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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.

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I sit at work today trying to hold back the tears that come with the beginning of learning, opening and accepting the many gifts that God has given.

I am listening to One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My mom and sisters follow her blog A Holy Experience. I have read some of her posts but have never been good about sitting down to read or follow blogs. A couple months ago, my sisters took up the challenge that Ann has proposed of making a list of 1000 things that they are thankful for. I thought I can do that, I have been writing my thankfuls down for years. In fact thinking on it now, I probably have thousands of things written in my thankful notebooks.

I began my list.

1. To be Challenged
2. Motrin – I got strep throat this week
3. Hot tea
4. Walks on brisk mornings
5. Flowers

To me it wasn’t any different than any other list, I would just continue the numbers instead of beginning at 1 every night. As I said writing my thankfuls was not new to me. My mom gave me a thankful book probably 15 years ago with the admonition that thankfulness and discontent cannot live together. I was faithful for much of that time to write 5 things I was thankful for each night. I still write them, only now it is on Facebook. I had the concept of thankfulness. I would be grateful for the good things and even those that brought me grief. At the end of the day I would read my Bible, pull out my notebook, find my place, and write the date and 5 things I was thankful for that day. I would close the book and be done. I didn’t put much more thought into it. I would be thankful for things through out the day in my mind and was thankful for all things, but didn’t really appreciate ALL the things and accept them as gifts of love to me from God.

As Ann’s voice is reading the words of her book through my headphones, I pull a piece of scratch paper close and begin a list.

1. The crunch of apples
2. The arrow of a mouse on the computer
3. Quesedillas full of cheese, chicken, and chopped bellpepper and onions
4. Ice Makers
5. Coke fountain drink machines
6. Rain trails on the windows

In naming each thing, I am seeing and receiving the gift. I am being thankful for that moment. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann describes her journey of being full of grace and living fully. It took hold with her list. Through her list of gratitude, she was able to live fully with joy in each moment. As I began to acknowledge each moment, each gift, my heart began to over flow with joy and gratitude to the big God that loves little me. I cannot tell you how many times I had to swallow back the tears and blow my nose so that I could continue work.

I begin to think on my life and the things that I have taken for granted in my thankfulness. And I thought of my house. A number has been put on the days that we have left in the house, and I could no longer wait. I thought of all the times we have had in the house, the flowers in the yard, the parties, the memories. It has been a good 14 years. I had to make a list, I wanted to picture so that I could remember. I don’t plan to forget, but I want to be able to think back to the wood piles, the rack of rain boots in all sizes, the bird houses in the trees, the creek and the green garage door.

I continue my list…and in the naming of the gift, I receive it and am filled with Joy and Grace to overflowing.

Recently I have been given the opportunity to work with the children at my church. This came with much surprise, but with the leading of the Lord.

Before I was approached on the subject, in the Young Adult group that I am apart of we were discussing visions and mission statements, both for us individually and as a class. As I was preparing my individual vision and mission statement, my mind kept returning to the thought of being willing. During this time I was asked to consider assisting in the teaching of the 6 year old class.

In my prayer and meditation on whether or not God would have me move in this direction, I looked up “being willing” in the Bible. God spoke to me through these scriptures, 1 Chronicles 28:9-10. It takes place when God is telling David that his son, Solomon, will build the temple. God chose Solomon to complete this instead of David because of the sin that David had committed. The scriptures read,

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.

Here God calls Solomon to remember the God of his father, and to seek him for wisdom and instruction for his life. He instructs service to God with a perfect heart and willing mind. If we have these 2 things, God can use us effectively to win souls. God reminds Solomon the benefits of seeking God and the penalties of refusing him. He then encourages and admonishes Solomon. God chose him for this special task, a big responsibility, but with God’s blessing Solomon with have the strength to complete it.

In further study on “willing” I found the definition of this to be:

  1. favorably disposed or consenting (to do something specified or implied): not objecting
  2. acting, giving, etc. readily and cheerfully: as, a willing assistant
  3. done, given, offered, etc. readily or gladly; voluntary
  4. of the power of choice; volitional

So to be willing one must perform the task with a good attitude. One isn’t “willing” to do something if the task is done begrudgingly, with reluctance, or negativity.

I also looked up these scriptures in the Amplified Bible, they read:

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father – have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with and understand Him: appreciate, heed and cherish Him – and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and minds, and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him – enquiring for and of Him, and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity – you will find Him: but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off for ever! Take heed now; for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong and do it!

When I read this, I was challenged also. God had chosen me; I don’t feel qualified or worthy to be a teacher. I don’t have any experience as one. But he chose me to build the sanctuary of these little souls, I have to be strong, trusting in God and do it.

Be willing to follow God when he calls you, trust in Him; Be strong and do it!

Each of us is different. We all have talents that are specific to us. As saints, we can and must have diversities among us. But in all of our differences, our spirit or what motivates us must be the same.

1 Corinthians 12

1. Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14. For the body is not one member, but many.

Just as diversities in gifts is important, so are we all important to the body. What is your gift? What are you bringing in order to edify the body?

NOTE: Not to negate the fact that we use the Bible only to live by, we can use other publications as tools, to help us better understand different facets of our lives. In this study, we are using The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, which is based on Biblical principles to help give a greater understanding on effectively communicating love to one another. 

Part 1
Part 2

Love is a CHOICE. We have to choose to love.

This allows us to decide how we are going to treat those around us that we profess to love.

When we are wronged we have a choice, to get even or to forgive.

Love makes requests not demands. When you make a request you give someone an opportunity to choose to express their love when they perform your request. When you demand, the deed is done out of duty and not love.

Love Language #1 – Words of Affirmation

All throughout the Bible, we are admonished to consider our words. Proverbs 18:21 reads, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” What we say and how we say it can greatly affect our relationships.

 To someone that has the love language of “word of affirmation” words are the most important thing. Not only just the words that are spoken but how we say them.

 Affirmation – to assert strongly, declare, announce openly, state as a fact

 If you know someone that understands love through the language of “Words of Affirmation”, affirming words can be spoken in different manners. They can be said to your loved one or they can be spoken to others about that loved one when your loved one is present and when they aren’t.

 Look around you; do some of your loved ones speak the language of “Words of affirmation”? Have you loved them today?

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