Tag Archive | new

Something New

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

Lately, I’ve been struggling in the area of discipline. Well, truth be told, I’ve been struggling for a long, long time. Most people who know me would never know or probably believe this to be true. I get things done on time, I appear to be organized and I carry a lot of information around in my head.

Honestly though, I procrastinate. And when I procrastinate, I lose control of my schedule.

I recently took a personality test and one of the statements made about me in my results was that if I say I will do something, I will. People know that and they count on it. I had to laugh a little when I read it because in the sixth grade, when we went around the room and had to say something about ourselves that made us unique, this was the very thing I said about myself. “If I say I will do something, I will.”

The problem I find is that I’m the one I cheat when I procrastinate. Because I feel such a deep commitment to others, an accountability to follow through, I will easily let go of the things I know I should do and have even said to myself that I would do. I don’t feel the same accountability to myself that I do others.

And so I lack discipline. Complete discipline. True discipline.

And worse, I cheat God because sometimes those things I need to do for myself are things He wants me to do for myself. They are things that He wants me to do for Him simply because He says so. They are things that may make a difference somewhere else along the line. As I take time to invest in myself, I’m investing in my future with Him, becoming who He created me to be.

I tend to make decisions based on what’s easy in the moment, convenient for my “rushed” schedule, or seems to be too much work and could interfere with commitments to others. I hold myself more accountable to people than to God.

But what God has been showing me lately, offering me, is a new way of doing things.

A new way to see things.

A new way to make decisions.

A new way to live.

With Him.

In Him.

When God sent Jesus as a babe in the manger born of a virgin, He was doing something new. He was making a new way to Himself.

“’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:31-32a

And,

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

As well as,

(In Christ) “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore…” Ephesians 4:22-25a

Therefore.

We don’t simply add Jesus to our way of doing things. We stop doing what we did before we knew Him and we start doing what He shows us to do. We repent, change our thinking, and do what He moves us to do.

I think of life with Christ as more of “T” intersection than a fork in the road. There is a path you can clearly stay on, the one going straight ahead, or you can choose to go a whole new direction. You don’t veer one way or another; you intentionally choose a different path.

And you can’t take a little of this path and a little of that path and fudge your way. That doesn’t work. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried it and I don’t recommend it. It will drive you crazy, maybe literally.

But instead, there is a choice to make: Do I stay on the road I’m on or do I choose a new way?

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the paths of the world will intersect with your new path many, many times and each time, you will have to choose. Will you do what’s easy, convenient and expected or will you choose to be set apart in Christ, doing what’s hard, requiring effort and may even go against the grain of everyone around you? Will you give up what you’ve always done and who you’ve always said you were (who others say you are) and let Jesus renew, restore and redefine who you are in Him.

What new thing is God doing in your life? What new thing is God asking you to do in your relationship with Him? How might this new thing display a heart set on and committed to Him, to world that needs to know Him?

God remembered His people and did something new. Now, it’s your turn.

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

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Deny Yourself

© Depositphotos.com/ bst2012

© Depositphotos.com/
bst2012

“He (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Mark 8:34

We are currently in the season of Lent, the 40 day period of preparation leading up to Easter. People of faith give up all different types of foods and activities during this time period each year. Some choose things that are easy and won’t really be missed. Others choose things that will not only be missed, but will at times seem unbearable to go without. Either way, it’s a defined period of time and then we often go back to our old ways.

It’s good to change things up at times. It helps us draw closer to God in a different way so we can refocus on Jesus and our relationship with Him. I encourage you set aside time at Lent and other times of the year to refocus, rededicate, and remember that He is enough. His grace is sufficient.

But I do believe there is a difference between these occasional denials of self and the lifestyle of denial Jesus refers to. Here are three ways we can experience those differences.

  • It isn’t what you choose, it’s what He says.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15a, 17

Sometimes what we choose to give up is surface level and shallow behaviors or activities. We focus really hard on not doing these things and then are relieved when our time is up. But often, God wants to get to the stuff behind the behaviors and activities. He wants to go deeper and not just change what we do, but change our hearts so we do things differently choosing His will over our own.

  •  It isn’t for a limited time, it’s every day of your life.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We don’t acknowledge Jesus just to walk away going about our business. We stay. We remain in Him and continue to do the things He shows us to do. We will continually be challenged to give up the things we want, the way we react and respond, the way we think about and see others. Denial is a counter-cultural lifestyle change that continues and does not end.

  •  There is no going back to the old way. The old is gone, the new is here.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

In Christ, you are no longer the same person you were before knowing Him. When you go back to your old ways, you don’t deny yourself, you deny Him and why He came. You can’t follow Jesus and do things the old way. You may try for a while, but eventually, you will go your own way. You will no longer be following Him.

We are called to deny ourselves daily for the sake of the One who called us to Himself. His love is seen and experienced best when we allow ourselves to get out of His way. Choose today to deny yourself and acknowledge Him.

Something to Consider…

Do you want to follow Jesus, but are unsure of just what it means to deny yourself? As you spend time in His presence reading His Word, rely on the Holy Spirit to show you the things He wants you to get rid of from your life. He will help you move forward in a new way.

Do you know what God’s Word says and yet, you are doing what you want satisfying your own desires and ignoring what He says? God loves you and it’s in remaining in Him, doing what He says that you are able to follow and experience the benefits of His presence in your life. Choose to not just know what Jesus says, but deny yourself and do what He says.

It’s Saturday. Now what?

SCAN0104“It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands. Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, ‘Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death.'” Luke 23:54-24:6a (CEV)

What happened on Saturday?

None of the Gospels address the activities of the disciples on Saturday except to say it was the Sabbath and they rested. Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Messiah, the Christ, Son of God is dead. And we have no idea what they did except that they rested.

How? Why? Because God commanded it? Really?

He was supposed to redeem His people, conquer the enemy and set up a new kingdom. Peace is supposed to reign and justice prevail. Everything they had put their hope in was gone. And not just gone, but dead and gone. In the ground … dead, buried and gone. Behind a rock and sealed gone. What happened?

The unexpected happened.

We’ve all been there at some point at some time. Everything is moving forward, life is good, and your best laid plans are coming to fruition.

And then?

The unexpected.

Everything just … stops.

We do get a glimpse of what those who didn’t follow Jesus were doing.

“The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’ Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’ So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.”  Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

Those who wanted Jesus dead also wanted to make sure He stayed dead. The disciples rested and the religious leaders continued to plot.

We must each decide what to do when Saturday comes because you can’t get to Sunday without Saturday. You can’t have victory without a battle. You can’t overcome without being under; without being down-and-out. Your response on Saturday will depend on what you believe, who you follow and in what or who you put your hope.

Something to Consider…

It’s Friday: This is the day of preparation. Everything had been going well up to this point. How could things go so wrong? Are you doing what you need to today so you  can be ready for tomorrow? Are you prepared for the One who was, is and is to come? Friday’s happen. Turning points come. And as hard as it is to believe, Friday’s end and it may not be how you expect. Will you be ready? Jesus is available now to help you prepare for tomorrow.

It’s Saturday: The unexpected has come. You wake up and it’s still true. You can’t believe it. What now? What’s next? In this time of uncertainty, confusion, and pain – rest. Worship and praise your Father in heaven. He knows what has been and what will be. Trust Him now.

It’s Sunday: The sun has risen and so has our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A new day has come and Jesus has redeemed. He makes all things new bringing life and hope to our seemingly dead dreams. His light makes a shadow out of all that was before. Expect Sunday to come! Jesus is risen!

The Great Undo – It’s Done!

DSC06777“The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him.” Romans 3:22 (MSG)

This was my Facebook post the other day:

“I almost had a major freak out. Thankfully, I remembered the “undo” button before said freak out started. All is well in my world again.”

I am a database administrator for my church. One of my responsibilities includes running reports for our kids program. It all starts with one table in an Access database I created over the course of a couple of months. I download data from our main database, throw it in a table in Access and let queries and reports do their thing.

Whenever I run reports, I delete the old information from the table and replace it with the newest version of data. This time, I accidentally deleted the table, not just the data.

For anyone who isn’t a database junkie, you might not have any idea what I’m talking about and if you do, you may have no idea just how significant this was. A slip of the mouse on the wrong “X” and I could’ve been in for some major work.

Then I remembered the “undo” button. Would it work? Sometimes certain functions are not able to be undone. Would I get my entire table back and have my database running smoothly with a simple click of a button?

This time the answer was a major “YES”! Thank you, God that this program was forgiving of my mistake.

There are days when I would like, no LOVE a big undo button for my life:

“Oops, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“I wish I hadn’t done that.”
“Can I write my life in pencil so it’s easier to erase the mistakes?”

But life happens and it’s messy. There are scribbles, doodles, distractions and big time mistakes all over the pages of my life. And while I can’t undo what I’ve said or done, I can recognize the mistakes and apologize. I can choose to learn from it and desire for it to be different, be intentional about it being different next time. And the next time, and the next time, and the next time…

What I’ve learned is that we actually do have an “undo” button, but it’s not one where we simply say, “oops”, click a button and get on with whatever we were doing.

Jesus Christ has provided a way to make things right. On the cross, it was finished; it was done…or undone depending on how you look at it.

We’ve made a mess of our lives, of our relationship with God and each other. But in Jesus, we have a way to make it right again. He is sitting at the crossroads asking, “Do you want it to be made right?” We have a choice, an option to do it different.

That is the question we have to ask ourselves. Do we want our relationship with God and others made right? It is not always an easy answer because even though He makes it possible, it does require us to move forward in this new way. We cannot do what we’ve always done and expect it to be right. We have to be willing to go and do the things He says will make it right.

And while others may not believe or accept our apologies even when we know Jesus, we can be certain that through Jesus our relationship with God is completely restored. We can know that He is the Father, Brother, or Friend who will never leave us and the Authority who will never harm us. He is always available and always willing to comfort. He will always speak truth to our hearts even when it’s hard to hear. He makes everything wrong right again.

“Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them – Jews and Gentiles) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24 (MSG)

Something to Consider…

Has your heart been hard toward God, toward Jesus? He wants good things for you. He has good things for you. These things require your participation. Ask Him to help you accept and receive the truth of His goodness. He will make things right.

While relationships between people require two hearts to be open to each other in order to be reconciled, what can you do to be open and make things right? Maybe you’ve done everything you can but still no results. Be patient and be ready with an open and willing heart. God’s timing is perfect.

Cleansed Once and For All

???????????????????????????????“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:2, 7 (NLT)

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take on a minor makeover. The bathroom our daughters shared was in need of some repair. Moisture had condensed in the ceiling fan vent and dripped through damaging the ceiling. We had it repaired, but the new paint caused the old paint to peel making it look like there were upside down meringue whips covering half of the ceiling. At one point, water had run over the edge of the tub causing the paint to peel near the baseboard. In addition, the bathroom décor was not as appropriate for my daughters who were now young ladies and no longer little girls. A good cleaning, repairing and decorating were in order.

We took a long weekend to thoroughly clean the room, remove any cracked and broken materials, repair damaged spots, paint the entire room ceiling to floor and finally bring in new décor. It looked like an entirely different room when we were finished!

Both of our daughters were out-of-town during this process. One came home and was thrilled at how nice it looked. She noticed just how clean it was compared to when she left and decided she didn’t want to let it to get dirty again. In her resolve, she now cleans regularly. She treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s funny how once something gets dirty it’s so easy to let it stay dirty. The work we put into cleaning it just won’t last so we don’t waste our time.

Thank God, Jesus sees us differently.

When Jesus comes to us, we are a mess. He sees not just the shallow, maybe deep layer of dirt that covers us, but He sees beneath the surface. He sees the cracked and broken places in our hearts, the damaged material we’ve become. Some of it’s out of neglect, some has been caused by others, but either way, He knows we need a makeover.

And He doesn’t just point out our need; He takes on the project Himself. He will do the work we so desperately need in our lives.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

I love that the very first thing He does is cleanse us from our sin – the filth and grime we sit in day after day. At times it’s so easy to believe we will never change, so we don’t. But Jesus changes us immediately when He thoroughly cleanses us of all unrighteousness.

Next, He gets to the nitty-gritty of the specific repairs of which we are in need. I wish it could all be taken care of in a long weekend, but it will be an ongoing process of repair and maintenance. Sometimes it will be painful as He strips and peels away the things that seem safe and feel comfortable, but are really hurting us as well as others.

The interesting thing about a Jesus makeover is that He is able to make complete what is not yet complete.

He doesn’t wait for all the work to be done before He gives us our new décor. We receive that as soon as we say, “Yes” to His invitation of a new life. We are a completely new person right off the bat even though the work continues.

So how do we keep ourselves “clean” while He is still repairing and working on our broken parts?

We choose to seek Him out daily asking Him to show us and clean us of anything not of Him. We refuse to go back to old habits, behaviors and attitudes with which He has already dealt. We allow Him to continue His work knowing all we need to do is be in agreement with Him.

In Him, we are free to respond in His righteousness to the world around us. We are cleansed and given a new identity, one many won’t recognize. Will you treat yourself with the care you deserve? Will you respond to His loving care for you?

Something to Consider…

Do you believe you are really a new creation with a new identity in Christ? Accept His forgiveness and be willing to see yourself through His eyes.

In what ways are you in need of a cleaning? Acknowledge them to Jesus. He is faithful to cleanse and repair you from top to bottom.

Do you have a difficult time maintaining the work He has already done? Remember, He doesn’t leave or give up; He is always there continuing His work in your life. Follow His lead knowing He and you are worth the effort.

Practice and Experience Change

Butterfly“Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:9 (The Message)

I’ve been co-leading a morning women’s group with a friend and have been thinking about some of our first lessons and topics of discussion. I’ve found it can be so easy to read, talk about and consider various verses that are meant to help us understand what God really wants for us. We are to put into practice all we have learned, seen, heard and come to understand. But I wonder, do we really or rarely apply them to our lives?

Our very first discussion was on Philippians 4:8 and what we think about. We recently talked about self-control, one of the traits of the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control is the turning to God in all situations and decisions. It is the giving up of our excuses, justifications and blame games and allowing Him to lead us knowing He is in control of everything.

So when we who have the Holy Spirit living inside us say we can’t stop thinking about something that is troublesome or worrisome, ugly, evil or hateful, we choose to rely on ourselves rather than God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us make the change.

My oldest daughter has a friend who had said some very mean and ugly things to her. She accused her and condemned her based on information from a third-party.

My daughter is relationship oriented. She loves friendships! Always has. As a toddler, nothing made her more excited than seeing a friend outside playing and knowing she was able to go out and join the fun. A friend constituted anyone her same size! Sleepovers, play dates and outings were her source of enjoyment. As a teenager, she didn’t have as many friends, but she was very loyal and mindful of all her friends.

So when this particular friend decided to act out on what she heard rather than talking to her and expressing her concern, I was quite upset and put out. I wanted to lash out at this girl…and her mother. I replayed over and over in my mind the messages my daughter had received and all the things I could say or do in response. I was consumed for a time with very angry and bitter thoughts. It carried over into conversations affecting the tone I used with others. As I realized how this was hindering my joy and relationships, I knew my thoughts needed to change.

Philippians 4:8 came to mind and I realized that nothing going through my mind was lovely, excellent or praiseworthy. It may or may not be true, but I didn’t even know the whole story at that point and was making judgments based on partial information just as this friend had done to my daughter. That wasn’t just or noble.

I began to thank God for the relationship I have with my daughter and that she chose to talk with me about the problem. I prayed the truth would be revealed and her reputation restored. I praised God who can heal any wound and reconcile any relationship. My thoughts changed and so did my heart.

While there were still problems and issues to work through, eventually this friendship was restored. There was understanding, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This is the ultimate goal in everything we believe about our loving Father in heaven. We come to know and understand the truth of who He is, what He did, why He did it and just how much He loves us. We acknowledge our part in the problem with a desire to turn from our old ways. We accept His forgiveness and move forward with God confident in our restored and reconciled relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

We can choose to set our minds on the things of this world or on the Creator of this world. We can concentrate on the problem or trust in the One who knows the solution. We can sit in our bitterness and resentment or we can allow God to replace it with His love and kindness. We can call out every issue we have with every person or we can be grateful that God, who is always right and just in His actions, did not hold our mistakes, or even our intentional disobedience against us.

Something to consider…

Do you have a heaviness of heart? Do you replay your troubles over and over in your mind? What thoughts do you need to replace with His truth and righteousness? He can lighten your load and change your thoughts.

Do you have deep wounds from broken relationships? Does it feel like there is just no way anything good can come of it? Jesus can change your thinking, change your perspective and give you hope that changes your heart.

Resolutions

Garden Path and Gate“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 (NIV)

I’m looking forward to what this new year will bring and what new resolutions I will be making. I so often feel like I don’t accomplish my resolutions and I wondered how I had done on those I had made this past year.

As I looked back at two of my posts transitioning from 2011 to 2012, I realized I had really only made two resolutions. One was about getting rid of the old. This included old stuff as well as old attitudes. The other was to be resolved to know Christ more.

They are both hard to measure. Have I ever really reached the end of getting rid of bad attitudes? Somehow they creep back and settle on in. I continue to accumulate stuff so at some point it will all be old as well. When do I know I know Christ more? There will never be an end to what there is to know so how do I move forward in what I do know trusting even in what I don’t?

As I type this blog, my youngest daughter is cleaning out her room. For anyone who knows her, she is organized, responsible, and diligent. What they don’t see is her room: the one place she doesn’t care to care about. Her comment today about the amount of stuff in her room, on the floor and taking up space was, “If I have a bed to collapse on, I’m good!”

Unfortunately, I care about the state of her room so over the school break she is dusting, vacuuming and reorganizing which includes going through every piece of clothing and memorabilia she has. In the process of just doing it, she has found “the zone” and is ready to get rid of anything and everything taking up space without a purpose.

It’s fabulous! I’m grinning from ear to ear!

As we have drawn closer to the end of the year, I realize that there are many attitudes and behaviors I want to be rid of. It isn’t that there is no purpose in the attitude, the purpose just isn’t a good one.

Did I fall short of past my resolution? Did I not really care about this resolution? I have over this past year felt irritated, judgmental, critical, prideful, and unloving. I have said things I shouldn’t have and not said things I should. I have left things undone and done too many things I wish I wouldn’t have. I did not clean out the closets, clean up my house or put myself through an extreme makeover.

But, I did grow closer to God and have come to know Christ more. I backed off a bit on blogging but did write a new Bible study which taught me about the resolution of Jesus.

He had one mission: to reconcile the world to God. In order to accomplish this, He had to be resolved to follow every leading of His Father. Jesus was resolved.

I also realize that the only way I can truly be resolved to shed the old is to know Jesus more.

“Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (GW)

He is the “zone” I need to be in so that I can let go of the old. If I want my old attitude to be made new, I need to be in Christ. I won’t be perfect, but He will continue to work in me. My willingness to be resolved begins with my willingness to abide and stay close to Jesus.

That is my first resolution for this year, to abide in Christ.

Something to Consider…

Resolutions are not just wishes we hope will come true. They are decisions we make based on a firm purpose and determination. We know it matters even if we don’t always know why it matters. We choose to do, not just wish.

Be resolved to abide in Christ. What does this mean in your life? What does it look like? What can you do to draw near to God knowing He will draw near to you?

Be resolved to follow His leading in your life. Every decision results in an action; even inaction is a choice. Because you are abiding, you will be able to better recognize when God shows you an area of your life that He wants to make new. Decide to do what He says and follow His lead.