The New You

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
 

Like a caterpillar metamorphosing into a beautiful butterfly, you are divinely transformed into a new creation when you become a child of Christ. At the moment you place your trust and faith in Jesus, you are emptied of the old self (the old has gone) and divinely reborn as a child of God (the new creation has come)! And just like the caterpillar after its mysterious metamorphosis process, that old life of yours is gone ~ it exists no more. Your newborn soul is fresh and unique, crafted by the Creator of the universe for His glory.  You are a brand new person, re-created on the inside, not simply an upgrade of an older version. Your mind, thoughts and purposes become God focused.

Don’t let the shame of your past or the guilt over former mistakes hold you captive ~ or cocooned ~ and keep you looking back with regrets. Through God’s unfathomable love and grace, your shame, guilt, and mistakes were nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Your Savior’s blood covered each and every sin so that you could become a new creation through Him.

Each time you see a beautiful butterfly, remind yourself that you are a marvelous new creation in Christ ~ the old has gone, the new is here!

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” Revelation 21:5(NIV)
 
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)

When You Feel Crabby

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“Live in harmony with one another…” Romans 12:16a (NIV)
 

Let’s face it. There days when it’s difficult to “live in harmony” with others ~ days when every little thing gets on your nerves, and you feel crotchety and testy.  Perhaps something happened to precipitate this prickly state of mind, or it could be that you just simply woke up in a grouchy mood. Instead of harmony, everything around your seems to be a cacophony of jangling disharmony.

But as a children of the Prince of Peace, we must remind ourselves that the example we set in our lives should draw others to our Heavenly Father, not push them away. We should be a breath of fresh air for people around us, not a source of negativity and strife. So if you are having one of those touch-me-not days, take a spiritual time out and pray about it.  Ask God to reset your attitude, and replace your crabbiness with an infusion of His loving, patient and forgiving spirit. Remind yourself of these instructions from Philippians 2:14 – 16a (MSG)

        1. Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!
        2. Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.
        3. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.
        4. Carry the light-giving Message into the night…

Strive to put heaven’s priorities into daily practice, and focus on what really matters, not on nit-picky details.  Let this be your constant theme: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 (NIV)

  • “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
  • “Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night…” Philippians 2:14 – 16a (MSG)
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23(NIV)
 

 

Inexpressible Joy

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Though you have not seen Him, you love Him;
and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him
and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
2 Peter 1:8 (NIV)
 

Imagine the feeling of inexpressible joy! There are many joyous moments in life that bring about such a feeling:  the birth of a precious baby, finding the love of your life, landing your dream job, …even good news from an oncology report.  Of course all of these wonderful events would naturally elicit the feeling of indescribable joy, but for the child of God, joy can be experienced even in the darkest moments of life.

Here’s the astonishing truth:  Joy is not the absence of sorrow, disappointments, struggles, or suffering.  Joy is God’s presence in all things.

Joy is an aspect of God’s nature and character, and so to draw near to God is to draw near to joy.  As a child of God, you can tap into inexpressible and glorious joy continually.  When waves of difficulty crash over your life, the burden is greatest if you feel a sense of isolation in the midst of your suffering.  Yet when God is there, all your difficulties are infused with His mysterious and glorious joy. Spend time in His presence and be filled you with His inexpressible joy, no matter what you are facing in life.

    • Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b (AMP)
    • The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV)
    • Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a (NKJV)
    • “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

Bloom Where You’re Planted

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“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else.
Where you are right now is God’s place for you.
Live and obey and love and believe right there.”
1 Corinthians 7:17a (MSG)
 

In most parts of the world, a limb cut from a tree will not continue to grow and thrive. But in the fertile, tropical rain forest region of Central America, the growing conditions are so perfect that even limbs used as fence posts will sprout roots and produce new limbs!  Eventually these “Living Fences” begin to look like groves of trees, growing in perfect alignment.

In the same way, God wants to use your life right where you are planted, and He has specifically placed you where you are at this moment in time for a special reason. Don’t miss out on the great opportunities to serve Him right where you live! We often feel strapped to our life’s obligations, and we are so concerned about what we could be doing if we were someplace else, but you can do God’s work and have a tremendous impact on others in your current sphere of influence.  You are uniquely positioned to influence those around you in your home, your workplace, your community, your school, your team, your neighborhood, etc… You don’t have to be in full-time ministry or ship off to a foreign mission field to serve others.  Live out each day of your life as your ministry, wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Ask God to open your eyes and show you new and creative ways to serve Him. Be like the “Living Fence,” and live and obey and love and believe right there ~ Bloom where you are planted!

Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him,
so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.
Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Colossians 2:6 – 7 (NLT)

God Uses the Ordinary for Extraordinary Purposes

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
 

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I was awakened each morning at dawn to an exquisite sound…the beautiful song of the Clay-colored Thrush.  Before I ever spotted one of these birds, I was mesmerized by its beautiful serenade.  And when I finally saw one of them, I was surprised by its bland appearance, and I was even more surprised when I learned that this plain-looking bird is the national bird of Costa Rica!  In a country full of flashy and iconic birds – such as the macaw, toucan and motmot – why in the world would a tawny-brown bird that blends into the scenery be chosen as their national bird? But then when I connected this ordinary bird with its ethereal song, it became extraordinary in my sight.

The Clay-colored Thrush has achieved national bird status not by being showy, strong, colorful, huge or any other superlative. This common bird gained its status by simply using its God-given talent of singing its beautiful song. It has a tendency to live close to humans and is widespread throughout the country of Costa Rica, so each day its residents are all awakened by the same lovely sound – a rich, enchanting call which unifies the entire nation – making it an excellent choice for a national bird!

This ordinary bird is a great example of how God uses ordinary people for extraordinary purposes. God knows what’s in our hearts, and He’s not concerned with outward appearances. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance, but they spend very little time developing their inward character and seeking out God’s purpose for their lives. Samuel almost overlooked David as God’s choice to be king of Israel, because he was young with a ruddy complexion, and he did not have the outward regal appearance of a future king. Not everyone is destined to become a king, but God has designed each one of us with a unique and meaningful purpose in mind. Live your life the Clay-colored Thrush — use your God-given talents and “sing your life song” to make an impact in the lives of those around you. Don’t let any excuses (such as your age, physical abilities, or outward appearance) stop you from fulfilling the extraordinary purpose for which you were designed!

Your Hiding Place from the Storms of Life

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You are my hiding place from every storm of life;
You even keep me from getting into trouble!
You surround me with songs of victory.
Psalm 32:7 (TLB)

Are you weathering a life storm right now?  Do you feel that unrelenting difficulties are battering your daily activities, knocking you off course?  Has an area of extreme turbulence settled in over your home? Are fierce waves of heartache rolling incessantly?

As a child of God, His protection of you is limitless and takes many forms.  During stormy periods in life, He is your hiding place…your storm shelter.  He is a refuge that surrounds you and protects you while the crisis rages on around you. He’s the place you run to until the danger has passed over, and He’s there to calm and comfort you, hiding you in the safety of His presence…surrounding you with songs of victory. So if you need protection from a life storm, run to the loving arms of your Heavenly Father. Imagine Him holding you securely, shielding you from harm, and singing songs to calm your anxieties and quiet your fears until the tempestuous difficulties are over. He is your hiding place from every storm of life!

How wonderful are the good things
    you keep for those who honor you!
Everyone knows how good you are,
    how securely you protect those who trust you.
You hide them in the safety of your presence
Psalm 31:19 – 20a (GNT)
 
The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.  
Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV)

Be Still

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“…Be still,

and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

How often do we ask God for help or guidance, but we don’t stop to listen and wait for His response? The act of being still means more than simply remaining in place, it also means to be free from sound or noise, and free from turbulence or commotion. Yet in the busyness of life, it is challenging for us to carve out quiet chunks of time being still. The world requires action from us, yet God asks us to simply be still and spend time focused only on Him.

Not only is it difficult to come to a complete rest from motion, it’s also nearly impossible to quiet our thoughts. Silence can be intimidating because that’s when our anxious thoughts seems to kick into turbo speed – “What if something bad happens? What if I fail? I’m not smart enough; I’m not good enough; I’m not successful enough; I can’t handle this; I’ll never get through this; I’m a failure; There’s no hope; etc..”  If we fill our time with endless activity, non-stop work, mindless television, internet surfing, or social media browsing, it’s easy to dodge our concerns and block any worries. Silence can force us to face issues that we might be trying to run away from, yet God wants us to bring those cares and apprehensions to Him. In Mark 4:39, Jesus quieted a raging storm with these word, “Peace, Be still!” Ask Him to quiet the tempestuous thoughts in your mind with those same words. He will shine the light of His truth into your life and replace those fears and self-doubts with His peace.  Both your mind and your strength will be renewed through this process.

On a recent trip to Central America, our group came upon the sloth pictured above.  We were enthralled with this unique creature and thrilled that we were able to experience this rare sight! During the entire time I watched him hanging by his shaggy arms, he remained motionless and seemingly oblivious to the chatter and activity below from our group of observers. As I stood viewing this fascinating animal, the Lord gently reminded me that His slow-motion-creation provides a great example of what it means to be still.

So when you need strength or help from God, or when your anxious thoughts are overpowering you, learn a lesson from the sloth.  Cling to Jesus and rest in His unending love and care for you. Block out the distractions and noise from the world and meditate solely on His voice. Simply, “Be still, and know that I am God.”