A study on what I want my life to be filled with

Author: Karen C Page 1 of 6

The Final Fruit

Welcome to December my friends! It’s been one of the longest years of my life. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I will be glad to say goodbye to 2020! But, there is one last fruit of the spirit I want to talk about before the year is over and, once again, it seems like the most appropriate one for December. You may have guessed by process of elimination, it’s self-control! Everyone’s favorite! Clearly that is a joke, with obesity rates on the rise around the world, out of control debt, and despite dropping divorce rates people still aren’t choosing “’til death do us part.” Let’s face it — self-control is hard! I think one of the hardest parts about it is admitting it is hard. Plus, we live in an instant gratification generation where you don’t need self-control you just need more money to fix your problems.

Let’s take a look at the definition of self-control, just in case we have forgotten. “Restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.” We could also call it self-discipline or even good old willpower. Any way you spell it, it’s still going to have the same meaning for our lives. This verse in Proverbs gives it a good spin.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control. Proverbs 25:28

proverbs 25:28

Think about this city. With broken walls there is no more security. Anyone and anything can invade and take over. There is chaos in the streets because people are afraid. The leaders are no longer in control because they have been beaten by those who broke the walls. Basically, this city is in trouble. Now let’s look at our lives if we lack self-control. Anyone and anything can lead us down the wrong path because we are easily swayed. There is no order, and we follow any whim we want. We are no longer in control, but our impulses, emotions, and desires are. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Living with self-control is like finding the small gate that leads to life and living without it is like finding the wide road that leads to destruction.

Let’s be those who live with self-control and find life!

Even Jesus

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29, NIV

I love this verse, and those surrounding, that are spoken by Jesus. He is inviting us to come to him and rest, take his yoke, and learn from him. Sounds like an invitation that I want to take part in. I usually just focus on verse 28 where he invites us to come if we are weary. But, looking at verse 29, I see that he wants us to come to him and rest so that we can learn from him. He does want us to rest but I don’t think he wants our rest to be mindless and checked out – we could just binge our favorite show if that was the case. He is calling us to more here, an active resting with him so that we can learn from him. He is our greatest role model and example when it comes to how to live and treat people, so who better to focus on this month when it comes to being gentle?

It makes me excited to think of Jesus as my teacher. To learn well you need a good teacher who is passionate about the subject and loves teaching. Jesus is the most passionate about people and how we treat them, and he loves teaching and discipling us to be more like him. If this verse were a class, it would be “Gentleness 101: Watch and Learn.” I can imagine the whole class sitting at his feet while he talks, leaning in so they don’t miss a word. They would follow him around and observe how he treated people with much gentleness, taking diligent notes so they could put it into practice themselves.  Then when the test came, Jesus would walk each student out into the city and watch as they interacted with those around, giving quiet reminders of how they can show gentleness to specific people. What a class! I would take it!

Now, although we don’t have a class we can take, we do have the next best thing – the bible and the holy spirit living inside us, prompting us as we go through life. I hope this gives you a new perspective on this verse and how treating people with gentleness is something to be learned.

(Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash)

A Gentle Answer

Happy November! This month I am looking at gentleness in the bible, something that I think we all need to be more aware of, especially in the times we are living in. The bible praises those who are gentle, those who steer clear of hard words and violence but instead move toward kindness and love. That leads me to Proverbs. The wisdom of Proverbs is timeless. It always amazes me that something written so long ago can be so applicable today.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1, NIV

Isn’t that the truth! I’ll give an example from my own life. When I first met my husband and we would fight, I would go from 0-60 in about 10 seconds. I wasn’t necessarily saying mean things, but the harshness of my tone was definitely stirring up anger, not only in him, but also in me. I quickly learned that he would not respond to that type of fighting and had to learn a different way. It turns out that speaking with a gentler tone and not getting so worked up was the answer. Now I am by no means perfect at this, but I have come a long way. I can attest to the truth of this verse in my life. It is much better to speak gently to someone than to let harsh words fly.

In our world there are harsh words everywhere. In the news, on social media, and even from family and friends we love. Now take a moment to think about how our world and lives would change if those harsh words were gentle and spoken out of love instead of anger. Maybe next time you think about posting something harsh or controversial on social media, stop, remember this verse, and maybe post something a bit gentler.

(Photo by Reign Abarintos on Unsplash)

We Are More Than a Spirit

When God created us, he did so with intent, purpose, and love. He got down onto the ground and breathed the breath of life into Adam. But he didn’t just give life to his body, he also gave life to his soul, mind, and spirit. Adam had a perfect balance of all four in the beginning, and there was peace. When there was an imbalance in these systems there was no longer peace. Too often we focus on the spiritual side of our relationship with God and neglect the other aspects hoping to have a balanced life. But unless we address all four areas our lives will continue to spin off balance.

Our Body:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:29 nkjv

Our body is a temple. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to go into a temple, or church, that is run down, dirty, paint peeling, and with the doors barely on their hinges. I would much rather go into a church that is swept clean, paint bright, and doors standing. This verse tells us that our body is a temple, and we need to take care of it because the Holy Spirit is living inside us. He deserves a well taken care of home, and we are in charge of the state of our bodies.

Our Soul:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it for a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26 nkjv

When we follow Jesus with our soul, we will find our life in him. But if we try to neglect our soul and follow what the world has to offer, we will lose our lives. The soul is our heart, our emotions, our very being. If we neglect it we dry up on the inside and our hearts become hard. I’m sure you’ve all seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas, let’s not be like him with our heart and soul. I want to be like the end version of the Grinch when his heart grows three sizes and he realized the real meaning of Christmas wasn’t about gifts at all, it was about love and community. The Grinch got this principle, he didn’t want to continue to have a lost soul at the expense of losing his life.

Our Mind:

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2 nkjv

God is concerned about our thoughts. He knows how easily they can be swayed by the things of this world. He wants us to keep our minds on things above, where Christ is, because he knows those thoughts are helpful for leading us down the right path in life, the path that leads us to Him. Once again Paul lets us know some things we can keep our mind focused on, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

Our Spirit:

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Proverbs 20:27

Without our spirit there is no light on the inside of us. God places his spirit inside of us so he could know us and so we could know him. He knows the inner most thoughts and feelings of all his children because of our spirit. I don’t want to neglect the health of my spirit and let my lamp go out. I want to continue to have my spirit be alive and searching the inner depths of my heart so I can know the Lord.

There is no question in my mind that God cares about our whole being. And just in case you were still wondering, here’s two more verses that address the importance of being whole.

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37 niv

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 nkjv

Let us strive for wholeness in all areas, not just our spirit. God loves all of you and wants all of you to be balanced and whole.

Now, go smile at yourself in the mirror and have grace for who you see!

(Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash)

God Knows and Loves You

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:14-18

I have heard so many times the bible is God’s love letter to us, but sometimes it is hard to see that. But this verse looks like a love letter to me.

This month I am focusing on health and wellness. That can look different for different people but when we focus on the one who created our bodies it can help us put things into a better perspective. God saw your body before it was made. He knows the ins and outs of it and how well, or not, it works. He knows all the days of your life and he has even planned them out. All of God’s works are wonderful! And guess what, you are one of them, which means you are wonderful too! He doesn’t make mistakes. You are not a mistake. You were created by a loving father who thinks about you continuously.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated by the limitations of my body and health right now, and often I get frustrated with God. Thinking, “Why me? Why my body? This isn’t how things are supposed to be for me.” But then I remember that God made my body and knows how it works and despite my health concerns he still loves me and has plans for me. Also, this is not my home and someday there will be no more pain or tears and I will be dancing and singing with joy before my creator. But until that day comes, I have to push on knowing that God’s plans for me are better than my own, and if there is something God wants me to do, He will give me the strength and energy to get it done.

Now, go smile at yourself in the mirror and have grace for who you see!

(Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash)

Grace for Yourself

One of the biggest lessons I have learned since being diagnosed with colitis two years ago is to have grace for myself. I have found that I don’t have the same capacity or stamina for the things I enjoy doing and I have been working on finding a “new normal.” It’s a term I have heard so much more than I want to lately, and one that I honestly am still getting used to. For me it feels like a cop out, saying, “this is my new normal,” and then not doing things the same way. I used to view it with an extremely negative connotation, but it doesn’t have to be negative. I think the important thing to understand is we are all changing, life is a process, a journey, and we all go and grow at different rates. So, my new normal can just mean different, and different isn’t always bad. I can still live my life; it just looks a bit different these days. That’s where the grace comes in. If I want to spend an hour walking but wake up feeling terrible, I might just do some yoga or go for a 10-minute walk. I do what I can. If we have plans for a nice dinner out but I end the day feeling lousy, it is time for take-out and a movie. I do what I can. It isn’t always about what you are doing but that you are doing something. If you can’t run a marathon, do a mile jog. At least you are doing something and that’s better than nothing! Start small! Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do. Honor your health and be grateful for what you can do.

This message isn’t just for those who are dealing with a chronic illness in your life. Having grace for ourselves is something that everyone could use more of in their life. If you are a mom of three and the list of chores is piling up, pick one, start small, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to get everything done. If you have projects at home, projects at work, projects with your kids, and projects at church, start small, say no to some things and yes to others. You don’t have to do it all. Do what you can and don’t beat yourself up for not being the “perfect” parent, employee, church attendee. We only have one life, and I don’t know about you but I want to live mine the best way I can, not trying to push myself till I collapse.

Now, go smile at yourself in the mirror and have grace for who you see!

(Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash)

Faithful Friend

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.

Exodus 33:11a (NIV)

The art of face to face communication is something we have been perfecting since the beginning of time. With this age of social media, the amount of face to face conversations have gone down but they are no less important. When you see someone’s face you can better read their emotions, body language, and intent. I love this verse about how God spoke to Moses. God was faithful to meet with Moses face to face when he needed him to hear his words for the Israelites. I think it is interesting that the second half of the verse is included, showing how one would speak to a friend. The author wanted us to know that God was meeting with Moses at a relatable level. When he met him in the tent of meeting he didn’t speak through a rock or a cloud, he was there speaking to him as a friend.

The idea of God being our friend is not only in the old testament. Jesus also spoke about being our friend in John.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:13-15 (NIV)

Jesus called his disciples, and us, his friends! He shared everything he learned with his followers. His Spirit and word still speak to us today. Talk about a best friend! The one who created you and knows everything about you wants to be your friend! You don’t have to go through the “get to know you” routine, because he already knows everything. What a comfort, as it can sometimes be tiring getting to know new people. Jesus also wants us to think of him as our friend. Friends spend time talking, or in this case, praying. Spend some time getting to know this faithful friend and see where the relationship goes. I happen to know you will not be disappointed.

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

What Are Your Words Saying?

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89:1 NKJV

You can use your words to sing of the mercies of the Lord and make known his faithfulness, or you can use your words to complain about your circumstances.

The word says that God’s mercies are new every morning. That means I could sing about a new one every morning. Do I do that? Most days, no, but the point is I could because they are boundless. This verse also challenges us to make known God’s faithfulness to all generations. I want people of all generations to hear my words and know that God is faithful. I want people to remember the praise I gave to God, not all that went wrong in my life or all the complaints I had. I want to use my words to boast of God’s faithfulness in my life.

Our words are extremely important, not only to others but also to ourselves. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I want to be bringing life to myself and those around me. I want to speak words that bring people closer to the Lord and share of his love and faithfulness. God is so faithful. Why wouldn’t I want to share with others how faithful he has been?! Life is short. Why waste time talking about things that do not matter and have no eternal value?

What is coming out of your mouth? Maybe now is the time to make a change and start sharing about God’s faithfulness.

(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

Faithful to the Skies and Beyond

What do you think of when I say, “the sky?” Do you think of anything above the surface of the earth? Do you think of the atmosphere that holds all of Earth’s living organisms in place? Or perhaps you think of outer space! The sun, moon, and stars! I wonder what David was thinking about when he penned this verse.

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 57:10

Maybe to him the heavens included all the stars and planets he could see at night and the sky was the daytime. In any case, he was thinking about the vastness of God’s love and faithfulness. I see it as there is no end to His love or faithfulness.

This month is about faithfulness, so let’s take a look at what that word really means according to Merriam-Webster: steadfast in affection or allegiance (loyal); firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty; given with strong assurance (binding). God keeps His word and His promises, He is faithful. No matter what the circumstance He is faithful. Pick any character in the bible…Adam and Eve, Moses, David, Job, Peter…He never once broke his promises to any of them and continually showed His faithfulness in all their circumstances. Now think about your own life. Just because you don’t have a starring role in a bible story does not mean God is about to break His promises and be unfaithful to you. He is the same God, yesterday, today, and forever. If He was faithful 4000 years ago and 2000 years ago, He is going to be faithful today! Remember His faithfulness is so vast is reaches to the skies, and beyond.

(Photo by Juskteez Vu on Unsplash)

The Goodness of God

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

As I talked about in my last blog, God is a good God and that will never change. God desires to be good to his children. We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to experience his goodness. This verse says, “…in the land of the living,” here and now! Be confident in God, that he is good and that he wants to be good to us. Why do we lose that confidence in him so often? Confidence is based on trust and trust takes time and effort to build, right? But if we aren’t putting any time or effort into our relationship with God how are we ever going to trust him or trust that he wants to be good to us? I know we want instant gratification, but this takes time. Any relationship takes time and effort, so start putting some into your relationship with God and stop relying on him to do all the work. One-sided relationships are very difficult to maintain. But regardless of our effort God still loves us and still wants to be good to us.

How has God shown you his goodness?

Take some time to sit and reflect on your life and see where God’s hand has been along your journey.

I would love to hear where you have seen his goodness in your life!

(Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash)

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