Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?  

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares; I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”  The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me. I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them; He will feed me. He watches over them; He will watch over me. He created them and designed them to be unique; He created me and designed me to be unique. He hasn’t turned his back on the birds; He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

In The Presence Of My Enemies

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“Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”.

Psalm 23: 5

I  wonder what good food would do for me in the presence of my enemies. Am I going to pelt my enemies with spaghetti and meatballs?  Do I poke their eyes out with bread sticks? This part of Psalm 23 didn’t really make sense to me and I would ordinarily skim right past.

But recently, I saw this verse differently. The table He has prepared is laden with everything I have inherited through Christ – every spiritual blessing, every physical blessing, every weapon I will ever need, every provision I will ever need. All there – laid out for me. When I am in the presence of my enemies there I will find my weapon. The God who spoke this world into existence and created the many species and ecosystems and gave each exactly what they needed not only for survival but also to work in relation to other ecosystems for mutual survival, prepared a table for us! An orderly, lavishly decorated table with everything we have need of in the face of enemies.

When the enemy of fear comes against me, all I have to do is look at the table prepared before me and find what God has provided to combat fear – peace, truth, the spirit of power and a sound mind.

When the enemy of pain or sickness comes against me, I can find on this table the healing Christ paid for on the cross.

When the enemy of worry comes against me,  there on the table lays the  peace that passes all understanding.

When the enemy of rejection comes against me, I browse the table until I find the adoption papers that assure me that I am His.

 

All these and more are piled to overflowing on this banquet prepared by the Lord. And all I have to do is believe and feast on His provision.

 

 

picture credit: weddingbuffet.net

 

God’s Economy

 

 

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Years ago, when I lived in Montana, I had a wonderful gelding named Apache. The whole family loved that horse. Anyone could ride him; he was totally trustworthy. I especially liked taking him out on short jaunts in the woods. Fearless, smart and oh, how he loved to run, but there was one thing he would not do. He would not jump over anything. No, not ever, which most of the time was fine. But sometimes, in the woods, when a tree had fallen across the trail it would have been nice if he would have just jumped it. But alas, he would not.

One day, I came across a fallen log in our path. Way too big for him to step over and no way to go around the log. I sure didn’t want to turn around and go home and he sure didn’t want to jump it. I got off and studied the situation. I got behind him and pushed him on his rump. He glanced back and me and switched me with his tail. Out of frustration, I kicked the log and, to my surprise, the formidable roadblock  just caved in.

Dust flew upward and pieces of bark fell downward. Where the log had crumbled, I noticed tiny evidences of life. Intrigued, I bent down for a closer look. The log which had appeared to be dead, totally useless, too rotten for even good firewood, concealed underneath it an entirely new ecosystem. The sprouts were white from lack of sun exposure and unidentifiable to me.

At the time of this trail ride, I had just ended a 23 year marriage to a man who preferred drinking to sobriety, other women to me and being gone from home more than being at home. I spent a lot of days kicking myself for what I called wasted years.

But, while I studied this undergrowth, the Holy Spirit spoke these words to me, “In God’s economy, there is no such thing as waste.”

Hope blew across me like a gentle breeze.

What wonderful news this is when we are going through a time of limitations. A time when we say no more often than we are able to say yes. Ever feel like this time of being sick or being in pain or hanging onto a relationship that destroys your life is such a waste? I certainly have. Then I remember this story and I am comforted to know that God doesn’t call those times a waste. He is able to bring new life out of old and even in the midst of our waiting and wondering, He is able to use us and our seemingly wasted years for our  ultimate good and His incredible glory. That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

pic credit:  Diane Reid

 

Cast Your Cares

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Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

1 Peter 5:7, AMP

Nothing takes God by surprise.  Nothing. Life takes me by surprise often. I make my plans, set my goals and wham – a diagnosis, a new pain, an unexpected expense, a relationship turns sour – and I am surprised.

At my age, I should not longer get surprised. Life happens and sometimes, it is more of a kick in the gut than a stroll on the beach.

Even so, none of this surprises God.

Reeling from the news can send me in two different directions. I can flip out and rant and rave and stress out and lose sleep.  Or I can cast my cares on the God who saw the storm coming and has already mapped out a plan.

Ever gone fishing?  There is prep work to be done, getting the right size line and hook on the right size pole for the fish and picking the spot and the time of day and the bait. But once that hook is cast out into the water, the results are out of your hands. Not much to do but wait at this point. I am not a fisher-woman primarily because I hate waiting (and I am not too wild about cleaning fish).

When the bad news comes, there is only so much I can do and then I have to leave the rest in God’s hands.

What might this look like? For me, it means making a conscious decision to control my racing thoughts. Purposing to focus on God’s promises (one is all I need) instead of the evidence surrounding me isn’t always easy.  It requires a discipline that doesn’t come natural for me. Far more natural is to give into to worry and stress.

This verse tells us that God watches over me, over you,  in love. He cares for us affectionately. Nothing about our life escapes His notice and while we are trying to figure it all out, He is behind the scenes working it all out for us because of His great love and concern for us.

Worrying says, “No thanks God, I’d rather do this myself”.

Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that working for you?”

Two choices – cast my cares or keep them – I get to choose.

How about you?  Done any casting lately?

If you would like prayer, I would be happy to pray with and for you, let me know. K?

 

 

pic credit:  first-nature.com

 

 

Hello, It’s God Calling!

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I pushed the snooze button twice this morning. I don’t usually do that. But this morning, my bed was far more comfortable than usual, my pain level (normally an 8) was down to maybe 2 and the blankets were warm and the air coming in the window over my head was cool and it felt so right. Because of pain, bed is not always a comfortable place to be, but today it was all that.

I spent the time in quiet prayer. Just talking to God about nothing in particular, just whatever crossed my mind. Little kids at work come and sit in my lap and talk and talk about whatever is on their mind and this felt like that, like I was snuggling up in God’s lap and He was patiently listening.

For days leading up to this, I sensed a quiet cry in my heart to be comforted. I wanted desperately to be held and hugged. I never expressed my desire to be hugged to anyone, not even God, but of course, He knew.

When I did get up and read my devotional, this is what I read:

“Real worship is not mechanical or rote, nor is it habit or tradition. It is our inner response to the deepest callings of God on our lives”.

  James A. Davey

I have always thought of God’s callings as being something He draws us to so that we can do something for Him -ministry being one example. Being a performance oriented person, I never thought of God calling me just to comfort me.

What if these stirrings in my heart for the past few days were just that – God calling me to Himself?

At work, I make myself available to the kids that need snuggle time. I find a comfy chair, sit down and open my arms and invite them in. God makes Himself available to us as well, we just have to accept His offer to snuggle.

If, as Davey says, snuggling up in God’s lap and allowing Him to comfort me and hold me might  be my response to a deep calling of God, then snuggling with Him could be a form of worship.

If I view snuggling  that way, maybe approaching His open arms would come easier.

What about you?  Have you snuggled with God lately?

 

 

 

pic credit: comicbookfx.com

System Of Inequality and Divine Healing?!

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 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3 John 2:2

I have been in hot pursuit of divine healing for upwards of twenty years. Healing is promised in the Bible and numerous verses can attest to that fact. I have read them and memorized them and confessed them and put my trust in them and still I am not healed. My pursuit continues.

I read this verse a while back. No doubt familiar to those in search of divine healing  – every book on the subject I have read has included it. But this day, I saw the promise differently.

Instead of seeing it as an iron clad promise of healing, I saw it as an algebraic equation. Weird, right? It struck me as a system of inequalities. On one side of the equation are the variables of prospering and being in good health. On the other side would be the variable of our soul which is our mind, our will and our emotions. Three variables on one side and two on the other.

The question becomes what symbol is between the two sides. Is it an equal sign or not equal, greater than, less than?

My desire to be free of physical pain has so occupied my quest for divine healing that I never even considered the other variables that combine to make my health, holistically speaking.

I simply didn’t care so much about the others; I wanted to live free of physical pain. But God, in His wisdom, knows how much I need all of these variables to be healed if I am going to live the life abundant that has been promised. He is a holistic healer.

I have had to relinquish my ideas about how my healing would manifest and give God permission to heal other areas of my life, even if that means I continue to live with chronic pain while He balances out the equation.

What about you? Are you in need of healing?  I would love to pray for you and join my faith with yours for your healing.

If you have a testimony of how God has healed you, I would love to share it here with others who need encouragement.  

pic credit: pinterest.com

Hurricane Ike Band

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He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

In September of 2008, my son and I flew to Houston for a weekend. My daughter flew down from Montana and we all stayed at my sister’s house.  We made these reservations long before we knew Hurricane Ike was headed right towards Houston.  Having grown up in Houston and being very familiar with hurricanes, we began the work of preparing for possible disaster.

We bought food and water and put things up that were outside and boarded up what windows we could, rounded up flashlights and batteries and the radio.  All that was left to do was pray and wait.  Hurricane Ike hit Houston in the middle of the night.  The winds were howling, rain was pouring and all power went out and the city was dark.  When we got up the next morning, we surveyed the damage and realized we were housebound for several days along with the rest of the city as workers worked to get roads open and power on.

My sister has two guitars, a piano and a keyboard that didn’t require electricity and we started playing songs.  We spent a long time singing and playing instruments and laughing at our not so good songs and marveling at our great ones. We called ourselves the Hurricane Ike Band!  It was a wonderful, memorable time together waiting out the storm.

You may not be going through an actual hurricane.  I certainly hope not, but what storm howls at your door and causes you sleepless nights? What answer are you waiting on?  Are you in need of divine healing that hasn’t come? Waiting stinks, but it doesn’t have to.  We could have huddled over the radio listening to all kinds of bad reports and wrung our hands and made ourselves sick with worry, but we chose instead to create music.  Peace in a storm is possible.  Remember when Jesus was sleeping on the boat when the storm hit the lake and the disciples freaked out?  Jesus woke up, calmed the storm and the disciples were left scratching their heads.  Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is the calmer of the storm, the peace in the midst of bad reports, the Comforter who holds us through difficult times.  Whatever the storm of your life is, He is greater and He is for you not against you.  Isn’t that something to sing about!

Jesus, calmer of my storms, thank You.  You are always present, always here for me no matter what the circumstances of my life may be and I am so grateful.  Thank You for keeping me safe through the storm and giving me new songs to sing.  Help me, I pray, to remember that when the storm comes I can count on You. Amen.

 

pic credit: texascoastgeology.com

A Special Secret

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I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation  

Philippians 4: 12

Paul didn’t have a particularly easy life. It may not have gone the way he planned. Maybe he thought following Christ would make his life easier. I mean, don’t we think that at times?  Paul was in jail as he wrote this letter, facing probable death if he wasn’t released. He could have twiddled his thumbs, he could have slept the day away, complained, grumbled, started riots or felt sorry for himself or gotten angry at God and indignant about the things he was going through because after all, he was doing this stuff for Christ.

But he didn’t. He wrote letters to the people he wasn’t able to hang out with, people that for all he knew, he would never see again. He had no way of knowing that those letters would be read today, cherished today as a large part of the New Testament.

We all go through times where our life isn’t what we thought it would be. Oh, we may never be imprisoned for our faith, but let’s be honest, somewhere between Once Upon A Time and they lived happily ever after, things can go horrible awry.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in place that wasn’t our choice, didn’t fit the trajectory we had for a life?  We have choices of what to do while waiting for the way out.

Paul tells us he discovered a secret. A secret that got him through shipwrecks, beatings, and imprisonments. A secret he wasn’t born knowing; it had to be learned in the ups and downs of life, but one that sustained him through the good and bad. He learned the secret of contentment.  Contentment may be defined as being more than ok on the inside in spite of what is taking place on the inside. Having peace and rest in me regardless of the turmoil outside of me. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It behooves us then to know this secret and fortunately for us, he shares that secret with us:

 “for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power”  

Philippians 4: 13

The best part about this is I don’t have to do this myself; I don’t have to conjure up contentment. I don’t have to fake it til I make it. I just turn my eyes to Jesus, the One who lives in me, the One who gives me strength and power to carry on contentedly, knowing that the ultimate outcome of this present situation is in His hands, in His timing and will ultimately be for my good and His glory.

pic credit: lockerdome.com

Live, Really Live!

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Dear friend, listen well to my words;

    tune your ears to my voice.

Keep my message in plain view at all times.

    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!

Those who discover these words live, really live;

    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

Proverbs 4:20-22

I wonder is that true, that most people just exist?

Do I live, really live or just exist?

Do I just go through the motions day after day?

Could I use these words to describe my life – rut, mundane, daily grind, humdrum, routine?

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Book shelves abound with self-help books. No shortage of people willing to tell us how to live the life we have dreamed of; knowledge does indeed abound. I have read a number of them. I have them dogged-eared and highlighted and sitting on my book shelf. But truth be told, once they are put back on the shelf and life goes on, I am still me, still just going through motions more times than I would like.

Many may consider the Bible to be just another book, full of wise words, but once read, placed back on the shelf, forgotten and gathering dust. This verse from Proverbs, written by the wisest man, Solomon tells us that though that the Bible offers something the self-help books can’t. Words that bring life and health to all areas of my life – and yours.

Self-help books give us snippets of wisdom but they all require self-effort. How many of you know that self-effort is a recipe at times for disaster?

God’s word, however enters our heart with God’s power to perform what He sent it for, which is healing and bringing health to our body and our soul (our mind, our will and our emotions). All that we have to do is take the medicine He offers, apply it to our lives daily (maybe even minute by minute) and let the love and the power of God bring wholeness to our lives through those words.

God’s word applied daily may not change our circumstances, though it might. More likely though, His word will change our thoughts and our heart so that regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we can have peace and joy and a body and soul bursting with health.  That’s good news, isn’t it?

 

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pic credit: fengshuidana.com

A New Start

 

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If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;

Isaiah 1: 19

When the Israelites first came out of the wilderness, before they entered the Promised Land, they encamped at Gilgal.  It was a stopping off place for the Israelites. They were no longer in the wilderness where they had been for the last forty years, but they weren’t in possession of the promised land either.

The forty years leading up to this time in Gilgal had probably been marked by frustration ( when God when?) and unanswered questions (why God why?) and may have left them wondering if they would ever get out of the wilderness. Ever feel that way? You thought you were headed somewhere but it has taken so long to get there that you have given up hope?

These Israelites  were born in and grew up in the wilderness. They didn’t learn about faith from their fathers, they didn’t learn about fighting or even hunting. Basically, their skills for survival were limited. Their skills for taking possession of enemy owned land, even less.

But God brought them to Gilgal where He rolled away the reproach of Israel, all the shame and dishonor that came from being slaves rolled off leaving them better prepared to start afresh in a new life, one they could barely imagine.

It is easy to think when we go through a wilderness time, that our live will never be good again. That we will never get out of this, never have another chance and nothing about our life will amount to anything. That this time spent in the wilderness is such a waste. But that is not the message of Gilgal.

As God cleaned up the people and began preparing them to start a new life, I picture him looking over their resumes for transferable skills that would be useful in the promise land.

First, He would see that they know how to grumble and complain.

Second, He would see that they know how to set up and take down tents.

Third, He would see that they know how to gather manna.

Not terribly useful skills for their new adventure, but then He saw it:   they know how to wander; they had walked in the wilderness for forty years.

And so, He came up with a battle plan to take their first city – Jericho.

All these Israelites had to do was walk around the city with their mouth shut until God said to let loose the battle cry! These men knew how to walk and God saw a way to use that to lead them to victory.

God would do the rest.

They did what they could do, God did what only He could do and they took possession of their first city in the new land! They were willing and obedient and God used them to take possession of Jericho.

If you are in the wilderness, don’t lose hope. God isn’t angry with you nor has He abandoned you or forgotten you. He can take what seems like waste and use it to lead you to the victory you may have given up hope of every seeing.

It’s a new year and this could be your year to take hold of what God has planned for you! Hang in there!

 

 

pic credit: relentless.taketheinterview.com