I was going to write all about our first vacation, but I’m short on time and I’d rather write about it later. Let’s just say: baby started crawling, sprouted half a tooth(pictured above) and Gatlinburg was beautiful and we really enjoyed our time.
We did a loooot of study on our trip, which was very beneficial to me, so while my husband is preparing to preach today, I want to write a post to help us all through the day.
The other day we read a devotion from Gary Henry about having flexibility in reaching our goals. As Christians, this especially applies to us.
Is our goal to please God? To get to heaven?
If those are your ultimate goals (which they ought to be if you’ve been buried into the death of Christ and raised a new creature in Him (Romans 6:4)) then I urge you to consider a couple of things this new day:
1 Awareness Like any goal, if we hope to achieve pleasing God and getting to heaven, we’ll have to keep it at the forefront of our minds. Neither of those things will happen on accident and a lukewarm “Christian” is never pleasing to God (Revelation 3:16). We can fight against becoming lukewarm by focusing on Him and that heavenly reward daily, hourly.
In order to please Him, we need to know what pleases Him; we need to be studying daily.
“…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” – Acts 17:11
Some things that have helped me each morning are praying and reminding myself that I have died; my flesh, my wants, my desires in life, my emotions and my old self were all put to death in the waters of baptism. When I remind myself that my life is now hidden in Christ ( Colossians 3:3), I am able to see situations clearly and choose what is right, whether it’s saying something, not saying anything, saying the right thing, actions, reactions, attitudes, thoughts or just personal choices.
Once we adopt that mindset, though, the only way we can see growth and obtain strength is through prayer. If our goal is heaven, we need a very active prayer life. We need lengthy, go-into-your-room-and-shut-the-door prayers, and we also need constant quick “help me!” prayers. We need to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17); if something is difficult or confusing: pray, if something is wonderful: pray, if prayers have been answered: pray, if everything is looking good and you don’t know what to pray for: study and pray that God will show you where you need growth. Christianity is not lazy, it is not lukewarm, it is not an accessory to your life that you try on every Sunday and maybe Wednesday,or whenever you reallyreally want something. It isn’t simply belief with no reverence for His word and no attempt to apply it to your life (James 1:22-27, 2:14-25).
2 Devotion As I mentioned earlier, the article that inspired this post was about “flexibility in reaching our goals.” Let me include an excerpt:
“Too often, we become rigid about what we want and what we plan to do. We develop “hardening of the categories,” and we can’t think outside of the narrowly defined set of circumstances that we’ve attached our minds to. We think we’re pursuing a goal, when in reality we’re only pursuing a particular path to that goal.
…One measure of how important a goal is to us is how flexible we are in reaching that goal. If our hearts are fixed on one scenario and we give up the goal if that situation doesn’t materialize, then it was only the scenario that was important to us, and not the goal. ” – Gary Henry, Reaching Forward
I’ve titled this point “devotion” because I feel the foundation of how flexible we are in the paths of this life is how devoted we are to our goals. If you say your goal is to be pleasing to Him, to do His will and to get to heaven, but when things aren’t looking how you’d prefer, you fail to do what is necessary, you slack off in your responsibilities as a Christian, you adopt a bad attitude,become bitter, negative, fight passionately against whatever befalls you, disregard the notion that you have a responsibility to serve Him no matter what, and ultimately esteem your own wants above glorifying Him, then you are demonstrating a lack of true devotion to that goal. In the end, you are showing that your goal is to please yourself and get what you want in this temporal life.
You know that verse in which Jesus asks the Pharisees whether the baptism of John was “from heaven or from men”? In a sense, we need to ask ourselves a similar question throughout the day. When faced with each situation, we need to ask if our reactions and emotions and decisions are godly or fleshly. We will certainly face unpleasant times and less-than-desirable circumstances, but we need to keep our focus on God and honor Him always. Cliche or not, it may help to empathize with Christ’s life; He came to do the will of the Father, not only at the expense of everything in this life, but also to be beaten and mocked and unjustly treated.Yet, He endured, He was meek, lowly, gentle, devoted in prayer, steadfast and immovable and we would do good to routinely test ourselves and compare ourselves to Him and to His word.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ” – Acts 20:24
So today, and every day, multiple times a day, let’s be aware of our goals, let’s examine our devotion and welcome the testing of it.