One of the themes in the bible that I find so encouraging is the theme of time. In some instances, such as David's rise to the throne, God seems to move agonizingly slow. In other instances, as in the healing of the man blind since birth, God heals in an instant*.
David spent years working through God's promise while he waited for the crown that had been promised to him - with no date of delivery. The blind man had spent a lifetime working through the reality that had been his since birth, the only life he knew, with no promise of anything better. Yet he continued on anyway, and then hearing that Jesus could perform miracles - called out for help!
In this journey towards improvement, each of us are striving towards different goals. The road to our crown, the road to our sight, is different. Some of us have been working this out our whole lives, some of us have just recently realized that Jesus can offer us hope and healing and wellness.
Faith is the key ingredient to grace-inspired goal setting. Faith is choosing to believe in the 'not yet', taking small actions that support our belief in God's promises. Faith is holding on, even when those small actions seem to have little effect on the larger whole.
My absolute favorite verse in the bible is this: "Listen! God's Word! The famine is over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful..." It is a promise that what is now will not always be. Whatever your goals, this promise is for you!
In the case of the story behind this bible verse (you can read it in 2 Kings 5 - 7) help came overnight. In other situations, God may require a long road of obedience from you. But we can hold on to God's promise that He is working in and through us to create the health needed to do the work He's called us to do. All in HIS time.
The temptation is to grasp control and demand that God give us a completion date. Perhaps you're like me - I can stay strong and focused if I know there is an end in sight. But that requires little faith and even less discipline.
Remember, while you are improving your life (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical), God looks even further preparing us for heaven! A lifetime isn't long enough for us to meet our ultimate goal of becoming like Jesus. Our Father will continue to work in our hearts and help us grow far past what we can even imagine. So don't give up, beware short timetables and unrealistic expectations, cling to your faith in God's goodness and promises, and settle into the truth that God has a plan for your life! Some goals may be met in a month, others may come 'this time tomorrow', still others may take a lifetime - keep your eyes on Jesus and your feet on the path. It takes the time that it takes!
TODAY'S BIBLE READINGS
We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
Romans 5: 7-8 MSG
Elisha said, “Listen! God’s word! The famine’s over. This time tomorrow food will be plentiful—a handful of meal for a shekel; two handfuls of grain for a shekel. The market at the city gate will be buzzing.”
2 Kings 7:1 MSG
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.
Hebrews 11:13 MSG
Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Hebrews 12:2 MSG
Grace-inspired goal setting diverges from the self-improvement/self-help theories and practices right about the time change gets difficult to sustain.
Some people have focus and determination and strength - and self-improvement is enjoyable. But for many people who are making changes while also recovering from food addictions, emotional stress, years of sedentary living, or mental or physical trauma, making positive changes takes energy and drive they simply do not possess.
Grace & Goals was written for THOSE people. The ones who feel powerless, and tired, and discouraged and weary. Grace-inspired goal setting recognizes that in ourselves we can't make these goals happen. We recognize that our day must begin with the prayer, "Jesus, I can't do this today by myself. Would you please give me your grace so I can make decisions and choices that will support the goals I have set? Thank you! "
If you haven't been praying each morning for help, there is still time.
Today, spend some time thinking about what you are asking for healing FROM. What did your previous choices produce or create? What is it that needs to be healed and helped?
Remembering what you are coming from can help inspire you to continue on, and if you feel especially weary or discouraged today, take a few minutes to pray and remember how far you've come.
Then praise! Thank God for the grace to change, thank Him for the work he's done in your life! Celebrate!
TODAY'S BIBLE READING
When we were still powerless, Christ died for us. (NIV)
He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready - He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready...(MSG)
...this trouble (discomfort, change-process) you're in isn't punishment, it's training. Embrace God's training so we can truly live. It's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gifts in order to satisfy short-term appetites.
Hebrews 12:4-17 (selected exerpts)
I am life an olive tree flourishing in the house of God, I trust God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
Psalm 52:8-19 NIV (selected exerpts)
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.
Luke 1:37 MSG
"No more sugar! No more junk food!"
"I'm going to exercise for an hour every day and lose this weight!"
"I'm going to work on this project every day until it's done!"
The challenge with 'rule-setting' is that almost immediately, we begin to slide.
Our sweet tooth, a real physiological addiction, is stronger than our desire to stop eating it. Cravings overwhelm us. Eventually we cave and the cycle of unrealistic expectations, rule-setting, failure, shame, guilt, and self-recrimination starts anew.
Our zero to sixty all-in exercise routine most often results in sprains, strains, pain, and injury - and then we're on the couch, icing our bruised body, and our rule-setting cycle fails us again.
We hit the project with 200% energy, ready to tackle and subdue - only to exhaust ourselves and begin making excuses to avoid working on it in favor of rest. But our rule-setting leaves us feeling depleted and discouraged.
Grace-inspired goals are different. Grace flows into us, a gift from God that fuels our Holy-Spirit-inspired desires to improve and become more like Jesus. Discipline and a willingness to change develop in us, we commit to listening and following.
Here's the difference:
"I need to cut back on my sugar. I'm going to start limiting myself to two servings of treats a day for a month, and the next month I'm going to replace one treat with fruit."
"My junk food is out of control! I'm going to buy the snack sizes and limit myself to two a day for a month. The next month I'm going to do some research and taste-testing, and start experimenting with healthier options I can by or make here at home."
"My body is so out of shape! I'm going to start by walking for 15 minutes 4 days a week for a month, and then see how I feel. If my body is ready, I'll move it to 20 minutes, 5 days a week the next month."
"That project is just so BIG - I'm going to break it down into smaller goals and work on one goal a month. It may take me a few months, but eventually I'll get it done!"
Grace-inspired goals are encouraging, realistic, and energizing. We need God's help and strength as we develop the muscles of discipline, humility, and willingness, but grace-inspired goals are never coupled with condemnation or guilt. They may be a bit scary, but never overwhelming!
If a goal doesn't seem to be working, the Grace-inspired response looks like:
1. Pray and ask for God help and guidance,
2. Adjust our goal or our schedule, and/or
3. Change our pace to protect us from feeling overwhelmed.
During this month's goal-setting, I had decided to switch things up a bit from my initial three goals. While my intentions were good, one of the goals became a rule. Rather than give myself the broad goal: increase my fiber each day, I set a rule: eat two specific foods, specific amounts, every day. It was a great lesson for me that rule-setting leads to burn out and failure. How wonderful that I have enough experience through grace-inspired goal setting to understand why I was struggling. It was easy enough to adjust my goals so that they reflected grace, and the end-result will be the same, but the process will be life-giving, not discouraging.
As you head into the second half of our 30-day challenge, take a look at your list. Do you have a list of rules, or a list of goals? Did you provide yourself with enough time to build your muscles of discipline and willingness to change, or did you come out of the gate so fast that now you're struggling?
Today's the day to evaluate and readjust if necessary, or continue to pray for grace as we head into the home stretch!
TODAY'S BIBLE READINGS
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG
[in their wickedness] ... they will devour but still be hungry... they will eat but not be satisfied....
Isaiah 9:20 MSG
(This verse is an important reminder that in ourselves, in our pride and focus on will-power, nothing we do will ever be enough to meet the ultimate goal of being satisfied and 'full' - only a relationship with Jesus and our willingness to accept our dependence on God will do that! )
...if any kind of rule-keeping had power to create life in us, we would have certainly gotten it by this time.
Galatians 3:22 MSG
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV
...we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready.
Romans 5:5b-6a MSG
A few days ago, a member in our 3 for 30 Goal Setting Challenge group mentioned the difficulty they were experiencing on the weekends. Routine is a goal-setter's friend, providing the structure that encourages and supports. Weekdays are full of routine, but weekends typically lack that structure.
A few days after that comment, my own life turned upside down. Erratic sleep patterns coupled with pain and discomfort completely disrupted my life schedule. For two days, none of my weekend coping mechanisms worked. As my routine disintegrated, my goals slipped away one after the other. By the end of the second day, I was a bundle of nerves and tears. The best thing I could do was ask a friend to pray for me and head to bed.
My friend, on occasion life simply unravels. Sometimes our best response is to simply roll with it, knowing that a new day is on its way and we can pick up again where we left off.
On those days, a few things are helpful:
Remember that "His mercies are new every morning..." - each day we can begin again, with a fresh outlook. Life isn't always going to cooperate with our goals and plans. Rolling with it and claiming fresh mercy each morning develops that 'passionate patience' we will need later on in our journey!
TODAY'S BIBLE READING
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. His mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him.
Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.
I John 3:18-24 MSG
We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-5 MSG
I host a group of women here at my house on Wednesday mornings. Which means each Tuesday, I spend some time sweeping up the dog hair, vacuuming the pizza crumbs, wiping the toothpaste out of the bathroom sink, and setting a clean tablecloth on my kitchen table. And as much as I detest housework, there's something so calming and exhalation-worthy of a clean house, a neat kitchen, the smell of fabuloso in the bathroom, and a candle burning in the living room. My house isn't a pig sty, but each week I set aside time to straighten up, to give my friends a place of peace and calm. Years ago, I learned a phrase - visual noise - and how it negatively affects our minds and bodies. So I take the time each week to renew my house and share the gift of peace and visual calm.
So goes the work of this lifelong journey, adventure, of building a life and a heart of discipline, and health; taking regular time to ensure that our bodies - our lives - reflect the One living inside of us. Recognizing the correlation between our bodily renewal, discipline, health, and focus, and our salvation - spiritual resurrection, release, renewal - both here and in eternity.
The bottom line is that once we accept Jesus as our savior, we are saved. That's it. There is nothing more for us to do. That's when Grace goes to work.
After that, it becomes a process of believing our salvation, accepting our new life, allowing grace to help us set aside old habits and reactions that do not reflect our renewed soul or the One who we now call 'Master'. That process is what the bible refers to as 'working out your salvation'. Not that anything more must be accomplished, rather, now we are allowing God's grace to work in our lives so that we reflect His Spirit that now dwells in us, giving space to allow Jesus to be seen in our actions, words, and thoughts.
This is a perfect picture of our journey in goal setting - a process of acknowledging that our lives require improvement and allowing grace to develop discipline in us. Working past the temptation of self-driven good intentions and willpower to thanking Him for being right there with us, filling us with grace so that He can 'work in us to will and act'. Just as we allow Him to work out our salvation in us, we also must invite Him into our process of goal setting and life improvements!
How many times have you started the diet, the exercise plan, the bible study, the new routine only to fall away in exhaustion weeks or months later? God does not want us to do these things in our power - it's completely insufficient for the work He has for us to do. He has provided us with all the resources we need to continue to 'become', to continue to grow and stretch and fulfill His purpose for us. It would be like me using a maid service each Tuesday, instead of cleaning the house myself - He has all the tools and resources and energy, and we simply need to open the door and invite Him in!
Grace fuels our goals. We are 'working out' this new life thanks to God's focused energy working in us. We can trust and rely on God's movement in us, helping us through grace to meet our goals, to make better choices, to reflect the love and peace and calm of Jesus.
TODAY'S BIBLE READING
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us - set us right with Him, make us fit for Him - we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He's has already thrown open His door to us.
We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
Romans 5:1-2 MSG
"Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give Him the most pleasure."
Philippians 2:12 MSG
"...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose."
Philippians 2:12 NIV
"I'm going to start acting and behaving as though I am already fit and trim!" I firmly announced to my husband.
It was the week before my fourth month-long challenge, and I was fighting discouragement and frustration. Taunting me, the scale refused to move. My food choices hovered at 60%, well below the 85% I had set for myself. Afraid of failure and slipping, I had set my goals with cautious optimism, keeping the bar low, but I still struggled to meet even those goals.
A favorite author of mine had once said that she prayed for wholeness, and when it didn't come, she asked God why - His answer was that she was still thinking like a sick person, and that He could heal her one day, and the next day she'd think/act herself right back into sickness.*
Phew. That's deep!
But here I was, in a similar boat. I understood what she was experiencing. My thoughts reflected an overweight, depressed, discouraged, middle-aged woman who barely believed that she would ever be strong and fit and active and healthy. Even as I exercised and read my bible and cooked my plant-based foods, I dreamt of sleeping in, eating white toast and sausage gravy for breakfast, sitting on the couch for hours reading and eating popcorn, and riding a slow horse leisurely through a quiet forest.
Comfort. I was lamenting comfort and ease and a life of ease!
As I was praying about our devotional today, I realized that my mind-shift needs to include a different hero! I've been focusing on re-becoming who I used to be at 32 - slim, trim, sassy, and hopeful. Rather, I need to be focusing on me at 58 (ten years from now**) - trim, strong, brave, energetic, bold, trusting. My Father moving me past hopeful - thinking like someone who doesn't know what is ahead and hoping God will see me through; to TRUSTING - thinking like a woman who has walked with God side by side through fire, and built a life of grit and discipline and determination and joy as a recipient of GRACE!
Week two of our challenges tends to be the most difficult - week one is full of hopefulness and initial ambition. Week two is where we begin to develop grit and perseverance and discipline. If this week is difficult for you, please don't respond with self-recrimination, discouragement and frustration - it's tempting to go there! Instead, objectively reflect on what you are struggling with. Ask yourself what needs to be adjusted: your goal, your schedule, your attitude, or your beliefs.
If you are in an accountability group, this is the week where it is critical that you dig in, choose transparent authenticity and vulnerability, and allow your group to help you along.
And remember. He has brought you to this place so that you can grow. Your struggles don't turn him off. This is part of your spiritual adventure, and God will redeem every minute of your struggle! "God, who got you started on the spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of His Son and our master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that."
TODAY'S BIBLE READING
Abraham [Insert your name] was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him [him/her] right.
It's not just Abraham, it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we EMBRACE and BELIEVE the One who brought Jesus to LIFE when conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us RIGHT with God.
Romans 4:7-9 MSG (emphasis mine)
All through these difficult days I keep hoping, waiting for the final change - resurrection. [I will wait for my release, renewal to come. - NIV] Homesick with longing for the creation You made You'll call [to me] and I'll answer! You'll watch over every step I take, but you won't keep track of my missteps. My offenses [sins] will be stuffed in a sack and thrown into the sea - sunk in a deep ocean.
Job 14:14b-17 MSG
Just think - you don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the finale. And not only that, but God Himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus.
God, who got you started on the spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of His Son and our master, Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.
1 Corinthians 1:7-9
* thoughts from author Susie Larson
** concept from actor/author Mathew McConaughey
The scale has barely moved. By the end of my third month-long challenge, the scale is ominously consistent, neither caring nor appreciating the weeks and months, I've struggled through meeting my goals.
My walking partner sees a different story. She reminds me almost every time we go out that my stamina has improved, my muscles are stronger, my stride is longer, my pace is a bit faster. My clothes also tell a different story: jeans that were too tight months ago are now falling down my hips, my robe wraps a bit tighter, and my yoga pants slide on a bit easier.
I've started keeping a food log, and I can tell you that the reason that scale isn't moving is because my food choices aren't quite as dedicated as my walking. I don't condemn myself for this, I simply recognize that until my food reflects the same dedication as my walking, the scale is going to stay right where it is. That's what learning and limits looks like.
Learning to consider the value of what I eat and limiting those foods that do not contribute to my ultimate goal - a trim body - is as important as moving more and walking with purpose.
God uses our goal-setting process to teach us lessons we'll need as His children - namely that He accomplishes His best through us as we develop discipline, and much of that includes changing how we view 'I want' and 'I need'. Learning, limits, trusting, committing, continuing - small choices and changes remaking our minds, hearts, and bodies to put us in the place He has for us, the place where the next purpose unfolds and the next stage of growth begins.
Our life in Jesus is one continuous journey to holiness - to becoming like Him - and as we absorb and apply lessons of limits and consistency we will slowly begin to see positive changes. So as you reflect back on this first week,. celebrate your successes, note where you can improve, pray for God's grace, trust His promises, and create a plan that reflects what you've learned as you recommit to limits that will get you to your ultimate goal.
TODAY'S BIBLE READINGS
God gave David His word, He won't back out of His promise:
One of your sons I will set on your throne;
if your sons stay true to my covenant
and learn to live the way I teach them,
their sons will continue the line - always a son to sit on your throne.
Psalm 132:11-12 MSG
We're sticking to the limits of what God has set for us.
What we're hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you'll play a part within our expanding work. And we'll all still be within the limits God sets.
2 Corinthians 10: 13b, 16 MSG
He (Abraham) didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what He had said.
Grace & Goals Day 4 of 30
Hanging inside my kitchen cupboards is a photo that tells a story of what God will do when I let Him blaze the trail and hold onto His hand. It's actually three photos, side by side, each one representing about 3 months. I've talked about that journey in my book, The Whole Foods Plant Based Handbook, now I want to share with you what happens next.
Do you remember the story in the bible where Peter got out of the boat and literally walked on water to get to Jesus? Then, he looked away. Eyes down, he began to watch his feet and the water underneath them. He sank.
So, there I was, about ten months into walking on water with Jesus (figuratively), and I started to look down. I felt compelled to share my story and the recipes that the Holy Spirit had inspired me to create to improve my health. Yet, as I compiled the book, doubt crept in. Who was I to try and tell my story - wasn't this premature? There were so many other voices in the plant-based space - who did I think I was?
My gaze went from the goals God had given me - writing, cooking, eating natural whole plant foods - to timelines, doubts, fears, pressure. All self-imposed. None of them were rooted in truth.
I took my eye off of what God had said (and shown!) He would do, and I focused on what I was afraid I couldn't or shouldn't do.
Gritting my teeth (my power, not His) I finished the book and pushed it out the door.
Two years later, I believe God has more for this part of my story. I'm still uncovering the layers of lies and doubts that keep me from writing with focus. I continue to experience God's gentle hand as He brings my eyes back to Jesus and the water on which He wants me to walk.
Friend, God has water for you to walk on. He has plans that require you to keep your eyes on Him, centering your trust on what He says He will do. If you keep slipping under the waves, continue to cry out and start over. He's infinitely patient. We can pray for each other - that we will be given the Jesus-perspective needed to complete the work God has for us to do.
TODAY'S BIBLE VERSES:
Stalwart walks in step with God; their path blazed by God, they are happy. If they stumble, they are not down for long; God has a grip on their hand.
Keep your eye on the healthy soul, scrutinize the straight life; there's a future in strenuous wholeness...
Psalm 37: 23-24; 37-38a MSG
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. don't shuffle along, eyes on the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that's where the action is. See things from His perspective.
Colossions 3:1-2 MSG
...God made something out of Abraham when he was nobody... because he dared trust God to do what only God could do: ...with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said He would do.
Selected sections from Romans 4: 17-18 MSG.
Grace & Goals Day 3 of 30
Before the pandemic I had been going strong on a life-changing way of eating. It had brought me relief from some health conditions as well as a healthy drop in my weight, better sleeping, and less inflammation. Over time though, I experienced a struggle in the time and effort and focus it required.
Instead of praying and asking for grace, I faltered, made excuses, and slid back into occasional old ways of eating. Then the pandemic hit. Within a few weeks, I slid even further. I went from the occasional old way of eating, to the occasional new way of eating. My weight ballooned, my pain increased, old health concerns began to pop up. I experienced feelings of shame and depression, my health issues gradually returned, my weight increased, and inflammation raged pain through my body.
After seven months, I had a 'come to Jesus' moment. In the span of a week, God sent multiple conversations and devotional messages centered around the concept of discipline. It was time to tackle some old wounds and strongholds and allow God to work in my heart to reclaim my health.
Fast forward four months.
Discipline fueled by grace is what has kept me coming back to healthy choices when I don't want to, don't feel like it, and aren't motivated. I am constantly learning, surrendering, choosing obedience over self-gratification, making bad choices and asking for forgiveness, and starting over. Success comes slowly, hindered by my stubbornness, and continues only because I am not trying to meet my goals on my own. God has made me a promise, that if I follow Him, He will do that hard work in me, for me. He will change my heart, my mind, my desires, my focus - my job is simply to trust Him, to ask for His grace, to accept that I cannot accomplish my goals without His intervention: one long lesson in humility.
Today's reading in Daniel is the response of a king who believed he was a god, that he was in charge, in control, and could rule by himself for himself. If you have a chance, go read Daniel chapter 4. It's a pointed reminder of God's response to those who insist on relying on themselves.
Setting goals to improve our lives is an admirable task - there's nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, disciplined, improved. However, warning lights appear when we attempt changes on our own, without accepting that God is the source of all good things. Refusing to acknowledge God and ask for His grace and help is a road straight to failure.
If you haven't taken the time to ask God what His thoughts are on your goals, to ask for direction, wisdom, strength, and grace - I would encourage you to do that today. Our improved life lies over the horizon of God's promise and "the fulfillment of God's promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way, then simply embracing God and what He does."
Whatever goals you have set are secondary to our main purpose of being in relationship with our Father, accepting that we need help and grace, asking for direction, trusting His promise, and looking to His power for the changes in our hearts and life.
Today's Bible Readings:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel and advise you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8 NIV
...praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.
That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed.
If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect.
But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and His way [...the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace... NIV] , and then simply embracing Him and what He does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift.
Romans 4: 13-16 MSG
Grace & Goals, Day 2 of 30
Today's Readings: Romans 4: 4-11; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Hebrews 4:14-16
But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust Him to do it - you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked - well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God.
Romans 4:4-5 The Message
Brilliant sun streaming through the windows, sunglasses in place, I slip the truck into gear, eagerly awaiting the engine's deep rumble, and jostle of the truck-suspension.
I press my foot onto the accelerator a bit harder and while the rumble increases, the truck doesn't move. Dang it! I've only shifted into neutral. Red-faced, I slip it one more gear and off I go.
Weeks one and two of any habit change can feel a bit like that. Foot on the accelerator, we're ready to rumble, pumped for the results and the feeling of satisfaction, yet we can't seem to get out of neutral. Our choices, while maybe a bit better, aren't on par with our dreams yet. It seems that accepting grace and allowing it to work in our lives can be a process, not a magic moment.
In the beginning of your challenge, use your notebook to track EVERY win. Every good choice. In our house, we love a good list - with boxes to check off. Checking off goals broken down into smaller pieces will feed that need to experience progress and movement. Each time you make a positive choice - thank God for His grace and the Holy Spirit's blessing. Each time you find yourself back in old habits, say yesterday's prayer over yourself, and read through today's verses again. Change in our hearts and habits is the result of grace given by God. Healing and release from unhealthy behaviors and choices comes from God. Freedom comes from the Spirit of the Lord.
"...the job is too big for you, something only God can do..."
Before you try to tackle your day today, take your foot off the accelerator and spend time with your Father, receive the mercy He offers, take Him up on His offer of grace and help. Naturally then, you'll shift into the forward movement you desire.
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)