Bless and Be Blessed – Teaching

Quote

“It is impossible to bless and judge at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought, that desire to bless. For truly then shall you become a peacemaker. And one day you shall, everywhere, behold the very face of God.”
~Pierre Pradervand

So…what do we mean by “bless?”

Thoughts

Various modern dictionaries, as well as translations from the original Hebrew and Greek, all references to bless or blessing come down to the same basic things: invoking something to be received (bless our journey, bless our troops, etc), being thankful for that which has been received (blessing a meal), and bestowing approval or good wishes to someone (a father giving his blessing to a marriage).

To bless is to give thanks, to bestow approval and praise, and to speak well of someone or something. A blessing is that which brings happiness, joy, healing, and gratitude. On the other hand, outside of the judicial, dictionaries and the Hebrew and Greek translations state that to judge means to criticize or condemn.

There are many “things” that bring happiness and joy that we would consider a blessing. But, “things” come and go. Beyond the physical and material, a blessing is that which uplifts one’s spirit, and allows us to experience the very essence of God. When we uplift others, we too are uplifted. When blessing others we act as a channel through which God’s unconditional love and light flow. When we continually bless others, we too are continually blessed. We live our lives being constantly connected to Divine Spirit working in our lives.

I’d like to share the way Jill Sabin Carel expressed it in her sermon titled “Giving and Receiving Blessings.” You can read her entire message on her blog at http://www.thevoiceforlove.com/community/giving-and-receiving-blessings-sermon/. She writes:

“We pray that our blessings have a positive effect on those we are blessing. Yet we, too, are reaping great benefit from being a blesser!

On a psychological level, when we bless, we are thinking good thoughts. Good thoughts feel good. We open our minds to something better or greater, which gives us hope for a happier future. Positive thoughts naturally have a positive impact on our mind and our body.

On a spiritual level, we are opening to God’s Good flowing through us outward into the world. We become joined with the brotherhood of God’s people. Blessings are a way of re-membering God’s family.

Many of us have had the joy of sharing blessings through prayers of the people. We’ve prayed for one another, especially those on our weekly prayer list, asking for God’s healing blessings for our extended church family. When we pray for another’s health and well-being, there is a range of experiences that we can have. My focus today is on the connection we can feel when we are extending blessings from a place of spiritual connection.

An image that comes to mind is a hose that has the potential to spray water onto a garden. My word of blessing is like turning the tap that allows the water to flow through the hose. The hose gets to feel the water flowing through it while the garden receives the benefit of the sprayed water. In the same way, any blessing I invoke flows through me, touching and cleansing me in the process. The water and the blessing are not mine. I am just the channel through which it flows when I am willing to turn the tap. That is the experience of “circular blessing.”

On the other hand, if I speak the words of a blessing while feeling separate and vulnerable, it is as if the hose is not attached to the water source. Nothing flows through it. As St. Paul writes in I Corinthians 13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

The power of the blessing is in staying connected to our Source, to our Creator, and allowing the Divine Presence to flow through my heart, mind, and soul.

The power of “circular blessing” is in remembering to connect to the Father’s Love that heals and transforms. That’s the Good News. I am not responsible for creating the blessing. My job is to invite God’s blessing and allow it to do its work.”

Where do we start?

Want to manifest more blessings in your life? Start by being a blessing to others. Let’s take a look at Scripture…

Galatians 6:7 says, “…whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” In simple terms, this is the Law of Attraction. When we focus on blessing others, uplifting them, loving them – we, in turn, are blessed, uplifted and loved. When we show kindness, compassion, and unconditional love – we, in turn, receive God’s kindness, compassion, and unconditional love. This is precisely what is meant in Luke 6:27 & 28…”But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” and in Romans 12:14-18, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another…Do not repay anyone evil for evil…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

We can manifest blessings in our lives by focusing our thoughts, our attention, and our actions with purpose and intent. How? Start by being thankful for the blessings already received. Offer a blessing before meals – giving thanks, not only for the food itself, but for the hands that grew and prepared it, and for the nourishment it provides. Be kind, compassionate, generous, and loving to others. Pray for others who are in need that God’s Divine love and light so fill their lives that they, too, are blessed, healed, and made whole.

Closing Thoughts

The Law of Attraction, as demonstrated in Scripture, tells us that what we give out, we get back. Jesus tells us to love one another. And Paul tells us that God is love. Think back to the words of 1 Corinthians 13. Until I read Pastor Carel’s message, I had never thought of the verse in these terms…When we criticize or condemn others, when our thoughts and our words are of envy, bitterness, anger, wrath, hate, etc., they are just noise, a clanging symbol – and we restrict the flow of God’s goodness in our lives. Why? Because we have removed love, and therefore God. When we bless others, when our thoughts and words are of peace, kindness compassion, healing, and forgiveness, we remain open to receiving the benefit of Divine Spirit working in our lives and we share the things of Spirit with others. Why? Because these are the things of love, and therefore, these are the things of God.

To bless is to uplift, to judge is to tear down. It’s impossible to do both at the same time. I invite you to, as Pastor Carel puts it, ‘exercise your blessing muscles’.

Let’s take another look at our quote:

It is impossible to bless (express peace, kindness, compassion, etc.) and judge (express condemnation, criticism, anger, hate, bitterness, etc.) at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed (holy and wonderful) intoned (prolonged singing tones – “singing praises”) thought that desire to bless (confer or invoke the Divine). For truly then shall you become a peacemaker. And one day you shall, everywhere, behold the very face of God.

I’d like to close with another quote – this one from Catholic philosopher and theologian, Jean Vanier:

“To be a peacemaker means not to judge or condemn or speak badly of people, not to rejoice in any form of ill that may strike them. Peacemaking is holding people gently in prayer, wishing them to be well and free. Peacemaking is welcoming people who are weak and in need, maybe just with a smile, giving them support, offering them kindness and tenderness, and opening our hearts to them. It is welcoming those with whom we may have difficulty or whom we may not especially like, those who are…different than us. It is to approach people not from a pedestal, a position of power and certitude, in order to solve problems, but from a place of listening, understanding, humility, and love. When we relinquish power, we become more open to the compassion of God.”

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God – Matthew 5:09

Scripture

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1
  • Galatians 6:7
  • Luke 6:27 & 28
  • Romans 12:14-18
  •  Matthew 5:09

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Bless and Be Blessed – Quote

Quote

“It is impossible to bless and judge at the same time. So hold constantly as a deep, hallowed, intoned thought, that desire to bless. For truly then shall you become a peacemaker. And one day you shall, everywhere, behold the very face of God.”
~Pierre Pradervand

Join us this week for worship and fellowship!

Lead Us Not Into Temptation – Teaching

Last week we discussed where and how we pray. This week, we’ll take a look at why we pray and the words we use. Our quote this week reminds us that prayer isn’t just about trying to get we want:

Quote

“You pray in your distress and in your need,
would that you might pray also in the fullness
of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Thoughts

Why Do We Pray?

Being honest, many of us pray the most when we are in need – when we need a job, a car, food, money, healing, etc. However, while these things are important, and certainly worthy of prayer, we must also remember that God isn’t some sort of supernatural vending machine. What we must remember is to remain open to receiving. God will do His part, but we must do ours, too. We must work to create the circumstances so that the right job, the right car, the needed funds, etc. can be made manifest in our lives. Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When conditions are sufficient there is a manifestation.” Matthew 6:33 says, “ Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness [living a moral and virtuous life], and all these things shall be added to you.” And Janet Connor, in The Daily Word, put it this way, “Here I was, wanting to manifest a beautiful life, but I had my eyes on the wrong half of the equation. I was focused on what I wanted, but it’s not about wanting. It’s about creating the conditions that naturally produce what I want. Conditions first; manifestation second…You create a beautiful life by creating fertile conditions, not by asking for anything…You can have anything you want – why, you can have things you don’t even know you want – but not by focusing on them. Instead, put your undivided attention on your connection with the vibrant presence of the Divine within, and your life will change.”

Philippians 4:6 tells us to make everything known to God by prayer, in a humble yet thankful way. Instead of turning to God as a vending machine, our prayers should always include our gratitude, and our desire that Divine Spirit so fill our hearts and our lives that we attract abundance into our lives.

Do Words Matter?

Do our words matter? Yes and No. Generally, our words don’t matter so much as our intent and what’s in our hearts. Matthew 6:7 & 8 says, “…When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” When we pray, instead of getting ourselves caught up in whether or not we’re saying the right words, we need to make sure we are praying what’s in our hearts. During our service, for example, we recite prayers for the people. Do we really mean them? Are those prayers really what we feel in our hearts? On an individual basis – sometimes yes, sometimes no. But collectively, our intent is there, and it’s heartfelt.

At times, however, our words can make a difference. As we alluded to last week, let’s take a look at The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). The NKJV says:

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Now, I had always learned it this way:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen.

Both versions, and most of the others we have heard, are pretty much the same. But, asking the question I posed last week – is there a particular line that strikes you as “odd?”

Think about James 1:13…”Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one.” If this is true, then the line “…lead us not into temptation…” makes no sense. We are praying for God not to tempt us, when we already know that God doesn’t tempt anyone.

Now I’d like to present the English translation of the Aramaic version:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed by thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so one earth.
Give us bread for our needs from day to day.
And forgive us our offenses, as we have forgiven our offenders.
And do not let us enter into temptation, but deliver us from evil [wrong, wickedness, error]. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Do you see any difference? The meaning, to me, is much clearer in this version. And, the line regarding temptation puts the responsibility where it belongs – on us, not on God. We are asking God’s help in resisting temptation, rather than asking God not to tempt us.

So, do words make a difference? Generally speaking, I would say no. As we can see from the various versions of The Lord’s Prayer, there are times when the words can and do make a difference.

Also, let’s not forget the first line, verse 9 – Jesus says to “pray in this manner.” He is not instructing us to use these exact words. He is saying that our prayers should be done humbly, sincerely, worshipfully, and from the heart.

Closing Thoughts – A Conversation With God

When we pray, we don’t need to worry about the correct position, the right words, whether it’s in the morning or afternoon, how to begin a prayer, or how to close a prayer. The only thing we need to remember is that our prayers be heartfelt and sincere, and to always remain thankful. When the conditions are right, all prayers will be answered in the right time and in the right way – though it may not always be how we expect.

I’d like to close with a version of The Lord’s Prayer that was written as a conversation with God. A friend of mine sent this to me and I have no idea who wrote it, but it’s a wonderful example illustrating the importance of heartfelt sincerity.

Our Father Who Art In Heaven.

Yes?

Don’t interrupt me. I’m praying.

But — you called ME!

Called you? No, I didn’t call you. I’m praying. Our Father who art in Heaven.

There — you did it again!

Did what?

Called ME. You said, “Our Father who art in Heaven”…Well, here I am…What’s on your mind?

But I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord’s Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.

Well, all right. Go on.

Okay, Hallowed be thy name.

Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?

By what?

By “Hallowed be thy name”?

It means, it means . . good grief, I don’t know what it means. How in the world should I know? It’s just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?

It means honored, holy, wonderful.

Hey, that makes sense…I never thought about what ‘hallowed’ meant before. Thanks. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

Do you really mean that?

Sure, why not?

What are you doing about it?

Doing? Why, nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if You got control, of everything down here like you have up there..We’re kinda in a mess down here you know.

Yes, I know; but, have I got control of you?

Well, I go to church.

That isn’t what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You’ve really got a problem there, you know. And then there’s the way you spend your money — all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read ?

Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I’m just as good as some of the rest of those people at church!

Excuse ME…I thought you were praying for My will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you — for example…

Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others.

So could I.

I haven’t thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.

Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ll work together — You and ME. I’m proud of You.

Look, Lord, if you don’t mind, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does.

Give us this day, our daily bread.

You need to cut out the bread…You’re overweight as it is.

Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.

Praying is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called ME — and here I AM. It’s too late to stop now. Keep praying. ( pause … . )

Well, go on.

I’m scared to.

Scared? Of what?

I know what you’ll say.

Try ME.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

What about Ann?

See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she’s told lies about me, spread stories. She never paid back the money she owes me. I’ve sworn to get even with her!

But — your prayer — What about your prayer?

I didn’t — mean it…

Well, at least you’re honest. But, it’s quite a load carrying around all that bitterness and resentment isn’t it?

Yes, but I’ll feel better as soon as I get even with her. Boy, have I got some plans for her. She’ll wish she had never been born.

No, you won’t feel any better. You’ll feel worse. Revenge isn’t sweet. You know how unhappy you are — Well, I can change that.

You can? How?

Forgive Ann. Then, I’ll forgive you; And the hate and the sin, will be Ann’s problem — not yours. You will have settled the problem as far as you are concerned.

Oh, you know, you’re right. You always are. And more than I want revenge, I want to be right with You . . (sigh). All right, all right…I forgive her.

There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?

Hmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty great! You know, I don’t think I’ll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven’t been getting much rest, you know.

Yeah, I know. But, you’re not through with your prayer, are you? Go on.

Oh, all right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Good! Good! I’ll do that. Just don’t put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.

What do you mean by that?

You know what I mean.

Yeah. I know. Okay.

Go ahead. Finish your prayer…

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Do you know what would bring me glory — What would really make me happy?

No, but I’d like to know. I want to please you now…I’ve really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you…I can see now how great that would be. So, tell me…How do I make you happy?

YOU just did.

Scripture

  • Matthew 6:33
  • Philippians 4:6
  • Matthew 6:7 & 8
  • Matthew 6:9-13
  • James 1:13

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Let Us Pray – Teaching

Sometimes we get so caught up in the process, we lose sight of the meaning what it is we are doing. This is also true in our time in prayer. We can get so caught up in the “process,” or reciting the “right” words, we lose sight of why we’re praying in the first place.

Quote

“Maybe God doesn’t care how you say your prayers,
as long as you say them.”
~Babylon 5 Episode

Is There a “Right” Way to Pray?

Ask this question of 5 people and you’ll get 5 different answers. I’ve heard and read, “You must kneel when praying,” “You must stand with hands stretched to the heavens,” and “You must lay prostrate (face down).” In doing some online research, I found the same points of view. Many people insist that their way is the only proper way – the only way acceptable to God.

But, as with most things Biblical, much depends on who is doing the research, whether or not they take a literal stance, how words are interpreted, and which passages they choose to quote. In my research I found that there are numerous references to praying, and many positions of the body are described. For instance:

Face Down / Prostrate

Numbers 20:6 – [Moses and Aaron]…they fell on their faces; and the glory of the Lord appeared to them.

Joshua 5:14 – …And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped…

Matthew 26:39 – He [Jesus] went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed…

Mark 14:35 – He [Jesus] went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed…

Kneeling

1 Kings 8:54 – …[Solomon]…arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

Ezra 9:5 – …I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God.

Psalm 95:6 – Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Luke 22:41 – And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed.

Acts 21:5 – …And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.

Ephesians 3:14 – For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Standing

1 Kings 8:22 – Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven. (It’s interesting to note that Solomon’s prayer begins here, and ends with verse 54 mentioned above in which Solomon rises from kneeling; however, no where does the passage mention Solomon going from a standing position to a kneeling position.)

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying…

Luke 18:11 – The Pharisee stood and prayed thus…

Lifting One’s Eyes Up To Heaven

John 11:41 – …And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.”

Bowing One’s Head

Genesis 24:26 – Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord.

Exodus 4:31 – …then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Exodus 12:27 – …So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

Exodus 34:8 – So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.

Obviously from this list we can draw the conclusion that our body position is not the critical factor. How about where we pray?

Where Should we Pray?

Solomon prayed at the altar. Many times, Jesus prayed outdoors. The Pharisee mentioned in Luke went up to the temple. Obviously, the “where” is not a critical factor either.

There is, however, a passage in which Jesus gives some instruction. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus says, “…when you pray, go into your room [closet] and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

When Jesus mentions the “room” or “closet,” he is not speaking of a literal 4 x 6 closet or a 10 x 10 room. He is speaking of that secret place within our hearts and our minds where God dwells within us. He is saying to be still and be one with God.

Closing Thoughts

As we’ve seen, there are a multitude of “ways to pray” mentioned in the Bible. Some people insist on standing, while others insist on kneeling.

Some churches have rituals in which people stand, kneel, and sit at different parts of the service. But, as the Scripture passages clearly demonstrate, none is more “right” than the other. I think of my mother-in-law, who was bedridden. Were her prayers any less in God’s eyes because she couldn’t sit up, couldn’t kneel, or couldn’t stand? What about a veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down? Do his prayers fall on deaf ears because he can’t kneel down? What about a combat troop in the field, crouching in a foxhole? Are his or her prayers any less valid? No, God looks to what’s in our hearts and our minds. Personally, I don’t think God cares one iota what position we happen to be in when we pray. What is important is that we pray – that we continually remain in fellowship with Him.

This has been one of my favorite topics to research. And, of course, the more I read, the bigger it got. So, next week we’ll continue this topic when we take an even deeper look at our time spent in prayer. We’ll examine what the Bible says is the “proper way to pray.” And, we’ll take a close look at The Lord’s Prayer.

Scripture

Numbers 20:6            Joshua 5:14            Matthew 26:39            Mark 14:35
1 Kings 8:54               Ezra 9:5                  Psalm 95:6                 Luke 22:41
Acts 21:5                    Ephesians 3:14      1 Kings 8:22                Mark 11:25
Luke 18:11                  John 11:41              Genesis 24:26            Exodus 4:31
Exodus 12:27             Exodus 34:8            Matthew 6:6

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Let Us Pray – Quote

Sometimes we get so caught up in the process, we lose sight of the meaning what it is we are doing. This is also true in our time in prayer. We can get so caught up in the “process,” or reciting the “right” words, we lose sight of why we’re praying in the first place.

Quote

“Maybe God doesn’t care how you say your prayers,
as long as you say them.”
~Babylon 5 Episode

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

Looking Back & Moving Forward – Teaching

First, let me apologize if today’s message seems a little disjointed. I’ve been a bit under the weather, and haven’t been able to fully focus and concentrate.

Another year has come and gone. For many, New Year is a time to party. It’s a time to stay up late and get drunk. For others, it’s a time to gather with family and to celebrate the closing out of the old and to usher in the new. For most, New Year is also a time of reflection and a time of anticipation. We look back and remember our joys and our successes, our challenges and sorrows. We look forward to the wonderful possibilities a new year might bring. Too often, though, we get stuck in examining the past and it inhibits our ability to move with confidence into the future.

Quote

This week’s quote reminds us to be cautious and not to get stuck in the past.

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
~Will Rogers

Thoughts

Looking Back

The good in our past provides happy memories and brings us joy. The not-so-good in our past provides the opportunity for examination, healing, and forgiveness. And, if there are things in our past that we’d rather not repeat – it’s good to examine them and to make decisions as to how we might do things differently in the future. As Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” This was changed slightly by George Santayana when he said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Both Burke and Santayana are saying the same thing – we must learn from our past. The only way we can do that is by looking back.

In Philippians 3:13, Paul says, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

Is Paul saying we shouldn’t look back? That we should simply forget the past? I don’t think he is. I think he’s saying that when one chooses a new life – a life of love and of living with Christ – we must not look back at what we’ve “lost.” When we try to live and be more Christ-like, things, behaviors, and actions that used to be important no longer are. Before his conversion, Paul was a persecutor of all things Christian. He was respected and wealthy. His conversion ended all of that. He was hated by the very people who used to respect him. He lost his wealth, his status, his position, and his power. But, he chose to learn from his past and not to repeat his mistakes. He didn’t spend his time in despair over the things he had lost, and he looked forward to a new future in Christ.

Moving Forward

Should we also take time to give thought to the future? Absolutely. Perhaps there are new directions we’d like our lives to take – or perhaps we have set some new goals. Maybe we want a new job, a new home, a new car, to lose weight, to live healthier, to live happier, or to be more generous, kind, and loving toward others. We need to give thought as to how we might accomplish these goals. The trick is to not get caught up in worrying about the future. Give thought to and plan for the future – yes. But, don’t get stuck in worrying and fretting about the future. That’s what Jesus means when He says in Matthew 6:34, “…Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” He is not saying that we should not think about and plan for the future, He is saying not to get stuck in worry.

Today

We learn from the past, and we plan for the future. Ultimately, however, we must not get so caught up in either that we forget to enjoy today. What do we want our today to be? Perhaps Paul’s words to the Philippians will help to inspire our today. In Chapter 4, Verse 8 he says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

Closing Thoughts

Yes, at this time of New Year, we should take time to look back. We should enjoy the happy memories; examine those parts of our past that are painful and explore avenues of healing and forgiveness, and we should learn from the past so that we can make better, more productive choices and decisions in the future. And in this process, we must enjoy today.

For me, personally, my reflection, my looking forward, and my living for today have caused me to take stock of my life. Instead of making resolutions, this New Year is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to God and to Jesus. There are parts of my past that do not enhance my relationship with Them, so I’m choosing to eliminate those things from my future – and that future starts today. I am re-committing my life to be a life of love and a life of service. Will it be easy? No. Will I stumble? Yes. The good news is that Jesus will be by my side through it all. And, hopefully, in the process, with Jesus’ help, I can be of service to others on their journey to be closer to God.

I invite you to do the same. In addition to the celebrations, the parties, the reflection, and the anticipation, I invite you to examine those parts of your past that have not enhanced your relationship with God; and to make the decision to eliminate them from your future.

I invite you to renew your commitment to God and to Jesus; and to give thought as to what that might mean for your life going forward. Finally, I want to take a moment to give thanks. I am thankful that Divine Spirit has brought you here, and brought you into my life. And I pray that the Lord blesses each of you today and throughout the New Year.

Scripture

  • Philippians 3:13
  • Matthew 6:34
  • Philippians 4:8

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