Come

Are you weary?

Are you tired of always being tired?

Do you days last forever and the nights never seem long enough?

When, when will this ever end?

Noah was called to quite the task: build an ark, wait out a flood, and perpetuate a new, kinder humanity. God clearly called him, but God never revealed a definite timeline.

Maybe you are stuck without an end date. Maybe the thought of this never-ending saga is just too much. I bet Noah had a few days like that. When the stench of those animals confined in the boat brought tears to his eyes and aching to his heart.

When, when will this ever end?

But Jesus gave us a promise to make the wait more palatable.

“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Jesus calls us to come to Him when we are quite certain we can not move any more.

He invites us when we are weary.

He soothes us when we are simply done.

He promises us rest when we fear we might never fully rest again.

His words could well have been: “Come to me all who are:

tired,

burned-out,

frustrated,

frazzled,

depleted,

depressed,

despaired,

bothered,

heavy-hearted,

and giving-up.

(because) I will give your rest.”

Rest from what troubles and tortures you.

Rest from what weighs on your hear and consumes your mind.

Rest from problems never resolved.

Rest from the terribly long days and the way-too-short nights.

Rest when no end is in sight.

He invites us to take His yoke – to tie ourselves to Him and carry and share our burdens with Him. He promises, with Him, it will go easier.

He wants to teach us.

He reminds us He is good and has our best intentions in mind.

He promises we will find rest for our souls. Not only eternal rest but a sweet, soul-satisfying rest for today: the knowledge that whatever I am called to do, it is well with my soul.

Whenever I consider His words, I realize, because of the weariness, I absolutely must go to Him.

 

Never Alone

It’s been a hard day, again,” she thought as she slowed her pace, sweeping her bronze hair into a ponytail as she glanced around. The floor littered with little toys met her weary gaze.

It wasn’t the mess which caused her anguish, it was who was missing. Who would never again waltz through that door.

Alone.

I am truly alone.

Her body wracked with sobs as her mind fought the fear.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” a voice whispered to her heart.

I don’t know what to pray;” she answered.

In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

God, this is so hard. I will never make it.

“For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Psalm 91:11

God, I will never know happiness again.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God, I just can’t picture …

How can I do this? I am alone.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25

We are not alone.

Even when our struggles are silent, seemingly too personal to share.

Even when no one on earth knows, He knows.

He sees.

He cares.

He intervenes.

He’s given us our own personal cheering squad. We have the Holy Spirit.(Romans 8:26.)

We have angels. (Psalm 91:11)

We have Jesus himself. (Hebrews 7:25)

Even when we feel we must silence the storm, hiding the hurricane from others as it rises out of our hearts,wWe are not on our own.

We are not alone.

No, He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us.

WE ARE NOT ALONE.

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P.U.S.H. Part I

Never stop praying.” I Thessalonians 5:17 NLT

P.U.S.H.

Pray Until Something Happens.

I first read the above acronym and definition in a favorite novel. Delightfully, it was the character of a small child reminding an adult of the need to pray without ceasing. Paul reminded the Thessalonians of the need to “never stop praying.”

But just how often do we humans obey this exhortation?

Do we often allow ourselves to become bitter because prayers are not answered how and when we think is best?

What about those hours, even years of our lives consumed by lifting the same prayer request heavenward? The child who has lived with a serious disease his whole life. The soul who has hardened his heart and refuses God’s grace and salvation.  When life’s circumstances NEVER seem to change no matter how many prayers are sent up.

Frustration is understandable when we do not see any change, or any progress.

Yet, how generous our heavenly Father is to not get frustrated with us. He sees the whole picture.  We see only a fragment. (And sometimes only a fragmented fragment at that.)

How should we approach God with the same prayer, day after day, year after year?

With joy.

I Thessalonians 5:16 says we are to ‘always be joyful.’  Not joyful just while enjoying blessing, or joyful when life is fantastic.

“Always be joyful,” period.

With a joyful heart, pray.  Joyous because I know God and He knows me.  Joyful because He is good and only wants the very best for me.

Yes, we can always be joyful when our attention is on our eternal destination and not simply focused on today’s journey.

Yes, we can be joyful, and, with God’s help, be joyful in every circumstance.  And with the correct focus, we can joyfully Pray Until Something Happens.

Reflections:

What prayers have I abandoned, having prayed them too long with seemingly no avail?

Read Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

He promises us an answer!  It just may not be revealed in our timing.

How can I renew my stamina to pray until something happens?

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your promise to never leave me, nor forsake me.  Thank You that You hear my prayers, and You want only the very best for me.  Please teach me how to patiently wait on and trust in You.  Thank You that You are indeed good. Amen.

 

Thanks for reading!  Please return by Monday, April 20, for the next post.

Rejecting the Rat Race

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41 NIV

 

Staring at the calendar, her heart sank.  Every line was filled.  She began reading. Dentist appointment. Music lesson. Work deadline. Company coming. Clean house.

Nope.

No time for Bible Study today.             

So many things to do, but only one is important: listen to Him.

She was many things: wife, mother, employee, hostess, and housekeeper to name a few. So many roles, but only is important: Child of the King.

Homework to check, cake to decorate, report to read, fresh flowers to find.  So many things to see, yet only one is important: Jesus.

How often does my quiet time, my Bible Study linger on the to-do list, unchecked? The urgent overrides the important. But I still scribble it on there. Why? Not to induce guilt when it is still staring at me at the end of the day. But to remind me of where I can find peace in harried moments. Remind me of where I can turn to “take me away” from the stress of the day.

As I anxiously review my planner at breakfast, it reminds me how to center myself.  Any task I am doing is for the glory of God.  But I don’t have to be, or do, or see anything.  I only need to be what I already am, at no accomplishment of my own: Child of the King.

And to know where to begin my day, I must fix my eyes on Him.  Mary realized the work that needed to be done.  She realized the honor and importance bestowed on her home to have Jesus as a guest. She also realized how easily one could get caught up in the inconsequential details and miss the magnificent moment. While there was work to be done, she had a great opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus. To be filled with peace and wisdom. And she wisely took it.

Whether you are male or female, student or parent, or a thousand different roles, pulling you a thousand different directions.  Only one thing is important.  Take a few moments to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Reflections:

At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed, how to I define what is important?

How do I allow myself to become overwhelmed by the urgent that I often forgo the important?

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, how easily I succumb to the demands of the day.  I squash the dreams of my heart and the yearnings of my soul, until I am overwrought and undernourished. May I recall the wisdom Mary exercised at she sat at Your feet, still and quiet, filling her soul.  May I also make the time to follow her example, on a very regular basis.  Thank you for giving me the only title I will ever need: Child of the King! Amen.

what I have to be

Sleepless Insanity

“For He grants sleep to those He loves.” Psalm 127:4b

Heart heavy, I laid down in bed.  Snuggling the cozy comforter to my chin, I began a simple prayer.  Only this prayer isn’t a simple release.  It’s now a tug-of-war between my desire to give it to God and my mind refusing to relinquish it into His capable hands.

I mull over the request in my mind, which is determined to find the proper wording, proper option.  As if, when I could only know what to pray, then, God would know what to do.

When was the last time a heavy heart kept you awake? Try as you might, you can’t seem to banish those heart-wrenching concerns.  Tossing and turning produces new stress: Exhaustion will be a constant companion tomorrow, further hindering any efforts to remedy concerns.  Oh, what to do?

Let’s back up to the beginning of Psalm 127.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves, Psalm 127:1-2

Unless God has authored our plans, the success will be limited.

All the worrying, tossing and turning, and heartache won’t change that fact. We must “Be still and know I am God.”  Psalm 46:10, (See “Be Still, Who Me?” posted 2/10.)

We know it in theory.  But, oh, the agony of putting it into practice!

As we draw our plans, whether they be plans for the day, a career, a new business, a marriage relationship, or how we raise our children; we can’t court success while eclipsing God from the equation.

As hard as we work, if God’s not in it, we won’t taste true success.

When He authors plans for us, even when He overwhelms us with God-sized plans, if we follow Him, and fix our eyes and focus on Him, He will give us success.  And with success He’ll grant us peace.  And with peace comes that often elusive sweet slumber we were missing.

Reflections:

Monday:  How do I define success?

Tuesday: How do I think God would define success? Read Ecclesiastes 3:10-14

 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.  I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Wednesday: What is something I have been pursuing or want to pursue, but am unsure of God’s place or plan in it? Read and memorize the promise of Jeremiah 29:11:’ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

How does this apply to me here?

Thursday: What keeps me awake at night?  How can I stop playing “tug-of-war” with God, and truly give Him my cares?

Read Psalm 23, and 1Peter 5:7. What comforts you most about these passages?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,  for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me  in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for youI Peter 5:7

Friday: Prayer: Thank you Lord for caring for me.  Thank you for the plans You have, and that I can hope for tomorrow and trust in Your great plan.  Please help me to trust and follow You, and not rely on my own plans, but remember that You have only the best in store for me.  Thank you, Amen.

Thank you for reading, please return by Monday, February 24, for the next post.

Be Still…Who, Me?

Be still and know I am God,” Psalm 46:10

Monday:

Alarm ringing.

Late again.

Child screaming.

Broken glass.

Milk spilled.

Pets unfed.

Lost mitten.

Polar vortex!

Misplaced boot.

Broken zipper.

Dirty floor.

Be still and know, I am God.

How do I have time to be still, you might well wonder.  Yet, that is the great paradox of faith: we must trust what we cannot see.  Do I truly believe the promise, “I will supply all your needs.”? (Philippians 4:19) Do I trust that if I do what God is calling me to do, that He will indeed make sure what needs to get done, indeed gets done?

Reflection: How can I find peace and be still before God, in a world filled with chaos?

Tuesday:

Looming deadline.

Car battery died.

New Health Insurance.

Work physical.

Diet changes.

Exercise plan.

Layoffs announced.

New manager.

New policies.

“Be still and know I am God.”

Even when daily life is uncertain, overwhelming, and just constant chaos; there is someone desiring to give us peace.  He knows even more about the details of life than we do.  He knows when our jobs will change before we get the notice.  He knows the diagnosis on before we experience the symptoms. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

We need to be still and let Him exchange our panic for peace.

Reflection: Am I choosing chaos over His peace?

Wednesday:

Home late.

Cluttered floor.

Cluttered furniture.

Hungry kids.

What’s for dinner?

Homework help:

Inverse Property(?)

Kid’s bubble bath.

Story time.

Hugs and kisses.

Dirty dishes.

Unpaid bills.

How often do I see burdens in my blessings?  Instead of looking at a sink, (and a counter) full of dirty dishes as the evidence of a well-fed family, I see a monumental mess!

Instead of seeing my children’s toys, books, and electronics, which are scattered around my house, as evidence of healthy, inquisitive, and very blessed lives; I see clutter, which needs picked up NOW!

Instead of sitting down to a stack of bills as a reminder of how blessed I am, that we can pay for heat in a cold winter, and we earned enough this year for the government to tax us; I sour at the thought of doing one more thing that night.

Be still and know, I am God.”

He’s placed each of us here on this earth, where and when we should live.  He has ordered our lives.  He has blessed our days, even the difficult ones.  We must choose to search for that blessing.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Reflection:  How can I focus on the positive, to see the blessings of my chaotic life?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe4SckesWLE

Thursday:

Warm weather.

Birds singing.

Clean house.

Clean car.

Good food.

Wife happy.

Kids quiet.

Grass green.

Flowers blooming.

All’s well.

Be still and know I am God.

Does the prayer time slack off in the midst of constant bliss?  Do we remember to praise God and take time for Him, when all is well?  We don’t know what He’s up too, but in enjoying the blessings of each day, we must remember to thank Him for our lives.  We must come before Him, silent our cell phones, our racing thoughts, and our hammering hearts.  Ask what He has for us to do today.

Reflection: How often do I communicate with God when all is well?

Friday:

How is your approach to Psalm 46:10 now?  Do you see it as simply something to offer in time of need, to comfort a hurting soul?  It does offer comfort, but it’s also a command. If you have dedicated yourself to Christ, if you really want to live a Christ-centered life; then your hours, your words, your actions are not your own.

There is a plan for your life.  There is a plan for your day.  There is a plan for this moment.  Maybe we’re all ready to ask God what that plan is.

Prayer: Dear Father,  You know the plans you have for me.  You love me.  You created me to do good works.  Please let me not get distracted with this life that I miss my calling.  Please, help me not to be so enamored with this life, that I miss building a relationship with You.  May I remember that You can and You do use everything for good, and that no matter what ‘stuff’ I’m dealing with today, You will use it in Your great plan.  Thank you for Your forgiveness and Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks for reading!  Please return by Monday, February 17, for the next post.

Resolution: Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

What is the spiritual significance of New Year’s Resolutions?  At the close of 2012, I stumbled upon a new and novel concept: no New Year’s Resolutions, no stress that first week in January, no broken promises to myself.

Instead, I would focus on one word for 2013.  As I contemplated this, I asked:  What is missing from my life?  What spiritual discipline should I seek? For what is my heart yearning?

After much thought and prayer I determined I would spend 2013 seeking peace.

I read up on the subject. Exhausted Biblical references on the subject.  Prayed a lot.

As I reflect on last year and my quest for peace I realize something surprising.  The events of my life this year were not any more peaceful than other years.  My schedule was still a bit chaotic.  The year was full of surprises, both good and bad and loaded with plenty of stress.

Yet I had promised myself and God, to focus more on Christ, and His peace.

That peace which passes understanding.  That peace, from the Holy Spirit, that I can claim, no matter what.

And, when circumstances, words, or emotions arose which threatened my peace, I would often retreat ASAP to a quiet place and carry it to Christ.

Note the word often in the sentence above.  Running to my Savior is not always my knee-jerk reaction.  Sometimes I prefer to stew.  Or cry tears of frustration.  Or locate some dark chocolate!

But none of these things offered that peace that passes understanding. Nothing could console or comfort like Christ.

These final weeks of 2013 have not been peaceful for me.  In fact, they have been some of my most difficult weeks this year.

Yet, as I try to focus on that concept of peace, I learned something significant.

I need to rely on the Prince of Peace and allow Him to guide my reactions.  If I plan on drawing nearer to God, not only can I carry my concerns to Christ, I absolutely must.

After twelve months of practicing this discipline, I’m more often turning to Christ more quickly, but I am also reminded of my frequent delinquency at times, and know I’m a work in progress.

And yet, my Prince never gives up on me, so neither will I.

Looking ahead to 2014, I’ve already decided on my focus for next year.  I have high hopes it will be more fun, more positive, more fulfilling.

My word for 2014: JOY!

Reflections:

Monday: Reflect on 2013.  How have you drawn closer to God? What evidence of James 4:7 can you document for 2013?

Tuesday: Reflect on the spiritually significant events of 2013 for you.  How has God been drawing closer to you?

Wednesday: Happy New Year!  Prayerfully consider a spiritual focus for 2014. Share your focus with someone to help keep you centered.

Thursday: Research your discipline. Include Scriptural references to memorize to keep a positive focus.

Friday: Prayer: Lord, Thank you that You care about every single area in my life.  Nothing I see, experience, or feel is insignificant to You.  Please open my heart to Your teaching this year, as I begin a new focus, and hopefully travel a path of deeper unsdertanding toward You.  Thank you, for never giving up on me. Amen.