Revive Me, Week Nine–Be A Do-Gooder

Revive Me, Week Nine– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be A Do-Gooder

Did you know that the chances of having a Leap Day birthday are one in 1,461?  I also learned that people who are born on February 29th are called “leaplings” or “leapers.”  I’ve always felt sorry for them since they only get to celebrate their true birthday once every four years.  I never give any thought to Leap Day until it happens, and then I think, “This is kind of a cool day.”

What is your average day like?  What do you spend your time doing?  What is your goal or focus for each and every day?  Paul wrote that we should make the most of every opportunity by doing good.

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,

and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Gal. 6:10

Let’s not be leapers in the Lord’s work, doing good occasionally but on most days not giving much thought to it.  Our challenge for this week is to make Galatians 6:10 our focus each morning.  How can we do good to all people today?  Doing good “while we have opportunity” means making the most of each new day, consistently looking for ways to make a difference in the kingdom.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

(John Wesley)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Post this quote in a visible place:“Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?”
  2.  Make a list of the “all” in your life and come up with specific ways you can “do good” to them.  Your list might include your husband, children, parents, siblings, next door neighbors, elders, church family, etc.
  3. Counteract the negative connotations surrounding the idea of going about doing good (“do-gooders,” “goodie two shoes”) by studying up on how God feels about it:  Titus 2:7; 3:14,  2 Tim. 3:17, James 1:27, 3 John 1:11, 1 Tim. 6:18, Eph. 2:10, James 2:14-17, 1 Pet. 2:12, 2 Thess. 3:13
  4.  As you go about doing good to others, especially those in your church family and community, invite others to join you (Heb. 10:24).  Your children can help you make something for your neighbors.  Ask a Christian sister or teen girl to join you when you visit a shut-in.  Invite a few ladies over for coffee and spend time in prayer for the wayward.
  5.  Pray for open eyes to see opportunities to do good and an open heart to desire to do them.
  6.  Enjoy the genuine satisfaction that comes from serving others and living a life of meaning (Eph. 2:10).

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Revive Me, Week 8- Love Your Enemies

Revive Me, Week 8– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Love Your Enemies

Our nation has enemies, “Christendom” has enemies, and the Lord’s church has enemies.   Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” and that sounds so very personal.  It’s easier to claim to love my enemies if I can’t really put a face to them.  But what about the folks who seem to go out of their way to be rude to me?  What about the ones who just don’t like me?  What about the ones I would rather avoid?  And what about the ones who have been vicious to someone I love?

One of my sons deals with an “enemy” on an almost daily basis.  Every time he goes to work, there’s a man who antagonizes him for his faith.  He insulting, sarcastic, and gets in my son’s face.  I’ve imagined various scenarios where I get to give that bully a piece of my mind.  Oh yes, it’s harder to love someone with a face, someone who is going after one of my own.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Matt. 5:43-48)

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is thatto you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

(Luke 6:27-36)

I think I’m doing well enough when I just don’t retaliate, and I’m real proud of myself when I muster up a sincere smile for an enemy.  But “even sinners do the same.”  Jesus calls for more than cool kindness.  Starting with my heart, I must practice genuine love.  Jesus not only commands it, He demonstrated it.  He loved me when I was unlovable (Eph. 2:4,5).  Do my enemies know I love them?

Suggestions for the week:

  1.  If you like to mark in your Bible, turn to Matt. 5:43ff and underline “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.”  In Luke 6:27ff, circle “love your enemies” and then underline all the ways to fulfill that command (“do good,” “bless,” “pray,” etc.).
  2. Focus on one specific “love your enemy” command each day this week:
    1. Monday- Do good to those who hate you
    2. Tuesday- Bless those who curse you
    3. Wednesday- Pray for those who mistreat you
    4. Thursday- Give to everyone who asks of you
    5. Friday- Treat others the same way you want them to treat you
  3. In your personal Bible study, pay attention to how Jesus interacted with His enemies.
  4. Take a few minutes to listen to this excellent message about True Love.

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Revive Me, Week 7– Stop Complaining

Revive Me, Week 7– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Stop Complaining

“Stop”- to not do something that you have been doing before; to not continue doing something

That little reminder of the definition of “stop” is for myself.  I admit this challenge will be tough for me.  I don’t like to think of myself as a whiner or negative person and yet I realize that I have found ways to complain anyway.  I certainly have tried to justify it.

If I only complain to my husband, it doesn’t really count.

If I have a legitimate cause for complaint, surely it’s understandable.

I think I’ve even figured out how to disguise complaints.  I can word them in such a way that makes it sound like I’m only asking a question.  But complaining is complaining.  What’s the big deal?  Well, when I take the time to focus on Scriptures about complaining, I see that God thinks it’s a big deal.

“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord, and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled…” (Num. 11:1).

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (Phil. 2:14).

“Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged” (James 5:9).

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Pet. 4:9).

In 1 Cor. 10, we read that God was not “well-pleased” with the Israelites.  “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (v. 6).  What “evil things” did they crave?  While they were in the wilderness, they were guilty of idolatry, immorality, and complaining.  “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…” (v. 10,11).  Twice in the text Paul writes that the behavior of the Israelites and their consequences are an example for us.  Is complaining really as bad as idolatry and immorality?  Yikes.  

I’m ready to remove complaining from my speech and my mind.  I’m ready to nip it in the bud.  I want need to set a better example for my husband, my sons, and anyone else who is around when I open my mouth.  I don’t want to sound like the world.  Even more than that, I realize that complaining comes from discontentment and ingratitude.  God’s children are the most blessed in this life and have still more to come in the next.  How can I waste my breath grumbling when there’s so much for which to rejoice?

Challenges for the week:

  1.  “Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once).  Then watch how your life starts changing” (Katrina Mayer).  Complaining is a habit.  Take the challenge, one day at a time!
  2.  Tell someone that you’re trying to kick the complaining habit.  Ask them to help catch you when you gripe.
  3.  Keep an index card in your pocket.  Every time you complain, make a tally mark.  See how you do at the end of each day.  Hopefully your marks will get fewer and fewer as you learn to catch yourself.
  4. Replace complaining with blessing counting.  When you think a complaint, voice a blessing instead.
  5. Read this excellent and convicting article by Erynn Sprouse.

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Revive Me, Week 6– Forgive Finally

Revive Me, Week 6—A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Forgive Finally

“Let all bitterness….be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31).

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, your heavenly Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14,15).

Is there someone you need to forgive?  Has someone hurt you so badly that you are having a hard time getting past it?  This week’s “Revive Me” challenge is not an easy one but it is a necessary one.  If we want to be closer than ever to our Savior, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned against us, neglected us, disappointed us, or betrayed us.  If it was a one time grievance, we must forgive them.  If it was something that happened during our entire growing up period, we must still forgive them.

And here’s the hard part…it must be from the heart .

Read Matt. 18:21-35.

We must offer nothing less than sincere forgiveness from the heart.  How was the master able to forgive the slave who couldn’t repay him?  He had compassion and mercy (Matt. 18:27).  What kept that same slave from forgiving someone who owed him?  He lacked compassion and mercy (Matt. 18:33).  If we’re struggling with bitterness toward someone, we can pray for a compassionate and merciful heart.

When someone sins against us, they are guilty.  If we refuse to forgive them, we also become guilty.  Surely a close relationship with God is worth any difficult effort to forgive.

Suggestions for the Week:

1. Pray about any hangups you might have in forgiving someone.  Ask God to help you offer the same compassion and mercy to others that He has shown you.

2. Think of examples of forgiveness you’ve personally received from others.

3.  There are many passages that deal with the topic of forgiveness.  Study them this week and write down as much as you can learn about it.  If you’d like to do a Bible-marking on forgiveness, you can find one here.

4. Remember that God knows what’s best for us.  Write down some benefits of forgiving others.

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Revive Me #5, Sing On!

Revive Me, Week 5–a Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Sing On!

“It thrills my soul to hear the songs of praise…”  The blessings of singing in worship are many.  The words lift our hearts above the troubles of this world.  The songs themselves often recall precious memories of people or events.  Singing with the saints draws us closer together.  And did you know that the very act of singing is a natural mood lifter?

Singing was a special part of my upbringing.  I recall singing with my family in the car and  singing with my sister while washing dishes.  Certain songs remind me of my dad’s tenor or my grandma’s alto.  As Neal and I brought up our three sons, singing was always a part of our evening devotionals.  Now that most of our days and evenings are spent without our sons, I find myself singing less.

Today we had a “5th Sunday Singing.”  Members from surrounding congregations came together this afternoon for the sheer pleasure of praising God in song.  I was struck by the words to one of the songs:

“The greatest joy that I have ever known, is praising Him in song,

I know some day, when I have older grown, my voice will not be strong.”

(“The New Song” by J. R. Baxter, Jr.)

Right then I started listening to Neal’s strong tenor and wondered what it will be like to hear him in another twenty years.  I imagine his shaky voice will still carry conviction and will still move me.  And so, here is this week’s “Revive Me” challenge:  sing on.  Sing more.  Yes, sing out in worship and in your family devotionals, but also in the car, in your kitchen, and while you’re doing laundry.  Sing with your children and with your husband.  Sing by yourself.  Let those around you see (hear) your joy.  Express the song in your heart.  There is gloom in the world but there’s a call for rejoicing for every child of God.  I don’t know how I’ve gotten away from it but I’m determined to sing more for as long as I can, before “my voice will not be strong.”

“Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones;

praise is becoming to the upright” (Psa. 33:1).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Go through the songbook and sing songs you haven’t sung in a while.
  2.  Enjoy songs that convict or touch your personal spiritual need.
  3.  Choose a psalm or psalms and create your own tune to the words.  This would be fun to do as a family.
  4.  Remember why singing is a good idea:  Psa. 9:11; 96:1,2; 104:33; 147:1; Eph. 5:19,20; Col. 3:16; James 5:13; Acts 16:25.
  5.  Go through the Psalms and highlight the ones that have to do with singing.
  6.  Do the Bible-marking on “Songs from Scripture.”

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