Fear Has a Really Big Mouth!

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

I often try to quiet fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Clever… I know. But alas, it does exist and that’s not always a bad thing. To the contrary, it can actually keep us safe in proper context. When my house was struck by lightning and lit with fire, fear sounded an emotional alarm, insisting that I escape – and fast. In this instance, fear was good. It kept me safe.

In many instances, however, fear is not good.

I’ve found that while it’s natural to be afraid at times – human, even – it’s best to not allow feelings of fear to consume and control large spaces of real estate in my heart. David handles the intersection of his fear and faith nicely.

In Psalm 56, captured by the Philistines in Gath, and in Psalm 57, hiding in a cave to escape the pursuit of Saul, David sifted through honest feelings of vulnerability and desperation. I imagine his reality was one of shaky hands, pulse raging wild and brows soaked in sweat. Yet fear was silenced as he made the powerful decision to redirect his emotions toward a more productive, more faith-filled response when David chose to trust God.

By choosing to trust God in the hiding and in the chains, David’s fear shifted to faith.

Faith shuts the mouth of fear.

“When I am afraid, I will trust you.” (Psalm 56:3, CSB)

“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9, CSB)

These weren’t just flippant statements or memorized verses.

These were sturdy declarations.

Deliberate choices made by a deeply determined worshiper. The kind of choices that change and calm a frantic heart. The kind of choices that speak peace to anxiousness. The kind of choices we can make when we’re afraid. The kind of choice we can make when fear screams loud within.

Bring it.

Fear is a liar.

We can choose faith, knowing God is for us.

Decision made.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Every Storm – An Opportunity to Trust God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message….

LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, You will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, You will reach down and save me by Your power  ~ Psalm 138:7, NCV

My father-in-law was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean when he was caught in a school of jellyfish. Dad was stung twenty-three times. In severe pain and a state of sheer panic, he began to swim furiously, trying to escape the poisonous sea creatures.

The only problem was that he was not sure which way was up.

Dad was soon running out of air. He prayed … asking God for help.

And then a thought occurred to him. His only hope was to stop, relax, and look for the light. As he forced himself to relax, he began to float. And then he saw it … the light. With his last bit of energy, he began to swim toward the light and made it to the surface just before he passed out and was rescued.

We often react to a crisis in the same way.

When the excruciating pain of life leaves us breathless, we panic.

We are not sure which way to go.

We are soon paralyzed and in desperate need of rescuing.

And as a last resort, we cry out to God.

When will we learn that crying out to God should be our first response instead of our last resort?

The psalmist promises that God will keep us by His power. The word “power” means “strength and authority.” When we fully surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. He is our power link to God. And one of His most important jobs is to comfort us when we are in pain and sustain us in the storms of life.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Counselor as my representative – and by the Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit – He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you
(John 14:25-26, NLT).

Many times, when the storm waves of life hit, we forget every promise we know. That is when the Holy Spirit reminds us that …

·       God is faithful.
·       God will not forsake us.
·       God will never leave us.
·       God is always with us.
·       God will empower us to withstand the storm.

Just as storms in life are a certainty, so is the provision of God.

Life can be messy and bad things will happen, but every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them – opportunities for His power and purpose to be illustrated in human terms.

In the midst of the darkness, He will point us toward the light. When a huge wave of daily life knocks us to our knees, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. When a storm overwhelms us, we need to stop, look for the light, and swim toward it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

In God’s Waiting Room

 

Thank you Rachel Wojo for today’s message…

I have a confession to make. I’m terrible at waiting. Whether in a doctor’s office waiting room, parent pickup line, or restaurant waiting area, I strategize ways to wait the least amount of time.

If you can use an app and wait less time than standing in line? I use it. If you can order ahead and potentially wait less time? I do it. Now I realize that this is not all bad; I certainly don’t want everything in life to be a journey. But what if the desire for instant gratification is so strong that it makes me miss important parts of growth and relationship?

At some points in my life, I’ve felt like I was sitting in God’s waiting room. Oh, I know; there were no magazines and no chairs. But for reasons unknown to me, I was waiting on God. To send answers. To open an opportunity. To create a new situation.  Whatever the circumstance, it was outside my control and I felt tempted to stomp my foot like a toddler. I sometimes felt tempted to try to make a change without God’s help. Have you ever sat in God’s waiting room? I know you have.

Why does God place us there? While I’m still learning how to wait patiently on God, I’ve combed the Word for hints on embracing this concept. One of those hints is that God wants to prepare us for the answer.

If I gave my 13-year-old son a car for his birthday this year, what would happen? Most likely something horrible since he’s not qualified to drive a car. He hasn’t taken a single driving lesson. He doesn’t know how the equipment functions. He barely understands how to unlock and start the car. My son would have to wait to truly unwrap that gift because he’s just not ready for it.

God alone knows when we are ready for the answer for which we are waiting. He wants us to be equipped for the answer He is providing. He knows that catastrophe could lie ahead if we move on without preparation. He knows how hard it would be to sit and stare at the answer while we continue to work on our qualifications.

Today’s verse provides the encouragement we need to keep going through the waiting period. So often our focus is either on the wait or the result we desire. But while our focus is on the wait, God’s focus is on the work. Be strong and courageous, Friend. God will provide the answers in his perfect timing.

When we begin to view life from a faith-filled perspective, we can look back over the course of the journey and realize that God was there all along. We  weren’t waiting for no reason! Spiritual hindsight comes as we adjust our lenses to see as God sees. Although we can’t see things to come, we recognize that just as God had a purpose for the wait in the past, so can He be trusted with the future.

Perhaps today you are waiting on God to provide a new job, heal a sickness, or mend a broken relationship. The journey has been long, and you are flat-out tired of waiting. Take heart. The God who loves you beyond measure is right there with you in your wait. He longs to provide the strength you need to keep from barging ahead on your own. He has not left you alone in the wait.

What we perceive as waiting on God is actually his wooing. He longs to draw you close and equip you well.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

A Little Reminder From God


Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV.

I am such a mess. I hate how I am. I can’t ever get a handle on this issue.

Thoughts of self-hatred coursed through my mind as I sat on the hard-tile floor and took it all in. . . Within the cabinets I’d just spent twenty minutes rearranging, there still was no semblance of organization. Papers shot out of books. Bags heaped left and right in no particular order. Shoes and knick-knacks filled the right side of the cabinet. And, worst of all, electrical cords stood like tumbleweed in the center of it all.

Regarding cleaning and organizing, my best efforts fell – way short. And this is the problem. You see, no matter what I do, everything stays a mess. I fix things for a moment, until: my kids come home and mess things up, I get busy and I forget to keep up with it all, or clutter becomes impossible to throw out because I fear I’ll lose future-memories.

I want to be a better mom than this; my family deserves better.

With a heavy heart, I decided to approach my husband, “Uh…,” I said. “Can I share something with you?”

He waited.

“There’s an area I haven’t told you about where – all the time — I feel so angry at myself. Every time I open up a cabinet, I mentally get furious at how I feel like I’m the most unorganized woman on the planet.”

Compassionately, he looked at me and replied, “Well, maybe Jesus just wants you to remind you that His grace is sufficient.”

And He was right. I finally understood. My cabinets – and my deficiency — are a blessing, not a curse.

How could a deficiency be a blessing? Deficiencies point us to Christ’s all-sufficiency. Through them, we come to the One prepared to help us. The One with answers. The One with all the grace to accomplish true and long-lasting life-change.

Grace accomplishes far more than our hardest labor ever could. Certainly, God often calls us to meet Him in this venture by working, but work without God is — toil.

My cabinets would now be a reminder of this. They, in all their untidy-glory, would almost speak, “Kelly, invite Jesus in to help you with this.”

Where do you need to invite Jesus in? What personal issue do you hate to look at? What feels unconquerable? Heavy? Burdening?

Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to change you, to rework you, to remake you, and to renew you.

It is more than okay to desperately need Jesus’ grace. It is life-changing to be in need of God.

Be encouraged. Wherever you feel powerless, God is powerful. Wherever you are hungry, God has food for you. Wherever you feel blind, God restores sight. You are not left behind or forgotten. God will help.

Today, rejoice by saying: No matter where I feel deficient, Christ is all-sufficient.

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Especially In Scary Places

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message

I couldn’t help but notice the flying shoes. Strewn across power lines all over El Salvador was pair after pair of dirty, old tennis shoes that had been tied together and strung over the wires that lined the streets. On the bus, our guide pointed them out – telling the story that those tennis shoes serve as territory markers for the violent gangs and drug cartels.

They establish boundaries and stake claim to who runs what in particular parts of town.

My heart sifted through the language, economic and cultural barriers that separated me from them. I was stirred to understand more deeply. Distressed by the implications and evil. Moved to do something. To help. To protect.

As we got off the bus in each area, the guide gave specific instructions about what we could eat and drink, the time we had for the stop, the dangers of the area and the challenges the locals were facing. I was grateful for his direction and knowledge. It helped me know what to do and how to respond. Made me feel more confident. More safe.

With the guide, the trip was far better than it would’ve been had we tried to explore the region on our own.

Psalm 48 celebrates God’s presence and showcases Him as our Security, Defender and Guide.

A good guide knows his stuff. He’s got the backstory on places you go and is able to answer the questions that come up along the journey.

A good guide stays with you, even in the scary places, and helps you see and understand the history, significance and culture as you pass through new places.

A good guide welcomes your questions, warns you of danger and points out tennis shoes on power lines.

It’s easy to feel lost and trapped by barriers of life that keep us from understanding or knowing which way to go. “For this is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14, NIV)

As I read Psalm 48:14, I breathe in a fresh confidence.

God is not just a good guide, but the one and only perfect Guide.

He’s the Guide I need. The Guide that walks with me along the path, offering protection and direction.

Our security and peace are amplified when we listen to and heed God’s instructions.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!