Are You Resting?

In the Lord?  In these days of constant motion, when our minds are  bombarded with information every hour of every day; that can be easier said than done.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-29 “ Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  Rest for your souls.  Ahhhh. Makes me think of being in the mountains or on the beach.  In nature with no people around.  And yes that is a wonderful kind of rest.  The only problem with that, is we might be in the perfect, quiet, restful spot but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our mind is at rest, or our soul.  

Jesus isn’t talking about a ten minute coffee break kind of a rest, or even a week’s vacation kind of a rest.  He’s not saying, OK, you had your break now get back to worrying!  No, this is the kind of rest that we can have, even in the midst of all the turmoil around us.  In the midst of financial problems or family problems or sickness.

 I think its the kind of rest where we have given Him our burdens, given Him our cares and our concerns so we don’t have to carry them alone anymore.  Jesus says, when we come to Him, He will give us rest.  

Its the kind of rest where we are trusting in the Lord with all our hearts.  Where we believe that those things He has promised to do; He will do.  We don’t have to worry about it, or try to figure it out anymore.  We can just rest in Him. 

So many people have stress related illnesses today.  It’s no surprise.  Not only do we have stress related to our own lives, jobs and families but with the internet and the constant flow of information; we quickly hear about all the bad things happening in the world and all the evil going on.  When we are focusing on all of that, it’s no wonder we are all stressed out!

The Lord is well aware of all that is going on in the world. It is not news to Him.  There has  been evil in the world since Adam and Eve ate the apple.  As it says in Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new under the sun”. We may think the world is the worst its ever been.  Maybe in some ways that is true.  But look back over history or Bible stories to see the things people have dealt with in the past.  Wars, plagues, famines, slavery, throwing Christians to the lions, evil rulers; I could go on and on.  The Lord was with His people then as He is with us now.  Malachi 3:6 states:” For I am the Lord, I change not”.  The Word of the Lord remains forever.   In Psalm 37:7 we are told: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;  Do not fret—it only causes harm”.  Guess what?  A lot of that harm that’s caused is to us.

With all the fretting and arguing going on these days we should look different to the world.  We have the peace of God that Jesus left for us-John 14:27 “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”.  We can rest in the Lord, trusting that His plan will come to pass and that He will take care of us; no matter what is going on in the world. 

We  aren’t so silly as to think that we are going to go through life with no problems, right?  After all Jesus said

take-heart

He has already overcome the world!  There’s something we can rest on! When we have taken heart, we are walking in peace and resting in God; there’s no stopping us!  We don’t have to waste our time and energy on those things that we are trusting God for; so we can spend our time doing what we are called to do, and being who God made us to be.  And how about we throw some of the joy of the Lord into the mix too?  

When we are resting in the Lord, that is what our life is supposed to be like.  We can get up and be excited to find out what the Lord has for us for that day.  What are His plans for us for the day?  His plans are always good.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life not resting in the Lord.  Oh, I may have thought I was.  Or thought that yes, I had given Him my problems and I knew He would take care of them.  But I wasn’t resting in the Lord.  Not really.  Very often  if someone in my family or one of my loved ones was going through something, I would feel guilty and think; well how can I go out and enjoy my life when this person is going through this? Like me not enjoying my life would change their problems in any way.  

Yes, we have to carry each others burdens.  Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  But we have to live our own lives as well.  Jesus said in John 10:10b “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”.

I’m learning how to do that. Enjoying my life in the midst of problems.  Appreciating and being thankful for every good gift from the Lord. Each new day is a gift. Learning to have the joy of the Lord even when things aren’t perfect, and when I’m waiting for things to come to pass.  Most importantly sticking close to Jesus.  Keeping my eyes and  ears open; to be ready to see or to hear what He might say.  And of course, learning to rest…in Him.

soul-rest

Speak Life

That song by Toby Mac has been going through my head all day.  We are in times when that is more important than ever.  Its ugly out there with words, have you noticed?  People are offended, hurt, and angry wherever you go.  Everywhere you look there is division of some kind.  

When we buy into all this fighting, either by our own words, or posts on social media or just gossiping and re-hashing the latest stories; we are doing the enemy’s job for him.  All he has to do is plant a thought here, a lie there, an angry word-and boom.  He’s managed to steal our peace, steal our joy and in some cases steal our relationships.  And we helped him do it.  

We need to be smarter than that and rise above all the anger, bitterness and hatred.  Our words are so important and not something we can take lightly.  The Bible has a lot to say about our words and their effect.  In Matthew 12  Jesus says out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  If we are speaking evil of others what does that tell us  then about what is in our hearts?  

He continues in Matt 12: 36-37 to say:  But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Yikes.  That really makes you want to think before you speak doesn’t it?  It’s so very easy to get caught up in conversations that are going places you don’t want to go.  How many times in a day do we say something only to wish moments later that we could take it back?  

Proverbs 18:21 tells us:  The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.  We can speak life just as easily as we can speak death.  When we speak God’s Word over ourselves and our circumstances we are always speaking life.  A good scripture to declare everyday-or when you know you are going to be in one of those situations, is Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;  Keep watch over the door of my lips.

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It is not just a suggestion that we watch what we speak.  Over and over in the Bible we have instruction as to how we should speak and the power of our words.  In the book of James he tells us plainly how dangerous the tongue can be.  James 3:5-6: Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.  The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.  

Can’t get much clearer than that can you?  We see it evidenced every day if we look at the news and how quickly words can cause issues.  Why on earth would we want to participate with words that cause harm?  You know that old saying your mother used to say?  If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all!  That’s still good advice!  

When the Lord created the universe and all that there is, He spoke it into existence.  When we speak God’s Word with our mouths we have the power to  do the same thing.  We can speak life into our families and our homes.  Speak life into our jobs, our finances and everything concerning us.  

Instead of speaking bad things and curses over your life turn God’s Word into declarations to declare good things over your life and families.

Instead of saying things like; my children aren’t walking with the Lord, they don’t do what they are supposed to.  You can say, Thank You Lord, that all my children are taught of You and great is their peace and undisturbed composure.  

Instead of saying, I can’t pay my mortgage this month, I don’t know why I’m always broke, say; thank You Lord that you meet all my needs according to Your riches and glory by Christ Jesus.  Thank You that I’m the head and not the tail I’m above and not beneath.  I come behind in no good thing and all that I set my hand to prospers.

If your problem is that your mouth gets ahead of your brain, and you have been known to speak unkind things, try saying; Thank You Lord that You have given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. Thank You for the guard you set over my mouth.  

You get the picture.  Find a scripture that you can use for your situation and speak it out.  There are promise books galore out there that will give you scriptures on just about every subject you can think on.  

Lets purpose to be life-speakers this week and always.  Refuse to participate in that argument at work that solves nothing; or in your home.  And whatever you do don’t join in those conversations where they are talking about how everyone in the place is getting sick, you just know you will get it.  Keep your mouth closed, don’t go there! Don’t speak that curse over yourself.   Yes, all this might be hard. Especially if you are new to it.  It takes practice.  But at the end of the day you will feel so much better when you don’t have to repent for your words.  

And hey, if you get a chance, check out Toby Mac’s song, Speak Life, to be further inspired.  I will leave you with a verse.

Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say.

life

 

Let Your Light Shine

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16.

As I’m sure many of you can attest to, when you live in an area that has gone through a natural disaster as we here in NC have the last few days, you see the best and the worst of people.  Tensions are high, people are afraid, unsure of the future, and in many cases they don’t know where to turn or what to do; and so sometimes they take it out on others.  

 Many of us were without power for periods of time, no phones, no internet etc.  Some were without water and many people are still in these situations.  Some lost some food in their fridge or had a little flooding while others have lost everything they own.  Some lost their lives.  The pictures of the flooding and the damage are almost unimaginable.   

In the midst of all that sorrow and tragedy, We have seen so much of the best of people.  I have heard of, or read about so many acts of kindness in these last few days.  Something about a shared experience draws people closer together.  Neighbors have been helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers, people taking time to connect with others, checking on others,  inviting family and friends to stay in a safe place, or just have a place to get a warm meal.   On social media so many people have been offering what they have, to help those in need.

 Times like this force us to slow down and pay attention to people and situations around us more.  We have more time to focus on what’s important without all the distractions.  It’s sad that it sometimes takes things like this for us to realize the things that really are important.  I am just as guilty as anyone, of being so focused on my own life and plans , that I don’t always pay attention to what others may need.  

As a Christian we are called to be both salt and light.  We should always be listening to the Lord  as to what He would have us do. Not just when its convenient for us or when we are going through trials and storms.   The Lord promises us that if we are listening, He will tell us which way to go.  Isaiah 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,“This is the way, walk in it,”Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

God gets the glory when we act and speak in a way that is pleasing to Him.  When we respond to others in love even if they are treating us wrong.  When we do something for someone for no other reason, other than the Lord asked us to.  

Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by the scope of the need, not just around us, but throughout our countries and the world. We don’t know what to do to help.  So many needs are desperate and so many causes are good.  Often we might think what can I possibly do to change those situations?  Where can we even start?

The Lord might be calling you to do something so big for Him, that it might scare you.  Other times it might be something as simple as slowing down and taking the time to talk to someone.   There are so many out there who just want someone to notice them.  They feel invisible and alone.  We can be the light that changes their day.  Maybe even their life.  

 Ask the Lord what He would have you do and then do it out of obedience.  You might not have the know how, or the resources to be the one who will be helping someone rebuild their house. Or feed a village of hungry people. But if you are willing, and listen, the Lord will tell you what He would have you do to be a light to someone today.  You might feel prompted to just buy a tired Mom a cup of coffee, be a listening ear and letting her know someone cares. Or letting someone in front of you in the grocery store; and doing it with a smile.  Small things and big things, Its when all of us together  are shining our light that the world will be a brighter place.  

light

Maybe, God really is asking you to let your light shine in a  big way.  Perhaps doing something that terrifies you its so big, and out of your comfort zone.  For some, talking to strangers could be that huge thing.  For others it could be something like moving to another country to start a ministry.  Whatever it is that the Lord is asking you to do, rest assured He will not ask you to do it alone.  He has already gone ahead of you and prepared the way.  Ephesians 2:10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

This is the purpose for which we are created.  God already knows the things He has prepared for us to do.  He’s just waiting for us to walk in them.  Its not a matter of we “have to do it” but we get to do it. Its a joy, when you allow yourself to be used by the Lord.  It’s a joy because we are doing what we were made to do.  

Just remember,every time a light shines, the darkness becomes less.  The world needs you.  Be that light that shines today.  

 

Is Your Mask Glued On?

Or does it sometimes feel like it is?  Does it seem like you don’t know how to get it off anymore?  Do you even want to, or are you afraid what will happen if you do?  

Maybe you think you aren’t wearing a mask.  You might not be.  Maybe you are one of those people who have gotten past that.  If so, Amen!  Praise God, good for you!

 For a lot of us its a work in progress.  We take off one mask just to find that there is another one underneath.  

I believe this mask wearing starts at a very early age.  Something happens, we get hurt, we put up walls.  With each new wall comes a new mask.  Or maybe it just adds a layer of glue to an old mask.  Hey, this isn’t straight from some psychology text its just the way I look at it.  

Perhaps you were picked on at school.  Walls.  Mask. The other kids in the neighborhood wouldn’t play with you.  Walls.  Mask.  Maybe you were raised in an abusive home or in a home with an alcoholic.  You quickly learned to put up walls and wear your mask.  Sometimes maybe different ones depending on who you are with.  Trying to be what you thought other people wanted you to be.  

 We each have different personalities and respond differently to situations.  Something that might cause one person to build a large wall might not even faze someone else.  

Here’s the problem with those masks.  We wear them to hide who we really are from others.  But we might end up hiding it from ourselves.  We’ve worn some of them so long we begin to think that this is who we really are.  Or, we might not even know who we are anymore-if we ever really did.

who-are-you

 

Who are we hiding from?  And really, who is it helping when we wear our masks?  We may think its helping us.  Or at the very least; keeping people from seeing who we really are so they can’t hurt us.  I understand.  Been there. Done that.  Got a closet full of t-shirts. And can I say, not all of them are old either.  Looking back I don’t think I could honestly say that wearing those masks ever truly helped me. Even if I thought they did at the time.  How can we have honest relationships with people when they don’t even know who you really are? 

There may be someone in the same situation as you.  You might really have wisdom to help them get through what they are going through.  But when they look at your mask, that says I have no problems, I have it altogether, you will not be the person they come to for help.  You might have had the chance to really help someones life for the better had you let them see the real you.  The you that also has pain and struggles.  

We need to learn to see ourselves as God sees us.  He says we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37).  We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt 5:13-14).  We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  A co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10).  And loved of God.  Romans 9:25 As He says also in Hosea; “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved.

 

We need to get to the place where knowing those things, (and so many more that God says about us in His Word) and being confident in them,  becomes more important to us, than hiding from other people.  Then maybe we can feel safe enough to take our masks off once and for all.  

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When we begin to see ourselves in the way God sees us, it does not mean that people won’t hurt us, or we will be better than anyone else. We won’t be perfect.  We will still make mistakes.  We will still be humans like everyone else.  But when we truly begin to know how much God loves us, realize the gifts that He has given us and all that Jesus accomplished on the cross for us; then it really won’t matter to us how others see us.  We can just be our real selves, who we are made to be.  We can take our focus off of ourselves,and our needs, and put our focus on others and their needs.  Maybe when we are focusing on others, we can help them feel confident enough to  remove their masks and be who they are called to be.

Its what we are called to do. We are not called to live a self centered life; even if all around you the world says you are.  John 13:34-35:  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could be like little kids?  We could say, ok, we are all going to take our masks off at the same time.  Ready, Set…..GO!

Praise

Why do we praise God?  Of course our first answer should be because He is worthy of our praise.  Because we love Him. Because of who He is.  Because we are thankful for the things He is doing, and has done in our lives. How can we not praise Him?

 praise

Praising God sounds like an easy request right?  Sometimes it can be.  When we are truly thankful to the Lord for who He is and what He has done. When we are happy and all is right in our little corner of the world.  Then its easy to praise Him and sing and give glory to His name.

Then there are those times when praise truly is a sacrifice, like it says in Hebrews 13:15  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

We all have those times.  Times when you feel lost, or broken or afraid.  Times when your emotions seem to rule you and you feel unloved, rejected or even forgotten by God.  That, my friend, is the time when you most need to praise God.  Yes, it can feel like it is a sacrifice, because when you are in that place, praising God is sometimes the last thing you feel like doing.  Do it anyway.  You will be so glad you did.  

When we praise the Lord not only are we giving Him the honor and love He deserves but praise lifts us up out of ourselves. It reminds us who God is and that He loves us and holds us in the palm of His hands.  

As much as God loves praise our enemy hates it. Because he knows that praise is one of our most powerful weapons.  We know that the mind is probably our biggest battlefield.  So does the enemy.  When we are listening to his lies instead of listening to God and meditating on His Word we are an easy target. It is when we decide to open our mouths and our hearts and praise God  that we are able to overcome.  

I look at praise like a two way gift.  When we are praising the Lord it is like a gift we give to Him.  We tell Him how we love Him, we thank Him for all the things He has done.  In return, as we praise Him; we draw near to God and he draws near to us.  James 4:8.  And as we focus on praising God we rise above whatever we may have been focusing on.  

In  Acts 16  it talks about how Paul and Silas were imprisoned after being beaten and whipped.  At about midnight,it says they were praising God and singing, then verse 26 says:  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Praise can do the same thing for us today.  It may not be our literal chains that are loosed but the chains that the enemy has used to keep us in bondage.  

When I have times when I feel overwhelmed by the cares of life if I start thanking God and put on some praise music and sing along, it doesn’t take long till I feel like my burden has been lifted. Isaiah 61 talks about the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  Imagine if we could remember to keep this garment of praise on all the time.  It wouldn’t stop us from having problems but our problems wouldn’t have us.praise-3

When Will You Decide Enough is Enough?

When will you be angry enough, sick and tired enough, or I’m just so done with this enough?  Are you done with depression, despair, sickness, addictions, bad attitudes, lack, fear, unhappiness, double-mindedness, bitterness, envy, pride, family problems, or just plain giving up or giving in?

Are you there yet? I hope so.  Its so easy to fall into those traps.  We can look at our lives and maybe things aren’t going the way we planned.  We never expected to be in this place, with these things going on.  We didn’t think this was the way it was supposed to be.  Maybe we are just really frustrated with ourselves.  We don’t want to act the way we do, or think the way we do.  We look around and think, what’s wrong with me?  Anyone else have those times?  

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of it all.  I’m tired of always wondering, when are things going to change?  Maybe, they won’t change until we change.  We are the only ones in control of our thoughts.  What we think and meditate on is what we become.  Proverbs 23:7a “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”.  If we are only ever thinking thoughts of how bad things are then that is what we will get.

It’s time to get angry.  Really angry. Righteously angry.  Not at yourself.  Not at your family, your job, your friends or your circumstances.  Its time to get angry with the one who is trying to rob us of all our blessings.  The enemy wants to steal our joy, steal our peace, our health, steal our families and all we hold dear.  The question is, what are we going to do about it? 

 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. If he is seeking whom he may devour, then that means we’re not supposed to be fair game.  Our place is not just to sit back and let him take his best shot and let the chips fall where they may.  No way!  Are there times he does find a way in because we have not been vigilant, and  have not seen what he is trying to do right under our noses?  Yes.  There are.  Lets say, no more!

Sometimes, we are comfortable in our little pit.  We think well, this is the way I’ve always been I can’t change now.  Lies.  Sometimes we think, I’m tired of fighting this battle and it doesn’t matter what I do anyway.  More lies.  Any time the enemy can get us to give up and just believe his lies he has won a battle.  He already knows he’s defeated.  How about if we start really believing and acting like we know it too?

We need to open our mouths and remind ourselves, and our enemy, of whose we are, and who we are in Him.  Romans 8:37  “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”.  More than conquerors.  Not helpless.  Not defenseless.  More. Than. Conquerors.

In James 4:7 he says:  “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you”.

Submit to God.  He made us.  He knows the plans He has for us.  He knows what we need, to get to the place where we are supposed to be.  He has already given us everything we need to fight our battles.  In Ephesians 1:3a we learn:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”.  So, we have every spiritual blessing we need to fight our battles.  We also read in Ephesians 6 of the armor He has given us to fight with.  He did not leave us here defenseless, defeated and alone.  And, when we are born again we have Holy Spirit living in us; to give us wisdom and guidance and show us things to come.  So, we submit to God.  We give Him free reign over our lives.  We give Him permission to do what He needs to do and say what He needs to say to us.  And we listen.  And we obey.  

Resist the devil and he will flee.  Why do we sometimes get so mired down in the cares of this world that we neglect to do that?  He is ALREADY defeated.  He has no right to be messing in our lives.  We need to remind him of that.  We need to be like Jesus and use our sword.  The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  When the devil was tempting Jesus, Jesus’s response was,”it is written”.  

We have that same weapon available to us today.  When the enemy says no one loves you; you can respond with Psalm 103:8 ” The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”.

When he says you will never be able to do anything about your problems; just remind him of Philipians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”.

If he tells you you’re sick and you will stay that way, just answer with Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed”.

Any problem the enemy can come against us with, we have scriptures that we can use to show we already have the victory in that area.  But, we can’t just repeat these scriptures once or twice and think all will go away.  Sometimes we will need to stand and fight.  Having done all to stand, stand therefore. The Bible says he will flee.  Sometimes it might take longer than others for him to flee.  And rest assured, he will come back and try again.  So we need to stay prepared.  

Its hard to start fighting when we are down in our little pits.  We need to be ever ready for battle. I don’t know about you but when I’m in one of those pits I don’t feel prepared to fight my battles.  And in those times, when you are at your lowest; those are the times you need to really be more vigilant.  Otherwise, you make a way easier target than those who are standing armed for battle.

Just like those in the armed forces practice, and practice and practice some more so that when they are in battle, they will be ready for every possibility; so must we.  If you start to learn how to believe you receive, when you are only believing for $3 bucks to buy milk, then maybe $300 to fix your car and so on, it will be easier to believe if you have need of a  large amount of money to do something you are called to do.  You will have already practiced on the small problems and gotten victory.    Same tactics for any problem large or small.  

We need to remember when we feel we are fighting alone.  

battle

  Let’s help each other in our battles.  There’s always someone who is believing for something or needing a victory. Today it might be you, tomorrow your brother or sister.  We need each other.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.  Let’s pick up our swords and fight for what is ours.