Friday, July 18, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on "Noble Deeds"

"But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands." (Isaiah 32:8 NIV)

This verse hit me while I was doing devotions on Monday morning and it has come back to haunt me many times as I've gone about my week. I haven't checked it out in all of the commentaries to see what the scholars say about it, but I've felt the Holy Spirit teaching me something important as I've thought about it over the last few days.

Noble is a lofty word. We think of nobility, don't we? Kings, leaders, important people. When I saw it three times in this verse, I had to go back and reread it several times. Of course, I think it applies to noble women as well as men, and I think we can all aspire to be noble. We don't have to be a world leader or a king or queen in order to appreciate being noble.

Think of it as honorable, worthy, admirable and it becomes a word we can all relate to a little more.

What struck me about this verse was the fact that we can all make noble plans, but it's the noble deeds that actually get us where we want to go and keep us standing.

Applying that to my own life, I can see so many areas where I make big, noble plans, but I don't follow through with the noble deeds that will accomplish those plans.

I want to encourage and help others with a blog post every Friday (a somewhat "noble plan") but I wait until ten or eleven p.m. each week to write the post. Doing the "noble deed" of writing earlier in the week would get the post done before Friday.

This summer I've been making "noble plans" for my Spanish classroom this fall. I'm looking at lots of websites for Spanish teachers, reading resources on teaching foreign languages, and dreaming about being the best language teacher I can be. I've also been stressing about not being ready by August 20. I need to start doing "noble deeds" like making good lesson plans and getting those first few weeks ready so that I can begin confidently and be effective.

I have "noble plans" to lose a few extra pounds, but so far I haven't been willing to do the "noble deeds" that will help me to accomplish that goal. I keep snacking on junk food, drinking too much pop, and not exercising enough to burn those extra calories.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there. Let's just say that my focus has shifted a bit in the last week or so. It used to be on all of my "noble plans" but now it is moving to the "noble deeds" that need to happen before my plans can become reality.

I'm praying that I can ask God to help me be willing to do more of those "noble deeds" and that He'll show me which ones I need to concentrate on so that I can accomplish His plans for me.

Have you been making noble plans in your life? Are you doing the noble deeds that will make those plans happen? Are you asking God if your plans line up with His plans for you?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Life

Earlier this evening Gary and I went up to the fairgrounds and spent some time at the Butler County Relay for Life event. It was wonderful to see so many people come out to celebrate surviving cancer, or remember someone they lost to cancer, and mostly, to raise money for research so that many people in the future can be cured of cancer.

It seems like almost everyone's life has been touched by cancer in some way. What a terrible disease! Family members have had scares with it, Gary's dad died of prostate cancer, my aunt is finishing up radiation treatments for breast cancer, and I can think of so many friends and community members who have had to go through a long struggle with cancer and all of the rough stuff that comes with it.

As I write, I'm not even sure what to say. I guess I just want to acknowledge that there are many people who are doing so much good for cancer research and it really is making a difference. Many people are getting screened for different types of cancers, and when it is found early it can often be cured.

Walking around the track at Relay for Life was very sobering for me. I recognized names on many of the luminaries. Some were "In Honor of" someone, but so many more were "In Memory of" someone. I knew some of those names, too, and it was sad to remember losing them.

Back home again, I've been thinking of friends who have lost a loved one to cancer and my heart hurts for them. I want to do better at reaching out while someone is going through a terrible time like that, instead of just thinking about them and saying a little prayer. I want to be better about sending cards and offering to help in some way.

Even more than that, I want to appreciate life more. Seeing lots of people at Relay for Life wearing purple "Survivor" shirts was inspiring. They took a lap around the track together and there was something special about the fact that they are still here. I take my life for granted so often and, to be honest, I whine about how hard it is. Truth is, it's not that hard. I make it hard when I focus on the piddly little problems I have. I make it hard when I choose to not be thankful for my family, my health, and all of the blessings I have in life. I make it hard when my focus is all on me, instead of on the God who is right beside me through each and every thing going on in my life.

Let's focus on Him, and be grateful for life today.

"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b NIV)

Do you ever take life for granted? How can you change your focus so that you can once again realize how precious life really is?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Freedom

On this Fourth of July, hopefully we've all had a chance to think about the great freedoms we have in this country. I know that I take those freedoms for granted almost daily. Once in a while I have a deeper appreciation for those freedoms when I hear about some injustice on the news, but I really don't give my freedom very much thought on a daily basis.

Don't we do that on a spiritual level as well? Christ died on the cross so that we can have freedom. Freedom from sin. We either take it for granted or we forget about that freedom and live a life enslaved to certain sins that we can't seem to overcome.

On this Independence Day, let's focus on the freedom that we can have because of Jesus' great sacrifice. Let's think about the sins that trip us up and keep us stuck in a cycle of despair or disappointment. Let's remind ourselves that Christ died so that we can be free.

We are free to serve God with all our hearts. Free to live joyfully and with courage, in spite of challenges and trials. We're free to leave behind the sins that tempt us and live as examples of what it means to serve God faithfully (not perfectly, but faithfully).

Focus on those freedoms daily, not just one day a year, and you will see a difference in the way you live.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

Are you living in freedom, or are you enslaved to sin in some area of your life? How can focusing on Christ's sacrifice help you to live in freedom from now on?