Reflection

Don’t Be Afraid

  • Posted on March 19, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Don’t be afraid. Easy to say but not always easy to adhere to. How can one not be afraid when one’s livelihood is at stake? When we’re told not to leave our houses except in an emergency, and we don’t know how long this is going to last? I understand how hard it is to live with uncertainty, but I have some ideas that I think will help.

1. Turn off the TV. There is a reason that I don’t watch the news. People give me a hard time sometimes, but when I obsess over what is happening in the world or even in my county, it can cause me to be afraid to leave my house. I don’t need negativity controlling my life, and you don’t either. The fact is that it is hard to discern what is true and what isn’t. Is this a 2-week quarantine, or will we be here a year from now? Only God really knows, and hearing others’ predictions can be quite depressing. So turn off the TV, get on your knees, and ask God to give you His peace that passes all understanding. He can alert you to anything you need to know. Everything else is a waste of your time anyway.

2. Sing. Jake Hess sang, “How many times have you seen someone fighting while they were singing a song?” I would ask the same question about worry. Although I suppose it is possible, I don’t think anxiety can last long if you are praising your Savior and acknowledging the One who holds the keys to life and death, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty. Singing can’t hurt anyway, so you may as well try it.

3. Pray. “Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Tell the Lord how you feel. Ask Him to remove your fear and help you to focus on Him. Tell Him that you are trusting Him to get you through this time. And then praise Him for His love. He is so worthy!

4. Study the Word. You know how you never seem to have time for God’s Word because of all the activities you are a part of? Now is a good time to do some much-needed catch up. Don’t just read the Bible; study it. Get to know the Father. As you become more acquainted with Him, you will begin to understand how much He loves you which should give you the grace you need to trust Him more.

5. Don’t Isolate. I know the government is greatly limiting gatherings in many states but, in today’s society, there is no reason that you cannot connect with others. I am not a phone person so most of my interaction comes through Facebook, email, and texts, but I make sure to connect with people on an almost daily basis. Maybe it’s to see how they are doing. Sometimes I’m discouraged and needing prayer. This is what the Body of Christ is for–to be there for each other. If you are a phone person, call someone. Or Skype. The options are endless. Just please stay connected.

My future is uncertain too, but I am clinging to God’s promise that He will provide my needs. If He cares for the sparrow, just think about how much more He cares for us. This doesn’t mean that we will not go through hard things, but we can say with Fanny Crosby, “For I know whate’er befalls me, Jesus doeth all things well” (emphasis mine).

In closing, I will quote the chorus of another song I’m singing a lot lately.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

My Thoughts on the Coronavirus

  • Posted on March 13, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~John 14:27

By now, I think everyone has heard of the Coronavirus. As I listen to conversations and read what people are saying, there seems to be two modes. Some are fearful and afraid to leave their homes while others think there is nothing to it. Young people especially think it’s a lot of hype as they are more disappointed about their group activities getting cancelled than they are about the fact that people are dying because of this outbreak. I feel like the answer lies in between the two.

We cannot say that this is no big deal because, to those who are being affected by it, it is. Sure, people die of the flu all the time and never make the news, but I think the concern with this virus is how long one can be infected and how easily it can be contracted.  Therefore, I would be slow to minimalize it. That said, fear is not the answer either. We cannot stop living just because we might get a virus. My advice is to use wisdom and be led by the Spirit. For myself, I plan to avoid public transportation for the time being, but I will still run errands, go on outings with my sisters, etc. If my brother or sister-in-law are scheduled to speak at a conference and we are still healthy, we will be there.

I pray that those who know the Lord will be a beacon of hope during this time. I can’t imagine the fear that must be going on inside of those who do not know where they will spend eternity. Or maybe they do know, and that’s why they are so scared. Your smile may be what will cause them to ask why you are so happy and give you a chance to share about the love of Jesus.

I don’t know what God is doing right now, but I do know that, amidst the uncertainty of the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years, God is still on the throne. He is watching.  It’s time for the Church to draw near to Him like never before, to turn from their wicked ways, and to seek His face (2 Chronicles 7:14). Even when things are going well, we should live each day as if it were our last, but what better time to start than during a time when we are faced with the reality that it really might be.

I am praying for those who are affected by this virus in some way. I pray for God’s covering on His people all over the world. I pray that those who don’t know the Savior will find Him and turn to Him before it’s too late. And I pray that God will pour out His peace on those who are struggling to find that serene place. May we all be faithful to keep trusting and serving Him. God bless you all!

 

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

No Time to Stress

  • Posted on February 23, 2020 at 6:53 pm

My faithful readers will have noticed that I have not posted for a while. To say life is hectic sometimes seems like an understatement. So much to do, so little time and yet, on top of work, I am also trying to walk most days, attend a Wednesday night Bible study, and have time for family. Invariably, something suffers and, for me, it has been my blog and personal correspondence, not to mention my living quarters which is in desperate need of organization. (I have made some progress but have a long way to go.) On top of that, I hit the road this week for our first convention of the year. I am so glad that God’s grace is sufficient. Although I do get overwhelmed (and will probably do so tomorrow; aaaaggggghhhhhhh!), I have learned to turn to the Lord and release my burdens. He knows the tasks He has for me to do and the ones I have taken upon myself. As He begins to help me to discern which is which, I can more easily rest in knowing that the important work will get done. The other stuff? It will be there until such time as I can more easily accomplish it.

I would covet your prayers during this season as I still deal with fatigue and do not do well with long days of constant “running.” I’m reminded of Isaiah 40:31:

They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.

I like the line that Stuart Hamblen added: “Teach me, Lord, to wait.”

I don’t know what your schedule looks like. Maybe you are able to stick to a quiet routine that never gets ruffled. I wouldn’t have a clue what that is like, but I want to encourage you to do whatever you are doing as unto the Lord. If life is beginning to be overwhelming, ask Him what He would like you to change. Take a “time out” to draw near to Him and learn from Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

I realize this is easier said than done. I will need to remind myself of these things tomorrow as my last day at home draws to an end. But I am so thankful to serve a God who is happy to guide my steps and give me rest when I need it. He is so faithful!

Reflecting on Proverbs 10:8

  • Posted on January 21, 2020 at 10:53 pm

The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.  ~Proverbs 10:8

As I go through the book of Proverbs, I am struck at how much Solomon emphasizes wisdom. In Proverbs 9:11, he promises long life to those who are wise. So what is wisdom and why is it so important? As I read Proverbs 10:8 this morning, I interpreted it as follows: The wise person will be slow to speak, at which point she will hear more clearly God’s direction for her life. What? Is it that simple? In short, no, but I think it can be a start.

If you want to hear from God, you must learn to be still. This is scary to a lot of people but it is necessary. There are too many distractions and chaos which bombard our senses that I think it’s time to find that prayer closet that David Wilkerson used to talk about, the place where you give God your undivided attention and learn of Him.

I expect the “babbling fool” part of the verse refers to those who talk to much … mostly about nothing.

Not long ago, a friend was really upset about a situation and, although I can be a good listener, I chose to give some input which she misinterpreted, and she got really angry with me. She later apologized and said she was just taking her frustration out on me, but the fact is that I should have been more sensitive and bit my tongue no matter how much I wanted to share what was on my mind. There might have been a time to relay my thoughts, but I didn’t need to do it at that moment.  I expect I was being a babbling fool at the time, and I could have lost a friendship over it.

James 1:19 tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Proverbs 17:28 says that “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.” I think this is our challenge. If you desire to be wise, start by thinking before you speak and then pray about whether you should speak or hold your peace. I will be working on this as well.

 

Learning from the Master

  • Posted on January 19, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

When you think of this verse, you probably focus on the rest. I know I have. When I am overwhelmed or the burden feels like more than I can bear, it’s a promise I want to claim. Yes, Lord, draw me nearer so I can find that rest You are talking about. Last week, verse 29 jumped out at me like it never had before: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Wait a minute! Have I been focusing on the wrong words all this time?! God’s timing is always perfect so I expect that, in the past, I needed rest but now I need to see the gentle and lowly (or humble) side of Jesus that He desires to teach me.

Humility is hard. It is a constant dying to self and not always needing to be right. I think pride is one sin that everyone has in common and, yet, as Jesus’ followers, we are told to put on humility (Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5). This is something that we choose to do which can require biting our tongue (until it bleeds if necessary) in order to hold back that hurtful jab or that immense desire to say “I told you so.” I do not excel in this area, but I am asking for God’s help. It doesn’t bless anyone when I have to have the last word or make sure my opinion is known when my friend just needs a listening ear.

If you want to become more like Jesus, you must study what He is like. The fact is that He was obedient to death, even the death of the Cross (Philippians 2:8). That is what true servanthood is. That is being gentle and lowly in heart. When we become like Him, we will truly find rest for our souls.

 

Top Post of 2019

  • Posted on January 15, 2020 at 9:11 pm

Last year, the post that got the most views on my blog was Put Off Bitterness, which I just wrote in August. I expect this is because this is an issue that just about everyone has dealt with in some form or fashion. Most of us don’t have to live very long before someone mistreats us, lies about us, or hurts us in some other way. Forgiveness does not get easier as we get older, and yet it is in forgiving others as we have been forgiven that we find true freedom. If there is someone in your life whom you have still not forgiven, I hope that this will be the year that you can put those grudges behind you and walk ever closer to your Heavenly Father. He will help you if you ask Him to.

To Be Content or Not to Be Content

  • Posted on January 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  ~1 Timothy 6:6

I think of myself as a content person. Sure, there are things I would change if I could, but overall, I am grateful to God for my life. The problem I have, though, is I also like routine, do not usually go for change, and am hesitant to try new things, at which point I have to question: Am I content or in a rut?

Contentment is important. God does not want His people to be complainers who are never happy with their lot in life. But you and I must also be willing to grow, to step out of our comfort zones from time to time, to know when God desires us to change our way of doing things. We must not confuse contentment with apathy.

I think the key is to seek God daily as to what He would have you to do. Then do those things with all your heart as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). If you are doing that, then you can be content that He will provide all of your needs. If, however, you find yourself becoming lazy and calling that contentment, you may want to reevaluate that.

This is a new year–a time to examine our lives and ask God what we need to change. If you are discontent with where you are in life, ask God to show you if you are where He has you or if you are there because of decisions you made without Him. If the former, then ask God to change your heart and help you to embrace your state and to serve Him joyfully. If your life has been full of bad choices that have placed you in the proverbial gutter, then turn to Him today and begin to change your ways. And if you are where you’re at because it’s where you’ve always been, and it’s become quite comfortable, then pray for discernment to know if you should be content at that place or if God desires to move you to another. Don’t forget that the only truly safe place to be is in the center of His will.

Rights or Privileges?

  • Posted on January 9, 2020 at 10:09 pm

In my post yesterday, I made the following statement: “You may feel like you have a right to hold on to your feelings, but Jesus gave up His rights for you. Why can’t you give up your ‘rights’ for Him?” This evening, I opened my Bible study and what do you think the subject was? That’s right. Rights! In fact, that was the title of today’s lesson, and it has me thinking more about this topic.

I’ve not read The Five Love Languages, but I understand the topic and when people ask me what my love language is, I reply, “I just like to be loved.” I can put my language in the order of preference but the fact is, no matter what the kindness, I will feel it deeply. For those who are not familiar with this, the languages as defined by Gary Chapman are: quality time, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service. This last one was the one that I used to say wasn’t one I felt strongly … until a couple years ago when my sister suggested that this was probably because I felt like people owed me those. Ouch! That was not what I wanted to hear! But I expect that she was right. I didn’t realize it but I was blinded to just how much others did for me. I no longer say that acts of service don’t make me feel loved, because they do too.

One of the things my study had me do was make a list of the top ten rights that I feel like I have as a human being. I had to really ponder this because, again, I don’t think of myself as wanting my “rights,” but I expect that everyone feels like they should be loved and appreciated for the things they do. We feel like our family has to love us because we exist. Maybe you feel like you should get the promotion that just came up at work because you have worked there the longest and it’s about time they recognize you. But these are not “rights”; they are privileges. When these things happen to you, thank the Lord for His mercy. You and I deserve Hell. Plain and simple. If you have people who love you, that is a blessing. Ingratitude begins to take root when we think we deserve the good things we receive, and that is the opposite of thanksgiving which is the attitude we are told to exhibit in everything.

So, my friends, this may be the message of the year for my readers and myself: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). And meditate on Philippians 2:5-8:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

May we, like Christ, be willing to humble ourselves and surrender our rights completely to our Heavenly Father. Lord, send a revival and let it begin with me!

 

As a side note, if you are looking for a good Bible study, I highly recommend The Walk of Repentance. It is a great resource to really examine your heart in light of God’s Word. It’s a 6-month study but you can go at your own pace and take longer if you need to. Even if you think you are where you need to be with the Lord, this could be the thing that draws you even closer to Him.

 

More Love to Thee

  • Posted on January 8, 2020 at 2:42 pm

More love to Thee, O Christ
More love to Thee
Hear Thou the prayer I make
On bended knee
This is my earnest plea
More love, O Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee
More love to Thee

Last night as I was praying and pondering yesterday’s blog post, I began to ask God to increase my love for Him. It’s easy to say I love God, but do I show Him how much I love Him? Am I spending quality time with Him because I love to do so, or am I going through motions so I can check one more thing off of my to-do list?

Selfishness, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger–these are all signs that love is waning. Not only toward others but also toward the Father. He told us to love others as He has loved us, and the love He displayed showed the opposite of these things. You may feel like you have a right to hold on to your feelings, but Jesus gave up His rights for you. Why can’t you give up your “rights” for Him?

Don Francisco sang, “Love is not a feeling; it’s an act of your will.” Love is not always easy, but it is a command. And yet we cannot love our Brothers and Sisters if we do not first of all love the Creator of love. I am so thankful for the depth of God’s love for me, and I pray for help to love Him more, to love His people more, to be willing to lay down my life for Him, and to never stop praising Him for His love and mercy. He is so worthy!

 

Song quoted from the hymn, “More Love to Thee.”; Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash.

Understanding the Father’s Lovingkindness

  • Posted on January 7, 2020 at 8:11 pm

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.  ~Psalm 107:43

A Scripture passage that I ponder periodically is Ephesians 3:17-19:

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

How do we measure and really get to know the love of Christ? I believe the psalmist is giving us a starting point in Psalm 107. We must:

“give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (v. 1).

In order to be able to give thanks for His goodness, we must acknowledge that He is good. In order to testify to that fact, we must recall the good things God has done for us. There is a reason God told the Israelites to tell their children and their grandchildren of the goodness of the Lord. I wonder how many Christians actively do that anymore. Maybe we are losing our children to the world because they don’t understand that every good and perfect gift they have received came from their Heavenly Father. They probably don’t understand how much He loves them, and I’m not sure it is totally their fault. Are we communicating those things to them effectively? Then again, maybe we don’t understand it ourselves.

If this describes you, I would like to challenge you to study this year to truly understand God’s love. In some ways, you never will totally be able to fathom it, but if you never try, it will be harder to give God the thanksgiving that He deserves. He has done so much for us, and He desires us in turn to love our Brothers and Sisters as He has loved us. That is a tall order but one that we must strive toward with His help.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  ~John 13:34

Top