Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Fresh Start

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Want a fresh start, a renewal, a clean slate? Congratulations! You’ve had it from the moment you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

As a grade school student, I loved to be chosen to erase the chalkboard. I felt a certain satisfaction from erasing the old and preparing for the new. There was a feeling of anticipation for things to come. 

Jesus can erase your past with one swipe of His eraser. The past is over and you are a new person.

To accomplish renewal in our daily lives, we must purpose to erase the old and welcome the new. Scripture will guide us and prayer will give us the strength and fortitude to follow through. 

Lamentations 3:23 tells us “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” 

You can have a fresh start each and every day!

Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Ephesians 4:23

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.. Philippians 4:8 

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 

I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness. Psalm 119:40 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Got Guilt?

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17

Got guilt?

We have all messed up! It would easy to walk around trapped in guilt and at Satan’s beck and call. But God has forgiven and cleansed us. God did not send His son to condemn us but rather that we would be set free from sin and its guilt.

Ask yourself this question: Why would God send His only son to die for your sins, if He planned on keeping you trapped in guilt and shame?

The answer is He wouldn’t. He didn’t. But even as a Christ follower, you may find yourself living a defeated life because of guilt and shame.

Guilt can be a motivator and lead us to repentance, which in turn will lead us to accepting God’s forgiveness. But left unchecked, guilt will limit our relationship with Jesus. It will stunt our spiritual growth.

Repent, ask God for forgiveness and accept His forgiveness. Next, forgive yourself. Choose to live guilt free.

Read and meditate on the following scriptures this week. As you study the Word, what is God saying to you?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew 3:2 (NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col 3:13 (NLT)

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:2 (NLT)

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What Is Loyalty?

Some years ago, I had a very close relationship with a woman from my church community at the time. I believed us to be the type of friends who “had each other’s back” and who would remain loyal to each other even through conflict and turmoil. What I discovered is that she was only loyal to me when it worked to her advantage.

Though this experience hurt a great deal, there was a great lesson here for me and I thank God for it. The Lord showed me that loyalty is a character trait.  It’s a trait that must be developed and while we can’t force someone to be loyal to us, we can certainly set the example. If we display loyalty in our lives, we will be an example to our friends and family. 

Many of the women I mentor and counsel have much to say on the subject of loyalty. They might not use the specific word, but many relationship issues come down to one thing, loyalty. I believe we are seeing a shift in our culture and a decrease in the importance of being loyal.

So, what does it mean to be loyal?  Does it mean sticking by a friend or family member no matter what that person does to you? Does it mean being loyal to a friend only when it fits our needs and is convenient to us? Or does it mean picking and choosing times of loyalty depending on the situation?

As Christ following women, we must explore what it means to be loyal to God in order to understand what it means to be loyal to our family, our friends, our spiritual leaders or our boss.

Being loyal to God......

We must never forget what Jesus did for us on the cross. Our loyalty to Him is reinforced every time we consider that He died for our sins. God is loyal to us as we read in Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. 

God’s loyalty to us inspires our loyalty to Him. 

For the mountains may move  and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain.  My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”   says the Lord, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:10

Being loyal to family.....

Have you heard the saying “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family?” That expression is meant to say we are “stuck” with the family that God has placed us in. It’s true that, typically, we do not choose our family members and we must accept them for who they are. 

Our treatment of our family should be rooted in Christ. Loyalty in a family is truly accepting our family members for who God made them to be, and remaining loyal to them. What that means is we encourage, support and pray for them. We don’t gossip about them, lie about them or set out to hurt them in anyway. Proverbs 11:29 says "Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind. The fool will be a servant to the wise."

A wonderful example of family loyalty is found in Ruth, Chapter 1. Ruth was loyal to Naomi, her mother-in-law. Ruth 1:16-17 tells us But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 

Being loyal to friends…..

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 1 John 4:20

This scripture is very specific in its instruction. If we profess to love God, we must love others.

I think it is probably safe to say that we have all experienced a breaking of a friendship in some form. Perhaps trust was broken, gossip was spoken or even slander. Betrayal comes in many forms and is all too common. 

So what does a friendship based on trust and loyalty look like? Before we can be loyal in a friendship, we must have trust. Trust is built over time and loyalty flows naturally from a trust relationship. A friendship is not always easy. And in fact, in Proverbs we learn that we are to sharpen one another. That might not always be comfortable, but if we trust and are loyal to one another, we make each other better! 

As iron sharpens iron,  so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17

Demonstrating loyalty.....

God gauges our heart by how we treat His children. Maintaining a trusting and loyal relationship with our family, friends, spiritual leaders, and bosses honors Him.

So what gets in the way of displaying loyalty? Many times it is unforgiveness and bitterness. If we harbor unforgiveness toward a person for any length of time, a root of bitterness can begin to form. From that root of bitterness comes disloyalty.

I recently counseled a woman whose sister had betrayed her in a big way and a huge argument had ensued. Prior to this incident, the two women had been extremely loyal to one another. Even though they pretended that everything was fine between them, they had not forgiven. These two sisters became very disloyal to one another until they finally prayed together.n They asked God to forgive them and help them forgive each other. Loyalty between the two was immediately restored!

Teaching loyalty......

Our children must be taught loyalty to God, family and friends. Since “more is taught than caught”, setting an example for our children is the most effective teaching tool. Teach them to remain loyal to their siblings over siding with friends. Character is formed in the home, therefore we must help our children develop or strengthen this character trait through family interactions.

Here are a few questions to ponder:
  • Am I showing loyalty to God, family and friends in my daily life?
  • Are there areas that need improvement? 
  • Am I setting a good example to my children in this area?
God will guide us through any changes we need to make. He is loyal, faithful and ready to help.