I had a rather rough night. My sheltie is the biggest coward in the dog-world. When people start setting off firecrackers for the 4th of July and at midnight on New Year’s Eve, she is absolutely scared to death. With her so upset as the firecrackers kept up until well after 1:00 a.m., my Papillon was equally worked up. Although she thought it meant, "Let’s play! Get up, Mom. Let’s play." Argh!
I awakened around 5:30 a.m., got my hot chocolate, and sat down for my first Internet video lesson in the Beth Moore Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit study. For the next ten weeks, I will be studying the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit, and I’m looking forward to growing in all of those areas: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.
After watching the one hour presentation, I then opened my devotional for this year, Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment. In the introduction, what should I find but a beautiful message about choosing every day to live by the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. (The message first appeared in Lucado’s When God Whispers Your Name.)
It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.
For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the days demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose Love…
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose Joy…
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical … the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose Peace…
I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose Patience…
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose Kindness…
I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose Goodness…
I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose Faithfulness…
Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose Gentleness…
Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose Self-control…
I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness,
Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
To these I commit my day.
If I succeed, I will give thanks.
If I fail, I will seek His grace.
And then, when this day is done,
I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Isn’t that a wonderful confirmation of the study that we (my Bible reading friends and I) chose to begin in the New Year?
And now that this day is well underway and I have spent the morning working on my corporate accounts, it is time I started writing. The deadline rushes toward me at an alarming rate.
In the grip of His grace,