As I stare out the window at yet another sunset, I realize that time is of the essence and my goals may not necessarily be aligned with God’s plans for me this coming year.
Have I grown in grace over these twelve-months? Am I wiser, more prudent, grateful, and more giving than I have previously been? Does my son know more about Jesus than last year? Does being a Mrs. bring a term of endearment? Am I more of a servant than a taker? How does my life magnify Christ; more importantly, does God delight in my ways? What will I do with my life that will not just influence those around me, but will help build a foundation for our son and for the next generation of women?
I have made mention of the sabotaging effect that chaos in our lives can bring and how we should deal with one area at a time. This is good advice! Our Pastor referred to this principle in our church service on Sunday evening. Hearing such great guidance will never wear thin with me. I need to be reminded of how practically we can approach different areas in our lives and how overcoming is achievable for anyone. It’s never too late to begin something and NOW is a good time to formulate a predilection in our list of priorities for 2009.
Every day I am reminded of how weak my flesh is. I rise in the morning and purpose myself to apply discipline in that which concerns me the most and what I decide on becomes the object of my focused attention; by 3pm I feel defeat and disgust – I fail regularly!
Present duties are trials of character; God gives the talents that He may test and see who is worthy of a trust. According to Matthew 25:21, we’re to be improving all the time! God promises that as we overcome areas in our life and as we apply diligence to our duties, He will move us on to higher ground – that’s translated as quantity and quality!
Observe here, that it is God's talents that encompass the ten talents. The fruitfulness of our work depends on what we do with what God has given us. He rewards faithful service and He delights in a job well done! “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant:”
How often do I experience “the joy of the Lord?” How do we define “the joy of the Lord?” This simply means calmness with the Controller – that being God. “…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” The fruit of our thankful (grateful) and transparent (truthful) lives, is a resignation to God’s control of every area in our lives – good and bad!
Are you ready for this truth? What we accomplish reflects how we feel about God – ouch!
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
My character is refined by God’s character; if I don’t apply this verse to my daily life I am destined to fail in my daily endeavors. What we place at the top of our list of values; the principle undertaking that drives us will determine the course for our lives. If we set our compass on God’s Word, He will give us structure, clarity, purpose, and direction. Holiness is the only way to happiness!
As I continued reading Matthew 25, contrasting the good and faithful servant with the slothful servant; “His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:” (Matthew 25:26) – I was personally convicted!
Before I embrace the good substance for the marathon I will run in 2009, I need a kick in the pants. I acknowledge that I have been a time waster and I now bow my head – “Dear God, I realize I have wasted so much of your time this year with self-gratification – Please forgive me?”
Because I’m aware of my weakness (self-gratification) “…thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:” - I have no further excuses other than disobedience.
Any success in 2009 will be determined by understanding the root cause of our weaknesses and the permanency that comes in a purpose driven life with God at the helm. What lies at the core of my ability to overcome areas that I have had little victory in thus far, will be a key factor in my future accomplishments! Preparing for the race involves a truthful look at self with a purpose to move on from that pivoting point. Reflecting on our past weaknesses will only benefit us if we have our motives in check. In other words, I acknowledge I have a pride problem; because I am truthful about myself to myself, I will now allow God to give me the strength and character to be daily attentive to my weakness, to be prepared for the pitfalls, and to work on overcoming my pride in 2009. It’s all about Him, for I have proven I am unable to master my pride.
It’s not always so defined; for some women overcoming appears in various indescribable forms. You may live with long-term illness, a difficult marriage, various disabilities, long-term financial hardship, or the wounds of a traumatic life; for such women, I throw you the life raft – God is in control, and you will see the fruitfulness of your efforts as God guides, strengthens, brings clarity, and does what He does best – love you unconditionally!
As I reflect on how to encourage myself at the closing of 2008 and how I can be an encourager to other women, I thought of a delightful trio – Grateful, Truthful, Fruitful.
A 2009 Precursor
- Don’t beat yourself up for the deficiencies in your accomplishment this past year!
- Feeling overwhelmed at what lays ahead is ineffectual. Take a day at a time, and choose one thing for now!
1. Start - Gratitude
2. Run - Truthful
3. Finish - Fruitful
Start - Gratitude
Most recently, one of my dearest friends made a statement; “I have so many areas that need my attention. I don’t know where to start!” Whilst I wanted to reach out and encourage her heart, I waited on the Lord and how He would respond to this reasonable and familiar statement. Most of us would be able to identify with being overwhelmed at the to-do list for 2009. But for the most part, it may not be as simple as placing a tick next to what you do and moving onto the next thing on your list.
The “overcoming factor” lies at the root of most of our underachievement (or lack of success).
By shifting our focus on the unconstructiveness in our lives we allow God to have a positive influence over our ‘lack of enthusiasm.’ He will plant the solution seeds and will give direction throughout the course of our lives. Ask God to direct your steps into 2009 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 27:23
To a large extent, we don’t do all we can with what we have – that’s the path of least resistance that paves our very nature. Being aware of our DNA is half the battle.
It is only God who can open our eyes to what concerns Him the most, and what preference He has for our 2009 goals. He has already made clear what areas I need to work on first, and I have set my sails for the landmark, and am working hard at staying focused and being diligent in my pursuits. After all, my success rate is now based on how I feel about God – ouch again!
There is more to my life and the areas I need to overcome, but I’m settled with one for now and doing all I can to facilitate changes in that single area.
It is my experience that if you go into the race prepared you have a better chance of finishing the race. How do I prepare myself? I acknowledge the goodness and greatness of God!
What am I grateful for?
- My Salvation – I am 100% sure that if God were to end my life here on earth today, I would go to be with Him. My faith has found a resting place and I know where I’m going when I die -there are no if’s or maybe’s. I’m so very grateful for my salvation. If you don’t have that settled, don’t leave it another day. There is a link at the top of this blog “How Can I Be Sure?” Click on this and press ‘Play ‘– you can know today!
- My Marriage – I am so grateful for my husband; he is my rock, my hero, and my knight in shining armor. Without the stability of my husband I would not be half the woman I am today. He is the closest thing to Christ I know and his daily testimony outshines mine. He is a God reflector!
- My Children – Indescribable joy in my life! My girls are my angels and my son is the little man around my home that fills my days with sugar, and spice, and all things nice. He is a miracle and he possesses an irresistible charm. I could drink him with my coffee every day! (my girlfriend Sarah gave me that saying)
- My Preacher – He is so wise and so smart. When I sit in church, I feel the Shepherd surrounding me.
- My Health – Praise God for my body which fairs well for 50. I can’t imagine running after a 5-year old with anything less – thank you God!
- His Provision – Just today, the clouds were parted and the heavens poured forth His goodness. I have lost count of how many times He has brought us to the edge, only to reveal His splendor and His awesome ability to provide under pressure – in His timing.
By writing a list of all that I’m grateful for, I free my mind to move onto the next phase of this successful race;
Run - Truthful
The wisest advice I can give you before you place your feet at the mark of any 2009 race, is to get real about yourself and your life. I don’t mean to let it all hang out; don’t throw your pearls out there and don’t get ugly about your circumstances. I speak of a transparency between YOU and GOD! The moment I acknowledged my pride for what it really was, and stopped coating it with an acceptable and palatable description; when I got real and acknowledged that the root cause of so many other unfulfilled goals in 2008 was my pride; I fell on my face and asked God to forgive me. That truth will give you a head-start into your New Year. It may be an undisciplined appetite or perhaps a tendency to gossip – you know what it is and more importantly, God knows!
Get real about your sin! Our sin nature is inherited and sabotages our ability to overcome ANY area in our lives. Carrying chaos around places a greater weight not a lighter load for our goal obtaining. Why should we have any success rate if we maintain a besetting sin? How could we hope for a successful 2009 if we continue doing what we’ve always done? I read this statement once; “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always have!"
So how can I change my pride problem? First I must acknowledge my pride to God. Next, I will research every Bible verse on pride and finally, I lift my yoke of pride and place it on the yoke of God’s grace. The first step in overcoming anything in our lives is to acknowledge we have an issue. I truly believe pride lies at the heart of all our problems! After we acknowledge our weakness, we must allow God to purge us. This is a process, but you will make progress if you proceed in God’s way.
Finish - Fruitful
Get ready for the finish and the reward of comfort; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
1. God has to come first in our day. When our toes hit the floor – it’s all about Him! What do I formulate as the object of my supreme choice and pursuit? Seeking Him first is placing Him before and above anything else! We must make our Bible reading and prayer first in importance. Everything else must give way before its demands. He must be first in our affections; we must love the Lord our God with our whole hearts (Matthew 22:37).
A Christian faith and obedience lead to worldly richness (not necessarily riches). This is proved by countless instances which are multiplied with each succeeding day. I am not merely stating that you’ll be rolling in dough; what I can guarantee is this Scriptural promise; “all these things shall be added unto you.” This may be described as the fruit of our obedience.
2. The fruit of our faithfulness and our diligence in the Christian life is that all manner of needs will be taken care of. “…enter thou into the joy of thy lord” once again – the ‘Controller’ of our lives! In Greek “shall be added” - is our increase.
3. Being fruitful makes you smarter! When we are fruitful we increase in the knowledge of God. “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Colossians 1:10
How do we walk worthy of the Lord and to please him; by endeavoring to become better acquainted with his true character? God is pleased with those who desire to understand what He is; what He does; what He purposes; what He commands. Hence, He not only commands us to study his works, "The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." (Psalm 111:2), but He has made a world entirely beautiful as to invite us to contemplate His perfections as reflected in this world.
All good beings desire that others should understand their character, and God delights in those who are sincerely desirous of knowing what He is, and who inquire with humility and reverence into His counsels and His will. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8
We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honor God, and do well - this is bearing fruit! The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and humors that require to be taken away; which Christ has promised to forward the sanctification of believers, and we will be thankful for them.
The Word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that Word as it works grace and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good and the more our Lord is glorified.
To be fruitful in 2009 we must abide in Christ, and must have union with Him by faith. It is the great concern of all Christ's disciples to be constant in our dependence upon Him and our spiritual union with Him. True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop.
Let us seek to live more simply on the fullness of Christ and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work in the New Year - so may our joy in Him and in His salvation be full.
Our Formula 1 for 2009 is set;
- Start - Grateful
- Run - Truthful
- Finish - Fruitful
I Love You,