Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Less Grumbling, More Joy!

"Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!" Hebrews 12:28-29 MSG

God has blessed me with two wonderful sons. Peter is 14 and Joey is 11. We are not overly rich as far as finances go--but God makes sure that our needs are covered. So, there are times that the boys will ask for something that is really out of our budget. And even though I would love to be able to get it for them, I have to tell them that we just cannot afford it at this time. And then at times, that causes them to grumble. "So and so, they are able to get it." "It would be so cool to have it."

While these grumblings don't happen all the time, when they do, I feel led to remind them that while we may not have the funds to be able to buy material things, we have the things that truly matter--a solid, God-fearing family, parents who love each other & them, a warm, secure home, faithful and grounded friends and a good home church. These things are not to be taken for granted. These things some kids would give up all their toys and material things for.

So, when I read this passage, I can relate with my Heavenly Father. I know how when my children grumble to me or about me, how I feel. How much more intense is it when I do the same with my Heavenly Father? This is the Father that created Heaven & earth for me. This is the Father that sacrificed His only and beloved Son for me--just so I would have a Bridge that covered my sin in order that I would be able to be with Him forever.

Please, let's remember that we need to have a grateful heart. We need to keep our focus on Him and His desires for us. We need to keep Him as the one and only Desire of our heart. That is the only way that we will ever have complete peace in our life.

Your Heavenly Father has blessed you with so much and He loves you more that you can and will ever be able to comprehend. Let go of the grumblings! Seriously, life is too short! Does it make you feel better when you grumble? Does it produce anything that is positive? No. It only leads to more dissatisfaction. More unhappiness with your life and your situation. Live daily, moment by moment with a grateful heart and spirit.

How do you keep yourself from those grumbling moments that we all experience from time to time? How do you keep a grateful heart? By having daily talks with your Father. By spending time in His word. By Spending time in His presence--daily.

Cultivate a thankful heart, for this glorifies Him and fills you with joy--His joy!

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!" Philippians 4:4 MSG

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Walk

"Peter turned and saw the follower Jesus loved very much walking behind them. (This was the follower who had leaned against Jesus at the supper and said, 'Lord, who is it that will hand you over?') When Peter saw him behind them, he asked Jesus,'Lord, what about him?'

Jesus answered, 'Maybe I want him to live until I come. That should not matter to you. You follow me!'”
John 21:20-22 ERV

This conversation was between the apostle Peter and Jesus. It was in fact the last conversation that he and Jesus had in the book of John.

What I found interesting was that--like today--there was that comparing one thing against another issue going on. That even though Peter was one of Jesus' closest companions, he was still comparing his walk with his friend, John's. Was it jealousy? Was it insecurity? A little of both? After all, he had just denied Jesus three times to the those in the high priest's courtyard. But Jesus had also just entrusted Peter with "His lambs".

How did Jesus handle this? Jesus rebuked him by basically saying, you don't need to worry about John's walk with Me. You need to only worry about your own. You take care of your walk, your relationship with Me. John's and Mine relationship is between us.

How many times do we do that? How many times do we compare our walk with those we observe around us? We see someone that looks like they have it all together with their Master and then we look at ourselves and think, "Wow, I wish that my walk was like that person's". Or it could go the opposite. You observe someone that looks as though they have messed up everything and you think, "I'm so glad that I'm not in that person's shoes. They are really messed up." And in reality, they are not.

I think that there is a double-edged sword to this "keeping up with the Jones" in the spiritual walk category. On one hand, it can inspire you to go the distance. To check and make sure that you are where you should be. It could be used to challenge you. But the down side is that we tend to think that if our walk doesn't seem as secure as the other person's, that ours didn't take. That we have been abandoned by our Heavenly Father. That there is something wrong with us and we haven't made the grade.

Nothing could be farthest from the truth! Our Heavenly Father has a very special walk that is just between you and Him. It is like no other. So, no, you can't and shouldn't compare your walk with anyone else's. For yours is one of a kind. The treasure of a lifetime. You are unique and so is your walk.

So, yes, be constantly making sure that you are in His will. Be looking for ways to be closer to Him and bringing your walk closer. But also, be able to recognize and embrace your uniqueness and the uniqueness of your walk with the Lord.

How do we do that? Get into the Word and prayer. Quiet times with Him in prayer and word daily are more valuable as time go on. As the world gets crazier, those quiet times get more and more precious. My advice--don't slack on them.

Our God is an AWESOME God!

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day."

Psalm 139:13-14 MSG

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Joy Gift

"You are sad now. I will see you again and then your hearts will be full of joy. No one can take your joy from you." John 16:22 NLV

Dear brothers and sisters, have you ever been there? You wake up, your day is going just fine, you're humming along, things feel good and then all of a sudden, something or someone does something and BAM--the joy that you had been enjoying all morning long is suddenly not so joyful--in fact, depending on what happened or what state of mind you are in--the whole joy feeling is just plain gone.

Well, sometimes I do let that happen. And I get so upset with myself because I don't want to let someone or something have that much control over me. I know where my joy comes from and I shouldn't let anything or anyone take it away from me and neither should you. That joy gift--that is from our Father and only He should be the one that has the power to take it away if He wants to do that--which of course--He wouldn't. He's not that kind of Father.

So, I just wanted to encourage those of us that are going through this, don't give up! Don't get down on yourself for allowing this to happen. I do. But then I have a special godly sister that reminds me that it took me a long time to learn how to let others or life circumstances steal that joy, it'll take a little time to unlearn that trait and replace it with God's strength, grace and wisdom.

Ah, the joy gift is so valuable. Let's protect and treasure it with prayer and His words from His Book.

"'I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. In the world you will have much trouble. But take hope! I have power over the world!'”
John 16:33 NLV