Finding Rest

We spend our lives hanging our hopes and dreams of true happiness on the hat of achievement or success while its fulfillment is fleeting.  We tend to tell ourselves that ‘we’ll be really happy when’…

…we reach a certain pay grade

…we find the perfect match

…we have x number of children

…we buy a larger home

…we retire

…we travel the world

….While these are lofty and worthwhile goals and dreams, we will never be satisfied or at rest in these alone.

…or what about  – we’ll be really happy when…this storm passes or I am healthy again?

THEN, I will be happy and my soul will be at rest!

What if true rest is found in surrender?

What if the peace we seek is found in the person of Jesus Christ?  I submit to you that it is only then that the searching, the seeking, the striving … is fulfilled and complete.

All too often our focus goes askew.  We lose sight of the fact that He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Does the clay tell the Potter what to make?  No.  Never.  Sometimes our lives segue into unchartered waters and we fear we may drown.  It’s during those times, especially, that our focus must be redirected on the One who has all power in His hands.  That doesn’t always mean the storm will be averted or our path will miraculously veer around the storm.  It does, however, mean that God is there no matter the circumstances.  He is our Peace in troubled times.  No matter the situation, we can find rest.

Each of our journeys are unique.  We each run a different race, face particular battles, etc. But we are all created by the same God who made us to only find true peace and satisfaction in a personal relationship with Him.

We live in anxious times, no matter your geographic location.  We just do.  For all the academic achievements of mankind, sometimes we can be too prideful to realize our full dependence on an Almighty God.  For all our intellectual ability and strivings, we remain completely lacking in every way.  It is when we realize this, that we have begun to live.  Really live.  Life is so complex.  Happiness can seem elusive if we continue looking in all the wrong directions.  It is, however, completely attainable when we wholeheartedly surrender to God and know that no matter what we may be going through, He is there with us.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us.  In that, our future is secure and peace is attainable.

Rest today, friend, knowing that your circumstances do not somehow escape the watchful eye of an All-Knowing God.  He sees.  He knows.  He cares.  Rest.

“Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  

~ Matthew 11:28

 

Steeping Tea Bags

Standing over a pan of boiling water with tea bags steeping caused me to reflect on the process for a moment this morning. You see, I love iced tea.  And, tea making is important, friends.  Of late, my iced tea has been on the weak side, which led to my wandering thoughts.  Sometimes I lack the patience to wait for the water to come to a full boil before removing the pan from the burner so I can move onto the next task.  It is, however, this bit of patience that is required in order to allow the flavor to be released by the extremely hot temperature.

It was inspirational really…

The Lord dropped this thought into my mind – Without boiling water, the tea is flavorless and has no character.  It is severely lacking.  In other words, our lives are like the tea bags and the boiling water represents the storms of life.  Without the storms, our lives lack character and growth.  They never quite reach their full potential and are stymied as to reaching their rich flavor.

None of us like the boiling water or the storms of life, but it is during this process that maturing takes place.

Tea anyone?

Be Strong and Courageous

II Chronicles 32 is a wonderful example of the sovereignty of God and proof that when we place our full trust in God, He will cause us to be victorious!

I’ve been spending some time reading and re-reading this chapter to slowly digest its true meaning.  I love verses 7 and 8 in particular:

“Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him;

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.  And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah.”

Wow.  God was saying through Hezekiah – “Hey, I’ve got your back!  The odds may not be favorable for you but, no worries.  I’m bigger; I’m greater than your foes.”

Sometimes we place God is this super small box and believe that He is somewhere up in the sky looking down on us, probably frowning, and that He is incapable of moving in our situation.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Bible says that God is touched with the feelings of our infirmities.  He cares, folks.  He has loved us with an everlasting love.  Above all, He wants us to seek Him out and to trust Him.  How can you have a relationship with someone if you are unwilling to trust them on the most basic level?

When we are able to fully trust God and place our lives in His hands, we will then begin to see Him move in our lives in ways we never thought possible.

“…but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”  Yes!

We build up our faith by reading the Word of God.  And when we do this, our faith is able to grow and we are then in a position to be “strong and courageous”, not in our own strength or might; but in God’s strength.  He will give us supernatural strength to walk through whatever valley you find yourself in today.  He is able.  He is more than enough.

Will you trust Him?

In our weakness, He is strong.   If you feel weak in your faith today, I encourage you to get into the Word of God.  It is there you will find strength.

May God bless you and may you find courage and strength in God today!

The Immutability of God

Now what does that exactly mean?  Immutable means: Fixed, set, established, doesn’t change, constant, static, enduring, permanent.  I absolutely love this!

God’s unchanging nature has always been one of the most precious qualities to me.  He will not change.  He cannot change.  He isn’t loving today and hateful tomorrow.  He doesn’t forgive me today and hold a grudge against me tomorrow.  He isn’t kind today and evil tomorrow.  He cannot change.  It isn’t in His divine nature, friend.  Isn’t that comforting to know?

Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”

Verse 17 goes on to say, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.”

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfied the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

That’s the character of the God I serve.  He is good.  He is merciful.  He is just.

“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

 ~ I John 4:7-8

He is loving.  These Scriptures demonstrate and reveal to us the unchanging character of God.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.”  ~ Hebrews 13:8

He will not change.  He cannot change.

He has loved us with an everlasting love.  (Jeremiah 31:3)

When my circumstances change, my God does not.  When my seasons change, God remains constant.  When my bank account changes or my relationships change, God is steadfast, unmovable in His love and grace for my life.

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  ~ Psalm 18:1-2

I challenge you today, friend, to dig into the Word of God and see God’s character for yourself.  “O, taste and see, that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8). Do not neglect the Scriptures because the task seems tedious.  Our lives can become so hectic and fast paced that we lose sight of the true source of our strength.  Get into the habit of daily reading the Word of God and not merely checking off a reading list.  God is more interested in your spiritual growth than how many chapters you’re rushing through each day.  Read His love story to us and watch your spirit soar and your walk with Christ grow in ways you never knew were possible!

Blessings, my friend!  May we continually grow in His grace.  And may you be reminded of God’s constant character and steadfast love.

Joy in the Storm

A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough.”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to praise and worship music.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and into our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we face, God is bigger.

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned in our lives?

What if, even through the storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

What if you are going through a trial and it’s not even about you but to help somebody else?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life in amazing ways.

Rinse.  Repeat.

Never Give Up!

Winston Churchill gave a famous speech where he uttered:

“Never, never, never give up!”

He also said, “If you’re going through hell – keep going!”

I want to urge you today that if you seem to be facing insurmountable odds and life is just too difficult to go on … Keep placing one foot in front of the other!  Baby steps.

One step leads to another and before you know it, you are in a new season of life.  Life is ever changing and things won’t always remain the same.

Sometimes it’s easy for our emotions to get the best of us and we can readily succumb to the devil’s lies that we should simply throw in the towel.  Life is just too hard.

Life is hard sometimes and its load can seem overwhelming, but you and I are here for a purpose.  God created each one of us and has placed unique gifts and talents inside each of us.

“And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

~ II Corinthians 12:9-11

I pray that if you find the pain of your life unbearable today, my friend, that Jesus would hold you close and reveal His love to you as only He can.  You are loved by an Almighty God, who knows everything about you and still chooses to love.  That’s love, friend.  He loves with an unfailing, never ending kind of love.  I pray that God’s peace, the peace that surpasses all human understanding, would so envelope your soul that you will find rest and comfort like you’ve never known.  Lastly, I pray for God’s grace to be with you during this trying time, that God will provide for your every need and that you will have renewed hope in Christ.

This world is not our home.  We are pilgrims passing through until that day when God calls us home.  Until then, this world needs you.  This world needs to see God’s love demonstrated through your life.

May we all be strengthened in His might and His power to be a blessing to a lost and dying world.

Never give up, my friend.

Greater things are in store for you!  Your miracle and breakthrough could be just around the corner.  Don’t quit now!  Keep walking this faith walk.  God will give you the strength.  Trust Him today.

Fear

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once gave the famous refrain in his first inaugural address:

“There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

That’s pretty true, isn’t it?  Some of us come by worrying and fear more naturally than others but I think the reality is, we’re all susceptible to feelings of fear at some time or another in our lives.  Now, our “fight or flight” reactions may spark fear but are intended to preserve our lives.  I’m talking about living in a constant, vicious cycle of fear.

I discussed in yesterday’s post the fact that you’re never alone and the fact that it has got to be one of the devil’s most overused tools on us, as Christians.  Well, fear has to be a close second.  It is a real bondage to be so wrapped in fear that you cannot face the future with optimism and hope.

When I was in my early twenties, I worked at an independent living apartment complex for senior citizens.  I was an administrative assistant and one of my daily jobs was to take Mrs. Augustine her mail as she was too afraid to leave her apartment for fear the mafia would come for her.  She was a sweet lady but clearly had some problems.

As outlandish as this may sound, we all have things we do or don’t do out of fear.  Now, some of those things are good.  For instance, we don’t walk in the middle of the street because we could be struck by an oncoming car.  That is a valid fear and one we should heed.  We do not submit our income taxes late for fear of being fined.  We do not place our hand on a hot stove for fear of being burned.  All very good things.

However, there are also things we do or don’t do out of an unhealthy fear.

We don’t attend church or a certain Bible study out of fear of being judged.  We don’t have a gym membership for fear of being ridiculed.  We don’t leave the house without make-up because we fear being inadequate.  We don’t volunteer for a project because we fear our talents are insufficient.

You get the idea.  These are negative fears that can impact us if repeated long enough.

This is one of my 2017 goals:

“Face life unafraid!”

Not afraid of what someone else thinks.  Not afraid of failure.  Not afraid of insufficiencies.   Not afraid of being imperfect.  Not afraid of what “might” happen.  Not afraid of someone else’s approval or response.  Not afraid of being misunderstood.  NOT AFRAID!

What if we all lived like this?

What if we took the shackles off and simply lived life the best we could?  … without all the mental clutter, all the “what if’s”, all the insecurities?

The reality is that no one is perfect.  No one.  So, your failures will not surprise anyone.   They are common place, my friend.  My goal this year is to live life to the best of my ability and rest knowing that, that is good enough.  My goal is also to face my fears, wherever I may find them, head on.  I have found that when I actually get around to doing a task on my “to do” list that I’ve been dreading, I often wonder why it took me so long.  We have to muster up our courage and run toward our fears, instead of running from them.  If our backs are facing the fear, then we are on the wrong side.

Sometimes we fear the unknown.  That is a valid fear.  After all, none of us know the future.  However, we must come to the place that, although we may not know the future, we know WHO holds the future.  And that is God.

It is said that there are 365 Bible verses on the topic of fear – one for each day.  I think that is so neat.  God knew we would need constant reminders of His presence and His grace in our lives.  He knows how weak we are.

Can I challenge you today to face your fears?  The days of sweeping them under the rug are gone.  Deal with the dust bunnies in your life and move on so there can be closure.  Don’t allow fear or anything else to keep you from forward progress in your life.  Forward momentum is what productive, happy lives are made of.  The moment we begin to get “stuck” is the moment we succumb to traps of the enemy and snares that bind us.  Determine today that with God’s help, you will move forward with His strength and face your fears.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” ~ Isaiah 41:10