Mark 2:17

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 NIV

#DailyBibleReading #BibleReadingPlan

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What is Faith?

Yesterday at church our pastor said, “Faith is thinking highly enough of God to trust Him with your life.” 

For example, God told Abraham that even though he was a very old man, he would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. This was a seemingly impossible promise. But Abraham believed God. He trusted Him. He understood God’s power and His character.

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.  Genesis 15:6

Faith isn’t just believing that God exists – even the demons intellectually believe that God exists (James 2:19), but they haven’t put their faith in God. The demons don’t trust God with their lives. Faith means trusting in God.

The English word “Faith” in the Bible is translated from the Greek word “pistis” or πίστις. It means “firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, guarantee.”

Faith in Jesus is what God wants from us; a firm conviction that Jesus is God – that he died for our sins and that everything he says is true – and that we trust in Him.  If we have this Faith, we will be saved.

So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Romans 4:16-25

Abraham believed. And that belief was credited to him as righteousness. And because of his belief and trust in God, he obeyed God. Obedience follows belief. Because we believe that God knows what He is talking about and we trust Him with our lives, we want to follow the path he has shown us.

Here is an analogy: A hiker got lost in Yosemite National Park. It was snowy, freezing, and getting dark. The hiker was out of water and food, didn’t have a tent, and wasn’t dressed for cold weather. The hiker didn’t have a map, GPS, or even a compass. It was his first visit to Yosemite and he wasn’t an experienced climber or hiker. He had climbed up a steep hill an hour before, but in the dark, he had no idea where the ledge was or how to get down to the path.

Then a park ranger showed up.

The park ranger had 20 years of experience as a ranger in Yosemite. He had a degree in Wildlife and Forestry and was an expert mountain climber. He was the most respected ranger in the park. He hiked in Yosemite every day and had walked that very area of the park numerous times that week already. He also had a map, a GPS rescue radio, flashlight, trekking poles, water, ropes, and a rifle in case of bears. He said, “follow me, I’ll take you to safety”.

Now the hiker had a decision to make. He could stay where he was and hope he didn’t freeze to death. Or he could try to find his way on his own and hope he didn’t fall off a cliff. Or he could follow the park ranger and trust the ranger knew the way to safety.

The hiker doesn’t need to pay the ranger. He doesn’t need to prove he is a good person before the ranger will guide him to safety. He doesn’t need perfect hiking gear or mountain climbing skills before the ranger will agree to help him.

He just needs to make a decision to trust the ranger and follow him.

Faith in Jesus is that simple. It is trusting Jesus. And following Him.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:16-21

 

 

Transformation by Time Spent with Jesus

Everyone has sins they struggle with. On any given day, the main areas I struggle with are being patient, being respectful of my husband, not losing my temper, and controlling my tongue. And occasionally lust depending on the time of the month and if I happen upon a movie starring Channing Tatum, Idris Elba, or Zac Efron.

For years I thought, “I’m a Christian, so I shouldn’t struggle with sin so much. Why doesn’t God just take my sin and temptation away?” If God washes our sin away when we become saved then why do I end up gossiping on a regular basis? Why am I not overcoming sin?  Why am I still yelling at my kids? Why do I get so frustrated? Why am I not more like Jesus?

Then one Sunday in church I heard a word I’d heard a million times before, but for the first time, the concept stuck: Sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus . . . moving from a life of sin to a life that is holy. For the majority of people this isn’t an overnight thing, but a gradual daily transformation. Little by little. We become more like Jesus.

How does Sanctification happen? It doesn’t happen by saying a quick prayer or even going to church on Sunday. It happens by spending time with Jesus every day. Reading the Bible. Praying. Worshiping God. Memorize Bible verses and meditating on them. Fasting. That is all I need to do – keep my mind focused on Jesus and spend time with him every day. He’ll do the rest.

I’ve experienced this in my own life. I’m changing . . . ever so gradually. I still get mad. I still gossip. I still sin. But not as much. And the temptation isn’t as great as it used to be. And I can guarantee you I can’t take any credit for the changes in my attitude and behavior because I’ve tried to make changes myself and nothing worked long-term. I’ve gone to counseling, read self-help books, even joined support groups. Sure, I learned some helpful tools and had some accountability, but never experienced any deep heart transformation.

Until I started having coffee with Jesus every morning.

Then everything changed. Not overnight. Not anything noticeable to anyone but me (at first). But the old me has started dying. I leave a little piece of the old me behind every morning when I meet with Jesus. And I leave my daily time with Jesus with a little more of Him in me.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  John 17:17 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,  1 Peter 2:2

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, Deuteronomy 11:18-20 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.  1 Timothy 4:7-10

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Tools for Setting and Reaching Goals

Goal Setting: Resolutions, Traction and Progress Planner

I’m doing a something a little different this year for my resolutions/goals. Last year, my husband, girls and I, wrote out our resolutions on big sheets of paper using a vision mapping method I’d seen online (Blog post here). I reviewed the 2017 goals over the weekend and actually did a pretty good job of accomplishing the majority of them.

But this year, I want to go even bigger.

Here are the tools I’m using for setting and reaching my short-term and long-term goals:

  1. Progress Planner: I did some research on planners and finally chose this one based on the price ($19.99 vs. some of the planners that were $50+), reviews and format. It isn’t based on a calendar-year but instead based on two, 90-day periods. Also, the main focus isn’t day-to-day calendar items, but what I need to do daily to accomlish one major goal in 90 days. Find it here on Amazon. I started using the Progress Planner on January 1. So far: liking it. I like the layout, instructions, and daily accountability. Image result for progress planner
  2. Traction: Several months ago I read Traction by Gino Wickman. One of my clients is implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System outlined in the book. I’ve enjoyed watching their progress and seeing the success of the operating system. The website for EOS has free tools you can download. For my long-term and short-term goals, I used the EOS Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). While this tool is mainly for business, I used it to focus on my personal Core Values, 10-Year Target, and 3-Year Picture. Traction/EOS works in 90-day time-frames, so fits perfectly with my Progress Planner. To determine my personal 10-Year Vision, I asked myself the following questions:
    • If I inherited $100 million today, what would I do with the rest of my life? What would I spend my time doing? How would I spend my days if money wasn’t an option?
    • If I found out I had one month left to live, how would I spend the next 30 days? What would be the most important things I’d want to accomplish?
    • What is my “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG)? Taken from the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, this is again more of a business concept, but can be used for personal life as well. The idea is to come up with a big, bold long-term goal that is action-oriented and excites me.
  1. CliftonStrengths Assessment or Gallup StrengthsFinder: I’ve taken my assessment before, but I pulled out the binder of my strengths and reviewed what I should be doing to optimize my strengths. If you haven’t taken your assessment, I recommend it. More info here. Also, if it is in your budget to hire a Strength Coach, I also recommend. I used a coach previously and it was very beneficial in helping me understand my strengths and how to use them to the best of my ability.

Armed with these tools, I headed to the coffee shop on New Year’s Eve afternoon for a three-hour planning session. Taking this time was important to get away from distractions and dream, pray, conceptualize, reflect, and let my imagination take charge.

One important step in the “Progress Planner” system is to set a 90-day goal and to tell others about it for accountability. My goal is focused on my blog: To write 28 meaningful blog posts in 90 days, mainly focused on what I’m learning in the Bible or how I’m learning to spend more time with Jesus. 

Over the next 90 days, I’ll keep you updated on my progress and how the “Progress Planner” journal is working. I’ll also keep you updated on how I’m doing on my goal of 28 meaningful posts by March 31. Feel free to keep me accountable and also share any goal-keeping tools you have found useful.

Thanks for reading and for your feedback!