Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Balancing Our Energy Checkbooks Part II

In our previous blog post we looked at what gives us energy and now I’d like to look at the things which drain our energy.  First, there are the inescapable drains on our energy, such as getting up in the morning!  Children, mates, family, housework, jobs.  But many times we expend energy, even in these areas, unnecessarily.  Let's identify a few of the foolish things that often drain our strength:

1. Our strength is used up when we try to do more than we can do.
God has not called us to be all things to all people. 

Jesus was careful where He went to minister.  He didn't try to go to every city; He didn't heal every sick person; He didn't preach to everyone on the face of the earth.  Yet He could say at the end of a very short three year ministry that He had accomplished what His father had sent Him to do.

2. Our strength is used up when we have too much "stuff."
Did you know that the more you have, the more energy it takes out of you?  Cleaned your closet out lately?  Might be a good idea.  A home or apartment full of valued "treasures" is a real drainer of energy.  Now I'm not suggesting we can't have things that we enjoy, but the question is, do you enjoy them or are they just sapping your time and energy?

3. Our strength is used up when we have money problems.
When our finances are a constant problem, it unquestionably drains our strength.  Credit cards can be our downfall.  Maybe some of us need to get on a budget and stop this drain on our lives.

4. Our strength is used up when we fill our minds with junk.
What are you allowing into your mind?  If it's lots of junk, maybe not evil but just junk, then you need to put a screen on your mind.  That includes social media, television, music, reading material, conversations—any input into your mind.  The more you clean it up and get rid of the junk, the more emotional and spiritual energy you'll have for things that are important.

5. Our strength is used up when our lives are not disciplined.
Proverbs says that we die from lack of discipline, and I believe with all my heart that many of us are drained of energy because we refuse needed discipline in our lives.  When you get the discipline going the way the Lord wants you to, it's amazing how energized you start to feel.  The good feelings that come from accomplishment energize us for more accomplishments.

What I'd like to suggest is that you take a few minutes to list where your energy comes from and where it goes.  Make a balance sheet, if you will, showing the assets and liabilities.  Then take a look and see where you are out of balance.

You may well discover that you're out of balance.  And that could be because you don't put enough in, or you take too much out.  It could be you put the wrong things in and spend your energy in the wrong ways.

It may mean you have to disappoint some people, or make some changes in your life-style in order to use your energy more wisely.  We are called to be servants, but we can't serve very effectively if we're out of balance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Balancing Our Energy Checkbooks Part I

Lots of us are living emotionally, physically and spiritually in the overdrawn account mode.  We don't have enough in our inner banks to cover the checks we draw on them, and so we fight burn-out, fatigue, discouragement, depression.  Until we stop and solve the underlying problem of spending more than we take in, we'll never find the end to this "bounced-check" way of life.

I want to consider what it is for each of us, as Christians, that deposits resources to our inner accounts.  What are our sources of strength?

· Our Strength Comes from the Word of God
            Psalm 119:28:  "My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word."
            Psalm 119:99:  "I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes."

The Word of God is our resource to get us through times of weariness and sorrow.  The Psalmist said it would strengthen us.  It is our source for insight, knowledge, and wisdom.  Careful and consistent meditation on God's Word pours these resources into our lives.

            John 15:7:  "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."

This is an incredible blank check, given to us by our Lord Jesus.  And few of us ever draw on it.  By allowing the Word of Jesus to abide in us, we are given this blank check of resources.  Maybe the real problem is we don't want to, don't know how, or for some reason just don't allow God's words to abide in us.

· Our Strength Comes from the Joy of the Lord
            Nehemiah 8:10:  "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
            Proverbs 17:22:  "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Joy implies contentment, peace, fulfillment.  It's important to remind ourselves that joy is not synonymous with happiness.  Joy is that deeper, abiding sense of completeness which is present even when circumstances are not happy or enjoyable.

Are you a joyful person?  If not, you deplete your energy.  Ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation and to make you a thankful, rejoicing person.  Make some deposits into your energy account today by spending time in the Word of God, and allowing His joy to be your strength.

·  Our Strength Comes from Fellowship and Loving Relationships
            Acts 2:42:  "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

One of the great things about being a marketplace Christian is that it forces us daily into interaction with non-believers.  But living and working with those who do not share our faith and our love of Jesus is without question a large drain on our inner resources.  We need times of fellowship to give us strength; we need church every week; we need small support groups of Bible study and prayer.

·  Our Strength Comes from Physical Well-Being
Shakespeare said something to the effect that no man could be a philosopher when he had a toothache!  A. W. Tozer puts it:  "While it is possible to be a weary saint, it is scarcely possible to be weary and feel saintly."

When our bodies are not in the best condition, either from sickness or fatigue, our strength can fail us.  That's why we must be good stewards of the bodies we have, doing everything we can to preserve them and keep them vital.

Frankly, balancing my energy checkbook  is one of my greatest challenges and I have to relentlessly pursue the balance of input and output, both physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I think many of you share this frustration with me.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trusting God When Nothing Seems to Be Happening

Asaph is wondering if God has gone to sleep or forgotten him or been distracted. Or perhaps God can't see all those enemies getting ready to attack. Don't you sometimes wonder if God sees the whole picture? Why is he standing still with all those enemies around? Just doesn't make sense to us. 

What we have to learn is what Asaph had to learn—that just because you can't see God working doesn't mean he isn't doing anything. When you're standing still, you can trust that he is working behind the scenes, usually out of your view, and often in ways you would never imagine. But you can believe that his ways are perfect and he has a good plan for you.

Abraham had to stand still and see how God would make him a great nation when he was childless. Moses had to stand still and see how God was going to get them across the Red Sea. Joshua had to stand still and see how those walls were going to come down around Jericho. Esther had to stand still and see if she perished when she asked that her countrymen be spared. But God was working while they were standing still, and you can trust him to work for you, too—even while you're standing still!

Can’t see how God is working on your behalf? Don’t understand why you have the problems you have on your job?  Wondering why you’re still unemployed or underemployed? Repeat with the Psalmist: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God Psalm 42:11.

O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.
                                                                                                                                Psalm 83:1-3

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pray for Those in Authority

We are to pray for peaceful relationships with those in authority. If you're dealing with an incompetent or unfair boss, have you been praying for him or her regularly? Until you begin to truly pray for this person, you won't see much change in your attitude or in his or her behavior.

Smart employees understand that their job description includes making your boss look good. The world uses that principle as a manipulative tool, but we have other reasons for doing it. First Corinthians 13 describes the kind of love we are to develop in our lives, a love that is like God's love. That kind of love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres  1 Corinthians 13:6-7.

As Christians we are to ever be seeking to have God's love fill us and overflow through us to everyone in our lives, including our incompetent bosses. Therefore, we should try to make them look good because God's love motivates us to protect others from bad exposure, to delight in the good things they do, not the bad things, to try to smooth over their mistakes whenever we can.

Can you begin today, by faith, to ask God to give you his love for your boss? Are you willing to allow God to give you the desire and the wisdom to want to make your boss look good, to promote his or her welfare? If you will take just that first step toward God in this direction, you're going to discover that he will pour his grace into your life and enable you to do what now looks impossible. 

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyonefor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

                                                                                                                            1 Timothy 2:1-2

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jesus Understands the Challenges You Face

Jesus understands where you live, just as he did the church in Pergamum, and he knows you are living where Satan has his throne. Satan is temporarily in power, and we live and work right in the middle of his territory. It's analogous to living in a foreign land, where you speak a different language, have a totally different culture, and a completely alien set of values to everyone else.

Jesus said we are to be in this world but not of it. So, we are not to allow the people of this world to pull us down to their level. Yet we are to be available and open to be their friends, to help them when we can, to spend time with them for edifying and helpful reasons.

Since you live in enemy territory, don't be surprised to discover that those around you see life totally different because they don't have God's viewpoint. They are spiritually blind, and therefore not able to see God’s truth. But you must remain true to the name of Jesus, just like the Christians in Pergamum. That's more important than anything else.

Remember Jesus knows where you live and he will be with you in your difficult work environment. So take heart, because he has overcome the world.

I know where you live - where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

                                                                                                                             Revelation 2:3