Clinging to the Unnecessary, Part II

 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Mark 1:17

Jesus directed Simon and Andrew to drop those nets, drop their lives as they knew them that very moment, drop everything, and follow Him.  When have you been called to leave a comfortable situation and follow the Lord into the ‘Great Unknown?’

Back in 2001, my husband felt a calling to return to school. Ironically, we already each held a college degree and had started our family with one daughter present in our lives.  We had been praying for a second child for several months.

I had many reservations about this calling, and felt certain we misunderstood.  We would need to go into debt for school, we were already parents and had begun investigating adoption, we would need to move away from friends and a wonderful church family, and I was not thrilled with the lifestyle options offered by attaining an MBA.  I envisioned an absent husband, not at all what I had signed up for when I said, “I do,” thank you very much!

But I agreed to pray about it.  We couldn’t even talk about it, but we each prayed about it for forty days.

In the end, he was accepted into two top ten programs, one even offering a small scholarship.

That was God’s answer.

Even when I had the answer, I was not thrilled. But, I was determined to be positive and be as supportive as possible.

Three weeks later we learned our second daughter was on her way!

God had heard the cries of my heart.  I would not question the timing, and while we were making the best choices we could, we knew we needed to rely on God’s provision for the next two years.

It’s been ten years since my husband graduated with his MBA. In that decade we have been relocated three times to unknown cities.  We have lived without him during the week while he traveled for work, added a third daughter to the mix, and celebrated as we repaid each student loan. We fought my cancer and each have drawn closer to Jesus.

In some areas my fears were justified. Yet, God has redeemed every sacrifice, every hardship, working out everything in our favor, just as He promises in Romans 8:28.

During the times of loneliness, I drew closer to God, eventually realizing I really was not home alone with young children.  And when I was clueless, He would somehow provide a key.

The one blessing of my husband’s work I constantly denied desiring or needing, proved necessary six years ago.  His income and his job’s health benefits sustained our family as I journeyed through cancer.

I did not think we needed the corporate life. But God realized that by utilizing John’s talents and gifts, He could then free up my time to raise our children and allow me time to study Him and His word.  It also has given me time to pursue my passion of writing.

I shudder to think, what if, what if I had disobeyed God’s calling on our lives?  The road has not been easy, but He was there each step of the journey.

Reflections:

Monday: When have you been called to leave a comfortable situation and follow God into the ‘Great Unknown?’

Tuesday: What fears did you have, and later realized, 1) they were justifiable, and 2) God dealt with those fears.

Wednesday: Are you currently facing a crossroads where the logical answer just doesn’t seem to be His chosen path? Read Jeremiah 29:11-13 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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

Thursday: Think about what you hope your future contains.  Have you turned that picture over to God?  Are you willing to let Him make adjustments?

Friday: Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,  Thank you for sustaining me.  That you for leading me.  Thank you, that in your holiness, you truly have the very best for me, and your wisdom and guidance will lead me down the path you chose for me.  Thank you, that I can trust you, knowing you love me more than I can imagine. Amen.

Thank you for reading!  Please return next Monday, April 14, for the next post.

Lean On Me

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“How are you?”

“Fine.”

That conversation kept repeating itself by various people.  Although I knew no one, I suspected those answering the question were all lying.

Why?

I was sitting in an urgent care waiting room.  Those asking the question were nurses escorting patients back to the physician.

Why would you visit urgent care if you were ‘fine?’

Yet, how many of us automatically answer we’re “fine” when asked, when in reality we’re anything but?

On Sunday mornings we paste a light-hearted smile on our faces, chit-chat with other members at church and return home.  Maybe we truly worshipped from the soul.  Maybe our spirits were stirred by the sermon.

But how often have we left church having shared our hearts?

How often do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable?

I’m not necessarily advocating revealing your heart to the weary soul ahead of you in the check-out line; but the ability to be honest and transparent with your brothers and sisters in Christ is not only a gift, but an expectation.

I recall speaking years ago with an exchange student who had come to the U.S.  She couldn’t believe people would greet her in the hallway, ask how she was, and keep on going not even waiting for a reply!

When I lived in Germany years later, I was astonished the answer I received when I asked people how they were: “Thank you!” There, that question showed genuine interest and concern for others.

As Christians we are called to sincerely love.  We are called to be able to share of ourselves, and our souls.

Let’s be sincere in our greeting of each other, and in how we answer one another.

Reflections:

Monday:  Read Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.

Read 1Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Is it a smart idea to go swimming alone?

How about swimming in shark invested waters?

When we believe “I can do this alone,” we are as safe spiritually as if we blindly dove into the ocean and started swimming straight out, alone.

Do I believe the lie, ‘I should handle life on my own.’ Do my actions follow my stance? (If you see a personal discrepancy, you are not alone! Let’s pray for all Christians to look for a confidante.)

Tuesday: Read Ecclesiastes 4: 10. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Read Philippians 4:19  And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Christ promises to supply all our needs. Sometimes, that supply is something tangible like a blanket to cover a cold baby, sometimes it’s something spiritual, like a burning fervor for truth, and sometimes it’s emotional, like a warm human heart to hold you through life’s storms.

Am I fiercely independent, ignoring how God wants to supply my needs?

Wednesday: Read Ecclesiastes 4:11  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?

The practical implications of this verse are straight forward.  (Especially to those of us in a record-setting winter right now!)

What are the spiritual implications of resting on a luke-warm or even cold faith? How have others warmed you spiritually?

Thursday: Read Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

We are blessed to have the companionship of other believers.  But that third strand, a personal faith in God held by both people, is what further strengthens us as individuals.  Without that third strand, our cord will eventually fray.  Do I have Christian confidants sharing my faith and, my life? How can I find one if I don’t?

Friday: Once there was a little boy who was afraid of the dark.  His parents repeatedly told him he was safe in his room.  His parents were in the house, all the doors were locked, and even Jesus was right at the boy’s bedside. The little boy agreed all that was great but, as he told his parents, “I need someone with skin on!” He needed human comfort.

Read Matthew 26:36-38 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Even Jesus, the Son of God, needed someone with skin on.  Do I really think I’m any different?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father,  Thank you for Your constant provision in my life.  Thank you for the friends who keep me accountable, who provide that human touch.  Please help me to be the friend, and the person You are calling me to be.  Amen.

Thank you for reading!  Please return by Monday, March (Spring is coming!) 3 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.

Perseverance Through the Wall

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving in the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:11-12

This past week I watched an interesting home improvement project in my house.  The week of a holiday, a holiday we were hosting out-of-state family for three days, mind you, my dear husband, John, wanted to begin construction in our basement.

It made sense on certain levels: he could take time off, and the project was a family Christmas present. So, amidst the sawdust, the multiple trips to the home improvement store, the freeing of the rented truck from the soggy earth in the lot next door, and a few minor injuries, our project got well underway.

Although he anticipated taking two days to complete the construction, as often happens, the process was a bit more complicated than previously thought and he hit many unanticipated snags.

Yet, as I watched this entire experience play out, John kept his great sense of humor and altered plans and reconfigured ideas. The project ran a bit over and was not completed before our company arrived.  My dad offered to help, and his help was greatly appreciated. With another person on the job, morale ran high and progress accelerated. The construction was completed the night before our family left.

I was impressed and blessed by John’s perseverance.

How about those spiritual walls we ram, seemingly out of nowhere? When ministry does not follow my plans, can I alter my ideas as easily as John altered his designs? Am I open to novel ideas, ideas I did not author?

When I “get stuck” with my feet sinking, do I work to pull myself out, even resorting to solutions outside the box, determined to be freed?

When I run out of the needed materials or find I do not possess the necessary tools, do I stop and locate them, or push on, making the task even harder?

Do I stop and ask God, the ultimate designer of all projects, to reveal the blue prints I should follow, and to show me what I need?  Or do I rely on myself?

Constructing a healthy spiritual life or a ministry is not unlike constructing a physical room in a home.  We need the right materials, we need the correct tools, we need the right attitude, we need the right directions, and we need perseverance.

Reflections:

Monday: What am I trying to accomplish at present? Have I consulted with God, allowing Him to direct me?

Tuesday: As times and circumstances change, am I open to an altered plan? Remember Moses’ experience in trying to get the Israelites to the Promised Land. (Read Exodus 16, 32:19-33:3,  and Numbers 20:1-13 )

Wednesday: Am I open to an unpredictable timeline, in the quest for completion of my goal?  Noah knew he would be in the ark, there would be a great flood, and that he would one day get back on dry land.  But God did not outline a timeline in His directions to Noah.  Am I ready to fully rely on God, and not try to write that timeline myself? Read Genesis chapters 6-9.

Thursday: Do I possess the perseverance to push on when I do not see perceptible progress?  Do I take steps to build my faith, so I can trust God in those moments, days, or years, when I do not see any progress with human eyes?

Friday: Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You are the great author and perfector of our faith.  You know the plans you have for each one of us, plans which will not harm us, plans which will further Your kingdom, and our very own personal faith. Please help us to remember and cling to Your promise in James 4:8, that when we draw closer to You, You will draw closer to us.  Help us to reject negative thoughts and words, and to develop an attitude of perseverance.  Amen.

Thank you so much for reading!  Please return by Monday, December 9 for the next post.

Comparisons Kill

Read Luke:25-30  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

He was back.  The one who left others to do all the work. The one who had worried Father for practically forever.

Now, he was back. And, by all appearances his time away had not been well spent. And yet, Father was beside himself, running out to meet him before he even darkened the doorway. And, the fattened calf was be killed.  There would be feasting tonight.

Why are we celebrating?  Why the fuss?  Haven’t I done all that was expected?  Wasn’t I the honorable son?

Comparisons can kill.  They steal life from our hearts, silent our spirits, and ruin our relationships.

God doesn’t want us comparing ourselves to one another.  He has a specific plan for each of us.  We don’t need to envy other’s gifts and talents, spouses and kids, careers and faith.  We don’t need to believe those lies of, “I deserve more,” or, “My life would be so much better if I only had that set of circumstances.”

Comparisons kill by taking the focus off the blessings God has given and pointing  to what He has not.

Comparisons kill by halting obedience to God’s plan for my life by my choosing to distractedly daydream about someone else’s path.

Comparisons kill by pushing me into a pit of self-pity instead of fixing my focus on God guiding me down the path He authored.

Compare yourself only to the person you saw in the mirror yesterday.  Improve upon that person, her faith, her actions, her thoughts. Above all let God lead.  Because when you choose to follow Him, you never suffer by comparison.

Reflections:

Monday: How do I suffer when I draw comparisons? How do my relationships suffer?

Tuesday: What comparison have I been absorbed in, which has succeeded in distracting me?

Wednesday: How can I let it go?

Power verse: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Thursday:  How can I be a better person today than I was yesterday?

Friday:  Prayer: Heavenly Father,  All knowing, all loving, almighty God.  In Your wisdom and love, You created me.  With all my character flaws, fears, and failures.  Yet You see me as You envisioned me when You created me.  Because of Jesus, You are not distracted by my flaws.  Please help me not to be distracted by them either.  Please help me to fix my eyes on You, and spend my time working on becoming who You want me to be, not what I would like to be.  Because Your plan is always better than anything I could ever author, Lord.  Thank you for loving me and never giving up on me!  Amen

Growing Guidance, Part IV

“You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Luke 10:41b- 42a

“Sonshine”

Plants can grow, but won’t thrive without light.  A few years ago, one of our daughters tested an interesting science project.  She planted a seed in soil within a jar covered with aluminum foil.  After several weeks, she uncovered her container.  She found a small, white radish plant!

We are just like that radish seed, spiritually speaking.  We might survive and even grow a mite, but probably will find it difficult to healthfully produce fruit. (Unfortunately we don’t turn white on the outside to remind us what we’re lacking!)

We need “Sonshine”.  We need those uninterrupted moments at the feet of Jesus.

For many of us, the thought immediately in our minds is, “Good luck with that!”

Schedules are crazy, deadlines are looming, and sleep may be a distant memory.  But if we don’t prioritize our time with God, we too will grow pale and bear less fruit.  We will focus on other things and slowly wither away.

Just like Jesus lovingly pointed out to Martha in Luke 10:41- 42 , we must often choose between good and better.  How easy it is to neglect our time with the Son, always thinking later will be more convenient.  But if later never comes, we run the risk of spiritually shriveling up and dying.

Reflections:

1)  How much “Sonshine” do I need?

2) When will I make time to ‘sit at the feet of Jesus’?

Please share how you have creatively carved out time with your Creator.  We can all use inspiration!

Please return by Friday, July 19, for the next post.

It’s not what I do, but who I am

“When the seventy-two disciples returned they reported to him, ‘Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!’  ‘Yes,’ he told then, ‘I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look I have given you the authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

For background information, please read Luke 10:1-12.

Seventy-two disciples were sent out by Jesus. They were each given specific instructions on:

who to visit,

what to preach,

where to stay.

when to heal,

how to leave,

and why to go in the first place.

They were hard at work.

Reflect for a moment on a time you needed to apply yourself diligently to something.  Remember when you followed directions to the letter, and you returned to your superior, excited to show your completed work?  Certain celebration was in order because it was such a success!

That may well be how the disciples felt, returning to Jesus.  In verse 17, the disciples say to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!”

How heady a feeling that must have been for the disciples, through the name of Jesus, to control demons!

Jesus’ response was surprising to them: in essence, don’t get excited over what you can do in the name of Jesus, get excited over the fact you will spend eternity with God.

How does that look in your day?

Do you ever get excited, anticipating plans?

I do.

Do you ever get excited over an accomplishment?

I do.

I think God gets excited over His plans for us and He rejoices with us in our success.

But more than that stuff, He celebrates we are his children. Period.

If you’re a parent you might be able to relate.  The day each of our daughters was born, John and I felt immense love for her.  Nothing, not one thing, be accomplishment or failure, can ever alter our love for her. We love her because she’s our daughter. Period. And that love does not fluctuate by what she does or attains, or how far she might fall.

God sees each of his children in the same light!

It doesn’t matter what I accomplishment for him, his love for me is the same.

It doesn’t matter how miserably I fail, his love for me is the same.

The only thing that matters is the acceptance of Jesus.

If you’re trying something new, or repeating an attempt on something which previously failed, rest assured, your success or failure can not alter God’s love for you.

He’s never loved you more.

Reflections:

1)  Do I equate my value with my achievements?

2) Do I really understand God loves me, regardless what I do?

Thanks for reading!  Please return, Tuesday, July 9 for the next post.

Lessons from Ruth, Part III

“May the Lord repay you for what you have done.  May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12

Read Ruth 2: Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.

4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

“The Lord bless you!” they answered.

5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.[a] 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]

21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”

22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

Hungry.

Tired.

Alone.

Ruth decided she would at least gather some food for Naomi and herself.  As was the custom of the day, widows were permitted to gather grain that the harvesters had missed.

Of course, you needed to watch in whose field you were gathering.  Not everyone participated in that custom, and Ruth, as a single younger woman, needed to be aware of her own safety in this foreign land.

But, as Ruth was getting out there, doing what she could, God filled in the gaps.

Not only did He ascertain they had enough to eat, He assured that she found favor in the eyes of Boaz.  And, the owner of the field guaranteed her safety.

Ruth had gone into the unknown, following the Lord. She did her best at what she could, and God took care of the rest.  And He had taken care of her in ways she could not imagine.

What uncertainty has come into your life right now?

Can you allow yourself to take the steps you can see, and simply trust God for the rest?

We can’t fathom the outcome only God can author.  Step out in faith and trust  in Him.

Thanks for reading!  Please return Monday, June 10, for the next post.

Forgiveness, Part II

“Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12

Hurts can sometimes overpower us.  Instead of giving them center stage in our minds, we need to focus on Christ.  As Psalm 51:12 states, allow your joy over who Jesus is and what  He’s done overtake you. Allow Jesus to become your front and center thought.

When the hurt tries to subtly return, ask for God’s grace to help you heal. And, while you are healing, to help you act in obedience.

Block those negative emotions with truths.

‘God’s grace is sufficient for me’.  II Corinthians 12:9 

‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Col. 3:13

If you are anything like me, you may not remember any promises, any Scripture, or any Christian thought in the heat of a moment of anger.  So, put them in places you’ll regularly see.  On your car dash, on the refrigerator, or on the bathroom mirror.

Claiming God’s promises and recalling God’s word will help in sustaining a willing spirit. And, the pain will not last forever, though it may seem that way at the moment.  Joy, the sustaining joy, does come in the morning.

What promises and Scriptures sustain you?  Please share them with us!  Please return by Wednesday, June 5, for the next post.

Forgiveness, Part I

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts, you teach wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6

You’ve been hurt.

But, you’re polite as a good Christian should be.  You smile and speak kind words, all the while your heart is seething with unspoken anger.

As the psalmist wrote, “surely you desire truth in the inner parts.”

It’s hard to reconcile deep hurt and Christian behavior: forgiveness.  True forgiveness.

Forgiveness that says I can genuinely speak and smile, and mean it.

How do we get there?

1) Admit you’re hurt.

Admit the facts to yourself and to God.  Acknowledge your anger before your anger acknowledges you, and your temper explodes at the wrong place, at the wrong time, to the wrong person.  (Recall James’ admonishment: do not slander.) Remember 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Notice it says “ALL”.  Even when we think things are insignificant, they still matter to God.

2) Ask God to help you deal with it.  Without getting stuck in a “yuck zone”, where the focus is on all things negative, give each hurtful word, deed and slight directly to God.  When those things return to your mind, force them out.  (Recall Philippians 4:8).  God is bigger than those things, allow Him to take them!

3) Refuse to let those feelings consume you.  Don’t allow them to intrude on your daily life.  Wake up and give God your day.  Jump into it, with both feet, your heart and your mind.  Do whatever God has given you to do with a cheerful heart and positive thoughts.  When you trust God and go about what He has called you to do, you are resisting Satan. (James 4:7) Satan wants more than anything to dump you into the pit of despair, immobilized, unable to do what God has called you to do. Don’t let him take you there.

The point is, you don’t need to be the offender’s best friend.  But harboring a grudge will distance you from God.

As difficult as it feels and as significant as the hurt seems, we are called to forgive.

Yet Christ is not telling us we are to forgive on our own.  He can change hearts, He can take away the hurt.

His grace is sufficient.” II Corinthians 12: 9

If only we learn to surrender.

How do you reach that place of forgiveness, when your initial reaction is quite the opposite?

Please share your experiences with us!  Please return by Tuesday, June 4, for the next post.