Pastor Gwen Miller

Fruitfulness... God's Idea - Part 4

In John 15:16 Jesus said “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing fruit.”
The above passage clearly states it is the plan of God for us to be fruitful.  Furthermore, it reveals that we are chosen by Jesus.  He has actually picked us to be a part of His great plan in the earth. You may think you initiated the decision to follow Jesus.  But actually He chose you first.  You just responded when you got saved. 

Knowing fruitfulness is God’s plan for us is a first step.  Knowing God’s way to fruitfulness is the next step.  Many people set out to be fruitful or successful in their lives with no thought to God’s ways and plans in the process.  You may attain a level of success on your own but it will never be to the level that God has planned for you. We cannot access God’s best for our lives without consulting His Word.  Our connection to Christ is directly related to our level of fruitfulness.

John 15:4-8 gives us the root to real fruitfulness.  It is abiding in Christ.  Jesus said “if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask what you will and it will be done for you.” Now that sounds like a fruitful prayer life, to ask and receive what you desire. 

To know such results are available to us is great news!  Jesus said there is a way for you to receive whatever you ask for in prayer. I’m so glad that wasn’t my idea or yours but it was God’s.     

Abiding means to live, dwell, settle down.  I believe one of the greatest fulfillments in life comes from practicing God’s presence; learning to abide in Him.

Scripture meditation: “You have said, Seek My face.  My heart says to you, Your face your presence Lord will I seek.” Psalm 27:8

Fruitfulness… God’s Idea - Part 3

What did Jesus have to say about fruitful living?  Much of John 15 is printed in red indicating Jesus is speaking.  I made a decision some years ago to always agree with God’s Word and make it my final authority.  Someone once said “The red words win.” Meaning the words of Jesus should be elevated and seen as undeniable truth.

John 15:8 Jesus said, “When you bear much fruit my Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of mine.”

This verse clearly states that it brings God glory when our lives are fruitful.  So let’s assume that logically the opposite would also be true. If our lives are not fruitful God does not get glory from our lives.

Religious teachings, not the Bible, have taught us the more base we are the more exalted God is. In truth, the better we look in the earth, the better God looks.  John and I have endeavored to train our children in the ways of the Lord all of their lives.  If they make good choices and live successful lives when they become adults, it will make John and I appear to have been decent parents.  If they on the other hand, end up as the picture of failure, unable to provide for themselves, having no lasting relationships then their lives will not reflect well on us as their parents.  In the same way, it is clear that our fruitful lives bring God glory and show the world His goodness.

In John 15:16 Jesus said “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing fruit.”

Fruitfulness...God's Idea - Part 2

Success is like money it can be used for good or evil. It depends on who has it. Success in the hands of an evil man is merely power to abuse others.  An evil man has no business with power and success. His heart is not pure so his motives cannot be trusted. 

But fruitfulness in the life of a man who loves God and daily desires to please Him is a beautiful thing.  Such people leave their mark on the earth for the glory of God.  They not only have the welfare and wisdom to enjoy their lives and not waste them but they also have the integrity and goodness of heart to bless their families, friends, neighbors and business associates.

Yes, fruitfulness was God’s idea. You should not be living a less than average life when God has a fruitful plan for you.  As we continue this topic you will see God not only desires success for His children He gives clear guidelines on how to achieve Godly success.  He also gives clear instruction on how to keep your heart right when you are experiencing success. 

 

Scripture meditation:  “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing fruit.” John 15:16a

Fruitfulness… God’s Idea - Part 1

Did you know success was God’s idea?  Many church going people think success is a secular term.  They think a real Christian will live their lives not caring if they ever achieve any level of success. The problem with pursuing success, apart from God and His purpose, is that such a desire it is rooted in selfishness. Selfishness leads to many other sinful attitudes and behaviors such as dishonesty, greed and lust. But it isn’t success that corrupts the man.  He was already corrupt. Success is neither good nor evil. 

So what does success look like in the life of a man who loves God and lives by His Word? Psalm 112:3 tells us it is possible to be both righteous and successful.  In fact, the entire chapter gives us a visual picture of a righteous man.  In verse 3 it says “Prosperity and welfare are in his house and his righteousnessendures forever.”  Did you notice this man is both righteous and prosperous? If you read further in the chapter it talks about his generosity and justice.  It says he is uncompromising and confident. (verses 6&7)

The world has seen plenty of Christians who compromised their integrity when they thought no one was watching. The devil has a hey day with such tragedies.  The media  splatters the embarrassing details in vivid color for world to see.   Meanwhile, the enemy  laughs at the church while her reputation is discredited.   What was the problem, the circumstances or the man? The heart of the man was the problem not success.

Success is like money it can be used for good or evil. It depends on who has it. Success in the hands of an evil man is merely power to abuse others.  An evil man has no business with power and success.  His heart is not pure so his motives cannot be trusted. 

But fruitfulness in the life of a man who loves God and daily desires to please Him, is a beautiful thing. 

Money Matters - Part 2

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Deut. 28:1

Does the above promise sound too good to be true?  Well it isn’t.  That is the blessing promised to Abraham and his descendants.  According to Galatians 3:29 the blessing promised to Abraham is ours if we belong to Christ Jesus.  That is good news to you and me as Christians!

However, Deut. 28:1 clearly states that financial blessing does not come to you because you are a good person and you love God.  It comes because you are careful to follow His commands.  That means you must spend time day after day, listening to and acting on what God’s Word says regarding your finances and other areas of your life.

Tithing or giving ten percent of your income is an act of trust.  It is saying by your actions,  “As I put God first in my finances I trust Him to take care of my needs and give me wisdom in my finances.”  The Biblical basis for tithing is found throughout God’s Word. One familiar scripture on tithing is found in  Malachi 3:10. God actually says we can test or prove Him in the area of tithing and watch Him work in our finances.

Mal 3:10-12

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD AlmightyNIV

You and I have the ability to connect to God’s abundant supply as we are obedient with our money. That is part of God’s plan for you. Dare to believe in the goodness of God in the area of your finances and you will discover that God not only desires to bless you but to also work through your finances so you can be a blessing to others.  

If you really want to see a turn around in your finances, I encourage you to mediate or think about  Psalm 1.  This short chapter will help you think like God thinks regarding increase and blessing financially, and in any other area of your life.  Also, begin to search out what God’s Word says about money.  Once you discover what His Word says about your finances, take a few of the passages you discover and pray them over your situation.  The perfect prayer is a prayer based on what God has already said about an issue. As you make changes in order to make your life line up with God’s Word, you will be successful.

Scripture Meditation Psalm 1:1-3

Money Matters - Part 1

You may think, in the eternal scheme of things that money doesn’t really matter. For the committed Christian who cares about the eternal destiny of others, that is just not true.  Money really does matter. 

Money may not seem like a very spiritual issue.  After all, if you don’t have enough money to give so that the gospel can be preached, it won’t keep you from going to heaven.  But it could keep others from going.

Having enough money to meet your own needs and enough left to give to the kingdom of God is a serious issue.  For the first time in many years doors are opening in Vietnam to share the gospel message. China is in a period of training pastors to teach and train the thousands of people who are coming to know Christ every day. There are people around the world who need to hear about the love of God. There are also opportunities to share the love of God with people in our local area.  But to take full advantage of these opportunities it takes money.

As believers, we must know that being blessed in your finances is not an accident.  For a Bible believing Christian it is not based on the economy or present circumstances.  According to God’s Word being blessed in your finances is a choice.  It is a personal decision and a spiritual process. 

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Deut. 28:1

Keep Good Company

The people we choose to have fellowship with can make all the difference in success or failure as a Christian.  Friendships with strong believers can help us grow stronger.  Their faith encourages us and helps us increase in faith.  2 Timothy 2:22 speaks about the benefits of “keeping company with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

The reverse of that is also true for our lives. Keeping company with people who are living sinful lives is very dangerous.  They are walking in darkness.  If we choose to keep company with them, doing the same things they do and talking like they do, we will soon be in the dark as well.  The Bible says “bad company corrupts good morals.”

You and I cannot afford to become too familiar with sin. Whatever we become familiar  with, we will soon accept. That is the reason we must be careful what we listen to and watch on radio, internet and television.  Watching stealing, adultery, crude comedy, profanity, and murder, night after night will cause spiritual damage to us. It weakens our faith and makes sin more acceptable. 

This doesn’t mean you have no association with unbelievers. You and I should always be reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus.  We should be friendly, invite them to church and find ways to minister to them.  But we must be on guard and know who is influencing whom. 

That is one of the major reasons for attending church regularly and becoming connected with a Christian group of friends.  Connecting with other believers on a regular basis is one of the best things John and I have ever done for our family.  We don’t just value attending church.  We devote our lives to close companionship with our church family. Even if we weren’t the pastors, we would be sure to attend every service and social event possible at our local church.  Doing so gives many opportunities to form valuable and lasting relationships for each member of our family. 

We encourage our children to make friends with other children in the church.  We tell them their closest friends should be Christians. Having other Christian families in our home, increases the opportunity to form and strengthen Christian friendships. When our children reach dating age, we tell them they are only allowed to date Christians, knowing it is a safe guard for eventually choosing to marry a believer.

There is great value in guarding what influences our lives.  By guarding what influences us through media and television, we can keep from becoming insensitive to the dangers of sin.  By guarding who we keep company with, we can protect and strength our lives as Christians.

Scripture Meditation:

 “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV

Your Benefit Package

Did you know, as a Christian, you have outstanding benefits available to you ?  We often go to great lengths to familiarize ourselves with benefits that belong to us in the workplace.  But few Christians take time to discover the priceless benefits available to them in God’s Word.

Psalm 103:1 admonishes us not to forget his benefits.  Step one is to know the benefits He has provided. “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:1

These benefits are outlined in this passage:

 “…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,  who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:2-5

What amazing benefits!  I encourage you to read this portion of scripture slowly.  Think about each benefit listed and the fact that Jesus’ death purchased these benefits for you.   Also, recognize that none of these benefits are available without the first benefit.  “who forgives all your sins…”  Because of the blood of Jesus and His willingness to forgive sins, we can receive the rest of the benefits. 

In the workplace, knowing your employee benefits is only the first step to accessing them.  When we had insurance through UPS, we had a booklet which we kept on file outlining our benefits.  We also carried a card in our wallets which was written proof of our benefits.  As a Christian, you have a book of promises, which is written proof of your God given benefits.  When you read a promise in God’s Word, it can be yours if you will apply your faith to receive it. 

That is your part, to believe that what God says will come to pass.  It is not your part to decide how or w hen it will happen but to believe God is able to fulfill his promises.   You may be saying, “I try, but I have a hard time believing what the Bible says.” That can be corrected. Your belief system is directly related to what you think about continually.  You are responsible for your belief system.  Choose to meditate and think on the promises of God and watch your belief system change.  Abraham did it.

Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:20-21 NIV parentheses added.

Notice Abraham did not waver regarding the promise of God.  The promises of God are what will establish your faith and keep you from wavering.  When doubt begins to knock at your heart’s door, go back to your proof of benefits.  That is what it means to renew   your mind.  Renewing your mind to God’s promises is the major job of the believer.  You cannot stay strong in faith without continually renewing your mind to the promises. 

Follow the Shining - Part 2

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” Prov. 4:18-19 NIV

What is the righteous path? It is a path of development?  Have you ever seen a sunrise?  The sun appears with glowing colors as it begins to rise in the sky.  The earth is slowly illuminated as the sun rises higher in the sky.  One of the meanings of the word light, is development.  That is where we get our word photo.  Years ago photographs were developed in a specially lighted room.  With the proper environment and time photographs were developed until the picture could be clearly seen.  The path of the righteous is a path that grows brighter and brighter. 

So as the righteous person walks in the light of the Word of God he will receive more and more light. His path will grow brighter and brighter.  I believe we can come to the place in our walk with God, that we stumble, less and less because our light or our development has increased.  In a natural sense the lighter the room the less chance that you will stumble over something.  It works the same way in your walk with  God.

The shining path is available to every child of God.  He desires for your life’s path to be clear.  If you read further in Proverbs 4  it says “Pay attention to my words.”  It goes on to say “make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.” You can choose to walk the shining path that God has prepared for you.  It is not a difficult path it is the best path for your life.  It requires that we pay attention and keep our focus on keeping God and His Word first place.  But the rewards are priceless.

Dear Father,

Lead me in your shining path today.  It is a good path that you already have mapped out for me. (Eph. 2:10)  I choose to go your way and not my own.  Knowing your ways are higher than my ways and will cause me to develop into what you created me to be.  Thank you for leading me today.

Scripture Meditation:

Proverbs 4:18-27

Follow the Shining Path - Part 1

“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” Prov. 4:18-19 NIV

 

There are two paths described in the passage above, the shining path and the dark path.  The Bible says the dark path is a path of wickedness.  Many people will read that and decide that such sins as murder, homosexuality, adultery and theft rank as wickedness.  But the word wicked is synonymous with twisted.  You might think of the twisted form of wicker which is used to make wicker furniture. Wickedness is taking truth and twisting it to fit our paradigm or viewpoint.  We as Christians must take the truth of God’s Word at face value.  We must read it to receive revelation or shine light into our lives.  We must not read it in order to excuse sin.  In actuality, you can take Bible scriptures out of context and twist it to say whatever you want it to say. The goal of believers, however, is to read God’s Word and let it change our thinking and correct our lifestyle. 

Have you ever tripped over something in the dark?  You didn’t even realize it was in your path.  Notice the person who walks the wicked path doesn’t even know what makes him stumble.  He cannot see obvious obstacles in his way.  What a frustrating way to live.  There are people who live year after year stumbling in the dark.  And things will not change if the light is not turned on.

In contrast, “the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” So who are the righteous?  The Bible says it those who are in right standing with God. Righteous people are not perfect people who never make mistakes. If you have made Jesus Lord of your life, you qualify.  You are righteous.  Righteousness is not based on what you have done in your past. It is based on what you are allowing God to do in you today.  Do you daily walk in a confidence that Jesus paid for your sin and will continue to work in your life?  That is righteousness.

Lasting Change

Do you have some things in your life that need changing?  How does lasting change take place?  It begins with getting honest with ourselves and with God.  The word honest comes from the word honor.  I Corinthians 11:31 says “If we judge ourselves we should not be judged.”  Too many times we want to give ourselves a way out or make excuses for our shortcomings and sins.

I am not talking about self-condemnation or feeling guilty.  That does not bring change.  And feeling guilty and self-condemned does not mean you have actually repented or made a change.  To judge yourself is to look honestly at yourself in light of God’s Word.  Be blunt and strong.  Stand up and face whatever it is that needs to go in your life.  Call it sin.  You don’t have to be afraid of what God might do.  He has known it was there in your life all along.  When you confess the sin is not when God finds out about it.  That is when you get rid of it. 

Now, you are ready to receive your forgiveness.  Look at I John 1:6-10

I John 1:6-9

6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Speak out loud to Jesus your Lord and Savior:  “Lord, your word says you are faithful and just to cleanse me and forgive me from all unrighteousness.  I have confessed all these things before you and I hold nothing back.  Your Word says you are forgiving me right now.  For you not to forgive me, would mean you are not faithful.  That can’t be true.  I believe I receive my forgiveness right now in (time of day) on (today’s date) in Jesus’ name.”

Next, look up and read out loud Isaiah 43:25

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Every time a symptom of your old life – like guilt, or feelings of sorrow over your past tries to creep into your mind, say “No!  Jesus is faithful.  I am cleansed of that and God chooses not to remember my sin. I am clean in his sight.”  Now if God chooses not to remember it why should you?

Finally, check out what you are feeding your spirit and your mind.  Your mind is like a computer.  Whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it.  Trash in, trash out. God’s Word in: faith, hope, love, healing – released.  That is just the way it is.  We must face the truth in order to making lasting change.

You may say, “I’ve tried so many times and failed.”  Don’t quit!  Every time you are aware of  sin in your life, be tough on yourself and repent.  Go through these steps again with God’s Word in your hand, looking up the above passage. Make a lasting change.  This can be the best year of your life.  

Choose Peace

Jesus said He has given his very own peace to you and me. John 14:27  It’s true. Read it for yourself:

 “Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.”

There are several things Jesus is telling us in the above passage. In black and white you will read that Jesus has given us his peace.  Did you ever stop to think that Jesus is not nervously biting his nails as he looks on the state of this world?  The present state of our government does not disturb Him either.  Nor is He anxious and worried about the problems you are facing.  No, He is at peace. He is smiling and confident as He oversees the affairs of the universe.

You might remember one of the Fruits of the Spirit is peace. (See Galatians 5:22)  The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit abides in us when we make Jesus the Lord of our lives.  If that is so, then the attributes or fruit of the Spirit must be present in us also. But though the fruit of the Spirit are in us when we are born again, they are in seed form.  We must actually allow them to grow and develop in us. 

That brings us back to the topic of peace.  Jesus said He has given us His peace but it is up to us to allow that peace to increase in us.  How?  Jesus told us how in John chapter 14 when He explained that a troubled, fearful, anxious, agitated, attitudes are enemies to peace.  You can’t be fearful and peaceful at the same time.  You have to choose.

 It is common for people who deal with fear and anxiety to say “ I can’t help it, I’m just the nervous, anxious type It’s my personality.” If we couldn’t help being anxious and fearful then it wouldn’t be fair for Jesus to instruct us not to give in to those things. The fact is this.  You can decide what you will think and meditate on.  You have a God given right to choose your thoughts. 

Satan will of course, will send thoughts your way that you didn’t initiate.  But you can choose whether to mull those things over or cast them out of your mind.  You have the power over your own thoughts. There are so many promises in God’s Word telling you and me the good things He has in store for His children.  We must keep these things priority in our thinking.

If you have been fearful, anxious and troubled and you desire to have the peace of God in your life, pray the following prayer out loud.

“Jesus, I want your peace to reign in my heart above else.  Thank you for giving me your Word which gives me your peace to keep me stable in a crazy mixed up world.  Help me to be aware of fearful anxious thoughts before they take root and overtake my mind.  Help me to choose peaceful thoughts by choosing to think on your promises.”

Scripture Meditation:  Proverbs 4:20-27

Live Strife Free

James 3:16

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. KJV

 The Bible teaches that strife is dangerous and should be avoided.  The above passage in James says that envy and strife lead to confusion and evil.  That goes against what you might hear in the natural world.  If there is strife in your family or at work, most people would just chalk it up as a natural unavoidable part of life.  Most consider harsh words and actions routine.  But what is God’s standard?  What does He say about strife?   

Proverbs 16:28 “A perverse man stirs up strife.”

Proverbs 29:22 “A man of wrath stirs up strife”

Let’s look at a Biblical example for dealing with strife.  In Genesis 13:8 Abram and Lot were dwelling in the same area, sharing the same grazing land for their increasing herds. The land was not able to support both Abram’s and Lot’s flocks, herds and tents. So there was conflict between their herdsmen.  Abram said to his nephew Lot, “Let there be no strife.”  Furthermore, Abram tells Lot, that they should separate.  He gives Lot the first choice of land and takes the leftovers.  Abram knowingly gives the advantage to Lot.

 Remember, Abram is Lot’s respectable elder.  Lot does not defer to his uncle but selfishly chooses the better, well watered area of the Jordan valley.  Lot’s choice leaves Abram to settle in the less prosperous land of Canaan. 

I believe the root of Abram’s actions toward Lot were due to the following:

1)    He trusted God would take care of him and his household.  Abram was convinced that God had his back and would protect and bless him no matter what.  That attitude empowered him to give Lot the advantage without fear and self preservation.  Verse 14 says that God spoke to Abram promising to bless him in the land of Canaan.  And that is exactly what happened.  His flocks and herds continued to increase and the Bible says Abram was extremely rich.  It does not say that about Lot.  Remember, the blessing and favor of God is better than any earthly advantage.  God can make you prosper no matter how bad the circumstances may appear.

2)     He knew the dangers of strife and determined to be a peacemaker. Abram initiated peace talks with Lot even though he could have just evicted Lot from the land.  After all, Lot was sharing the land with Abram at Abram’s invitation. Years before Abram brought Lot with him from their homeland. Abram treated Lot with dignity and equality.

The strong character that Abram displayed is not common.  What kind of man risks is wealth and livelihood in the name of peace?   According to scripture only a man of great honor makes such an unselfish choice.

 Proverbs 20:3 “It is an honor for a man to cease from strife.” 

Next time you encounter strife choose peace.  Decide to trust God with the outcome.  Willingly give others the advantage. Such actions are nothing short of operating in the supernatural.  Mere unchanged men and women don’t have the power to operate in such strength.  

Power in Consistency Part 2

There is real power in being consistent. I think that is one reason the enemy fights to distract, discourage and get us off our course.  A strong, powerful believer is dangerous to his agenda in the earth.  

Hebrews 5:14 speaks about the consistent habits of a mature believer.  But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.  Amplified Bible

Notice it speaks about the full-grown or mature man (or woman) being one whose mental faculties are trained by practice to discern between good and evil.  Maturing in the natural sense takes practice.  A child practices daily hygiene until he no longer needs a parent to remind him to brush his teeth.  He has matured in that area.  By the time a student graduates from High School, he should have gained certain skills that will help him all his life.  Skills like finishing an assignment and turning it in on time.  Showing up to school and work on time and doing what you are asked to do.  Practicing these disciplines year after year should direct the student to a pathway of responsibility.

A person who walks the path of consistency is one who has practiced doing what they know to do until it becomes part of their lifestyle.  If there is an area in your life where you are struggling, dont give up!  Take the verses in Hebrews 5:14 and Isaiah 26:7 and think about them and pray them out loud over your life.  You can become consistent in your walk of love. You can be a faithful tither.  You can develop a daily time of devotion to God by reading your Bible and praying. It just takes practice.  If you fail one day, get back in the swing the next day.  That is what people who are practicing do.  They continue practicing a skill until they master it.

If a youngster joins the baseball team and steps up to the plate for the first time to hit the ball and misses, no one tells him to give it up.  No! They say, This is just practice.  You practice your swing and keep your eye on the ball until you make contact.

That is what you and I need to remember as believers who are maturing.  We must continue to practice what we know to do, based on Gods Word.  As we do, our lives will show the results of a path well chosen. a path of consistency.

If you desire to increase your level of consistency pray the following prayer:

Dear Father,

I desire to choose the path of consistency.  I believe based on Hebrews 5:14 that continually setting my mind on living by Your Word will cause me to be able to discern what is best for my life.  I want to live a life with few regrets.  I know that comes with making the right choices.  I ask you to help me be consistent in my life.  I know a consistently righteous life, based on Your Word, is a life of great reward.

The Path of the Consistency Part 1

There is real power in being consistent.  You might remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare.  Patient consistency caused the tortoise to win the race against the hare.  According to this children’s story, the hare was seemingly more equipped to win the race.  Anyone knows a rabbit has quick feet and much greater speed that a tortoise. But there are some Biblical truths that concur with this simple fable regarding consistency.

“The way of the [consistently] righteous is level and straight; You, O Lord who, are upright, direct aright and make level the path of the [uncompromisingly]  just and righteous.”  Isaiah 26:7 Amplified

People often begin their New Year with resolutions.  There is wisdom in setting goals for our lives.  But why do people fall short of reaching their goals?  Most of the time, failure to achieve is related to inconsistency. 

A well known minister once said, “In God’s system of operation there is no failure if you are living by His principles.  You just keep at it until you win.”  Lack of results can be linked to quitting before you see the desired results. Whatever you are trying to achieve in your life, I encourage you to stick with it until you succeed.

In what area of your life do you need to commit to being diligent and consistent?  Whether it is spiritually, in your relationships or at work, make the decision to be consistent.

Be Thankful

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday at our house.  It is fun to have change from- routine schedules and enjoy time with extended family.  We have a regular tradition following the memorable turkey dinner.  Each family member thinks back over the recent year and shares what they are most thankful for.  This time of reflection often brings smiles, tears and heartfelt thankfulness.

The Bible has much to say regarding an attitude of thanksgiving.  Several times in scripture the word sacrifice or offering precedes the word thanksgiving.  As believers we are familiar with these words.  We know a sacrifice is something that costs you something.  It may cost you time, money or both.  

When our family is gathered around a beautifully set table at Grandma’s house and we’ve all had more than enough to eat, it is easy to have an attitude of thanksgiving.  But there are times a thankful attitude doesn’t come so naturally.  It costs us something.  The cost is letting go of our negative thoughts in exchange for a thankful mindset. Yet, there is great benefit in fostering a continual attitude of thankfulness all year round.  There are some benefits of a thankful heart.

Thankfulness guards against a negative attitude.  If we are not careful we can become centered on our problems and what is lacking in our lives rather than the things God has done in our lives.  A heart of thankfulness will keep our thinking channeled on God’s goodness and the blessings he has already given. This kind of thinking is pleasing to God and keeps us from grumbling.

Thankfulness increases your health.  Did you know a continually negative mindset can lead to health issues? On the other hand adopting a thankful, positive attitude can contribute to your overall health and well being.

Scripture mediation: Psalm 103:1-5

Who Are You - Part 2

You are blessed, chosen, adopted and redeemed. (See Ephesians 1:3-7) What an amazing concept. Why would God extend such lavish love to the world?  What would motivate him to such extravagant love?  The Bible says, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should bee called children of God; and so we are."  I John 3:1  It is the love of God that causes Him to take action and pursue us. 

I remember a day before John and I had children.   I dreamed of a day when we would have little ones.   I wondered about how they would look. Would one have my eyes, John's smile?

Though our first child, Luke, was not born until we were married for four years, I already planned to love him. It was in our plan to love each of our children, before they were ever conceived.  It was not about their talents or their good or bad deeds. Our decision to love them happened long before they were born. Our purpose in having them was to have someone to share our love with. They were born to be the object of our love as their parents.  Luke, Heath, Mark and Brook were born to be loved by John and Gwen Miller.

You too, were born for love. That is how God sees you. You were created so that God could share His love with you.You were destined to be His own dear child.  (Eph. 5:1) 

Who Are You?

Blessed. Chosen. Adopted. Redeemed.  According to Ephesians 1:3-7 that is how God sees you.  Many people think God is angry at them. They are constantly aware of their own shortcomings and feel a sense a guilt and dissatisfaction with themselves.  Therefore, they just assume God feels the same way about them. But, to find out how God thinks we have to know what he says.  Not what we think he says, or what someone told us he said. 

The Bible says God has blessed us. Being "blessed" means more than just having material things.  Being blessed means having the power to prosper and succeed.  He has put the seed of success on the inside of you if you are a born again believer.  It is possible for you to be all that God has planned for you to be in your lifetime.

Secondly, God has chosen you.  All too often Christians think they are the one who has chosen God.  In reality, "We love Him, because He first loved us." 1John 4:19  You were hand picked by God to be his object of love.  God is not just tolerating you.  He chose you!  He does not moan and groan when you mess up.  He knew when he chose you what he was getting into.  Now it is your part to accept the depth of that love and thankfully respond in love to Him and obedience.

Thirdly, God has adopted you.  Ephesians 1:5 says, He predestined or planned us for adoption.  An orphan is one with no advantages in the natural.  They have no protection and no way to survive on their own.  They have no family or place to belong.  God has taken us into His own care as His adopted children with the full benefits of being in His family.

Finally, you are redeemed.  Ephesians 1:7 says "In Him we have redemption..."  To redeem is to buy back and change for the better according to Webster's Dictionary.  God not only accepts us when we come to Him in our sinful state, but He changes us.  In fact, we are a "new creation in Christ Jesus." 2 Cor. 5:17

Changing our thinking to agree with what God says about us is job #1 for the Christian.  Find out  what God thinks and says about you, and your life will be forever changed.

Knowing God

Knowing God is the most rewarding pursuit in life. You and I were created for relationship with Him. In fact, life will never be completely satisfying without a relationship with God.  It was God's plan from the beginning to have a family.  We were created for relationship with Him.

"Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ."  Eph. 1:5a

That tells us something about the character and plan of God.  His plan centers around you.

In the beginning Adam and Eve walked and talked daily with God.  They had close fellowship with him.  Even though they eventually listened to the voice of the enemy and chose to reject God's plan, God continued with His plan for His family.  He was not content to be separated from His children because of sin. The Bible says "at the right time" he sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin so that he could once again bring His family back to Himself. (See Gal. 4:4)

Furthermore, God gave us an entire volume of 66 books in the Bible that we might know and understand his wonderful plan for relationship with us.  It reveals who he is.It shows the totality of God and His character and all that is available to us through Christ Jesus. Such things as, salvation, joy, healing, peace, protection, and so many other wonderful things that are part of God's plan. The joy of knowing Him is offered to everyone who will accept Christ as their savior.

Your Attention Determines Your Direction

Whatever gets your attention determines your direction.  This is a key principle in Proverbs 4:20-23 “ My son pay attention to what I say;  turn your ears to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.  Above all else guard your heart for everything flows from it.”   

Verse 23 says everything in our life flows from what is in our heart. When reading this we must remind ourselves that God’s Word is perfect and always right.  God’s Word does not exaggerate.  So everything means every single thing.  Life is not a series of unrelated events.  The Bible teaches the issues of our life come from what is in our heart. You and I are living out the thoughts and ideas we have put in our hearts in previous months and years. Some of those thoughts and ideas may come from God’s Word and some may not.  I challenge you to spend the next few days with a sense of self awareness.  Think about what you have been thinking about.  Proverbs 4 tells us that our quality of life is a heart issue. So it is very important for us to evaluate our daily thought life. Our thought life builds a mindset by which we live our lives.

What do you think about on a regular basis?  Those thoughts are what affect your life the most.  They become part of your conversation and formulate into plans. It is the way you were created to operate.

Building a mindset that agrees with God’s Word is a process.  It happens in the moments we set aside to think on a scripture passage before our day begins.  It happens as we put a scripture passage in our phone to look at throughout the day.  You are training yourself to give attention to God’s Word when you post a scripture passage on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror and read over it and think about it throughout your day.  The most powerful thing you can do is choose your thoughts on purpose.

If you desire to make your thoughts agreeable to God’s will pray this prayer: “Father, I choose to believe what I see in Proverbs 4.  My thoughts are the root to my quality of life.  I want to think thoughts that are in agreement with your Word.  Help me to put your Word first place in my life each day.”  Amen

Now I encourage you to choose an action step that will agree with the prayer you just prayed.  Do something on purpose for the next 21 days that will create a habit of giving your attention to God’s Word.

John and I pray for you regularly and know God has a special plan for your life.

Scripture  Meditation:  Isaiah 55:11  “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”