“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
When life is difficult, our problems, like a giant glaring neon sign, can cast ugly colors over all of life. Sometimes our problems even seem to blind us to the simultaneous good that God is funneling into our experience.
Be careful, My Friend, that you do not let the negative speak louder than the positive. None of us likes pain, inconvenience, or uncertainty, but since it is unavoidable, how will you choose to respond? Where will you focus your attention the most? The goodness of God is more present than any problem you have. Remembering God’s presence has the potential to change how you live your life and how those around you respond too. For every stressor, God is there. Can you see Him? Can you see the buffer His loving kindness has placed to protect you even if He allowed some hardship to seep through? Can you see the peace even though the storm rages? Can you see His provision in spite of your not having what you would prefer? He has said He will never leave you nor forsake you, My Friend, so if you cannot see Him, look a little closer. The neon of negativity may be bright, but it is no match for the Light of Life. Trust Him. Cling to Him. See Him!
Question: What has worked in helping you see God in the midst of so much devastation, uncertainty, and fear?
“Abide in Me and I in you.” John 15:4
Have you ever drunk from a water hose that was shooting out too much water to get a good sip? Your lips sting from the water pressure, water shoots up your nose, and your face gets an unintentional splatter. Life can be like that too; too much coming at you. With enough things that need to be done, who needs the extra pressure and splatter that constantly tries to get in?
Just as you can control the flow of water in a hose, you have some say in the flow of unnecessary stress-producers in your life. What are the time stealers that distract you from what is more important? Is it social media? Too much television? Too much time on your phone? Do you feel you do not have enough margin in your life? Whenever I answer “yes” to any of these questions and others like it, God reminds me that abiding in Him has a way of bending the hose, so to speak. It limits the amount of distractions I allow to pour into my life.
With the current health crisis, you and I need to remember this truth all the more. We may have more time on our hands due to social distancing, but we can still allow the distractions of too much television coverage, social media discussion, and even an overkill of projects we take on to fill the extra time to crowd out what matters most. Bend the hose of these distractions, My Friend, and increase the flow of God’s Spirit in your life as you seek Him with all your heart in times like these.
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
When you face difficult times, do you tend to wig-out? The disciples did when they were caught in a violet storm; screaming frantically as they bailed the water from the boat and wrangled with the unruly sails. By the time they woke up Jesus, they were hysterical,but Jesus calmed the wind and waves and asked them a question I am sure embarrassed them: “Where is your faith?”
Jesus asks us the same when we panic, cower, worry, fret. and behave as if we do not remember Who He is. When the Lord does just what He promised, our spiritual amnesia disappears and we wonder why we ever doubted.
If we want to grow to where our faith does not drown in the storm, we must keep Jesus in the forefront of our mind. Seek always to magnify Him, to keep Him at His proper size so that when storms come, they dwarf next to the Almighty! Sing His praises, read His Word, and worship Him daily and your faith will not be hard to find when the storms come.
Question: Observe how the world behaves in the face of the current Corona Virus scare. How do we as believers mirror those who do not know Him? How are we different?
“always giving thanks to God the Father for everything….” Ephesians 5:20
Loud shouts of “Hallelujah” go up for huge answers to prayer, and the Father hears them with a smile. I wonder, though, if His mighty hand cups His holy ear as He leans a little closer to hear words of thanks for the little things. He sends daily blessings that, if we are not careful, we may take for granted. Lamentations 3: 23 says that God’s mercies are new every morning. This means that God is intentional about renewing every regular blessing He gives you. Every blessing you got that you had yesterday deserves a fresh offering of thanks. How many of us know that at any time, that everyday blessing can cease? Ask the widow, the grieving mother, the woman who lost her job, or the soul who got an unexpected diagnosis.
Our hearts need to be a factory that cranks out fresh thanksgiving daily to our faithful God Who daily cranks out blessing after generous blessing.
“This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
The Lord desires you to have peace, My Friend, even on the days you have a lot to do. How does that happen? It happens by keeping two truths in mind.
The first is that He has an agenda for your day, and if you fulfill His plan for today, then He calls your day a success. His plans include the things you must do to care for yourself and those for whom you are responsible. God gives you enough time and strength to do everything that matters to Him. Everyday. No exceptions. If you believe this, then you can rest in your spirit knowing He is on your side and that stress need not be a part of this day, even when things get hectic.
The second truth that makes for a stress-free day is that God intends you to face this day with joy. He is in control, He is always by your side, and His love for you will never change. How can you do anything but have joy? Today is more about being in His presence than checking off a to-do list. When you focus on loving God in all you do, everything else falls into place.
We humans make life harder than it has to be. Life with Christ is a life walked in His peace and joy. Focus on these two truths and enjoy a stress-free day!
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
It sounds unholy to admit it it, but anger with God is real. Perhaps you expected God to do do something and it did not happen. A struggle that never seems to get easier can leave you blaming Jesus, “Where are You, Lord, and why are you not helping?” Other times you worked hard, thinking you are fulfilling your end of things only to feel He has left you looking like a fool.
Ashamed of your anger at God, you might label it something else. Denying that you have those feelings is the worst way to handle your anger. God already knows how you feel, so it’s ok to own it. He does not respond with rejection. Instead, He issues an invitation to know Him better. Because it is impossible for God to fail or be caught in a lie, your anger with Him shows there is an aspect of Him you have yet to discover. He invites you to come closer and allow Him to reveal more of Himself to you.
If you are mad at God, His love for you remains, but if you are going to get past the anger, do not run away from Him. Instead, draw closer with all your raw emotions, and He has promised to come closer to help you work through this burden of anger with the Almighty. It may not be an easy process, but I can tell you from experience, you will love the transformation that results!
“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
It can be maddening dealing with people who seem to make a career out of being stubborn, addicted, ornery, irresponsible, negative, or whatever else.
Unless you decide to cut off the power you allow them to have over you!
Discover the freedom God desires you to have by realizing you can choose a better response to the chain-yankers in your life. God did not endow you with power to change other people, but He did grace you with power over how you respond to them.
Visualize the aggravator in your life doing their thing. Now imagine they have an invisible power cord that goes from their behavior and plugs into an outlet in your mind. When they act up, powerful waves of electric frustration surge through that cord to you and your blood pressure rises, you cry, get angry, or however else you normally react. You are miserable… until you pull. that. plug! You remind yourself that this person does not have final say in how your life goes. To pull the plug means you recognize God is in control, and by His Spirit so are you. You must believe this truth for this exercise to work.
Determine to make pulling that plug a daily part of your prayer life, My Friend, so you can get on with your life in peace!
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 20:42
You do a lot of good that nobody sees, but what you do makes a difference. The world applauds massive deeds of goodwill and they should; however, your small deeds matter just as much to those you serve. Sometimes the ones you do for may forget to thank you or they cannot seem to thank you enough. Either way, God sees and will not let a single act of kindness or care escape the “Well Done” file He keeps on you.
Fill that file today for the glory of God!
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
We have all been there; heart burning from a disappointment or loss, standing in a place of worship, and having lips that do not want to sing. Fresh wounds try to distract us from acknowledging the goodness and faithfulness of the God Who let this happen. Natural and faulty reasoning ask angry questions and ugly words bubble to the surface of your heart, begging to jump out of your mouth. Yet, something stronger overrides the raw emotions and the simplistic questions. Though buried under the rubble of disillusionment, your faith rises with supernatural force and ignites hope. You remember that pain happens to everyone just like Jesus said it would; this is your turn. Though feelings contradict it, you know without a doubt that He is going through the pain with you. Relief seems far off, but you trust it will come simply because He said it would. In the darkness of your night season, you catch shooting-star glimpses of God’s goodness and gratitude moves your lips to utter a “thank you.” As others sing around you, a word or phrase highlights a truth your pain clouded. Even when the emotion is not there, the will to worship takes over because the truth is enough. The acknowledgement of one truth awakens remembrance of others and your heart worships through the tears.
The presence of God is constant and so is His worthiness of worship. May He give you the strength you need when you are hurting and when your offering is a struggle. In every season of your life, may you declare, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”