Happy New Year 2014!

Ever heard of Christmas in July or un-birthdays? Why not celebrate New Year’s in May?

I’m really not trying to start a new trend. The summary below is from a lesson I taught in January.  Little did I know the theme of that lesson would become the foundation of this blog!

Lesson Summary:

During class, we celebrated our blessings of the past year, pausing to reflect on the tendency we have to allow those things we perceive in a negative light to overshadow the goodness that God blesses us with.  I hope that you will, every day of 2014, strive to remember all the ways God blesses you. Remember that satan delights in stealing the joy that blessings bring! Don’t allow him that victory!

We took a moment to surrender, individually, a dream or goal we have for the new year. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that“in his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.”  Our willingness to submit the desires of our heart to Him shows our devotion to Him in a  very real way.

We also had some fun with Bobbie and Katie, watching as they courageously took a “sniff” test to differentiate between pure vanilla, imitation vanilla and water in a vanilla bottle.  Our scriptural tie-in was Ephesians 5:1-2:  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As believers, we are called to  imitate God so that others see Him in us. We can’t be just LIKE Him, in our earthly bodies, but we should aim to be as much like Him possible; so that others are enticed by what they see and want what we have…i.e. a relationship with Him! (How can you smell a sugar cookie baking and NOT want one?)  The Holy Spirit enables us in this life goal!

It was interesting to me that both ladies thought the imitation vanilla was the real stuff!  Wow!  What if we, as Christians, imitated God SO closely that people really saw Him IN US?  Talk about changing the world!!

The alternative to that was the example of the water in the vanilla bottle with PURE on the label.  It looked real from the outside, but held only water.  The “hypocritical” vanilla (water) is a reminder that what we are like on the outside holds no value, unless it matches what is inside.  It can, in fact, be detrimental to the cause of Christ, in a very big way.

We all then took a moment to admit to ourselves a characteristic we have that is not an imitation of God.  We prayed that the Holy Spirit would help us change that behavior in His power.

We saw, by Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane, that true imitation of God can occur only when we are willing to submit our will to Him, just as Jesus submitted His will to that of His Father (Matthew 26:39).  We have to submit old ways, habits, thought patterns and tendencies to Him so that He can work newness in us!

For all of you, I pray that 2014 takes you out of your comfort zones in a way that draws you closer to the Lord!   I pray that you will find new ways to develop the spiritual gifts He has given you and that you will never doubt that in all things, He is working on your behalf, for the good!  I love you!