Author Archives: Paula Davis

An Attitude of Thanksgiving

Sometimes when I look back to my pre-teen and teenage years I wonder how my parents made it through with two girls a little more than two years apart in age. My sister and I are opposites in many ways but one thing we shared in those years was a dislike for helping out around the house and especially emptying the dishwasher. I chuckle to myself about it now since it generally takes less than 10 minutes to put a full load of dishes away and we were only delegated to each empty one rack! Oh the complaining and the arguments over who had to empty the bottom rack (that is where the silverware is after all, thus creating MORE work!)

I don’t know how many times one of us was told “you’d better change your attitude!”

Luke 6:45 tells us:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Have you noticed the difference in what comes out of your mouth when you are stressed compared to when you are relaxed and having a good time? When we are under a great deal of stress (external or internal) we often choose to concentrate on the negative instead of the positive. Soon the negative will affect our attitude and without even realizing they slip out of our mouths.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 charges us

Rejoice always,

pray continually,

give thanks in all circumstances

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

WHAT?

This is a big order to be dished up for us! After all, we all have troubles and times when things aren’t really going so well. And God’s word says we are to give thanks?

Notice the verse doesn’t say to give thanks about all circumstances but in all circumstances.

I think it all comes down to attitude.

GAGood1

When the attitude of our heart is one of thankfulness to God for what we have and His grace and faithfulness to us it is easier to give thanks even when things are not going well around us.

As Thanksgiving approaches we focus more on being thankful. That is a good thing. But what about 3 weeks from today? Thanksgiving Day will have passed and many will be recovering from Black Friday shopping. The Christmas season will officially be in full-swing. The stress will increase and it will be more difficult to give thanks.

It is said that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 21 days to break a habit.

We have just that – 21 days!

Let’s spend part of each of the coming days giving thanks and asking God to help us change our attitudes to one of being thankful in ALL circumstances. Over these 3 weeks we will certainly see a change in our hearts, minds and actions! We will have a habit of thanks which will become an attitude of thanks.

Don’t think of it as a chore but as an opportunity.

Attitudes are catchy. Make it your goal to spread an attitude of thanks.

blessings & peace…and thankfulness for all of you!
Paula

Choose Thanks

It’s November 1st and now that Halloween is behind us many have moved on to Christmas. Radio stations have started playing Christmas carols and Christmas movies and specials are playing on TV. I have heard that some people are putting up their Christmas trees and other decorations now that November is here.

I love Christmas. I love everything about it (except the push of buying more, more, more). I started my Christmas shopping months ago and have begun making Christmas gifts. BUT  I fear in the excitement of Christmas only a few weeks away we will overlook the season of thanks that comes with Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving TreeAs the years go by I realize how blessed I am.

Life has its challenges, but is also filled with so many good things.

Too often I forget to look at my day through eyes of thanks. Our culture seems to push our focus towards the negative. It makes it easy to see what’s wrong with life (and people) and harder to see what is good. When I focus on being grateful instead of critical I find more peace in my puzzle of life.

So….

For the month of November I’m going to choose thanks. Each day I’m going to share something I’m thankful for through a photo or thought.

I’m also going to make a point to thank someone for what they do and/or their impact on my life.   Thank you bubbleI invite you to join me! On Facebook or Instagram let’s use #choosethanks to connect with others who are sharing things for which they are thankful.

I know this is not an original thought or activity. But the more we can flood our environment with positive, thankful thoughts and images the more we will be encouraged and perhaps encourage others to live a life of gratitude.

Will you Choose Thanks with me this November?

 

blessings and peace…and thanks for all of you!
Paula

A List of Consequences

Newton’s third law of motion states:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

He was, of course talking about physics and forces; the push-pull concept. What goes up must come down.

summer 2

When humans are involved the reaction is not always equal. Sometimes we feel the consequence for action is too severe. Other times our reaction to the actions of someone else is extreme. When emotions get involved our instantaneous  reactions can be so severe we wish we could take them back. We even find consequences to our reactions!

However, consequences are not always bad.

In the gospels we find a list of consequences in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount:

1. When we are poor in spirit,
   we gain the kingdom of heaven.

As we become more interested in holiness – in what the Holy Spirit desires for us we will be rewarded with eternity in God’s perfect Heaven.

2. When we mourn,
   we will be comforted.

God’s heart breaks for us when we mourn. Not only when bad things happen in our lives, but when we mourn over our wrong attitudes and actions, or when we mourn for others’ misfortune and a world that doesn’t know the love of God. He will comfort us and strengthen us to go on and shows us how we can make a difference in our world.

 3. When we are meek,
    we will inherit the earth.

Our society would have us believe that the strongest and most forceful people are the most influential and will go the farthest in this world. That is the opposite of God’s plan. As we follow Jesus’ example of being meek and putting the needs of others ahead of our own desires we will gain influence that money can’t buy not only in God’s kingdom but here on earth as well.

 4. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   we will be filled.

It is the desire of God’s heart for us to be like Him. When we desire honesty, integrity and goodness we will be filled with blessings beyond measure. As it says in Luke 6:38:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

5. When we are merciful,
    we will be shown mercy.

Our human tendencies are to treat others the way we are treated – to do unto others the way they do to us. But God’s kingdom is the opposite of this. Matthew 7:12 tells us:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…

Showing mercy, not retaliation is God’s desire for us. As we show mercy to others we will be shown mercy and goodness in return.

6. When we are pure in heart,
   we will see God.

Ah to be pure in heart all the time. I long to never think the wrong think or act or speak badly towards anyone. While that is my desire sin gets in the way. But when the desire of our hearts is to be pure and when we come before the Lord with confession, repentance and crave His will in our lives we will see all that He has for us and will be rewarded with a glimpse of His kingdom.

7. When we act as peacemakers,
    we will be called children of God.

Holding our tongues, allowing someone else to have their way, being the neutral buffer in the middle of a disagreement – all of these things help keep the peace. People will notice when we are peaceful in the middle of a tumultuous world and ask us about our actions. Then we can point others to God, our Father and perhaps see them become children of God as well.

8. When we are persecuted because of righteousness,
    we are given the kingdom of heaven.

No one likes to be made fun of for being different. When we act righteous in a world where people revel in sinful ways we most likely will be. In extreme cases persecution may even lead to death. We may not see the reward for living right here on earth but one day will be given the reward of the kingdom of Heaven.

This is a tall order, a list we cannot achieve on our own. But through the Spirit of God and His power we will see glimpses of perfection and the consequences will always be positive!

Blessings and peace to you,
Paula

 

Simple Faith

 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

 

I don’t know about you, but I often make faith too complicated!

In a recent post we talked about feeling far away from God and how going back to the basics can often bring us closer to Him. Seeing the little things all around us that we often take for granted can refresh our relationship with Him. You can read the complete post here:  http://pauladavispeace.com/2014/07/20/feeling-far-away/

Returning to the simplicity of childhood can also have us rethinking how we approach our faith.

I heard a story of two little girls whose great-grandfather died unexpectedly. They were very sad that they didn’t get a chance to say, “good-bye” to him and tell him they loved him. Since they had faith their great-grandfather was in Heaven with Jesus they asked their grandmother if they could send him a message. The grandmother got a couple of balloons, wrote notes on them and the girls released them to float up to Heaven. These little ones had faith that their messages would be delivered and they were at peace. The reality that scientifically there is no way the balloons could have reached their intended destination did not diminish their faith and thankfully someone loved them enough to not squelch that simple faith by reality that didn’t really matter at that moment.

hand balloon

“Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
Blaise Pascal

These girls didn’t need proof to believe. Their faith was enough.

How often do we allow our faith to be complicated by our environment and past experiences?

Maybe it’s different for you, but somewhere along the way through life I stopped believing that God can do ANYTHING. I like to think I believe it but when looking at seemingly impossible situations I find myself doubting more than believing. I look at the environment and circumstances around me instead of relying on simple faith.

Now, I’m not suggesting simple faith is easy but rather straightforward and uncomplicated.

 “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”
Andrew Murray

Some say those with simple faith see life through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. Often ridiculed, even from other Christians because they aren’t trying to figure everything out for themselves when in reality we see them living a more uncomplicated and less stressful life. Simple faith Expects from God the answers to questions we can’t answer ourselves and leaves them in His hand until the answer is received. Simple faith reaches out to Jesus as the woman subject to bleeding for 12 years knew that just a touch  from Him would heal her (Matthew 9:20-21) and believing it for our own circumstances.

Simple faith is getting out of God’s way.  It doesn’t put restrictions on God and His abilities or allow environment and circumstances to negate His power. It doesn’t think, only believes. Then stands back and watches God do amazing things.

I’m working on making my faith less complicated and returning to the simple faith I had as a child. I’m trying more and more to be aware of the voices in my head that negate the power God could have if I would only believe.

And I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
    He hears their cry and saves them.  Psalm 145:19

Do you know the freedom and blessings of a simple faith? Will you share them with us?

If your faith like mine tends to be too complicated, will you join me in returning to the simple faith God desires to have?

I look forward to hearing the wonderful results you see as well!

 

Blessings & peace to you as you continue on your journey of faith…
Paula

Truth or…

There was a game show on TV when I was young named “Truth or Consequences”. The premise of the show was that contestants had to answer a question (usually trivia that no one would really know) or face the consequence, which was some embarrassing and entertaining stunt. Many episodes had people reunited with friends or family they had not seen in years.

 

I got to thinking about this show when I saw a quote the other day.

Between Ears

How much of what goes on in our brains is ramblings about ourselves and others that are not grounded in truth?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.        
                                                                   2 Corinthians 10:5

 

Scripture tells us to take EVERY thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. This verse can certainly be applied to our sinfulness and thoughts that are not pleasing to God. We can also take it a step further and realize that our thoughts should always be based in truth.

 

For example, while getting dressed in the morning I often take a look in the full-length mirror and immediately see things about my body that I don’t like. There is nothing wrong with the observation, it’s what I do with it that makes a difference in the rest of my day, and what I do about what I don’t like.

 

If I force myself to concentrate on the truth about my body I will remember that Psalm 139 tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that God’s works are wonderful. (v. 14) Therefore the truth is that while my body isn’t all that God (or I) desire it to be it is healthy and created by a wonderful God. I have the use of all 5 senses and the ability to fully use my arms and legs. There is also truth for me that I have not been obedient in keeping my body healthy and I have a responsibility to change that. BUT that does not make me any less valuable to God or in society.

 

Another area where I struggle with keeping the truth in my brain is when I don’t think I meet up to expectations. I begin to talk down to myself because I didn’t complete a task well enough or I perceive I have let someone down. This is an area that can bring on a downward spiral so quickly and the enemy looks forward to it.

 

It is important to recognize the truth in a situation like this and consider how my emotions are perhaps a part of the situation. Some questions I am learning to ask myself are:

1. Did I set my expectations of myself too high?
Most of the time I expect perfection of myself, or set my goals at a level that is realistic for someone else but not necessarily for me. If the truth is that the expectations were realistic I need to examine what I should have done differently, face up to any consequences and forgive myself, moving forward instead of staying stuck in beating myself up.

2. Did I truly let someone down or were there perceptions of my performance different from my own?
It can be so easy to think you know what someone expects from you without knowing the truth. I find that many times someone else is pleased with the job I did when I can only see how I could have done it better. Knowing the truth of expectations and perceptions can keep relationships healthy and our thoughts in check.

3. What does scripture say about this situation?
Whatever we do and think should always come back to the truth of scripture. If we aren’t sure of God’s expectations we should search scripture to find the truth. Sometimes a trusted friend or adviser can give us insight we can’t find for ourselves.

 

If I had to choose one scripture as the key to keeping the space between our ears healthy it would be this one:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

My heart’s desire is to not only hide this scripture in my heart but to learn it well enough that it is on the tip of my tongue and forefront in my mind as the enemy tries to lie to me and get inside my head.

I’m praying for you today that the truth would be in your mind and heart and that God’s truth would set you free today!

 

Blessings & Peace to you!
Paula

 

 

Selfies

Posted on

self·ie

noun \ˈsel-fē\

:  an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.
We are a self-absorbed people. Everywhere we look or listen things are geared to our selfish desires.
For example, one chain restaurant has a jingle that encourages us to have “breakfast just the way I say”.
Years ago, a fast-food restaurant set itself apart by telling us to “have it your way”. No longer did we have to conform to ordering a standard sandwich but could choose our toppings at the drive-through.
And selfies have become a way of sharing where we are, what we are feeling, something new about ourselves, or just to say, “Hi – I’m still here!”
I’m not against selfies. I’ve taken a few, although I’m not very good at it. (there seems to be a talent to taking selfies that I don’t have)
selfies
It just got me to thinking. If we are always focused on taking the right photos of ourselves to share on social media could we be missing an opportunity to share something in our surroundings that might positively impact others or inspire them to look at their world differently?
As I pondered all of this I also realized that being focused on ourselves is not a new thing.
From the very beginning when Eve chose to eat the fruit that God instructed them to leave alone we have given up potential blessings because we do not look past the moment and our own desires.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.     Genesis 3:6
The next verse tells that when they ate the fruit their eyes were opened and they realized they were naked. When they heard the Lord walking in the garden as He did with them each day they were frightened and tried to hide from the One they loved. By choosing what looked good to them at that moment and craving instant satisfaction from the food that didn’t last Eve and Adam were cast from the garden and faced consequences of pain, suffering and hard work the rest of their lives.

The Israelites are another example of selfishness that led to suffering. They grumbled  & complained on the way to the land God had promised them, thinking only of their present state and what they were lacking instead of the blessings God had for them at the end of the journey.

For forty years I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”  Psalm 95:10-11
The journey that should have taken 11 days (see Deuteronomy 1:2) took them over 40 years and only two of the people who were promised that land lived to reap the blessings God had for them there. Only Joshua and Caleb thought more about following God than their own desires and were the only two whom God allowed to cross into the land.
As Christians we are called to die to self.
I don’t think this means God denies us pleasure in things that we enjoy but rather that our focus should be on His desires for our lives and showing His love to others. By focusing outwardly on God’s creation or the good qualities in others our perspective changes. We are more open to God’s leading instead of being led astray by instant gratification.
Paul pointed out how easily we can be swayed in one of his letters to the Corinthians:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,
your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3
Sharing our lives with others helps us keep in touch and can be inspiring. We can encourage others by our accomplishments and help change their perspective on their own abilities and challenges. It is when we focus more on ourselves than our devotion to Christ that we risk running into trouble and possibly miss the blessings God has for us.
As this weekend begins I’m going to work on focusing outward and less on myself. Will you join me?
Blessings and peace to you…
Paula

PRAY in Writing?

Posted on

Do you keep a prayer journal?

Perhaps the term journal is too intimidating. We can call it a notebook, or even a list if you like.

However it is referred to, keeping a record of prayers can benefit you now and in the future.

But what is a prayer journal and how do we use it?

Each person is different in their style of recording. Some who journal every day mix prayers into our daily written visits with God. Some keep a spiritual journal that is separate from a prayer journal. Others keep a notebook that is a list of needs, wants, names and dates.

Since this is your prayer notebook YOU decide what it looks like. Make it as simple or complex as you like only be sure it has two key components.

A prayer request with a date and a space to record the date the prayer was answered.

That’s it!

You can write more if you want but these two pieces are important.

DSC04852

Those who have kept prayer journals can share with you many benefits. Here are four to consider:

A prayer journal:

Preserves

Just as scrapbooks of photos and clippings of our lives preserve memories and remind us of our history, a prayer notebook preserves a history of our spiritual lives and a pattern of growth through the years. When we go back to our older journals we see where we used to be and how far God has brought us. We may see a change in focus as praying for ourselves and our wants matures into prayers for others and God’s guidance.

Reminds

As we record our hopes, dreams, plans and concerns for ourselves and others in our journal we are reminded that we are not alone in our walk with the Lord. Recording the needs of others as we pray for them reminds us both that we walk with other believers who share similar struggles and that our lives intertwine with unbelievers who need our prayers as well.

Keeping this record also reminds us to follow-up on requests and record how God has answered. We are reminded to never give up praying for others just as Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth.

Assures

A prayer journal assures us that there is nothing too big or too small for God to care about. Reflecting on our prayers and answers over time reinforces God’s faithfulness to us. He hears the prayers of those who are faithful to Him and loves to pour blessings out on His people. At times when we doubt we can look back and assure us of His goodness.

Yields

Recording our prayers and their answers yields growth and takes us deeper in our relationship with the Lord. As we watch God answer prayer after prayer we doubt less, believe more and walk closer to Him.

DSC04969

 

So I ask you again: Do you keep a prayer journal/notebook?

If so, would you share ways it has impacted your spiritual life?

If not, would you consider giving it a try for a few weeks?

Don’t be intimidated, just start writing down what’s in your heart and the needs around you.

 

Blessings & Peace to you as you seek the Lord in prayer.
Paula

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 359 other followers