December 29, 2003
Encouragement for Today
Rebecca Ingram Powell
Proverbs 31 Certified Speaker
No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)
Who can resist the possibilities of a New Year? It’s a new beginning, a time of planning, preparing, and prayerfully considering the days ahead. What’s on your agenda for the next twelve months? Perhaps you’re resolving to keep a clean house, lose weight, and be nice to your in-laws. New Year’s Resolutions can be a positive experience, if you can manage to keep them.
Sometimes, however, we get so caught up in making lists of resolutions that we are overcome by a spirit of discontentment. For example, resolving to keep the entire house clean while daily tending to the needs of small children or holding down a full-time job requires a Herculean effort and possibly more than one person! It’s easy to then begin making excuses for our failure to reach an unreachable goal: "Well, it would be easier to keep this house clean if I had more cabinets and closet space!" Soon the home you once loved is no longer good enough.
In the same way, resolving to lose weight can lower your self-esteem when you expect dramatic results in a short period of time. It never works that way! Before you know it you have given up, and there you sit with a plate full of brownies on your lap.
Resolving to get along with your in-laws requires not just your determination but theirs as well. Unfortunately, you can’t make resolutions for other people. The truth is that a perfect life will not be found in a wish-list of New Year’s Resolutions.
But what if everything was perfect? What if your home was Paradise, you had the perfect body, and there were no in-laws to deal with?
Would you be satisfied with your life?
All of this was true for the first woman, Eve. Created to dwell in Eden-God’s perfect garden-she had a flawless figure, an immaculate home (even the dirt wasn’t dirty in Eden), and no in-laws! Her life was perfect, but she didn’t know it! She was ignorant of anything less than excellent, yet she still wasn’t satisfied.
Imagine Eve’s crash course in reality once she and Adam were banished from Eden. Suddenly, she had the advantage of a perspective enhanced by hindsight. If she had only realized that she had everything to lose, perhaps she would have decided to be satisfied with life in the garden of Paradise.
Is it possible, dear mom, that you are living in a garden, and you don’t realize it? Take a moment now to look around at all your blessings this New Year before you start assessing what you want to change.
Longing for a clean house? Set realistic goals for yourself, remembering that happy, healthy children are more important than having everything in its place. Thank God for the home He gave you and ask for His help in maintaining a comfortable level of orderliness.
Starting a new diet? Ask God for time to exercise. Take your baby with you to stroll at an indoor track. Play with your kids! They’ll never turn down an invitation to ride bikes or shoot baskets with you.
Resolving to change some relationships? First, ask God to change your heart. Then resolve to love and pray for the challenging relationships in your life. Be determined, by God’s grace, to accept people the way they are.
This is your garden. These days with your children are your time to sow an eternal harvest in the fields of Paradise. Rest in what you have. Find satisfaction in the blessings of your life. Be content.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, May I rest today in this season of life, knowing that it is part of Your plan for me. Let 2004 be a year I spend thanking God for what I have, rather than longing for what I want.
Re-evaluate your New Year's resolutions. Does each one point you toward a deeper walk with Christ? Do you need to pare down your list until it reflects a heart that is focused on contentment? Spend time with the Lord, and perhaps enlist the help of your spouse or a godly friend, as you decide on realistic goals for 2004.
What does Paul mean in Philippians 4:11 when he says he has learned to be content in every situation?
If you were to go on a reality TV show, what one belonging would you want to take with you? Do you really need all the material things that you are longing for?
Is there a person in your life who needs your acceptance? Resolve today to be content with that person, not trying to change them to fit your ideals.
Philippians 4:11 "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little." (NLT)
I Timothy 6:8 "So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content." (NLT)
Matthew 6:25-33 "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. "And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern." (NLT)
A Woman after God’s Heart by Elizabeth George
Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst
Dreams of a Woman (audio tape) by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Monday, 29 December 2003.