Along the lines of yesterday's devotional, I wanted to share a quote from one of my favorite Christian writers, Eugene Peterson.
"The aim of people of faith isn't to be as comfortable as possible but to live as fully as possible. You will be in Babylon (out in the world) for a long time. You had better make the best of it. Don't just survive, thrive. The only place you have to be human is where you are right now.
The only opportunity you have to live by faith is in the circumstances you're experiencing this very day - in this house you live in, in this family you find yourself in, and in this job you've been given to do."
God's encouragement for today:
'I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen.' Jeremiah 29:11-12 MSG
Have a blessed day!
God is all about the everyday. Not everyone will be a missionary, a pastor, a church-worker or a worship leader. The majority of us will live the everyday life as bankers, real estate agents, farmers, teachers, mill workers, truck drivers, childcare workers, mechanics, cooks...
We are ALL important in our everyday life to God's plan for the salvation of the world.
God wants to encourage you today that your job matters. He does not want you to see Sundays as the only day that means something to his plans.
Even if you never utter the name of Jesus in your workplace, your attitude, spirit and the joy and peace of Jesus will speak his name.
As you move into Monday, and a new work week, I encourage you to be asking God to use you in the midst of your everyday.
A few verses to meditate on:
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 - Paul describing how he and Silas and Timothy preached by also worked regular 'day jobs' as well.
Philippians 2:12-16 - Living cheerfully, as an example of what life in Jesus looks like.
Romans 12: 1-2 - Your everyday life is an offering to God.
Last night, Trey learned the lesson that it's not always about him (gasp!). At three, it's a lesson that will take some time to sink in.
Sometimes, I feel like a three year old, still learning the lesson that it's not all about me. There are others with hurts, joys, pain and celebrations. One of the most significant blessings I believe we can share (and therefore receive) is the gift of caring for another. Making their life the center of our attention for a period of time.
It's the best way to think past our own selves, our own egos, our own circumstances. Is there someone in your sphere that you can connect with? Can you enlarge your sphere to include someone who has a need?
"If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor:
Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.
Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.
Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage.
Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Philippians 2:1-4 MSG
Having trouble sleeping? Wrestling with some difficult life circumstances? Besides giving you bags under your eyes, that insomnia is pointing you to a very important truth: Do you really trust God?
Take a look at Psalm 4 today. I love the way The Message phrases some very simple, yet deep, truths.
The author of the Psalm makes the connection between our discontent, wanting something other than that God is providing, and our lack of joy, our lack of rest.
"Why is everyone hungry for more? 'More, more,' they say. 'More, more...'
I have God's more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees." vs 6-7
Did sleep elude you last night? Could you spend your day today thanking God for his 'more-than-enough'? Focus on the joy in this 'ordinary' day? You might sleep better tonight:
"At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together."vs 8
Forgiveness frees our hearts to care, to breathe, to relax and to make mistakes.
Jesus tells us to forgive those who hurt us - this includes ourselves. Will you give yourself the gift of forgiveness? You may need to start with yourself, then move on to your spouse, your parents, your children and your church.
The very choice to forgive (and you may have to make it numerous times pe...r day) brings with it the heart-sensation of standing on a mountain top, feeling a fresh breeze on your face, and realizing you can see for forever...
"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 4:31-32
December is that time of year when we're inundated with the message of 'Joy to the World'.
This weekend I sat in a small New England church, listening to a message about joy. In the midst of the message, I had a personal epiphany.
The speaker reminded me first that the joy of the the Lord can change the atmosphere of my sphere of influence. This is a solid, comforting thought. Who doesn't want to see their home, their relationships, their work, their neighborhood infused with the bright light of joy?
As the speaker continued on, I realized that I didn't truly understand the nature, the definition of joy. Jesus promises that we will be 'full of joy' (Jn 16:23 MSG).
Full of what, I asked?
I'm not saying I'm right. But this what I heard as I meditated on the meaning of joy:
Joy is the result of understanding what Jesus has revealed, approaching each moment with our focus on Jesus, all requests and actions being filtered through what we understand Jesus' truth to be. Joy is not happiness. Joy is complete understanding and acceptance of Jesus' will for my life: to become like him.
Complete and full joy is the result of a clear understanding of Jesus' truth.
I think that when Jesus says that no one will be able to steal our joy, when we read verses like Nehemiah that tell us: “...the joy of the Lord is your strength...” (Neh 8:10), we wonder how God can expect us to be happy all the time. We wonder what we're doing wrong when we don't feel 'joyful'.
I think sometimes we confuse joy and happiness.
To clarify, I believe that joy is not a 'feeling'. Joy is a choice.
Joy is delving into the very nature of Jesus. Reading, studying and meditating on his life.
“When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions.” ~Jesus in John 16:23 MSG
The joy Jesus speaks of is the unshakable understanding and acceptance that we were created solely to be in relationship with God himself.
Jesus' coming to earth provides us with the missing link needed to experience that relationship with God.
'Joy to the world, the Lord has come.'
Joy is in our midst, manifest in the opening of our heart-eyes to the revelation of our deepest purpose – to become like Jesus and be in relationship with God.
My prayer for you this advent season is that you will experience true joy – the depth of belief and clarity of God's true purpose for your life.
Print a copy of this devotional by selecting the link below:
I am at my kitchen table and the morning sun is breaking through the trees spreading bright light. A cup of coffee, a nourishing breakfast, my journal, devotional book and bible are scattered around me. A sentence in my devotional catches my attention:
"Rest in silence and tranquility."
Before I have finished reading the sentence, loud laughter comes out of the living room where Trey is watching Milo & Otis for the 150th time. I look up in time to see him sneaking a cupcake off of the counter, my "Not right now" drowned out by the pounding of his feet as he runs back into the living room.
Earlier, I was up at 3AM by his request for milk.
Then his 6AM cry for a foot rub.
My coffee is preceded by a dash outside to feed and water chickens, rabbits, horse, dogs, and a cat. Trey follows me outside, and a normally quick routine is punctuated by screams of " I lost my shoe!" "I'm cold!" "I want to go inside!" - all said in a screaming voice with as much drama as Bette Midler.
Not today, honey .
It's days like today that this verse encourages me:
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you." ~ Jesus (Jn15:4 MSG)
Jesus isn't waiting for silence and tranquility before he makes his home in me.
Phones ringing , toddlers whining, dirty dishes - regardless, Jesus is making his home in me in the midst of my life, not in spite of it.
I encourage you to make a concerted effort to set aside quiet time for devotions and prayer.
But on those days when the only 'quiet' you experience is when your kids are strapped into their seats and you're pumping gas - remember, in this too, Jesus is here.
Here in the midst of your life.
Jesus is here.
Looking around my living room, I see a pile of toddler legos, pillows tossed off the couch, a large cardboard box, (excuse me, boat) a stuffed elephant and a pile of crushed Chex cereal.
Nothing here to inspire a spiritual musing.
Or is there?
A few months ago I began thinking about Jesus' ministry. As a young man, just coming into his teen years, Jesus was left behind during a festival - and his parents found him astounding the rabbis and teachers of the temple with his questions and commentary. At that age, it would have been acceptable for him to request to study at the temple. Can you imagine what might have occurred in his ministry if he'd had the support of the teachers and religious leaders?
Instead, he chose to go home with his parents:
So he went back to Nazareth with them, and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people. (Luke 2:51-52 MSG)
His choice, to go live a normal, blue-collar, everyday, ho-hum kind of life was blessed, favored - both by God and by the people around him.
Another translation reads:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 KJ21)
All those years, that some might consider 'wasted', God used. Jesus grew taller (stature) and developed wisdom. His actual ministry was about 3 years in length. The bulk of his life he spent just living. Jesus considered everyday life important. So much so, that he chose to live with his parents, working alongside his dad in a blue collar job for the bulk of his life.
I am encouraged by that. As a mom and a wife, sometimes it feels like life is passing me by. The temptation is to look at someone else's life and think - I'm not doing enough, or I'm not doing something important.
In our world today, it's hard to separate the glitz and hype of religious television, shouting preachers, emotional sermons and gut-wrenching worship music from the quiet, everyday living, life-example that Jesus gave us.
In your life today, your normal, washing dishes, making dinner, changing diapers, going to work and getting an oil change for the car-life, you have the opportunity to live like Jesus.
These are the life-skills Jesus decided were so important that he held off ministry to practice and attain.
Today's encouragement? Right where you are, you can be like Jesus.
Waiting for the 'next thing'?
Master the Jesus-skills right where you are first.
As a computer professional turned stay-at-home mom, I struggle with the challenge of transitioning from the regular validation and affirmation I received in the workplace to the 'oh that's just mom' response.
Yesterday is the perfect example. In between two loads of laundry, getting car parts, a play-date for the boy, making dinner and cleaning the bathroom, I sewed a complete set of valances for the kitchen. I was feeling pretty good about myself! Of course, in a house of just men, the tasks that were the most appreciated involved clean socks and turkey on toast.
I see a subtle shift in thought on this within our society regarding stay at home moms as more women are choosing to stay home with their families.
Which means there are more women wondering - 'NOW what am I worth?'
The most challenging part of this transition is retraining my heart to the truth that I am valuable simply because God says so!
(I'm not leaving out you working women, or those of you who aren't moms or married - I believe that you struggle with the same questions, perhaps in a different context? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.)
The bible says that, "... God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:8 NLT) Before we had accomplished anything, before we brought any value to our world with what we could produce, before we could even acknowledge God, God loved us.
I find it hard to wrap my brain around this: I am valuable accomplishing nothing but simply being the object of God's love.
Today, I invite you to be aware of how you view yourself in comparison to how God views you. Still not sure if you can wrap your brain around it either? Try spending a few minutes reading through the following verses, asking God to show you just how he feels about you.
Isaiah 43:1-7 The Message Bible (emphasis mine)
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.
5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
I will gather you and your children from east and west.
6 I will say to the north and south,
‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
from the distant corners of the earth.
7 Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.’”
Successful holidays, to my mind, are emerging out the other end of these next six weeks or so feeling relaxed, joyful, peaceful and treasuring good memories.
Rosalyn's Successfully Sane Holiday Strategy:
1. Breathe Peace.
At various points during your day, take a moment to breathe. On each inhale, pray the words of Jesus: "Peace I leave with you," and then on the exhale, the remainder of the words: "...my peace I give to you." (John 14:27 NIV) This is especially soothing at night, when you are trying to calm your mind down to rest.
2. Practice Love.
Inevitably, social situations arise where we are given a choice - do we assume negative or positive intent? When we assume positive intent, we introduce love into the equation. Imagine how different our holiday interactions would look if each of us chose to approach each person with love:
Love cares more for others than for self.
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best...
1 Corinthians 13: excerpts from verses 3-7, The Message Bible
Each commercial, each bawdy joke, each holiday-drama filled sitcom is intended to accomplish one thing: distraction. Give yourself a break from the distraction, the drama, the commercialism. Allow your heart some time to enjoy a quiet evening, a simple morning or a restful afternoon.
All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions. 1 Corinthians 7:35 The Message Bible