Building a New Life

Building a New Life

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

dream.newlife

Your past sometimes gets in the way of your vision for the future, doesn’t it? If you allow yourself to dwell on the areas where you’ve failed or on losses and disappointments that hurt you, you might find it difficult to look forward to the future God has for you.

King David is a man who dreamed of building a magnificent temple. When he commissioned his son Solomon to do the work he said, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)  Many years later the apostle Paul said, “We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21)

Just as David dreamed of building a magnificent temple, you can dare to dream of building a new life. God has the blueprint already drawn up: just follow it by faith. You may be afraid that you will start and fail, but in the words of David, “be strong and courageous, and do the work.” As someone once said: Beginning is half done. In other words, take the first step, it’s the toughest.

What dreams have you been quietly suppressing? Perhaps you have dreamed of becoming a missionary? Maybe you have dreams of adopting. Or dreams of starting a new career. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about building deep friendships or making an impact on your community. Don’t be frightened. When God begins a good work, He is faithful to complete it.

It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars. – Garrison Keillor

The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be.  C.S. Lewis

 

Open The Eyes Of Your Heart

The Eyes of Your Heart

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:18

Forestwander.com

Are you going through difficult times? If it does nothing else for you and to you, it will open the eyes of your heart. Walking through troubled waters is one way that God has of shifting your vision. When your heart breaks, there’s an avenue for God’s compassion to trickle in and envelop your heart with His. You’ll begin to look at others through the eyes of your heart and not through the eyes of quick judgment, harsh conclusions, or self-interest.

Your trip to the grocery store, to church, to Wal-Mart or Starbucks will take on a new hue. You’ll look at people and wonder what their story is; what their childhood was like; what caused them to be so happy or unhappy, why they seem this way or that.

Their job titles will be less important, their type of car won’t impress you, what kind of clothes they wear, or whether they’re wrinkled or stylish won’t matter anymore. You’re more likely to understand that they are in some pain and trying to run from it or trying to hide. Or, you’ll see their smile and demeanor and wonder if they’re truly happy or masking some inner, silent suffering or anger.

Now, you won’t get answers to all that you wonder about people and their stories, but your heart will be softened. You’ll find that you have a level of compassion that most people don’t have. If your heart is broken, let His compassion trickle in to your heart through the brokenness. Let Him open the eyes of your heart today.

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.Steve Maraboli 

What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms.Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

Powerlessness And How It Can Help You

Most of us hate feeling powerless and indeed, it is not very good for us especially for extended periods of time. It can lead to depression, anxiety, outbursts of anger, alienation from others, physical symptoms and, in it’s trauma form, it can lead to the symptoms of Post traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (e.g. nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and loss of concentration or memory to name a few)

Sometimes powerlessness comes from circumstances we have little or no control over. Other times it comes from the consequences of our actions. The latter can be even more frustrating because we may say, “I could have done something different”. We ruminate and replay the situation over and over. This can be helpful if we can process it into lessons learned, insight, awareness about others, or ourselves and character growth.

It is interesting to note that sometimes powerlessness can be very powerful. When Jesus surrenders to the cross, His powerlessness redeems the whole world. This is illustrated, again, in the fictional Star Wars movie were Obe Wan allows himself to be slain by Darth Vader only to come back as a ghost to aid Luke in fighting the Empire. The Apostle Paul talks about his powerlessness with an affliction he has and how it helps him grow and be empowered. Joseph’s powerlessness in the Old Testament is the seed for his rise to power in the house of Pharaoh. Despite his brother’s plot against him, he is faithful and God sends him before his family to redeem them in their day of need. After they realize that the brother they sold into slavery is now in power over them, the brothers hear him say “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good”

Dealing with powerlessness is a tricky matter sometimes.

First we must realize that powerlessness in not necessarily, hopelessness.
Powerlessness may just mean you are not in control right now.

Second, it is important to admit our powerlessness to God and others.
This gets us out of the way sometimes and allows God to work in areas where we do not have the ability or opportunity to change things. Telling others about our powerlessness can be a request to help with need and, as a part of that, a place to get emotional support through listening, different perspective, advice, shared troubles/grief and accountability to change course as well as giving us structure.

Third, deal with powerlessness by processing it.
Write down what you are feeling and thinking, what you believe about yourself, the situation, what you may have done that contributed to the situation, what others may have contributed to the situation and what is purely circumstantial. Try to avoid “All or Nothing” thinking. The “All Is Lost” mentality is not very helpful. Slowing things down and evaluating the situation is usually better in the short and long run. Nehemiah puts this into action when he feels powerless at first to deal with greedy nobles who are loan sharking their fellow Hebrews right back into slavery. He slows down his anger and brings the nobles to task.

Fourth, after the initial shock wears off, try seeing where the processing leads you.
What does it tell you about the situation, yourself, others involved, your motives, your priorities, lessons learned, and how you can grow from it.

Over all powerlessness is not something to be desired but it is, essentially, unavoidable in life. How we deal with it and use it to grow and move closer to God and others is the key.

Fro The Past To The Future

Steve Arterburn

God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future.  As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.

Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32).  The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past.  The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses.  It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).  

Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God.  In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.

When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it.  Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.

Praying for Others

Steve Arterburn

Here’s a great principle of prayer: You can do a great deal for people after you pray for them but little of lasting value until you pray for them.  

I don’t think I need to argue about the value of praying for your spouse, kids, and friends.  But sometimes in our busy culture it’s tough to clear your mind and get started.  So let’s look to a man who knew the value of prayer.  The apostle Paul begins many of his letters with a helpful pattern.  

If you look at his letter to the Philippians, for instance, you’ll see it begins with a blessing of grace and peace.  Grace is the reason for our salvation and peace is the result.  Paul then gives thanks for the Philippian believers.  Cherish the work that God’s doing in and through others.  Next Paul makes requests to aid the spiritual growth of his friends.  He wants them to grow in their love, knowledge, and understanding of Christ.  Last, Paul prays that they’d behave in a manner that honors God in light of coming judgment.  This isn’t a fear tactic but a reminder to live for the ultimate goal of heaven, not the short-term rewards of comfort and pleasure.  

God loves it when we come to him in prayer.  Will you select one person that God has placed on your heart, and write a prayer for them?  For help, look to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Transformation

Steve Arterburn

Spiritual growth is all about being transformed into the person God envisions you to be.  Confessing your sin and shortcomings is a part of this process of transformation.  Whenever you confess your sin and shortcomings’your anger, lust, addiction, selfishness’whatever it is’you can have full confidence that God will forgive you, give you the power to change, and transform your life.

The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes’ (Ephesians 1:4).  God desires to make you holy’that is, to form his character in you.  Looking through the eyes of love, he already sees you as you will look when his work is done.  Spiritual renewal is the process of correcting your life to match what God envisions it to be.  The Bible tells us God’s discipline is always right and good because it means we will share in his holiness.  It is God’s will for you to be made holy.

When you ask God to develop such holiness in you, he eagerly responds to your request.  The apostle John wrote, ‘And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.  And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for’ (1 John 5:14-15).

Worship

Steve Arterburn

Worship is a way of life.  Worship isn’t simply what you do for God in church; it’s also who you are for God in the world.  

So how can you bring worship into you daily life?  Let’s consider some suggestions from another man’the apostle Paul. In chapter twelve of his letter to the Romans he gives us some good counsel.

First he says you need to allow God to transform your mind.  In this way, your allegiance is transferred from the world to God.

Second, he tells you to serve others with your gifts.  This displays God’s glory as your Creator.  You should rejoice in these gifts and use them to accomplish God’s purposes.

And third, Paul says you need to be a reflection of God’s love and grace.  The second great commandment is that you love others as yourself.  Paul provides numerous concrete examples of how you can obey this commandment.  These aren’t simply humanitarian gestures.  They are acts of worship, acts that please and honor God.  Let me leave you with a few ways Paul says you’re to worship God.

Love each other with genuine affection
Never be lazy in your work
Be glad for all God is planning for you
Be prayerful
When God’s children are in need, be the one who helps
Get into the habit of inviting guests for dinner, or if they need lodging, for the night
Don’t try to act important but enjoy the company of ordinary people

Your Alter Ego

Steve Arterburn

Did you know that service is a way of saying thanks to God?  You can never truly pay back the overwhelming love and support your parents may have shown you.  But you can pass the love on to your children.  In the same way, you can never repay God for granting you life in Christ and for blessing you, but you can pass his love onto others in practical ways.

One of the great barriers to service, however, is pride.  Pride causes men to scoff at the thought of putting others first.  Pride teaches you to calculate how every action will further your own reputation or advance you toward your goals.  Pride makes you keep careful record of who is next in line for something good.

The apostle Paul had much to say to us about sacrifice.  Chapter twelve of the book of Romans portrays several specific areas in which you can be a living sacrifice and serve God in the world.  As a living sacrifice, you surrender using your gifts solely for your own advancement.  You seek to bless others instead and sacrifice your time and resources for their benefit.  In the process, your life will be shaped into the image of greatest man who ever lived:  Jesus Christ.  Where do you sense God calling you to serve?  Let your motivation for service flow from a heart that’s thankful to God for the grace he’s shown you.

Encouragement

Steve Arterburn

Discouragement will drain your energy, especially when you face trials. That’s why, it’s very helpful to spend time with people who know how to encourage. Some people know just what to do or say to remind you that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of pain and failure. They know how to inspire when there seems to be nothing to hope for. Barnabas, an early follower of Jesus whose name means ‘son of encouragement,’ was just that kind of guy.

Barnabas’s gift of encouragement was demonstrated through his financial generosity, his leadership, and his teaching of new believers. He accepted the apostle Paul when others were afraid of him. And it’s probably accurate to say that Barnabas changed the course of church history by persevering in his encouragement to John Mark.

On his first missionary journey John Mark abandoned his friends. Barnabas was willing to give him a second chance. Paul wouldn’t hear of it. But with Barnabas’s encouragement, Mark became faithful in his missionary ministry and was able to renew Paul’s respect and friendship. Later he would write the Gospel of Mark.

Are you feeling discouraged? God’s forgiveness offers you the chance for a new start. Persevere. God is a God of second chances. And in time, you’like Barnabas’will have the privilege of encouraging others along the way.

Releasing Worry to God

Steve Arterburn

Forgiving those who’ve committed wrongs against you doesn’t necessarily guarantee and easier life. You may still have to deal with a difficult boss, wife, in-laws, or kids. You still have to deal with the every day stresses of life. There are pressures beyond your control that will wear you down if you aren’t careful to release them to God. So what can you do?

Our brother in Christ, the apostle Paul, gave us a strategy to help us deal with the troubles of daily life. He wrote: ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7).

This verse gives you the image of a guard patrolling your heart and mind. When the guard of prayer is in place it will keep out the pressing anxieties of life. If this guard isn’t in place, pain and worry will result.

What pressures are weighing on you? Are you talking to God about them or are you numbing yourself through things like video games, porn, alcohol, overeating, or overspending? Just as you must continually forgive, you also have to continually release your worries and specific needs to God. He will, in turn, protect you and give you the peace that passes all understanding.