Faith Versus Anxiety

Don’t you just love the fourth chapter of Philippians? Last week we focused on Philippians 4:4, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. I encourage us all to purposely add this verb to your life in new measures. It can really change your perspective.

Paul goes on to encourage us with “be anxious for nothing”. How challenging is this–especially in the uncertain world we live in. Making a decision to apply this scripture takes intentionality as well. Begin by asking the Lord to show you areas of your life where you deal with anxiousness. I suggest you focus on one area. There are some pretty clear steps outlined in Philippians 4:6: First determine not to let anxiousness rule your life–but when you find yourself needlessly worrying begin to pray. He encourages a special kind of prayer–supplication. Supplication is simply “Help me, Lord!” Supplication is made with humility–with the understanding that He is God and that you are not! It recognizes, as does rejoicing that we serve a God who sovereignly cares for us, in every situation and season. So we go to Him, with our “help me Lord” attitude–but with the also added ingredient of thanksgiving. When we add thanksgiving to the mix it releases our faith. It turns our minds and hearts from the problem to the hope of the solution. It causes us to lift up our heads to see the Author and Finisher of our Faith walking with us.

What happens next? The peace of God which surpasses all understanding comes to guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. When we have His peace, then we can hear His voice of direction, comfort and help. When we have His peace we will be able to move forward with confidence that we are not alone. When we walk in His peace we discover how to apply the solutions He brings to us. We will also be able to get outside our own situations and be able to be helpful to others. Anxiousness keeps our world about us, walking in His peace allows us to expand our world and be of use to His kingdom.

I know this may seem simplistic in many ways. But it works–I know many many people struggle with major anxiety. Please know I have compassion for you , but I do believe actively practicing these steps will help diminish anxiety. No guilt, just grace.

Faith and Humility

Before I started writing today, I took time to read last week’s blog. What a mess! I knew I was feeling tired, but I thought for sure I had found all the mistakes! This Sunday I came down with a bunch of sinus issues, rendering me wimpy, weak and extremely fatigued. It is not the first time I have endured this nastiness, and I know the drill. Rest, fluids and some decongestants. Nothing fun. So here I am resting. Pushing fluids and I am gaining a bit of ground. But still not up to the energy level I need or want.

Finding the mistakes in last weeks blog Is not only humbling, but embarrassing. How do you process humbling, embarrassing situations? Beat yourself up? Feel bad for a certain amount of hours or even days? Do you wear your shame or are you able to let it go quickly?

As I have been feeling pretty useless in my “resting” state—I realized that I kept a lot of it to myself. I did not ask for prayer from many people, not because I don’t believe in it–but because I was embarrassed to admit, once again I wasn’t feeling well. I realized last night that it is a form of pride. I want to be seen as a strong, healthy capable of moving any mountain that is set before her kind of gal. I can respond with a “yes” to any need because that is how my life usually is. We had a precious new grandbaby on Februarys 17–and I haven’t been able to help her mom or dad nearly as much as I thought I would. My strength to them at this moment is prayer. I have received the news of some very serious situations this week–overwhelming without God’s intervention and I have been able to pray. Our Life Group is studying Philippians and last nights group (which I couldn’t attend) was Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. To rejoice does not mean we have to “feel” celebratory as you would with a new baby, but it means being so grateful we have our Heavenly Father who walks with us through our hard situations. I can rejoice that God sees me here–learning to rest not only in body, but in mind and spirit. I can rejoice that He understands my heartache for those facing the lost of a loved one who seems to be going home to soon. I can rejoice that He is there with His comfort and helping them navigate new diagnosis such as Parkinson’s that my sister just received. God is good and involved in our embarrassing and humbling moments.–big or small!

For those of you who graciously read last weeks blog with all its mess, I am grateful and sorry. No excuses. I promise to proof read with more scrutiny. I promise I will not wear my shame or embarrassment, but put it under the blood and in the place of another life lesson learned. I thank those you were able to receive through it! Your words of encouragement did that–encouraged me!

Faith and “Victories”

Darryl Rodman wrote in his book Heart Treasure, It is good news that God not only gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, but enables us to maintain and enlarge the victory as well, until the victory is the stronghold in our lives that can’t be robbed or destroyed

Several thoughts came to mind as I was reading and pondering these ideas. The first one is that we should not be doing our battles alone. No matter what style the fight comes in. Mentally, socially, physically or spiritually settling it in our heart that God is for us and not against us is crucial. Deuteronomy 20:4. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory..  

I Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ   \

I John 5:4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.

Many times we seem to fight the same types of battles, and it can get old or discouraging to face the same enemy over and over again. However, in my own life I have come to recognize what Darryl said is true. The more we stand in the victory of Jesus the more easily the victory is won and our land increases. What this means in actuality, is that we can and do win battles. Fears that may have held us captive nor longer control us. Insecurities which affected our life no longer cause us to cringe or hold us back from moving forward in life. We become more confident and effective in touching people’s lives. Energy that we used to have to put forth to simply endure a situation, can now be used for further His Kingdom.

God is working in and through us to help us be the over-comers He intended. Do not fall victim to the lie that because you lost one battle, you will never succeed. This is simply not true. Put on the armor of God, stand tall in His victory and move forward. Equip yourself with His Words of truth. It is not only your freedom that is at stake, but those around you.

Faith and Strengthening

It has been an amazing, surprising week in for my family. My son Andrew and his family received keys to their new home on Tuesday! Truly a time of rejoicing! However, unexpectedly they also delivered their third baby on Sunday! (Adiana Lily was not supposed to be here until the middle of March!) Both mother and baby are doing well, and for that we are so grateful. So we get now we get to help them move!

However, I found myself very tired. Very tired in a happy, blessed way, but tired. Yesterday as I was getting ready for our MOPS meeting, helping with new big brother Tobi and other things that needed to be done, God dropped this scripture in my heart. Strengthen the weak hands, confirm the feeble knees, say to them that are of a fearful heart be strong, fear not for your God will come with vengeance….even God with a recompense, he will come and save you, Isaiah 35:3-4. KJV My husband Darryl actually set these verses to music and as the song came to mind, I felt strengthened. It is a very catchy tune and set my heart to dancing! It was my body that was tired, but at times it is my soul or even my spirit that needs this encouragement. I believe the scripture is about our souls, but as I chose to look outward, even my body felt stronger.

I began to ask the Lord to show me those who needed their hands strengthened and their wobbly knees helped. It gave me strength as I sowed strength into their lives. The Amplified Version states it this way: Encourage the exhausted, and make staggering knees firm. Say to those with an anxious and panic-stricken heart, Be strong, Fear not! Indeed your God will come with vengeance (for the ungodly); The retribution of God will come, but He will save you,” There are so many people who need this encouragement. Maybe even ourselves that find our hands growing weary and our knees a bit wobbly in our standing in waiting to see God answer prayer that needs His intervention. It may be tempting in our own weariness or weakness to get focused on ourselves and our own issues. However, if we look outside ourselves and begin to help someone else, we will find our God’s strength and encouragement coming into our very situation.

Our Life Group met last night and there were some very heavy issues many of the women were carrying (hospitalized daughter, unexpected death and even one friend’s murder) we were able to help strengthen one another as we came together. Look out among you even this day and see how you may be the answer to bring strength to someone else. Be encouraged my friends, we do not need to be afraid. Our God, YOUR God is coming to save you and me for that is what He does!

Faith and Pressing On

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining on to what is ahead: I press towards the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.

The English definition Press: to move or cause to move into a position of contact with something by exerting continuous physical force. However the Greek word used in this scripture is more like to pursue. It falls under the word which means to follow. The picture given in the race analogy in my thinking it means to “stay on the heels of”–follow closely to Jesus as He leads us. I am not a runner. I admit it. But God has put it in my heart “both to will and to do His will”, therefore I choose to pursue Him and His ways the best I can. Paul’s life was anything but easy. Reading through just the physical hardships, sufferings and persecution he endured is enough to make me tired! Add on the spiritual responsibilities he also carried as he discipled others, helped them establish and grow churches and just simply fulfill His assignment stirs and convicts my heart indeed.

However, I am not called to his walk. I am called to my own. Our Life Group last night discussed what are the things that stir our affections for Christ. What is it that we can do to keep our affections on Him and not let them get scattered to the world? One of our sweet sisters mentioned how when her brother and his wife shared Jesus with her for the first time she felt their passion for Him. We, too, can influence others by our passion for Him. The blessing of pursuing Him is getting to know Him. To receive His love, grace and mercy and as we do–we also get the opportunity to share Him with others. Let us not grow weary in well doing. Let us not decide that we know enough, care enough or love enough put let us press on to the fullness of Him until we finish our race. This scripture was my husband’s life verse and he truly ran his race until he could run no more. As a tribute to him on this Valentine’s Day I encourage us all to get our second, third or fortieth wind and choose to press on toward the HIGH Calling…not settling for anything less. Who knows what we will see, what testimonies we will have as we keep on running our race. Remember He is running that race right with us. We are not alone in the running. Be blessed today with the knowledge of His love for you. It is enough.

Faith and Taxes

The past couple of days I’ve been busy looking backwards to 2018–as I gathered all the info and looked at the paid bills laying on my table I began to thank the Lord for His faithfulness. It was an interesting “coincidence” that I read “give to Caesar that which is Caesar” scripture yesterday morning. Like most people, I do not enjoy figuring out all the numbers involved. My situation is a bit different than most because as a small non-profit ministry there are extra steps involved. I send my information to a reputable tax preparer who stays up on all the tax changes and I am so grateful for their expertise.

This year I found myself grateful for the opportunity to celebrate God’s supply and grateful for simply my needs being met. As I sorted through my bills–everything from my utilities, my property taxes, medical and prescription bills and all the house maintenance issues that were paid this year I was overwhelmed at His faithfulness. Everyone was paid! Everyone represented God meeting a need. I just couldn’t help but thank Him for His faithfulness.

It wasn’t just my needs getting met, but also the blessing in looking at the financial gifts I was able to give when I received the giving statement from the ministries I gave too. I am a faithful “tither” and offering giver as well…so to really look at the numbers and thank Him for the opportunity to give was also refreshing.

Our church theme for last year was to “live generously”. It is an on-going underlying theme for this year as well. What a joy to participate–not just in giving financially to and through our church, but also individually to others. Due to maintenance issues with my home, I faced extra challenges this year. It was humbling when the Lord put it on others hearts to give to help offset my need. Thank you to all of you who helped in so many different ways. But it also brought back to mind the opportunities I took this past year to live generously as well. None of those opportunities will show up as a tax deduction, but I know that as I sow in one area, I shall reap in another.

This is the first year that I can remember where I actually thanked the Lord for the opportunity to really look at His financial faithfulness! I normally muddle my way through it all and just being grateful it is done…instead I am grateful for the new perspective He gave me in simply “doing my taxes”. He is truly a good and faithful God!

Faith: Led or Driven Part 2

Condemnation, guilt or shame can cause us to try and prove our worth to the Lord which can often promote a sense of being driven or compelled to live up to a standard God has not set for us. It is a miserable place to be, and not God’s choice for his children. Only by applying His work on the cross will we come out of the condemnation, guilt and shame and into His marvelous light where we can be led by His wonderful Spirit.

So what does being led by the Spirit of God look like?

  1. People who are led by the Spirit of God will be led into His Truth, which results in freedom. This freedom is full of life and liberty. Walking in this freedom brings security, not tormenting fear. John 8:32 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. Psalm 25.5 And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

2. The Spirit leads us besides still waters where our soul is restored. He leads me besides still waters; he restores my soul. Psalm 23:2,3 When was the last time you followed Him into stillness? A tattered soul is not a healthy soul. Take time to ask Him for His restoration. Follow Him to those places of healing. Do no be afraid of them.

3, The Spirit leads us in the paths which will glorify the Lord and causes us to walk uprightly and righteously. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3. It isn’t about us, but we are called to live them for “his name’s sake”. He leads us away from selfishness and sin.

4. The Spirit does not leads us into temptation. For the honor of your name, lead me out of this danger. Psalm 31:3 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13

5. We are led by His hand no matter where we may be. Again, we follow Him with the secure knowledge that He knows what the things that are on the path we encounter. If I take the wings of the dawn. If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea. Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 139;10 Even if we go astray, He will rescue us.

6. His Spirit leads us in safety and confidence if we keep following Him. But God led his people out like sheep, and he guide them like a flock through the desert. He led them to safety so they had nothing to fear. Psalm 78:53 Some people had wandered in the desert lands. They found no city in which to live. They were hungry and thirsty, and they were discouraged. In their misery they cried out to the Lord, and he saved them from their troubles. He led them on a straight road to a city where they could live. Psalm 107:4-7

7. His Spirit will lead us to change our ways when they are not His ways. Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4

8. His Spirit will lead us to pick up our cross daily. Then He said to them all, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 923 Remember it isn’t all about us, but about Him!

We must prepare our mind for action against this other counterfeit spirit who would seek to drives to attempt to do God’s will by our own strength and for impure or mixed motives. God’s Spirit has a plan and purpose for each of us in helping establish His Kingdom. He desires to use us in such a way the He is glorified. It is not that we will not be “busy about our Father’s business”, it is that his Spirit is operating within us, allowing us to rest in our busyness, to trust in His time table and to enjoy the journey along the way.

One last thought. Unfortunately, driven people, especially leaders have a tendency to drive others. It is most essential that we are honest with ourselves as well as Him if we have been influenced by this driving spirit.

Father, I ask that you impart to us the ability, by your grace and Spirit to help us discern the difference between being led and being driven. Lead them besides the still waters, restore our souls so that we can begin again following your leadership to accomplish your plan and purpose.. This is a needed lesson. Please help us be aware when the enemy is lying to us about these things, that we may turn a deaf hear to Him and listen only to your voice, We trust you, my Father.