One Thing After Another…

Original caption: I decided to see if I could ...

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

I remember a party we had at the church where we played board games. The popular game of the evening was dominoes. I had never played before and just loved it. I was hooked. I remember playing with dominoes as a child – standing them up in interesting shapes so that when I hit the first one down, it would knock the next one down and so on until it went through the whole design. The term “the domino effect” means how one thing affects another.

We as Christians have experienced those days when it seemed that we were standing in line to be knocked down. One thing after another would go wrong and we sometimes wonder when it will end. When will we experience the peace we seemed to have just a short time ago?

We can experience the peace now. The transforming moment of dread to joy happens when we make the choice to “consider it pure joy.” God is working … all the time. He has not left the building, but stays close to His walking temple. You are being strengthened beyond what you can imagine for yourself. It is through the pain that we will gain and persevere.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for not leaving me to fend for myself when troubles arise. I pray that I can make that choice today of peace … Your peace that passes understanding. Amen

Faith Tip: Feeling anxious about something in your life? Stop the worried thought process and begin the God-thinking process of the victory you will experience at the other end.

Take the Peace

Worry Dolls

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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

If you stopped to make a list of the things you currently worry about, how long do you think that list would be? What would be on the list? Would it list children, parents, other relationships, finances, jobs or something else? If you chose not to worry about something on your list, would something else replace it?

For the shredding of our worry lists, we have Jesus. His peace is beyond our comprehension. We don’t understand it, which may be why we don’t seek it as quickly as we should, but once we experience it, it feels so good. Jesus said we are not to be troubled, even though it seems like trouble surrounds us on some days. Our hearts can be at perfect peace if we choose to receive the gift. Fear not for God loves you and will care for you.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for the peace that goes way beyond what the world can give. I pray that your peace is what I seek each day. Amen

Faith Tip: Worried? Imagine yourself letting the worry go into the arms of Jesus. He wants to take it from you. Let go.

Gentle Warfare

Frustration (was: threesixtyfive | day 244)

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Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5

On a day of running errands, I seem to come across an abundance of rudeness such as cars cutting in front of me, a service person not wanting to look at my desk lamp I brought in to see if it could be fixed and going to a restaurant with a friend where the waitress seemed to think we were invisible. Gentleness seemed distant. I saw this verse earlier in the day for a reason. I had to mentally play it through my mind in each instance of interactive challenge I experienced that day. I believe it was through gritted teeth I spoke of this verse to my friend in our restaurant dilemma.

I don’t know why we all experience days like this. I do know that the Lord is always near and cheers us on to do what is right. Perhaps it is an exercise of endurance, a test, or maybe just a time to see how far we have come in patience. The goal is to honor God with all we do. Hopefully, next time I won’t feel the frustration as much choosing the road of experiencing peace rather than feeling wrath.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the unending patience you have for me. I pray that I will be filled with your patience and trust you in all situations. Amen

Faith Tip: When you come across a frustrating situation today, remember the verse and choose the road of peace.

Rowing on rough waters

Rowboat

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When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. – John 6:16-21

I wonder how the disciples were feeling as they were rowing in the lake, in the dark with the waters getting rough and Jesus nowhere in sight. How long did it take them to row three or four miles? I imagine it was plenty of time to consider and create scenarios in their minds of what could happen to them. With their minds filled with possible disasters, they then see Jesus and in their already anxious state they are afraid.

When something happens that is unexpected, it can be frightening—a diagnosis, a loss, or any situation that seems to come out from the blue. We may feel alone like we are rowing in the darkness on this rough water. But the truth is that we are not—Jesus is there. He doesn’t want us to be fearful, but just to trust in him. Like the disciples, invite Jesus into your “boat” and let them take over. He knows the way to go to reach the shore of peace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being there when I am frightened. I pray that my focus stays on you and not on the situations that seem to surround me. Amen

Faith Tip: Something upsetting your boat today? Look out on the water of your life because Jesus is walking to you. Invite him in.

No need for alarm

Flight Emergency v.2

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:6-8).

Whenever I fly, there is always the ritual of going through the small training of what to do in case there are problems on the plane. The oxygen mask will fall, what position to take, where the emergency exits are, and so on. This is so the passengers won’t experience total chaos because they know what to do. This is true in other drills for emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. When we know what to do, there is calmness and ability to move ahead with what needs to happen.

Jesus knew this and that why he told us how we would know that the end is coming. It will seem like chaos around us, but inside we see the things Jesus told us about and know that he is in control. I believe we are experiencing some of those things today and getting closer to when he will return. What a glorious day that will be! All we need to do is continue to trust Jesus and follow him. That is where peace will be found—in his arms.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you that you ready me for the birth pains of your second coming. I pray that I may just look to you when the world looks chaotic. Amen

Faith Tip: It’s not don’t worry, be happy. It’s trust God and be wise.

Peaceful Living

Peaceful lakeview1024

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Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11)

It’s no trick to be busy. In fact, it’s the easiest thing to do. A portion of our life goes to family, another to work, ministry, hobbies, etc. Each day is filled with things we want to do, we need to do, and we have to do. Sometimes we try to give each portion an equal amount of our time and energy, but that rarely happens. Usually one gets a lot more than the others and that’s okay. Sometimes we wonder if we are giving enough to one part and worry we may fail if we don’t do enough.

Peace can be given to us through the giving of our heart to Jesus. God wants our whole heart. That doesn’t mean we blot out all the things we do each day, it means to include God in all the things we do. God is a master at organizing days. Allowing God to direct us in what we do will show us how faithful he is all the time.

Prayer: Lord, I hand to you my day and pray that I can follow your instructions in what I should do. I know that your plan for me is perfect. Thank you for being such an awesome God! Amen

Faith Tip: If you can’t hand over the whole day just yet, begin with smaller portions and give God more as you see his faithfulness at work through you.

Playing by the rules

Kids playing Uno

If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus (Matthew 12:7-14).

A young student was showing me how to play a game that I hadn’t played before. It was fun, but then I thought a rule that had been set was changed. I thought maybe I had forgotten, but then realized that the rules were being altered as we played to the advantage of the student who wanted to win. There seems to be power in knowing the rules.

We are a society that loves to have rules. We may not admit to that, but there is a feeling of empowerment when we know exactly what we need to do and when we need to do it. In fact, we will fight for our rules because that is what we know and how we identify ourselves. The problem here is that we tend to focus on the rule as our master, and are blinded to what God truly has for us. When God is put on the throne in our lives rather than the rule—things change. Obviously, rules are good to have or we would have total chaos, but Jesus offers a freedom that allows us to learn from him. He is a God of order and offers true shalom for our lives.

Prayer: Jesus, you are the one who knows the best way for me to go. I pray that as I seek you, that my obedience to you will bring the peace only your can bring.  Amen

Faith Tip: Is there a rule in your life that has you tightly bound? Look to Jesus for freedom and peace in that rule. Jesus doesn’t say to go against the rules, he says to follow him.