Putting Some Effort Into It!

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There are some young women in our church that are really looking nice. They are getting up every morning at some crazy hour and doing intense workouts. They are focused on getting healthy and looking good. They are keeping up with the regiment and staying focused. I look at them and wish I had their stamina and ability to stay focused. I admire them.
 
So what’s to keep me from following in their footsteps? Well, for one thing, I am much older than these young ladies. Number two, I want to have their bodies, but I am not willing to work as hard as these young ladies. The desire is there, but not the motivation.Two of my daughters are the same way. They work hard on exercising and staying fit. They try to convince me I can do it, but, once again the desire is there, the motivation is not.
 
So what does all of this have to do with faith? Let me share with you what God shared with me when I pouted because I didn’t have the body I did ten years ago.
 
I see others in the church whose faith is much stronger and holds up better than mine any day. I see men and women who are focused on doing what God has called them to do and are focused on being disciples of Christ. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I have the desire, but often times the motivation is not there.
 
We cannot desire something, wish it so and then it happens. If we have the desire to do something or have something then we need to put in some effort to accomplish it. I can have the desire to be Christ’s disciple, but if I am not willing to follow what God teaches me or not willing to put into practice those things that He tells me, then my discipleship will never be anything more than a desire.
 
When I look at those folks who have a strong faith, what I see, is their dedication to being a discipleship of Christ. I see that they are in Bible Studies, have a regular devotion and prayer time, go on retreats, and have an active relationship with God. Their prayer life is more than a hit and miss. It’s a constant open door with God. They are in church and engaged in learning all they can about discipleship.
 
If you aren’t actively doing any one of these things you will never have a vibrant relationship with Christ and your desire for discipleship will remain in neutral.
 
It’s when we become engaged in activities within the church, or when we participate in Bible Studies both in the home and with others, its when we have a vibrant prayer life, it’s when we share our faith with others and it’s when we stay focused that our desire becomes a reality.
 
Proverbs 21:5 “Good planning and hard work leads to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
 
Joshua 1:8 “Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
 
In both of these verses, we are told that good planning, hard work, studying and meditating will pay off and we will succeed and prosper. It requires work. I can’t desire to be a great marathon runner, sit back and hope it happens. In order to be a great marathon runner, I have to put some work into it. I have to train, practice and focus on running a little bit every day.
 
The last thing we must remember is that God made us uniquely different. He doesn’t want copycats or puppets.  What he desires for one person may be different for another. If we are putting in all the effort and doing all the hard work but our faith still looks different maybe it’s because God has us on a different path. All paths go in different directions, but ultimately we end up together and receive God’s blessings.  We must not desire what others have, instead, we must desire what God wants for us. We must realize whatever he has for us is what’s best for us. So while it may be humanly possible for me to do what these young women do, it may not be best for me; it may not be God’s desire for me.
 
We must remember if we are putting our best effort forward than we are doing what God’s desire is for us. We have to accept where we are on this journey and know we will get where we want to be in time.
 
Getting motivated, doing some hard work and accepting who you are and where you are right now is all we need to get the desired results we want. Remember this prayer and apply it every day to your life:
 
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; 
the courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
 
Dear God: I thank you for these ladies. Thank you for reminding me it’s all about motivation and not always about wishing. Help me as I work towards being a disciple of Christ. Give me the courage to get motivated, to move forward while at the same time serenity for those these I cannot change. Help me to be at peace with where I am at in my life. Thank you for sending little reminders along the way that keeps me focused on you. In all these things I pray. Amen
 

Wrong Motives I Blew It!

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​I am short. I have always been short and I will always be short. I can’t change that. I want to be tall. I want to be able to reach things. I want to go in and buy a pair of pants or a skirt I don’t have to have shortened. It will never happen. I have grown used to the idea of being short. I used to be skinny, now I am talking really skinny. As a young married adult (before kids) I bought my clothes in the kids department. When I got married my dress was like a three and the arms of my dress was so small none of my daughters could fit their arms in my dress. I liked being skinny.
Then it happened! I began having children. The first one came along and I was still skinny. The second one came along and I wasn’t as skinny. You can see a pattern here, by my fourth child I lost my skinniness. I wasn’t obese, but I wasn’t like I used to be either. Ok, so I didn’t look too bad. After a few years the dreaded disease came upon me; you know the one: Middle age spread. It hit me really hard. I was too busy to accept it or do anything about it. So it settled into my life. Along with all of that I do believe my metabolism has slowed down. I have a missing thyroid that I like to contribute my over weightiness to. I once had some counseling done. I apparently mentioned I would like to be skinny again. I remember him asking me, “Do you know the average woman size is 14? It’s not a two or three like what advertisers want us to think it is?” Great I am average, but I don’t want to be average. 
I had a certain pound I had decided I would not pass under any circumstance. One of my doctors suggested I was a little overweight and it would be better to try to start losing before I got any older. I was just shy five pounds of my limit. So, I decided to start exercising. I am exercising by walking with Leslie Sansone’s videos the three mile power walk. I do it three times a week. I am trying to watch my diet. I had lost about three pounds and was feeling great! So excited, well, this morning it wasn’t so good. I got on the scale as I do daily and what? No, it can’t be I gained and I am back up to where I started. Now my wonderful husband is saying to me, “You are exercising and you may be toning and your fat is turning into muscle and muscle weighs more.” I don’t want muscle I want skinny! I know he’s trying to help. God bless him.
As I was thinking about my discouragement this morning God began His usual conversation with me. What is your motive for being skinny? Well, I had to admit it. I really want people to say, “Oh, my you’ve lost weight don’t you look good.” It wasn’t really for health reasons (although that would be a good motive right now at my age) it was purely for myself and for all the compliments. I have gotten into a smaller pant size and still no compliments. I want people to envy me and my skinniness, but it’s not happening now. God reminded me that wasn’t a good motive and I needed to reevaluate why I wanted to lose weight. Ok, so I said, “Ok God it’s so I can be healthier.” I might have said it, but my heart wasn’t in that statement. 
Neither are my diet habits. Thanksgiving came and I had the opportunity since it was just my husband and I to scale back on the food (since I am on a diet) and to be careful what I ate. Well, that didn’t happen we had enough food to feed an army and two different pies. My hubby left for the weekend so what did I do? I consumed the leftovers, ate the one pie and still did my exercise without any guilt about what I was eating. 
God reminded me of so many things this morning. First, if I want to do something and it be a success I have to follow a strict regimen. I have to follow a pattern with my eating habits. I can’t eat healthy one day and blow it the next. Same thing goes with our faith. If we want to be a good Christian there are things we need to put into practice and maintain daily; prayer, spending time alone with God and reading the Bible are just a few things. We can’t practice being a good Christian on Sunday and then Monday go back to our old ways. It won’t work. If I want to lose weight I have to find a diet that works for me and stick to it. If I want to be a good Christian then I need to find those things that will work for me and stick to it. It might be reading a book from a good Christian author, or reading the Bible all the way through for a year and understanding the meaning, (not just read it), it might be an hour in prayer each day, or a yearly retreat. Whatever we decide the plan is for us to grow deeper with Christ we need to stick to it. 
The second thing is my motive. My motive is all wrong. I shouldn’t care what others think of my outside appearance. One of the things I have thought about was my Mom. She had a weight problem most of her life. She struggled with losing weight. I think my Mom tried every diet she knew. I saw my Mom struggle all her life. Did I really want to follow her path? I need to reexamine my motives for losing weight. I need to get in the right mind set about why I want to lose weight and I don’t think having people envy me is the right motive. I really would like to lose weight for health reasons. I see people struggle with all kinds of diseases because they are overweight. Bones and joints hurt, diabetes comes and stays and high blood pressure are some of the reasons I really would like to lose some pounds. Same thing can be said about our faith. Do we want to be good Christians so others can look at us and go, “Wow how great is he?” Do we want others to envy our faith in God in a way that is negative instead of positive? Do we do those things in church so others can look at us instead of the task being performed? Why is it so important to be a good Christian to you? It’s not so much for me about being a “good Christian” as it is having a good relationship with God. Having a relationship with God should always be our motive. I am rethinking my motives in a lot of areas now. 
The third thing God really hit me hard. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” God doesn’t care what I look like; if I am overweight or tall or short. What He cares most about is what my heart looks like. I can be skinny and tall and be everything I want to be, but if my heart isn’t right, if I don’t treat people like God wants me to treat people, then I am nothing. It’s true what they say, “It’s not what’s on the outside that counts but what is on the inside. It’s time to examine my heart not my weight. 
Finally, God left me with some loving words. Psalm 139:13-17, “For you formed my inward parts;  you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” God reminded me He created me, He formed me and He loves me. He knew I would struggle with my height and weight, but He wanted me to know He loves me just the way I am. I don’t have to be different; I don’t have to try to please people, I just have to know He loves me and always will. 
So as I finish this if you are struggling with weight issues like me examine your motives, find a plan that works for you and stick with it and know God loves you just as you are. If you need to lose weight for health reasons God already knows. Ask Him to help you find a plan and stick to it. 
This can be applied to our faith as well. If you are struggling, look at your motives, find a plan that works for you and stick to it, but include God in your plan. Talk to Him about it, seek Him first and then everything will fall into place. 
When I finish I will exercise today, watch what I eat and continue on, but it won’t be so others will envy me, it will be because I want to be healthy and live a long life; this time my heart is in that statement. 
God likes me! God likes me just the way I am and He likes you too!
Dear God: I realize my motives for losing weight was all wrong. My desires were for selfish reasons. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me along this path. Help me to examine my motives in all those things I do. Help me to ask if I am doing those things for the right reason. Thank you for reminding me it’s all about who I am on the inside and not the outside. And thank you most for creating me and forming me into the person You wanted me to be. Help me to love that person and accept her as Your daughter. Help me as I lose weight not for selfish reasons, but to be healthier. Help me to grow deeper in my faith with You as I stick to my plan of having a deeper relationship with you. Amen