Choose to Praise God

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, “I know that God promises to never give me more than I can handle. But sometimes, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times, His plan is to deliver us in the problem. Praise does not depend upon an understanding of the circumstance or trial. Praise depends upon an understanding of and faith in God.

As humans, we will never fully understand God – this side of heaven. God is holy and without blemish. God is all powerful and omniscient. He is Creator of the universe and yet lives in me. He is the only true, living God! We may understand some of His ways and comprehend the reasoning behind some of His plans. We may even come to the place of knowing him on what we call an intimate level, but a full understanding of God is reserved for heaven. Until then, we walk by faith, not by sight. We praise him in the darkness, knowing that the light is just ahead. We trust him for things we cannot see and turn to him in the valleys. Honestly, the thought of serving and relying on a God I can understand is not a reassuring thought.

Most people who know me well would describe me as a strong person, someone who can usually handle what life holds. I thought the same thing until, in 1995, I found myself a powerless, prisoner of the darkness as I battled clinical depression. It took me two long years to climb out of that pit and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of that wonderful, horrible time.

One of the many lessons I learned from my “pit experience” was that I cannot depend upon my own strength or my fickle emotions. God often asked me to praise him when, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t a whole lot to praise him for! I didn’t feel like praising him.

I began to understand that praise is not a feeling but a choice, a step of obedience taken without the assurance of a changed circumstance or the elimination of a trial. Praise focuses on God, not the circumstance, and fixes its gaze upon God’s truth and God’s character instead of the trial at hand or just ahead. That is why we can celebrate the battle before it begins. The outcome is neither our responsibility nor our goal. Praise begins and ends with faith in the very nature, personality and integrity of God … and that never changes.

No matter what lies ahead, God is faithful. No matter how hot the fiery trial may be, God will deliver us. No matter what man says or does, God loves and accepts us. So praise God! Thank Him today for every victory tomorrow holds! Celebrate – knowing that the battle belongs to God and because of that single truth, victory is certain.

Have a blessed day!

The Secret of Being Content

Thank you Michele Cushatt for today’s message.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

“It’s too hot!” he complained over the kitchen counter, complete with rolled eyes and his best pre-adolescent attempt to pretend he might pass out from the heat.

Nice acting job, buddy. I restrained rolling my own eyes.

Moments, before I’d told my twelve-year-old to go outside and play with friends. He needed to get some fresh air and sunshine. Otherwise we both might have a meltdown.

Granted, it was close to 90 degrees outside. Warm, no doubt about it. But not scorching or dangerous. And our neighborhood boasted plenty of large trees and front porches providing shade. It was a normal summer day, but already the break from school had lost its luster.

“It’s beautiful outside!” I told him. “Besides, remember a couple weeks ago?”

I went on to remind him of those early June days when the temperature had remained unseasonably cool and the summer shorts stayed in the drawer.

“You didn’t want to play outside then because it was ‘too cold.’” I grinned, hoping he’d see the irony. Instead …

“70 degrees!” he countered. “Every day needs to be 70 degrees. That would be perfect.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He had a point. Seventy-degree sunny days are just about as perfect as they come. But expecting every day to deliver perfect weather is not only unreasonable but impossible. The planet needs a combination of rain and sun, night and day, to thrive.

Sometimes I’m not all that different from my son. Although I don’t wake up expecting perfect weather, I do expect my life to go according to plan, to follow a predictable routine and meet my every need. In a sense, I want a string of seventy-degree days. I don’t want too many crises, too much discomfort, too many challenges. And if life doesn’t deliver my definition of perfect weather, I can easily grow frustrated and lose my peace and contentment.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul claimed he’d learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12). That means on the hot days and cold days alike. His secret?

Finding an outside source to regulate his temperature.

Like a furnace and air conditioning unit regulates the temperature inside the house regardless of the weather, we need an outside source to help us stay centered even when life grows uncomfortable. We need someone who can counteract our crises with his unwavering presence and soothe our anxiety with his unending peace.

Jesus. The one who comforts day after day with his nearness.

To pine away our days waiting for perfection will only leave us complaining in the kitchen about everything that’s wrong. In the process, will miss what’s waiting for us outside, the fresh air and sunshine and adventure of a life in Christ. No, we can’t control the weather. But we know One who can. And He makes the difference from being a woman who melts down in the heat of life and a woman who knows how to shine in spite of it.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: For Truths Not Shared

Truth-FacingtheLion

Truth is defined as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”.  As my MS progresses, my memory is sketchy.  My truth relies on the memories of others…. I wonder sometimes if their truth would have been my truth in the same situation.  I am sure those around me are tired of hearing “I don’t remember that” or “here is a random memory”.    The bits and pieces of my truth are a struggle but I trust God has a plan and his will prevails.

This blog post was one I found but really seemed to apply to how things are going today….I had the pleurae of meeting Traci Bild at the Mom Grows a Business Conference several years ago.   She talked about the “7 Truths that Women are Afraid to Share“.  Here awesome excerpts, see if any of them apply to you:

1. We’re Guilty, like ALL the time: WOW!  I thought I was the only one who felt like this, so nice to know I am not alone.  The word “sorry” is something I say a lot and most of the time it is for stuff I can’t even do anything about.  I am learning to not say “sorry” except if it is something I have actually done which is definitely hard for me.

2. We WORRY about EVERYTHING: There is never enough time in the day and no matter how hard you try, you will never get everything done. There is simply too much to do.  Is your To Do List way too long with things that could probably be done with the help of others?  Just for Today, I will turn things over to God and let him handle things.

3. We’re Letting our Health Slip:  In the past, I used to do this and yes, I still do sometime.  Having a diagnosis of MS, letting things go is not an option.  There are others in my life (primarily hubby) who tend to put me before their own health concerns.  Do you have a tendency to say “I am fine” even when you are not feeling great?

4. Our Work-Life Balance Looks Like a 2-year-old on a Balance Beam: A nice term, most women simply can’t strike it. So busy living life, you don’t have time to work ON your life and find ways to create balance.  I LOVE this.  My feeble attempt to work on balance was to take the notifications off of my phone so the only time it “rings” is for an actually call OR a text message.  Novel concept huh?

5. Our love lives are on the Back Burner:  GUILTY!  Enough said.

6. We are in Constant Comparison Mode:  From my ability to maintain my goal weight, to the amount of dust bunnies taking up residence behind the couch to my business – I always compare myself to others!  Social media plays a factor in this craziness for me which is why I have left groups, unfollowed people and just try to limit my time on Facebook.  Being in recovery, I am learning more how NOT to do this.  Spend more time living your life than watching others live theirs.  

7. We’re Still Not Happy!: The end result is people are not happy. While women have more opportunity than ever before, we are more unhappy than at any other time in history. You have the power to create happiness but it requires tough decisions, laser focus on your priorities and standing by them at all cost.

So, how many of these truths are you?  Let’s be honest with each other…Just for today, I am going to focus on me, and spend some quality time with hubby and family.

Have a blessed day!

 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

red hairy alien

Thank you  Melissa Spoelstra for today’s message.

“Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Psalm 119:29

As I’m processing a recent conflict with a family member, I’m trying to sort out the fact and fiction in my own head. I usually feel like my truth is the truth, but I know my tendency to equate my perspective with truth is shortsighted. In my daily Bible reading, I just happened to encounter the verse in Today’s Truth, or more likely God sovereignly had it before my eyes right when I would need it!
In this verse, the psalmist prayed that God would help him not to lie to himself. I know I need to pray this type of prayer on a regular basis. Whether I’m justifying myself in a parenting decision, making judgments about others’ choices, or working through a relational conflict, I know I’m biased. I tend to think of each situation based on my perceptions of others’ actions, words, and attitudes. I have one side of the story and it is mine. How about you? Have you noticed that we can all tell ourselves lies at times and not even realize it?

Culture is sending us messages that stand in contrast to the teachings of Jesus. He said to seek purity, forgive, and serve. The world celebrates scandal, revenge, and being served. If I don’t ask God to help me live in truth, I can easily find wrong thinking creeping into my head. The danger comes when we tell lies about ourselves, it can lead us to tell lies about God. I can also lose the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. These are some pretty heavy consequences. So what can we do?

This verse gives us two practical helps when it comes to lying to ourselves:
Admit it. The psalmist knew it was a tendency so he implored God to help him. In the same way, we can confess that we don’t have the corner on truth. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul talked about spiritual pride and then remarked, “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) In the same way, Jesus taught that we should be careful of making surface conclusions. He said, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24) So we begin by admitting that we might be lying to ourselves. We need God’s help to see situations clearly.

Pray specifically about lying to ourselves. The book of Psalms is a prayer book. In it we read personal pleas for help. In the same way, we can cry out to the Lord asking Him to keep us from lying to ourselves.

Study God’s Instructions. After the psalmist asks God to keep him from lying to himself, he then says, “give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.” Knowing God’s Word can help us speak truth to ourselves. The more we press into the Bible by reading, studying, and memorizing it, the more we align ourselves with truth. This can expose any lies we’ve been telling ourselves about what we deserve or how our poor reactions were justified. God’s Word lays us bare. 2 Timothy 3:16 describes it this way, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” The privilege of knowing God’s instructions helps us to realize what is wrong including the lies we tell ourselves.

I’m not sure what conversations you’ve been having with yourself lately, but I wonder if like me you sometimes confuse your truth with the truth as you process life. Our perspectives matter, but we need God’s help to be sure we aren’t lying to ourselves

Have a blessed day!

If You Feel Like a Hot Mess, You’re Not Alone!


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus  ~ Romans 3:22-24 NIV

Sometimes I feel like such a mess, I wonder what God even wants with me. And then He reminds me that ALL His children are a mess in one way or another.

A common theme throughout Scripture is overcoming failure. Abraham passed his wife, Sarah, off as his sister because of fear (Genesis 12 and 20). Lot failed to stand up for what was right and offered his daughters to immoral men (Genesis 18-19). Jacob betrayed his father and stole his brother’s blessing (Genesis 27). Moses struck the rock twice in anger when God commanded him to strike it once (Numbers 20:11). Aaron gave into peer pressure and made a golden calf (Exodus 32).

Miriam had a bout of jealousy and tried to usurp her brother’s God-appointed position (Numbers 12). Jonah hopped on a boat and headed in the opposite direction when God called him to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-3). Samson fell for the whims of a Philistine woman and gave away the secret to his strength (Judges 16). David committed adultery and murder and then tried to cover it up (2 Samuel 11).

You know what’s amazing? Most of these men and women are listed as people of great faith who “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:33-34, emphasis added).

We have a great cloud of witnesses who can identify with failure. We are never alone in that regard.

Oh, friend, failure doesn’t have to be fatal or final. During a time of failure, the Enemy will tell you to quit trying, that you’re hopeless, worthless, and powerless to succeed.

Don’t believe him. Reject the lie and replace it with truth. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 nlt). God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Learn from your failure under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, and then move on. Nothing makes the devil madder than a child of God who fails, gets back up, and tries again with the power of God moving him or her forward.The next time you feel like you’re a hot mess, try the following.

Recognize the lie: I’m such a failure.

Reject the lie: That is not true.

Replace the lie with truth: I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13 nlt).

Have a blessed day!