1. Don't use the snooze button.
2. Set time limits for social media, internet use, and TV (and follow them!).
3. Watching a TV show? Workout or fold laundry or sew.
4. Use a crockpot and freeze the leftovers for another time.
5. Or, along those same lines, mix two batches of cookie dough and freeze half.
6. Choose simple hairstyles, moderate makeup use, and take economical showers.
7. Only check your email (and/or social media) twice a day.
8. Plan all your errands for the same day and do them strategically.
9. When out of the house, take a notebook, book, or other way to constructively use any time spent waiting.
10. Only use your phone during daylight.
Stuck in a hotel thanks to a "delayed" flight, my eyes snagged on the mountain of pillows on the huge bed. Those pillows looked like a heavenly cream puff for my head. (Why yes, I was hungry...why do you ask?) I lay down -- eeeeck! Sure my head was nestled in a cloud of synthetic fiber fluff, but it was pushing my chin toward my chest. And on my side was worse, with my neck bent unnaturally toward the ceiling. It was just too much. I sighed and reluctantly relinquished my bulbous pillow.
Ever done that in life? I have. Sometimes we see something and think, "That looks great! I want it." Only God says, "That's not for you." So we pout for a while and then start rationalizing: Maybe God doesn't know about this circumstance or maybe He just meant I should...share it once I get it. We sneak closer little by little, until its within reach and we snag it. Victory!
But not really. It's just too much for us. Too much time or money for us to use wisely. Too many demands on our love. Too much responsibility. We just weren't ready for it...not yet anyway. But who knew? Well, God did. It turns out it was His kindness and wisdom that made Him say, "No." And then, often to our reluctant relief, we simply have to let go of our "pillow" that is just a bit too fluffy.
As I boarded the plane, neither the flight attendant with all his experience or I will all my common sense knew the truth: It was a flight to nowhere. Oh sure, we landed in LAX, but without a departing flight -- it wasn't a destination, it was a prison. There was no way home from there.
In life, even with all our skills, experience, intelligence, and common sense, apart from God, our wisdom will take far from the imagined destination and land us in a prison. The flaws in our reasoning will lead us places we never wanted to go. The lies our emotions tell us will pull us into pits that appear bottomless. Alone, at the end of the day, the best judgment of man is doomed to keep hitting dead ends.
And that is where we sometimes have to be before purposefully turn to the One Who Always Knows the Truth. The bank accounts either flood or run dry before we seek the Giver of All Good Things. Our relationships hit rock bottom before we seriously consider God's counsel. We fight and grab at everything we think has a chance to give us satisfaction and joy, and it's only when it has dissolved into ashes in our hands that we are willing to say, "God, everything I've tried has failed. Please, can you bring me home?"
Home. That's where we want to be. At peace in the submission to God. In joy, assured of our open relationship with God (ie salvation). Father, bring me home where I belong. I'm done with LAX.
I walked as quickly as I could my connecting flight. They were so close to boarding I didn't sit down but took the time to ask about a different flight. The agent smiled and said, "There is another flight, but it's later. This will give you something to do while you wait." Neither of us had any way of knowing the truth. So I ignorantly boarded.
We took off. We landed. I found my next gate and that's when things went awry. The flight was delayed once. Then delayed again. Then -- even though "they" still called it "delayed" -- canceled is a more apt term for an overnight delay. I stood in line for nearly three hours trying to get a hotel and some food. And then, got a text: my flight was delayed two more hours. Great.
Even on days where "everything" goes wrong, God never ceases being Who He is. He provides on good days, bad days, Mondays and every day in between. Now is a good time to pause and list at least three things God has blessed you with today. It's not that God has to give us those things, He does because He is good and He loves us.
13. Pray for those waiting with you while stuck in traffic.
14. Keep a running to-do list to help you focus throughout your day.
15. Serve your family in a unique way.
16. Study one biblical concept today instead of watching a TV show.
17. Fold laundry or other shores while phoning a friend just to say, "Hi."
18. When you get frustrated, thank God for His amazing patience, kindness, gentleness and so on until your frustration improves.
19. Write a note of encouragement for someone.
20. Make extra dessert, bread, or other food and take it to a neighbor.
21. During your shower, think about the Bible passage you read this morning.
22. Take the stairs and hand a tract to anyone you meet in the stairwell.
23. Thank God for 10 things while you brush your teeth.
24. Meditate on Scripture as you go to sleep.
1. Pray at stoplights.
2. If you realize any entertainment it is not honoring God: stop.
3. Take a walk and praise God for the health and strength to do that.
5. Read when riding in the car, and
6. Listen to Bible (or sermons) while driving.
7. Thank someone for doing a good job.
8. Spend one less hour on the internet or other entertainment.
9. Eat with your family (and no phones).
10. Tape verses to your bathroom mirror.
11. If you can, do something outside instead of inside today.
12. Do one especially nice thing for a stranger.
You got to die to live.
You to lay down to run.
Surrender to find victory.
And lose to gain eternity.
That's what Jesus says.
That's what I have to do.
You got to put down to pick up.
You got to deny self to acknowledge truth.
Follow better to lead well.
Submit to find freedom.
That's what Jesus says.
That's what I will do.
You got to serve to succeed.
You got to be humble to gain approval.
Play the fool to be wise.
Accept weakness to put on strength.
That's what our Savior says.
That's what His servants do.
I was out running. Pounding the sand, and watching the wind wipe away any evidence I'd ever been there.
Footprints. Paw prints. Lizard trails. The desert reclaims them all. Given enough time, the desert hides ruins of civilizations, fills in ravines, and reroutes rivers. The sands of time always win. Almost.
In heaven, there are things that outlast the sands of time. God's glory and kingdom. The souls of mankind. Our relationship with God. Our labors of love and service.
And I wonder, are we investing our lives in those things?
Are we spending our lives on things that will matter forever?
Are we playing outside the sandbox?
I think it is human nature to assume we:
A. Understand the situation,
B. Know what God is trying to do, and
C. See where He is trying to grow us.
And most of us bristle if told, "You don't." (Even if we have been hitting our heads against the same wall over and over again.)
But no matter what we think -- we don't know. Not His plants. Not the fruit He is cultivating, how He will go about it, or when He wants it.
It often looks to us "everyone" is growing, producing cherries (or some sort of fruit) left and right -- everyone except you anyway.
But what if you are supposed to grow pumpkins? It's a frustrating, even disheartening, to see others grow strong leafy branches while yours stay spindly and close to the ground. But...only vines grow pumpkins.
With everyone around you sharing their tangy cherries, it's easy to sprout bitter tears: you have nothing to share. But pumpkins are only harvested late in the season -- because they are pumpkins. (Just be grateful -- pineapples only produce one fruit a season and then only after several years.)
But if God is going after pumpkins we can choose to either fight Him for cherries or help Him with the pumpkins. Cherries, pumpkins or pineapples -- it's hard, but we flourish when God gets to grow His fruit, His way.
No? Well, don't feel bad. She only shows up once in 1 Chronicles 7:20-24 when times were tough, the people were tougher, and the land was toughest.
The family of Ephriam made an ill-fated decision to rustle cattle from the Philistines at Gath. The men of Gath protected their livestock and Ephraim's men were slaughtered. The family's leaders were gone, something they couldn't afford with enemies on every side. Then Sheerah was born, a girl in a weak house.
Girls aren't generally recorded in family trees. If they are, they're somebody's daughter or sister or wife. They don't typically do anything...except Sheerah. She built Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah.
People build towns once they conquer them. People who name cities after themselves are leaders. Sheerah's circumstances were hard, some would say hopeless, but they provided her opportunities to build something lasting with her life.
Our situations and struggles do the same. May God open our eyes.
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.