Tag Archive | new year

Little Moments of Grace

Six weeks into 2013.

How’s those resolutions going?  Perhaps at the cusp of the New Year, some of us were

reviewing the year,

regretting mistakes,

re-thinking goals,

and resolving to change..

But why do we keep repeating the pattern every year?

We long to make some dramatic difference in our lives, checkbooks, children, spouses, selves, homes, or whatever.  Or at least, I do.  I want that big “reveal” at the end of the year, or my lifetime, to show  visible improvement, growth, and purpose.  It’s taken me a long time to learn that life is not about the drama or applause.

Life is played out in the everyday moments, minutes, reactions, choices, and responses.

101_3354

Paul David Tripp discussed this in one of his recent articles:

“The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.

What leads to significant personal change?

  • 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
  • 10,000 moments of humble submission
  • 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
  • 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
  • 10,000 moments of courageous faith
  • 10,000 choice points of obedience
  • 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
  • 10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.

And what makes all of this possible?

Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace….”

(From Paul Tripp Ministries, PaulTripp. com)

Oswald Chambers said much the same over 100 years ago in his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest :

“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes”

So, even though it’s February, can we still do this?  Is it too late to turn little moments into blessings, the ordinary into the exceptional?

Pick a day, some odd day on the calendar, like February 10th, and choose to make your moments matter.  It’s not about lists of resolutions.   It’s about moments of choices.

Breathe a prayer.

Obey that still small voice.

Let a kind answer turn away a harsh word.

Forgive.

Little moments of grace….

weave a path to His glory and honour.

101_3611-2

Even better…

Here’s a little Post Script to What’s Your ___ for 2012?

The Psalmist reminds us that no matter what our goals, longings, or desires are, there is something Better!

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”  Psalm 63:1-3

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10

 

~~~~

What’s your _____ for 2012?

“The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.”  Eccl.1:8

What’s your _____??

I’m wondering what you think will make you happier in 2012 than in 2011?

You say, I will be happy if _____.

I’ll be content if I can accomplish _____.

If I can have ____, then life is GOOD!

~~

We all have something we think will make us happy, fully satisfied and will fill that BLANK if our lives.  “If I just had a bit more money in the bank….”  “If only my spouse would go to church, show me more consideration, or love me more….” “If I could just have that gorgeous person in my life….” “Once I have the latest iPhone/Pod/Pad then….”  “If only I could be healed from….”

But, even IF we could have all those things and more, there’s something else to long for just around the corner.  More money, more fun, a sexier man/woman, newer car, greater security… Where does it end?

Jesus told a woman in a dusty little village that if she drank water from their earthly well, she would thirst again.  That’s our human predicament.  We thirst again, lust again, covet again, and WANT again.  Otherwise, why would children want more toys after a bountiful Christmas?  Or, if you can handle it, my husband says it this way:

“Why publish monthly issues of Penthouse? Shouldn’t one suffice?”

What/who can ever satisfy our parched thirst for more, and more, and more??

Christ alone.

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again…

…but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life!

If the Lord isn’t our BLANK, our One Thing, we will keep coming up empty, thirsty, and dissatisfied.

…your one thing will control your heart, and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions.  Your one thing will become that which shapes and directs your responses to the situations and relationships of your daily life.  If the Lord isn’t your one thing, the thing that is your one thing will be your lord!”  Paul Tripp, A Shelter in a Time of Storm, page 38.

I fall prey to the illusive concept of satisfaction, even as life’s decades pile high.  I need to be reminded that my blanks will never be filled in adequately apart from Christ–I will thirst again, want new toys, *need* new things.

May we be more like David, when he prayed in Psalm 27:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Be THOU my Vision, Oh Lord. 

Jesus alone satisfies and He will never disappoint!

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.   Romans 5:5

~~

O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 80:14

~~~

[Check out my post, Enough, for more encouragement on this subject.]

A Psalm for this New Year

 In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 

Psalm 139:1

Psalm 139 is where I head for New Years, birthdays, and any day I need a reminder that someone Greater than I is ordering my life!

~~~

Psalm 139 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 

 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 

 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 

 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 

 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 

 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 

 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.a Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!b

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

~~~

Assurance for the Journey

Someone may have made this point already, but my husband says that each day is a lifetime.  We wake up/are born, we move through the day/live, and go to sleep at night (sometimes)/a mini-death.  So resolutions shouldn’t be limited to New Years, birthdays, anniversaries, etc;  everyday we should resolve to surrender to the Lord, and trust His guidance… moment by moment.  God’s promises are for each day (give us this day..), so too, should be our reliance and trust.

Spurgeon offers this assurance for today’s Journey, and every Today:

And the LORD shall guide thee continually. ~ Isaiah 58:11

“The Lord shall guide thee.” Not an angel, but JEHOVAH shall guide  thee. He said He would not go through the wilderness before His people, an angel  should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If Thy  presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Christian, God has not left you  in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance: He Himself leads the van. [yes, he said ‘van’ :-)]

 You  may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice  the word shall–“The Lord shall guide thee.” How certain this makes it!  How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious “shalls” and “wills”  are better than men’s oaths. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Then  observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes,  but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own  understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding  voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at His heels, we shall not  err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in.

If you have to change your  position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen  that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast  among foes, yet tremble not, for “the Lord shall guide thee continually.”

There  are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God,  and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the  company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You  have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal  power to defend you. “Jehovah”–mark the word–“Jehovah shall guide thee  continually.

~~~

Dear Father and loving Guide, Thank you for the assurance of your Presence and the promises you give.   Help me to trust you more.  “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  I’m so blessed to be your child, and I trust you as my loving Father.  In your son’s precious name, Jesus, Amen. 

~~~

Booking It 2011

I know…the month is closing down and I’m just now posting my 2011 reading list!  But I must speak to my inner guilt, and say..well, at least it’s still January!

Once again, with encouragement from LifeasMom, Carrie’s Busy Nothings, and Beth Stone’s Studio, I’m committing myself to another year of good reading with the Booking It 2011 project!  If you check out any of these blogs, you can see what they are reading, and read their reviews as the year progresses.  Last year I posted my reading list for 2010 HERE.  However, as things go, some were dropped and others added, so this is what I actually read:

Before Green Gables (reviewed here), by Budge Wilson
Broken-Down House (reviewed here), by Paul D. Tripp
Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
Shelter in a Time of Storm, (reviewed here), by Paul D. Tripp
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, by Lucy M Montgomery
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, by Arthur Bennett
Transforming Together: Authentic Spiritual Mentoring, by Ele Parrott
Stuff Christians Like, by Jon Acuff (funny!!!!!)
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Now That is Amazing Grace, by William McDonald
Learning to Pray in 28 Days, by Kay Arthur
What Did You Expect?  by Paul D. Tripp, this time, about marriage

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For 2011, I’ve compiled this optimistic list and am really looking forward to all the great reading ahead!!

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Mataxas  (in progress)
Orthodoxy, by GH Chesterton
Generous Justice,  by Timothy Keller
Nicholas Nickleby,  by Charles Dickens
The Confession,  by John Grisham
Planet Narnia, by Michael Ward

And more ‘Anne‘ books:
Anne of the Island 
Anne of Windy Poplar  
Anne’s House of Dreams
Anne of Ingleside
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

And I’ve added Faith Alone, by Luther, to my devotional list.  I hope Spurgeon won’t mind too much.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This list could take a wide detour if my courses in M.Ed assign copious reading projects!  So my ambitious aspirations, as Captain Barbosa would say, “are really more like guidelines.” 

Please join me, and many others over at LifeasMom, for good reading, discussion, and encouragement!  What are you reading?

Resolved, more or less

 

Have you ever noticed that most resolutions fit into these two categories, more or less?

MORE                       LESS

$$ Saved                   $$ Spent
Family Time             TV Watching
Reading                     Stress
Exercise                    Weight

We rarely resolve to maintain the status quo in our lives.  Improvement usually means change, and that means doing things better, more or less.  I saw a humble example of this recently, when Billy Graham was a guest on FOX’s Greta Van Sustern program.  Greta asked the 92-year-old spiritual leader what, if anything, he would do differently in his life.  He answered, without hesitation, “Pray More.  Study Scriptures More.  Meditate on Jesus and tell Him I love Him more.  And travel less.”

Like the apostle Paul, Dr. Graham wants to “know him and the power of his resurrection, and share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:10) 

So, for this year, and many more to come, by God’s grace, I resolve to:

Pray More

Spend more time in God’s Word

and worship Jesus more!

Let us remember with any goal, that “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (Romans 10:31)  Are my resolutions, desires, or to-do lists, built on this foundation?  Daily decisions, let alone yearly aspirations, can all be applied against this:

“Whatever we do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17) 

So, with these Scriptures in mind, I commit my year and goals to Him.  With His strength and grace, I expect to complete them…more or less 🙂

Weigh less (started diet already)

Read more (2011 reading list will be posted this week)

Begin my M.Ed at Regent’s U (working on app for school and financial support)

Learn to make herbal soaps for gifts, hopefully from TNFarmGirl.

Blog more often with encouragement in view, particularly to younger women, through my new blog, Titus2U.

 

Earlier, I noted that we often have a very short list of things we’d do the same this year as the last.  But I did think of a couple:   

Lord willing, may we continue our involvement and fellowship with Calvary Chapel Ottawa, Jericho Road, and Celebrate Recovery this year, always keeping in mind, “it is the Lord Christ whom we serve.” (Col 3:24) 

I jealously desire to hold on to the precious morning devotional time my husband and I have together!

 

How about you?  Is there anything you aspire to continue this year as you did last?  Or, is there anything in particular you’d like to resolve, more or less?

Veiled Voyage

“He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29, 30

 

I’m already behind this year! 

For several years, I’ve begun the New Year by writing two prayers to the Lord:  one of thankfulness for His supreme mercy and grace for the past; the other, a prayer of dedication, commitment, and a few requests for the year ahead.  This morning, I re-read several of these and was awestruck, all over again, by God’s faithfulness in my life.  So much so, that words escape me and I cant’ compose any new thoughts!

       Or, in other words, I haven’t written my 2011 prayers…

But I love the following from The Valley of Vision [1], because it expresses an utter dependency on the Lord that I long to foster with each passing day.  Perhaps you may take this with you on the journey through 2011.  A journey, or voyage, presently veiled from our eyes by a gracious and understanding Lord.

 

 

Voyage

O Lord of the oceans,
My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely,
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course,
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals,
Bring me to harbour with flying pennants, hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.

My little bark sails..

I ask great things,
     expect great things,
         shall receive great things.
I venture on Thee wholly, fully,
          my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.

The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady,
the Word secures safe passage,
Thy grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.

My haven is guaranteed

This day will bring me nearer home,
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
            my peace flowing as a running tide,
            my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer.

Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper,
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief,
may I strive to bind up every wound,
            and pour oil on all troubled waters.

Halo my path with gentleness and love

May the world this day be happier and better because I live,
Let my mast before me be the Saviour’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in His side.

My Mast, the Saviour's Cross

Help me, protect me in the moving sea,
until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

 

…with unceasing praise!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord, help me to turn every care into prayer, and give thanks for Your unfailing love!

From Psalm 107…

Some went out on the sea in ships;
   they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
   his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
   that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
   in their peril their courage melted away.

They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
   they were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
   and He brought them out of their distress. 
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
   the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
   and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

 

 

[1] Arthur Bennett, Ed.  The Valley of Vision:  A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.  Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA.  2003

Hitherto…and beyond

 

“Hitherto has the Lord helped us.”  I Samuel 7:12

 

As we close out one year of Grace and head into another, Spurgeon encourages us that our faithful Lord, who carried us through 2010, will be with us each and every step of our journey into 2011:

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past.  Whether for twenty years or seventy, “hitherto has the Lord helped us!”  Through poverty, wealth, sickness, health, at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea, in honour, in dishonour, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation–hitherto has the Lord helped us!

We delight to look down a long avenue of trees.  It is delightful to gaze from end to end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves, In the same way, look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness that bear up your joys.  The birds in the boughs all sing of mercy received hitherto.

But the word also point forward.  For when one gets up to a certain mark and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end; there is still distance to be traversed. 

More trials, more joys;

more temptations, more triumphs;

more prayers, more answers;

more toils, more strength;

more fights, more victories; 

and then comes sickness, old age, disease, and death. [!]  Is it over now?

No!

There is still more awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, songs, psalms, the face of Jesus, the fellowship of believers, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss.

Be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence know that,

 He who has helped you hitherto, will help you all your journey through!    [1]

 

[1]  In Spurgeon’s discussion above, the older English word, hitherto, means “thus far” or ‘until now.”  

 

Days, not Years

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”   Psalm 90:12

Let’s pay attention to the word, “days.”  Moses knew, even after 100+ years, that we can only live ‘one day at a time.’  Warren Wiersbe discusses this in his expositional Bible commentary:

“We number our years [with birthdays], but not our days…but all of us have to live a day at a time, and we do not know how many days we have left.  A successful life is composed of successful days that honour the Lord.”

One Day at a Time

 

This verse is also the theme of Alistair Begg’s Truth for Life newsletter and his message this month is worth repeating: 

 
“Here is a suitable verse for the start of the year of our Lord 2010.  Calvin observes that “it is a clear confession that without divine grace we are utterly foolish concerning the plainest things.”

If statistics alone could impress upon us the brevity of life and the reality of death and the certainty of judgment, we would all address ourselves to the issue. The fact is, the message never registers until God brings it home to us. Moses’ prayer comes at a time when thousands were dying annually in the wilderness. One would think that such fearful mortality would have impressed the whole nation. But it didn’t.

Twenty-first century men and women are no different. We walk through graveyards, treading on the dust of our forefathers, meeting long-lost friends at funerals, and yet we do not number our days aright except through some special operation of the Spirit of God.

Perhaps by now you’re thinking that this is a rather gloomy way to begin the year. Not so!  This is not a funeral psalm. It is for the living. When we submit our minds to God’s revelation and we consider Him as Creator, Judge, and Savior, then we will learn to be satisfied every morning in His unfailing love. 

Then we may safely ask Him to “establish the work of our hands.” In brief, we enter 2010 walking with Him and working for Him.” [1]

[1] Read more at Alistair Begg’s website HERE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Prayer

With this verse, and conviction, I face a new year, a collection of days, hours, minutes, and seconds.  Moments.  Opportunities.  Life.

“Dear Heavenly Father, This verse sums up all my heart cries and groanings within.  Since my days are numbered by You, and I’ve lived many of them already, my remaining days are more likely fewer, and, therefore, more precious.  How many have been wasted, ruined by sin and self, and are worth less than nothing in eternity?  Thank you for your patience, loving grace and forgiveness through each and every one!

Help me to waste not one day ahead, and may Today, matter above all!

Teach me to number my days by loving You with all my heart, soul, and mind, and loving others as myself.  Only then, will I glorify You and bless others.  In decisions small and large, let wisdom reign and love for You be at the center. 

So much awaits in my book of days, all known only by You. I commit each one to Your gracious care and direction, for You alone are Faithful!  Your mercies are new every morning!

I dare not trust myself or my imaginations of what lies ahead, so I ‘wholly lean on Jesus’ name’,

“who is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever!  Amen.”  
[Jude 24,25]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“He who has help you hitherto, will help you all your journey through.”  C.H. Spurgeon