The Power of Routine

Doing the same thing every day builds momentum for us and sets us up for either success or failure.

We see this work in our relationships, work and many other areas. If we make a habit out of not communicating with or showing affection to our spouse, eventually our relationship will dry up.  If all we ever do at work is check Facebook, text and give less than half our effort, we’ll end up without a job. These are simple examples of a bad routine.

This most definitely applies in our relationship with our heavenly Father. We can allow ourselves to drift away from God when we don’t renew our minds in His Word, spend time with Him in prayer and neglect worshipping Him. We may not notice at first, but after one month, six months or even a year we’ll see that we haven’t grown and our hearts have turned colder toward Him.

This happens because people have a negative view of a routine.

We hear the word “routine” and automatically think “rut”, “monotony” or “boring”. While a daily routine has the ability to be all of those things, it certainly doesn’t have to be.

A routine that is founded on God’s vision for our lives is anything but boring. The problem we have is we allow our routine to choose us, instead of our choosing our routine. We let our jobs, entertainment and TV shows dictate the pace of our lives. As a result, we are bored because there is no life in our lives.

When the events of our day are shaped around God’s plan for us, He will bring color and light back to our lives.

20171128 - The Power of Routine - Events Shaped quote - photofromunsplashshmiketinnionWe’ll leave behind the dullness of the world and start participating in the building of God’s kingdom.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

It begins by discovering God’s vision for our lives and building our days around vision.

We have to commit to His plan and choose to do the things that move us toward the goal. There will be times when it seems monotonous and boring. We may even go through seasons where it seems like we’re not growing. In these times we only need to be patient and trust that God is working. Our daily walk with Him will always bear fruit. If we will wait to see what it is, we’ll never be disappointed.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

New Beginnings: Self-Control

We all love new beginnings, self-control, however is not always our favorite aspect of life.

Starting something new always excites and energizes us. The only thing more exciting than starting something new with a specific goal in mind is actually reaching that goal. One thing we will absolutely need to reach our finish line is self-control.

“You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All who compete in the games use strict training (self-control). They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever,” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ERV).

Some people think that self-control is difficult to obtain.New-Beginnings-Self-Control-Photo-of-person-reading-Bible-with-Quote

However, if you’re a child of God you already have it. God gave it to you when He saved you. He deposited it in your born-again spirit. It’s just a matter of accessing it. It’s not that it’s locked away in our spirit and we need to learn a secret code in order to get to self-control. We are so accustomed to living without it that it’s not our normal way of living. So, we must learn to make it part of our everyday lives.

How?  The first step is renewing our minds to God’s Word. We live in a world whose way of doing things is completely opposite to God’s. We have to so immerse ourselves in God’s Word that we drown out all the voices and influences of the world.

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you,” (Romans 12:2 The Message).

New-Beginnings-Self-Control-Photo-of-butterfly-with-quoteIf self-control is already in our spirit, then one of the best ways to make it part of our lives is praying in the Spirit.

This will strengthen and build us up on our most holy faith (Jude 1:20). As we pray in the Spirit more and more we’ll find that the fruit of the Spirit will manifest in our lives.

Imagine what life will look like when self-control is our first nature. Instead of bursting out in anger at our spouses, children or coworkers we’ll have the power to hold our tongue and wait until we’ve calmed down to speak. We’ll be able to stick to a diet because junk food won’t have the hold on us that it once did. We’ll be able to save more money because self-control will help us rein in our impulse spending.

These are just a few examples of how self-control can change our lives. It’s a simple thing, but it is powerful. I encourage you to start spending more time in God’s Word, pray in the Spirit, and ask God to cause His self-control to become your first nature.

More than a Shallow Understanding

One of the simplest things we can do to follow the plan for our lives is to know and understand the One who created it.

If our relationship with our Heavenly Father is something we only think about on Sunday mornings, then we’re going to have a shallow understanding of His plan for us. However, the more time we spend getting to know Him, the more revelation we’ll have about His specific will for our lives.

More Than a Shallow Understanding - Photo of Stacked Rocks

Knowing, understanding and acting on God’s Word is the rock whereby we lay the foundation of our lives. If the foundation is small, we won’t step into the fullness of everything He has for us.

That’s why Jesus teaches us to build our lives on the rock of His word.

“Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built,” (Luke 6:47-48).  We need to be like the man in these verses.

We need to dig deep and lay the foundation of our lives on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.  We do this by renewing our minds to God’s word.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Romans 12:2)

Before Jesus saved us, our minds were formed and influenced by the ways of the world. We lived by the world’s standard and desired what the world told us was valuable.

We have to change our standard and our desires through reading and meditating on God’s Word. It’s not going to just magically happen. No one becomes like Jesus on accident. It is a conscious decision we make every single day to leave behind the old way and live by the wisdom that is available to us in God’s Word.

As we do this, we will find ourselves being made into the image of Jesus more and more every day. Reading, understanding and meditating on God’s Word literally changes us from the inside out.

The devil will attempt to downplay this fact in our lives, though.

He will try to convince us that our daily Bible reading and the time we spend in prayer is inconsequential; it isn’t. He’ll try to lie to us and tell us that we aren’t understanding what we are reading, making it impossible to change, that we still make the same mistakes and we’re still the person we were before we got saved; we aren’t. Don’t give in to the lies. Keep pressing forward.

Look at the verse from Romans 12 one more time. Our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds. When our minds are made new by God’s Word, our actions will follow. It’s a process; one that we must commit to if we’re going to walk in God’s plan for our lives.

So, I encourage you, dig deep to lay the foundation of your life upon the rock of Jesus Christ and He will reveal His specific plan for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a better understanding.  Be patient; God is more than capable to do what He has promised.

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Fulfilling God’s Calling

FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Originals-quoteWe’ve made it clear in the past few weeks that God has a calling for all of His children.

He made all of us originals in order to fulfill a unique calling.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Some people spend their whole lives searching for this calling. They wander through life confused or frustrated, or a combination of both, because they have yet to find their place.

We should not fall into the trap of thinking that our calling is simply our career.

In fact, what God has called us to do may not be our primary source of income. It could absolutely turn into a career, but we shouldn’t think that it could only be that.

Stay at home mothers know that raising children certainly costs more money than it earns. However, it is a high calling to raise a child that loves their heavenly Father.

One of the main things we should know in finding our calling is that it will evolve and grow over time. We’re probably not going to see it all at once.

-FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Waiting-quoteIf we sit around waiting for the one big moment where God shows us everything we’re supposed to do from now until the day we die, we could be waiting for quite some time. In order to find out what our calling, is we have to trust God. Saying that we’re waiting on an answer from Him can turn into an excuse over time.

This mindset of waiting for one big revelation from God about what we’re supposed to do will hold us back more than it will move us forward.

Rather than waiting for a detailed road map of how our calling is going to play out, we should simply take the first step of faith. We should submit our resume for the job that seems beyond our ability; apply for college; we should serve in the ministry at church that challenges us.

FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Step-Out-quoteHave faith in the fact that God has prepared good works for us to walk in. We don’t need to stress ourselves by not knowing what’s going to happen in five years.  Focus on what’s right in front of us. As we step out in faith, God will reveal more and more of what He has for us.

Don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from starting. Don’t let not knowing where the finish line is hold you back from starting. You can be sure that if you let fear stop you at the beginning, then you’ll never see the finish.

God’s plan for you is good.

So, even if you make a mistake, the grace and wisdom of God are always available to you.  If you’re unsure of what your calling is, then ask for God’s wisdom and start taking steps of faith. He’s promised to never leave you and He’s given you His Word as a light to your path. You have an amazing destiny to fulfill and it all begins with that first step.

Heart – Searching For God’s Heart

searching for Gods Heart

King David is known as “A Man After God’s Own Heart”.  He was a man searching for God’s heart.  He loved God and simply enjoyed being in His presence.

The first time King David is mentioned in the Bible he is a long way off from being king. He’s the youngest son of a man named Jesse. He is not the favorite. In fact, he’s out in the field taking care of the sheep and goats. It wasn’t a glamorous job. It definitely wasn’t the kind of work we would expect a future king to be doing. However, God makes a powerful statement to the prophet Samuel as to why He chose David to be king:

“Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Our heavenly Father looks at us the same way He looked at David. He isn’t concerned with our age, height, hair color, education, etc. He looks at the condition of our heart.

God did not choose David to be king because David had prepared his body and mind. He chose David to be king because David had prepared his heart.

In Acts 13:22 God said this about David: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.”

David was a man after God’s heart before He was anointed to be king of Israel.

David did not love God for the things God could give him. His purpose in seeking God was not because he knew one day he would be king. He simply loved God for His goodness, mercy and love.

It is easy to fall into the trap of seeking God in order to obtain material blessings. We think that if we can memorize enough scripture, go to church twice a week and maybe even serve while we’re there, then God will give us a bigger house, a bigger paycheck and a nicer car.

While none of those things are bad in and of themselves, they should never be the goal of our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is the reward of our relationship with Him.

David did not desire to be close with God in order to gain social status and material wealth. He was a shepherd out in the fields alone; becoming king was probably one of the furthest things from his mind. He simply enjoyed the presence of God. He was content with the fellowship of his heavenly Father.

That is why David was the ideal choice for king, because the deepest desire of his heart was to seek and know God. God knew that when He promoted David, David would have the position and the position would not have him.

This is the danger of seeking after God in order to gain riches. Our heart never truly belongs to God, it belongs to the riches. So, when we receive the promotion, move into the house or deposit the bigger paycheck, we leave God and cling to the riches.

We should make this the goal of our relationship with Jesus: to be content and fulfilled with His presence and fellowship.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment,” (1 Timothy 6:6).

When we stop seeking after God’s things and simply seek Him, we will begin to see and walk in His plan for our lives. It is only in His presence that we will receive everything we ever wanted.

 

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God’s Reality of Joy

Gods Reality of Joy - Photo of a fieldOne of the most obvious differences between God’s reality and man’s reality is that the things of God’s reality are eternal and unchanging.

The reality of man is constantly changing, though. One day everything is going well, and the next day the sky is falling. This is because man’s reality doesn’t have a foundation. Everything is always up in the air, left to chance, so there is only a temporary stability. However, when we choose to live in God’s reality, we will always have our feet on solid ground.

This is why God tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 “…while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

gods-reality-of-joy-photo-of-woman-smilingWhat we can see with our eyes will fade with time and people’s emotions.

The things we receive from God by faith last forever. That’s why we’ve been talking about the things in God’s reality. His grace, righteousness, and peace are eternal. They don’t come and go based on God’s emotions, because He isn’t controlled by His emotions.

Another thing we gain from living in God’s reality is joy.

Joy isn’t a word that we hear every day, except maybe around Christmas time. However, the Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). When we are joyful we will be strong.

How do we have this joy, though? Most people believe that joy comes from having a good life; nice things, a good job, a good marriage. That isn’t how we have joy. A good life makes us happy. Happiness depends on circumstances, joy does not. Galatians 5 tells us that joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit. It only comes from the Holy Spirit, not anything we can make happen on our own.gods-reality-of-joy-photo-of-man-in-sweater

This is why most people live without joy.

They wait for their circumstances to be perfect and then they allow themselves to be joyful. Men do this more than women. They don’t allow themselves to be joyful or hopeful about things in their lives because they have been disappointed before, so when something goes well they will often wait for it to turn bad. We do this because it’s easier to live a disappointed, cynical life than it is to be disappointed by something we thought would bring us joy.

God didn’t make us to be this way, and He certainly didn’t set up His kingdom, His reality to be this way. God designed us to live lives that are full of joy. We do this by making our relationship with Jesus the most important thing in our lives.

God never changes, so when He is our top priority and reason for joy, we are never disappointed. When the source of our joy is unchanging we won’t lose our joy. When we allow Him to be our source for joy, it will spill over into the rest of our lives.