5


Tonight I planned to go to bed early.  I had all the kids in bed and by 8:30, I was ready to head that way myself.  I walked in my room, saw clothes everywhere, and knew there was no way I was going to sleep until my room was clean. 
This is usually how it begins when God wants to work on my heart.  He puts me to work.  You see, when I am cleaning or cooking, I am the most focused and my mind and heart are still.  I know that probably sounds crazy but sure enough, as soon as I started cleaning, my heart started stirring.
I was cleaning the bathroom and had a sponge in my hand.  God started showing me how that sponge soaks up all that water and once full, it becomes heavy and a decision has to be made The decision whether to squeeze out that water and then choose whether you will fill it up again or set it to the side.  I found this interesting as I thought about my own life.  I go through seasons where He fills me full of His truth and promises and it is as if I am in overdrive soaking it all in and learning.  Those times are exciting and full of hope because I know that there is so much more to come.  The time comes though that I realize that I’m full and need time to put those things into practice and live them out.  Here is where I often fail.
 For several months, I was growing and learning and learning and growing.  I was so excited and full of hope but then something went wrong and instead of relying on those truths and looking up, I looked ahead and turned to people instead of God. 
It came time to squeeze out that sponge and put all that new material to use but then I became scared and held on too tight thinking “people” would make it all better when things got hard. I lost my focus and became Peter, walking on the water.  I lost sight of the only One who can keep me above the waves and I sank and sank fast.  He has been trying to teach me to stop looking toward people for security and hope and instead turn to Him.  He has repeatedly taught me that people will only disappoint, not because they are bad but because they are human and sinful.  Until I finally allow that sink into my head, I will end up drowning in those waves every time.   
Tonight the lesson begins again.  It is such a wonder that He has not given up on me yet but I guess He sees more promise in me than I do.

A thought...

One of my greatest frustrations at Christmas is those people too lazy to write out Christmas and choose to replace Christ with an X. It seems these days that we attend holiday programs at school and people attend holiday parties at work or with friends. Rarely do you hear of Christmas programs or Christmas parties to fill our Christmas calendars. I did not really think much about it until I had kids but every year it bugs me more and more because every year we move further and further away from Him. What is happening to this country??

Now the origin for Xmas is not bad if you are writing it in the way in which it was meant. I am of the belief though that there are way too many out there that one, write it that way to be disrespectful and two: totally to denounce the day that celebrates the birth of Christ.

About a week ago I was reading a devotional written by Bill Bright and I had one of those "AH- HA" moments. He talked about God's discipline on this country. People moan and complain about our president and the state of our economy because it is easier to blame someone else for the mess we are in then to take responsibility for where we have taken our country. I believe our president is in office for a reason. I believe God placed him there and I believe that our lack of obedience and our eyes being fixed on worldly things instead of Kingdom things cause the suffering that is taking place. Maybe God is leading us once again to a place of complete brokenness in which we fall on our knees and confess our separation from Him in an attempt to live lives that are worldly and more fitting to our own happiness instead of His glory. I'm just saying. The more we embrace tolerance, the farther we separate ourselves from our Protector.

I do not know if something as simple as saying Merry Christmas and teaching our kids the true meaning will change where this country is headed but maybe it would be a start. I hate to think of where this will all lead and how my kids will be celebrating Christmas with their kids someday.

The following is the devotional:


God's Solutions To Our Problems

Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life (Romans 6:22, NLT). 

Dear Friends,

Previous messages in this series have summarized the overwhelming evidence of the biblical roots of America and how God has been the source of our nation's blessings, which are absolutely unprecedented in all of history.

Then I explained some of the things that went wrong in the past 50 years, causing this nation to turn from God, making us vulnerable to His chastening, and even in danger of losing our country.

The question is obvious: How can our nation turn back to God?

The answer is not in the world, not in the government, nor in the media. It is simply in God's people -- the church -- who must repent, seek God's face, and meet God's conditions recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (NLT).

If God's people do what God requires, He will take care of everything else, "forgive their sin and heal their land." It is a promise.

In a nutshell, we need a great spiritual revival in America. What is revival? It is not just scheduled annual meetings with a sign out in front of the church. Charles Finney, revered as the father of modern revival, called revival a "renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one's will to God in deep humility."

For revival, the first requirement is for God's people to "humble themselves." In my opinion, there is no other Christian discipline but fasting with prayer that fully meets the conditions of this marvelous promise from God.

By faith we humble ourselves, fast and pray for God's intervention and answers, and by faith we receive. Faith with fasting and prayer move the hand of God.

Another requirement of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is to "turn from their wicked ways." To turn means to repent. God's people must turn from, or repent of, living, thinking, speaking and acting like the world.

Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,

Bill Bright