Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13
Help us to not view praying as a waste of our precious time. On the contrary, may we humbly realize that prayer multiplies our time because when we lift our requests to you, you do things more powerfully and efficiently than we could ever do on our own. The extra blessing is that we gain peace in our hearts and minds. So today Lord, with thanksgiving, we will take time to pray...Amen.
I love how God uses all of his creation to speak both practical and spiritual lessons into our lives.
For example in Proverbs (ch. 30), he tells us to observe the ants, the badgers, the locusts, the lizards, the lion, the strutting cock, and the male goat.
Amazingly, all have something to teach us.
The butterfly is no exception.
First of all, we must consider that this living spectacle starts its life as a little green caterpillar. The unassuming creature then wraps itself tightly in a silk cocoon. In this quiet place, something marvelous takes place:
the eyes grow larger, and the intricate wings and antennae begin to blossom into maturity.
And then, at just the right time, the new creation breaks free.
The dash of color lifts and lands, lifts and lands, bringing its color to the world.
The lesson for us is simple and obvious:
Have you ever felt "cocooned" at times in your life?
Insignificant. Void of color. No evidence of movement. Wondering about your purpose and questioning God's plan.
Then consider the butterfly.
Allow your Creator to come and wrap his love around you;
sit with him; rest with him, alone, and acknowledge the strong and trustworthy hold he has on you.
Ask him to change your impatient heart into a peaceful one, and allow him to work His purpose into your "wings".
Be submissive to his divine work in you.
Believe that what he has started, he will also complete.
And when its time...trust that he will open a passageway and ask you to fly in freedom,
bringing his dashes of color to this dark world.
Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. II Corinthians 5:17
Do you sometimes feel hopeless when it comes to getting your "act together" as a Christian?
You think you've failed the Lord miserably, or destroyed your witness thoroughly, or messed up his plans completely.
Well, you're in good company.
Let me remind you of Jesus' disciple, Peter.
He was a young fisherman by trade, and had a "pistol" of a personality.
Peter was the one that spoke BEFORE he thought.
He also was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on water.
And...he reactively chopped off a Roman soldier's ear.
And then, on one of his worst days, he denied his best Friend three times.
Words to describe him would be spontaneous, impulsive, and immature.
It's safe to say that he didn't have his "act together."
But the good news is this: Jesus chose Peter, as is. While on the earth, Jesus walked with Peter, talked with Peter, corrected Peter, encouraged Peter, and affirmed Peter. What gives me great hope is that the God-man was able to see this young follower not only "as is", but also what he was going to be.
Peter was a work-in-progress.
And goodness, how he did progress! We can find the rest of Peter's faith-walk in the book of Acts, where the Holy Spirit entered in and transformed him. Amazingly, the same man that shouted, "I don't know Him!" and ran for his life the night Jesus was betrayed, later became the man that took his stand (Acts 2:14) and proclaimed Him as the resurrected Lord and Savior. As a result, about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:41). And that was just the beginning of his ministry! We can observe how he matured into a great leader through reading his God-inspired letters, 1 and 2 Peter.
Peter's growth that spanned over decades of his life should encourage us!
Jesus CHOSE him when he was not much older than an out-of-control teenager. But through the grace of our Savior, and the power of His Spirit, God did great things in and through him.
And He will do the same with any willing heart.
Don't give up. Allow God's word to mature you and his Spirit to mold you, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
Take hope in the fact that you are His beautiful work-in-progress.
I thought I would repost this advice for those who are in the midst of a bleak long winter...
A couple of weeks ago, on a cold dreary day, I was cocooned in a blanket on my couch for my usual Saturday afternoon nap. With college football on in the background and my little dog nestled at my feet, I couldn't help but feel the oncoming winter, not outside my home, but inside my soul. As I lay there, I was talking to God about it, saying, "O God, here it comes...that old familiar gloom that I'm going to wrestle, off and on, for the next several months. Please GIVE me something to help me move forward in this season."
Wrapped in my blanket, he unfolded a plan.
Before I go further, I want to empathize with all of you who deal with depression of some kind. And also, I want to ask for grace from those of you who do not. A way to explain a depressed spirit is to compare it to a rainy day. When it's raining outside, one cannot say, "It's not raining." Likewise, someone who is dealing with depression, is indeed depressed. To say, "Get over it", is defeating on many levels.
We may not get over it, but with God's strength, we can function in it. Just like opening an umbrella, putting on a rain jacket, and stepping into galoshes all help shield us from physical rain, these steps below can help you and me when the gloom creeps in.
Here is the unfolding that took place as I lay listening to the Lord. Its outline is the acronym GIVE:
G--Give yourself grace, one day at a time. Do what you can do that day. Also "G" stands for these things: Get sleep--so important! Get dressed--I mean that spiritually first. Spend time with the Lord every morning and let him speak truth into your heart. God's word is my life-line. I need him to reroute my thinking EVERY morning. Also, Get dressed physically. Wash your face. Brush your teeth. Simply freshen up. Get out of your PJs (even if you're putting on other comfy clothes). Here are your options: Get up or Give in. Choose to get up, and with grace, inch forward.
I--Initiate. Physically, do something productive. One day it may be as small as clearing the kitchen sink of dirty dishes; another day it may be to write a book! Again, grace for each new day. Also, Initiate relationally. Send one text that asks someone how they are doing or how you can pray for them. Or, make a phone call. Or, meet someone face to face. Think about somebody else rather than yourself. Get "willfully lost in the rain" by praying for dozens of people you know and love. Your choices are: Initiate... or isolate. Today, choose to Initiate.
V--claim Victory "in the rain". The grey clouds may not stop rolling in and spilling out, but you can choose to be victorious as it pours. This is where my faith in Christ becomes my stronghold. HE is with me always as my closest Companion. I am never alone. He is light and love inside of me through his Spirit. His grace and strength move me forward no matter how I feel. In the rain, I can and I will rejoice. Victory in it, or victim of it. Ask the Lord to help you choose the former.
E--This is very practical: Eat well, Exercise regularly, Enjoy a wholesome hobby. Quite frankly, I really don't like eating healthy foods, ugh. I'm trying to develop a taste for broccoli and other green things, but chips and chocolate will always be my favorites. In the aging process however, I'm much more aware of the adverse effects of unhealthy eating. Therefore, I'm inching forward in the nutrition department. Concerning, Exercise, just do it, says Nike. Pick something; anything is better than nothing. I walk with a friend and we pray together; this has been transformational for me in numerous ways and I highly recommend it to everyone. And then, Enjoy. What do you love to do? Make room for this activity (or non-activity; for example, I enjoy my Saturday afternoon nap, "watching" football with my husband.) Eat well, Exercise, Enjoy or... escape into unhealthy alternatives. Again, ask God to help you choose the former.
On that cold dreary day in November, I rolled over inside of my cozy blanket on the couch and thanked God for his detailed Counseling session. (To think, it was free!) And then a little later, I decided it was time to get up. I went to the kitchen and cleared the sink of the dirty dishes...claiming absolute victory, in the rain.
Forty Day Journey of Prayer is a devotional that helps guide the reader into a daily conversation with God. Each day begins with a focused-Bible verse or passage and then is followed by insights pertaining to it. Journal lines are provided to write out prayer requests and personal thoughts. As one commits to reading God's word and praying in this way for forty days, his/her relationship with the Lord will then be marked with both sweetness and strength.
Forty Day Journey of Peace is a devotional that takes the reader on a quest to find out what brings God's peace. It is divided into three sections: peace with God, peace within, and peace with others. Each day focuses on a selected Bible passage so the reader can discover and apply new insights. Further Scripture references and journal lines are provided to enhance and deepen the participant's journey of peace.
What if a secret to having a life-long marriage was to simply start out with healthy habits between husband and wife from the the very beginning? Or, what wisdom can a wife in her tenth or twentieth year of marriage gain as a refresher in her relationship with her husband? Chris Baxter's Twenty-five Years, Twenty-five Lessons: Letters to a Bride from a Seasoned Wife is a beautiful gift book written for wives of all ages. Within the106 pages of this decorative coffee table book are twenty-five valuable lessons that Chris learned throughout her marriage. Some of the subjects discussed are: putting on love, resolving conflict, laughing often, having a healthy hobby, and prayer. These Scripture-based lessons are written in letter-form to a specific young bride which easily engages the reader on a personal level. The twenty-five lessons are accompanied with lovely watercolor wreaths, luring the reader's eyes from one page to the next. This book is both beautiful in form, and magnificent in Words.