The Best, No Fail, New Year’s Resolution

fullsizeoutput_2ac5Sometimes picking a New Year’s Resolution can be as difficult as keeping one.  There are so many good choices, it’s tough to narrow it down to only one.

Should I focus on eating better and exercising more?  Spending more quality time with my family?  Making a plan toward a financial or career goal?

Or maybe something more spiritual like:  reading the Bible through in a year?  Going on a mission trip?  Or volunteering at church or a favorite charity?

But what if I told you that there’s a resolution that you could make this year that would cover all of the ideas mentioned above?  Would you do it?  Consider this:  The one resolution that will help you eat better, exercise more, improve your family time, finances, career, Bible reading, missions, and ministry is the one recommended by Charles Spurgeon below.  Try it for a year and let God prove it to you…

“Our resolution this year must be: continue in prayer.” 

~ Charles Spurgeon

 

The Word Became Flesh…

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As we enter this Christmas season and ponder the meaning of the incarnation, the excerpt below from Philip Yancey’s, “The Jesus I Never Knew” may very well shed some light in your heart on the light of the world — God in flesh.

 

The Jesus I Never Knew

~ by Philip Yancey

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium.  Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task. . . You would think, in view of all the energy expended on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful.  Not so.  Every time my shadow loomed above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell.  They showed me one “emotion” only: fear. . .

To my fish I was deity.  I was too large for them, my actions too incomprehensible.  My acts of mercy they saw as cruelty; my attempts at healing they viewed as destruction.  To change their perceptions, I began to see, would require a form of incarnation.  I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby.  And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem.  The God who created matter took shape within it, as an artist might become a spot on a painting or a playwright a character within his own play.  God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history.  The Word became flesh.

“And 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.”

–John 1:14

 

Two Great Truths

crazystairs I’ve often heard that we are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or headed directly into one!  The words of wisdom below are from Chuck Swindoll and are a great reminder for any of those times when life is unfair and doesn’t make sense….

Chuck says, “I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective).  In my darkest hours these principles still become my anchor of stability, my only means of survival. Because they work for me, I pass them on to you.  Memorize them.  Write them on a card and carry it at all times.

  • Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing.  Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved.  We may not know why, but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives.
  • Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively.  Everything.  Since my Heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience.  It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider.  And God knows what will get through to us.

Things may not be logical or fair, but when God is directing the events of our lives, they are right.”

~ Taken from “Day by Day With Chuck Swindoll”…

“And now your Local on The 8s.”

Currently, we have snow on the ground in 48 of the 50 states, with more snow in the forecast for all 50 states in the next seven days.  (Yes, including Florida and Hawaii!)  Snow in all 50 states at the same time is a rare occurrence, and of course the forecast could change as it usually does, but the possibility of this happening definitely caught my attention.

This most recent snowfall caused me to pause and reflect on the snow that is blanketing our nation and the following passage from Isaiah:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earthmaking it bud and flourishso that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eaterso is My Word that goes forth from My mouth:  It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

~ Isaiah 55:10-11

When and if the snow passes through your state this week, meditate on this verse and why God chose this comparison of His Word with the snow and water cycle.  Then, consider the following…

  • Am I willing to slow down, take a spiritual “snow day”, and allow the Word of God (the written Word and the Living Word) to water and replenish my life as the rain and snow “water” and “replenish” the earth?
  • Is there an area of my life that is experiencing a season of winter and I have impatiently tried to hurry the changing of the season to spring?
  • Do I truly believe that God has the final word, or have I been expecting His word to “return empty”?
  • Many people do not realize the important part that snow plays in the world’s ecological cycle, protecting plants and helping to replenish the water supply.  Have I been equally unaware of the importance of the Word of God in my life?  Remember, a lack of snow in places that normally receive snow is NOT a good thing causing a domino effect in the world!
  • Without a “blanket” of snow to help insulate the soil during very cold temperatures, the root systems of trees and shrubs would become damaged as the soil begins to freeze deeper and deeper.  How has God’s “blanket of snow” in my life insulated and protected my “roots”?
  • Do I see the hope and the sovereignty of God in this verse that the falling snow in my life is not without purpose?

God’s Word WILL water our lives and any dilemma or situation that we bring to Him, causing it to “bring forth”, “sprout”, giving “seed to the sower” (for future harvests) and “bread to the eater” (for our needs now).  So all right then, let’s get ready for times of refreshing, put on our spiritual snow boots, and hit the slopes!

“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth…'” ~ Job 37:6

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Settle it on the Front End

I received a prayer request recently from a friend whose loved one needed prayer.  He was having difficulty believing that God could love him.  He felt that he was “too bad” and had “sinned too much”.  But Scripture tells us that God loves us and that He pursues us.  This can be a difficult concept for us to believe and understand when so much in our life is based on the conditional.  It can be especially difficult for those whose earthly father was not as loving as he should have been.

In Experiencing God, Dr. Henry Blackaby says, “The cross, the death of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection are God’s final, total, and complete expression that God loves you.   Never allow your heart to question God’s love.  Settle it on the front end of your desire to know Him and experience Him.  He loves you.  He created you for a love relationship.  He has been pursuing you in that love relationship.  Every encounter He has with you is an expression of His love for you.  God would cease to be God if He expressed Himself in any way other than perfect love!” 

Charles Spurgeon put it this way in his book, Morning and Evening:

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, 

  • it is not your hold of Christ that saves you–it is Christ; 
  • it is not your joy in Christ that saves you–it is Christ; 
  • it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; 

Therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.”  Keep your eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you awake in the morning look to Him; when you lie down at night look to Him.  Oh! let not your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail you.   “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness: I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.”