By Elaine James –
“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.” I came across these lyrics sitting in a quiet space drinking my coffee. These are lyrics from the song “Let it Go”, which is from the smash Disney hit movie Frozen.
I like this verse. It rings true for me. My past fears:
Fear of rejection
Fear of my parent’s marriage falling apart
Fear of my dad working himself to death
Fear of my children taking the wrong path
Fear of sickness
Once, a doctor challenged me to write down my fears, put them in an envelope, and revisit it in a month. I did that and found the result to be remarkable. Everything I was afraid of happening never came to pass. Thankfully, I am aware that fears can control me if I give them permission to.
At different times do you wish you knew the outcome right when you are in the thick of things so the fear wouldn’t consume you?
Jesus taught us “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35 NIV). Jesus is not saying adversity accompanied with fear may come. He is saying it will come. Jesus goes on to implore us to “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 NIV).
I am happy today that my dad is 80, retired and healthy, and my adult children know Jesus. Sadly, my parent’s marriage did end in divorce.
What counts now is that I am aware and this girl is free from perfection and I can let it go.
For me truly to be free and “Let it Go” I had to put my trust in Jesus. That helped alleviate just about all my fears. I had to forgive myself for the regret I had because I wasted time in fear. I am grateful God forgives me and I have learned to forgive myself. Have you forgiven yourself?
PRAYER: Lord at times fear rears its ugly head. Help me to be aware of when this happens and trust you. Amen.
By Cheri Cowell –
Marketers utilize a wide range of strategies to convince consumers to make purchases. Some are straightforward such as sales, coupons, and special promotions. Others are subtler and make use of a principle of human psychology called the Rule of Reciprocity. This rule operates on a simple principle: We tend to feel obligated to return favors after people do favors for us. For instance, when a friend takes you to the airport, you feel obligated to return the favor the next time they ask. And when they refuse to react to a perceived insult it is easier to overlook theirs.
This is not hard when other people are deserving of fair treatment. When they treat you well you want to return the favor. However, practicing this rule becomes difficult when the person isn’t deserving. In these instances, the Bible tells us we are to practice the foundational rule for peacekeeping. Often referred to as the Golden Rule, it tells us we are to treat others the way we want them to treat us—not the way we are treated.
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31 NASB).
Prayer: I respond easily to someone who does a favor for me, but agree it is more difficult (and more Godly) to treat others the way I want them to treat me—not the way I’m treated.
By Rachel Indihar –
We’ve all had days where trials and problems seems to pile on top of each other. Whether it’s a million “smaller” problems or one large and overwhelming problem, the world sometimes seems to be working against us. Frustration builds, anxiety increases, and soon we lose the presence of God in our lives.
I heard it said once that if we are not in the middle of a storm, then we are preparing for the next storm. Whether or not this is a healthy way to look at life, the reality is that God sends a variety of problems into our lives for His own purposes. Sometimes we recognize the meaning behind a problem right away, such as knowing that God is teaching us patience when we’re trying to parent a crying child. Other times it is a mystery as to why a certain dilemma confronts us, as in the case of a loved one dying.
Is it true that to live means to suffer? Is it true that we will have problems facing us for the rest of our lives? Truthfully, I believe it is so. We live in a sinful, fallen world. We will never be free of trouble until Jesus returns and makes the world (and us) perfect again. So how should we deal with the problems that face us now?
A popular verse of Scripture is John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (NIV).
An important emphasis is at the beginning of this verse: “so that in me you may have peace.” We do not find peace in the world, for “in this world you will have trouble.” But in JESUS we will have peace! And when Jesus makes a promise in the Bible, you can be certain it will be as He said.
God’s children are to be different from the world in many ways, and one important difference is that we are to be peaceful people in an anxious, chaotic world. Christians often have the most influence over society when they respond to terrible circumstances in a peaceful, loving manner.
A profound true story I heard once involved a mother whose child was murdered. I don’t remember any of the details except that after learning who the murderer was, she spoke directly to him and – get this – forgave him! And it was her Christian faith that helped her make that incomprehensible step to forgive the man who destroyed her child’s life. If that kind of faith and love doesn’t impact the world, I don’t know what will.
I believe that everything that happens to us in our lives is scripted by a loving God, even the worst parts of our lives. God is in control even when He seems to be absent. He brings us to the end of ourselves to prove that He is enough and if we have Him we have life, joy and peace. The world may think we have nothing, but we know differently. We live not for ourselves but for a God who understands and directs us and our lives in a way we never can.
By Mary Sefzik –
“When did you leave for work?” I could tell by the tone of Mom’s voice something wasn’t right. “Our house has been burglarized.”
My heart skipped a beat. Mom said my bedroom had been trashed. I couldn’t concentrate on work that day. The list of possible missing items grew longer by the minute. My debit card, a collection of gift cards, my external hard drive filled with personal files. Most of my afternoon was spent on the phone—canceling my debit card and giving Mom more items to add to the list of possible stolen goods.
That evening I took a deep breath and sifted through the mess. My Christmas and birthday money from Grandma—five hundred dollars. Gone. If only that wallet could tell me whose hands had rifled through its pockets. Whew. My debit card was safe—tucked away in one of the back zipper pockets. All my gift cards were accounted for and my computer and external drive were untouched.
As I put my room back in order I remembered Jesus’s command to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth where moth and rust, destroy and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19 NIV).
The loss of money angered me, but I was thankful God had spared a much greater treasure—my Mom. When she walked into the house she was greeted by the sight of a teenage boy standing on her bed with a tire tool in his hand. They had locked eyes. Mom, one of the gentlest people I know, hollered, “Get out of my house.” She must have sounded like she meant business because the boy jumped off the bed and dashed out of the house. I hope this experience served as a warning for that boy. His next theft could land him in jail.
This harsh life experience reminded me earthly treasures can be wiped out in a moment, but heavenly riches last forever. Just as we protect our earthly belongings with a security system we must protect our souls with the secure seal of the Holy Spirit. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12-13 NIV).
By Elaine James –
Merrily I sang, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart…”
“Why didn’t I sing this song sooner?” I wondered. Earlier that day I was plowing through a big writing assignment. My back, neckand arms all were aching, not to mention my brain was fried. I was about to give up. “Dear God, I’m not a writer. What am I trying to do here? I can’t do this. God I like to speak and act but this writing thing is hard. Help me.”
The Bible teaches us that Nehemiah went through the ups and downs of life just like us. He loved God and noticed the destruction of the wall in Jerusalem. God’s gracious hand was on Nehemiah as he went through a process to complete the reconstruction of the wall. After the Israelites had completed the wall, Nehemiah gathered the people to hear Ezra, the teacher of Law, read the book of the Law of Moses.
The Israelites heard the Word, lifted their hands and responded with weeping and mourning. “Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV).
Are you wondering how that song came to me? It popped in my head after I finally prayed. A still voice in my mind responded “Dear Elaine, I see your struggle. Thanks for coming to me; I know the way to help you. Here is a song that has been deep in your heart.”
Occasionally we have struggles in our daily lives. When we slow down and take the time to read God’s word and listen to His counsel then we are quiet enough so He can renew us with His strength and joy. When I did that I got back on track.
I learned I need to ask myself an important question: Why do I speak, act and write? You can ask yourself the same question “Why do I …….?”
My answer was found by praying, reading the word, worshipping and giving thanks.
The result was a song from my heart…I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart.
PRAYER: Help me to remember that my joy and strength come from you. Amen.