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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

You inhabit a fallen, disjointed world, 

where things are constantly unraveling around the edges. (1)

This is what drives me nuts about life, I can neither contain nor control what happens around me, much less what happens to me.

You may have noticed that I have not written a daily devotional for two weeks now.

You might be wondering why I have become so lazy.

My problem is not laziness, it is busyness.  Things keep unraveling around me and I am frantically trying to sew everything back together.

If we let the edges keep unraveling, won’t the center eventually unravel?

Thus, I have been distracted tending to the edges of life, rather than finding sustenance at the center of all life.  This is not good.

It is better to be still in the center of life with God, than to be depleted while tending to edges which life and Satan unravel.

The further I am from God, the quicker the edges of my life unravel.

It is good to be near God, I have made the Lord God my refuge. (2)

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  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling – Deluxe Edition: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (p. 274). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 73:28.
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… walking through the valley … (1)

 

Whenever the road we are walking gets hard, so steep that it steals our breath or so low that it  compresses our spirits, we long for flat land.

 

When life becomes a challenge, we reach for the EASY BUTTON.

 

While we may head to the mountains on vacation, seeking their soaring vistas or the coolness of the fertile valley floor which separates them, we secretly pray for flat land for our daily journey.

 

Many Christians have the unreal expectation that our spiritual life will always be level. (2) 

 

When we are tested by God, forced to wade through the valley and to make the steep climb from their depths, we frequently complain to Him that he is not doing His job, that He is unjust and unfair.

 

How often have you visited a loved-one in ICU at the hospital and been mesmerized by the monitor above their head?  I have frequently stared at these monitors watching lines rise and fall either with consistency or with jagged irregularity.  

 

Regardless of which line I am watching, I find myself wondering, “Is that good or is it bad?”  

 

While I cannot judge whether the line’s slope, peaks, and valleys are a good sign, I do know one thing, a line with peaks and valleys is better than a flat-line!

 

If a patient flatlines, a Code Blue is sent through out the hospital.  Doctors and nurses come running with carts, machines, and meds.  They have one goal: restore the line to one with peaks and valleys!  

 

Without the peaks and valleys, the patient remains dead.

 

Christians who pray that God make their lives a smooth plain are, unknowingly, praying for their death.

 

When you are walking through the valley do not fear because the Lord your God is looking for the perfect moment to mount you up on eagle’s wings. (3) 

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  1. Psalm 23:4
  2. Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).
  3. Isaiah 40:31 (Read also Psalm 91).

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“Isn’t it glorious to know that no matter how unjust something may be, even when it seems to have come from Satan himself, by the time it reaches us it is God’s will for us and will ultimately work to our good?” (1)

 

How would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was God’s will for you?

 

Everything?  

 

Yes, everything!

 

It’s a question that gives me long pause and few words.

 

Anytime someone glibly says, “It is God’s will” in the face of tragedy or disaster, I cringe.  

 

When bad things happen, questions flood my heart: 

Would God? 

Could God? 

Did God? 

Why God?

 

If it was God’s will and He would, could, and did, how would your life change?

 

I’d turn to God.

 

I’d cry out to Him?  

 

I’d stand with Habakkuk and wait for God to answer me. (See Habakkuk 1:1-2:4)

 

I’d cling to these scriptures:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” 

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” 

 

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” 

 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2)

 

On the other hand, how would your life change if you assumed everything that happened to you was NOT God’s will for you?

 

In the center of the circle of the will of God I stand: 

There can come no second causes, all must come from His dear hand.

God is Love, and God is faithful, so in perfect Peace I rest. (1)

 

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 311). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, John 3:16, Romans 8:28, and Romans 8:38-39.

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Faith grows during storms (1)

Why is it that some people’s faith only grows during storms and crisis?

Can’t faith grow in quiet daylight?  Grass does!

Rarely does anyone call me and say:

“Pastor, life is good!  Do you have guidance for scripture I should study or books I can read during these good ol’days, so I can grow in faith?” 

When life is good we are convinced we do not need God.  Since there are no pressing afflictions or infections that need supernatural healing, why bother God.  Isn’t He busy with others?

I learned to sail in calm seas, when the wind was gentle and the water waved gracefully below the hull of my boat.  If I had not learned to sail in calm seas, I would have never been able to sail through storms.

Perhaps this is why we panic and are afraid when the storms of life come our way.  We cannot hear God in the storm, if we have not dwelt with Him during the day.

While we draw on our faith during difficulty, we fail to build up our faith during prosperity.  You only have money to withdraw on a rainy day, if you made deposits before.

David’s guidance “be still and know that I am God” (2) is spoken when life is in an upheaval.  Yet his wisdom should be heeded when we are wandering in green pastures and drinking from still waters.

Lois Cheney asks:

Does anyone ever meander with God, sharing fun, thoughts, and silences?  (3)

Our best friendships are built on lazy days, when we simply spend time with others, chatting, talking, listening, and loving each other, letting time pass in the quiet breeze

Friendships built during days of leisure are the friendships which sustain us during seasons of difficulty.

Your fair-weather-friendship with Jesus, will sustain you during a gale.

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  1. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 269). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
  2. Psalm 46:10.
  3. Cheney, Lois A. (2005-03-01). God is No Fool (pp. 185-186). Midpoint Trade Books – A. Kindle Edition.

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Inner peace through an implicit trust in the love of God 

is the real evidence of a mature Christian faith. (1)

Inner peace eludes us because we pursue it in venues in which it cannot be found.  It will never be found at the store, in the office, or under a trophy.  It can not be purchased, achieved, or won.  It can only be received.

Inner peace can only be found in the company of faith.  Thus, it is accessible to all.  You do not need privilege, wealth, or luck to have it.  In fact, these things have prevented many people from finding inner peace. 

My friend Earl had inner peace.  

In the eight years I knew him, I never saw him out of bed.  He spoke between shots of air delivered to his lungs by a ventilator.  He could not tend to any of his personal needs.  

While Earl was was totally dependent upon others to provide all of his physical and worldly needs, his mind and heart had been spared the disease which ravaged his body.

Earl could have given up, but he did not.

He could have instructed his doctors to pull-the-plug, but he did not.

He could have spewed anger, despair, and resentment on anyone who entered his room, but he did not.

Instead Earl was the happiest man I ever met.  

In contrast to Job who moped, whined, and raged when his worldly possessions and loves were stolen by an evil twist of fate, Earl smiled, praised God, and rejoiced after disease robbed him of anything which looked like quality of life.

Earl had a peace which surpassed all understanding because he had faith in God.  This peace, his companion in faith, guarded his heart and his mind. (2)

Earl’s faith grew while his body decayed.  

Earl knew that his body would not last forever, it does not for any of us.  Thus, he placed his whole life into the hands of Jesus.  When troubles came and health declined, Earl found peace not in little things, but in the great and wondrous grace of God.

When Earl died, we sang Horatio Spafford’s great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” (Click the title to hear this great hymn.)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 

when sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 

It is well with my soul. (3)

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  1. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.
  2. Philippians 4:7.
  3. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.

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Fear is nothing to be afraid of!

The person who says he fears nothing, is a liar hiding behind bravo.

We all have fears, even people with the deepest faith in God.

Fear is doubting you have the strength to overcome!

The best way to overcome your fears is to acknowledge them.  Most people are ashamed of their fears and doubts.

I have several friends who are embarrassed that they are afraid of lightning.  When a storm comes, they hide inside a safe shelter.  This is not a bad decision on their part.  Most likely they will never be struck dead.  Their fear serves them well.

On the other hand, I am not afraid of lightning, I love to watch it flash and strike the ground all around me.  I will move out of safe shelter for the thrill of having a better view of lightning.  If I am struck dead by lightning, know that is was my false bravado, not the lightning that killed me.

Living with fear is part and parcel of living in faith.

A good bit of fear goes a long way in building your life.

Consider these proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (3)

If your fear of the Lord is wrestling your faith-in-yourself to the ground, that’s a good thing.

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, and 15:33.

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Take the Journey!

Whether considering the deep mysteries or the everyday matters of life, we have a tendency to out-think God.

  • Is this God’s plan?
  • Why does God allow this?
  • Is this exactly what scripture means?
  • Where will this lead me?
  • Is God testing me?

Some ponder while others go.  

While I enjoy reflecting, speculating, wondering, and thinking about God’s will and His ways, I recognize that at the end of the day I must act in faith.

Faith is moving forward into the unknown.  

Faith never sees the way, it only sees God.

The prophet Habakkuk teaches, The saints live by faith!” (1)

I appreciate his emphasis on LIVE!  Get on with your life!  Trust God even when you do not understand His ways. 

Let actual circumstances be what they may be.  Look to Jesus.  Trust Him and His love for you.  Live knowing that He will bring you safely to shore.  

Jesus will do that!  While He will not keep your life free from trouble and uncertainty, He will remain at the helm with you during the storms and through the night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. 

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore. (2)

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  1. Habakkuk 2:4.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 121:7–8.

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