Archive | Thought-Provoking Thursday

365 Opportunities

365 Opportunities | 3dlessons4life.com

I was trolling Facebook when I came across a simple white graphic with 4 words that captured my immediate attention:

1 Year. 365 Opportunities

I smiled and sat up just a little bit taller. My perspective shifted, and I felt like a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders and flung into the pit of despair where it had originated.

You see, I’d canvased the year ahead, but all I’d noticed was urgent demands and unsolvable problems.

4 simple words flipped my mental switch.

Each day is a gift. Each day holds promise. Each day provides a new platform for God to show up in spectacular fashion.

Tomorrow, the sun will kiss my face with God’s favor. The warmth of His love will envelop me in a blanket of grace.

Every day is a fresh page for God and I to write something beautiful.

5 Opportunities to Pursue in the New Year:

  • Live with Contentment: We can choose to rise above doubt and discouragement and reach forward in God’s strength.
    •  I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.) I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.  I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.  Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble” (Philippians 4:10-14, NIV).
  • Love our neighbor: We can say no to selfish living and serve each other with love.
    • For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14, NET).
  • Encourage the weary: We can swim against the current of mediocrity and support like-minded friends who rise above the tide.
    • 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).
  • Seek His Face: We can press in close to Christ and confess that we desperately need Him.
    • Then I confessed my sin; I no longer covered up my wrongdoing. I said, ‘I will confess my rebellious acts to the Lord.’ And then you forgave my sins. Selah. For this reason every one of your faithful followers should pray to you while there is a window of opportunity. Certainly when the surging water rises, it will not reach them. You are my hiding place; You protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32:5-7 NET)
  • Share God’s message: We can speak the truth in love and pray for hard hearts to receive salvation.
    • Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out” (Colossians 4:2-6, MSG).

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us to “make the most of every opportunity” in the last days. I love how the JB Phillips translation communicates the urgency of this challenge: “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God.”

I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I know who holds the future. I know the Author and Finisher of my Faith has promised to finish the work that He has started in me. I can press forward into 2017 seizing every moment for His glory because God’s plot lines always wrap up with spectacular endings. I am only looking at one page of my story right now, but the next page just might be my turning point.

Tomorrow holds 86,400 seconds. You might just blink and see God transform your obstacles into opportunities.

 

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I’m sharing “365 Opportunities” with like-minded friends at Faith-Filled Friday.

 

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Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂

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26

Turn the Page

Turn the Page | 3dlessons4life.com

 

It’s been said that January 1st is the first blank page of a brand new 365-page book.

Welcome to page 5. How is it going so far for you?

I must confess that I am still lingering on the finer details on page 326 of my 2016 publication.

I feel like I am a little behind on my editorial deadlines. I am not done with 2016 yet, and I’ve received a new assignment.

I keep looking back and trying to apply white out to certain lines that I’d like to revise. I wish I could elaborate a bit more here and there.

Is it just me, or does 2016 need a little bit more work?

Sigh.

Today, I decided to set down my red pen and highlighter. I surrendered to the inevitable. I cannot continue to re-work 2016.  It’s a closed chapter.

Time to turn the page.

I am already on page 5 of 2017, and precious moments are slipping by. If I keep trying to fix 2016 (or 2015 or 1999), I am never going to write a bestseller today.

I can’t revise what has passed. I must put all my creative energy into writing a beautiful story today.

How to Turn the Page:

  • Reflect with wisdom: Take time to consider how well you fleshed out the character of Christ last year. Even if 2016 was a bit of a horror story, did you learn more about who Jesus is? Are you growing in wisdom? That’s progress, my friend.
    • Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown (Proverbs 4:6-9, NIV).
  • Respond with grace: Don’t beat yourself up over the unfinished narratives or muddled plot lines. You can lament the tragedy, but you shouldn’t turn your focus backward permanently. Remember your story is not finished yet. Greater things are yet to come, and God loves to re-write epitaphs into glorious epics.
    • And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose…What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:28 & 31). 
  • Reconstruct with purpose: Adopt a new perspective. Freshen up what is tired and not working in your portfolio. Allow yourself to dream big again. Put on your creative lenses and write with new passion. Envision your happy ending and dip into a new inkwell.
    • Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

Today is a fresh page.  Make your life a story worth telling. 

 

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I’m sharing “Turn the Page” with like-minded friends at Faith-Filled Friday.

 

Linkup

Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂

As a courtesy, please link back to 3-D Lessons for Life in your post. Grab and share the Thought-Provoking Thursday button to spread the word. Use #ThoughtProvokingThursday to share your post and connect on Twitter.

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37

Messy Miracles

Messy Miracles | 3dlessons4life.com


“Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’  And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” –Luke 1:34-35 (NKJV)

“Don’t let them see you cry,” my professor stated sternly as he scribbled his signature on my student teaching form. My well-laid plans to work with a small middle school class had disintegrated due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, I’d stand in front of a large class of rambunctious twelfth graders. I felt like I’d just been asked to swallow an elephant. Why did God allow me to be placed in a role that was beyond my capability?

This was the first of many “bigger than me” assignments. I quickly learned that God wasn’t really concerned with my capabilities. All He required was a willing vessel. His glory was best displayed in impossible situations.

When I read the Gospel accounts of Gabriel appearing to Mary, I like to imagine how I would have responded. By all standards, this young virgin girl is an unlikely candidate to help save the world. I am not sure I would have been overjoyed to accept the role of unmarried pregnant girl who will be shamed and possibility stoned by her community. Instead of celebrating her betrothal surrounded by the affirmation of her family, Mary’s life becomes a complicated mess.

God’s ways are so often beyond our limited understanding. Mary moved forward in the direction God was leading with unquestioning surrender. Her acceptance of this painful assignment birthed hope for the entire world.

The Almighty loves to transform messes into miracles. This Christmas, rather than worry about circumstances that are out of our control, we can choose to trust that God is working in unexpected ways. We can purpose to worship and look forward with expectation.

Like Mary, your willingness to partner with God through the messy just might change the world.

 

 

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I’m sharing “Messy Miracles” with like-minded friends at Faith-Filled Friday.
“Messy Miracles” was originally published at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s Daily Devo.

 

Linkup

Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂

As a courtesy, please link back to 3-D Lessons for Life in your post. Grab and share the Thought-Provoking Thursday button to spread the word. Use #ThoughtProvokingThursday to share your post and connect on Twitter.

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13

Christmas Heart

Christmas Heart | 3dlessons4life.com

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and I do not have a single present placed under the tree. I’m exhausted from Thanksgiving and have decided that Christmas just came too early this year. I’d  like a do-over please.

I’m not doing cards (except for one to Joanne. Got your beautiful card yesterday. Thank you!). And, I am thinking about paying someone to bake the Christmas cookies so that I can take a nap instead.

We are on day 8 of the Advent readings, and I forgot to light the candles on Sunday so I just set them on fire them yesterday so that they would look less unused when the relatives arrive this weekend.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that we are starting Christmas early this year? Dinner is apparently at my house on Saturday. (I decided to have it mostly catered.  I will cook the easy peasy corn casserole myself.)

I am feeling decidedly un-ready for Christmas.

How about you?

Now, I know why Scrooge was all “Bah Humbug.” He just couldn’t handle all the hoopla.

So, this year, I’ve decided to be rebellious and just spend Christmas day in my PJ’s. I refuse to put on  a pretty dress or makeup. I am going to eat leftovers on paper plates and have a Holly Jolly time resting.

My heart just can’t handle all the hullabalo.

I don’t want Christmas to be about the perfectly decorated tree or the number of beautifully wrapped presents.

If I don’t have Christmas in my heart, I will never find it under the tree.

This year, I want my heart to be the only present under the tree. I want to offer my weary, ready for nap heart to Jesus.

It’s a good thing He loves broken and needy people. Because I really need Him.

Instead of running ragged on the Christmas treadmill this year, I am going to jump off the crazy train and plop down at His feet in my jammies.

There will be no stockings hung by the chimney with care, but I will be hanging on to Jesus.

I’m going to wrap up my heart in the wonder of Him this Christmas.

 

 

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I’m sharing “Christmas Heart” with like-minded friends at Faith-Filled Friday.

 

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Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂

As a courtesy, please link back to 3-D Lessons for Life in your post. Grab and share the Thought-Provoking Thursday button to spread the word. Use #ThoughtProvokingThursday to share your post and connect on Twitter.

Check back later to see what other GREAT posts have been linked up! Visit the post immediately before yours and leave an encouraging comment.

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22

Miracles at Midnight

Miracles at Midnight | 3dlessons4life.com

 

All you, beneath your heavy load,
By care and guilt bent low,
Who toil along a dreary way
With painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour,
Come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring your peace;
Of Him the angels sing.

 

Are you feeling weighed down by darkness right now?  Stand and look up for your salvation is near.

He came upon a midnight clear.

Your midnight hour is the ripest time for a miracle to transpire.

  • Christ will defeat your enemy and pass over you with grace because of the blood of Christ (Exodus 12:21-29)
  • Your Kingsman Redeemer will acknowledge your need and cover you with His protection (Ruth 3:8-11)
  • Your Friend will provide abundantly for your request and open up doors to good gifts for you when you are shamelessly persistent in asking (Luke 11:5-12)

So on the blackest of nights, take your cue from Paul and Silas who sang His praises until their shackles fell off.

Remember the dead of night is broad daylight to our Savior. Rise up to praise Him at midnight like the Psalmist. He’s still in the business of birthing peace on earth and good will toward men. 

At midnight a cry will shatter the gloom:  “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet Him.” Keep your lamp burningStay awake.

Your mess is the perfect birthplace for a midnight miracle. 

Something to think about…

 

Friends:  #ThoughtProvokingThursday was miraculously born three Decembers ago.  Thank you for joining me here each week to shout out His praises. To God be the glory!  

I’m sharing “Miracles at Midnight” with like-minded friends at Faith-Filled Friday.

 

Linkup

Have you written something thought-provoking, challenging, encouraging, or inspiring lately? Link it up here! For best results, write the title of your post in the name box. 🙂

As a courtesy, please link back to 3-D Lessons for Life in your post. Grab and share the Thought-Provoking Thursday button to spread the word. Use #ThoughtProvokingThursday to share your post and connect on Twitter.

Check back later to see what other GREAT posts have been linked up! Visit the post immediately before yours and leave an encouraging comment.

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17

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