Faithfullness ~ Just Do It

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I always find it neat how God often sends certain circumstances in our lives to help us learn. And then when God does it to me I find myself confused and frustrated and even a little upset at Him. But in the end I know God's in control and this small 'trial' has been an invaluable learning experience for me. But I will tell you about my 'hard time' in a moment.  First I want to talk about Faithfulness.

So what is Faithfulness?  Well, we look to God and see that God is faithful.  Throughout the whole Bible we see the story of God's faithfulness to His people.  So what does it look like to be defined as someone who is faithful? Someone who is faithful is someone who is dependable, honest, loyal, get the idea.  Someone whose 'yes' mean yes and whose 'no' means no (James 5:12). Someone who sticks to their words, and follows through with their plans whatever the circumstances (well, maybe there are some circumstances that would cause you to have to cancel, like getting sick...).

It may be hard sometimes to be faithful. Everyday I am plagued with tiredness and laziness, oh and the worst of them all, procrastination.  Aren't we all pros in the art of procrastination. Most of the time I would rather stay in bed and be on my computer than get up and do something.  

Sometimes we make promises or plans that we realized after the fact aren't going to be easy to keep. And I know from experience that though it may seem easy for you to make excuses to get out of an obligation you have with someone it inflicts so much pain and disappointment on whoever it was you made plans with.  I've been on the receiving end of this situation too many times to count.  (I would actually suggest being upfront and honest when you begin making plans.  Don't come up with an excuse last minute, let your friend know right off that it may not work out but you will do your best to make it work.)

Ways you can be faithful in your everyday life can be as simple as getting your homework done on time, being diligent in reading your Bible everyday, being a reliable and dependable friend, and faithfully attending church every week.  What really helps is to make a schedule of things you need to get done.  I find that when I have a written list of things to do I'm less likely to forget and am more motivated to get things done.

Okay, so we talked a lot about faithfulness.  Now here's the part where I get to share with you what God has been teaching me about faithfulness.  So in the past two days I've had three major disappointments. One right after another. 

I've been wanting to bring my friend to the camp where I work and we've been planning it for a while. Then the day before she told me that it wasn't going to work out.  Then the morning I was going into work I woke up with a fever and horrible sore throat and ended up not being able to go into work. That was a huge bummer for me 'cause I love my job so much. It's a seasonal job so I missed out on the last trip of the season; and who likes being sick and feeling miserable the entire day.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, the next day I was still sick and I wasn't able to go to my friend's graduation. Yeah, I was really frustrated and disappointed.  I didn't understand why God was causing all these things to happen to me.

Well, after I got over the upset/frustrated phase and accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do because I had no control over the situation, I knew that God was in control. That comforted me. And in this situation where I felt like being upset and angry I had to choose to trust that God knew what He was doing and it was for my benefit.  Romans 8:28 was a comfort to me;  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

So what does my experience have to do with faithfulness?  It's been a miserable few days for me but I didn't let that get in the way with my relationship with God.  When I felt like I had enough energy I read my Bible and I spent time in prayer with God while I rested on the couch.  I chose to persevere and to endure my trial even though it didn't make sense to me why I was going through it.  I kept my attitude positive (okay, I'm not perfect, I was grumpy and whiny a few times, but my aim was to remain positive.)  Even through it was hard, I stayed faithful to God because I know God is faithful to me even when I don't always understand His plan for my life.

I also want to be faithful to always keep my promises and plans I make with others because it really hurt when my friend told me last minute that she couldn't come to camp with me.  

So, I hope that by me sharing with you my experience it will help you to grow.  Each day is a struggle to do the right thing.  Each day it is especially a struggle for me to just let go and to let God lead because He's in control, not me.  Now it's your chance to make the decision to push past whatever it is that is distracting you (tiredness, laziness, procrastination...) and to just do it.  To be that one faithful person who everyone can rely on and trust.  To be known for your dependability and honesty.  There's no better time to start being faithful then right now.

Goodness ~ Doing Everything

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Now for goodness, or what I like to call 'kindness in action.'  So we learned that kindness is when we set our minds to doing good to others.  Well, goodness is when we actually do it. Goodness is the next step in how we treat others by turning our 'kind' thoughtful intentions into actions.  Goodness does everything it possibly can to serve others and to shower God's love and blessings on those around us.

Goodness, like all the other Fruits of the Spirit is a choice.  We can choose to be nice and do good things to others or we can choose to not do anything.  James 2:17 says  "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." Goodness, or good deeds, is part of how we share our faith. In other words, if there is no goodness showing forth from our lives than we should be concerned for our salvation. And at the same time goodness and good deeds cannot save you. Only by believing in Christ Jesus who died on the cross to save you and turning from your sins can you be saved. And if you truly are saved then goodness should be evident in your life.

As we grow and desire more and more to follow Jesus our lives will be defined by the fruits we bear.   Imagine a garden. Patience is like a seed under the soil, not seen.  Often it seems that the seed is doing nothing, but unbeknownst to the observers the seed is growing.  And what is growing from that seed is kindness. Kindness begins to grow and wants to push itself up and out from underneath the soil.  Thus goodness blossoms forth.  Goodness and its work of love to others bless all who see it.

I think it is amazing how each fruit of the spirit builds on each other.  I used to always think that they all were their own separate virtue but I've come to realize that there is even a reason for the order they are in.  How amazing God is!  I find that the more you study a certain part of His word, the more He reveals to you.    

So that is pretty much all I have to say about goodness.  I challenge you now to let kindness show forth in your life through acts of goodness towards others.  

Note: the garden example is from the book "A Young Women's Walk  with God" by Elizabeth George.  I worded it in my own words but it is not my original idea.  I loved the idea so much I just had to share it.

Summer Reading Plans

Saturday, May 16, 2015

So, lately I've been thinking  about my future.  I think about my future a lot but it seems that just recently I've been thinking about the future more than I usually do.  So I decided since I can't tell myself to stop thinking and dreaming about the future I needed some help in keeping my thoughts focused. My solution was to buy myself some books to help prepare me for my future.  My goal in reading these books is grow in my walk with God and to be more prepared for when my dreams someday do come true.

So this means that I'm going to be busy reading this summer.  But I can't wait to read these books.  I love reading books that encourage me to grow in my walk with God.  And you can look forward to lots of books reviews coming soon to this blog.

Here's all the books I bought: 

Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot by Annie Downs
Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy
Set-Apart Feminity by Leslie Ludy
A Young Womens Call to Prayer by Elizabeth George
The New Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall
Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally 
(Note: I Actually have read "Before you Meet..." before, but I look forward to reading it again)

Another thing I'm looking forward to trying is a new form of scrap-booking. I bought myself a smashbook and I'm very excited to try it out.  It's just like small scrapbook but it's meant to be messy and quick.  I'm all about saving memories.  I tend to be the type of person to stuff something in a drawer because I just can't bring myself to throw it away because I often think of the memories it might bring me later.  

So for under ten dollars I bought this Smashbook and I'm hoping to fill it's pages with memories.

There was this neat poem inside the book which sums up what it means to use your Smashbook.  Sounds like so much fun!  And the pages are so pretty!  And this is the coolest part -  The pen it comes with is a pen on one side and a glue stick on the other. Awesome! 

Kindness ~ Doing Something

Sunday, May 10, 2015

So we saw how patience is learning to do nothing when you are mistreated by others.  The next step after you have learned patience is to be kind.

Kindness always make me think of the new Cinderella movie.  That movie displays very well what it truly means to be kind.  I have to say, I was really impressed with the message since it's a Disney movie.

Okay, back to kindness.  First off, what is kindness.  Kindness is having a sincere desire for the well-being of others.  In other words, it's our awareness of the needs of others around us.  But, unlike patience, which does nothing, kindness plans to act.  Kindness looks at a situation and asks questions like; "Who needs love right now?" "How can I help this person?"  "Who can I say something nice to today?"

So we see that kindness is a state of the mind.  It is a matter of the heart.  It's our attitude toward how we view others.

You may be wondering how you can have this kind of heart attitude.  Here are some tips to help you cultivate kindness in your life.

Caring for others and paying attention to the needs of those around you will grow your love for others.  As will praying for others. Praying for others is such an amazing thing to do.  It is through praying for others that God turns your focus on yourself into concern for others.  

Thinking is also a part of kindness.  When you start to care about others you will start thinking of different ways you can help them. Purpose to think about others as you go about your day.

Another important aspect of kindness is noticing.  To often we choose to 'not see' the needs of those around us. But God has given us wonderful observing skills and God wants us to take note of others around us and of their needs.  

By caring for, thinking of, and noticing the needs of the people around us we are creating for ourselves a new attitude.  One that is full of kindness.  And you are then ready for the next step.

Are you beginning to see how patience and kindness fit together like a glove?  First we must have patience not to respond in a mean way and by not responding we are given the chance to take to heart and notice the needs of the person who has offended us.  Next is what I like to call kindness in action ~ goodness.  And that is the next fruit of the spirit.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

Note: I'm sorry if this post seems short or rushed, or if there are any typo's I failed to notice. This week I'm going to be very, very, busy and I really wanted to post something before the busyness starts.  So I wrote this post really quick.  

Patience ~ Doing Nothing

Saturday, May 2, 2015

So, I actually found the time to write the next part in my Fruit of the Spirit series.  Yay! I hope you enjoy it ;)

After love, joy, and peace come patience, kindness, and goodness. Where love, joy, and peace are all primarily about our heart attitude; patience, kindness, and goodness are about how we are to treat others. For now though, we are just going to focus on patience.

You may be thinking you know what it means to be patient.  It's when you have to wait for something and it requires you to be patient. It's something you probably hated when you were little and still hate now that you're older.  Yes, waiting does require patience but that definition is hardly scraping the surface of the meaning of patience. Consider the verse below:

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,..." Ephesians 4:1-2

"...with patience, bearing with one another in love." What does this mean?  Paul is urging us to live our lives in unity with those around us.  So patience obviously effects how we interact with others.  So what exactly does it mean to be patient with others?

It means when others wrong you or are mean to you God wants you to do nothing.  He doesn't want you to react if that means you are going to say something critical or mean back. By doing nothing we have the time to think, to pray, to reflect, to ask for advice, and to plan to respond in a 'kind' way.  We need to remember that God has shown us, sinners who don't deserve God's grace, patience even though we continue to fail Him everyday.  And God wants us to be patient when we find ourselves being treated unfairly.  I think of the parable in Matthew 18 about the unmerciful servant who after having his own debts canceled failed to be patient with his own servant.  Knowing that God is patient with us should stir us on to be patient with others.

And if we get down to the roots of why we feel like we always have to say something in return it is often because we think we are better than the other person.  But we are all sinners in God's eyes and by being mean back we are not being a very good example to unbelievers.

So patience is simply having the strength to do nothing when you find yourself being treated unfairly by others.  So is it really that simple?  Simple to understand, yes; simple to do, not really.  We need God's help, and only with the power of the Holy Spirit within us can we be patient when mistreated. 

But I'm not done yet.  You may be a bit confused.  So patience doesn't have anything to do with waiting?  It has everything to do with waiting.  One thing I have learned as I study each fruit is there is no single meaning or simple answer for each Christian virtue.  

Briefly, I want to talk a little bit about having patience through hard circumstances.  I've said it before, the Christian life is not easy. God has given us His peace to get through hard times but He also wants us to have patience.  The secret to being patient through rough circumstances is having complete trust in God and the plan He has for your life.  

If you struggle with being patient when your life feels like it's a mess then the best thing you can do is go to God in prayer and study your Bible. Through this process you will grow in your love for God and you will learn to trust God, and then ultimately place your future in His hands.

I want to end with this quote that I just came across today. "Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while your waiting."