A Strategy To Defeat Stress
The tendency is to fight stress with activity, to beat it into submission. But this only feeds the beast. Try rest, especially resting in God. Set aside quiet time. Tell God what is not going well in your life, and listen with your heart to what He has to say.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary.”
Isaiah 40:28 (GNT)
Where Is Your Personal Story Going?
How God Can Edit The Story Of Your Life
Do you read your life like a story whose next page is unwritten? Are you fearful of what will appear on that next page? Are dark things from the past clouding your hope for a better future and happy ending?
If we think of the abundant life as a story to be written, then there can be no greater editor than God. We create the typos; he fixes them.
There are actions we can and should take now to influence our story; let us be guided by wisdom and discernment. There are other actions in situations that are beyond our control where despair shrouds hope and healing seems impossible. Is this writer’s block, or might faith contribute a special edit?
Consider how God, through Christ, edited the story of The Man Born Blind (John 9). We read about a man blind from birth who, in the daily actions of his life, crosses paths with Jesus. He is brought to Jesus’s attention by his disciples for a theological discussion, not one of compassion. This discussion has a lesson of its own and worthy of understanding, but for the purpose of this message let’s simply look at the outcome of this apparently chance encounter. The blind man, without even asking, is healed so that he may see with his eyes, but also with his heart; he was physically and spiritually healed. The next chapter of his life was transformed from what should have been bleak to one that offered him a new reason for living.
What This Story Is Telling Us
There is no story so bleak that cannot be redeemed by Christ. We cross paths with Christ in many ways and in these encounters there is always the hope for healing and for sight to be restored. God, as author, has limitless resources for creative and bountiful edits. Look with faith for these encounters with His Son through the Holy Spirit and be prepared for amazing grace to enter your life’s story.
“The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.”
“How much more?” might be our question. Would a “grain of heart’s-ease (be) of more value than a ton of gold?” Would a smile from God be desired over a palace? (Spurgeon Nov. 30 Morning) God’s “much more” is greater than we could imagine. It is up to us to decide how much less we would accept without Him.
Scripture source: 2 Chronicles 25:9
Beware The Holiness Movements
“The holiness movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them. There is nothing about them that needs the death of Jesus Christ. All that is required is a pious atmosphere, prayer, and devotion. This type of experience is not supernatural nor miraculous. It did not cost the sufferings of God,” (Utmost, November 29)
It is great to be uplifted and inspired but, as Oswald Chambers warns, beware that what we feel is not the essence of Christ. Christ is more than a cheerleader at His pep rally, a mascot for His team. He is God, sufferer and redeemer, worthy of our total surrender and transformation. He is nothing less than awe-inspiring.
Recharge With Gratitude
Are you depleted? Is you emotional tank empty? No energy, no desire to do anythig? You need to recharge, and one priceless yet free source of energy is gratitude. Gratitude is an energy source because it draws us to the ultimate energy source, God.
Where Do You Choose To Live?
We live at two levels: the upper, external level influenced by the circumstances of life, and the lower, foundational level of the Cross of Christ. The apostle Paul was unmoved by the emotions and state of the external things in his life because he was rooted and grounded in the consistency of God. Where do you choose to live?
We all live in a prison of some sort at some time. Not necessarily a room with iron bars, but a room in our minds and souls with invisible bars that prevent us from breaking free to a life of meaning, peace, and abundance. Ironically, we are the ones who incarcerate ourselves. We imprison ourselves by living a life apart from God, a life of personal independence that, ultimately, results in a type of slavery that is as constricting as being bound by chains.
If we were to look at ourselves as God sees us, we would ask, “Why can’t we see that we are free?” We don’t see because we don’t look, or we look with eyes clouded by our own sense of frailty, weakness, and self-doubt. The freedom that we truly seek, the freedom that God desires for us, is found when we seek Him. Jeremiah said it boldly and clearly: “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
In Acts 16, Paul and fellow traveler Silas were imprisoned after Paul freed a female slave from a spirit by which she predicted the future. Unfortunately for Paul, the woman was used by her owners to make great sums of money by telling fortunes. The slave owners, furious at their loss of revenue, caused Paul to be stripped, beaten with rods, severely flogged, and thrown into prison where his feet were fasted in stocks. We read:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” The jailer, at risk for losing his life if the prisoners escaped, asked Paul, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “ “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
Paul was in the type of jail that we so often find ourselves—one where there appears to be no escape. We are put there because the life we live is fraught with unfairness, brutality, evil, and bad choices. But Paul did not allow his spirit to be bound, and neither must we, for his hope was in Christ. It was this belief and trust that loosened his chains and broke open the prison doors.
This is more than just a nice story. It is a story of freedom. Believing in the Lord Jesus is our jailbreak. In the life we live, the physical prison doors may not always be thrown open but the door to our heart, where we are free to serve God, is opened. What are we waiting for?
Gratitude—The Practical Side
Why be grateful? What’s in it for you? If you do not express gratitude, are you truly grateful?
Am I alone in sensing that there is less gratitude being expressed in life today? Have we become so self-centered that there is no room for gratitude? Has a sense of unlimited entitlements pushed thanksgiving from our consciousness?
If so, perhaps a practical look at gratitude may change our thinking.
“So many of his (David’s) psalms focus on thankfulness, reaffirming how gratefulness is not dependent upon our circumstances but rather on the condition of our hearts instead of what’s going on around us in our situations. Like thankfulness helped David to stay close to God, giving thanks keeps the attitudes of our hearts softened and turned toward Him rather than focused on what problems are taking place in the world.”
(Source: https://www.crosswalk.com/ written by Lynette Kittle)
Gratitude expressed is life-enhancing. Without gratitude, the picture of your life is incomplete. Enrich your life with a sense of ever-flowing gratitude.
Is The Only Thing You See Is All That You Lack?
The world is not my home.
I’m just a-passing through.
The only thing that you can see is all that you lack.
You got to come on up to the house.
Words and lyrics by Tom Waits
From the documentary Sly.
We live Life In A Vacuum
Actually, we live life in two vacuums. The first vacuum is in our daily lives. We tend to focus on the vacuum of lacking more. It is the desire to have more, be more, and do more. This vacuum makes us ungrateful.
The second vacuum is the vacuum of the soul. We are made to desire God and anything less than God will leave us empty. And who can have too much of God?
The solution to both types of vacuums is surprisingly simple. Being grateful in our daily lives will generate gratitude for the gifts, blessings, and grace that already abound. This, in turn, will fill us with the soul-satisfying essence of God Himself.
The Most Valuable Advice
When asked what is the most valuable advice he could give a missionary in her work, Desmond Tutu responded, “God. Is. Love.” An amazing trinity of words.
Complementing this is Paul’s desire expressed in Ephesians 3:18. “”And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”
When Life Doesn’t Work
The world is broken, my life is a mess, there’s no one to help me, and my wifi is down. Why shouldn’t I just give up?
Giving up—waving the white flag of surrender—is always an option. And there are innumerable books and articles that tell you why you shouldn’t. Above all reasons, and rarely mentioned in this broken world, is the fact that we belong to another world and are not made to give up.
Trial Of Faith
Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life. Much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. (Chambers, My Upmost October 31)
What is the discipline of life? It is that bad things happen to faithful people. What is the trial of faith? It is the discipline of remaining true to God, to trust in His Word when blessings seem to vanish.