Marathon Mindset

Please tell me I am not the only one who gets tired of doing the things that need to be done. Household chores. Unpleasant tasks at work. Taking care of people. Paying bills. Attending activities. Serving at church. There are many more things we could add. We all have moments when we simply do not want to do what is right. We want to do what we want. But, as God’s daughters, we are conflicted because we know our attitudes and actions are wrong. At those times, these verses help me reset my focus:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.  (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB)

They came alive for me the year I decided to clean my husband’s car as a Father’s Day gift. I started out cheerfully, wanting to show my husband that I loved and appreciated him. But I grew tired of the task long before it was finished. I had to decide: did I say “good enough” — even though the car was not yet clean — or push on? In my heart, a half-done job communicated half-hearted love and commitment to my husband, which was certainly not the message I wanted to send! The above verses came to mind, and I asked myself, “If this were Jesus’ car, would I be proud to present it to him as is?” The answer was definitely no. So I shifted my focus; cleaning the car was now a gift I was giving my Savior: the gift of loving my husband well, even when it was uncomfortable and inconvenient. That gave me the stamina I needed to finish the job, praying for my husband as I continued. I discovered a secret of far more life that day: I am always serving Jesus!

“It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” That statement is true of every situation we face. Whoever makes a request of us, it is the Lord that we serve with our answer. And not just at church. Serving your family by cooking and cleaning is serving the Lord. Serving your friends by listening and helping is serving the Lord. As is serving a stranger. And serving those in your life who are hard to love. Far more life serves Christ by serving people.

That does not mean we are obligated to say yes to every request made of us: sometimes we must say no to one in order to serve the Lord in a different way. We have limited resources: time, physical energy, money, and emotional energy. When we need to choose between options, we often find far more life in opportunities where we can invest rather than spend our resources.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10, NIV)

When a resource is limited, we tend to value it more. Those living on a tight budget carefully consider each expenditure to stretch their money the furthest. Those with busy schedules carefully consider each new commitment to determine whether it will add to their lives. When we value our resources, we want to invest them so we get a return. We want to gain something in the transaction. The verse above promises that our investment of doing good will reap a harvest, at the proper time. We must invest in faith, trusting that God will faithfully reward us when it is time. I think it is easy to see this in parenting. We invest countless hours caring for, training, loving, correcting, encouraging, teaching, and investing in children before they genuinely notice or appreciate our efforts. Some of our investments will not be acknowledged until we stand before God in Heaven. But we can wait patiently when we know we are ultimately serving Him, not people. Far more life views doing good as an eternal investment.

When my children were young and required a lot of my energy, an older, experienced friend wisely advised: View your day as a marathon rather than a sprint. This was especially true for me the one day each week my husband was gone before the children woke up in the morning and returned long after they were in bed that night. The children and I had an abundance of time together those days, but I had limited physical and emotional energy, and a long day. So I kept those days simple — saying no to some requests — to make the most of our time together. I was serving God — not just my husband and children — and investing in my most important relationships.

Many of us are facing a life circumstance that feels like a marathon. Perhaps we can see the finish line, perhaps not. You may be getting tired and want to say “good enough” and stop. You may have lost sight of why you are even running the race. Look to the Lord Christ through prayer and His Word for strength to keep going. Fill your mind with reminders that He is the one you are truly serving. When the course forks, and always choose the path that leads to righteousness. Find far more life in each good work you do for Him.

Sisters,
What task or situation are you tired of doing?
In what way are you serving the Lord Christ through it?
Where are you investing your resources? Where are you merely spending them?
Are you facing a marathon circumstance? How can you keep your eyes on Jesus?
Thank Him for offering far more life as you serve Him!
-Shari


All We Need

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life …For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3, 5-8, NIV)

God has promised to give His children all they need for life on earth. During challenging times, it is comforting to recall these promises and know that God has our back, that He will come through for us. But these verses make it clear His goal is not simply to make us more comfortable. If that is our expectation, we will be sorely disappointed and may even conclude that God is NOT keeping His promise to meet our needs. Far more life understands our comfort in this life is not God’s primary concern. He desires something better for us!

In the Bible passage above, God shared our biggest need: a godly life fueled by His divine power. This is His greatest calling for us. What does He tell us to focus on in order to attain it? Mostly character qualities. Rather than being concerned about our homes, possessions, or bank account, God puts the emphasis on growing our goodness and knowledge of Him, increasing our self-control and perseverance, adding to our godliness and affection for others, and expanding our love. Consistently choosing to let God’s power make us more like Jesus is far more life.

What is God’s purpose in developing our character so we can be empowered to live a godly life?

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)

God has good works for us to do, to bring Him glory and accomplish His goals. We cannot see the big picture of His master plan. But we can trust that we each have a unique role to play in accomplishing it because He has told us so. He has given us particular talents, gifts, and interests that are necessary for the tasks He has assigned to us. We find far more life as we are engaged in His good works.

I encountered a wonderful God-loving manager in my first job out of college. He assigned work to his staff based on their skills and experience. Then he asked each person, “What do you need from me to be successful in your job?” He was not a cruel or demanding task-master. Instead he came alongside his employees to make sure they had everything they needed to do their jobs well. I appreciated his example of how God treats His children.

Sometimes God intends for our good works to benefit other people. Rather than looking only at our own lives, our own needs, and our own tasks, God instructs us to be involved with others. There are over 100 “one another” statements in the Bible and almost 60 of them tell us how to relate to others. Far more life gives to others, trusting God to provide for us. Although finances or material items are the first things that come to mind when we hear about “giving,” God’s economy is much more diverse! Sometimes we are asked to give our time. At other times it is our physical, mental, or emotional energy. On yet other occasions we need to give spiritual encouragement. Even praying for people is a form of giving! All are important to God and He equips us for all. Consider this exhortation from Paul to the Philippians:

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles….and my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:14, 19, NIV)

The Philippians invested in Paul and Timothy’s ministry by meeting their physical and emotional needs. Not just when they were together, but as Paul and Timothy traveled to multiple cities sharing the gospel, the Philippians continued to pray for, encourage, and financially support them. Here Paul is reminding them that God is dependable and trustworthy and WILL give them all that they need. It is not hard for Him. He is not inconvenienced or put out by having to supply it. He is rich and generous and wants to repay their blessing others with a blessing. Far more life invests in others, knowing God is the ultimate supplier.

The Bible includes illustrations of people making wise and foolish investments (Matthew 25, Luke 9:1-9). God expects us to be discerning and use our knowledge, experience, and common sense to judge what and when we should give. But we can be confident that investing in God’s work will not spiritually bankrupt us. God can and will provide all we need.

Do you want to consistently experience far more life? Accept all God offers to develop your character, do the good works He has designed for you, and invest in others. You will see firsthand how He keeps His promise to provide all you need for godliness and far more life!

Sisters,
What is your response to the idea that God’s definition of “all you need” is not what makes your life comfortable?
Do you believe that living a godly life is your biggest need and greatest calling?
How have you seen God supply what you needed to do His good works?
Have you experienced far more life from giving to or investing in others? When?
Thank Him for providing all you need for godliness and far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso


Time to Invest

We all have 60 minutes each hour. 24 hours each day. 7 days each week. 52 weeks each year. We can invest our time wisely and reap huge dividends, both now and in heaven. Or we can spend it on pursuits that yield a temporary thrill at most. One choice lets us survive while the other helps us sustain far more life.

So be very careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for his purposes. (Ephesians 5:15-16, TPT)

People who spend their lives for God’s purposes do more than accumulate possessions and experiences during their time on earth. They understand their God-given purpose and mission is to love Him and share His love with others. Investing in God’s work may not generate instant results, but it does produce eternal rewards. The far more life we find as we take full advantage of each day reminds us that our hope rests in Heaven, not immediate gratification on earth.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB)

Whatever you do. Life is not a collection of spiritual and non-spiritual activities. When the Holy Spirit lives inside us, everything we do is a spiritual activity. We can work for God, regardless of our job. We can recreate or rest for God. We can learn and grow for God. We can give and serve for God. We can also do each of these activities without God. The choice is ours; will we choose life or far more life?

It takes more than just showing up to maximize our eternal yield and walk in far more life each day. The heart behind our investment is a key factor in the yield. Mundane tasks — like laundry and changing diapers — can be more profitable than leading a Bible study; it depends whether we are simply doing the “right” thing with an empty heart or “taking full advantage” of opportunities to love God and others. We take full advantage by remembering His instructions:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV).

Acquiring earthly treasures — belongings, experiences, even relationships — can bring us temporary pleasure. But investing our heart and time in God’s purposes leads to far more life and treasure that will last for eternity! We do not always understand the impact of our investment, but God is orchestrating the efforts of many individuals to accomplish His will.

The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. (I Corinthians 3:8, NLT)

Investing in God’s work of planting and watering spiritual seeds can take more than our time; it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. We know there will be an eventual payoff, but we can still grow weary from our labor. How do we maintain far more life in those conditions?

A wise friend once shared an “energy equation” that has been helpful to me. She explained that we all experience three types of interactions/activities: those that energize us (+3); those that are neutral, neither adding nor taking energy (0); and those that draw more energy than they give back (-3). If we are regularly in the hole, we are guaranteed to burn out and miss far more life. To be healthy, the sum of these interactions must consistently be zero or above. To experience far more life and have all we need to invest in God’s kingdom, we need a positive balance.

When my energy equation is below zero I often read or play mindless computer games to “rest”. But while my brain is distracted by those pursuits, I remain tired and reluctant to re-engage. Since they are not refreshing, those activities are probably a 0 rather than the +3 that I need. But if I invest the same amount of time exercising, meditating on God’s Word, writing, or napping, I find myself energized and ready to re-engage. Rather than “unplugging” by retreating into a virtual world, I am learning to ask myself, “What do I need right now to truly energize my body and spirit?”

As you look at your calendar and commitments, be intentional about your time investments. Prayerfully consider what you have to give each day and the refreshment you need to live far more life with a God-pleasing heart. Allowing time for connecting with God, eating healthy food, exercising, laughing, and sleeping is important for sustaining far more life. Remembering to include those in your daily energy equation will enable you to consistently join God in investing in His kingdom…people. Those are the only investments that will continue paying dividends for eternity!

Sisters,
Is most of your time spent or invested? Are you consistently experiencing far more life?
Are your treasures primarily on earth or in heaven?
What is your energy equation right now? What will truly energize your body and spirit?
Pursue far more life today as you invest in God’s kingdom!
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso