Monday, January 27, 2014

Guard your mind

Why is it so easy for us to believe those little lies that Satan continually whispers in our ear? Why is it so hard to understand and believe the truth of God's Word? In today's devotional, I hope to help you understand a little more about how our thought processes work with regard to spiritual matters.

You've heard the old saying "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." While that's true, we often choose to allow things to enter the gateway to our mind without filtering them. One of Satan's key weapons is suggestive thought. How many times have you been bombarded with negative thoughts? Where do you think those come from? Satan is the master deceiver and often he will convince you that those negative thoughts belong to you alone and that he had nothing to do with them...but don't fall for that! The Bible says that he is a liar and a deceiver. In order to understand how Satan manipulates us into thinking negatively, we must first understand a few things about the mind that God gave us.

Our minds are amazing! We can think about things, remember things, forget things, and store things away to think upon at a later time. God created our minds so that we might commune with him. But with so many thoughts constantly bombarding our minds, we have to be careful to protect it. So how can we guard our minds? Well, the first way to guard our minds is to capture every thought that comes into it. In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (New Living Translation), the Bible says, "We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ."  In order to capture those negative thoughts, the ones that Satan uses to condemn you, you have to hold them up to the light of God's Word which reveals all truth. And to do that, you have to know what the Bible says about the things we are to think upon.

What are we supposed to think about? Well, in Philippians 4:8, the Bible says we are to think on the things that are true, pure, lovely and those things of good report. We aren't supposed to focus on the bad, degrading, negative things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV) says "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things".

God gave you power over your mind. You can turn off those negative thoughts by choosing to set your mind. What does that mean? It means you choose to think on the things that God deems important and those things are not the things of this world. The things that God deems important are spiritual things. We are to live according to the Spirit. What does that mean, you may ask...well, when we choose to live according to the Spirit, we choose to live by the fruits of the Spirit and those include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. It's a lot to take in, but let me see if I can break it down a little easier for you. 

1. Capture every thought that comes into your mind. We receive thoughts from both God and from Satan. We also have thoughts from our heart that come from our own fleshly desires and our sinful nature. So when a thought enters your mind, stop! It only takes a few minutes to filter the thought when you've trained yourself to know the difference between how God speaks to us and how Satan speaks to us.

2. Take your thought and hold it up to the light of God's Word by asking yourself some questions...does this thought line up with Scripture? Is it a thought that brings joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. into my life? Is this thought fleshly? Is it negative, demeaning, accusing? If the thought is not pointing you to Christ, then it is not from God. Romans 8:5 (NIV) says "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires".

3. Renew your thinking by renewing your mind! Choose to constantly filter your mind by capturing those thoughts and choose to think the way God wants you to think. He doesn't want you to think depressing, negative, crippling thoughts. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is his good, pleasing and perfect will."

4. Set your mind. This means you choose to think about the things that God wants you to think about.  Colossians 3:2 (NIV) says "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things".

5. Remember the 4 R's:
Recognize: determine whether the thought or belief is true or false.
Refuse the thought or belief if it isn't true.
Remember that you are dead to sin and alive in Christ!
Rest in God's peace as you practice capturing your thoughts daily.

It takes practice to guard the gate to your mind. You must choose daily whether you are going to filter your mind or allow any and everything that comes your way to enter it. You have the right to refuse any thought that is not from God. You may want to speak out loud and say "I know that is not true! You are a liar and deceiver, Satan." Or you may choose to quietly think this in your mind "I will not accept this thought because I know it is not true. It does not come from God. It does not point to Christ." Either way you choose to filter your mind, remember that God wants to bless you. He wants you to have joy and peace in your life. He wants you to remember who you are in Him...a special, beautiful, child of the most High God! Don't fall for those lies straight from the pit of hell, the ones that tell you that you aren't good enough, you aren't worthy, you can' won''ll never...
Just like a goalie in a soccer game, defend your mind!!! Keep all those negative thoughts at bay and only let the ones that line up with God's word into your mind. He wants you to prosper and live in peace both in your heart and in your mind.

Philippians 4:7 (Amplified Bible) says "And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind". 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Come and see

Recently my husband told me that he's ready to downsize and move closer to where he works. I was shocked because we've lived in the same home for so long. Yes, the children are now all adults and have moved away and no, we don't need this big house any longer, but....I'm so afraid! I feel safe here and I love my house, how could I ever leave?
The older I get the more life seems to change! Friends come and go, I'm no longer in the workforce, I'm a grandmother, and I realize I'm getting older every day. My security level and my comfort zone often depend on where I am and what I'm doing. I like routine and I'm kind of set in my ways. I don't take as many risks as I once used to take...I'm getting to be an old fuddy duddy, I'm afraid!
I began to think about moving and the more I thought about it, the more afraid I became. All the what ifs started to crowd my brain...what if we move and we don't like the new house, what if we are too far away from the children, what if we get very ill and have no one close by to help us...what if...what if! As I thought and thought about it, God let me to verses in the first chapter of John. The disciples have been learning who God is and have been marveling at all He has done. John wants to make sure the disciples understand that he is not God and he points them to the true Messiah. The disciples are curious. They want to know all about Christ and they aren't ashamed to ask questions. They ask some pretty practical questions...instead of asking Jesus about how he performs miracles and things like that, they ask where he is staying! Jesus, I'm sure, understood their curiosity and replied, "come and see." So the disciples went and they saw where He was staying. They stayed and talked with him until about 4 in the afternoon. The next day, Jesus is walking and he comes across Phillip. He looks at Phillip and says, "follow me."
As I thought about those verses, I realized something. Yes, I am afraid of moving and all the newness that comes with that, but suddenly, I realized it's going to be okay. As long as I remember that Jesus has already gone before me and prepared the way, it will be okay. As long as I realize that in order to understand what Jesus is doing at each stage of my life, I have to be willing to walk with stay in step with follow Him.
Jesus never wants us to stand still in our faith. He wants us to continually grow and change and learn. He wants us to understand that He will never leave us but our part is to trust Him. As we walk along the path He leads us on, we can learn that wherever He takes us, we will be safe! He will only give us enough light for the next step on our path. He will never show us the whole plan because if He did, how would we learn to walk with Him? How would we ever learn to trust Him?
Is God trustworthy? Yes! Will He guide me and take me where He wants me to go? Yes! Am I willing to step out in faith and see what great things He has in store for me in the days ahead? Yes! I am willing to put my foot on that path, the dark one that I have no idea where it will take me, and trust. "Follow me," Jesus said and so...I am ready. I am not going to let fear hold me back. I can just picture myself walking with the Savior and as we walk, I'm sure He'll understand my silly questions. He'll understand my concerns and my cares. He'll walk side by side with me and look into my eyes with understanding and as we travel the road together, I won't care where I'm going as long as I'm staying in step with my Jesus. And when we've found a new home and the excitement rises, I'll be calling my friends and family and exclaiming to them, "Come and see! Come and see!" and as those words roll off my tongue, I'll remember that God took the fear of moving to teach me that no matter where I am, He's right by my side and it's going to be okay....
John 1:35-42 "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[g])."43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

This weekend we had the joy of babysitting our youngest grandchild. She's five months old and growing so fast! With a baby, there's always something that needs to be done to properly care for their needs...diapers need changing, tummies need feeding, then there's burping and rocking, constantly doing.... As a type A personality, I'm an over achiever. I am used to being perpetually busy, making sure things are always on par. I have trouble sitting still. I have trouble relaxing. God wanted to show me something this weekend. He wanted to teach me a valuable lesson and I wanted to share it with you just in case some of you might be type A personalities too.

I had been taking care of the baby for the past hour. She was now fed, burped, changed and sleepy. Usually when we babysit, all of the childcare falls on me because my husband isn't very sure of himself with those types of things, but he does love to hold and rock the babies. Since the baby was content and sleepy, I asked him if he would like to hold her and rock her to sleep. He grinned and said he'd love to do that. I gently placed our granddaughter into his arms and made sure she was well positioned and covered with a blanket. I stepped away and he began to rock her gently back and forth, back and forth.

As I watched him, my heart strings were being gently was this big 6'4" 250 pound man gently cradling this tiny, 14 pound baby. His hand looked massive next to her tiny one! As he continued to rock, he began to softly sing to her and I couldn't help but just stare. He looked up and asked if he was doing something wrong and I said, through tear filled eyes, "oh,'re doing everything right." He continued to rock and then he stopped and just looked down at the baby's face. He tenderly brushed his hand against her cheek and said "isn't she just beautiful?"

God used that very moment to speak to my heart. He showed me that yes, all the busywork needed to be done in caring for a baby, but my husband had seen the better part. Just like Mary and Martha in the husband, big, strapping, man that he is had chosen to capture the better part of these precious moments with our grandchild.

Instead of just sitting and reveling in her beauty...marveling at God's creation for a few minutes, I had been too busy. I had been making sure she was clean and fed and diapered. I had been too wrapped up in the necessary chores to see that we were in the presence of one of God's greatest gifts...the gift of life. I suddenly felt ashamed that I hadn't taken time to just sit and rock...just sit and marvel...just sit. Why do I have such a hard time relaxing? Why do I have such a hard time just enjoying the moment???

God smiled and spoke to my heart..."this is what I've been trying to teach you all along, my daughter. Remember the old poem you read as a teen..."cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow, so quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep"...don't you remember? I thought for a moment and did remember that poem and how sweet I thought it was the first time I'd read it. I'd never put it into practice though, after 7 grandchildren. Was I going to be the same with this one? Was I going to constantly worry about the busywork and not focus on the better part? I felt a check in my spirit. No, this time would be different.

The baby began to stir and she needed her diaper changed. I reached down to take her from my husband. As I took her to change her diaper, I looked down into her precious blue eyes and smiled. What a blessing you are, I thought to myself...I will choose the better part from now on. Yes I will do what needs to be done, but I won't forget to spend time enjoying you too!

After the diaper change, as the baby lay on my bed, I reached down and tickled her tummy. She began to squirm and then she smiled. I continued to play with her and soon she was laughing. Oh the beautiful peal of laughter that came from her tiny body...this indeed was much better than just worrying about her care...this part, the better part...the moments that were fleeting and could never be recaptured....could I learn to relax long enough to enjoy these things? Could I put aside the cleaning and scrubbing long enough to just tickle and giggle and grin? Yes! God was doing a new work in my heart and teaching me that this was more important than any other thing...just seeing and knowing and being sure of the fact that He was good! That He created life for us to enjoy! That love was the greatest gift of all and that He wanted me to learn to let go and relax.

Thank you Father, for teaching me such a valuable gift through such a tiny little one. Thank you for my tender, loving, caring husband who showed me the better part....and thank you God for always being so patient with me when I get too busy to just relax and enjoy what you've set before me.

Luke 10:38-42 " As they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord's feet and listened to him talk.  But Martha was upset about all the work she had to do. So she asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me." The Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. There's only one thing you need. Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her."   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just Trust

Two simple Just trust. But why is it so hard to obey that command? Why is is so very hard to relinquish the control of fear and worry in my life? God has been working on me in this area and believe me, it hasn't been pretty.

For years and years and years, I've been a worrier. It started when I was a child although I don't remember what brought on the first bout of worrying. I know I worried over silly things like "what if she doesn't like me?" or "what if I don't get invited to that party?" but those silly childish worries soon gave way to bigger, teenage worries and then even bigger adult worries. All of the "what ifs" in my life compounded my fear and anxiety. For some reason, I allowed myself much time to dwell on all the "what ifs." The grip of fear held fast to my wrist, squeezing and squeezing and squeezing. Did I realize that I was a worrier? Oh yes. Did I like it? Oh no.

I could tell you story after story of how anxiety and fear crippled my life but that would turn into a book, so I will only tell you about one story. This story began in 2004. I was working for a mega church in the Atlanta area. I'd been working there for about 6 years and loved it. One day, I was approached by a coworker who asked me to pray about being part of a mission team that was going to China. To say I was shocked was a huge understatement! Me...a missionary to China??? Get out! As she witnessed the shock and confusion on my face, she said, "just pray about it." So I did. I began praying that very day and for the following year.

At first my prayers were simple..."okay God, what are you doing? Are you kidding? You want me to go to China???" Satan was hot on my heels and was constantly whispering in my ear, "you're no missionary! You're not good enough to go on that trip...are you kidding? Who do you think you are???" So I dug into my Bible and began studying. I read verse after verse about faith. I read verse after verse about worry. I read verses on fear, verses on trust and I kept on praying.

My coworker and I began to meet every day at lunch to pray about the trip. She was very patient and kind. She understood my fears. I explained to her that I'd never been out of the country. That I'd never flown over 2 hours at a time before. I explained that I had never been on a mission trip, that I didn't speak Mandarin, that I felt so inadequate...excuse, after excuse I gave as to why I didn't think I was the right one to go on the trip. She took my hand and looked me in the eyes and said, "just trust...just pray."

Fear began to grow as I seriously contemplated going on the trip. The what ifs began playing hide and seek in my mind...what if the plane crashes...what if you are captured and imprisoned in China- never to see your family again...what if ...what if...what if.... I tried hard not to listen to the voices of fear as they screamed in the recesses of my aren't good aren't a missionary....but the voices got louder and louder.

As I continued to read and study God's Word, I realized that I had given over too much ground to fear and worry. I was anxious all the time and there was no need to be. In John 14;1, I read "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.; trust also in me." There was that word And then in Romans 15:13, I read "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so you may overflow." I was coming to realize that if I truly believed in God's Word that I was going to have to learn to let go. I was going to have to unclench my fists that were clinging so tightly to the worry and fear in my life and just trust. I was going to have to unclench those fists and do something!

Do something? What was I going to do? As I studied the New Testament, one word kept coming to my mind..."pisteuo." It's a Greek verb that means "to trust, to put one's faith in." Wow. Then I moved on to a verse in John 6:29 (Amplified Bible) where Jesus says "This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent (that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger). Jesus said that God wanted me to trust! Pisteuo! He wanted me to put that trust into action! Suddenly, the blinders fell off my eyes and I could see clearly. I felt the grip of fear loosen and finally set me free.

I began to understand that all my what ifs were moot. If the plane crashed, didn't I trust that God would take care of me? If I were imprisoned, didn't I trust that God would work all of it out for my good? Yes! Finally I learned to "just trust."

My coworker was so excited the day I went to her and told her that I would be a part of the trip. She smiled and said, "I knew you would, all you had to do was just trust." As I left her office, I smiled. I was so thankful that God used fear to teach me a valuable lesson. I learned not to let fear and worry rob me of the joy that faith and trust bring. I learned that trust is everything and that fear keeps us imprisoned in the grip of what ifs.

Every once and a while, Satan slithers a little snake of fear or doubt into my heart, but I quickly grab it by its tail and yank it out! I've learned to combat those serpentine lies with the truth of God's Word...and I continually hear the sweet, gentle voice of my Savior whispering "just trust...just trust."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My reputation

Have you ever had someone say something about you that is untrue? Perhaps they told a blatant lie, perhaps they just gossiped a little, whatever it was, it tarnished your reputation. And how did you react when there was a blemish on your reputation? Did you retaliate? Did you cringe with fear that someone might believe the untruth? Most of us have suffered in this way at some point in our lives.

Recently, I had faced this challenge and to make matters worse, the wrong was done to me by a family member. I obsessed about it for weeks.  I lost sleep.  Spent precious time methodically defending myself.  Lost time with my family because I just had to prove their lies wrong. Who was the loser?  Me.  I failed to recognize that Jesus is in control of my reputation.

Isn't it only natural for us to want to correct the injustice? Isn't it defending ourselves when we ty to figure out a way to make the real truth known? For some reason, we feel like we must set the record straight...but in reality, that's not our job. Sure in the flesh, we want our rights! We want the malicious gossip to be taken back, have the slate wiped clean...but does it really matter in the end anyway?

The truth is already known. It is known by Jesus Christ. He sees and weighs our motives and our hearts. He understands the pain and hurt we go through in situations such as this where the truth is abandoned and lies take its place. Instead of fighting for our rights, we must learn to let them go. Instead of worrying about our precious reputation, we must learn to rest in the knowledge of who we are in Christ.

You see, it doesn't matter what the world thinks. It only matters what God thinks. By remembering that we are free in Christ, we can truly understand that no matter what anyone says about us or does to tarnish our reputation, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change the fact that we are completely whole in Christ. It doesn't change the fact that all of our security rests in Him. By understanding this, we can be truly free and we don't have to worry about what is or isn't said about us. We don't have to try to protect our reputation and keep it free from blemishes. We can just rest knowing that God has it all under control!

No matter what is said about you, truth or not, the only thing that really matters is knowing who you are in Christ. The Bible says in Colossians 3:3 that "You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Does a dead man have to worry about his reputation??? NO! So neither should we! Live you life the way God from anxiety and worry. Just rest in Him. Let the gossips say what they will. Remember that old rhyme from childhood... "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me?" It has great truth hidden in it! So count it all joy the next time someone tells an untruth about you and move on....

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2–4 (ESV)


Monday, January 13, 2014

Do you suffer from Spiritual Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's....a terrible, debilitating disease that robs people of a clear train of thought, their memory and ultimately destroys their life. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and no one seems to know what causes it. Many live in fear that they will one day suffer from this horrible physical malady but many of us suffer from a similar condition without any regard for what it steals from us...spiritual Alzheimer's.

My mother in law died of complications caused by Alzheimer’s in 2011. As the disease progressed her brilliant mind began to disappear into the relentless dark fog from which it would not emerge in this life. We watched sadly as day by day, she died a little more. First she would forget simple little things like turning off the stove and then it became worse...she would forget where she was going when she was driving and would often end up far away from home. Many times I would get a call while at work with her tearful voice on the other end of the phone saying "I don't know where I am. I don't know how to get home." I would gently calm her with kind words and help her know how to return back home. The disease progressed and soon she was unable to live at home. It was too dangerous for her to live alone. We found a good assisted living home and moved her in. She was content there for a while but then it got worse. About a year later we moved her into a care center for patients with Dementia and the slippery slope continued...Sometimes, when she seemed restless, one of us would start singing a hymn, and she would smile. She could remember the words if there was someone to sing with her. Another year passed by and we found ourselves surrounding her bedside saying our last goodbyes.

I was thinking about that today when I studied the book of Peter.  In chapter 1, verse 12 Peter wrote “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them ….”  Why did they need to be reminded of something deeply ingrained in their thinking? The answer is intriguing and also strategic to the Christian’s daily life.

Countless times in Scripture, God tells His people to “remember.” He commands us, “Do not forget.” Does this refer to physical memory lapses such as forgetting a doctor's appointment? No, such a lapse in memory is usually about our relationship with our Creator. God is telling us not to forget Him, to remember what He has done for us, to remember the foundations and promises of the Gospel. How can we forget God? How can we fail to remember His magnificent grace?

Alzheimer’s is an attack upon the brain that takes place within our own bodies. In some strange way, the nerves that carry important signals to our brains somehow short circuit and don't function properly any longer. In the same way, we naturally possess a natural tendency toward sin and an apathy toward God. Spiritual Alzheimer's attacks our thoughts and memory of God. I am apt to forget the past and present mercies God has provided in my life. Instead, I often selfishly complain in about some pain or turmoil in my life. I am apt to forget His holiness and my unworthiness and think that God is obligated to me, that He owes me goodness. I am apt to forget His omniscience and wisdom while elevating myself to the position of  His advisor.  I am apt to forget my total dependence upon Him.

Do you suffer from spiritual Alzheimer's? Do you ever forget who you are and where you've come from? Do you ever forget all the things God has done in your life over the years? Do you forget His hand of protection...His grace and mercy? Make a point to take time to remember. Never forget that you are His precious child. He loves you and wants to bless you! Don't be a victim of spiritual Alzheimer's!  Take time to remember events in your life where He's guided you, provided for you, protected you....and remember to be thankful. Spiritual Alzheimer's has a cure...we can choose to remember. It may even help to jot down a time line of your life and circle events where you remember God worked, especially those times you called out to Him in prayer and He answered in a mighty way. Take time to remember and count your blessings daily then you won't be a victim of the debilitating disease of spiritual Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions and Restoration

The new year is finally here. Many people will have made resolutions about what they plan to do as they start out this year with a clean slate. But how many times have we made resolutions with great intentions and then end up not being able to follow through? I, for one, have done this year after year. I always have great plans but they just never seem to work out the way I would like. I try really hard, but ultimately fail. Today as I was thinking about failure, I was reminded as I read John 21 that no matter how many times I fail, that Jesus is always ready to take me back with open arms. He never chastises me or berates me for my failures, but just lovingly embraces me with his gentleness and understanding.

He knows me better than anyone and knows that my plans aren't always in line with His plans. Try as I might, I can't always succeed at the things I set out to do. Most importantly, I find myself grieved at the many times I set out to do "something good for God" only to find that I fail miserably.

In John 21, Jesus has just recently risen from the dead. The disciples have finally grasped the fact that He is who He said He is and they slowly come to terms with that in their own individual ways. Jesus gently and lovingly allows them to let it "sink in" and then He takes them further. He is especially  concerned with Peter. You may remember that Peter was the one on which Jesus said He would build His church before He was crucified. You may also remember that Peter was the one who denied he ever knew Christ when he was captured and about to be crucified. It is very important that now Jesus focuses special attention on Peter as He asks him a very important question..."Peter do you love me?" Peter must have been dumbfounded when Christ asked him this and he responds "Lord, you know I love you." He knew that Jesus knows everything because He is God. But then Jesus takes it a step further and asks Peter you love me and when He asks this time, He gives Peter a command to feed his sheep. The conversations continues and after three times of being asked whether or not he loves Jesus, Peter becomes disheartened and grieved.

I think that Jesus specifically asked Peter three times if he loved Him in a counter to the three times Peter denied Him. I think that Jesus wanted to see that Peter was restored and completely understood that no matter how many times he failed Christ, that He would always be willing to accept Peter back into His loving arms.

Isn't it comforting to know that no matter how many times we fail, that Jesus will lift us up and restore us? He doesn't chide us and berate us for our failings. He knows we're human and we will fail. He knows that we have good intentions but that sometimes we can't live up to those plans. The main thing that Jesus wants from us isn't our good's our love.

Instead of making resolutions for the new year, why not refocus yourself and make the main thing the main thing...set out to recommit your love to Christ this year. Seek to put Him first in all you do and to be obedient to His will for your life. In doing so, even if your plans fail, you will find yourself wrapped in the unconditional love of our Savior. You'll understand that no matter how many times you fall down that He will be there to pick you up and restore you. He doesn't care about our good intentions. He only wants the best for us and His best is for us to understand and accept His love. That's pretty simple isn't it? There isn't much pressure in that is there?

This year, don't make plans that you won't be able to keep. Despite your intentions for doing good, you'll ultimately fail because we all do. We're human and we WILL fail. Set your heart and mind on what matters most...just rest in and trust in His love for you. He's waiting with open's a new year after all...what have you got to lose?

You can read John 21:15-19 here