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As we draw to the close of another year, I like many, have been reflecting on the past year and making plans for the next. As I look back there are areas that I am pleased with and some places that I am not so much. Some areas where I regressed and still more that there have been improvements. I see room to grow. I see how I stunted my growth with bad habits. I see changes that need to be made. I see an opportunity to make a change, to be a new creature.

I read the scripture this morning in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Many times we liken this change from old to new at first salvation. There is a crisis moment, Jesus comes down, and a change is made. It is used to encourage someone that had experienced much sin and because of God’s grace, Jesus sacrifice, they no longer have to partake in the same activities.

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But today, as I was reflecting on the new year, I saw it as an opportunity. Even as saints of God, we can become a new creature. If we aren’t satisfied with our service to God, our health, our habits, our attitudes, our outreach, our kindness, our relationships, our “fill in the blank”, we can make the change.

We can have a crisis moment in the middle of our salvation. Salvation isn’t stagnate,  it is an evolving status. We can draw closer to God. We can make better choices for our health. We can change our habits and attitudes. We can be more kind and loving. We can forgive. We can improve our relationships… We can change.

This year, starting today, I vow to myself and to God, changes will be made. I am not looking at an easy road ahead. I have some habits to break and new ones to make. I have some flesh to crucify. I am some time to give. I have some reaching out to do. I have some inconvenient love to show. I have some early nights to bed and some early mornings to rise. I have better eating choices to make. I have some physical activity to be endured. I have some better house keeping practices to instill. I have some listening to do. I have some purging of clutter. I have some better time management skills to work on. I have some ground to conquer. I have some victory to gain.

This isn’t just a New Year’s Resolution that is forgotten and unfulfilled, it is a promise. These are goals. I have written many down. And as more come to me, more changes that need to be made, I will write those down to. I am a work in progress, allowing God to mold and shape me into the person he wants me to be.

Last night, during Bible Study, we continued in Jonah, a deeper look into Chapter 2. In class, these scriptures were compared to a soul in sin. How lost and desperate they are for help. Their search for God, that spark of hope, the surrender to him and their deliverance.

But this wasn’t my experience. I made the decision at a young age and throughout time to serve God. I wasn’t bound and miserable in sin. I was 8 years old.MEDION DIGITAL CAMERA

To me, this passage resembled a saint, overwhelmed by life, in the depths of grief, going through a valley, a time where you can’t feel God, a season of waiting, a trial of faith, CRYING out to God. Looking to him to him for help. Through the discussion and thought it struck me that, with slight alteration (removing the part about the fish’s belly and being spit up on dry land) it could be relocated to the Psalms. It reads:

Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,out-of-the-depths

 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

mountains Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

hope When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.how-to-increase-the-value-of-your-relationships-22-638

 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

I wonder if Jonah read the Psalms, if the words of David resonated with him as he searched his soul, as he desperately went before God, taking responsibility for his actions, and agreeing to follow through with his vow. His purpose of fulfilling God’s will for Nineveh.

Last week, out of the depths of my soul, I cried unto the Lord. I was overwhelmed and felt like I was drowning. I recognized that I could not continue on my own strength. I did not have that ability. Through a scripture, a reminder to rely on God’s strength, his help through the day, gave me something to hold on to. A hope that this is for a reason, that it won’t be forever, that his strength and grace are ALWAYS sufficient. christ-strengthens-me

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At the close of another Annual Fellowship Meeting, I think back on the services and reflect on the gold nuggets that I am taking away from it. I always look forward to this time of year, a time of reflection, a time for a deeper consecration, a renewing in my soul, a fresh touch of desire. But all of this is of no use, unless it is put into practice. It becomes an emotional experience of the past, just a good time, if the challenges aren’t accepted and pursued. This is my desire, that it not be just another great meeting, but that it be a stepping stone that draws me closer to God.

  1. No relationship can survive with out forgiveness.
  2. If you are not willing to constantly forgive, you will become bitter.
  3. Do we want God to forgive us as we forgive others? There is a reason why he says to forgive others as he has forgiven us.
  4. Unforgiveness incarcerates the victim with no effect on the offender.
  5. Who art thou Lord? Daily ask who God is. The answer, I am Jesus, will meet every need, answer every question.
  6. We need to have a for sure knowledge of who he is.
  7. We need the Spirit – to kill the flesh, to pray when we can’t, to be a witness, to quicken the body. We NEED the Spirit.
  8. He rescued me from what could have been my end. Being saved young and not having experienced the vast world of sin, my end could have been a mess, full of heartache and sorrow. He saved me from what could have been.10514-Great-Is-Thy-Faithfulness
  9. He is a faithful Father, and GREAT is his faithfulness to me.
  10. Why should I feel discouraged? When I know that he watches me, just as he watches the sparrow.
  11. We need to be willing to let the spotlight of God shine on us and not always shift the focus to someone else, he that is without sin cast the first stone.
  12. Face your need.
  13. Allow Christ to see your failure. Allow him into the intimate part of your heart, where your hurts are. He will take them and make something great.
  14. Be willing to God with God to places you have never gone before. Go out into the deep.
  15. Be concerned about stagnation. If you aren’t growing, moving up, experiencing more in salvation, if it is no longer a benefit to you, Be very concerned. Seek God.
  16. Don’t bring up the past. Focusing on the past hurts, problems, divisions, will cause you to miss your blessing.
  17. Don’t be afraid when your “child” is dead. Don’t listen to what others say, believe and ask Jesus into the intimate parts of your house, so he can bring healing to your need.
  18. Jesus says, no matter what you have heard, I can do something with this impossible situation.
  19. I’m still HOLDING ON.558309
  20. When God draws the line, it is up to us to measure to it.
  21. God wants to do good, are we willing to let him use us?
  22. We need to be more intimate with God. You need intimacy with him in order to bring forth new converts.

A long list. A lot to remember. But changes don’t have to happen over night. We do what we have known to do. Take additional time in prayer and devotion. Be quick and willing to forgive the little slights each day. Open our mouth and let God fill it.

God help us, help me, to be your child. To hear AND obey.

The thought tonight in class was our Personal Theology Statement. What/who is God to you? Not what the Church thinks, not what the Bible says, but your very own personal study of God statement.

Salvation is a personal thing and in order to be successful we have to keep it personal. We can’t change our focus to what others are doing or how they think of us. We need only be concerned about the connection between us and God. With this connection sure, we can then be a conduit by which others can be helped.558309

So what is in a Personal Theology Statement (PTS).
1. Who is God to me?
2. What is God to me?
3. What am I willing to do for him?
4. Thanksgiving and Praise
These are just some of the points this statement might cover. It would also include his help in the most difficult times. It speaks of responsibility and promises made to him. It is fluid and relevant to your current condition with God. The longer one serves God, the deeper and more revealing their Personal Theology Statement is.

As I drove home from service and went on a walk with my dog, I meditated on my PTS. What is God to me? Who is he? What has he done? What am I willing to do for him? How is my gratitude? This is what came out as I began to write.

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My God is…
Hope in the dark
Peace in the unknown
Joy in the daily tasks
The bearer of burdens
An unending supply of strength
All Loving.
He fills the voids were sorrow grows with hope.
Master Healer.
Worth of my confidence
Fulfiller of dreams,
He satisfies all needs.
Ever present.
Guides each step of my path and I carefully follow his lead.
From the depths of my being I seek him and he is always to be found.
When I don’t know why, he is the answer.
The praise of my soul rises to him.
In daily thanksgiving I see his beauty in the colors of the grass and the clouds across the sky.
He is wind.
A breath.
Life.
He is a rock when the waves rage.
Provides rest in the busy of life.
Proves peace is the perfect way.
God is worth waiting on.
I will wait without complaining and with joy for his light to move upon my path.
He overwhelms me, my fears, my desires
I choose to accept his way in contentment even when I can’t understand.
Beyond merciful when I have failed.
A Faithful friend.
Collector of tears, calming the storm of disappointment and loss, he gives grace and hope to go face the world and go another day.
My motivation.
My first thought when I wake, and the last as I finish my day.
He is my ALL.

I am sure this isn’t all and more will come in time. On my walk as I was listing off each thing God is to me and my promises to him tears of thankfulness and praise ran down my face. I was and am overwhelmed by the greatness of God.

girl-backpack-thinking-sunset-field-fence-What is your PTS? While it might be similar, and you might be able to relate, this isn’t your PTS. Take a minute. Think on this. Ask yourself “Who is God to me? What has he done? What will you do for him? Offer him Thanksgiving and praise.” Join in the Personal Theology Statement Project, share what God is to you. Maybe it will encourage someone to know this God in a personal way.

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It has been my desire and prayer for a while to draw closer to God. You ask, “Isn’t that every Christian’s desire?” It should be. But do we really act on that desire? Or do we just say it?

Yesterday one of the Bro’s at church testified to the same desire. He spoke how God told him, (and I paraphrase) “If that is what you want, do your part. Take more time to be with me. If you can spend hours online, you have time to spend with me. You want to draw closer, you read more, you pray more. I am here, you make the time to know me better.”

I too have heard God tell me this…take more time to spend with me. He said it again yesterday through testimony. I made a determination to put this into practice. Not to just say I want to draw closer, I need to read the Bible more, I need to pray more…but to do it. If I have to, I will make an appointment to spend the time with God. What I have done in the past is no longer enough for me. I desire a deeper relationship with God. To truly be one with Him and Him in me.

prayWhen I have prayed about the different things that I struggle with, the thought has come, if more time was spent in the Word and in Prayer, these “things” wouldn’t be such a trial. You would have more strength and a greater back bone to handle the temptations and situations presented by the enemy of souls. A benefit of drawing closer to God, is gaining the complete victory that has previously alluded me because of decisions I have made to please the flesh.

As I am structure or schedule oriented, I have made a plan. It will at least help get this started. While it may seem funny and one may think that it isn’t right to be so “organized” about it, but let the spirit move. Yes we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit, but God gave us a mind and free will. If this is how I am going to get my flesh under control and set time aside for God, then so be it. This is what I will do.

I am going to stBible-and-handsart a study in Romans. Read a little each day, pull out a nugget and meditate on it. I will also use one of the Streams in the Desert books as a supplemental reading. I want to specifically take time to pray for those at work and the day ahead before I walk in the door. This in addition to a morning prayer. I want to specifically pray and give thanks for my food. Yes I am faithful to be thankful. But sometimes I find myself just saying “Thanks for the food”. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. And I am not saying that there has to be a 10 min prayer at every meal, but I want to take more time and talk to God, not just at him. Not just out of form or repetition or habit, but to make a connection with him.

Since writing helps me process what I read and think, I shall share my journey. Starting with Romans 1.

Romans was written to Saints. To us. To those that are saved and living with out sin. Not to sinners. (Although there is good for them too)  Romans 1:7 reads “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints…” The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it is current and applicable for us as saints just as it was to the Romans that Paul wrote to.

Paul starts his letter to the Romans with his commendations (vs 1-5), he testimony of where he came from. He follows this with a greeting and a desire to visit the saints (vs7-13). In this he mentions that he is looking forward to working with the saints to bring in a harvest. Ready to preach the gospel and not being ashamed of God’s work.

 

Paul is an exampannouncerle to us. Always ready to enter the work of God where needed. Always ready to speak of God. Not shrinking from duty or other opinions that might oppose God’s truth. Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Paul recognizes the power that is in the gospel and how it can change a soul and give life. This is what he wants to bring to those in and around Rome.

We too need to take this example, to not be ashamed, but to recognize the great power in God and the gospel, the good news about Christ and spread that to those around us. Whom have we spoken to about Christ recently? Have you shared what God has done form you? Have you said a word about Christ? Are you ashamed or are you willing to be lead by the spirit and speak of the gospel?

 

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