Monday, August 22, 2016

Let not your heart be troubled

"I have something to tell you, but I don't want you to freak out..."

I don't know about you, but those words make my heart stop for a moment. Nobody uses those words unless they are about to say something that could, in fact, freak me out.

Jesus starts a conversation in a similar this way with His disciples...

Let not your heart be troubled...
~John 14:1a
He is about to tell them that the man they have devoted their lives to following is going to die and there is nothing they can do about it. If I was one of those disciples, I can't imagine my heart not being troubled at that moment, as well as in the moments to come. Yet that's what Jesus says. And in doing so, makes a point to say that they have a choice in how they handle what's to come. 

It's clear from the conversation that they don't quite understand. Where is He going? Why can't they go? How do they follow Him if they don't know the way? But he tells them again...

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

Jesus knew that if they looked only at what they were seeing, they wouldn't be able to help but feel discouraged, depressed, and scared. He knew that once they let those feelings set in, they would start to doubt the truths He had taught them over the years. 

Have you ever been so sad and depressed that you started wondering if God existed? Or, if He did, that He could really love you at all?

Where would we be today if the disciples had given in to those feelings? Jesus knew that they were about to watch Him be unjustly beaten, tortured, and crucified. He also knew that the whole existence of Christianity could hinge on the feelings of His disciples if they gave in to their despair at His death... so He clued them to the fact that they had a choice in how they handled their emotions.

The good news is, we do too. He even tells us how to do it. 

Believe in God; believe also in me.
~John 14:1b

Faith. He's telling them and us to believe in the truths He has taught before this. Don't believe what you see over what you already know. Believe that God has the final word on your circumstances. Believe that He sees you and knows you and wants only good for you. Believe that you have authority over the darkness that tries to overtake you. 

That's the first step. Faith.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
~John 14:26

He also tells them that He is sending the Holy Spirit to help them with this. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance the things Jesus had already taught them that were contrary to what they were feeling as well as teach them new things.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you guide your thoughts away from your pain and fear and towards the things God wants you to focus on. More likely than not, you'll find that the things He wants you to focus on have nothing to do with your life and circumstances at all.

The Holy Spirit WILL help.

Some will read this and say, "She obviously doesn't understand anxiety or depression." Believe me, I understand all too well. I suffered from both for years. 

Officially diagnosed in 2002, I spent a lot of time on and off of anti-depressants and in and out of hopelessness. I still have bad days from time to time. But now I can look at those bad days and see where I could have chosen to make the day better. 

When I blamed others' actions or my own circumstances for my depression and anxiety, I felt helpless. This caused even more depression and anxiety. But now, each time I recognize it and accept my ability to control my feelings, I am empowered. Even when the recognition comes in hindsight, I know that I'll get another chance to let not my heart be troubled... and in doing so, will be able to show others that they can break free from this too!

This topic is so much deeper than one blog post can cover. Accepting that you have authority over your emotions is difficult... but it is important if you want to get better. Please know that even if you aren't ready to accept what I'm saying... You can be free. You can be healthy. You can be whole. It won't be easy, but starts with making a choice to find your way. 

Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
~John 14:1

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, 
 your consolation brought me joy.
~Psalm 94:18-19

Monday, August 15, 2016

For a moment

A phone call.
An unexpected bill.
Seemingly insurmountable
when measured against my account balance.

For a moment I was sick
For a moment I was scared
For a moment I teared up
For a moment I wondered how
For a moment I looked at my debt instead of my Provider.

Then I remembered, shifted my eyes, and smiled.

I can't wait to see how He takes care of this!

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

According to His riches... not according to my righteousness, my prayers, my behavior, my anything.

God will supply all of my needs and when He does, nobody's eyes will be on me. I won't have any pride about the provision... because I won't have done anything.

It's always Him.

Praising the Lord in all things today and every day. He's a good good Father.


Remember that no matter how much faith you have, your eyes are going to get distracted from time to time. You are going to look at the problem and wonder how. That's when you need to remember that the how isn't important. He is a good good Father and all of your needs will be met.

Thank Him in faith that it will happen and sit back and watch Him do something awesome. 

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Matthew 6:26

Yes. Yes you are.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What does God want me to do?

"I can do this," I said to my friend with confidence as I offered to handle her family's estate sale.

I had never done one. But really, how hard could it be? I own a business. I have some resources. I wasn't feeling God saying, "No." So I plowed in. She needed me and I was there.

I hired help and got to work. Sorting, cleaning, researching, pricing, etc... suddenly, part way through, I realized I was in over my head. In order to cover just my expenses and break even, we were going to have to have a heck of a sale. Still, I thanked God several times during the process for the experience, the chance to help out a friend, and for the confidence in knowing He would provide, regardless of the final outcome of the sale.

That "heck of a sale" I thought I needed didn't happen. We didn't sell nearly as much stuff as we expected and while the percentage I had agreed to was good. It wouldn't actually cover all of my expenses, much less any of my own time. 

Still, I had committed to the project and I chose to stand on my belief that God would provide in the end... even if this sale was not the way He did it. I also learned a lot about my own company in the process. The biggest thing I learned? We don't do estate sales. The second biggest thing I learned was that we can provide the services people need in order to ready a loved one's home for an estate sale. 

When I sat down with the head of the estate to give her the money brought in and the final numbers, she asked me a couple of questions, talked to me about some things I hadn't considered when figuring up the totals, crunched some numbers, and wrote me a check that not only covered my expenses, but much of my time as well. Then we hugged and cried because she was so grateful for my help. 

I had faith that no matter what, God would take care of me and He did. 

Commit everything you do to the LORD.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:5
It isn't uncommon to see Christians frozen in fear, trying to make a decision of some sort in their lives. They want what God wants for them, but they don't know what that is. So they do nothing while they wait for direction. In the mean time, life passes them by.

If God isn't providing a clear answer to your question, then ask yourself this: Is what I am considering illegal or immoral? If it isn't, commit your plans to the Lord, thank Him for His promise to prosper you, and then step out... JUST DO IT!

Commit your plans to the Lord. Ask Him for help and guidance. Ask Him to close the door if it's not one He wants you to go through, but short of that... you will not be able to experience the fullness of the life God has for you by sitting in your house praying for guidance.  

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Go on that date. Help out that friend. Make the trip. Try something new. Take a bold step. And thank God that He is going to prosper you... not necessarily in the way you hope or expect... but good things will come and you will be blessed when you commit what you do to the Lord.

God doesn't want to plan out every decision you make in your life. He wants you to use all of the gifts He has already given you and believe all the promises He has for you... and LIVE ... better yet, LIVE ABUNDANTLY!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10