My sincere apologies for not sharing last week but things are getting a bit hectic personally and professionally. Besides, I was encouraged when a friend contacted me to find out why she did not receive it last week, means I need to try and stay the course. Right this very moment actually, I am in the car, struggling to get WiFi and post as I am traveling to CT from FL for class and personal business but I needed to get this exchange out to you. (I am not driving, just the passenger). Also, thanks tremendously for your prayers for me in school, I have seen God do miracles, please pray I stay focused and complete this “race/journey” shortly.
How’s everything coming with your challenges, resolutions and goals for 2017? Do you have any? If you did not challenge yourself, let’s do a spiritual health checkup as we should all hold ourselves accountable periodically for our personal spiritual growth. Also, if you don’t have one, I would even recommend you acquire an accountability partner. I volunteer for anyone needing one.
Following is food for thought on your spiritual checkup which I originally shared back in 2013:
II Corinthians 4: 16-18 (The Message)
16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)
We humans are great starters but often bad finishers. We leave unfinished symphonies, unfinished buildings, unfinished books, unfinished projects. We may not always finish what we start, but God always finishes what he starts.
God doesn’t create a bird and give him half a wing. He didn’t create an unfinished flower or an unfinished star. He puts the finishing touches on everything he does, and then he says, “It is good.”
The Bible says when Jesus Christ starts working in your life, he will complete what he started, in spite of the hang-ups, faults, bad decisions, sins, and circumstances that we face. One day, when we get to Heaven, we’re going to become just like Jesus, because we will see him as he is. And that’s the goal.
In the meantime, if we want to enjoy the people in our lives, we need to be patient with their progress. We must allow for their growth and development. Paul could say, “I’m not the man I used to be, thank God. But also, thank God, I’m not the man I’m going to be. I’m growing and changing.”
If you want to enjoy your marriage, you’ve got to learn to enjoy your husband or your wife right now while allowing for growth and development. Otherwise, by the time they meet your conditions, you will have still another condition for them to meet.
Parents, if you’re going to learn to enjoy your kids, you’ve got to learn to enjoy them in the process while they’re growing, because there is no such thing as a perfect kid.
And there’s no such thing as a perfect adult. If you demand perfection of the people in your life in order to enjoy them, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life. Nobody’s perfect.
Talk About It
– To whom do you need to show grace today, understanding that God is still working in his or her life, in his own time and his own way?
– Knowing Christ will finish what he started in you, what role do you think he wants you to play in your progress? What steps do you need to take toward spiritual growth?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life.” His book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional © 2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Today is Ash Wednesday, for those of you who do not know or not familiar which starts the season of Lent…read below on the purpose of lent, in case you’re not familiar. Perhaps you can incorporate this concept or tool into your Spiritual Checkup.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the penitential preparation of the believer – through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday which then culminates in Easter Sunday, marking the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lenten season, some faithful observants generally commit to a form of fasting or (temporarily) give up certain types of luxury. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant parishes often bare their altars of candles, flowers and other devotional offerings while Crucifixes, religious statues and other elaborate religious paraphernalia are often veiled in violet fabrics in pious observance of this event. Among certain pious Catholic countries, grand processions and cultural customs are observed, while the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary by observing the Fourteen Stations of the Cross.
According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan. Thus, Lent is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. In many of the Christian churches, Lent is regarded as being forty days long, but the Sundays between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday are not typically regarded as being part of Lent; thus, the date of Shrove Tuesday will typically be slightly more than forty days before Easter Sunday.
This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and some Baptists. Lent is increasingly being observed by other denominations as well, even such groups that have historically ignored Lent, such as some Baptists and Mennonites
Hillsong “Still” based on scriptures including “Be Still and Know That He is God” Psalm 46:10
Dear Lord, I pray that today we will show grace even to ourselves. So many times, we will let everyone off the hook except ourselves. Show us what steps we need to take as individuals and a group to continue growing in the purpose you have for our lives. Help us build each other up and remember, yes, we are our brother’s (sister’s) keeper! In Jesus, name…
Finally, today’s Fast Wednesday is respectfully dedicated to interfaith and interfaith dialogue.
Love, Joy and Peace,
Debra J. Ellis
Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!
The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.” Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (email@example.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog.