We have an absolutely fabulous Farmer’s Market in Jacksonville. Row after row of fruits and vegetables fill baskets and boxes and crates. Flats of fat, juicy blackberries, nothing like the wild ones I grew up scavenging from empty lots and roadsides. Fresh watermelons with bright green stems, fragrant peaches with rosy cheeks, vibrant purple eggplant, yellow […]
There are all kinds of packers in this world. Heavy packers, light packers, immature packers and even the Green Bay Packers make my list. I’ve noticed that if you travel a lot and have to carry your own bags you have a tendency to pack lighter. I’ve noticed that last minute packers tend to plan less and carry more. Women almost always carry more stuff than they need, again, unless they have to carry it themselves. Immature packers pack their teddy bear and they are ready to go. They cuddle their teddy bear happily until they reach their destination, then wish they had done differently. The light packer is typically the business traveler, that travels enough to know where they are going, what they will need when they get there and they don’t want to be bothered with excess. And the Green Bay Packers, only one comment; can Aaron Rodgers lead them to victory this Saturday?
If you’ve ever lost your bags on an airline or arrived at your destination with only one shoe or without a hair brush you know the frustration of not having what you need and I can tell you first hand it’s VERY frustrating. So over the years I have become a great packer. I’m a great packer because before I pack anything I answer three questions.
1. Where am I going?
2. What will I be doing?
3. What are the essentials?
As you travel through 2013 you need to answer those three questions. I realize you’ve already walked through many minutes and hours and even several days into 2013. Maybe enough hours and days have passed to clear your head from the sugar high of the holidays and the emotional high of a New Year to answer the questions with clarity. Where are you going this year? What do you want to accomplish for God this year? Remember the Bible says, Ecc 9:10a NKJV “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;” Colossians 3:23 “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Life is more than entertainment, yet while entertainment should be part of your life-it should not be your whole life. Life is meaningful, when it is filled with purpose, people and purposefully accomplishments. So set some goals. Write them down. What do you want to do? What do you want to learn? Who do you want to help?
The essentials are the things that I carry no matter where I go, deodorant, aren’t you glad? A tooth brush, hair brush and clean underwear are a few items that are always in my suitcase. So I always double check my suitcase for the essentials.
And the essentials for 2013? In my quiet time I’ve been mediating over what are the essentials that I need to take with me into 2013. I want to pack the right things so I will be equipped for the journey. You see life is a journey, not a destination! If my journey is going to be savored and not just spent, then I must identify and value the essentials. I want my life to count. I want to live it in such a way that God will be pleased. And I don’t want to be frustrated as I travel. I want to be equipped, so my time is well spent making me more productive and more effective.
For that to take place, first, I need to take wisdom into my new year.
My mother used to say to me regularly, “Pat, there’s a wrong way, a right way and a hard way. You always pick the hard way.” And the truth is…she was right. But when I take wisdom with me, I learn how to choose the right way. Wisdom doesn’t fall in my lap or jump out to grab my attention. It must be sought, secured and valued. It must be pondered and understood. It demands that I apply it’s principles and stretch and grow. It requires me to move beyond the way I’ve always done things to carve my path with ingenuity and creativity. Wisdom causes me to reach for better, to dream for bigger, to rejoice when I’ve done it well. It causes me to sidestep evil and avoid needless troubles and turmoils.
I also need God’s Love. I’m glad it’s not heavy, because I have to carry a lot with me. I need His love personally and I need some to lavish on others. It is life’s sweetest dessert. Without love, life’s journey becomes a drudgery and a difficult and painful climb. It casts out fear. It is a magnet that brings out the best in people, those that receive it and those that give it. It makes the bitter taste sweet. It brings hope. It encourages. Everything is better with love!
I haven’t always carried the last item on my 2013 essential list. And sometimes, even when I carried it, it was always slipped into the side pocket and I didn’t even use it. But this year I’m going to use it diligently. That life essential is gratitude.
I’ve discovered gratitude is an attitude that goes beyond excitement over a gift I’m given or a place I get to enjoy. Gratitude is more than a passing feeling. Gratitude is a heartfelt realization that i have been given more than i deserve. Gratitude is a song that reverberates from a humble heart that is truly thankful. Gratitude sees more than the gift, it sees the giver and responds from the heart. Gratitude is conceived in the heart, but is not birthed until it is expressed, first to God, then to others. First to God because I understand the reality that He is the given of every good and perfect gift. Gratitude can only be cultivated and honed from a heart that loves and receives love. Gratitude is both emotional and intentional. Gratitude makes the ordinary extraordinary. Gratitude clothes the simple things in regal robes. Gratitude blesses me and those to whom I express it!
And while I’m on the subject. I want to tell you that I appreciate you. Sincerely, from a humble heart, thank you for reading my blog. Many of you read all my posts. If you are reading my blog you are interested in the things of God, you have a heart for God. We have that in common. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak into your life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you what God is sharing with me.
I pray for my readers often. Today I pray that God will bless you, that He will expand your territory and love through you, speak through you and transform you into the image of His dear Son! I pray that your 2013 will be enriched with wisdom, love and gratitude and that you will love God and obey Him deliberately like never before.
I’d love to hear from you. What are some essentials that you are packing for your 2013?
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Wayne was driving down a long monotonous road. It had gone on and on without hardly any change or without much to see. While he is always a very alert driver, he sorta zoned out. Then he felt the Lord caution him, “Pay attention.”
Wayne sat up in his seat, put both hands on the steering wheel fully engaged and alert. Almost as if on cue, a huge, heavy equipment tire, like you would see on a large piece of excavation equipment, came rolling down the highway–right down our lane. It was rolling and bumping pretty fast, but because Wayne was alert, he moved out of the lane he was in and into the far lane. Wayne is convinced that the call to alertness kept us from a terrible accident.
And that’s what God’s Word can do in our personal lives as well. We are bombarded with noise and distractions from all directions. Sometimes our Bible study can get put on a back burner while the responsibilities of life keep us too busy to pursue it. Or Bible study can become routine so that although we are actually reading the Bible daily, we don’t hear what he has to say to us. Isaiah 50:4 nlt “The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.” The KJV says “he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”
I love that picture. It takes me back to when my children were little and I would wake them up for school. Quietly, at first. Then louder, until finally shaking them until I saw at least one eye open. Wake up, I would repeat again and again. Sometimes God does that to me. Wake up, ear! What a graphic picture. I wish I could draw the picture I see. Listen up! This verse is important. I want to tell us something.
I remember specifically, for about a week every time I opened my Bible, I would open it to Jonah. I would quickly turn somewhere else and read my devotion. Then finally, I prayed, “God is there something you wanna say to me here? Am I in rebellion like Jonah was?” God spoke to me with words that I would understand very clearly… and I remember it was sorta like…duhhh, Pat. He had my attention. Where was the rebellion? What needed to change in my life?
God didn’t speak to Moses until he turned aside…until he paid attention. It is so important that we deliberately pay attention to the Scripture.
Let’s look at some ways to get more good stuff from what you read.
1. Pray before you read. Ask God to help you understand and speak to you through His Word.
2. If you have problem focusing-read it aloud.
3. Read the verses in the context of what is being said. If a story is being told, read the whole story.
4. Think about the verse or verses you read.
5. Think about who; what, when of the verses or the illustration you are reading in Scripture.
6. You may need to continue that study by searching out other Scriptures that will help you understand more clearly.
7. What can you take away from the Scripture? How does it apply to you? Ask God to help you apply it in your life.
8. As you are going through the day,continue to think about the Scripture you read.
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