Lessons from 2016

Image result for lessonsLessons from 2016:

It really stinks to be misunderstood.
Sometimes no one is going to understand.
But even when no one else knows my heart, God knows. He sees. And He understands.

It feels really great to be known – really known.
And even better to be loved for who you are, not who others think you are.

Words are powerful.
Prayer is even more powerful.
Even when it can’t be expressed in words.

What may seem innocuous to me – words or actions – may be extremely hurtful to you.
I need to hear your heart before I try to explain mine.
But we both have to choose to believe the best about the other person.

My days were numbered before one of them came to be.
As are (or were) every celebrity’s.
And the nameless, faceless victims of persecution.
Natural disaster.
This life is finite. Therefore, I must live for the eternal or nothing I do matters.

I don’t have to agree with (or like) those in authority to pray for them.
And if I do not pray for them, I am being disobedient to the Greatest Authority.
Praying for our leaders (of any sort, at every level) was not a suggestion. It was (and is) a command.

The only thing I have any control over at all is me.
My actions.
My attitudes.
My thoughts.
And that is what controls me – the thoughts I allow to become attitudes which will inevitably turn into actions. For good or for bad. For God’s Kingdom or for the enemy’s. It starts with me taking my thoughts captive – or not.

Social media is a double-edged sword.
Can be a great source of encouragement and sharing.
Can be a marvelous tool in the hand of the enemy to divide us from each other.
It is up to me how I let it be used in my life.

Forgiveness is immeasurably powerful.
For individuals.
For communities.
For entire races.
Justice is held in the hands of God. It will all come to light one day. Not just the actions – but the motives as well. And justice will be meted out for all “they” have done to me.
Justice will also be meted out for all I have done (or not done) to “them”.
Justice is in God’s hands.
The ability to forgive others tells me that I actually believe that to be true.
And it releases me to live outside of the shadows of blame, guilt, retribution, retaliation, shame, fear and all other toxic, sinful choices.

My hope does not lie in a new year.
A change in the political landscape.
Saving the environment.
My hope does not lie in bettering myself.
Eating better.
Going to the gym.
Saving more money.
It does not even lie in more spiritual behaviors, things that I do to get closer to God.
Any sort of checklist for improvement.
There is value in all of the above.
But my hope starts and ends in one thing – God.
To know Him and to make Him known.
To live for His glory.
If I put my hope in anything or anyone else, it will fail and I will fall.

One final lesson – I learn more in times of adversity than I do in times of ease.
Both are valuable and necessary.
But I need to welcome both with open hands and an open heart.
Not because I am all that.
But because the Good Shepherd leads me.
And walks beside me.
He chooses the joys.
But He also chooses which trials He will allow.
For my good and His glory.

My prayer for you and me in 2017: May we live for the One who died for us. May we learn the lessons that are needed. May we remember that this life is temporary. And may we live for the day that we meet Him face to face, striving to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, no matter what comes this year.

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