Re-Focus In 2018 by Sonya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entering into 2018 made me think about what my focus will be for this New Year. I don’t want to live the same, but be changed by God in who I am in Christ. I realized at times I put God on the back burner not even realizing it and allowing my family to come first. Family is not bad in itself, but if I am allowing it to come before God then I am off balance and my focus is wrong.

As I reflect on 2017 and all of God’s goodness and blessings, it makes me realize my need and importance in Him. Re-focusing my goals and changing my priorities on what Christ wants me to do and live each day for Him. He only gives us so many hours in a day and I want to make the most of them and not sit back on the sidelines and watch. My desire for each of you and myself for 2018 is to allow God to use us in new ways and change the way we think.

Our focus should be on the things of heaven and not of this world. I am challenging each of us, and most importantly myself, to let God transform us and step out of our comfort zones and walk on new territory. It could be serving God in places that are uncomfortable for you like the homeless shelter or nursing home, or working with individuals that have special needs. God is challenging me to work more with human trafficked victims and go into hotels to build awareness. For each of us it will look different. Another way God can challenge us is to love in a new way toward people that may be unlovable. I have a few family members that are hard to love, but God is calling me to love them unconditionally no matter how they treat us. These are just a few areas that God can challenge us in the areas of serving and loving others.

My prayer for each of you is to refocus this year on the things that matter to God and draw near to Him through His word, through prayer and mediation. The deeper we get with God the more we look like Him and people will see Christ in us.  As 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2018 is the year for the change and becoming more like Christ. Are you ready? Let’s get started, don’t sit back, be the change!

More Than Enough by Trish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At church recently one of our leaders was sharing on allowing Jesus to be enough in our lives. I sat and listened and thought, “that’s a great little message,” and I appreciated it in the moment it was spoken to us. It wasn’t until days later when I had a few moments and was left alone with my personal thoughts and took inventory of some hurts in my life and even some losses that this “little message” hit me like a ton of bricks. My eyes could not hold back the tears and it was as if a dam broke and the floods came.

I just sat and prayed quietly asking God for His peace, His strength and then a simple, yet profound message was brought to my remembrance, “Let Jesus be enough right now, let Him be enough.”

I don’t use the “Jesus Card” as a pass or my faith as a crutch. Being a believer does not make life perfect or pain obsolete. Putting faith in God is not pixie dust that is sprinkled instantly turning hardships into rainbows and sunshine. It’s a very deliberate decision to trust God no matter what you see with your eyes and all the more what you feel.

In that moment where I felt alone and overwhelmed, I had a decision to make. I could either be “in my feelings” or activate my faith. Faith says, “I am never alone and that He will never leave me or forsake me.” Faith says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Faith says, “I always win and I am more than a conqueror.” What more could I want or need in life? I’m on the winning team and serve a God who is all powerful and undefeated!

There is nothing wrong with having a moment and giving yourself permission to process what you feel but DON’T STAY THERE! In the areas where I sulk over what isn’t right in my life I’m actually demonstrating an ungrateful heart towards a Father who moved heaven and earth to restore love to my life.

I have so much to be grateful for and every good thing in my life has come from a loving Father. It is very true that I have things in my life today that I prayed about for years. There is always something more that is desired or a situation you wished were better, but no matter the circumstance, no matter the obstacle, there is someone who has all you will ever need. This year let Jesus be enough in all areas of your life!

Photo Credit:ID 50074678 Glebska | Dreamstime.com

Selective Amnesia by Kenika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philippians 3:13-14

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 

The Apostle Paul writes a letter to the Church at Philippi from prison. Paul, the one who was actively changing the world, stayed on fire, started churches, wrote 2/3 of the New Testament, and arguably the most spectacular Christian who ever lived, humbly says, “I’m not perfect, I’m not even there yet.”  This should provide every one of us with a collective sigh of relief.   I mean after all, Paul was pretty much “the man” if you ask me.  He endured beatings, betrayals, shipwrecks and danger upon danger. He surely could have boasted of all he’s done for Christ and His mission.  Yet Paul chose not to look back on his accomplishments. He didn’t want them to steal or lessen his focus and entice him to complacency and indifference.  He didn’t even look back at his failures.  In essence he says it all amounts to nothing.

He’s encouraging the Church to look at their lives the same way.  All of your accomplishments were great and they brought you to where you are today.  But they are not where you end.  There is so much more that God wants to accomplish through you.  He wants to continue to use you for His divine purposes.  All of your failures were no doubt debilitating, but that’s okay, there is still so much more for you to do.

In verse 12 of Philippians chapter 3, Paul talks about knowing Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings and His resurrection power.  Do you know everything there is to know about Christ?  Only an immature person would say, “yes.” So assuming you’re mature and self-aware you answered “no” to that question.  When I answered “no” I realized then if that’s the case, there is no such thing as plateauing.  The concept of getting to a point in your life and having no further direction or getting stuck in the place of, “What’s next?” becomes absolutely powerless. Choose to have selective amnesia about all of the accomplishments and the failures of your past.  Forget about them. They don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of life in Christ.  He is the object of our affection. He is the goal of all of our efforts and striving.  Paul is saying, get to know Christ better.  Through suffering, through trials, through highs and lows, you have never been closer to Him.  As you seek Him you will find all of the purpose, meaning, and satisfaction your heart could ever muster up.

Photo Credit:ID 85374160 Mark Adams | Dreamstime.com

The Faith Of A Dog by Bombi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On October the 4th something happened that I never thought would. Our family adopted a stray dog. We had been talking for years about having a partner for our Boris (first dog) and wondered if that meant we’d find a girl dog for him to maybe start a little puppy family with, or a boy dog that he could call “brother.” That October day when we brought Milton into the place he’d now call home, we had no clue what we had gotten ourselves into.

Our current dog was just weeks old when we brought him home so we were able to bring him up our way. This dog lives to please us. Sooner than later we realized that Milton lived to please himself. From top to bottom this dog started to bring out the worst in us. I mean talk about trying our patience. I had a few moments when I thought perhaps we jumped the gun on getting him and perhaps there would be a place more suited for his doggy ways. But then my husband would remind me that we didn’t know his story, where he came from, or if he was abused. We have him as he is now, and we love him.

So we let that puppy stay. Soon I started to focus on the good rather than the other stuff. I can tell you he is sweet. This dog loves people, and he’s always ready to love you. He’s very clumsy and funny. He brings laughter to our family. One thing that amazes me most is his faith. Yes he has his own dog faith. The kind of faith that will cause him to watch our every move in the kitchen and, at just the right moment, he will be able to catch a piece of food that we accidentally drop. We are sticklers about table food and only give the dogs their dog food. It doesn’t matter to Milton. He will watch and wait. He’ll do it for hours. He doesn’t cry or howl he just waits. He knows there will be that perfect time for him to go in for the goods.

That trait in him could seem annoying, but to me it’s rather convicting. A dog has more faith than I do at times. This faith is similar to the faith of a child. They don’t think about all of the circumstances surrounding what they are waiting and believing for, they just have simple faith. It’s pure, it’s simple, and I wish for it.

As we usher in a new year, I pray that my faith would become pure again. I pray for a restored faith. I don’t want a dog to put my faith to shame. I pray your faith in Christ and His redeeming power will be restored and renewed as well.

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4-NKJV

Photo Credit:ID 84107244 Golyak | Dreamstime.com