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Juxtaposition of right thinking and good habits for breakthrough living.

Expect to have a great new year! This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.1 Tis a decision to grab ahold of each new day, intentionally looking around, considering all there is in which to take delight! [Sea of Galilee juxtaposed with flowers pictured] This quote caused me to sit up and take notice: "The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him."2 Consecrated? Yes, set apart or devoted to God. So I must tell you, I have made the decision to truly devote myself to God...will you join me? In so doing, I have established a few disciplines and guiding principles for my days. The most important discipline I established many years ago was to give God my first 15 minutes of the day. Though I have said it before, it bears repeating--I found someone who wanted to do the same, and we prayed for each other's success, checked in with one another, and held each other accountable. We determined together to make it at least 3 weeks without breaking stride. If we failed to meet with God one morning, the three weeks started over. The partnership allowed me to break through in an arena that heretofore I had not sustained consistency. (Besides that, it appealed to me because I am competitive and did not want to fail over the 3 weeks!) At the time I had such a conviction, I had an infant, a preschooler and two middle school students--oh, and a husband who traveled 40% of the time. 'Set an alarm fifteen minutes earlier? Seriously, it might as well have been three hours! But here is what I will tell you-God more than returned those 15 minutes to me throughout the day. More than any other decision or commitment I have made in my faith journey, this one really changed my life--it started with a 15-minute commitment. Hmmm. In order to increase the probability of success, I learned that getting my things together beforehand, increased my likelihood of success. 'My things? Bible, notebook, pen ... whatever I needed to spend quality time in prayer and meditation/study of God's Word. Friend, if you gather them the night before you are less likely to get distracted, pulled away from your desired goal--->time with God to start your day. [If you do not have a Bible, please hit reply and let me know; it would be my delight to send one to you!] As for your prayers, be persistent, even when it seems like nothing is happening--do not stop praying, do not give up. James 5.16 - The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Have you read The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson? Will encourage, instruct and inform your prayer life, give you new tools to use as you pray. Enable you to see that persistence in prayer is vital: Luke 18.1-8. Sometimes you are slammed, perhaps ill or exhausted and cannot string two cogent thoughts together, having a couple verses memorized like Psalm 19.14, Psalm 139.23-24, gives you a simple scripture to pray. No one, no thing can give you joy, nor should you allow anyone to take yours away. Wake up in anticipation of a great day with God ... find your joy in the Lord each day. Joy comes from the heart of God, made alive through Jesus and relationship with him. David said it so well, in your presence is fullness of joy.3 You know, holy moments happen every day, but you must be aware, look for them and thank God for them. If I could regularly give something away, it would be contentment. We must learn and practice Contentment. It is a sought after, learned behavior. Whatever did Paul mean when he said, 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances'? Hmmm. Here is an example of a holy moment--I had read those lines Paul had written before, but it was in a set-apart time in the mountains that the words shouted from the pages of my Bible as though they had my name on them. From prison, Paul writes, -->I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.4 Those precious words have regularly challenged me in the 24 years since they came alive. Contentment . . . whatever the circumstances? O, how I wanted that! Mulling it over, one thinks, "Contentment - no matter what? Contentment when I am in pain, my diagnosis grim? Contentment when the bottom has fallen out of my finances... or when my family is in turmoil? Contentment ... no matter what? Possible, really?" My mother was the greatest example of contentment I have known. She was not married to the nicest of men--my dad, but she knew who she was. She did not let the world squeeze her into its mold5; rather, she knew who she was, and whose she was. She immortalized what Jesus said were the two greatest commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.6 One final thought on making wise decisions to live strongly-- in faith, in joy and in contentment as we start this new year--become part of a growing faith community. You and I were created for community, of that I am convinced; it is critical to our spiritual and emotional well being. Just a few thoughts on the juxtaposition of good habits and great Christian living. What do you think? Hit 'reply' and let me know your thoughts. I am praying for the more and the deeper for you this year... Take a couple minutes, watch this short songclip-you'll be glad you did: One Day  Christine 1 - Psalm 118.24 2 - Dwight L. Moody 3 - Psalm 16.11 4 - Philippians 4.11-12 5 - Romans 12.1-2, JB Phillips- 6 - Mark 12.30-31

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