“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
As we leave 2019 behind it is a very good time to take a quick look to our past. Do we have regrets and disappointments we need to leave behind. Things we did or didn’t do. Things we don’t like about ourselves. Maybe I have been mean, negative, and angry. Have I had bad habits and behaviors that need to change. What can I do that will make life better? Sometimes we get so stuck beating ourselves up over what is already done and gone. We can’t change yesterday but today is a brand new day. We can start all over. You are never too far gone. Even when you are at the very bottom and things seem hopeless, you can look up and dream. What would make you better? Make life more fulfilling? Imagine that and what it looks like. I like what someone said the other day. Take a rubber ball and throw it as hard as you can at the ground. What happens? The harder you throw it the higher it bounces back. That’s us. When life slams you down bounce back. The harder you are slammed, the bigger your comeback can be. There is one large key. We can’t do it alone. But there is someone out there that wants to help. Will you let him? All you have to do is ask. You also need to be willing to try. Just one day at a time. I like lists so I write things down. At the end of the day what things did I do or not do. Just being able to check things off is my motivation. I take my list to God each morning. He is the one wise enough, rich enough, strong enough, and powerful enough to get it all done and he wants it more than me. He wants us to grow and be blessed. It might take work but who can not suck it up for one day. Tomorrow we can work on tomorrow. If this was your last day on earth wouldn’t you want to make it count? When you have regrets you need to take them to Jesus and ask him to forgive you. But don’t stop there. Leave them there. He has totally wiped the slate clean and it shines brightly. Don’t try to take that big black boulder back. That makes no sense. It doesn’t exist anymore. When Jesus hung on the cross the criminal next to him had many regrets. Some quite big. But he gave them all to Jesus. Jesus told him, “today you will be with me in paradise.” No chance to make any more mistakes. Just perfection and joy forever.
Do you want to accept the one who can help you?
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31 NIV
What is it to be a disciple? A person who is an adherent of the doctrines of another. To be taught and trained. That can be anyone you long to be like. A parent who teaches you how to live, a teacher who teaches knowledge, a coach who teaches athletic ability and a policeman who teaches laws. That is a very small list and so may people can impact your life causing you to want to be like them. To emulate them. But none of those people are perfect everyone has faults. We all will one day die and then no one will long to be like us anymore. Even many so called gods will die or have died. But my Jesus is alive. He lives in everyone who believes in him. If you are one of those people then you know that you have been set free and the love you feel is undeniable. You no longer live to please yourself. That no longer seems that important to you. You live to serve your savior Jesus Christ. Doing things he told us to do and things his father told us to do. Following their doctrines is now a priority. We have their spirit living in us to help us we do not do it on our own. Through thick and through thin they are there. This spirit speaks to our hearts and gives us the strength to do good deeds and be more like Jesus. The more you look like Jesus the more you long to be that way because peace comes over your life. This is a far cry from the happiness you might feel when you get what you want your way. This is a joy that is hard to explain. We all will follow something or someone in our life. I decided to follow Jesus because he gives back so much more. Some follow just because they want eternal life, life in heaven after this life is over, and that goes on forever. The fact that they were set free from sin and so much else is a great side benefit. Now all the hard stuff doesn’t seem so hard anymore and someone is with us through it all. We don’t need to please anyone but our king we know we aren’t perfect and that’s ok. Our God loves us just as much either way, nothing we do could ever keep him from loving us just as much. I know I have made mistakes and felt bad about them but I run to God and tell him I am sorry and he is glad to forgive me. I will always follow him for so many reasons.
Who are you a disciple of?
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” Proverbs 23:13+14 NIV
Children need discipline to teach them respect and good character. The world has tried to tell parents that discipline is bad and can break the spirit of a child. But I see a world where chaos is the norm and respect and good values are gone. With everyone doing what they want and not caring about others. It really doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone needs guidelines and it takes everyone to be willing to help others grow in their character. We learn best by example. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I know at 45 when I had my stroke I had a difficult time adjusting to my new way of living. It has taken me fourteen years so far and I am still trying to improve my character. I like the chapter of Psalms 23 about the shepherd leading his sheep in the way they should go. Anyone who cares about people can be a shepherd. We need each other to care enough about each other to lead and encourage each other in good character. No matter how old we get there is always growing we can go through because God is not through with us till we take our last breath. When people work together they make each other better if they truly care. Children need more work, it takes a community to raise a child. They have mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents . Aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Teachers, coaches, ministers, and Sunday school teachers. As kids their greatest need is to be loved and accepted for who they are. They are wanting to be someone important. I guess that’s what we all really want. Older people get to a point where they don’t really need that validation anymore. At some point they accept who they are and why they are how they are. It’s very important to get to a place where you can love who you are and who you have become. Not needing to feel the acceptance of others to know that your life matters. Being there for others helps you get there. If a child is trained up and disciplined well by all those influencing their lives they won’t stray from it when they are older. Hopefully their character will be strong and they will help instill good character into others also. That is how this world should work.
Can you help to be a character builder in others?