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?

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.

A New Look at Psalm 23

Psalm 23 has long been a favorite passage of mine.  It calms my restless soul and brings me peace.  As I was reading it this morning, the Lord dropped this question in my spirit, “Is it possible to lie down in green pastures and be led by the still waters while walking through the valley of the shadow of death?”

I’ve read this chapter a million times or so it would seem, but I’ve always distinguished these being two separate seasons in life.  Sometimes we are at peace and God is restoring our very souls and leading us in the right paths; and others, we are suffering through a dark valley.

This question from the Lord challenged my theology, though.  What if it were possible to experience deep peace despite being in the valley of the shadow of death?  Is it?

As the chapter moves on, it says:

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The entire chapter of Psalm 23 speaks of God’s presence being with us throughout our lives and the hope of heaven we have as Christians.

I don’t believe that the storms of life are indicative of God’s presence being lifted somehow from our lives.  And if He remains with us throughout the seasons of life, it stands to reason that His peace, which is a fruit of the Spirit, is also with us.

So, back to the question at hand…

Is it possible to lie down in green pastures, be led by the still waters and our very souls to be restored concurrently while we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death?

I believe the answer is a resounding yes.  Even in our darkest hours when it would appear all hope is gone, there is a peace, which comes from God Almighty, that can undergird our souls.

Lying down in these green pastures sounds so lush and refreshing, doesn’t it?  I can just picture these pastures by a huge lake on a spring day with butterflies flying around and the sun shining so brightly as it beams off the beautiful, blue water.   A slight breeze is in the air making it neither too hot nor too cold.  A perfect day.

Being led by the still waters speaks to nothing causing our souls to grieve, no anxiety.  Just stillness.  A supernatural calm.  How many of us could use some still waters today?

This peace, this stillness is available to all of us through Jesus Christ.  If we draw close to God, He promises to draw close to us.  He is as close as the mere mention of His Great Name.  We can experience this peace as we study God’s Word and spend time in prayer.

I do believe our souls can find rest even when the storms of life rage and threaten to capsize our vessel.  Jesus is our anchor.

Psalm 23 begins: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”

In Him lies everything we need.  May we all find peace for our restless souls and hope for the journey in God.  And may we receive restoration and comfort as we are being led in paths of righteousness.

I encourage you to read this short chapter today and see how God speaks to you.  The Bible is unlike any other book; it is a living book.  It is one with God and it is how God speaks to us.  To truly know the heart of God, we must study it and apply it to our own lives.  

Blessings, my friend!

~Amber

Count it All Joy

James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worth patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Why on earth would we be happy about being in a temptation or trial, as Christians?  How is this even possible?  Isn’t it a terrible thing when we find ourselves in less than perfect situations?  After all, as believers, aren’t our lives supposed to be beds of roses?

I love studying God’s Word because it lends a broader perspective than our present circumstances ever could.  We learn to look beyond ourselves and see the bigger picture.

No one is naturally happy about trials and tests of our faith.  However, when we see through God’s lens of eternity, one day we will be able to look back and realize how all the puzzle pieces fit together to form God’s plan in our lives.  It’s about trusting God’s plan and moving beyond what we see in front of us.

James talks about letting patience have her perfect work because some tests and trials (okay, probably most!) last longer than we would like.  If we can stop fighting God in the midst of our trials, we might actually learn something that would build our character and serve a greater purpose in bringing glory to God.

We have been led to believe that we should never encounter difficult times but such is life. Life is full of ups and downs and both require trusting God to continually work all things together for our good and ultimately His glory.  It’s just that it’s easier to trust God in the good times.  Somehow in the bad times, we feel as if He’s forgotten where we live.  He hasn’t forgotten.  He knows your name and mine.  He sees all.  Nothing is being wasted as you go through tests and trials.  I read this a long time ago: “God doesn’t waste pain, tears or scars.  He uses them all for His glory.”  I absolutely believe that!

Everything we go through in this life serves a greater purpose than we often see at the moment.  If we can see through eyes of faith, a time in the future where we’ve moved beyond the present circumstances, perhaps we can get a glimpse of the good that it will bring.  If we will be patient and learn to be still, we will eventually see that God’s hand was, in fact, with us during our darkest days.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  ~ Psalm 46:10a

“But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  ~ James 1:4

So, at the end of your tests and trials, the goal is that we would be mature and complete, wanting nothing.  The word perfect here does not refer to our English word perfect, but more of a complete faith, a maturing in the Lord.

If we only fed our children sugar, what kind of adults would they become?  As Christians, we cannot only experience the good things in life.  For there would not be an appreciation for them if that was our sole reality.  A balanced life causes us to fully appreciate the red letter days and times of our lives.

The challenges in life also serve to magnify our desperate need to trust God more fully.  We can say that we trust God, but when the rubber meets the road, do we really?  When you lose your job?  What about then?  When the doctor’s report comes back bad?  Still trust Him?

In my nearly 42 years of walking with God, one thing I have learned … and that is, that the Word of God is my true source of strength for whatever situation life hands me.

When I don’t know what to do, it is my compass.  When my heart is distraught, it is my comfort.  When I am wrong, it is my correction.  And when I am down, it is my courage.

The Word of God truly is:

My Compass

My Comfort

My Correction

My Courage

Praying that as we enter 2017, it will be for you also!  Blessings, my friend!

~Amber