End of Another Year

As we approach the end of another year, it has become my practice to review what has been, and to look ahead to what may come.

2021 has been a tough year for many people, and likewise, my own family has seen a number of struggles. In early January, my grandmother (who we affectionately called the “Queen” of our family) went home to be with the Lord. She held the Word of God on her lips and held it in her heart as she left us, and this Christmas was not the same without her.

On the day of my grandmother’s funeral, we learned that my mother-in-law had again been diagnosed with cancer, and this awful disease took her from us in July.

It would be all too easy to focus on the negatives of this year, and by doing so start to believe that it was a “bad” year. There were many things to be thankful for however, such as our family moving into a wonderful new home in late summer, and my eldest daughter making the transition into secondary school.

Every year is a mix of tears and laughter, joy and pain. Sometimes the balance feels one way or the other, but I thank God that He walks with us through each and every step.

I am not big on “regrets” as it seems unproductive to waste energy on things that cannot be changed. Had I my time again though, I would have liked to prioritise this blog and my writing projects more. It was probably my most successful year on the blog, depending on how you measure success and yet I had little time to give to it in the latter part of this year. Even less time was given to my two unfinished books, and I want to put that right in 2022.

Like most other people I know, I only have 24 hours a days and seven days per week. It is what you do with those hours that matters. I cannot give this blog or my book projects more time by turning days into 26 or 28 hours… instead, I need to prioritise what is important. Lord, help me to do this right! As a starting point, I intend to cut back on a few other commitments so that I can focus on writing more.

I am particularly excited about a project my wife and I are starting. While that may sound contradictory to what I said above about cutting back, this project won’t take a huge amount of time for me, but do pray for my wife! I am keen to talk more about it, but will save the details for another post in future once it takes shape. Watch this space!

I want to close out this post by thinking about something God has been speaking to me about. The Lord drew my attention to these verses from the book of James:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25 (NIV)

God wants me to be a “doer” this coming year, and not just a “hearer.”

I frequently listen to Christian teaching in the form of podcasts. My feed has over a hundred different episodes to be listened to. This stems from pre-COVID days when I used to commute daily. I would spend my time on the train listening to various things. Now, working from home mostly, I have less time to consume content like this.

I believe God has been showing me that while listening to such materials is great, the aim of the exercise is not to reduce the length of my feed and delete another completed episode, rather it is to learn something. I think God wants me to listen to fewer messages, but to really engage with the ones that I do.

James encourages believers to not just listen to the Bible, but to do what it says. Don’t just attend church, nod along to your pastor’s sermon, and then forget all about it by Monday morning. Take notes. Write down some actions. Ask yourself what you will do differently because of what you have heard. Only then will we be “doers of the Word.”

I hope and pray that you will have a blessed 2022. I know that the Lord has a good plan for your life, and His love for you has no limits. That does not mean 2022 won’t have its fair share of problems, but you can face them with Jesus by your side.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for reading any of my posts this year. I remain truly humbled that anyone wants to read my words, and your comments and messages of encouragement are such a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for each of you.

You cannot change the things of 2021, but you can walk into 2022 determined to serve the Lord.

I leave you with these verses from Revelation:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.

12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Revelation 5:11-13 (NIV)

He is indeed worthy! Praise His holy Name! Amen!

It Takes Time (PoW)

Pearls of Wisdom

If it took years to get your life into a mess, then it may take years to get out of it too

Don’t expect God to fix all of your problems overnight.

Sometimes we come to Christ and expect Him to make all things right in our lives in a matter of days or weeks. However, it may have taken you your entire life to get into the situations you find yourself in, and you cannot ask God to just wave that all away.

If it took 40 years to get into a mess, then it may take just as long to get it straightened out.

Don’t get me wrong, God can and does do miracles, and it is not wrong to ask for them. Often we don’t need a miracle though, we just need discipline.

Take debt or dieting. You can’t over-eat for ten years and expect a week’s worth of dieting to fix it. You can’t max out four credit cards and then expect to pay off your debts in a couple of months. If you’ve overeaten for any length of time, you’ll need to under-eat and exercise to make it right. If you’ve overspent, the same is true. You will need to spend less than you earn for a while to pay it all off.

What do you want to change in your life? Is it a longstanding habit? IF so, it may take time. Give God as much time to undo it as you gave to doing it in the first place.

Whatever you want to change, it may take time, but just take one step after another. If you make good decisions consistently, then sooner or later you will reach your goal.

Be blessed as you live out wisdom in your life.

A Jealous God

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 (ESV) 

God is a consuming fire; a jealous God. What does this mean? 

A consuming fire is a fire which devours everything in its path. It is not contained nor containable. You may have seen the recent bush fires in Australia appearing the news. These fires were unimaginable. Huge swaths of land were utterly devastated by fires which raced unceasingly across the continent. No human endeavour could stop them. The effects of these fires may be felt for years to come. This is a picture of a “consuming fire.” 

While God is of course not like this, bringing devastation in His path, the bush fires were all-consuming for those involved. We cannot have a little bit of God in our lives. It is like saying I am a little bit on fire. 

Likewise, God is a jealous God. 

Jealousy in a human being is an ugly thing, but not in God. We become envious when we feel threatened, inadequate or coveting what we cannot have. God never feels such things. God can legitimately be jealous because absolutely nothing compares to Him.

God is not satisfied being second or third in our lives. Nothing should shift God out of His proper place in our lives. 

In his book “Not a Fan,” Kyle Idleman says that God is not even happy being the first of many, but rather should be the One and Only. 

God should not be one of many competing priorities in our lives. He should not be fighting for out time or attention against anything else; even family, work, hobbies or even church ministry. God absolutely should be our everything, and nothing else should compare. 

Jesus said:

“If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple.

Luke 14:26 (WEB)

This is a tough verse! 

Jesus is not saying, I believe, that we should hate our family. Rather, He is saying that our love for Him should be so far above any other concern, that all other comparisons look like hate. 

God is a jealous God, and our love for Him should be paramount. 

What does this mean for us? 

Ask yourself how serious you are about your relationship with God. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about my own relationship with Jesus, and how it needs much more of my time and attention. 

If God really is “God,” then how can anything else in life be anywhere near as important? 

I was once told that we can assess how important anything is to us by looking at our diaries and our chequebooks. What was meant was that how we spend our time and our money tells us a great deal about our priorities. 

If I spend all of my spare time watching TV, and spending my money on my hobbies then I cannot really claim that God holds His rightful place in my life. Instead, if my time is spent with Jesus, and my money spent on furthering that relationship or building His Kingdom, then clearly I am putting Him first. 

I know it is a challenge, and none of us will get it perfectly right all of the time. In recent days, many of us have been “blessed” with a lot of spare time as our plans have been cancelled due to the C-19 virus. What are you going to do with that extra time? 

God is jealous of you and your time. His fire should “consume” our lives fully. Is that true for you? If not, what can you do about it?

Life is not a dress rehearsal (PoW#19)

Pearl of Wisdom #19

Life is not a dress rehearsal

We only get one shot at life, and it is often far shorter than we would like. There is no dress rehearsal, and we do not get a second chance.

We must make the most of every single day!

All of us look back over our lives and wish we had done certain things differently. We recall wasted opportunities or mistakes, and wonder what might have been. This is not without value, but we cannot live in the past.

Even if you have wasted every day up to now, you can still make the best of whatever time you have left. Don’t waste it! Time is the one thing you cannot get more of.

You can’t change what has been, but you can do whatever you can to make the most of the rest of your life. Be blessed.