Unraveled

Living Life in Real Time

So, What Did Jesus Say About Priorities? January 25, 2011

At the beginning of each new year we all, with great intentions, make plans to take care of ourselves in better ways than we did the year before.  We make resolutions about eating healthier, visiting the gym on a more regular basis, keeping up with our daily Bible studies and the lists go on and on.  Often our lives skip from one urgent interruption to another.  All the while keeping us from what’s really important.  So how can we distinguish true priorities from what may appear to be a priority?  The Bible has a little to say on the subject:

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1.  Know what’s really important.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “…Seek His will in all you do and He will direct your paths.”

Putting God first is the most important thing we can do.  If all your priorities focus on doing things for yourself they are misguided.

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2.  Set Priorities

God lays out a simple plan in Deuteronomy 10:12-13  “…What does the Lord your God require of you?  He requires you to fear Him, to live according to His will, to love and worship Him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the Lord’s commands.”

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Micah 6:8 “No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Seek God’s wisdom, listen to what He tells you and be intentional about setting your priorities.  Only then will your life have its fullest meaning.

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3.  What happens when we don’t set priorities?

When we fail to set priorities we begin to doubt our next steps…  Like it says in James 1:6 “…for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

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There have been so many times I’ve felt tossed around by every word and action of others, doubtful of my next step.  While we may not know every step…and sometimes we may not even know our next step, we do know this…God is on our side.  “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31

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What priorities do you need to set for 2011?

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So, What Does Jesus Say About How Do You Use Your Time? January 18, 2011

There can be no mistake: we live in the age of living in the instant. We have instant coffee, instant replay, instant messaging – all designed to help us find instant fulfillment. There are countless products designed to speed us up and help us save those precious milliseconds. Because time is such a precious resource, the Bible cautions us to manage it well.

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The Apostle Paul makes a critical point in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:1-2 He tells them and us to “live a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle.  Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love…”

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At the end of the day we all have the same 24 hour to live our lives.  It’s in how we live those hours that the real story is told.  Am I living a life worthy of my calling?  Am I being humble?  Am I being patient?  Often I find the answer to those questions quite the opposite of what I’d like to be true.  It’s in the hectic pace of life that my story breaks down.  So I went on a search for how to prioritize my time so I could be more of what God is calling me to be.  This is a little something that was shared with me that I’m passing on to you about how to view our time and what’s really important.

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Regarding 100% of your time:

85% of what you do anyone can do…sending an email, attending a meeting, etc…

10% of what you do someone with a little training could do…teach a study, lead a meeting, etc…

5% of what you do only you can do.  Only you can be a companion to your spouse. Only you can be a parent to your kids.  Only you can exercise your body.  Only you can keep yourself spiritually fit and engage in activities that bring you closer to God.  Only you can choose to enjoy life in community with others.  On these points there is no delegating.

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That means that 95% of the time someone else can do the same things you’re doing! When I saw that I was shocked and it put a lot of things into perspective.  Now when I’m doing a particular activity I ask myself…“Is this part of the 85% that others can do?” “Is this part of the 10% that I need to train someone to do?” When you begin to think through your day with those details in mind it frees up a lot of time to pay attention to the things that are most important…and I might find myself being a little more patient in the process:)

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How do you use the 5% of your life that influences the other 95%?

 

Straight To My Wandering Heart! November 4, 2010

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I grew up old school with lots of those hold beautiful hymns that are a full sermon in and of themselves.  When you listen to the words and what they are saying…it’s amazing.  They are what keep me grounded when life comes at me full force.  Just the other day I was sitting in a service where one of my favorites was on the schedule and as I sang I was overcome with the truth of God’s grace.

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Listen for yourself…Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing by Chris Rice @Napster

When it came to the phrase where it says….

“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”

I found myself in tears as I really listened to what the author was saying.

Daily I’m in need of Your grace.  God, in your goodness and love for me take my wandering heart and bind it to You.  My second nature is to wander and to look to other things and get distracted from the things that I know You have for me.  I feel it.  Face down before You,  I offer myself…again.  Take me and use me for what YOU have planned.

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I’m quite sure the people in my row thought I was having a breakdown. Maybe they hadn’t heard what I heard…then again maybe I just needed it more.  I found myself humbly bowing before my Lord.  Why is it that my heart wanders so?  I don’t want a wandering heart, but it is so prone to go there.  In my study this morning I found these words “Walk peacefully with Me through this day.  You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you.  When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you.  Trust that I know what I’m doing and be ready to follow My lead.”

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“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

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I love seeing these old hymns in new ways. 

What are your thoughts?

Would you like to see more devotions like this?

 

When I Am Weak… September 24, 2010

I found myself riveted to the television…not because of the political nature of the topic, not because of the controversial aftermath of her ordeal, but because of the courage it took to just stay alive.  So, this week I’m bringing you my best straight from the Oprah show.

Ingrid Betancourt was a candidate for the Colombian presidency.  Who, on a political stop, was captured and held as prisoner in the Colombian jungle, tied to a tree, sleeping on the ground…  Then, after six years of captivity, was rescued by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

What struck me didn’t have anything to do with politics, didn’t have anything to do with if she was right or wrong in her motives.  It was instead the raw courage it took to survive. I know…we all like embedded videos, but it wasn’t available.

My best this week is here in a clip from the show!

My best comes at 1:36 into the clip where Ingrid begins to talk about her church.  At one point in the interview she mentions that before this experience she really had little use for God and thought Him quite a bore.  But throughout her captivity she opens up about how God becomes real.  I think that’s the point for many of us.  When things are going well we may give God the silent nod just to let Him know He can have the day off…and then carry on our way.

Then it’s in those places where we are met with turmoil that we find ourselves hungrily seeking Him.  We find ourselves destitute except for His mercy and grace.

My favorite quote from her video as she is talking about Paul and his message to the Romans was this:

“The more fragile he was the more stronger he was”

She’s referring to 2 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul is begging God to take him out of the place he is in.  I believe we all do that.  Please God…just help me get through this….  Please God…I can’t go on….  Please God….if you love me….

And yet the message God sends is this “I am enough…I am sufficient”

If not for our trials, we wouldn’t see His strength.  Like Ingrid said….the more fragile we are, then the stronger we are.  Not because we are strong in an of ourselves, but because the only place we have left to go is straight into the outstretched arms of God.  And it’s His strength that is perfected in our weakness.

When I take a really good look at my life, I’ve nothing but to be joyful…even in the trials.  Because when I am weak…well…you know the rest!

So…how has this changed how you look at your day?

 

So, What Did Jesus Say About Building Character February 25, 2010

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Did you know that God uses a very predictable process to build your character?  You can call this process “The Six Phases of Faith.”  If you don’t understand this process, you’ll get discouraged when problems arise.  you’ll wonder “Why is this happening to me?”  But, if you understand and cooperate with what God is doing in your life, your faith – like a muscle that is stretched, will develop great strength.

Phase 1 – A Dream

God gives you a dream…an idea, goal or ambition.  Every great accomplishment first began as a God-given dream in someone’s mind.

“God is able to do far more than we would ever dar to ask or even dream of…infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.”  Ephesians 3:20

Phase 2 – A Decision

A dream is worthless until you decide to do something with it.  For every 10 dreamers there is only one decision maker.  This is the moment of truth where you decide to invest your time, money, energy and reputation and let go of security.  If you want to walk on water…you know the rest!

“You must believe and not doubt…a double minded man in unstable in all he does.”  James 1: 6 & 8

Phase 3 – Delay

There is ALWAYS a time lapse before your dream becomes a reality!  God uses this waiting period to teach us to trust Him.  Remember that a delay is not a denial.  Maturity is understanding the difference between “no” and “not yet.”  God says:

“Thesee things I plan won’t happen right away.  Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass.  Just be patient!  They will not be overdue a single day.”  Habakkuk 2:3

Phase 4 – Difficulty

Now the problems start popping up.  The two most common types:  Critics & Circumstances  Don’t worry.  It’s all a part of God’s plan.

“At the present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trials.  This is no accident, it happens to prove your faith, which is infinitely more valuable than gold.”  1 Peter 1:6 & 7

Phase 5 – Dead End!

Your situation will deteriorate from difficult to IMPOSSIBLE!  you are backed into a corner, you reach the end of your rope, and it looks hopeless.  Congratulations!  Youa re on the edge of a miracle!  Trust God.

“At the time we were completely overwhelmed…in fact we told ourselves that this was the end.  Yet, we now believe we had this sense of impending disaster so that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God.”  II Corinthians 1:8 & 9


Phase 6 – Deliverance!

God provides a supernatural answer.  Miraculously, things fall into place!  God loves to turn disasters into miracles so you can see His greatness.

“I expect the Lord to deliver me once again so I will see His goodness to me.”  Psalm 27:13

 

So, What did Jesus say about Communion? December 17, 2009

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Over and over again the Bible tells us to remember what God has done.  I think this is because when we remember what God has done we are more apt to do what He would do.

On our final week of our semester I thought it would be fitting to take some time to remember what God has done for us and our spiritual journey this semester.

A.W. Tozer gives us a wonderful perspective on God’s total forgiveness and acceptance of us.  While I read this segment, allow yourself to be overwhelmed with gratitude that we have a God where there is no pettiness, no drama, no gossip, no manipulation.  In God we find only pure, unblemished, amazing love.

“How unutterable sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely.  No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away fro us, since He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us.”  AW Tozer

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread and broke it.  He thanked God as He said this to His disciples…

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

On that same night, Jesus lifted His cup of wine, thanked His Father and said…

“This is my blood, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of your sins; a token of the new and everlasting covenant.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:17-20

Even though His betrayal was in motion, Jesus still served communion.  He reclined at the table in the presence of His enemy.  Jesus knew that in a few short hours He would face rejection, torture and execution.  And with the longing and passion of His humble heart, He looked forward to getting His disciples together around the table for the sake of communion.

On each of your chairs there is a napkin.  Each of us have done things that we aren’t proud of.  At times we are more bent toward pettiness than we are the things of Christ.

  • Write in the center of the napkin the one thing that you think is standing in the way of the relationship that you want with God.
  • Write down the one fear that keeps you up at night.
  • Maybe it’s a persons name that you’re in conflict with and can’t seem to find a way out.

Before His followers had a chance to be traumatized by the devil’s evil schemes, Jesus put a flag in the ground.  In so many words He said to them “Remember this…Remember Me.” Remember that the enemy didn’t take my like, but I freely gave it.  Remember that once your badness disqualified you from Heaven’s greatness, the Father’s goodness has saved you.  This is the new covenant.  Remember that though I am well aware of what lies ahead for me on the cross, My deepest desire is to be with you.  To break bread with you, and remind you that My promises are true.  Though schemes are being devised behind My back, I want you…My beloved…to see My face!

As we read again from Luke we are going to serve each other in this communion experience.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread and broke it.  He thanked God as He said this to His disciples…

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

As you pass the bread to your neighbor retell them this truth and repeat

“This is Christ’s body broken for you…”

On that same night, Jesus lifted His cup of wine, thanked His Father and said…

“This is my blood, poured out for you, for the forgiveness of your sins; a token of the new and everlasting covenant.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:17-20

As you pass the juice to your neighbor retell them this truth and repeat

“This is Christ’s blood, shed for you…”

As if that night was one seamless Kingly piece of fabric, Jesus served, loved and in the middle of a plan against His life, He reminded us to remember Him.

Outside the soldiers were receiving their orders to find and capture a rebel.  Inside, the King of the universe was preparing to go to the Cross.  Empty accusations.  Kingdom response!

Now, take your napkin with your message on the inside.  Put your finger on the spot where you have your words written, now take this and place it in your empty cup.  Now unfold your napkin.  This is how Christ sees our hurts.  He has covered them with His blood.  There is nothing we can do our say that takes us out of His love.  His love covers us.

For today we step away from our imagined rights and simply remember Him.  When we take communion, we must seriously consider what lives in our heart and what fuels our motivations.  As we begin to understand more and more the unexplainable wonder of His love, we’ll want to go to Him first about everything that troubles us.  And when we talk with Him first we find refreshment.

It’s been a blessing sharing with you this semester.  Have a wonderful class wrap-up and a Christ-filled Christmas.  We’ll see you for our next semester in February.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody



 

So, What did Jesus say about Managing Stress? December 1, 2009

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It’s December 1 and have just finished the marathon of Thanksgiving visits and heading into a new month with a calendar that’s already full of holiday get-togethers, school programs and church services.  I have one of those calendars that shows you the whole month at one time…and I’m seeing only a day here and there that doesn’t have some type of commitment already penciled in…and it’s only December 1 – I’ve got 30 days left to go!

Life sometimes causes us to feel like a rubber band that is stretched tight.  Pressures build up and pull us in different directions.  Trying to do too much with too little time stretches us beyond our capacity.

This got me to thinking on what I wanted to share with you this week.  From time to time I’ve been known to Twitter and Facebook about Top 10 Lists for how to “survive” something.  In fact just last week I wrote a top 10 on how to “survive Thanksgiving with your family.”  Most of the time these lists are full of fun and really not all that serious…but they do get you laughing.

Looking at my calendar filled with a lengthy “to do” list didn’t have me laughing this morning.  So I thought “I need a Top 10 list for how to survive Christmas.”    In keeping with my themes for these devotionals I couldn’t really see Jesus saying something like …”Let me tell you what I have to say about surviving my birthday.”  But I do think that Jesus has a lot to say indeed about how to manage stress and get really good at understanding what “energy leaks” can take you out of the holiday and divert your focus from what’s most important.

I know I have limited energy, but Jesus had tremendous energy…and He knew how to direct it.  He was clear about His mission and he avoided many real and potential energy leaks.  This reminds me of a story that we talked about two weeks ago in our Uncommon woman study.  The story is in Luke 8:43 where Jesus went out into the crowd and a woman reached out and grabbed His clothes.  Now keep in mind that He is in the middle of a crowd and people are bumping into people everywhere.  In fact one of His disciples said something like….”what do you mean…everybody is touching you.”  But Jesus was so aware of His energy He noticed a difference.  Do you remember who touched Him?  It was a woman who was looking for healing, and she was healed because of her faith. What I want you to remember from this story is more about Jesus’ response.

He was so keenly aware of his emotional resources that He knew immediately that something was different.

Then I got to thinking…“Am I that keenly aware of my emotional resources that I would know when stress is taking it’s toll and my emotional tank is running low?” More than likely I’d only become aware when I found myself on empty and stranded on the side of the road.

So, what did Jesus have to say about stress and managing those things that suck the energy from our lives…especially coming into the Christmas season?

Make a Plan

God had a plan and we see it as early as Genesis in Chapter 45:4-8 where we see Joseph talking to his brothers when it all came down in Egypt  “…But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it.  He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives….” Clearly Joseph figured out how to deal with his family, and he knew that God already had a plan–there couldn’t be a more perfect example as we head into the Holiday season.

  1. Do you always have a conflict with your spouse about whose family to see, or a conflict with the family once you all get together?
  2. Do you end up working on your holiday card list up until the last moment, agonizing over what to write, or trying to weigh whether you should send them late or at all?
  3. Do you end up spending too much?

If you can make specific plans to better handle these situations, you’ll be less stressed when you face them.

Just Say No

The whole essence of Jesus’ being seemed to be about saying Yes.  And at the same time Jesus knew the value of saying “No.”    He said no to His mother when we was trying to interrupt His teaching in the temple.  He said no to temptation in the wilderness.    So before you say “I just can’t say ‘NO’ to my kids, my neighbor, my MOM…remember that even Jesus said NO.

  1. Cut out unnecessary activities. That means anything that doesn’t provide an emotional payoff that far outweighs its hassle should be crossed off the calendar.
  2. You don’t need to try every activity offered, go to every party thrown, or do everything the ‘Martha Stewart’ way in order to make your holiday special.
  3. Really enjoying the things that you do end up doing is what will make the holiday something you’ll want to remember.

Simplify

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came that we might enjoy life in abundance, to the full, until it overflows. Therefore, if we aren’t enjoying each day, especially the celebration of His birthday, we must be doing something wrong.

We’ll finish with some very practical steps for your everyday day:

  1. The best gifts are the simple ones… If you’re worried about getting the perfect gift for that special someone, but the thought of battling through all the holiday traffic, spending hours finding a parking place, then walking miles through a crowded mall seems too overwhelming for you, then remember that sometimes the best gift is a simple one.
  2. Planned “Escape Time”….If the thought of a party, family gathering, or other “mandatory” social event leaves you knotted up with anxiety, plan ahead for some “escape time” for yourself.  The bathroom makes a great escape for those times when you just need to get away and regroup.
  3. Take a Vacation from Family….Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I need a vacation! Not days spent with those people!”? If the family or friends that you are spending the holidays with are going to or already are causing you more stress than you can handle, then reconsider whether spending time with them is really the best choice you could make right now.
  4. Create your own traditions…Forget those centuries-old traditions and create some new traditions of your own. If planning that ginormous Christmas feast is stressing you out…have a Christmas pizza. Instead of working your fingers to the bones baking and cleaning, stay up late watching a favorite movie.  You get the idea.
  5. Get plenty of sleep. Whether you are spending the holidays rushing around doing all of your usual things or planning ahead for what to do with your alone time, sleep is essential. Schedule in your sleep time first when you plan out your day. If you are too tired to think straight, you cannot get anything done efficiently and perhaps not even done at all.
  6. The number one rule for surviving the holidays is remembering that you can always say “No” and you can always do things more simply, even if that isn’t the way it’s always been done in the past.

Back to where we began….Life sometimes causes us to feel like a rubber band that is stretched tight.  Pressures build up and pull us in different directions.  Trying to do too much with too little time stretches us beyond our capacity.

Let your rubber band be a reminder to you about what Jesus said about stress and how you can manage the energy leaks in your life.  That’s all for today.

If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.

Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.

Have a great week!

Jody