Monday, December 1, 2008

Words of Encouragement

My Time With God

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

God's Plan. As I sit down each Saturday morning to prepare "The Words of Encouragement", I seek God to find out what he wants us to hear from him.  This week, we will take time to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season.

This scripture is from the prophet Jeremiah to the disobedient people of God.  He has told them again and again about God's requirement for them to change. He also gives them this encouragement to let them know that God has a plan for them.

God is telling them through Jeremiah that this correction on your life is not to destroy you but to correct you and to give you a plan that will prosper you, give you a future and a hope.  We can take this scripture today and begin to ask God, what is it that you require of me?  God what must I do to line up with the plans you have for my life? As we prepare for this season let us take the time to ask these questions: (1) What is your plan for my life? (2) What must I do so that someone can see Christ in me during this time like they have never seen you before?

Prayer: Lord if my own disobedience has caused me to move from the place you have called me to, help me to turn back to your way.  I thank you that you have a plan for me.  During this season we celebrate let us see your plan for our lives and walk in it.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. - 2 Corinthians 7:1

Holiness. One of the most important things we can seek during our time with God is a purified life.  God is calling for our lives to be set aside from whatever would contaminate body and spirit.

I went shopping on "Black Friday".  I was going because I wanted to get a special gift for my husband.  We went to Walmart and as soon as we went in, we turned around and went back out the door.  We ended up going to Target to get what I wanted.  What I saw and heard bothered me.  I saw people pushing, cursing and shouting at others.  I heard about someone being slapped.  I also saw on the news about the man that was trampled and killed at Walmart in New York.  Is this Walmart's fault or is there something wrong with us?  We cannot blame these activities only on the "unsaved" because believers too are sometimes caught up in the rush as well.  So what did I learn from this.  I asked, what does any of these have to do with Christmas?

I'm not saying we should not buy gifts and share this time with our family but let us not become so caught up in the modernity of our world. Holiness is what we need to exhibit even when we find ourselves in our modern world situations.  Anything that would draw away from Christ in Christmas needs to be those things that we stay away from.  Let us ask ourselves some questions in our time with God. (1) How do I show your holy presence to those around me? (2) what things should I do to allow you to purify me and draw me closer to what you are calling me to be?

Prayer: Lord help me to live holy.  Help me during this season to exhibit attributes that reflect you at work, at school or wherever you send me.  Help me not to show the selfishness of modernity but the holiness of you.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? - James 2:15-16

Service. God gives so much into our lives.  He opens up provisions for us and he does it to show us his love.  If God is willing to show his love for us, then he requires us to show our love for others.  That may call for us to be willing to sacrifice for others even in the midst of our needs. We often buy presents for those we love but how often do we really stop and ask God, who do I need to support during this season to reflect your love?  We need to ask ourselves some questions during our time with God. (1) Do I support your people as you desire? (2) What is my special assignment for this Christmas to show someone to the savior?

Prayer: Lord you my provision.  Your love for me is evident every day of my life.  Lord help me to give back out of the same love.  Help me to be of service to your purpose and your people.  Help me not only to pray for the needs of others but help me to be actively involved in the solution.  This season help me make a difference to someone that is losing hope.  Help me to restore someone to a place of hopefulness in you.

 In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. - 2 Chronicles 31:21

Worship. People sometimes become comfortable trusting in what they know.  We all do it.  We have our routines that we follow every day.  If something comes along and changes those routines we become flustered or upset.  Yet, we do not realize that it is God's hand that allows the upset.  Why does he doe it?  He wants us to remember that he is still in control.  That is what happens with our worship and our time of corporate worship.  We become comfortable in doing what we know and if anything comes along and changes that we become flustered. What we do is we instead try to keep things under our own control and in doing so, we hinder God's Spirit.

What we need to do instead is as the scripture says, we need to wholeheartedly seek God's direction.  In everything we do we should ask God what does he require of us?  When we do that we may be surprised at the direction he may take us.  He may call for us to change things up or he may call for us to pray more, sing more and simply worship more.  In my time with God I should seek to find out what God is requiring of me in my personal worship as well as my time with the body of believers.  The question I should ask myself are: (1) What can I do in my time alone with you to prepare my heart for corporate worship? (2) Do I have the right attitude regarding worship when I come together with the body? (3) How can my yielding myself completely help to influence others to do the same?

Prayer: Lord, I give you my heart.  I give you my complete self.  There is no part of myself that I hold apart from you.  I live for you alone.  Every breath I take, ever moment is for you.  I was created to worship you.  Lord help me during my time with you to have a greater understanding of how to worship you.  Help us as a body to worship you more completely.  When we do we will prosper in our spirits, in our love and in our life.

One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. - Psalm 145:4-5

Witness. We know this can be the busiest time of the year with parties, family and church gatherings and so much more. Yet it is also one of the most important times of the year (along with Easter) that we can share our testimony.  During this season can we plan to tell someone about the gift of Christ?  We can tell but even more importantly we can exhibit in our lives the truth of or salvation.  Are we loving?  Are we caring?  Do people see us and see Jesus?  Or are we like the frantic crowd of people so set on getting what they want that the do not take the time to see who they are trampling under foot?  Let us speak of the glorious splendor of our savior.  In your time with God ask these questions, (1) Open up to me this day who I can tell about you. (2) Who have you given me as an assignment that I have ignored? (3) What are you requiring from me during that season different from any other time of the year?

Prayer: Lord today help me to be a witness to someone coming behind.  Help me tell someone about the goodness of you.  Help me to spread cheer to the overworked cashier. Help me to say thank you to the unappreciated teacher.  Help me during this time to take my eyes off the pursuit of my own ideas and to have a vision that sees the world your way.  Help me to be the avenue that the gift of light is given to someone that is grappling in the darkness.