I Put God First in My Life

It’s hard to believe I am already at the end of week 12–I have worked with the power thoughts from the Joyce Meyer book Power Thoughts for all of 2011!  Twelve thoughts in twelve weeks–all powerful. 

Power Thought 12 had a special, and somewhat unexpected impact on my thinking. 

As I come to the end of my 12th week of power thoughts, and my final power thought, I put God first in my life, I have done quite a bit of reflecting.  I thought (naively) that this would be one of the easy ones for me because I am already in the habit of having my quiet time with God and studying the Bible first thing in the morning. 

What I came to realize over the course of the week is that putting God first in my life means putting him first in everything.  That means saying what he wants me to say instead of what I am bursting to get out.  That means spending money on what he wants.  That means spending time doing things that are important to him.  When what I want and what he wants are in conflict, God comes first.  Ouch! 

The quiet time is the easy part, absolutely.  The hard part is swallowing the juicy tidbit on the tip of my tongue, and speaking godly words instead.  The hard part is giving money to meet a need when I would rather keep that money for myself.  The hard part is giving hours in service to a friend or family member instead of pursuing my own recreation.  The hard part is giving up my personal preferences bit by bit in order to honor him and put him first.  Putting God first isn’t just spending the first thirty or sixty minutes of the day with him.  Putting God first means putting his way of doing and being right above everything else.  Needless to say, I did not master it in a week!  I am still learning all of the ways I can show my love for him by following through with this especially powerful power thought:  I put God first in my life.

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First Things First

     The final power thought in Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts, #12 is the most important one of all:  I put God first in my life.  That means that God, his will, and being obedient to his word is our top priority.  We give him the first portion of all that we have–spending the first part of the day with him, giving, going to him first for advice instead of turning to a friend or the Internet. 

     Unlike the other chapters, this one is not sprinkled with lots of “think about it” questions.  At the very end, there is a simply stated question.  We are admonished to be honest with ourselves, and then Joyce Meyer asks if we have allowed anything to get before God in our priorities, and if so, to fix it.

     I realized in doing this exercise that I have put myself before God–only it looks a little more spiritual than that–I think of it in terms of improving myself and my life.  The (wrong) thinking here is that once I am improved and have my life really together, then  I will pursue God wholeheartedly!  This is such a fallacy–I have fallen for it before, and I am dismayed that I fell for it again.  I may long for transformation on many levels–but none of it can happen without God.  He changes us and improves us and enriches our lives as we pursue Him, love Him, and put Him first.

I am Disciplined and Self-Controlled.

 It is that time. Time for a new power thought from Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts

I am one of those people.  One of those people who is always trying to lose weight, get in an exercise routine, get things done at night, drink more water, say only kind things, focus on uplifting thoughts, and keep the house tidy.  I am one of those people who has really good intentions, and then ends up eating the chocolate cake, skipping the exercise, spending the evening plopped on the couch, drinking too much coffee, saying things I shouldn’t, letting my mind wander and letting the house go.  My intentions are good, but in the past, I haven’t exercised much discipline.

There are areas in my life where I am very disciplined—I get up the second the alarm beeps every morning, I work hard at my job, I pay my bills on time, I take my contacts out every night, I send birthday cards on time, I feed and water the dog at the same time every day, I fix dinner for my husband every night and do the dishes right away.  I prepare our lunches and the coffee pot the night before…  So…I know I am disciplined…I just need to exercise it in a few more areas.

After a day of feeling very undisciplined in my eating, and pretty discouraged in general, imagine how timely it was to flip open to this week’s Power Thought:  I am disciplined and self-controlled.  The first step in being disciplined and self-controlled is believing that I am.  If I don’t I am disciplined, I won’t be.  God’s word says I am disciplined and self-controlled and that is the kind of behavior he expects from me.  This week, I am committed to adding new disciplines to my life, and I thank God for Power Thought #11.  I am disciplined and self-controlled.

Why Is This So Hard?

    If you want to know the truth, I am more than a little embarrassed at how hard this week’s Power Thought has been for me.  I actually found myself thinking, “is it time for a new power thought yet?”  Nope, I havet today and tomorrow still with Power Thought #10:  I live in the moment and enjoy each moment.

     My goodness that has been a challenging thought for me.  Apparently, I need lots of practice living in the present and enjoying each moment.  I do not dwell on the past, but I do have a tendecy to focus a lot on the future, and I don’t have a lot of balance in my life.  I do my work.  Then, we get a free moment, I feel lost trying to figure out what to do with it.

     I have had some notable, memorable, lovely moments this week, but I need to learn to have them and savor them and appreciate them every day.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Sunday night, I decided on a whim to make homemade potato soup and get into the fancy sausage, cheese and cracker set we got for Christmas.  Yum–it was something different and my husband and I really enjoyed the meal.
  • One day this week, after class, a student stopped me to tell me that I am doing a great job teaching, and that I motivate him and make him want to come to class.  Those things don’t happen very often–took my breath away.
  • Maybe the best moment of all was coming home and finding out that my husband had gotten us peeps (baby chickens)!  I am enjoying them so much.  While I am looking forward to fresh eggs, I look forward to picking up the babies, thinking up chicken names (Chicken-Lickin,’ Chicken Biscuit, Chicken Little, Crunchy Chicken, etc.), and watchign their feathers come in.

So, I am not sure what’s next.  I am sad that this Power Thought was so hard for me.  When I really think about it, it might be that in order to really enjoy the moment, it’s necessary to let go of the future–trust God with it.  I have to let go of life, stop trying to fix everything, and just be.  In this light, maybe my issue isn’t an enjoying life difficulty so much as it is a trusting God difficulty.

     I tried to take pictures of the peeps, but I am having technical difficulties.  I hope I can post some pictures of them soon.  Speaking of soon, I have another day and a half to really focus on living in the present and enjoying each moment.  Oh, God, renew my mind, and help me to enjoy the abundant life you desire for me!

3 Ways Be Present & Enjoy Life

Here we go.  Another week.  Another powerful thought. 

Reading the chapter in Joyce Meyer’s Power Thoughts on Power Thought #10:  I live in the present and enjoy each moment, brought to mind my Grandma.  She is 85 years old, and every morning, she says, “This is that day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).  Grandma also told me once many years ago that when she goes to bed, before she falls asleep, she thinks of one work thing she wants to accomplish the next day, and one fun thing.  Grandma has had this all figure out for a while—we are meant to enjoy this life God has given us, and that is much easier to do when we live balanced lives.

     There are three other big lessons for me in this power thought.

  1. Enjoy the mundane. 

I think this is an awesome lesson because frankly, much of life is made up of mundane tasks—getting dressed, brushing teeth, grocery shopping, driving, paying bills, doing laundry, running errands, returning phone calls—you get the idea.  These activities take up a huge amount of time every day and every week.  If we see them as “stuff I have to get done,” they are not going to be enjoyable.  If we focus on the moment with gratitude, we can enjoy even the most tedious tasks.  I am thankful for hot water for baths, thankful for clothes to wear, thankful for money in the bank to pay the bills, and so on.

  1. Enjoy your work. 

If you separate your life into work, which is a have-to and a drag, and time off, which fun and what you look forward to, it’s going to be difficult to enjoy all of your life.  We spend so much time working; we must make up our minds to create fun in our work. 

  1. Don’t wait to enjoy your life.

I don’t consciously put off enjoying my life.  Yet, certain thoughts and attitudes creep into my mind:  I will enjoy life when:  when I have a better job, when I lose 20 pounds, when the house is looking better, when my commute is shorter, when the weather is warmer, when everything’s paid off.  There will always be those things that exist in some hazy idea we have about our future—that time when we will finally allow ourselves to enjoy life…but then, new things always pop up, and enjoying life gets put off again.  Let’s stop with the conditions that begin with “when.”  Let’s start enjoying every moment of life today!

One Road to Personal Peace

     After reading the chapter about Power Thought #9, I pursue peace with God, myself, and others, I realized that I really needed to work on having less personal turmoil in my life.  I live a lot of my days frustrated, rushed, and upset–at myself, because I am not doing everything I think I should be able to do.  Crazy, huh?  Well, it’s hard to see sometimes

     Recently, as I was about to head out to another activity, I realized how much I did not want to go, how much I dreaded it.  It was a “hobby” type class that I’d signed up for and I was determined to follow through with it and future classes because it was supposed to be fun, darnit!

     As I accepted the fact that I did not want to go, that gave way to the thought that I did not have to go.  I could back out.  I could quit.  I do not think it’s a great thing to commit to something and then quit, but in order to build more peace in my life, that’s exactly what I did (as graciously as possible, mind you).

     So, I learned that one very concrete way that I can pursue, establish, and maintain peace with myself is by not overbooking myself.  There may be a part of me that thinks I need to be busy every minute with a productive task or activity, but that’s not what I really want, that’s not what makes me happy, and I will always rebel against it, in some way or another.

     In order for me to be at peace with myself, I have to have downtime.  I have to have a couple of days (maybe on the weekends?) when every second is not scheduled.  This give me the chance to be flexible about my day, get things done that have to be done, and still have time to read, or write, or bake, according to my mood.  So, to add the concrete action to the power thought:  I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.  I pursue peace with myself, by keeping a lighter schedule and giving myself time and space.

I Pursue Peace with God, Myself, and Others

I am continuing on to do the mind renewing work in Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts.  Power Thought 9 is:  “I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.” Meyers indicates that the most important part of this power thought is the fact that peace must be pursued.  It doesn’t just fall in our laps.  We have to go after it.

I also think it’s important to notice the order in this thought.  Before we can have peace with ourselves, we have to have peace with God, and before we can have peace with others, we have to make peace with yourselves.

Being at peace with God means being honest with him about our sins and weaknesses, making confession and asking God for his help.  When we are able to accept God’s love and forgiveness, we are able to begin to really love and accept ourselves.  Often the way we treat ourselves is refleccted in how we treat others.  This isn’t always true though.

I am aware that I don’t always have very high expectations of others, but I do hold myself to high expectations–sometimes very unrealistic expectations.  One of the things that wastes my energy the most, is my tendency to go for days being angry with myself for my perceived failures.  God accepts my weaknesses and loves me anyway, but it is hard for me to do the same.  I realize from studying this chapter, that peace with myself isn’t going to just happen. 
     I must make an effort to change by pursuing, or going after peace with myself.  It helps me to compare the way I treat myself or think about myself with the way I treat and think about others.  This helps me recognize right behavior.  I am learning (slowly) to relax my expectations and to trust God to help me in my failures and shortcomings.  As I relax about myself, it is easier to live at peace with others as well.

    My goal this week is to come up with some specific actions to take so that I can stay on track with Power Thought #9:  I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.

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