My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

I remember being scared to death when I was a freshman in high school, and I sang my first solo at the state competition.  I sang “My Favorite Things,” from The Sound of Music.  It was a nightmare because just as I calmed the butterflies in my stomach, a blonde-haired beautiful girl sang the exact song!  She nailed it, and no, that was not a favorite feeling.

While “Raindrops on roses” aren’t that great, and I am not a big fan of “whiskers on kittens,” “brown paper packages tied up with strings—these are a few of my favorite things.”  After all, if we’re honest, most of us have at least a few superficial favorite things on our lists.  As for me, I love designer purses, shoes, and pretty dresses.

How about you?  What material things really get your heart pumping fast?  . . . A great pair of shoes, an exotic vacation, designer clothes, luxury cars, fine jewelry, or great food?  Remember Oprah’s favorite things episodes over the years?  Many women, at one point or another, have longed to be in the audience for one of those shows—even if they weren’t Oprah fans.  Free great gifts can send people into a frenzy.

As I reflect on my own favorite things during the Christmas season and push the material things to their proper place, at the bottom, things make so much more sense.  The Word crystallizes our true heart’s desire while the world tempts us with all the things that can lead us down to an insatiable path of destruction.  Material things can never satisfy us.  As much as I want my children to be happy and get some of the things they want for Christmas, I know that those things only gratify them temporarily.  They will eventually lose their luster and be forgotten, lost, or broken.

Jesus says, “Seek ye first thekingdomofGodand his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew6:33).  Whether it’s the Christmas season or not, seeking Him has to be something that we put first on our list everyday of our lives.  Seeking Him and His righteousness brings us love, peace, joy, and all the other fruits of the Spirit.  We are empowered to press on, no matter what happens, when we are in right relationship with Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

One of my favorite passages in scripture reminds us that there are so many who have come before us in the faith.  We are told to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Jesus paid the ultimate price for us, and He loves us like no other.  There should be nothing ahead of Him on our list of favorites.  He showed us His favor by laying down His life for us.

Our desire to please others should not be ahead of our desire to please and obey Him—no matter what.  Sometimes, as “My Favorite Things” says, “the dog bites and the bee stings.”  We all have to deal with setbacks, disappointments, and sadness at one point or another, but His Word should be the light unto our path and lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105).  He has given us His Word to help us navigate through life, regardless of what season it is.

My favorite thing is the comfort of knowing that Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to become human, sacrificing His life on the cross to bear our sins.  I am so full of joy, knowing that because of his birth, death, and resurrection, we have access to eternal life.  His Word tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John3:16).  There is no better gift than the one that Jesus has given to us, and it’s totally free.  Only what we do for Him and With Him will last eternally.

If you haven’t accepted your gift, please accept it today.  He loves you!

Christmas Blessings,

MaRita

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison.

 –Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

 

With this type of open, it’s really not terribly surprising that A Tale of Two Cities has sold over 200 million copies.  Dickens opens his famous novel by telling us, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Lately, as life has taken me and others through one small bump in the road to another much larger one, I’ve reflected often on these words and have come to the realization that during the worst of times, if we are truly anchored in God and His Word, they can be the best of times.

You may be asking yourselves, “What does she mean? There is nothing good about losing a loved one, a job, relationship, position, or money.”  Not so fast though . . . in Ecclesiastes 7:12, Solomon explains, “For wisdom is defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.”  Understanding the fragility and transience of life and acknowledging the omnipotence and majesty of God is key.  We also must decide that our final authority for our lives must be the Word of God.  This means that we obey the Word at all costs.  Our confidence is in Him, not ourselves.  The Lord God, our heavenly Father is the only One we should rely on totally. According to the Word, money and knowledge can be helpful, but they cannot save our lives from despair and hell.  Regardless of what changes take place in life, we must trust in God, not our money, influence, intellect or anything else.  God’s wisdom reigns supreme and gives us life.

How many times do we give God credit when trouble comes, but refuse to acknowledge Him in good times?  Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.”  The only thing that will stand is the Word of God.  God allows good times and bad times.  In both, we need to thank Him and rely on Him without ceasing. 

We have to accept what God allows, but refuse to be stuck.  Don’t wait until the battle is over to allow the Lord to do a work in you, and don’t wait until your trial is over to allow the Lord to use you!  Do what God has called you to do in this period of time.“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).  Trials and hardship will come to everyone, but believers are charged to be stable and fruitful in kingdom building—even and especially during tough times.  It is so vital that we “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we will reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).  There is a reward for those of us who continue to uplift His name, loving and obeying His Word, especially when it’s difficult.

Trials are the worst of times because they are painful.  Losing someone we love is a pain almost like no other.  However, there’s not a pain that we can have that He hasn’t felt.  He understands how it feels to have a loved one die.  Decide to fill that loss with His Word, His goodness, and His good and perfect gifts.  Losing a job, relationship, money or status can be devastating. An illness for you and/or for a loved one can be a frightening time.  Still, He knows and He cares.  His Word tells us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).  While we are hurting, He is right there, “an ever present help in the times of trouble.”  He tells us to cast our cares on Him and trust Him with our whole heart, no matter what.

He will turn out sadness and grief into a joy that is constant and unchanging in the midst of any storm if we remain determined to abide in Him.  His Word tells us that, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).

The worst of times can be the best of times if we allow God to mature us in Him and His Word.  The most painful times in my life have also been the best times of growth and maturation in Him.  We must allow God to grow us up in Him.  Don’t resist what God is trying to do in your present situation.  Sincerely, if God has allowed that thing to happen in your life, He can get the glory out of it!

I’m praying for the best for you, whether it’s a season of lack or plenty.  You know how we do, “God is good all of the time, and all the time, God is good!”

Praising Him for His Goodness with You,

MaRita