Monday, May 22, 2017

Be Still




Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 NIV

My elderly mother is not feeling well and I am anxious about what lies ahead for us in the next while. I don’t deal well with medical crisis. I feel a general swirling in my brain that makes it hard to focus. This verse is my go-to verse today. I take a deep breath and remember that God is in control. I can be still and calm in my mind if I keep going back to God and his sufficiency. I have to ponder this verse repeatedly but slowly I start to feel like the swirling is slowing down.  I can begin to do some everyday tasks and pull my mind away from the what-ifs.

Be still. Here is command to stop racing around mentally and perhaps even physically. Sometimes when people are hysterical what they need is a sharp rebuke or maybe even something physical, like cold water on their face, to startle them out of their panic. This abrupt verse seems to me to be similar in its intent. Stop! And then remember who is in control of the universe: God, who loves me and cares for me, and who will be with me no matter what happens.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cherry Picking




For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10 NIV

The law of God is not like a school exam.  51 % does not equal a pass. God’s law demands perfection, 100%. Of course, none of us can do that. James is reminding me that good enough is not the same as righteous. 

I need to be careful that I am not cherry-picking from the teachings of Jesus. Am I focusing on the love of Christ for me and forgetting that he tells me to love my enemy? Am I feeling smug because I don’t steal even though I am coveting what others have? Do I expect others to be kind and compassionate to me all the while being critical and hard-hearted to others? I have so many sins of commission and omission.

How blessed I am to have a way out, to have forgiveness.  At the end of it all, I will see my Saviour and he will transform me into his likeness. Love will conquer all.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Be on Your Guard




Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless. 2 Peter 3:17 NIV

Sometimes a mistake that people make is to assume that Christianity is a passive religion. The teachings of Jesus and the epistle writers are full of calls to action.  Be on your guard! Don’t just let the world swirl around you and permeate your thinking. Watch out for false teaching.  Be discerning. Read the Bible so you can find out what is true. Learn to be suspicious of anything that feeds your pride or greed. Paul in Ephesians talks about our spiritual struggle and advises us to put on the armour of God.  James tells us to resist the devil. Nothing passive about all that.  In fact the words conjure up images of fighting and defending.

“Carried away” suggests a willingness to allow ourselves to just go with the flow.  It might seem like the easier way to live but inevitably we will come upon some difficulty and we will be left without the support of a strong faith.  How quickly discouragement and depression overwhelm us when our minds are full of lies. We need to be vigilant and regularly do housecleaning of our minds so that we can toss out destructive thinking patterns and beliefs.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pray with Thanksgiving




Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.  Philipians 4:6 NIV

Anxiety is so pervasive in our society.  Even young children are dealing with unhealthy levels of anxiety. I wonder how much happier we would be if we would simply follow these instructions. Give thanks to God, and pray to him about your problem or worry.  Then let it go.  I think it is almost a default for many of us to worry and fret, but what a waste of time and life to be anxious about what might happen.
My mother is 93 years old.  She lives alone. Many things could happen to her and sometimes I fall into worrying about her. When I catch myself at it, I remind myself of the futility of worry. It simply wears me down and it doesn’t in any way help my mom.  In fact, if I use up energy worrying, I have less energy to spend on caring for her. I tell myself to deal with today.  If today is OK, then I need to be thankful that she is having another good day. You can love someone without worrying about them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Discouragement




And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
When I think of temptation, I often think of things like greed or infidelity or anger.  But I think my biggest temptation is the temptation to be discouraged and pessimistic. Little challenges can seem like a big deal. Cory Ten Boom said, “there are no problems, only plans”, meaning the plans that God has for us which he has promised are to be for our good. How quickly I see problems and want them solved right away. How quickly I feel my energy draining from me when I’m faced with something unappealing. Even though I have had many wonderful surprising turns of events in my life, I still tend to have a gloomy outlook.
It’s a good thing that God is faithful even though I am so often a turn-coat.  Why do I keep doubting his good plans for my life when I can see so much blessing?  I understand it intellectually, but often in my heart I just can’t grasp it. My prayer is that God will help me to be optimistic and full of courage. It’s certainly reassuring that he will not allow me to go to a place that I cannot bear. He knows me better than I know myself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Out of Control




He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:24 NIV

Raging waters and high wind. Life can certainly be like that at times. Out of control. When we are in the midst of a wild thunderstorm, we feel powerless and frightened. When we are in the midst of a life crisis like a serious illness, financial ruin or loss of a loved one, our emotions can be like a raging storm.  But Christ tells us to call out to him, to look at him, to focus on him.  He can bring calm back into our lives.
Sometimes we get into the trap of fearing fear itself. That certainly isn’t where God wants us to be. I can share all my fears with God and be honest with how scared I feel, but if I will deliberately, consistently and repeatedly shift my focus to him those fears will diminish. Peter was fearful before the crucifixion; after Pentecost he became fearless. The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of fear but of courage and peace. I can know that the Holy Spirit can easily deal with any of my anxieties but I have to be willing to shift my focus away from what I fear and look to God.