Lessons I Have Learned

By Mary Van Nattan

Here are some lessons I have learned over the last number of years. I do not claim that they are the only ones that I have learned, nor that I have learned them well, but I have learned them - some the hard way, and some by observing others. They are also not in order of importance. Perhaps they will edify you.

__________________________

1. Forgive and forget. Don't carry grudges against others or yourself. Bitterness defiles many. Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; It is also troubling to hear someone else talk about their old grudges against others, so don't do it and avoid listening to those who are filled with grudges or bitterness.

2. Rejoice. Find reasons to be cheerful. If you are saved you have no excuse not to do so. Anticipate blessings. Eagerly look for reasons to be joyful and thankful. Don't wait to be taken by surprise! Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

3. Let the song in your heart come out. Sing, hum, whistle or play a musical instrument. It will bless someone else. If you really can't do that for some temporary reason, then sing in your heart to the Lord. If you don't have a song in your heart - get one! Psalm 149:1 Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

4. Be a blessing. Find ways to be a blessing to someone. Even when they don't notice or say "thank you" you have the blessing of knowing you did something right, and God will notice. If there's no one else around - be a blessing to God. Tell Him how much you love Him and how wonderful He is. Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Psalm 104:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

5. Say "thank you." No matter how small the service rendered may seem or even if it helps someone else, not you - say "thank you." This goes both for your family and the people around you as well as for God. If you are not thanking the people you can see properly, you will probably not be thanking God properly either. 1John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

6. Say, "I'm sorry I _________." when you mess up, and really mean it. Confess your faults, even to your children. You aren't perfect and those around you know it. Admit it. It will help others respect you and help you get the victory. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

7. Simplify your life. Don't spend an hour on your hair every day. What does make-up do that is of eternal value? It isn't worth it. Find a simple attractive style. Find shorter, effective ways to do a good job at your housework and spend the extra time studying God's word, praying and with your family. Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

8. Be a friend. You won't keep all the ones you make, but don't give up on people too soon. Don't be "too busy" to keep up friendships. This is a great fault among Bible believing Christians today. Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 27:10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not...

9. The cost of compromise is more than the cost of separation. No matter how hard obeying God's word may seem, in the long run, and sometimes in the the short run, the "route of least resistance" will cost you far more. Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife. And remember, Lot's wife did not stay in Sodom, she just looked back. But, she was messing with the holiness and judgment of God, and she partook of His wrath against sin even though the brimstone wasn't falling yet!

10. Make godly friends. If they are "narrower" than you - all the better, for you become what your friends are. Choose people that are making a life habit of separating. Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge. Nehemiah 10:28 And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; 29 They clave to their brethren...

11. Relish God's creation. If "God saw that it was good", we should too. Watch a sunset or sunrise, watch snow fall for a while, look at the stars and moon. Enjoy the flowers, birds, bugs, etc. Look for wild animals. Delight in the color of a loved one's hair or eyes (if natural :-) ); enjoy their smile. Cuddle a baby. Psalm 92:4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.

12. Be responsible. Don't pass blame for something you could have done and didn't. Do things you can see need doing without being asked. Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

13. Color life. Look at God's creation. It is vibrant with color. Decorating a house entirely in beige, brown,  tan, white, etc. is not natural. Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

14. Get the most out of things. Don't hide your emotions. Too many people have burned theirs all up watching TV, movies, videos, etc. If something is funny - laugh. If it's sad or touching - cry a little. If you are angry righteously - show it. Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

15. Have a loose touch on things and money. It is all going to burn anyway, and the only way you can "take it with you" is to use it for God! If you have not used something for awhile and you know someone else will, give it to them. If you have some money to spend, find a way to use some of it for the glory of Jesus Christ. 2Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

16. Get some good vanity in your life in moderation. Enjoy a hobby. Make friends. Grow flowers. "Waste" a little time doing something relaxing. Re-create. These things help keep you in the battle. (See the whole book of Ecclesiastes.)

17. Rest. Even when there is "too much to do." God established this principle when the earth was only 7 days old and there was no sin yet! We have no business to neglect His example. He has given rest to us. It helps us to look forward to heaven, and refreshes us for our daily labor. Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

18. Share burdens. Don't keep them all a strict secret. Other Christians need to know that others have their troubles too. Our troubles are given to help comfort others. Bear burdens for others. 2Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

19. Talk to God. Pray without ceasing. 1Thessalonians 5:17 The Spirit knows how to interpret short prayers. (This is added to your regular prayer time.) "Help, Lord." "Please keep him safe." "Thank you for _____." "Bless ______ with understanding." "Help ______ find peace in You." Talk to God in your heart as you work. Tell Him what you desire, for others and for yourself. Tell Him how great He is and how wonderful His works are. Bless HIM. Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

20. Make time for people. After all, they are the only eternal things on the earth besides the Bible! Everything else is headed for the "big bang." 2Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

21. Especially make time for children. They are much more easily influenced for Christ than adults, and now is the time to show them the love of Jesus! Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

22. Be about our Father's business. Stop worrying about the corrupt government and conspiracies. Don't waste your time on politics. Find something to do or talk about that will count for eternity. Yes, people are being deceived and there is a certain amount of warning needed, but all too many are preoccupied with things that do not edify the saints, nor keep souls out of hell. Jesus had almost nothing to say about the rulers of His day, and they were dreadful. Be a faithful steward and active ambassador of heaven. Rise to the call of duty to God, not nationalism.  Also, don't waste your time talking Hollywood and sports. 1Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 2Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 2Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

23. Strive against sin. Stop making excuses and asking people to "be patient God isn't finished with me yet." Take an active course in overcoming your sins. With each battle the next will become a little easier. Pick out one struggle and work on it vigorously for awhile, then work on another. Don't give up when you fail, confess it and keep going. Ultimately Christ always gets the victory. Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 2Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 2Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

24. Learn from the triumphs and defeats of others. Wisdom does not have to be attained first hand. We can take council from others' defeats and victories and thus avoid much trouble and sorrow. Proverbs 22:17  Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. 18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. 19 That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. 20 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, Proverbs 1:20  Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

25. Do "yuckie" jobs with a pleasant, even joyful attitude. It will inspire others and someone will be glad they didn't have to do the job. :-) Don't shun work. 1Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice evermore.

26. Never underestimate the value of Christian fellowship. Seek out Christians to talk to, even if it has to be on-line. It will help keep you on the right course. And remember, the devil will try to convince you to avoid fellowship when you are down, so if you are discouraged and/or "don't feel like you really need to go to church tonight" or to talk to another Christian, you may need it more than ever! Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Going out of your way to speak to another Christian can make a real difference in whether you give way to temptation or not. It sharpens you up. Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. What's more, they need it too, and in some cases you may be the only other Christian they will talk to today.

 

graphics and background by mary vannattan
CA