How Are You Spending Your Days?

How we spend our days is important in God’s kingdom.

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should” – Psalm 90:12 (TLB).

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With each passing year, I become more aware of the brevity of life. Recently, I celebrated my 63rd birthday. When a friend phoned to wish me a happy birthday, we discussed how long we’d known each other. We were surprised when we realized it had been more than a decade. Our friendship has grown during that time, making me realize the necessity of having and nurturing those relationships that are important to making life worthwhile.

A recent post on Facebook made me think about the importance of relationships vs. things. Things don’t bring happiness. Both are fleeting. However, we were made for a relationship with each other. The post follows: “I believe as we grow older our Christmas list gets smaller and the things we really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”

Only then will our days really count.

What is more important than to be surrounded by family and friends who love us in spite of our faults and failures? Nothing in my book! No gift can replace the shared laughter, the tears, the disagreements, the heartache, the pain or the victories. Nothing! Money cannot buy the experiences we share.

Money also can’t purchase the kind of friend who won’t agree with you to make you happy. Instead, the best of friends will say what needs to be said, whether you want to hear it or not. I have several friends like that. Whether I complain or am feeling sorry for myself, none of these three let me stew in my pity very long. They love me enough to encourage me with kind but honest words.

How we spend our days is important in God’s kingdom. We can spend our days in pursuit of money to purchase material things for our own gratification, or we can spend our days pursuing what really matters.

Are you wrestling with the past?

“No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead”—Philippians 3:13 (TLB).

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Brown leaves crackled underneath my neighbor’s feet as he shuffled across the lawn to deliver my morning paper. Confined to my house after surgery, I was blessed to have Stan and his wife taking turns retrieving my daily paper as well as my mail.

My lawn, carpeted with oak leaves, still revealed a green coat underneath. Even though November was just around the corner, summer hadn’t completely let go. One hot pink flower still bloomed on the Hydrangea bush near my front door while others exhibited their skeletal remains.

While I’m enjoying the remaining hints of summer, they remind me of our tendency to cling to the past—not just the wonderful memories of days gone by, but also the hurts that can leave us brittle and a skeleton of the whole person Jesus longs to heal. For He is the only one who can bring complete healing from the pain of our past.

Instead of wrestling with the past, we can let go with His help.

 

We’ve all had our fair share of emotional and mental hurt. We’ve suffered at the hands of friends as well as family members. The pain of betrayal can leave us with invisible scars, but scars nevertheless.

However, we have a choice. If we choose to hold on to the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness, these will surely hinder our walk with Christ.

Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us to keep no record of wrongs. “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!”

In “Every Day with Jesus,” author Selwyn Hughes writes, “This passage provides a vivid description of a life damaged by past hurts—a life that has become a wasteland, a desert. Dwelling upon a record of wrongs weighs us down and heavily burdens us. But the Lord’s instructions to forget these former things and not dwell on them, comes with a beautiful promise. Letting them go releases streams of living water into our life and enables God to do a new work in us.”

The greatest new work that Christ does in our lives is to bring us to a place where we can forgive those who have hurt us. It is such an important aspect of our daily Christian walk that Jesus even included it as part of the Lord’s Prayer. In Luke 11:4, we read the following: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

Instead of wrestling with the past, we can let go with His help. And, when we refocus our energies on the present, we can look forward to what Jesus has in store for our future. Letting go is the answer to healing and a peace-filled life.

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at carol@carolaround.com.

Are you the hands and feet of Jesus?

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NLT).

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“Roll it, Carol!”

It was yet another reminder from a friend to follow instructions. The metal walker I have to use after knee replacement surgery is outfitted with wheels for a reason. Rolling instead of lifting the contraption is actually easier and safer. I couldn’t figure out why I was having trouble with this simple task.

Discharge instructions from the hospital required I have someone with me at home 24/7 for at least the first four to five days. Living alone for the past 15 years has led to a very independent lifestyle. Even before then, I lived under the burden of feeling indispensable. I thought I could handle everything that life threw at me. I also felt empowered, thinking others couldn’t make it without me.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

However, since Jesus got ahold of me in 2001, I’ve learned some important lessons.

First, I’m not in charge of the universe. I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Second, I must allow others the pleasure of helping me when I’m in need. I don’t have to pretend I can do it “all by myself,” like a stubborn two-year-old seeking independence from her parents. I’ve learned it is okay, at times, to “roll” instead of lift.

Is Your Door Open or Closed to Jesus?

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”—Revelation 3:20 (ESV).

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While the final book of the Bible can be challenging to read and study, for those who place their hope in Jesus, it’s an affirmation of an eternal future. For me, one verse in Revelation paints a vivid picture of Jesus’ invitation for each of us.

When I first read Revelation 3:20, I could picture Jesus knocking on my door. I’d already opened the door of my heart to Him. However, when I first viewed English artist’s William Holman Hunt’s painting, “The Light of the World,” this scripture came alive. In the painting, a figure representing Jesus is preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door.

What does an open, vibrant relationship with our Lord look like?

According to Hunt, “I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good subject.”

The door Jesus is preparing to knock on in Hunt’s painting has no handle. It can only be opened from the inside. Explaining the symbolism, Hunt said that this represented “the obstinately shut mind.”

The painting is rife with symbolism. The door’s iron work reveals rust representing a door unused for some time. Hunt’s brush also captured a door overgrown with dead weeds and trailing ivy representing a deserted place. Even if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, our relationship with Him can stagnate, rust and become overgrown with the cares of our earthly life.

What Does Hope Do for Mankind?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”—1 Peter 3:15 (NIV).

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The three of us clasped hands and bowed our heads. We were standing in the middle of a discount department store aisle, praying for an employee who was battling brain cancer. Covering the lower half of her face was a protective mask to ward off the threat of germs.

My friend, Sonya, knew the employee and introduced us. As the woman’s story unfolded, I learned it wasn’t her first battle with cancer. Her fighting spirit drew me in as did her positive attitude.

The best growth comes through persevering through trials.

As we continued shopping, we struck up a conversation with another store employee who had beat cancer. She shared her amazing story of healing. Placed on hospice, her only hope was divine intervention. Prayers were answered and this amazing woman is, indeed, a walking miracle.

Both women have placed their hope in God. Hope. What does it look like? For me, hope shines brightest when I’m at my lowest.

Hope is the word I recently chose to study in the scriptures. Each morning, after I read my daily devotional, I turn to the concordance in the back of my Women of Faith Bible and look up verses referencing hope. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

What Kind of Inheritance Will You Leave?

“A man in a crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.’”—Luke 12:13(CEV).

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Many families have been destroyed after a loved one passes on, leaving a material inheritance behind. A better legacy to leave behind is a spiritual one. While we usually associate the word “inheritance” with material possessions, a spiritual legacy cannot be measured.

A spiritual inheritance is passed on during our lifetime through godly words, actions and prayers. However, as stewards of a spiritual legacy, we have to develop our own spiritual lives first.

If we have a desire for the Lord, it becomes contagious.

As a mother and grandmother, I’m seeing the fruits of my own spiritual growth and prayers. Recently, I drove over four hours one way to experience the joy of my two oldest grandchildren’s decision to follow Christ. Although they received the Christian sacrament of baptism when they were younger, they didn’t fully understand the implication. Cheyenne, 12, and Brennan, 11, chose to celebrate their decision to receive Christ as their Savior and Lord once again by being baptized through full immersion.

Is Jesus Enough for You?

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”—Romans 8:28(NIV).

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For too many years, I lived a “take no-risks” life. I was living what most would call the American Dream with a nice house, a husband and two children in rural Oklahoma. Life, although not always easy, was comfortable and predictable.

Although I knew of God, I wasn’t intimately acquainted with Him. I’d attended church and Sunday school off and on throughout my lifetime. My relationship with the church was on-again/off-again, sitting in a cushion-lined pew. I volunteered to help with children’s ministries but that was the extent of my commitment.

I wasn’t expecting to see so much human suffering.

It wasn’t until my 28-year marriage ended 15 years ago that I began searching for something—someone—to fill the void. Since that October afternoon in 2001 when I asked God for direction in my life, my journey has led me back to the body of Christ and on adventures I never dreamed of: mission trips outside this country and a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. More importantly, it led me into the arms of Jesus, the One who loves me more than life itself.

Kristin Welch, author and Pastor’s wife, also lived a comfortable life in a Houston suburb. In her book, “Rhinestone Jesus,” she writes, “…for most of my pew sitting years, I ignored something very important. I was full of faith, but I wasn’t obedient. I could quote scripture and talk about all my blessings, but I couldn’t show you my faith in action.”