Thursday, December 30, 2010

How Was Your Christmas?

People often ask around this time, "How was your Christmas?" 

Most reactions are: "Oh, we had a great time with our family." Or "It was great; I got a ___." 

Rarely if ever will you hear anyone respond, "Wow, I am more in awe of Jesus than ever!"

Supposedly we are celebrating Christ's birth. That is what most Christians will claim as their focus. Yet their response about how their Christmas was rarely mentions His name. And sadly, if they did, they would probably be viewed as "hyper-spiritual" or "holier-than-thou."

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" ~ I Peter 2:21

If Christ is "all and in all" (Colossians 3:11), and we claim to be His followers, would not His Birthday be all about Him? Would not every day of our lives become increasingly more about Him, rather than less about Him?

Here are some practical ways in which in this New Year, I want to endeavour to allow Him to be ALL. (And I would love for you to comment below on some practical ways He is leading you to allow Him to be ALL in your life too!)

1. Priorities.

I have to admit that many times my ministries at church take priority over my home (and thereby priority over my husband and family). God has been speaking to my heart about priorities; causing me to come to realize that better is not always His best. If I consistently have time to edit the bulletin, work on church flyers, facebook and email, etc., but my house is consistently neglected {ouch!}, my priorities are out of wack!

2. Patience.

The more I yield to the Spirit, the more I realize that I have no patience of my own. "In my own flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). I have noticed that when I find myself becoming impatient with a brother or sister, many times I can find within myself the very trait causing my impatience! For example, when I am impatient with someone because he is acting selfish, I can usually find selfishness in my own heart. 
"Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also hath received us to the glory of God" (Romans 15:7). 
When I am more aware of the vast amount of grace with which Christ received me and that He continues to accept me by grace, I can fully receive others by grace, without judgment. Knowing and realizing how much I have been forgiven makes me more patient with the next person.

3. Pleasantness. 

Who wants to be around a miserable person? Pleasantness comes from God through a grateful heart. 
All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. ~ Proverbs 15:15
When my focus is continually on my afflictions or the things I wish were different in my life, I cannot fully appreciate the good things with which God has blessed me.
Blessed be the Lord our God, which daily loadeth us with benefits. ~ Psalm 68:28
Daily loads of benefits are ours, and yet usually we complain to Him more than we praise Him! As a parent, does an ungrateful child make you want to give him more or less? Yet God, the perfect, loving Father, keeps loading us down with blessings, even as the complaints come out of our lips! His patience with us and love for us--though consequences to our actions remain--knows no bounds!

I know that I truly want my New Year to be increasingly about Him. These are my three areas of focus: my priorities, patience, and pleasantness (which comes directly from praise). What are yours?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Strange Phrase

Paul wrote in Romans, "I die daily." What a strange thing to say! How can one "die daily"? If you're dead, you're dead! You can't die again the next day! Of course, it's a metaphor. Paul was not speaking literally, but he was definitely speaking spiritually.

This passage came up when Psalm 116:15 caught my eye in a different way.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
In the past I always supposed that to be in reference to a martyr's death or the death of an old saint who had walked with God many years and was now called Home to Glory. However, when I read the next verse along with it, I saw it in a new light.
"O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds."
For me to be "truly God's servant," I must die to myself--my will, my desires--and surrender or yield to His Holy Spirit Who lives in me. When I do this (on a moment-by-moment basis), I am "dying daily," as the Apostle Paul said.

When I accepted Christ, "I yielded myself to His tender embrace, and faith taking hold of the Word..." as the old hymn says ("The Haven of Rest"). Then what happened? "My fetters fell off and I anchored my soul! The Haven of Rest is my Lord!" And look back at verse 16 again (Psalm 116):
"...thou hast loosed my bonds."
How did this happen? By my simply yielding to Him, to His Holy Spirit power that is already living in me. Not by my trying harder to be good or to do right. It is nothing about me! All I do is yield, and I am free! Look at verses 13-14 of Psalm 116:
"I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord" (first step: salvation). "I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all people" (next step, and every step on the way to Heaven: yielding to Him)!
The Psalmist repeats it again in verse 18:
"I will pay my vows..."
To die daily is to yield. To "pay my vows" is to yield to Him Who loves me unconditionally and has only my good in mind (Romans 8:28)! In this case, I'd be crazy not to lay down and die!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoughts from Psalm 71

My God is a continual resort (verse 3).
Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.
My mouth should speak continual praise (verse 6).
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
I can have a continual hope (verse 14).
But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.
I love God's Living Word!

Photo: Strasbourg, France, by Brian J. Nibbe
Related Posts with Thumbnails