Monday, January 30, 2012

Jesus Gets Me---Part 1

Hello Again Friends! I hope you are all doing well.
As I have worked on this blog, God has worked on me. What was originally supposed to be a quick little post about how God understands the needs we have and the trials we go through has turned in to a 3-part “lesson”. As we begin I want to share that God is showing me that He TOTALLY “gets it” when I think “no one understands”.  Ready to dive in?
I Peter 1:6  6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
The year of 2012 has already brought some memorable events. Some events have been personal. Then there have been some that have affected my friends. Already events have occurred that are newsworthy. Whether they are on the local, state, national or international level.
Personally, I have been dealing with vertigo since just after the New Year. That has presented it’s own interesting set of challenges, such as not being able to drive, limited activity even at home and the inability to be in the music portion of church service, because the music causes my head to spin. How crazy is that?
As far as friends go, I’ve had one that has had surgery and is now spending 2 weeks flat on her back, while she heals. Another sweet friend, who happened to have been one of my bridesmaids, her precious daddy is in the hospital with pneumonia right now. Others have had babies or found out they will be having a new baby this year.
This year has also started out with some unusual things in the news. January was about half over when an Italian cruise ship hit rocks as it, reportedly, came too close to an island off Tuscany. Once it did, it began to sink and tilt. On the Dr. Phil show, I watched a husband and wife tell their story of escaping the ship with their 2 daughters, just a few days after the traumatic event. As the family struggled for their lives, their 3rd daughter was at home awaiting the news of her family’s fate. She had gotten married a week prior to the family trip and cruise, so she did not join them. When she finally spoke to them they were in a toy store on a small island, shaken but ok.
In addition, this winter’s weather has been strange. I read on Facebook where someone posted they were tired of the weather going from warm to cold to warm to cold and back to warm again in just a few days time. A few nights ago I sat perusing Facebook, which I hadn’t done in a while. I observed that a friend who lives near Nashville, TN wasn’t just in for a night of storms and tornado watches and warnings, but that the National Weather Service was actually calling the weather situation in the area a PDS, “Particularly Dangerous Situation”. Ok, I’ve lived in Oklahoma and Texas ALL my life (Tornado Alley) and NEVER heard of that!!! I’m thankful to tell you that as far as I have heard, all of my friends and family in that area are just fine. I know there were tornadoes in Alabama, but unless someone has failed to inform me, everyone I know is ok. Praise God!
I could go on and on and on about the things that are happening in people’s lives and in the world today. Some that are unusual and some that just happen to people all the time, but I’ll stop because I think you see my point. We never know what is going to happen to us, and when “surprises” do occur do you know how you will respond?
I have heard for years that Jesus understands everything we go through. Because He became a man, flesh and bone, He knows exactly what it is to be human. There is nothing we can go through that He can’t understand. Yet I was like so many people, I knew it with my head, by faith I believed it because of scripture, but I couldn’t seem to apply to me.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.(ESV)
Have you ever felt that way? Whether it be with this Biblical principal or others? You just can’t seem to wrap your head around it. Does Jesus really understand what it’s like when I feel like the whole world is against me? Does Jesus understand what it’s like to have to skip a meal for lack of money? Does He understand an aching back? Does He understand sadness?  Does He understand the need for friends and companionship?.....As long as those things do not come from or lead to sin, the answer is a resounding YES! YES! YES! JESUS UNDERSTANDS!!!
I don’t want to leave you hanging right here, so let me tell you one quick reason why I believe that is true.
I know that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. Because of those 2 facts, when he lived on this earth he lived, felt, and operated 100% as a man. With one major exception, He NEVER ONCE SINNED, because He was 100% God, deity, sovereign and holy!
That is why He knows us, because He is one of us!!!
Living in Grace,

Next time I will share part 2, Jesus’ Temptation in the wilderness, and how it touches every part of our human essence.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Go For Those Goals!!!

Can you believe it? January 2012 is already almost half over!!! How are those resolutions going? As you look back over 2011 I hope you can see changes in your life. Isn’t that why we make resolutions each year? We want to grow and better ourselves. 
Think about it, who were you 5 or 10 years ago? What was your personality? What did you know? Who were your friends? Have you changed since then? If you knew me one, five, ten, or even 20 years ago I hope that you see some sort of change in me.
Now I’m really not one for making New Years’ resolutions, but I am definitely one for setting goals. So this year I have taken a look at my life and decided that there are some things I really want to improve. I have asked God to help guide me to accomplish manageable goals in certain areas of my life where I need to improve. I am going to take each area one at a time. If I don’t I will find myself giving up, then what good does that do me?
I’d like to share a few things that I’ve learned about setting goals and making changes. Maybe these are some new concepts for you to consider. If you have already discovered these things, maybe they will help spur you on to your next goal. I just hope they give us all a renewed spirit about change. So here we go…
Human Nature Doesn’t Want Change--Genesis 6:5-8 5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (ESV)
The fall of man occurred in Genesis 3. In Genesis 6 only a few hundred years after the very creation of man God “regrets” making man! Think about that…
What does that tell you? It tells me 2 things-
& Man’s sinning was out of control--God saw that all the intentions of man were evil
& God absolutely HATES sin--so much so that he was willing to totally eliminate all mankind and start over with one godly man and his family

So if it were left up to us (our human nature) we would have evil, sinful intentions, not things that are for our good. Definitely not changes that are for our good and in line with what God sees as good for us. Conclusion, our human nature does not want to change for our good.
God Gives Us The Ability To Change--Acts 7:58-59 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Acts 9:17,20,21  17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? (ESV)
Paul is probably one of the best examples of change that I know of. He persecuted Christians worse than just about any one person I know of in the Bible. Stephen was the first martyr for Jesus’ sake and Paul was right there. Paul not only witnessed it but he approved of it as an employee of the government. However, when God got a hold of him and showed Paul who He really was, Paul became one of the most well known missionaries in Biblical times. He was personally responsible for thousands becoming saved and indirectly responsible for probably millions more.
So what does that say to you? It tells me that if God can do such a mighty change in Paul, He can change me, IF I WILL LET HIM! That is the key, I must be willing to let God change me. No matter what I want to change, weight, exercise habits, money habits, bible study, behavior with my family, etc., I have to let God work through me.
Change Can Be A Good Thing--John 3:16  16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
Only after accepting this verse as my own and turning my human nature’s wants and desires over to God, will I be able to become the person He wants me to be.
Sometimes I hear the word change and the only things I can think of are negative things, or the negative aspects of things.  Do you know what I mean?  For example: Moving…packing up boxes, setting up a new place,  Job Change…leaving what is comfortable, adjusting to new tasks, leaving friends,  Eating Better, Exercising…Leaving the familiar, doing something hard, having to work at being healthy. Just because those things seem negative at first doesn’t mean that they are. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices now for our greater good later.
If I _______________ now, I will be able to __________________ later.
Fill in the first blank with something that is hard to do but is a goal. Fill in the second blank with something you will gain from doing what is in the first blank. If I can look at it that way maybe it makes the journey a little easier and definitely worthwhile.
A week or so ago I was reading from some devotions I receive by email. They are from 3 ladies who call themselves Girlfriends in God. Mary Southerland wrote on this very subject and I thought I would borrow something from her that I thought was very useful and thought provoking. She said that when we make goals they need to be “S.M.A.R.T.”
SPECIFC-Start out with a general goal then break it into bite size pieces, so it doesn’t seem so daunting.
MEASURABLE-Make sure you have a way to tangibly track your progress. Instead of, I will be more involved with my children’s activities, say I will volunteer at my children’s school once a week.
ATTAINABLE-If you set your goals too high or too general you will give up. So set them where you can reach them, then readjust once they are reached. You may not be able to solve world hunger, but maybe you can solve hunger on your block.
REALISTIC-We must be honest with ourselves. “Can I & will I accomplish this goal?” Don’t set too many goals at once.
TIMELY-Sometimes we have to give ourselves a timetable in order to meet the goal or we won’t accomplish it. So if you need to, sit down with your calendar and set a deadline. Also look at those markers along the way to see how you do.
Here are the links to the 2 devotions that Mary Southerland did on goal setting if you would like to read them yourself.
I pray that the year ahead is filled with new accomplishments for us all!
Living in Grace,