“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
We are all part of a time of intense global suffering, inconvenience, and uncertainty. Simultaneously, we live in a time brimming with opportunity to serve, give, create, connect, and invest. In whatever way you are using these opportunities, God notices. He sees you reaching out to a neighbor and checking in on family and friends. He sees you volunteering, sacrificing, and encouraging. The smiles you are bringing to sad faces, the prayers you are praying for anxious hearts to have peace-none have escaped God’s attention. The rewards, in addition to the earthly satisfaction you feel now, will meet you in heaven embedded in crowns you will throw at the Master’s feet.
The chances to make a difference are ripe and ready for the taking. Take all you can for the glory of God, My Friend. Dark times are a perfect backdrop for your light, His light in you, to shine. May the gleam of your gifts shine so bright that others see God and bring a smile to our heavenly Father.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
You know this: For the unbeliever, sin separates and without repentance and a turning to Jesus as the only Way out, all hope is lost of a reunion with God. What God wants to remind you is that sin also can do damage to a believer’s relationship with Him. Salvation cannot be lost once obtained through faith, but God has more to give than merely missing Hell, My Friend. As a bride hopes for more than a ceremony, so God desires more from that initial decision to trust Him. Sin can no longer keep you out of heaven, but it sure can bar the door to a million other blessings.
Is there a sin you cherish at this time in your life, one that in the rush of life you have allowed to go unchecked? It happens to all of us, but now is a great time to bring it to God as the ugly thing it is. That thing has its pleasures but dulls your appetite for God, separates you from spiritual power, healthy relationships, and answered prayers (Psalm 66:18) Sin downplays what you are missing by being in the “far country”(Luke 15:11-13) and offers faulty reasoning as to why you should not return home to your First Love (Revelation 2:4-5)
Do not make it complicated.
Remember above all that no excuse is a match for the power of God to give you strength both to return to Him and to stay with Him. Ask God for it, ask Him to search your heart. He is gentle and always extends open arms and a listening ear. So much of what you have been striving for lies on the other side of repentance. Whatever is in your way is not worth missing the abundance and joy that await.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I have heard that plastic shopping bags can be crocheted or knitted into beautiful handbags. I use the same shopping bags to line my small trash cans, to cover my head when I forget my umbrella, and in a pinch, to serve as a plastic cap when doing a hot oil treatment. What other ways do you use those bags?
Recycling makes use of something in multiple ways so as to minimize waste and to extract as much value as possible. God does the same with your trials. He never wastes trouble but instead uses it to purify you so that Jesus is more visible and so that God extracts more glory from your life. The Father recycles irritations, inconveniences, and uncertainties and makes them His means of transformation to the very thing you may have been asking Him to bring about in you.
Don’t fight it, My Friend. Since you and I cannot escape this difficult season, let us yield to what the Master is doing and say with Job, “…when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Only the Divine Recycler can take the tiny shopping bags of this current situation and turn them into gold. Let Him!
“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!