Pursue Righteousness

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, Timothy, are a man of God, so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 

St. Paul has a final message to Timothy in his letter to him. But the letter is also addressed to all of us!

This is a prime example of picturing the author speaking directly to you when you read scripture. (Some translations say “But you, man of God,”)

The first thing I noticed is Paul’s language here. I love his use of the word “pursue.” And he uses the word “run” from evil. These action verbs definitely give us the impression that Paul was extremely passionate about how he viewed Christian life. There’s no sitting idly by and watching the world around us. Paul wants us to be active participants!

So how do we become active in our faith?

  • Speak up! Maybe you join a committee for the pro-life movement. Perhaps you start a group yourself dedicated to feeding the hungry or helping others less fortunate in your neighborhood. If there’s something you are passionate about like a social concern or health and safety of others, start your own group or committee dedicated to awareness.
  • Run! Training your body is just as important as training your mind. If you want to become active in your faith, you need to study up on it. Open your Bible, read the scriptures, go to mass, become involved in a bible study, write down and share your thoughts with others. Get them to “Train” with you!
  • Sacrifice for good! Giving up something doesn’t have to mean suffering for God. Think of sacrificing something like time. Volunteer your time to help someone else. Do you use social media as a break from reality? Give up the internet and use that time to do something nice for someone else like writing them a note, praying for them, or making them food.

Fit in Your Faith Today: There are plenty of ways to stop being idle and start to being active. Stand up for what you believe in. Stop making excuses for doing works that you know St. Paul would not consider “righteous” or “godly.” Get creative and think of your own way you can run from the evil and pursue righteousness that will contribute to your faith.

 

Trust in the Lord…

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.

When faced with big decisions in life, it’s hard to know who to trust. Who can you turn to for advice and guidance? You might have doubts with whom you can go to in situations like this. You might think people you work with or even people in your own family are not trustworthy. They might not have your best interests at heart and could steer you down the wrong path.

But there is always someone you CAN trust in 100% and that’s God.

These verses from the book of Proverbs tell us just this. By discerning and coming to God with our questions and what path we need to take, He will lead us in the right direction. Who knows us better than the one who created us? He has the answers.

Yes, we have the ability to reason and think carefully because of the mind God gave us. But we shouldn’t forget that He wants us to come to Him when faced with difficult decisions and problems.

The second verse is also an important part of any decision-making process: Remember God in all that we do. This means each area in our life has to include God. What’s important to us? Is God a part of it or do you exclude Him?

Fit in Your Faith Today: What are your priorities in life? Is God present in those areas or do you exclude Him for some reason? If you feel like God cannot help you in an area of your life, ask God to intervene. When was the last time you had to make a difficult choice? Did you pray to God to help you decide what to do? Next time you are faced with a challenge, pray about it first. God has your back.

Making a Path Through the Wilderness

Isaiah 43:18-19

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Good News Translation

But the Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already – you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.”

These scripture verses give us hope. We are told to forget the past and all that has already taken place. That’s old news. He is already working toward a new plan for us!

Do you rehash and constantly replay past events in your mind? Things that may have hurt you or caused you sadness or anger? We tend to do this when we’ve had an argument or disagreement with someone:

“I can’t believe the way that Bob embarrassed me at the meeting! I’m never going to let him live that down.”

“Mary didn’t me to invite me to her daughters birthday party last week. And she had such a lame excuse when I asked her about it! I’m so hurt by this. Why do friends act this way?”

“I don’t like the way Suzanne looked at me when I saw her at the PTA meeting. What’s her problem? I’ll remember this the next time she asks a favor from me.”

We can’t hold a grudge forever, we have to move on. If someone hurts us, they should apologize. But what if we never get that apology? We have to figure out a way to move on and move past the hurt and the pain. It’s time to get on a new plan that God has set for us.

Appreciate the last sentence: “I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.”

You can visualize the struggles, the arguments and the pain as the wilderness. You’re making your way through it now with no end in sight. But you can relax as the Lord says that He will provide us with streams of water, relief is in sight! He tells us He has already started to help us, we just have to have faith He will lead us out of this “wilderness,” this dark time in our life.

Fit In You Faith Today: If you’re dwelling on the past, living in the past, and can’t seem to find your way out of the past, pray for the strength to move forward. If someone never apologized for hurting you, forgive them anyways. Even if you don’t tell them out loud that you forgive them, forgive them in your mind. You can then find your way out of the “wilderness” to the “streams of water” that God has waiting for you.

 

 

Honor, Courage and Duty

Philippians 1:20

My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

From the New Life Study Bible: To those who don’t believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values; money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him. Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face. If you’re not ready to die, then you’re not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve- devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death.

St. Paul has some awesome words for today’s devotion. He’s praying that he will never fail in his duty. That he’s full of courage and brings honor to Christ, whether he lives or dies. He’s clearly unafraid. His words are truly inspiring and although they were written thousands of years ago, we can still use them today in our daily lives.

We can pray that we never fail in our duty – Our duty to others, our duty to God, our duty to live a Christ-like life.

We can pray for courage – Courage in all that we do, courage to stand up for what we believe in, courage to be brave in the face of illness or adversity.

We can pray to bring honor to Christ – Honorable acts of kindness to others, honorable words to our family and friends, and to make Christ proud of our efforts to honor Him in all that we do.

If we pray for all of these things, we can help others become more like Christ. Although it’s not easy to be Christ-like every minute of every day, we can pray like St. Paul. We can pray for the courage he had. We can pray for the honor he showed. And we can pray that, whether we live or die, we have lived a life worthy of being called Christ-like.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you honor the worlds values of money or social status or power? Or do you honor God? If you struggle to follow God and are tempted by the world’s pleasures, pray for the courage St. Paul had. Pray for unfailing love to the Lord and the ability to turn away from the things the secular world considers valuable.

Show the Goodness of God to Others

1 Peter 2:9

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

From New Life Study Bible: Christians sometimes speak of “the priesthood of all believers.” In Old Testament times, people did not approach God directly. A priest acted as intermediary between God and sinful human beings. With Christ’s victory on the cross, that pattern changed. Now we can come directly into God’s presence without fear and we are given the responsibility of bringing others to him also. When we are united with Christ as members of his body, we join his priestly work of reconciling God and people.

Something not to be overlooked in this passage is our duty: show the goodness of God to others.

As people believed to be created by God, God’s own creation, how well do we show this to others? If we imagine as envision ourselves as God’s very own possession as this scripture says, then our actions and thoughts and decisions need to reflect that.

This can be very challenging to do. It’s not easy to be a Christian. It’s even more difficult when you want to show your goodness to others. You may be met with adversity, rejection, or conflict. Many people don’t want to hear about our goodness. And they might not want to hear about our godliness. But that’s not a problem. Persevere in your goodness. Shine your light into the darkness of those who don’t know God. Because that’s what God wants us to do.

Fit in your Faith Today: Do you find that you show others your goodness, especially during dark times? Do you find it difficult to be a Christian sometimes? Persevere in your faith knowing that you are God’s own creation and your light shines no matter how dim the situation might be.

 

You have a Purpose

Jeremiah 1:5

“I knew before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

From New Life Study Bible: God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He thought about you and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that he has a purpose in mind for you.

At times, many of us must wonder what our purpose in life is and how can we figure it out? How do we discern what that purpose is?

We’re all called to something, some kind of role in life. Many people feel a pull, or even a PUSH! from God in a certain direction. More often, I think we know when we are NOT meant to be in a certain role (like a job, or living in a certain city, or in a relationship). Sometimes you can feel that it’s wrong, or just not meant to be.

We should be careful not to obsess over this. Pray about it, of course. But a better way to go about finding our purpose might be to choose to become the best version of ourselves in every action we make. If you wake up everyday attempting to live your life in a godly way – choosing good over evil, choosing hard work over laziness, choosing smiles over sadness, how can you not say you’re not living your purpose?

Fit in your Faith Today: Are you constantly searching and discerning what God’s purpose is for you? Recognize that this is something we all wonder about. But spend more time in prayer asking God to open your eyes to your purpose so as not to close your eyes to other things around you that require your attention.

A Little Help: Listen to this Podcast from Busted Halo as they discuss this exact same question.

Your Body is a Temple

1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This scripture passage is my screensaver on my iPad and laptop. Why? I found it one day while searching for some sort of guidance while dieting and trying to stick to my meal plan.

I refer to it when I’m feeling like having a huge binge or having some food that I know will not be healthy for me. So I would read this sentence over and over until it sunk in. I also remembered other passages that remind us that our bodies are our temples and you shouldn’t trash the temple (by eating junk food).

But you can also reflect on this passage a little differently and think that whatever task you do, as mundane as it may be, do it for the glory of God. Does the food you eat and the drinks you consume glorify God? Do they honor your body and your health?

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do your actions throughout the day glorify God, or do they dishonor God and yourself? Are you giving in to tempting foods and drink that you know don’t do honor to God or to your body? Treat your body and your mind as a holy temple. Visualize yourself as this temple the next time you are tempted to engage in behavior or habits that don’t glorify God.

Wisdom, not Pride.

Proverbs 3:7-8

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

Good News Translation:

Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.

The book of Proverbs always has interesting insights. Especially the direct nature of the wording.

This one basically says – Don’t be a know-it-all. You aren’t all that smart.

This isn’t meant to make us feel inferior or unintelligent. I believe it’s just meant to take the ego down a notch. Don’t let yourself become inflated with thinking you are superior to others.

On the contrary, obey the Lord and turn away from evil and wrongdoing. By doing so, it acts like medicine for our broken bodies. It eases the pain in our hearts. I appreciate that this passage compares obeying God as a way to stay healthy in mind, body and soul. You can think of sin or doing not-so-great things as causing a wound in our body to be opened. Or pain in our soul taking place. What’s the cure? Good works. Good words. Good actions. Obeying the Lord and treating others as equals.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Do you talk down or act differently around people who you think are inferior to you? Do you think yourself as being a know-it-all sometimes? Try to look at others as equals, no matter what their job or their education level or social status says about them. Treat them well, obey the Lord as He commands us, and our minds and bodies and souls will be healed from the pain of mistreatment, anger, and pride.

Who do you love?

1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

From The New Life Study Bible:

Everyone believes that love is important, but love is usually thought of as a feeling. In reality, love is a choice and an action as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 shows. God is the source of our love. He loved us enough to sacrifice his Son for us. Jesus is our example of what it means to love; everything he did in life and death was supremely loving. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to love; he lives in our heart and makes us more and more like Christ. God’s love always involves a choice and an action, and our love should be like his. How well do you display your love for God in the choices you make and the actions you take?

What stood out for me in this particular passage was just the overall theme of love of course. Especially with the latest news of terrorist attacks in Paris and the civil unrest that seems to be happening everywhere in the world and just overall bad and terrible news everywhere you turn. It can really make you ask the question: “Where is the love?”

The last line – Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. I automatically consider the opposite of love which is hate obviously. People are full of hate. Full of evil. These extremists or terrorists or whatever category you want to put them in – their heart isn’t full of love. At least, not the kind of love that God represents. I’m not sure what or who they love, but I imagine it’s not our God. I believe it’s their choice to choose hate instead of love, for reasons I don’t begin to understand.

But perhaps the focus should be on ourselves when we reflect on passages like this one. So what can I do or how do I relate to this passage personally? I find it comforting. I find it to be absolutely spot on. I used to think of love as just a feeling. But it’s a relationship. It’s an action. But is it an action that I display every day?

Fit In Your Faith Today: Take the question the Study Bible asks – How well do you display our love for God in the choices and actions you make each day? Are you displaying a loving side of yourself to others or an angry, or disappointed, or prideful side? How can you change these actions and choices to be loving instead?

 

Give (Joy) to Those in Need

The scriptures for the next 31 days are courtesy of the 31 Day New Year, Fit Spirit Challenge started by Sarah Shaffer who works for The Dashing Dish. Give Katie Farrell and the crew over there a look, it’s a wonderful blog and recipe sharing website where our favorite dishes are made into healthy alternatives. 

Nehemiah 8:10

“Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

According to The New Life Study Bible: The people wept openly when they heard God’s laws and realized how far they were from obeying them. But Ezra told them they should be filled with JOY because the day was sacred. It was time to celebrate and to give gifts to those in need. Celebrating is not to be self centered. Ezra connected celebrating with giving. This gave those in need an opportunity to celebrate as well. Often when we celebrate and give to others (even when we don’t feel like it), we are strengthened spiritually and filled with joy. Enter into celebrations that honor Go, and allow him to fill you with his joy.

My first thoughts on this are what I have discussed and blogged about on my fitness site – “Share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.”

I have recently tried fasting as a way to teach my body and my mind patience when it comes to my next meal. I also wanted to emphasize that I am fortunate enough to live in a country where there is no shortage of food. I, God willing, will always have access and the funds to purchase good food when I need it. So in a way, I fast as a form of expression to thank God that I don’t need this food RIGHT NOW. I will eventually eat it….but I don’t need it right now.

Right now, there is someone else in need. Right now, perhaps not in my neighborhood, but probably in my city somewhere, someone is hungry and really can’t afford a meal. So I can sacrifice a meal or two so that others can purchase that food that I would normally buy. Or, of course, I can literally give someone else my next meal. That’s my gift to those who have nothing prepared.

It’s also interesting and I think important to note that you should give with Joy in your heart. Even if you might not particularly want to, it’s not helpful to show especially in your face, how unhappy you are to give to others. You might feel like you deserve to be a little greedy. Or maybe you feel you deserve a reward (of food) due to a great week of dieting or celebrating a little victory. I think this passage is saying celebrate, but celebrate by giving with Joy to others. That way, they can have some of the joy, too!

Fit in Your Faith Today: When was the last time you celebrated by giving to others instead of rewarding yourself? How can you flip that switch and celebrate by giving to those who are in need? It doesn’t have to be a donation in the form of money or food. It can be something that costs you both nothing. Get creative and have a joyful look on your face when you share that gift with others!