End of…the 1st Quarter Blues.

The first three months of the year are brutal indeed. Christmas and New Year parties and activities are over. No more presents to open, no more fabulous food to gorge on. And those blasted resolutions have already vaporized and we’re carrying around the telltale remains of the 4thquarter over eating. And now those credit card bills are due and the utility bill is on top of the roof because of the winter blast.

So saying goodbye to the first three months of the year is very easy. GOODBYE and don’t let the door hit you in the butt!!

That’s the bad news. Now the good news is that tomorrow we begin a new era of bright beginnings with the official start (in my book) of spring. The days are getting longer, the cold fronts are getting less intense and the oxygen in the air is in full bloom as the plants wake up to a new world.

So for the next 2 ½ months (or so) we will be blessed with warm days and warming nights. The joy of lawn maintenance begins. It becomes harder and harder to wind down and go to sleep each night as the sunset lingers up until this 60 year olds bedtime. And this is still good news!

Getting up and going to work, and staying at work, becomes more of a task. Don’t dare go outside for a break from work during this time of year or you will come back in with a fever from the aromas. It might cause you the leave work during the day as you are “feeling ill” and need to go home and sleep it off “wink wink”. Are you still with me? This is still good news.

So pinch yourself and remember that the first quarter is over and gone by midnight and the morning will bring a new day. I am not fooling!     
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James – Faith that Works Even in my Pain

Pain. We all experience it.
 
I’ve been following a book study about life’s trials. As I glean new things from this study I am reminded of things that I’ve learned in the past from personal experience about pain. New and unlearned things are objective and not yet understood fully until experienced. Learned things are events or seasons in life when we’ve experienced personally the truths that this study reveals.  

Here’s a question for you. Do you believe that God has a purpose for pain or trials that we experience in this life?

In the New Testament the book of James it tells us in chapter 1 that God wants us to bear up under trials. Trials in our lives come in many forms. Family, work, marriage, and financial issues, just to name a few all seem to find their way to our doorsteps. There are normal human responses to the various pains or pressures we are dealt. Faced with serious challenges, one of our first responses is to run or escape. Seems to be the best thing we can think of. Just run.

Secondly we often just moan and complain about our plight. For those of us who believe in the creator God, we usually file a complaint directed him. We ask him why he’s letting this event or situation happen?

A third common response to trial is to blame someone else or some other circumstance for our trial. We just can’t accept that we are stuck smack dab in the middle of trouble, when the trouble may have been brought on by our own wrong decisions. Deferring or projecting our pain onto someone else seems to ease our pain, but it then creates a bitterness in us that is projected to others.     

Humanly speaking we have these normal responses. But in the spiritual realm we can choose a supernatural response, as the book of James tells us to employ.  The passage from James tells us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. Steadfastness is a big word for a number of things. The result of taking God’s route is that difficulty in our lives can “do its full work”. That means if we hang on, God will use the problem for our good. It seems to go against our nature. But following the advice from James will produce good is us.

 Benefits of staying the course include learning loyalty, faithfulness, commitment and dedication to completing tasks. Staying the course makes us stable and complete. I don’t know about you, but many times I don’t feel stable and far removed from being complete! The end result, James says, is that we can perfect, complete and lacking in nothing. That’s what it says! Read it.

Now for something from my own life.

I’ve had two separate and distinct seasons when I was in severe pain. Not physical pain, but emotional distress and tons of accompanying worry, fear and doubt.  These periods persisted for extended periods of time. The first was not of my own choosing and seemed to take on a life of its own that took me through very dark days. Regardless of how I tried to change or escape it, the problems just kept going and going. It seemed that my life would be changed forever and the pain would never stop. 

My second season of trial and pain was of my own doing. I just plainly took a wrong path. I wiggled, squirmed and tried everything I could to remove myself from the situation. But it seemed the more I tried to escape, again it only got worse. This trial lasted for an extended period of time too. My own devices and plans to change and escape did not work. God had to pry my fingers from this trial so that I could finally rest in his provision and grace.

Peace can be found in obedience. God gave us a book of instructions. But many times we just don’t take the time to find the answers already provided for us. We can have more fulfilling and complete lives when we turn to the book of the ages for help in times of need.

Life is hard, but God is good. He has a perfect plan for us, if we will only allow him to work. We must learn to remove our hands from the wheel and let our God drive and direct us. Seems only fitting that the God who created us, could be able and willing to lead us to a life of fulfillment and joy. Living like this is another example of Living Life to the Full.