Confidence

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Confidence. There are days when we feel we don’t even know the meaning of the word.  I long for the days when I had some.  I struggle to remember when it was and what it felt like.  It is hard to stay confident when we feel so weak.  I believe God as a plan for me, yet I often feel incapable of caring it out (or sometimes I don’t even know what it is).

When I used to wear titles like “mom” or “Social Worker” or “employee”.  I had confidence most days to do my job.  I knew what needed to be done and did it.  When left to be “Hope”, the confidence quickly fades.  Comparison steals joy.  Inner gremlins run around in my head with thoughts of “you aren’t good enough”.  It is those times when I have to step outside of ME and rely on my Higher Power.  The Serenity Prayer helped to get me through the struggles in my early years of recovery .  I use it today just as I did then.

It is important we realize where confidence comes from. Our confidence comes from the God. It comes from no-where else. He alone gives the kind of strength necessary to meet every challenge. The things He overcame causes our struggles to pale in comparison. If we believe in God (or a Higher Power), then we will have confidence to succeed.

What are some of your struggles?  Share them with us so we can keep you in our prayers…..

Today’s thought: I can do anything I set my mind to because of Christ in me!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Beware of This Invisible Competition!

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message:

As Christian believers, we are called to live set-apart lives. To be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:7). To be in the world, but not of the world. God is the source of all holiness, and in order to live set-apart lives – to be sanctified – we must spend time with Him and allow His Holy Spirit to lead us.

God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He wants much more for us than that! God’s plan is to make us more like Himself… to sanctify us. He is Yahweh M’Kaddst, the Lord our Sanctifier.

Let’s take this street level. I don’t know what your days look like, but mine are pretty full. They start early and end late. Once the sun rises, it seems that coffee isn’t the only thing brewing in my house. An invisible competition brews daily that vies for my time and attention. The competitors are often “good things” that end up to be “time-robbing things” that keep me from God’s best and God’s presence. When I’m kept from God’s presence, I’m also kept from growing in His divine grace: major loss for me.

Have you been there?

Does an invisible competition brew in your home and heart too?

I’m thinking: Yes. We all struggle with this.

So what are some of these “good things” that end up being “time-robbing distractions”? They look different for each of us. We are all like snowflakes and fingerprints: unique. A few good things that come to mind are over-commitment, activity overload, electronics, excessive shopping, volunteering at church or community service. Yep. Went there. Again, none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they can become a hindrance to sanctification if we allow them to take precedence over our personal growth with Christ.

A big one for me is electronics. Let’s put our computer lives under a spiritual microscope for a moment. I’m an e-girl. I love my MacBook Pro computer, my iPhone, email, instant messaging, and the World Wide Web. Though I’m admittedly fully immersed in the e-life, I’m also cognizant of the fact that the e-world has become a dangerous addiction and spiritual deterrent to many.

I struggle with this personally. These electronic forums host a powerful and efficient opportunity for us to connect with other people 24/7. While much of social media, online surfing, and emailing is innocent, encouraging and fun, they also present us with opportunities to sin and to become distracted from set-apart living.

Over the past several years, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, games and texting have replaced many of our face-to-face conversations. For some of us, time with electronics has replaced and/or diminished our devotion time with the Lord. Online activities have become a new source of temptation for us, an opportunity to live a fantasy or a momentary escape from the daily grind.

A friend of mine recently said, “My computer whispers to me.” Yikes! Mine does too. I readily admit, at times I don’t manage my time efficiently because I give in to the lure of e-life by responding to an audio alert indicating “I’ve got mail,” or to a notification that someone has left me a message on a social media site. As a result, I waste time because I have spent it unwisely – therefore, robbing myself of productive time.

We are warned against this in Scripture. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

Now, hear me clearly on this: I am not saying that electronics or computers are bad. In and of themselves, they aren’t bad. I’m simply suggesting that it would be wise for each of us to prayerfully consider the amount of time and energy we devote to these things.

How can we be set apart in our e-life? How can we establish healthy e-boundaries that will protect our purity and our time with God? Perhaps we could start by taking an honest look at the amount of time we commit to our social e-lives versus the amount of time we commit to spending in God’s Word and in His presence each day. (Did that sting? Rest assured it stings me, too.)

The good news is that we can turn to God for direction in all of this. His Word points us to a vital promise of wisdom that will guide us in holiness. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NIV). How awesome is that? God loves us so much that He offers us an endless supply of wisdom. We just need to ask – so that we are enabled to walk in His wisdom and to live each day in His holiness.

Are you holy as God is holy? Do you want to thrive in His divine grace?

When we determine to grow in sanctification and allow God to lead us to deeper places of divine grace, those around us will see the hope of Christ in us. Isn’t that where we want to be?

No matter where we find ourselves on the path of sanctification, it is encouraging to remember that God’s not done with us yet. God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

To the One Who Feels Unfinished

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

unknownIt took four years of fresco painting for the Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, to finish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Commonly known as Michelangelo, his time painting was mostly spent alone, on his back, lying on scaffolding. (How painful!)

The painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the most remarkable in the history of Western art. One thing is for sure: the process that altered a ceiling from plain to fabulous required a lot of time, great discipline, and the hand of a master artist. The same is true for us. The journey from broken into beautiful is a lifelong transformation that requires time, discipline, and a Master Artist.

As Michelangelo was working, I’m sure that lots of people came through the corridors of the chapel and stood in amazement. As they looked up at the beauty of his work, I imagine they said things like, “That is the most fantastic work of art I have ever seen!” or “Extraordinary!” To which he might have said, “It’s not done!”

But, I ask you: did the unfinished state of the project negate that parts of the ceiling were beautiful? No! The parts that were complete would still have been extravagant and breathtaking to the average person.

Maybe this is the way God and others see our lives.

At times people may notice the work God has done in us and comment on the beauty. I don’t know about you, but even though compliments are nice to hear, I’ve been known to resist them. (Admit it. You probably have too.) It’s not so much a humility thing as it is an “I-don’t-see-myself-as-beautiful” thing. From my limited perspective, I can see only the unfinished work. But in truth, my vantage point doesn’t negate the beauty of the work God has done and is doing in my life. The same is true for you.
Real beauty isn’t about a finished or flawless product. It can’t be. It’s not possible on this side of eternity to have completed beauty. Our restoration will be complete in the presence of God when we see Him face to face.

Now, you might be saying, “But Gwen, I feel like I can’t be restored or beautiful. You don’t know what I’ve done…or what I’ve been through…or about the mess that I’m going through right now!”

Friend, God knows where you have been, what you have been through, and where you are now. He sees your flaws and loves you in spite of your imperfections. His tender love is far-reaching, grace-filled, and complete.

Your past sins do not define you.

Your painful scars do not define you.

Your present sufferings do not define you.

They are just shards of brokenness that God will use to lovingly refine your beauty.

The transformation from broken into beautiful is neither easy nor instantaneous. It demands a yielded heart and can be quite painful, but it comes with great reward. To get started, God will need your broken pieces—your scars, shame, insecurities, disappointments, betrayals, and failures.

Do you have some of those?

Are they tucked away in a safe, do-not-enter part of your heart?

If you’re ready for God to do a beautiful work of transformation in your life then it’s time to do some serious heart-business with Him, friend. You might find it hard to hand over hurts. I get that. It’s hard for me too. But difficult as it may be, when we hand them over, our Master creates a stunning work of beauty in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!