Attentive and All-In

Building character is a lifetime endeavor with an endless variety of beautiful attributes to consider.  To start this new year, we will focus on two traits clearly evidenced in Jesus’ life:  attentiveness and an all-in commitment!  The verses we will use as a foundation of these traits are Hebrews 2:1 and Colossians 3:23.

Hebrews 2:1.  We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Colossians 3:23.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

Hebrews was penned for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem facing persecution. The book lays out the superiority of Christ that inspires faithfulness even in the midst of suffering.

Colossians was a letter to the Christians in the city of Colosse, where false teachers were planting seeds of doubt about the deity of Christ.  Colossians expounds on the sovereignty of Christ and aids in clear focus.  Both passages, like all Scripture, benefit Christians of every age!  Let’s see how they relate to our lives today.

Being attentive–paying careful attention–to the Truths of Jesus Christ gives us strength to press on.  The Scripture speaks to being attentive to the Gospel Truths that fulfilled and built upon the Jewish teachings the believers knew so well.   The writer was calling readers to recognize that Jesus Christ offered all that they pursued in other ways before.  He is the fulfillment of all we seek as well…religion, education, careers…all pale in light of what Jesus delivers.  Being attentive to all Christ offers is key to finding and staying on course.

Attentiveness is protective as well since other Scriptures remind us that we have an enemy prowling about seeking the chance to devour us!  Learning to be attentive as a

man in blue and white long sleeve sweat shirt riding black hard tail bicycle
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

habit bears dividends in secular as well as spiritual matters.  Often-time we know what is right and take for granted that ‘knowing is enough.’  We know we need to study, to eat well, to exercise…but we don’t attentively tend to those things.

We forget that coasting only happens when one is going down-hill.  Failure to be attentive often takes us far from where we intended.  Being attentive keeps us from drifting away into areas we never planned to go.

What might God be nudging you to be more attentive to?

Being all-in is a rare thing in this age of multi-tasking!  The Book of Revelation quotes the prophet Daniel with words that speak volumes in this day:  “knowledge will increase and many will run to and fro.”  There is more to take in and more to do than any one person

Jesus hands
Freestone Willson Stephen B Whatley

can manage.  Jesus spoke to Martha with words we call need to hear:  “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” 

There are a number of ways to look at being “all-in” and as always, Jesus is the One to turn to.  Contrary to popular theology, Jesus wasn’t all in to loving on folks and healing all.  He loved and He healed because He was all-in to His father’s plan.  Jesus did everything He did because it was the will of the Father.  We need to be ‘all-in’ in the same way.  “Thy will be done” must be where our buy-in rests!  Another necessary aspect of ‘all-in’ is living fully present.  God defines Himself as the “Great I AM.”  God is present…in the moment, and we need to be as well.  

At this moment in time, are you all-in to the will of God for your life?

 

 

Journey to Abundant Living – Day 6

Our heavenly Father created this universe in six days.  We have arrived at the completion of one work week in the realm of your faith journey.  My prayer is that you have had new insights about the magnitude of the life Christ provides for those who put their faith in Him.  This journey to a life of peace, joy and purpose has been my experience for over twenty years…and every year it gets better.

Proverbs tells us that ‘all work bears profit,’ so I trust that as you have prayed and contemplated this week, God has nudged you to focus on specific areas.  He loves us exactly as we are…but He loves us too much to leave us where we are.  Use your notes, the ratings you prayerfully assigned to the four areas of life and the answers you gave to the questions to design a road-map for growth.

Press on in your journey and rejoice in what He works in and through you!  Remember you are a beloved Child of God!

Browse around this website.  In addition to several discipleship tools, there are numerous articles on the site focused on the beauties of our God and the privilege we have in being His children.  I would love to ‘chat’ with you personally.  Simply comment on an article or use the contact options scattered throughout the site.

Following are a few small booklets available as PDFs here on the site.  The books can be purchased in traditional format if you prefer.

Soul Training cover
Growing as His Disciple

Soul Training in the Barn is a great resource if you need to develop the disciplines that shore up a faith foundation.   

Joy in the Journey

Joy in the Journey offers an approach that helps readers recognize the presence of God–and find healing for hurts.

Fixing Our Eyes on God
Knowing God More

Perhaps my favorite book, though, Fixing Our Eyes on God.  This 26-week devotional examines Names of God; gazing on His beauty always transforms us.

Thank you for sharing this time with me.  I would love to hear how God has worked in your heart as you sought Him these last few days.
Continuing to join you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

Journey to Abundant Living – Day 5

Has your view of faith been challenged this week?  A faith walk is not meant to be isolated to Sundays–it is a 24-7 proposition.  It covers every aspect of life.  Today, we look at the final connection we need for abundant living.  Are you ready?  It is huge.

How is your relationship with all else that God has entrusted to you?

You have made it to Day Five.  Today, we will examine that last relationship that must be strengthened for us to enjoy the abundant life Jesus offers.  It is a big one for many reasons.  The last connection we will examine is our relationship with the blessings God provides.  Seeing and appreciating those blessings is key to enjoying His presence.

Before God created Adam and Eve, He created the world and all that is in it.  He prepared a place for humanity and entrusted it to us.  Work was not the result of the curse; it is part of the design for humanity.

Adam was charged with dressing and keeping the world God created.

All that God entrusts to us is for our use in His work.  We live in a culture that encourages us to enjoy the pleasures of life.  God is not against enjoyment!  In fact, one of the best summaries of what God desires for us is found in the Westminster Catechism:

Man’s chief end is to glorify God,
and to enjoy him for ever. 

 

Too often, we are ruled by the things we enjoy instead of ruling over what we have been given.

What gifts do you see that God has given to you?
Are you thankful for them?
In what areas do you struggle with over-indulgence of those gifts?
How well do you manage your time?  Your finances?
Are your priorities in an order you believe God approves of?
Do you have un-surrendered areas of your life or temptations that you cannot resist?
If you did not consider health issues on Day 2, this is a good place to allow them some space in your mind.  Health is a gift that we take for granted.  Are you caring for that gift?

Using the scale of 1-10, how would you rate your stewardship of the gifts God has given to you?


Until tomorrow…joining you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

Bringing Word to Life

The WORD is living…we don’t need to ‘bring it to life.’  We need to bring our lives to life by weaving the Truth into our days.  This is much more than reading a command or a promise and then seeking its fulfillment in your reality.  The Bible is literature as well as life.  Reading is a practical matter as well as a spiritual one.  As this new year opens up before us, I wanted to share some tips and incentives to help those who want to feast on the Word but have not yet found the right ‘recipe.’

Choose a translation

I have favorite translations but my favorite understanding about which is best is this:

The best translation is the one you will read.

We don’t commit to that which we cannot understand.  Are some translations more accurately aligned with the original?  Yes.  Are some translations more challenging to read?  Yes.  Is the Holy Spirit necessary in any reading?  Yes.  Find a translation that you literally can read and follow what is being said.  Use the multiplicity of online sites to explore the translations before you invest your money.  Bible Gateway  is one of my favorites.

Remember:  The Bible tells the story of God…a seamless story from Genesis to Revelation.   Before you read the Bible, pray.  Ask God to give you insight into Himself as you read.  It is HIS Story!  Look for Him in it.  Ask for His help.

Choose a version.

We live in a world that offers hundreds of versions of the Scriptures.  The first version I read through provided daily reading options.  It included selections from the Old & New Testaments, Proverbs and Psalms.  I read quickly, so that first trip through only required a 15-20 minute per day investment.  It worked well because there was variety in the reading–even when I was in a ‘begat’ passage in one section, I had other sections that kept me pressing on.

There are dozens of other versions though that emphasize various aspects of the Word:

  • chronological – pulls all of the verses pertaining to a time period together and presents His story in time order
  • historical – aligns  Bible history with secular events
  • study – provide topical assists and cross-references

Christian Book Distributors is a great resource to check these out.

Choose a plan

The real world is busy.  If we don’t make conscious choices about how we will spend our time, we still make choices.  The only way to decide to do something is to decide and do it.  Reading the Bible is no different.  Choose the plan (e.g. time and place) that you feel will work for you and get at it.

Don’t forget the options that electronics allow.  Use a Bible App and let the phone read it to you as you drive to work.  Or use an online Bible like E-Sword.   Remember:  the best Bible is the one you will use!

When you miss a day, pick back up the next day.  The calendar is not the driving force of reading through the Bible.  Determine to do it and do it….whether it takes you 365 days or 100 days or 30 days or 3000 days.  Just do it.  A plan is like a budget; it is a framework that you aim to live within.  Make adjustments as you need to.

Enjoy the Feast!

The Bible nourishes life.  As you sit down to read, enter into the reading.  Let yourself be part of the words on the page.  Imagine the feelings of the ones you read about.  Consider the sounds and the setting described.  Ask questions of the text.  I often write these things down as I go or I will lose them as I read.  It’s common for me to jot down things like “Really?” or “How could that be?”  God will meet you in the questions; He will answer them if you ask and listen to the answer.  The Word is timeless.  What was True–really TRUE–is True.  Truth is not situational or cultural; it is timeless.

An example from my time in the Word this morning might help clarify this vital piece.  I am back in Genesis.  I read this morning how Abel became a herder of sheep and Cain coaxed fruit from the ground.  It struck me:  one nurtured life and one focused on working the ground that was cursed.  My questions from that were:

  • What does it look like in my life when I nurture life?
  • What does it look like when I ‘work the cursed ground?’

When you ask questions of God, be sure to take time to listen.  He speaks quietly in our heart.  He speaks through circumstances and people.  He often says things that challenge us and require us to turn or press on beyond our comfort zone.  But He is worthy!

choose this day

 

Journey to Abundant Living – Day 4

Here we are at Day Four of the journey.  The journey to a life of peace, joy and purpose is found in Jesus Christ and lived out by us in the context of our days–and the midst of the people who populate our day!

There is an acrostic for J.O.Y.  that I love:  Jesus, Others & Yourself.  JOY is found by focusing on Jesus first, then others and finally ourselves. We have dug deeply into Jesus and Ourselves.  So, today, let’s look at the “O” of JOY: OTHERS.

How are your relationships with others? Faith was never meant to be isolated to Sundays or church-services.  It is not meant only for ourselves and the ones we love.  This is a criticalaspect of Christian living that unmasks many.  Human nature does not do what Jesus did…it does not look at those who torture it and say, “Forgive them.”

There is no way to love one’s enemies without the love of Christ within.  Examining your relationships with others will help you see where more of Christ is needed.

We live in a world of broken relationships.  Resentments, bitterness and unforgive-ness plague most every family.  Divorce is nearly as high in the Church as it is for secular couples. Hurt feelings run rampant in churches.  It ought not be.  It must not be if we are to fully enjoy the life Christ came to give us.   The beauty of the relationship we have with God is meant to be reflected in every one of our personal relationships…at home, at work, at church, in the store…everywhere.

We have a high and holy calling in this area of life.  Contrary to what we tend to think, conflicts (and the hurts that cause them) are one of the most beautiful gifts God entrusts to us.  They are the opportunity to share in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering in a very tangible way.  Christ came to reconcile us to the Father.  Those who hurt us present the very same opportunity to us:  we are to show what love really looks like!  The ministry of reconciliation is a tremendous privilege.

SO, do your relationships feel heavenly or hurtful?
Do you have people you ‘forgive’ for hurting you but that you avoid?
Do you live with the saying, “I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget.”
How do you handle your emotions?
What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of connecting with others?
Do you have pockets of resentments that need to be attended to?
Can people see the love God has for them in the way you treat others?
On that 1-10 scale we have been using, what rating would you place on your connection to others overall?
Until tomorrow…joining you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

Journey to Abundant Life – Day 3

Here we are half-way through our week.

The journey to a life of peace, joy and purpose is found in the life of Christ that dwells inside of us when we put our faith in Him.

We lose sight of the fact that we are the dwelling place of God!  We are the clay pots that hold the priceless treasure of divinity.  We fail to grasp our value and even beat up on ourselves.  It is a horrible hindrance to the life Jesus came to give us.

The Scriptures tell us that our life is now hidden in Christ.  We identify with His death–placing our natural self on the Cross and joining Him in resurrection life.  All throughout the book of Romans, Paul seeks to help us understand what side of the Cross we now live on.   We live inside of the very life of Christ.  Our failures are hidden in Him.  Grace is the air around us.

Today, the focus will be on your relationship with yourself.  It is more important than you know.  Self can get in the way by demanding its own way–or by limiting your confidence in the life of Christ within us.  Learning to love ourselves is imperative for a very important reason:  it is no longer I who lives.
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20.
The Scriptures give us two standards for loving.  An Old Testament premise was quoted by Jesus:  “Love others as you love yourself.”  For years, I saw this is a ‘divine loophole’ of sorts. Clearly many people do not care about themselves very much–and their treatment of others is in kind with their treatment of themselves.  However, the life of Jesus presented a high standard in every behavior:  Love others as I have loved you.

THAT is not a standard we can reach on our own.  The love we have is inadequate.  We must receive that love for ourselves…and then allow it to overflow.  One of the easiest ways to test where you are in this is to place yourself in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Read the passage below twice.  The first time, put the name of Jesus in the blank.  The next time put your name there.

________ is patient and kind. ________ is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. ________  does not demand its own way. ________  is not irritable, and ________  keeps no record of being wronged. ________ does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. ________  never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Reading it with Jesus’ name feels fairly easy, but putting our own name in challenges us!  Consider, though:  the life we live IS His.  This passage is how God, the Father, sees you and me.  Do you fail that standard?  Yes.  Is God mistaken in seeing you that way?  Is it your destiny?  Yes.

Emerson (among others) once wrote “Treat a man as he could be and he will become it.”  That is a vital principle in growing into the likeness of Christ.  How we love our self impacts how we live our life.

So, how do you love yourself?
How much of the love of Christ do you allow yourself to enjoy?
Do you put conditions on His love for you?
Can you see Jesus looking at you in love or do you feel judged or condemned when He looks your way?

On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate your relationship with yourself?

Until tomorrow…joining you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

Journey to Abundant Living – Day Two

Hello, again!  Yesterday, we began our journey to a life of peace, joy and purpose!  Jeremiah 29:11 reminded us that God has great plans and purposes for us.  The writer of Hebrews encouraged us to step out in faith, and we relied on the wisdom of Solomon as we sought the direction of God.  Today, we are going to explore the most important connection we can ever make.

The most important connection for every individual is the one we have with God. And there is only one way to enter the presence of God:   True connection with God cannot take place except through Jesus Christ.  Here is a beautiful song you may enjoy that shares the Truth.

THERE IS NO OTHER NAME!

Humanity, originally made in the image of God, lost its connection to life when sin was welcomed into Creation.  Sin—choosing a way other than God’s way—brought death then and does today. Human nature carries the deadly infection; Jesus Christ offers healing.  He came to restore us to connection to God, the Giver of Life.

The most memorized verse in the Bible conveys the truth so many struggle to accept.

Eternal life is something that cannot be earned.  It can only be received.  Eternal life is not the gift from God–it is the gift OF God.  He gives Himself.

The key to a life of peace, joy and purpose begins with understanding the life of Christ.  Take time today and really consider the following questions:

What do you understand about the life of Jesus?
Does your experience–the life you live–match what you understand?
How much time do you devote to your connection to God each day?
How satisfying is that connection?
What is most frustrating about it?
What one thing would improve your relationship with God?

Yesterday, we discussed that Jesus came to give us abundant life.  (John 10:10 ). Today, after considering the questions above, rate your relationship with God on a scale of 1-10.   We will be rating our CONNECTIONS throughout the week.  Keep journaling your thoughts!
Until tomorrow…joining you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

Journey to Abundant Living!

DAY ONE

Jesus died so we could live abundant lives…not a life of mere survival. Think of this Discipleship Series as “Cross-Life Coaching” –coaching to move you toward the life the Cross offers!

In the next five days, you will explore your personal faith walk and how to live in the abundance Jesus desires for you to have.  I encourage you to grab a notebook and begin jotting your thoughts down as you read these messages.

Every faith journey is unique.  Every person is designed by God to enjoy Him and express Him to the rest of the world in very personal and profound ways.

Those words were written to the people of Israel at a time when they were in captivity.  It did not ‘seem like’ prospering them was in God’s plan.  Sometimes we feel tied up and hopeless too.  It does not have to be that way…there is life in the faith of Jesus Christ.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…  (Hebrews 11:1)

And FAITH is the very work of God.  Learning to walk in faith is contrary to our nature.  It can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit.  For the next five days, a series of posts will give you glimpses of how that kind of life can be yours!

The goal of Heartsong is helping people find the abundant life Christ came to give us!  Unlike counseling where a professional teaches tools to help you produce the best life you can imagine, Discipleship focuses on the application of Truth so you can live the LIFE  of peace, joy and purpose that only Jesus offers.

Counseling helps individuals know themselves better–and how to manage life as they are designed.  Discipleship puts God first, believing He is life–and that knowing Him intimately produces abundant human life.

As a fellow traveler on the journey of life who loves living in the Spirit…loves having the life of Christ expressed through me, I am excited to share this series with you.  And I rejoice in the grace that allows imperfect humans to be His vessel!  That joy is what Cross-Life Coaching offers to all who weave the message into their life.

In the coming days, you will glimpse how abundant living works!  It is not hard.  It is not even something we do.  Like showers of rain, the Spirit of God produces the life of Christ in us.  Cross-Life Coaching offers truth that allows you to surrender to the plans and purposes of God.

CREATING CONNECTION

We are designed for connection.  There are four key relationships in our lives that must be balanced.  We will explore one each day.   At the end of the five days, you will have insights to create your own plan for moving into the life Jesus came to give you!  Christ lived for the plans and purpose of God.  We must do the same if we desire to enjoy His gift of abundant life.  We will close today focused on surrendering this process to the guidance of God.  Proverbs 3:5,6 offers us a great promise to plan from:

Until tomorrow…joining you in prayer for God to direct your faith future,

Billie Jo

 

Be sure to “Follow” this blog to stay with the series!

Advent Week 3: Silence and Song

Christmas Day is quickly coming!  We’ve spent the last two weeks focusing our thoughts on welcoming the events and people in our lives as direct gifts from God–for that is what they are.

This week, let’s concentrate on choosing only silence or song as the sound of our days.

sunset hands love woman
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Instead of chatter, meaningless words or grumbling, let’s choose to sing songs of praise.  Instead of frantic rushing about with noises in our ears and in our minds, let’s choose quietness–that we will hear and celebrate our God more fully.

We live in a noisy world….quiet is a rare commodity, seldom experienced, appreciated or even sought.  God uses it often and well!  He calls us to quiet and promises us strength.

“…Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”  Isaiah 30

When our world is not noisy, the sounds that fill our world are not songs but the buzzing of schedules and negativity.  Every day is a day the Lord has made; praise ushers us into His presence.  As Christmas Day draws closer, be intentionally about quieting listening for God or loudly praising Him!

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…and how we can receive Him and share Him with others every day!

Mon.          Luke 1:67-79       Heart Focus:  Use your words only for the praise of God

Tues.          Job 37:14              Heart Focus:  In silence consider that one day every knee                                                             will bow before Jesus Christ!

Wed.          Hebrews 2:6-8     Heart Focus:  Rightly praising God requires ALL eternity!

Thurs.        Isaiah 9:6               Heart Focus:   True fulfillment & joy is found only in Jesus.

Friday       Psalm 81:1-3           Heart Focus:  What song (or story) is in your heart that                                                                needs to be told?

Saturday     Luke 2:8-9             Heart Focus:  Divine encounters are His desire…seek Him!

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

Advent 2: He’s Still Coming!

The days before Christmas speed by as we add into our busy days the bountiful extras of the holiday season.  Last week, to start our Advent awareness, we set our hearts and minds on receiving the interruptions of God.  Trusting that the Sovereign God is involved in our days is a habitual thought we must incorporate into our lives.

This week we will focus on another precious concept:  opening our hearts to every person God brings into our lives.  God is a God of relationships–and we learn to love Him as we learn to love others!

We all know the story:  When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, the city was busy….and there was no room at the Inn.  Our hearts are the place Christ longs to live in today.  Sadly, many of us repeat the story of Bethlehem day after day.  The King of Kings found a welcome in a humble barn; His first resting place was a feeding trough.  Christ  longs to be our nourishment as well.

We receive Him when we receive those He puts into our lives.  It has been said, ‘We only love God as much as we love the one who annoys us the most.’  Let’s determine to love Him well this week!

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  Matthew 25:40

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…and how we can receive Him and share Him with others every day!

Mon.          Luke 1:44-45, 56       Heart Focus:  Speak & hear Christ’s name with joy

Tues.          Hebrews 13:1-2        Heart Focus:  Who can we open our door to today?

Wed.          Matt. 25:35-40          Heart Focus:  Seek to see the face of Christ in others

Thurs.        Proverbs 11:25        Heart Focus:   Welcome others in your life as Christ                                                                      welcomes – without pretense.

Friday        Isaiah 32:1-2             Heart Focus:  Who do you need to open the door of                                                                       forgiveness to?

Saturday     Luke 1:13,20            Heart Focus:  Quiet your heart & receive Jesus.

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

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