Category Archives: Devotional

2013 Resolutions

What are your New Year resolutions?

At the start of 2013, God has blessed me with new beginnings.  I am starting a new job in a new field, and I am expanding my horizons in my strengths and talents.  This new job offers half day Fridays and no weekend work, which is a big change from my non-profit Symphony job where I worked most weekends. Ironically, when God gives me an opportunity for rest, I often find ways to fill it up again! I have a tendency to over-commit myself to things when I see my schedule change or open up.  So when my colleagues asked me what my New Year’s resolutions were, I thought very hard about what God had been pressing on my soul for several months:

Rest.

My New Year’s resolution is to have a day of rest every week.  This seems obvious, doesn’t it?  God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy, yet this commandment always seems to slip my mind.  Of course, this commandment is hard to keep if my commitments, however worthy, obstruct God’s insistence on putting my health first.  I had to seriously ask myself what my priorities were.  When I realized that I was in a position where I could not prioritize God and His promptings, I asked Him to help me make necessary changes.  First He made changes in my heart and my self-discipline, then he made some big changes I wasn’t necessarily expecting.  But all of these answers have given me a chance to follow the Lord’s leading in my life.

I don’t intend to waste my day of rest by lying around all day and playing on Facebook; instead, I will take it as an opportunity to know God more intimately.  I want to make God the center of my life everyday, but I want my day of rest to be a conscious day of learning, prayer, and spiritual rejuvenation.   This will ground me in my upcoming week and  end my prior week on a spiritual high note.

 

This is what I expect will naturally occur because of my New Year’s Resolution – my day of rest:

1) Recuperation in God’s presence

2) Mental and physical stress relief

3) Inspiration for my inner creativity and time to carry it out

4)  Focused work ethic during the week because I know I’ll get a break

Of course, I have other resolutions that play into this.  I would like to pursue my music more seriously and give myself more opportunities for performance.  I would also like to travel every few months with my husband to nearby cities.  I am hoping to blog more regularly and join a local small group (or start one!) that meets once a week.  I am putting a greater focus on my diet and exercise than I have in the past.  Some of these goals are compatible with my day of rest, and keeping that as my main resolution will help me to center God in my life and keep myself from over-committing.

Tomorrow’s my first official day of rest for the year, and I have been looking forward to it all week.  I worked extra hard this week to ensure that I would not have any work to do tomorrow.  My husband and I are attending church with some good friends of ours, and then we are all going straight to the movies to see Les Miserables (again).  Then I plan to learn how to cook some healthy quinoa vegetarian dish, drink soothing hot tea, read a chapter of John White’s Daring to Draw Near (thought provoking book on prayer) and clean a bit.  After that, I’ll have to go to bed early because my new job STARTS at 7 AM and this girl is not used to seeing the sun rise. 🙂

I hope you also have a restful day sometime this week!  If you’re currently unable to commit to one day a week due to your work schedule, do your best to capture a few days or half days a month to give your body and mind some much needed rest.

 

Whatever your resolutions are this year, I pray you can focus on these areas of your life:

1) Grow in your personal relationship with God, the Church, and your loved ones (Spiritual and Social)

2) Take care of your physical and mental health by eating well, exercising, and controlling your emotions in a healthy manner (Physical and Emotional)

3) Exercise your mind with art, literature, stimulating conversation, and mind games;  Know thyself by learning and utilizing your strengths (Intellectual and Occupational)

When you ignore one of these areas, it is very difficult to feel fully operational as a human and certainly as a Christian.  You will feel unbalanced if you neglect an important area of your life.  Your consistent actions will betray your true priorities.  Do you put work over family or God?  Do you study or practice long hours yet neglect your body’s strength and health?  Do you hide from your God-given strengths because you fear what God may ask you to do with them?

Whether your have specific or vague goals, approach God in prayer and humility and ask Him to bless you.  He will open doors for you in ways you never imagined.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

May you have a blessed 2013!

Proverbs 21:21

I get a daily Bible verse from Biblegateway.com, and I always get it in two translations: KJV and NIV. Sometimes the KJV is just too florid for my understanding, so I get it in two translations. The other day the verse was Proverbs 21:21, and I read it in several different translations and found it fascinating.

Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperity and honor. (NIV)

He who pursues righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness and honor. (NASB)

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy
findeth life, righteousness, and honour. (KJV)

The substituted words are “love, loyalty, mercy”. It struck me as interesting that there was such a difference in these translations. How are these substituted words similar? I am not familiar with the original language, so forgive me if my interpretation is less than academic. I am merely stating what the Holy Spirit related to me for my own personal understanding.

One of the most consistent words is “righteousness”. He who pursues righteousness will inherit this wonderful promise. But righteousness is not enough, you must pair righteousness with love, loyalty, and mercy. This two-fold requirement reveals the nature of God. God is holy, God is righteous. But God is more than a flawless being; His love is what drives Him to make His children righteous in His image, so that they may share in eternal life with Him. If you think about what God’s love is, it’s an extension of His mercy, which He bestows upon us in the form of grace. His grace will never fail, and He will never run out of grace. This is the loyal promise of God: that He will pursue you faithfully to the end of your days, bestowing upon you his mercy, grace, and love. He will teach you His righteous ways so that you may pursue it passionately; He has changed your nature so that it desires a life of righteousness and love rather than self-centeredness and sin.

If you pursue God for who He is, and you will find life, prosperity, and honor. The definition of “honor” is this: honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. The definition of “prosperous” is this: Having success; flourishing. Why does the NIV say “prosperity” rather than “righteousness”? I suspect it has to do with the several references to righteous people of God flourishing. See some Pslams below:

Psalm 92:12 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon”

Psalm 72:7 “In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.”

Go back and read Proverbs 21:21. Isn’t this an amazing promise of God? If you pursue Him and put Him first, He will bless you.

The unbelievers do not know or understand this promise, but it is extended to them as well. If in their hearts they pursue the attributes of God — His righteousness, love, loyalty, mercy — God will reveal Himself to them. He desires that none of His children perish. They too have the chance to find life, and it is our duty to lovingly show them the way through our actions, both spoken and unspoken. Sometimes we don’t realize how much of a positive effect we have on a non-Christian friend when we simply treat them with courtesy and kindness. They notice when you “Love your neighbor as yourself,” whether you realize it or not. The Christian life is about showing the nature of God whether people expect you to or not; in fact, you must show Christ more-so when people expect you to do the exact opposite! Matthew 5 has all sorts of interesting things to say about a Christian’s behavior. I encourage you to go read it as a refresher.

Let us pursue righteousness and love, not only for our own spiritual growth, but for the sake of those around us.

(This post was originally written February 9, 2011 on the original The God Files.)