Sunday, December 28, 2008

Beautiful New Day

"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose."
- Philippians 3:12
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I was thinking about this upcoming new year, and praying about how it would be different from the past year - from the past years. How do I break free of the things that have been holding me back? Can I really accomplish the things I believe God has called me to? Then I came across this verse in my devotions, "it is God who works in you..." We have to do our part. We have to seek God, we have to step out in faith, we have to walk in the light of God's word, but it is GOD who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. That focuses my new year. That tells me that if I want to accomplish more this year, I simply have to seek the LORD more. It's no longer about me, but about relationship with God and allowing Him to work.

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year is a t-shirt that says 'Winning is for the birds." It's a fan t-shirt for the Philadelphia Eagles that I had seen in the movie Invincible. It's a play on the saying that something is "for the birds", which has a negative connotation. The reason I love it is because it takes the saying and makes it positive. (Side note - I hope the Eagles make the playoffs or Superbowl this year so I can wear it.) It reminds me to look for the positive in things. No matter how I feel, I might have failed in the past, or not lived up to my own expectations in an area, I have to remember that tomorrow is a new day. If I don't live it, it won't be written. God has purpose and plans for us, He loves us, He wants us to fulfill the lives He has for us out there.

To quote an old song, life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long... I can't wait for tomorrow, and I'll live today in great expectation of it. God is working. He is moving. He is changing me, so tomorrow I'll be different, tomorrow I'll be more like Him, tomorrow is a beautiful new day full of what God has on this road I'm on. Not all of it is fun, some of it I just won't ever understand until I get to heaven, but I know God. I know He works all things for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. I will rest in Him. I will look forward to a beautiful new day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Life in the Waiting

"And we desire that each of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." -Hebrews 6:11-12

Sometimes it seems the things in our lives we believe God has called us to are never going to come. We keep waiting. We begin to question if we are really called. We begin to question whether we are on the right track, if we've veered off the road. We wait. We begin to question whether God will truly bring us to the place of fulfillment of the promise. Yet we continue to wait.

As I prepare for the Christmas season and reflect on God coming to Earth as man, it amazes me to think of the wonderful and awesome length that our Heavenly Father went to so that His promise would be fulfilled to restore us to relationship. Immanuel, God with us.

I think about the hundreds of years between the Old Testament and the coming of Christ, the waiting between the promise and the fulfillment. The people of God lived their entire lives waiting. If I had lived then, how would my life have developed? Would I have been sensitive to listen for the Lord and anticipate His coming, opening myself up to the waiting? Would I have wrapped myself in the letter of the law as the Pharisees and Sadducee's did, guarding myself from possible disappointment? Not truly living to the fullest in the waiting. Would I, like Simeon and Anna, serve the Lord with joy, waiting with anticipation for the promised One - ready to recognize the Christ?

"God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" -Numbers 23:19

As we wait to see the promises of God fulfilled in our lives, we have to remember that the One who has promised us is not a man. In the waiting I often find myself thinking of God and the things of God and associate human shortfalls with them. Is God mad at me because I didn't do something? Did I fall short? Don't little things make me mad at times and I withhold things from people? Then I'm reminded by the simplicity of His sweet Spirit that He's not a man that He should lie, that He is faithful to fulfill all that He has promised. As I wait, there is a journey. Even when things don't look like I thought they would, He is faithful in the journey that is waiting. Many times takes twists and turns we did not foresee, hills that contain illness, heartache, or waiting not knowing or understanding why.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful." -Hebrews 10:23

As I consider life in the waiting, I reflect on how I am living my life. I must live my life in the assurance that He is faithful. I must live my life in in the peace and full assurance of hope that He who promised is faithful. Most of all, I must live during the waiting, I must take the journey, no matter where it leads. The journey does have a guide, and all I have to do is follow. I will allow this Christmas season to remind me also of the lengths my Father will go to in fulfilling the things He has promised.
Prayer: Thank you for your faithfulness, thank you that you are faithful even when I am not. Father, thank you for the journey You have given me in life and that I can not only live it in Your peace, but share Your peace and love throughout the twists and turns. Thank you for the fullness of life I have in You! Father, I pray that you would increase my faith where it is weary. Holy Spirit, I ask that as I wait on You, that You would open my eyes every day to the faithfulness of God in my life. In Jesus mighty name, amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Created for Grace

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8

We were created for grace. However, I find the grace I extend to others is lacking throughout much of today's life. Yet, in the truest sense, our lives are born out of grace and meant to reflect the grace that we've been given. I'm amazed many times when I reflect on my day, how many times I was offered an opportunity to show grace, how many opportunities I remained silent in, or how many I reserved giving the grace that does not even need a reason to be deserved.

Grace, by definition, is a virtue coming from God, it is approval, favor, mercy, pardon, an act or instance of kindness. If more grace flowed in our lives, how would it change our relationships, our homes, our work environment, lessen our own level of stress? If it is a virtue coming from God, and we don't see grace evident in our lives, then we know where to get it, simply by spending time in God's presence.

Waves ebb and flow. They are a moving ridge or swell on the surface of a body of water. Grace flows like this many times in our lives, and we can usually reflect back and see that when we have spent more time with God, grace abounds much more in our lives than others. The ebb and flow of grace in our lives is so evident when we look at it in the light of our time spent with our Savior.

Waves of grace, I see them in my life and I enjoy riding them. I pray that my life reflects more and more of the grace of God, and that my consistency in extending that grace to others can effect their lives like an ocean wave that picks them up and gives them a ride all the way to their destination. Sometimes riding a wave can be unsettling, but the best way to do it is to allow the power and force of the wave to take you forward.

I'm writing this first blog at the beginning of December, a time we focus on celebrating the birth of Christ. John 1:14, 16 tells us that 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth...and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace." I say that this is a perfect time to reflect on the grace bestowed on us through our Savior, and to find His grace that flows in our lives - it is a time of giving gifts, let us make them gifts of grace.