FAITH (Part 2)

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II Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, put of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND.” [emphasis mine]

Reflections: This morning was a rough one. I woke up struggling with my arch nemesis—fear. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that the burdens of life were trying to weigh me down, and I was looking around wondering why God had not yet shown up! But eventually, I realized, “This is the moment.” This is the moment that we encounter so often in life, when we have to make a choice between giving into fear and anxiety and choosing, instead, to walk in faith, believing that God is moving on our behalf even when we can’t see it. Choosing the latter may not immediately change our present circumstances; but the choice brings with it a sense of peace and hope, and our faith sets the stage for God to move in our lives in a mighty and miraculous way. FAITH is fuel for the miraculous; and the bigger our faith, the more room God has to show up and show out!

The truth is that fear and faith cannot operate in the same space. When we choose faith, fear must vacate. 🙂 So, the next time fear threatens to overwhelm you, choose to trust God instead. Believe that somehow, some way, He will step in and turn your situation around; and in time, all things will work out for your good and His glory!

Shine your light!

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

FAITH

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Matthew 6:26 – “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?”

Reflections: I find that I worry a lot these days. I worry about money (or the lack thereof), I worry about bills, I worry about my car, my house…I worry about my nonprofit and my students, and I worry about my family and my friends. Then I have these moments of clarity, when I realize the true extent of this worry—which is really just another term for fear—and I have to remember and acknowledge that fear only exists in the absence of FAITH. If I am walking in my faith, as I should, then I could more easily rebuke the fear that wells within me. Constant fear is an affront to FAITH, particularly in the face of scriptures like Matthew 6:26, which remind me of God’s love for all of His creation, from the birds of the trees to little old flawed me. He will always be there for us, watching over us, protecting us, and providing for us…as long as we believe. If God be for us, who can be against us? Whom shall we fear?

John 16:33 – “Rest in the peace of God’s presence. Do not be weighed down by burdens and problems, because God is your burden bearer. In this world, we will have trials, but do not fear, for He has overcome the world.”

Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear

Release the Burdens!

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REST

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you ill find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Reflections: This passage always makes me smile. It speaks of such love and care and concern for us, as God’s children. I picture Jesus with open arms, beckoning me to Him, offering me relief for my troubled soul…

Life can be so hard sometimes, as we try to juggle this responsibility and that crisis and that issue over there…If you’re like me, your tendency is to try to carry the load all on your own, until you become buried under the innumerable burdens you’ve taken on. Exhausted and overwhelmed, you find yourself tackling each item on your plate in turn, but in truth, not doing any if it with excellence. But why? Why do we insist on carrying these impossible loads on our own when we have a God who offers to take it all for us, asking only that we take His peace and REST in exchange? That’s a pretty sweet deal! So, why do we hesitate to take Him up on it? Our habit of doing it all ourselves gets in the way of letting even God take the weight of our load.

The Bible is clear that we must all do our part—in our households and in the church. We all have a role to fulfill within the Body of Christ, and we all know that if we don’t work, we don’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). But the Word also speaks time and again about the value of REST, peace, and, most importantly, balance. (This is a truth that I still battle with at times.)

If you are struggling with your juggling act today, try taking Jesus up on His offer. Leave your burdens with Him, and take a moment to experience His REST. You will be better prepared to face the day, week, month, year ahead with a peaceful heart and a rested soul.

Shine your light!

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TRUST

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Matthew 14:30-31-“But when [Peter] saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately, Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?'”

Reflections: I truly love this story! It convicts me EVERY TIME. The disciple, who bravely volunteers and ventures out on this faith walk, eyes focused on Jesus, suddenly begins to doubt and fear as he steps away from safety and familiarity and into what he believes to be a shaky situation. His enthusiasm wanes and is quickly replaced by panic as he faces the rolling waves, and slowly, he begins to sink. He’s taken his eyes off of Jesus, and now is quickly being overwhelmed and dragged under by his circumstances.

Sound familiar? It’s definitely a common scenario for me. So many times, I have taken my eyes off of Jesus, forgotten that He is always right there beside me, and begun flailing in panic because the challenge I am facing makes me feel like I am drowning. I forget about all of the times He has seen me through and brought me out, and all of the miraculous ways that He has made. All I can think about is how badly I’m about to fall or fail; and with my attention now centered on my situation, I begin to sink. But in a moment of clarity, my Spirit moves me to call out with hope in my heart, “Lord, save me!” And IMMEDIATELY (every time), He grasps my reaching hand and pulls me close, infusing my Spirit with a peace that passes all understanding. Quietly, He whispers, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I am chastened by my lack of belief, but emboldened by my savior’s faithfulness, and once again, I step out on faith, this time with my eyes firmly fixed on the Lord.

Also read Proverbs 3:5-6

Shine Bright!

Song: Oceans by Hillsong United

If I’m Being Honest…

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TRANSPARENCY

Today’s Scripture was a common one, but the Spirit illuminated a  new perspective on it. See below.

1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'”

Reflections: I think that I may have perfected the art of “not looking like what I’ve been through.”  After three plus years in the valley, I would be looking like a hot mess otherwise. *smile*. It helps that God has shown Himself to me time and again during moments of divine provision. I TRULY believe that He walks with me through this valley and has already established my way out. His presence and the faith He’s cultivated within me instill in me a peace that passes understanding and joy overflowing…most of the time. Lord knows, though, if I’m being HONEST, that sometimes I wake in the morning in a panic, feeling overwhelming fear and anxiety.

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The outside world rarely gets a glimpse of these feelings, but I know that I can go to God at any hour in my weakness, because He already knows my heart. He already knows about the moments that I feel weak, inadequate, and ill-equipped for the calling He’s placed on my life. …those moments when I want so badly to throw in the towel, throw up my hands, surrender, give up, and take the road of least resistance. It would be so easy, and my life would be so much BETTER! Wouldn’t it? Maybe not.

See, it’s too late. God has shown me too much and taken me too far, to the point where I don’t want anything but what He has for me. My flesh may rage and rail against that reality some days (most days, if I’m HONEST), but I truly believe that what God has in store for me at the end of all of this is better than anything I could ever have imagined. I want that, and I’m willing to wait, and persevere, until God sees fit to move me to the next level. I’m EXCITED about what He’s going to do! So, if you see me, and I look calm and serene, or like I’m filled with inexplicable joy, it’s not a front or a mask, it is an HONEST reaction to and expression of my faith in God’s promise, and the belief in my heart that my latter days will be greater than today.

Shine your light!

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