Revive Me #18–Keep Things in Perspective

A few months ago I shared the photo below on my husband and dog on social media.  Several posted comments like:

“That’s not a dog…it’s a grizzly bear!”

“That dog is huge!  What kind is it?”

“That can’t be a real dog.”

“That’s a wookie.”

“Is that real?  When’d he get so big?  (Your dog, not Neal)”

Chipper does look ginormous in the picture but he’s only a medium sized goldendoodle and weighs about 55 pounds.  Something about the perspective of the shot makes him look a lot bigger than he actually is, especially compared to Neal.

How are you at keeping things in perspective?  It’s easier to see when someone else has trouble because they’re approaching something from the wrong point of view.  We might think, “If only they would change their attitude concerning ______…”  It’s more difficult to recognize in our own life.

Thankfully the Bible is our mirror (James 1:23).  We can look into it and see if we need to make any changes.

  • What causes you to worry?
  • Do you have unresolved issues with someone?
  • Do you wonder what you’re supposed to do with your life?
  • Do you feel like you’re not good enough, your past is insurmountable, or Christianity is too hard?

Satan wants you to struggle and doubt.  He wants to discourage you from ever “getting it right.”  These types of questions can be more easily resolved when approached from a biblical perspective.  When we keep our focus where it belongs, the predicaments of life don’t loom as large.

“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above…Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

(Col. 3:1,2)

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Study verses that have to do with spiritual priorities:  Luke 12:22-34; Col. 1:10; Matt. 6:19-24, 33; 22:37,38; Luke 10:38-42; Rom. 12:2; Phil. 3:13,14; 2 Tim. 2:22
  2.  List your concerns and pray about them.  Ask God to help you keep things in their proper perspective.
  3.  Consider the quote, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”  Have you allowed fear to control your decisions?  How can you strengthen your faith to help you see things God’s way?

Read it. Memorize it. Live it.

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Making the Most of My Time for God

My brother-in-law has a birthday today.  I’m attending a funeral this morning.  Birthdays and funerals always make me more aware of the passing of time.  The older I get, the more quickly time passes somehow.  I once heard “time” defined as “the period between two eternities.”  Life is brief.  The Bible compares the shortness of life to a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15), a cloud (Job 7:9), a flower (Job 14:1,2), a vapor (James 4:14), a sigh (Psalm 90:9), grass (1 Peter 1:24), and a breath (Job 7:7).  Standing before Christ, each of us will give an account for our brief time here on earth.  So how can we make the most of our time for God?

Focus on Our Treasures.  What do we treasure?  Certainly we know what the answer to that should be.  But what if strangers were asked to answer that question for us?  How would they go about finding the answer?  They would watch where we spend our time, energy, and money.  These three things are dedicated to what we treasure.  Jesus told us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19,20).  In other words, our priorities must be spiritual, heaven-minded.  How can we make sure we’re laying up treasures in heaven?  We must put the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33).  We must love the Savior more than our own family (Matthew 10:37).  We must love Him more than we love ourselves (Matthew 10:39).

Focus on Our Influence.  The scope of our influence is broader than we think.  People all around us are watching us walk, talk, and shine the Light.  What is my role in my Christian family?  What can I do?  Paul told some Christians that the way they received the Word with joy became an example to other Christians around them.  He said, “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth…Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).  The influence of these Christians saved Paul, Silas, and Timothy some work.  Are we saving anybody some work?  Perhaps the elders?  Some teachers who need a break?  The minister of personal evangelism?  Our influence can make a difference in the kingdom!

Focus on Our Mission.  “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).  Jeremiah sent these words in a letter to Jews who were in captivity in Babylon.  They weren’t where they wanted to be.  They certainly weren’t where they planned to be.  Jeremiah was reminding them that God had a plan for them, a purpose.  Some of us are happy and content.  Some of us aren’t where we had hoped to be at this point in our life.  Jeremiah gave the Jews a two-part program:  prepare for the plan and pursue perfection.  No matter where we are in life, we must keep ready for action.  We must keep ourselves in spiritual shape for the mission God has for us.  We mustn’t wait for a better time!  Henry David Thorough said, “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”  The only way to tell the difference between wasting time and investing time is to know our purpose, our mission.  What if you’re not sure what it is?  Christians can all adopt the two missions of Jesus.  He came “to do the will of the Father” (John 6:38) and “to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Focus on Our Eternity.  Now is the time to build our faith, strengthen our foundation, and put on the whole armor of God.  We can make the most of our time by challenging ourselves to obtain the high mark Jesus set before us (Philippians 3:12-14).  Paul challenges all of us with several charges in Philippians.  Develop the mind of Christ (2:5-8).  Serve without complaining (2:14,15).  Find our joy in the Lord (4:4).  Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything (4:6).  Meditate on holy things (4:8).  And be content with God’s help (4:11-13).  These are six different things.  We can take focus on one each week and see if we can tell a big difference at the end of six weeks.  If we practice all of these things, we’ll become Christ-like, humble, content, happy, calm, filled with the glow of purity.  We will be prepared for eternity.

Am I satisfied that I am making the most of my time for God?  Not really.  But I can pray for wisdom so I can discern where God wants me to be and what He wants me to be doing right now.  Finding out if I am making the most of my time is not going to happen by accident.  Am I focusing on my treasures (making God my top priority)?  Am I focusing on my influence (are my actions leading others to Christ)? Am I focusing on my mission (looking for ways to serve now instead of waiting for the right time)? And am I focusing on eternity (weighing everything against the ultimate goal of Heaven)?

Prayer for Today:  Thank you for each new day, Lord.  May I recognize it as a gift and make the most of my time for You.

This post can also be found at:

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DISTRACTED

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen and discovered my pizza dough had turned into a yeasty volcano.  I didn’t intend for the dough to rise more than an hour, but I got so busy doing other things, I completely forgot all about it.  I’ve made pizza dough dozens of times.  When I made this particular batch, I did everything right.  When I set it on the counter to rise, it looked good and smelled good.  But because I got distracted, what started out as a “good thing,” turned into a mess.

Poor Martha.  She started out doing something good by welcoming Jesus into her home.  But then she jumped into busyness and next thing you know, things weren’t going the way she envisioned.  We might be quick to come to her defense.  After all, the food wasn’t going to prepare itself!  But Jesus cut to the heart of the matter.  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things” (Luke 10:41).  The text tells us that Martha was distracted (v. 40).   When Martha became distracted…

She became frustrated.  I can almost hear her tone of voice when she finally asked Jesus to make Mary help her.  We’ve all been in situations where it seems there’s so much to do and too little help.  As Martha’s frustration mounted, she started feeling sorry for herself.  Her attitude soured.  She started complaining.  Martha, Martha, “be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9).

She started viewing others harshly.  Notice how Martha accused both her sister and her Lord.  She said her sister left her to do all the serving alone (Luke 10:40).  I wonder how many times she cut her eyes in her sister’s direction as she was working away?  She probably thought her sister was just being lazy, or at the very least, enjoying their special company while poor Martha was left with all the work.  Then she said to Jesus, “Lord, do You not care…?” (v. 40).  That question alone is proof positive that distractions are dangerous.  If she was in her right mind, would she have dared accuse the Messiah of not caring?  When we get overwhelmed by the extra responsibilities we take upon ourselves, we might lash out at those closest to us.  Jesus generously gave His time to Martha, but she couldn’t see that.  Mary was listening at Jesus’ feet (the implication being that He was teaching), not trying to get out of work, but Martha didn’t see it that way.  Martha’s perception of both Jesus and Mary was wrong.  How do we know she was wrong about Mary?  Because Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v. 42).   Distraction led Martha to treat others unjustly.  Martha, Martha, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, show tolerance for one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).

She focused on the physical instead of the eternal.  And as a result, she missed out on a golden opportunity.  If Martha had sat at Jesus’ feet, she wouldn’t have been just a face in the crowd.  Jesus taught the multitudes many times.  But this time, He was in Martha’s home.  She could’ve had a special audience with the Son of God!  Martha wasn’t out doing worldly things or sinful things; she was serving.  But Jesus said she had “many things” on her mind when she should have had “one thing” on her mind (v. 41,42).  Martha chose poorly.  Because she was distracted by the urgent, she wasn’t focused on the eternal.  Martha, Martha, “set your mind on the things above, not on things of the earth” (Col. 3:2).

Prayer for Today:  Lord, help me focus on what’s truly important instead of being blinded by busy distractions.

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This article can also be found at Women Living Well

25 Ways to Keep Christ at the Center of My Life

I love this list so much that I made three copies of it.  I put one on our refrigerator, one on the boys’ bathroom wall, and one at eye level where the ironing board is (not that I spend a lot of time there).   This list first appeared in Neal’s “Daily Bread” about a year ago (and can also be found on his blog, http://www.preacherpollard.wordpress.com), but I wanted to share it here because I had an idea.  What if we all focus on one suggestion each day, using the number on the list that coordinates with the date?  That means today we’ll focus on #11, “I will reflect meaningfully on the price He paid at Calvary.”  Each month, start over again so that after a year of “25 Ways” in 25 days, keeping Christ at the center of our lives should be pretty ingrained.  We can share this challenge with our children and discuss it in family devotionals at the end of the day.  We can ask best friends to join in the challenge with us, and email each other encouragement.  Bible class teachers can turn this into a group effort by giving a list to each of the students.  Let’s see how much of a difference we can make in our families, churches, and communities by sharing this exciting challenge to grow ever closer to Christ!

Suggestions for how to focus on the list each day:

  1. Start and end each day with a prayer about the specific way to keep Christ at the center.
  2. Keep a journal.  Jot down Scriptures related to it, along with personal reflections.
  3. Find at least one practical way to act on it.

25 Ways to Keep Christ in the Center of My Life

By Neal Pollard

  1. I will absorb myself in the practice of prayer
  2. I will actively practice kindness
  3. I will find someone each day with whom to share Him
  4. I will watch what I allow to grow in my heart
  5. I will consider carefully how what I do effects my influence
  6. I will actively encourage the people I daily encounter
  7. I will assume and look for the best in others
  8. I will nurture a hatred of sin and a love of sinners
  9. I will treat Scripture as daily nourishment for my soul
  10. I will keep a spiritual song in my heart
  11. I will reflect meaningfully on the price He paid at Calvary
  12. I will guard my tongue
  13. I will think longingly about heaven
  14. I will contemplate ways to be involved in the church’s work
  15. I will love His church with a passion
  16. I will cut out the tendency to rationalize or defend wrongdoing
  17. I will be discerning about what is spiritual and what is worldly
  18. I will grow in my understanding of what true love is
  19. I will humbly acknowledge the greatness and power of God
  20. I will do all within my power to help answer His prayer for unity
  21. I will pursue souls with the same vigor that He did
  22. I will look for ways to turn the conversation to the spiritual
  23. I will long for times of worship and devotion
  24. I will care less and less about my rights, feelings, and desires
  25. I will think, speak, act, and look more like Him every day

Prayer for Today:  May I do all I can, dear Lord, to make it obvious that I belong to You.