Thursday, January 13, 2011

Creating Time for Change Is Possible

I read the following devotional from Encouragement For Today
and thought, "How appropriate." For those who don't believe in God, the gist of it's message still holds true. For those who believe in God and are having a hard time making time for prayer and Bible reading, let's change our habits. A hard reality of life is that we make time for those things we want to make time for. I confess that the Lord knows that I need to make more time for Him.
Time and Again
by Rachel Olsen
January 13, 2011

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

We are creatures of habit, aren't we? Whether those habits are beneficial to us - or even if we regret them time and again - we tend to repeat the same behaviors day after day:

· We light another cigarette, even though we just said yesterday we want to quit.
· We eat the brownies in our pantry, even though we're aiming to lose weight in the New Year.
· We camp in front of the TV for hours most evenings, even though we want to be the kind of person that goes for walks and reads novels instead.
· We leave things laying where we last used them, even though we long for uncluttered surroundings.
· We buy a new Bible, figuring that will propel us to get in the Word more. Two weeks later it sits on the shelf.

We want to be the person God calls us to be, so we use January to make New Year's resolutions about how we're going to change this year. We give voice to that longing in our hearts to be different - to be somehow better. And we decide to give a heart-felt go at changing.

And there's nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, it's a move in the right direction. However, the Bible advises us to check our plans against the Lord's, and then ground our commitments in His truth and power in order to succeed.

Remember this, for the Holy Spirit to facilitate God's work and purposes in us, He must first (re)define our definition of reality, and our priorities.

For example, say that you wish to spend time in God's Word in 2011. Great - that's God's will for you as well. For that to happen, your habits must change. And for that to happen, your perception of reality must be redefined.

I'm guessing you currently believe, and your current actions demonstrate, that you don't have time to really pursue God like you want to. You're convinced you're too busy to join a Bible study, or have a regular quiet time of prayer and Bible reading, without quitting your job or neglecting your family in the process. But is that true?

"God has given everyone enough time to seek Him. It is there," says Francis Frangipane. He continues, "Those who would find God, find time." "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV).

When a favorite TV show comes on, we find time to watch. When a favorite store announces a big sale, we find time to go. When a friend wants to meet for coffee, we make time to meet her. We find or "make" time all the time! So rest assured that if you live a healthy, God-honoring life, there is plenty of time there to grow in your knowledge of, and connection with your Creator.

It is true that in our busy lives we cannot do everything. But we can choose which things absolutely will get done. We can choose what to do first. And that's precisely what the Bible tells us to do. Jesus calls His followers to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness, and then He promises we will have all we need (Matthew 6:33).

It is also true that our willpower is limited. Our dedication wanes. Our intentions are good but our follow-through is shaky. We don't have what it takes to revolutionize our entire lives. But God does — and He lives in us. "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3, NLT).

You absolutely have time to spend 10 or 20 minutes a day getting to know God and His promises for you in His Word. You also have the extra eight seconds it typically takes to put an item back in its place. Watch one less TV show a night and you'll have created time to read three or more books every month, and take a brisk walk after dinner. Seek God first - time after time - and you'll even have the power you need to put down the brownies or cigarettes.

We are creatures of habit - let's make it our habit in 2011 to seek God first each day and commit our plans to Him. I think we will marvel at the results, time and again.

Dear Lord, today I seek Your face, wisdom and Your will. I give my plans to You and I ask that I may operate in Your power. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Spend the next 10 minutes alone with God and your open Bible.


For the Holy Spirit to facilitate God's work and purposes in me, He must first (re)define my definition of reality, and my priorities.

Power Verses:

Psalm 37:5, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act." (ESV)

Ephesians 5:15-16, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." (NLT)

Psalm 90:12, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV)

© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

So, What About Those New Year's Resolutions?

I read the following devotional today, and I thought, "Hmmm..." I have been at fault for some of the things implied here. So as I set my goals for this year, how will I handle them? What about you? I wish you the best success in fulfilling your goals for 2011. Happy New Year!

Encouragement for Today - Jan. 5, 2011

Keeping My New Year's Resolutions to Myself
by Glynnis Whitwer

"The king of Israel answered, ‘Tell him: "One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off."'" - 1 Kings 20:11 (NIV)

I'm done with announcing my New Year's Resolutions. I know some people thrive on accountability from announcing goals. I'm not one of them. Once, I announced on my blog I was losing weight, and I gained five pounds. There was something seriously wrong with that situation.

Recently, I heard successful entrepreneur Derek Sivers explain why some people shouldn't announce their goals. According to several scientific studies, it seems some of us get mental gratification just by talking about our goals without actually doing the work. While this opposes common understanding of accountability, I can see the truth in it.

There have been times when I've taken pride in myself for identifying a worthwhile goal. It's like there's this striving little part of me that puffs up ever so slightly when declaring what I'm going to accomplish. It's definitely a cousin of boasting, only so much more refined. Do I imagine your admiration just in the speaking of my goals? Does it make me seem smarter or bolder than I am?

You'd never know from the surface these thoughts dance around my subconscious. It doesn't even happen to me all the time. But for some reason, New Year's Resolutions are the worst. It's so much easier to declare a grand resolution than do the steadfast daily marching needed to cross the finish line.

Whether it's neglected resolutions, sales pitches that don't pan out, or political promises, we live in a society of sometimes lofty declarations. Yet I've learned the hard way that words are empty without the steadfast commitment to live them out. Time and truth go hand-in-hand.

The Bible is quite clear that actions speak louder than words. There's an interesting statement made in 1 Kings 20:11 that rings true. It's spoken by Ahab, king of Israel, when he faced attack by Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. Ben-Hadad sent threatening messages, trying to intimidate Ahab. Kind of like an athlete boasting assuredly that he will win tonight's game.

In the face of the final threat, Ahab said to Beh-Hadad's messenger, "Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'" In other words, save the talking for after you've accomplished the goal.

Now those are words worth memorizing. And they speak vividly to me today in the face of yet another year of potential and promise. The biblical principal behind them is: Do not boast - and if you boast, boast in Christ. In our age of status updates and tweets, it can be tempting to make ourselves seem more interesting, important, ambitious or productive than we really are, yet.

I'm not saying it's wrong. It's just not right for me. So instead of making a public declaration of any New Year's Resolutions, I'm choosing to invest in my standing orders from God, while listening for His future assignments.

And I'm not telling anyone about it. Except you.

Dear Lord, thank You for the truth found throughout Your Word. Help me to grasp hold of this truth and apply it to my life. I long to be a faithful, diligent servant - one You can trust to do what she's asked. Help me be that woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Resolutions aren't bad, but the idea is to back them up with diligent work. Identify one goal you have and the next practical step you can take toward completion....

What are your thoughts about announcing goals? Have you ever announced something, only to quit before completion?

Should a Christian have a different approach to setting New Year's Resolutions? If so, how should we be different?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:10, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (NIV)

Proverbs 16:2-3, "All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.