Thursday, May 31, 2012

Your Character is What You Are

Someone has said character is what you are when nobody is looking.  In other words, our inner character determines our outward lives.  This is why it is so essential that we guard and develop our inner life.  Proverbs 4:23 reminds us; "Above all else, guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life." What does this mean? How do we develop our character?  First, this means that we should be aware of the wrong attitudes, bitterness, anger, lust, pride, greed, self-righteousness, and a whole host of other sins that can take root in our inner character and bear fruit (exhibit) themselves in our outer lives.  Second, we should develop our character by never letting the seeds of these specific sins lie in our hearts for too long (this is how they take root).  We should moment-by-moment confess our sins.  We should immediately turn from (repent) of these sins, forsake them, and live in the assurance of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Third, we should develop our character by creating the habit of daily Bible intake.  Fourth, we should also learn to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Finally, we should learn the value of Scripture meditation and memory (Joshua 1:8).

As you might guess, to guard and develop our inner lives is not easy  To really do these things they must be a priority. We can usually find time for what we want, even if we have to take time from something else. The most important priority in our lives is to grow in our relationship with God.  Not only must it be a priority, but the flesh and Satan will work to keep spiritual growth from happening.  Sure, you will take "two steps forward and one step back,"  but take courage, guarding and developing our heart is not done in our own strength.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Questions to Ask on your Birthday

Today is my daughter Bree Allie's 9th birthday!  That can't be right!  She was born yesterday!  Time does fly!  In honor of the birthday theme I was reminded of a piece written by Donald S. Whitney (a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) a few years ago: 

Once when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai.  "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on the circumstances that they were in and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even the most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives.  It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.

Your birthday is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get your bearings.  To that end, here are a few questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1.  What is one thing that you can do in the next 12 months that will increase your love for God?
2.  What is the single most important thing that you could do in the next 12 months to increase your love for your spouse and/or children?
3.  What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, what will you do about it in the next 12 months?
4.  What is the most helpful new way that you can strengthen your church in the next 12 months?
5.  For whose salvation can you pray in the next 12 months?
6.  What one thing could you do in the next 12 months to increase your prayer life?
7.  What one new thing have I never tried that I could do in the next 12 months?
8.  Who is the person you most want to encourage in the next 12 months?
9.  What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read in the next 12 months?
10. What is the most important trip you want to take in the next 12 months?

Good questions!  Just asking the question and giving an answer will increase the possibility of you accomplishing the answer.  So Happy how about those questions?