New Year’s-New Beginnings

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Ephesians 5:11-16 (NIV)
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 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 5:11-16 (MSG)
Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light!” So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
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“Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character]; for it is disgraceful even to mention the things that such people practice in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light [of God’s precepts], for it is light that makes everything visible. For this reason He says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine [as dawn] upon you and give you light.” Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose, and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people], making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.” -AMPLIFIED

Make the most of every moment and opportunity! The King James words it like this, “Redeeming the time…” Today begins a new year; a chance for new opportunities, new connections and new possibilities. The question we all must ask ourselves is, Will we be diligently looking for those possibilities with expectation? Will we be faithfully serving God and pursuing fruitful deeds; not fruitless? Will we live in the present; not in the past or the future?

1.) One of the questions we all must ask ourselves is, am I looking for the possibilities and opportunities that God has made available for me to glorify Him? The Apostle Paul reminded the Galatians that they needed to do good while they had the chance. “So seize any opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family.” -Galatians 6:10 (VOICE)Too many of us have the mentality that now is not convenient for me; I will get to it or do it the next time. (And next time never comes.) Once again we are reminded of the fact that we need to redeem the time. No one is guaranteed tomorrow or a next time. The Aristotle Paul reminds us, “Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” -2 Corinthians 6:2 (AMP)

2.) The second question we need to consider is this; will we be faithfully serving God and pursuing fruitful deeds? Too many of us have gotten caught up in the things of this World and have lost our focus on the Lord our God. (It is very easy to do; since we live in this World and are surrounded by its distractions.) We need to keep our focus on God and obediently follow His directions. Paul told Timothy this, “…do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15 (VOICE) Paul also reminded the Colossians of this, ” Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve.” -Colossians 3:23-24 (AMP)

3.) Finally, the third question we must ask ourselves is this: Will we live in the present; not the past or the future. So many people waste their time rehashing the past and telling themselves, “If only….” Friend, you cannot change the past; what is done is done. There is no going back. Paul told the Corinthians, “Then there are those who tend to go to the other extreme, “I cannot wait for tomorrow.” or “When I do this or reach that point; everything will be amazing. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone—and see—a new life has begun!” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (VOICE)Then we have those who tend to live only for the future; when this happens I will do this or when I reach this point think of the possibilities or what will I do because I need this or that. It was Jesus who told His followers this, ” So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.” -Matthew 6:34 (VOICE)

It is time to live in the present and make the most of every opportunity that the Good Lord allows to happen in our lives. “The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. ” -James 4:14 (VOICE)

Happy New Year! May you, with the Good Lord’s help, make the most of the coming year, make a difference in this World, love much and laugh more. God Bless you all!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to redeem the time that you have given me. You have not promised me tomorrow and I cannot change yesterday, but I can make the most of today, this moment in time. Help me to make the most of every opportunity that you have placed in my life. Help me to glorify you in everything that I say and do. Help me to love deep and laugh much. Most of all, allow my life to be a testament to You and Your love.

New Year’s Ponderings

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 John 3:18 (NIV)
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18 (MSG)
My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.
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“Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” -AMPLIFIED

Bob Goff, in his book “Love Does”, shares this thought that truly should make us ponder our way of living and doing things. “Love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” -Bob Goff “Love Does”

To put it even more directly, love is an action word. We need to stop spending so much time thinking and planning about how we will demonstrate love and just do it. John the Beloved wrote in his first epistle of our need to not just talk about love, but actually show love. It should actually be a pattern of our life. “My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.” -(VOICE)

Yesterday we talked about the importance of letting our lights shine brightly for Jesus. Today, I want to discuss HOW we can actually do that. Talk is one thing, but action is another. We could spend all day long articulating how much we love a person or a people group or even just people in general, but if we do not actually show it all that talk is just that, talk.

The Apostle Paul shared these thoughts about living a life without real, true love, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (MSG)

“But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.”
― Bob Goff “Love Does”

“Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (VOICE)

Love is not just an emotion that we feel; love is something that we demonstrate. To demonstrate something means that there is proof or evidence behind what we are saying. To say that, “I am a Christian”, but not love outwardly would be hypocritical; for to be a Christian is to mean that we are like Christ just by definition.

Jesus was not afraid to set aside Himself to prove His love for mankind. Consider the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians about our need to emulate Christ’s attitude and love. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” -Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)

Let each of us resolve that in the coming year we will not just talk about love, but we will display, operate in, and bestow love to others. Let us decide now that we will emulate Christ more in our lives by loving through action.

“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.”
― Bob Goff “Love Does”

My Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in this coming year I want to be a demonstration of your love to others. I want others to see you through the love that flows out of me from you. Let my life be love in action. Remove any fear, reservations or doubt I may have and instead let me live my life “OUT LOUD” for you. Let me be that living sacrifice that you have called me to be and let me love to the extreme; for your glory, Lord, not mine. Be magnified in my life, Lord. You must increase and I must decrease. Let my life be the proof of your love, dear Lord.

New Year’s Contemplations

Growing with god: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
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“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” -AMPLIFIED

The New Year is just days away and I am sure that a majority of us have been thinking about the coming New Year and wondering what it will hold. Some will be considering what they will do for their New Year’s resolution. Others will be planning out their new budget for the coming year. A few may be expecting BIG changes in the coming year, so they are calculating and preparing the best they can. All of us though should be taking some time to analyse and appraise our spiritual life from this past year and spend some time in prayer preparing ourselves for the coming year.

Jesus told His followers that they were the light of the world. Now bear in mind that it is a little “the” because for He is THE LIGHT. (Remember though, we are to emulate Jesus.) As lights we are to be doing one specific job, shining! To shine is to illuminate, enlighten, bring light, radiate and to spread out.

There is a purpose for all this shining too. It is so that we may point others to the Father and in so doing bring glory to Him. The Apostle Paul shared these thoughts with the Corinthians, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God].” -1 Corinthians 5:17-19 (AMP)

As new creatures we are to be shining Jesus to the World. Have we been doing that as we should? Hmmm…that is something that each individual must assess for themselves. Sadly though, I think most of us can say that there is much room for improvement in our lives.

So, how do we go about shining Jesus more? Here are a few thoughts and ideas that may get you thinking in that direction:
1.) We need to pray more and seek God’s face. (1 Chronicles 16:11)
2.) We need to love others more and seek our own agenda a whole lot less. (Galatians 6:2)
3.) We need to remember to always have a servant’s heart. (Philippians 2:3-5)
4.) We need to have faith and trust God completely. (Hebrews 11:6)
5.) We need to have boldness, even when confronted by the Enemy. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
6.) We need to be willing to sacrifice for the good of others. (Hebrews 13:16)
7.) We need to be willing to step out of our comfort zone. (Joshua 1:9 and 2 Timothy 1:7)
8.) We must speak the truth is love, always. (Ephesians 4:15)
9.) We need to remember whose we are. (1 John 4:4)
10.) We need to reflect Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

As the Apostle Paul reminded the Philippians on how they should live their lives; let us too live ours. “In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts.” -Philippians 2:5 (VOICE)

“What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?” -Romans 8:31 (AMP)

My Prayer:

Lord Jesus, may my life be a reflection of yours. I want to let my light shine bright; pointing others to you. In this coming year may I consciously make an effort to focus more on you and my testimony for you. Let others see not me, but you in me; I pray. Be glorified in me!