Archives

A Work in Progress

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6

© Depositphotos/weerapat

© Depositphotos/weerapat

In Christ, I am a new creation. In Christ, you are a new creation.

And yet, we are still a work in progress.

Perfection is still some time off. The attitude or mentality of perfectionism says I must get it right. I must be fully capable before attempting because otherwise, I will mess it up. I’ll make a mistake. When we think we need to “get it right”, we often try to do this in our own power. When we miss the mark, we condemn ourselves and think this is how God must see us as well.

But we can and need to give ourselves permission to be a work in progress. As Philippians 1 says, the good work being done in us is a result of the power of Christ. God has drawn us toward Himself. He has deposited the Holy Spirit within us so we can know Him more and rely on His power within us.

God knows the healing that needs to take place in your life, in your heart. He knows the habitual patters of how you think, act and respond. God knows what needs to change in you so that you can be transformed into the new creation He  has already created you to be.

You may realize over time that some things are just different about you. You didn’t think much about it, but you see things or do things in a new way. Things you used to do have lost their appeal, while you are drawn to other things, other people, places and activities. Maybe you respond to situations with a new sense of peace or clarity.

There are also thoughts, attitudes and desires that God brings to your attention. He reveals issues and conditions of your heart that need to change. Knowing what God has shown you, with the knowledge and understanding of what He says about it, you now have the opportunity to do it differently going forward. God’s revelation is not a condemnation. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance of old ways and helps us choose to follow His new ways.

As a new creation, you have everything you need to live a life pleasing to God. Be patient with yourself as you trust Jesus to bring forth what He has already planted in your heart.

Something to Consider…

In what ways has God already made you a new creation? How has your thinking, attitude or desires changed since coming into a relationship with His Son, Jesus? Spend some time praising and thanking God for what He has already done.

How is God doing a work in you? In what new ways would you like to experience His work in your life? Be honest with God about what you know needs to change. He already knows and wants to help you make these changes.

As He reveals areas of your life where He wants you to follow His way rather than your own, choose to cooperate with His Spirit and be obedient to what you know He’s calling you to do.

Advertisements

Slow to Anger, Rich in Love

“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

I’ve been reading and re-reading this verse and others like it this past week. It doesn’t seem to be an overly complex verse and yet it is so deep, so loving and so profound. I am not always slow to anger. It is who I want to be, yet I am continually challenged.

Anger comes from a feeling of injury and is often accompanied by a desire to seek revenge. We have been wronged and we need to be right. Even in my “pet peeves”, I want the other person to feel my pain (irritation, frustration and inconvenience might be more accurate) because then they will understand and stop doing what bothers me. I want them to care about me.

When the Bible talks about God being slow to anger, it is often accompanied by other traits such as compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness, and ready to forgive. God is slow to anger because of who He is, not because of who we are, what we’ve done or what we deserve. God is not slow to anger because He wants us to care about Him, but because He cares about us.

Of course, God does want us to care, He does long for us to love Him and be in relationship with Him; but who He is does not depend on who we are.

God is compassionate – He offers empathy and understanding. Jesus lived this life and understands every trial, temptation and trouble that comes our way.

God is gracious – He is kind, merciful and generous. God knows our weaknesses. Our situations, circumstances and choices change when we rely on Him rather than on ourselves; when we receive the Grace He so generously gives.

God is love – He abounds in love. God so loved that He gave His one and only Son. Love sums up everything He does and says. When we do what He does and say what He says, His love fills us to overflowing.

God is faithful– He is believable, trustworthy and reliable. He never leads us astray and His promises are always true. Being slow to anger does not mean there are no consequences for our actions. His warnings are as true as His promises.

God is ready to forgive – He waits for us to come to Him. He has provided a way that cannot be changed, challenged or revoked.

God is slow to anger – He is patient with each of us wanting none to perish. Out of His love and faithfulness, compassion and grace, He has made a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to Him.

Something to Consider…

God could make us prove ourselves worthy, trying to climb the ladder to get to Him. He could be angry every time we miss the mark. Instead, He lets us stop, admit our failings, and meet Him at the foot of the cross.

As you consider God’s compassionate, gracious, loving, faithful and forgiving character, which of these traits do you want to understand and exhibit more in your own life? How can your patience with others grow and deepen your relationship with God?

Ask Him to show you how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you when you are slow to anger and rich in His love.

To Forgive AND Forget

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

There are times when people say things and I wonder what they were thinking. Did I hear them correctly? Were they joking or serious? They have just offended me and they have no clue. And then, I wonder if they care. Maybe they’ll blow it off saying it’s just a joke and I’m too serious anyway.

The truth is sometimes people do say things and they have no idea that it bothers us. They don’t understand our past hurts, habits or experiences, and they don’t need to. They didn’t mean to upset us and yet we think they now owe us big time for hurting us so badly. We react quickly and forcefully; sometimes directly and other times behind their back.  We vent to someone else or to the world through social media.

It’s also true that sometimes people push our buttons on purpose. Do you know anyone who likes to argue? There is something about the battle of words that they relish. Proverbs is full of words that describe people who like to “stir up conflict”. Words such as perverse, harsh, greedy, mocker, and hot-tempered all describe people who intentionally cause conflict.

There are also descriptions of those who have the opposite demeanor. Words like love, gentle, patient, and wise all describe the person who guards his tongue while he settles and calms disputes. In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says to be kind and tender-hearted with each other. When we are patient, we can step back from the situation and be objective. Does this person know my past? Do they have any reason to hurt me? What did they really mean?

And then we are to forgive.

Sometimes we may need to talk to the person about the incident, but often the issue dies out when we let it go. Our reaction to others words can intensify the conflict or calm a quarrel. If we decide to keep the issue going, we should realize that we may then fall into the “stir up conflict” category and that is not God’s way.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

To forgive is to forget. Forgiving is not the same as reconciling and it’s not the same as trusting. But forgiving is freedom. If you say you forgive and don’t forget, you remember and replay the incident in your own mind and it keeps you a prisoner to pain and anger.

Jesus Christ died for you. If you’ve put your trust in Him, God does not continue to remind you of who you use to be. He doesn’t go around with a check list waiting for you mess up again. God forgives and forgets your sins. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He’s removed our transgressions from us.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life – at home, work or school, who continues to offend you? Seek God’s wisdom in how to handle your words and actions in order to defuse the situation.

Is there someone you bear a grudge against and won’t forgive? Jesus came to set the captives free. Don’t choose to be a prisoner. Allow God to heal your heart and your hurt. Forgive as He has forgiven.

Wait Quietly

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25 (NIV)

There was a day when Jesus had not yet come. God had promised a Messiah. So much time had passed but still He wasn’t here. All people could do was look ahead and believe the promise was real. Too often though, people looked away from the promise and started doing their own thing.

What do you do when you wait? Do you start to get impatient, frustrated, or angry? Think you need to start making things happen or they never will? Do you tell everyone else how unfair it is that you aren’t getting what you want? I know sometimes I just want to vent, let it out to anyone who will listen. What I really want is to know there is someone else who understands and cares.

God’s Word says it’s good to wait quietly. Is there anything more important in this world than where you will be for all eternity? If we are to wait quietly on the Lord for this, for what else should we be quietly waiting?

To wait is to rest in expectation and patience for a certain outcome or event. At the same time, observing and taking notice in order to be ready to act or serve in obedience. If what we are waiting for does not line up with or serve the Lord’s purpose, we need to be willing to reconsider the desired outcome. When waiting, at some point we will be called to action.

To be quiet is to be peaceable and content, not giving reason for offense or exciting controversy, disorder or trouble. When we are quiet, our emotions do not get the best of us. We have security in the fact that God understands and cares for us.

We often think waiting means inactivity and quiet means silent. We feel stuck, unable to do or say anything. But that is not the case. The truth is we move forward doing and speaking while seeking God’s way, not our own. When an opportunity presents itself, we step into it with the full security that our God is with us.

Have you been running full steam ahead without seeing the results you desire? Does your mouth seem to get you in trouble more often than not? When you feel like you can’t stop, that may be exactly what you need to do.

Something to Consider…

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

God already has a plan in mind for you. His plans are better than any plan we can even fathom. Do you feel like you are at a standstill with your own plans, not getting anywhere and tired of trying? God knows and cares. Decide to wait quietly on the Lord. Let Him show you His plans. Spend some time quietly waiting on God, listening to what He has to say. Choose to be ready, willing and able to move forward in obedience being confident He is with you.