By Julie Morris -
According to some studies, worrying is the number one reason that people get sick, and there are so many things to worry about these days! If we keep our thoughts on our problems, we’ll come down with heaven knows what, but if we keep our thoughts on heaven, we’ll be able to rise above our problems and experience a taste of heaven on earth. But how can we do that?
Let’s start by looking at one of my favorite verses:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” Isaiah 64:4 (NLT).
Here’s what I wrote as I meditated on this passage:
Oh Lord, please help me to keep these wonderful promises in my mind and heart as I go through the rest of my days. Help me to never forget that I am heading home to receive your blessings. Though you are with me and bless me while I’m here, those blessings are just a shadow of the ones to come. When I grieve my losses in light of your awesome promises, my losses pale in comparison with the amazing blessings you have in store for me.
How unworthy I am to receive rewards from you, but you promise to reward me nonetheless. How unworthy I am to be called your child, but you choose to love me and call me your own. I praise you, Father, for sending your Son to be my worthiness and your Spirit to help me to love you.
I rest, Abba, in your wisdom, in your perfect timing and in your unconditional love for those who love you.
Now we’ll journey back to earth to see how we can have a heavenly perspective while dealing with overwhelming challenges many of us have to face every day.
Paul tells us how to do this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Here’s what I wrote about this passage during a particularly challenging time in my life:
I have so many problems coming at me at once that I feel hard pressed on every side—but I don’t have to be crushed by my circumstances. Picturing myself encircled by Jesus’ loving arms helps me to remember that He is with me, protecting me.
I am perplexed—but I don’t have to be in despair. I’m confused, unsure and upset, but I don’t have to be in despair as one who has no hope. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future. I am finding that when I praise the Lord even though I don’t understand His plan, I experience peace and even joy sometimes.
Because so many painful things are happening, I feel persecuted—but when I cling to God’s promises, I don’t feel abandoned. Jesus promises that He’ll be even closer me when I’m going through trials and I believe Him!
I feel like I have been stuck down—but I will not be destroyed. I am victorious in Christ. Nothing can defeat me or separate me from His love. And nothing can destroy the wonderful eternity I will have with Him in heaven.
I have given you my thoughts about a few verses that have helped me to have a heavenly perspective. Find others and write your own meditations so you can rise above your problems, be healthier… and experience a taste of heaven on earth!
By Elaine James –
“You’re right.” This was my daughter’s quick response when I asked, “I guess you don’t want to be in a good mood, then?”
My 17-year-old daughter had just gotten home from school when this conversation took place. Prior to her coming home, I happened to drive by an Arby’s and its sign out front said “Try our new cinnamon bites, The Good Mood Food.” I found out that in February, Arby’s launched a Good Mood Food advertisement. The new Outside-in Cinnamon Bites; try them for $1.00. My mind created its own sing-a-long jingle to help decide if I should indeed “try them.”
It is three o’clock
I can’t block
the monster in my brain
I feel insane
cause my tummy
is a bit rumbly
I am falling
For this calling
I have to have a bite
of that sugary delight.
It was a sign
I will be fine
I won’t whine
Isn’t this worth the fight
For the Good Food Mood, right?
Then, I attempted to bring my daughter down with me by asking the question, “Don’t you want to try some Good Mood Food?”
“It looks like a Totino Pizza Roll,” she said.
The ad says “Light and flaky bite size pastry with warm cinnamon cream cheese filling all on the inside,” I replied.
All she could say was, “Gross!”
After laughing together, I tasted it and decided that I did not like the cinnamon bite.
I heard a whisper inside me saying, “God is the true good mood food.”
Americans can get caught up thinking about food too much. Marketing campaigns like this one know this all to well. They market the food at a great price, with the most desirable ingredients, using fancy playful words all with the intent of making money, not really concerned about you and your health.
Little did Arby’s know that the Good Mood Food marketing ploy would prompt me to write a jingle at the 3 o’clock hunger hour and then be reminded of what truly satisfies me—God.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, so many choices today; help me to put You first. You alone can give me a good mood. Thank you, Father, for providing and help with daily needs.
“I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:5 NIV).
By Kathy Carlton Willis –
I love imagining myself in a scene from The Secret Garden. The very idea of escaping to a peaceful area of God’s creation through nature’s maze excites me to the core! One of the hidden benefits of our Kentucky home was discovering we owned the woods behind our fenced backyard. My husband Russ cleared the brush to create various paths. One thing he didn’t clear out was the wild blackberry brambles. Partly because those brambles are prickly, but partly because we anticipated the fruit of the vine. During the entire process we eagerly watched the blackberries mature and ripen. First we saw the blossoms, then the fruit appeared and finally the mature fruit was ready to be picked.
I noticed something in the maturation process. Blackberries don’t all mature at the same rate. Some berries ripen slower than others. Some of the fruit is smaller than others. Worst of all, some fruit never ripens, but dies on the vine before it ever matures into a plump juicy flavorful berry.
We evaluated all the variables and came to some conclusions. The berries in the sun ripened quicker and produced a better fruit. The berries choked by other weeds and plants dried up rather than becoming luscious mature fruit. And berries in the shade eventually ripened with smaller fruit, depending on the amount of rain.
When we consider Christian growth by using the lessons of the blackberry patch, we can understand our own ripening process better. We mature, based on just the right circumstances occurring at the appropriate time in the process. We need the Son to mature into the best fruit, as designed by the Creator. The water of the Word rains down just the right amount of moisture needed so we can become succulent to Jesus. Even in partial darkness (focus on self), with some Son the fruit will grow, but at a much slower rate, and often with an inferior finished product. Sadly, other Christians allow the cares of life to choke out their spiritual growth, much like the weeds overcame some of our wild berries by wrapping around the brambles and cutting the berries off from nourishment.
I desire to grow into the best fruit. Not for reasons of pride, but because I want my Creator to be well pleased. By allowing the Son to shine fully into my life, ignoring my shady self-desire and avoiding the choking cares of the world, I’m determined to ripen into fruit pleasing to the Taster. May He savor me and be glorified by my growth.
By Peter Lundell –
I’m trying to love bad people. It’s hard, and I often fail.
I’m trying love people of other religions, even the terrorists. It’s so hard, and I often fail.
I’m trying to love adulterers, drug addicts, thieves, murderers, cheaters, liars, perverts, and child abusers. O Lord, it’s hard, and I usually fail.
I’m also trying to love Christians who don’t act like Christians. Sometimes that’s been me.
I don’t like loving all these people. It’s easier to scorn them, justify myself, and pretend it’s okay for me to be this way. It’s easier to simply be religious, which is why many people are.
But I keep running into Jesus. He will judge those people; I don’t have to. Instead he insists that I love all people with the love of God—irritating people, disgusting people, and people who are enemies to me.
Many Christians get angry about people they do not like. I don’t blame them. But if we’re truly followers of Jesus, He won’t exempt us. He insists we love others, including our enemies. For that we need the grace of God.
Jesus can be difficult to follow. We love Him because He loves us so much, but He also loves those who are easy to despise. Thankfully, we have testimonies of many persecuted churches to inspire us to love those who hate us.
None of this means that people who do bad things are okay. It means that while we’re alive on this earth, we love people with the love of God. We do not love because others deserve it but because of who we are.
Imagine what would happen if large numbers of Christians did this. The whole world would turn upside down.
That’s exactly what Jesus intended.
PRAYER: “Jesus, work in me to love people, especially when it’s hard. I open my heart to Your Spirit to form me more in Your image that I may step beyond myself to love with Your love.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34 – 35 NIV).
By Darren Marlar –
Recently Coinstar allowed the American public to give their thoughts on what should happen to the U.S. penny.
For a lot of us, the penny is nothing but a nuisance. For others though (two thirds of those surveyed), Uncle Sam should keep the copper coin in circulation. The survey also found that most people would stop to pick up ole’ Abe if we saw him on the ground looking up at us (84 percent of women and 74 percent of men).
But really, we can’t get rid of the penny. Society would crumble. Think about it. What about penny loafers? They’d cease to exist. And penny arcades are already gone forever!
You could never get paid a “Penny for your thoughts.” You’d have to share your opinions for free.
People would have no need for a savings account, because “a penny saved is a penny earned” would be completely meaningless.
You’d spend money without thinking about it because you could no longer be a “penny-pincher.”
What about “See a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck”? You’d have to move it up to a nickel or dime – meaning good luck would suddenly be five to ten times more expensive.
Speaking of inflation, making a wish in a fountain would cost a lot more too. And how do you tell a waitress that she gave you lousy service if you don’t have a penny to put on the table face down?
Of course, this is just my two cents on the issue. Take it now, because if the penny does disappear, I’d have to give you a nickel’s worth of advice, and I don’t have enough bandwidth for that.