How to Have A Realistic Annual Review and an Awesome 2017!

White and brown notebook on a white desk "Get to Work Book"
Have you ever looked back on a completed year and wondered what you really accomplished?  At the beginning of a new year is a great time for assessment of the past year and for making plans for the new one.  However, sometimes this can be a discouraging task.  Most ambitious folk will probably look back and feel that they should have done more.  If we aren’t careful we can lapse into comparisons…” by this age ____ had already changed the world…and I’ve done nothing!”

Well, can we all do two things?  1) Take a chill pill!  The only person who has totally changed the world in a moment is God!  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1, 3)  Creating light for the first time?!  Now that’s changing the world!  Did you know that the Hebrew verb used in Genesis 1:1 for “created” is used in the Bible with only one subject…only one person does this act of creating:  God!  Is it possible that we fall prey to the temptation to try to expect too much of ourselves?  Chill out a bit this year!  Only God can create something out of nothing!

The second thing we can do is:  2) Do something small today, and every day!  They say that the way to eat an elephant is…one bite at a time!  Invariably when I hear of someone who accomplished great things, if I investigate the account more deeply, I find that the person’s great accomplishments were the result of a long, long path filled with almost daily hard work.  The small, unsung, daily tasks prepared that person to be able to accomplish what became visible to the world.  But not many people take note of the countless hours invested in the foundation that made the notable accomplishments possible.  The lesson here is to be faithful in following the gifts, abilities and passion that God has invested in you!  Or as Eugene Peterson put it: we need to pursue “a long obedience in the same direction.”

So, what I am trying to do this first week of the New Year is this:  1) realistically assess how things went last year, learn what I can, and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day…or a year!  2) Remind myself of the God-given gifts, abilities and passion that I am responsible to shepherd and nourish in this coming year.  Then pick out some simple things I can do on a daily or weekly basis to build a foundation using these gifts God has given me.  The Bible never says that anyone but God created anything, but it does record that people “fashioned” things (see Ex. 39:8).  That is, we can take what God has already created and do something useful with it!  So ask yourself three questions:

  1. What has God given you the ability to do?
  2. If you could do anything, what would you do?
  3. When do you feel most fulfilled?

Then ask yourself:  What could I do today to live out the answer to these questions?  Do a little bit of that every day in 2017!

If you do that, just imagine what your annual review will reveal on January 1, 2018!!  I can’t wait to hear about it!

Have a great 2017!

Ashes to Fire (Year B) -Sunday – Easter Wk6

Thank you for joining us on a spiritual journey from “Ashes to Fire,” from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday. We would also love to have you join us for worship this week! Click here to discover our location & service times! You can reap the most benefit from this journey by joining a small group and by inviting others to join us!

Our Scripture readings for Sunday of Week 6 of the Easter season can be read here. Please take some time to read these passages and then meditate on the following questions. Then talk to God about what the Bible is teaching you.

Questions for Meditation

  1. Do you keep Jesus commands?  What does Jesus promise if you do?  What is Jesus’ example of the greatest love?  How can you demonstrate your friendship with Jesus?  Are you bearing lasting fruit?  (see John 15:9-17)
  2. Why were the Jewish believers astonished that the Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentiles?  Has the Holy Spirit been poured out on you?  (see Acts 10:44-48)
  3. If you wrote a new song to praise God, what is a general idea of what it would say?  Have you witnessed God’s victory in your life?  If so, how?  Do you make a joyful noise to the Lord?
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/25356245@N04/5107029349/
    “let the hills sing together for joy
    at the presence of the Lord” – Psalm 98:8-9

    How does the world around you offer praise to God?  (see Psalm 98)

  4. Is John saying that if you love God, you will love His family, the church?  Why or why not?  (Expanded Study question:  What is Jesus’ attitude toward the church?)  Who will win the victory, God’s children or the world?  How do you know?  (see 1 John 5:1-6)
  5. What does God want you to do today to incorporate into your life what He is teaching you?

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Ashes to Fire (Year B) –Friday – Lent Wk4

Thank you for joining us on a spiritual journey from “Ashes to Fire,” from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday. We would also love to have you join us for worship this week! Click here to discover our location & service times! You can reap the most benefit from this journey by joining a small group and by inviting others to join us!

Our Scripture readings for Friday of Week 4 of Lent can be read here. Please take some time to read these passages and then meditate on the following questions. Then talk to God about what the Bible is teaching you.

Questions for Meditation

  1. What do you want your children and grandchildren to know about what the Lord has done in your life?  How will they find out?  (see Psalm 102:18-21)
  2. Had God forgotten about the covenant, the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?  Why did God act at that time?  (compare Genesis 15:13-14 and Exodus 2:23-25)
  3. Why does God give certain people assignments in the church?  Is there a part for you to fill?  What are the most helpful gifts?  (see 1 Corinthians 12:28, 31)
  4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/74875296@N00/3162518717/
    “As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed” – Mark 9:2b

    Why was Jesus’ appearance transformed?  What would have been your reaction to seeing Jesus transformed along with Elijah and Moses?  Why didn’t Jesus want His disciples to talk about this incident until after His resurrection?  What did Jesus mean when He said, “Elijah has already come”?  (see Mark 9:2-13)

  5. Have you asked the Lord for help?  How has the Lord saved you?  What chains has the Lord snapped in your life?  (see Psalm 107:10, 13-14)
  6. What does God want you to do today to incorporate into your life what He is teaching you?

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Ashes to Fire (Year B) –Wednesday – Lent Wk4

Thank you for joining us on a spiritual journey from “Ashes to Fire,” from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost Sunday. We would also love to have you join us for worship this week! Click here to discover our location & service times! You can reap the most benefit from this journey by joining a small group and by inviting others to join us!

Our Scripture readings for Wednesday of Week 4 of Lent can be read here. Please take some time to read these passages and then meditate on the following questions. Then talk to God about what the Bible is teaching you.

Questions for Meditation

  1. In what way do you need deliverance today?  How do you need the Lord to act on your behalf?  (see Psalm 109:21, 26-27)
  2. How have you seen God turn around something meant to harm you into something God used to bless you & others?  (see Genesis 50:19-20)
  3. What gifts do you see in those around you?  Are you able to see the gift God has given you?  If not, consider asking someone who knows you well how she or he sees God working in and through you!  (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11)
  4. Why did the Pharisees want to see a sign?  Why were they ignoring the miracles Jesus had already done?
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/55228353@N00/4344322270/
    “‘When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’” – Mark 8:19

    How has Jesus supplied what you needed?  What “yeast” do you need to be warned about today?  (see Mark 8:11-26)

  5. Do you ask God for understanding?  What difference would it make in your life to know and follow His statutes and decrees?  (see Psalm 119:124-125, 135)
  6. What does God want you to do today to incorporate into your life what He is teaching you?

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Devotional for “Ashes to Fire” – Easter Wk3 Saturday

Consider the following questions as you meditate on the Bible passages for today (see the link to the passages below).

What can you give to the Lord in light of all that He has done for you?  Have you fulfilled any vows you have made to Him?  Read Psalm 116:12-14.

The Vision of the New Heaven and the New Earth...
“…the former things shall not be remembered…” Isaiah 65:17.

What would you most like to see in the new heavens and new earth that the Lord has promised us?  What former things do you want to forget?  What would He have to create for you to “rejoice forever” in it?  Meditate on Isaiah 65:17-18.

What would it look like for you to speak boldly in the name of the Lord?  Would you have to live “in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of he Holy Spirit” in order to speak boldly for Jesus?  Think about the implications of Paul’s ministry for your life and church as you read Acts 9:28, 31.

Why did Peter continue to follow Jesus when others quit following Jesus?  Who does Peter say Jesus is?  What are the implications of this?  What demands do Peter’s words make on our lives?  Read John 6:60-69 and consider what it means for Jesus to be the Holy One of God.

Has God sent out His light and truth since the Psalmist prayed his prayer?  Are you letting God’s light and truth lead you?  Is God your “exceeding joy?”  What does that mean?  Meditate on Psalm 43:3-4.

Click here to read today’s Bible passages.

Photo:  Creative Commons License Sharon via Compfight

Ashes to Fire – Lent Wk5 Sunday

Consider the following questions as you meditate on the Bible passages for today (see the link to the passages below).

imageHow have you expressed your love for Christ? Think about the sacrificial gift given in John 12:1-8.

What new thing does God want to do in your life? Through what wilderness is the Lord guiding you right now? Consider His words to you through Isaiah 43:16-21.

About what do you weep? Where do you need the Lord’s restoration in your life? Meditate on the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 126.

Upon what “gains” or benefits are you tempted to rely? What is of surpassing value to you? What is the goal you are pressing toward? Is it the same as the Apostle Paul’s? Read Philippians 3:4-14.

Click here to read today’s Bible passages.

Photo:  Beacon Hill Press