The busy holiday season is upon us. Canada celebrated Thanksgiving in October, the United States a few days ago. The Christmas parties are about to begin. Then we move on to the New Year celebrations.
I for one decided a few years ago to slow down during the holidays and focus on what’s most important. For the most part I have been successful in my resolve only momentarily slipping back into trying to meet everyone’s expectations.
I thought it would be fun to share thoughts on how you “do” the holidays. Do you prefer to “do it up big”, keep it simple, or somewhere in between? What is your most special holiday tradition? Share your thoughts about Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Eve.
I would like to hear about some of your favorite recipes as well. They can be simple yet tasty, or extravagant but worth the effort.
I’ve noticed that even the most physically beautiful person quickly becomes unattractive when they behave in an unkind manner.
A kind and compassionate person glows and is welcoming.
It’s important to remember that there is no small act of kindness. A seemingly small thing to you may make a world of difference to another and those around them. Conversely a thoughtless word or action may have far reaching consequences.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 16:25 HCSB
How often have you made a very logical decision being confident it was the best choice in the given situation only to see everything come unravelled? I know that has been the case with me many times. Why was that?
With me it’s usually one of two things.
1) I’m too busy to slow down and ponder things. Yes I’ve got the Mary thing going on.
2) I rely on my own understanding too often. The answer seems clear enough so I don’t check in with God. That seems ridiculous because one of my favorite scriptures Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” I have it hanging in my kitchen!
God has given us many ways to hear from him. He gave us himself. We have his spirit (the counsellor) living in us. We have his word that gives us clear guidance. We have other believers (iron sharpens iron). We can know the will of God. It’s not a mystery. He will give us the answers if we slow down and ask.
When do you tend to rely on your own understanding?
How does that work for you?
How do you hear from God?
I have heard it said many more times than I can count that prayer is powerful. I have always agreed; yes it is. The last year or so I have had an uneasiness about this statement. It’s not because I don’t agree that prayer is powerful. It’s that I have come to realize that we often give more credit to the one who offers the prayers rather than the one who hears and answers.
When your prayer is answered in the way you hoped for do you feel that you must have prayed the right words, or asked the more spiritual people to pray for you?
We must remember that only power of prayer is with the One who loves us most and knows what we need. If He answers our plea the way we think He should we quickly say “God is so good!”
What if things don’t work out the way we think they should? Does that mean God is not good? Of course we wouldn’t openly say that but do you think that? Perhaps we explain it away by saying we didn’t have enough faith or something along those lines.
We should remember God loves us more than we could ever imagine. I truly believe that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28
Pray without ceasing, pray with honesty, pray even when you don’t know how to pray, pray in every circumstance. In the end be willing to accept His will not yours. Yes God is good! He is good no matter how He chooses to answer our prayers. He will be there to help us though everything that comes our way.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” ~ Max Lucado
As I was working this morning I came across an article I had written for ContagiousJoy4Him some time ago. As I read it God spoke to me though my own words. To this day I far too often struggle being still before Him. I’m posting the article here as a reminder to me and pray it encourages others as well.
Be still! My mother often told me that. I fidgeted when I was a child. Okay, I’ll admit it, I still fidget.
Just what is the definition of still? Good ol’ Webster.com always there to help me out. The first definition listed was exactly what my mother desired me to do. “Remain in place or at rest; motionless; stationary: to stand still.”
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10a
What does God mean when he tells us to be still?
The word translated “be still” comes from the Hebrew term raphah. Given the context it is used in the meaning can vary. In this verse it means to sink, let go, relax.
Sink into what? Let go of what? Relax?
The plans we make………..I am a planner. I do my best not to over commit. However I often forget that plans far too often are interrupted. The last several months have been a stark reminder of that.
The month of August should have been a fairly calm month. At least that is what I thought when I looked at my calendar at the beginning of the summer. I would travel to visit my family then made preparations for a mission team coming in July. I knew July would be busy with outreach activities. But then we could relax a bit. So I thought. Then, well life happened.
As the month of August went on I knew I was scheduled to write an article on Psalm 46:10. I was mulling it over and had thoughts about what I would write. Nearly every time I would get a good start on it I would get interrupted. If I didn’t get interrupted I would have difficulty “being still”. It just wasn’t happening.
Relax? I was far from relaxed! There was so much going on, so much not happening that should be happening, and so many uncertainties. Nearly all that I had counted on was out the window.
I sent an email apologizing for the delay of the article and assuring her that I would get it finished “no matter what”. That evening I sat down to make good on my word. Then I prayed……….begged God for clarity.
He was faithful to answer that prayer. It occurred to me that I was attempting to “be still” under my own power. And while doing that I wasn’t acknowledging the remainder of that verse. Be still; a stillness that comes with knowing that He is God and He will be exalted.
Yes, I must fulfill my responsibilities and live my life with integrity in this uncertain world. But my strength and determination in no way negates my need to rely on God.
I thought I knew what was coming my way when I looked at my calendar for the summer but I was forgetting James 4:13-15 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Being still (raphah) is not necessarily lack of activity. Yes, we all need that time of sitting still and meditating on God’s word and allowing Him to speak to us. The rest of the day is where I went off track. I wasn’t being still in my spirit. I did have my moments where I knew God was right there with me. But more often I was being reactionary when one more unexpected thing came my way. My reaction to the circumstances should have been more like definition #4 for still listed in Webster.com “free from turbulence or commotion; peaceful; tranquil; calm”. I had a lot to turbulence and commotion going on inside me. I didn’t have a peaceful, tranquil, calm spirit that comes from knowing He is God and knowing that He would be exalted. I allowed fear to enter in where only stillness and knowing should be.
I didn’t have a clue what was coming my way this summer. He did. And He will be exalted. All I need to do is Be Still and Know Who My God is. The Lord Almighty is with us.
“Be sure to taste your words before spitting them out. ”
This very good food for thought is not my own. I read it this morning and don’t know the author. But it is a good reminder for he day.