It’s the season for making resolutions. Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthy or call your Mom more often. Lent is quickly approaching and invites you to again make resolutions to give up something in symbolic sacrifice. Sticking to these resolutions is a real test of willpower but often our emotions undermine us. We know we should choose that salad, but our desire for the fries that we smell at the table next to us overcomes our willpower. Our emotions seem like they’re our enemy but that’s not necessarily true.
Emotions help us decide what to do next. They are our God-given internal program for navigating the future. Emotions can be powerful motivators too. They can help us accomplish difficult tasks. Think of how good you felt after exercising or the congratulations you received from friends at church after accomplishing a task. The positive emotions associated with those accomplishments can stoke and maintain a desire in us to continue doing difficult things.
If you’re lacking motivation to get started, we’d like to suggest a starting point to build up your will power and self-control. With all things start with the cross and with gratitude – it’s a super powerful emotion.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
People who experience more gratitude have more will power and self-control. The Bible tells us this as does science. Even more powerful is when your gratitude isn’t just focused on yourself. If you engage in outward expressions of gratitude for others around you – it helps you and your social network. They feel valued by you. They, in turn, will value you and more willingly express gratitude for you. You’ll be more willing to sacrifice to help others and they you.
Focusing on gratitude is associated with a wide array of benefits – the quality of your relationships will improve; you’ll experience reduced stress and even have lower incidence of illness. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24.
When you’re involved in a social network of gratitude, it can serve to support and sustain your will power and self-control. It’ll help you maintain those resolutions, develop those new physically and spiritually healthy habits when your ability to help yourself is quite up to the task.
So, practice a little gratitude – it’s good for you!
Last week my meditation was on the Transfiguration of Jesus from the account in Luke 9:28-36. Three of the gospels have accounts of the scene but it is only Luke who informs us that Jesus’ purpose was to engage in prayer (9:28), and again only in Luke (9:29) are we told that it was while Jesus was praying to his Father that he experienced the Transfiguration, that ‘the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white’ (9:29). The importance of prayer in our savior’s life readily emerges from Luke’s account. He went to the mountain to pray. Jesus was praying for a long time — so long that Peter, James and John all fell asleep and were awoken by the dazzling light. While he was in prayer, he was transformed. It’s this last point to which I want to draw your attention.
Prayer, in its broadest definition, is a conversation with God. Jesus was talking to God. God has given us the gift of prayer so that we may know and have the way to call upon Him for help to do the things He has commanded us to do, and so that, in turn, He Himself may bless us and others in our doing of them. Through prayer, God calls us into a relationship with Him. From that relationship we can gain unbelievable strength to deal with the struggles in our everyday lives. Problems in our relationships. Problems at work. Problems with sin. Whatever it is — big or small — prayer is a way to gain strength. Through a regular prayer life we too can be “transformed” — changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2. God will help to bring out the best in you — that’s a promise you can count on.
The world and God have different views on the recipe for a good marriage. The world might say that couples need “chemistry”. God takes a different view. He says the covenant that men and women make with one another is what a good marriage is based upon. Spouses honor one another and God by understanding and honoring that covenant.
God is constantly trying to change us into the persons He created us to be. He uses marriage for this purpose. Recognizing these things provides an entirely new perspective on marriage. Marriage is a unique, intense form of Christian fellowship. Spouses are called upon to submit their self-interests in deference for God’s purpose and for one another. That certainly is not easy – especially with the world trying to influence how spouses view their marriage roles and what to expect. Focusing on God and His purpose for spouses is a tremendous help in weathering the inevitable challenges of marriage.
Cedar Point/Point Fest is coming up on Saturday, September 19. This is going go be a blast!!!!! We get to ride all day, plus concerts will be going on all day as well on the stage set up by Soak City. More info here. Wanna go? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need to make some changes in your life? Big changes? Do you even know what changes you need? If you feel deep down that something isn’t right, that your life is unhappy in a fundamental way or that you are lacking deep satisfaction, you probably know that something needs to change. God wants us to change from the inside. He wants us to “put off” our old self and “put on” our new self. Ephesians 4:22-24. That new self involves a life in active relationship with God. Change is easier said than done, right? Absolutely. But not only has Christ made your new self already possible and attainable, He gives you the resources to make the changes. He’s inviting you to have the joy and satisfaction that you are seeking. Will you accept His invitation?