Jealousy Doesn’t Have a Chance

 

An “Inner Healing” retreat brought four of us ladies to Texas that weekend. I don’t remember much from the retreat itself, but I do remember something I learned on the return trip.

We had a huge lunch as we departed the conference. At a stop on the way home, the others bought ice cream. They offered to share some before they dove in. I was so full that I didn’t want even one bite of their ice cream.

Thinking about it: What if I walk into each day knowing how loved and blessed by God I am? And if I also remember that Jesus is more than enough to satisfy my soul? Then the jealousy that so often attacks won’t have a chance. I’ll be so filled with the love of Christ that I won’t want “even one bite” of someone else’s experience.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives….” –Colossians 3:16 NLT
“My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” –Psalm 63:5 NKJV

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In His Hands

(JOURNEY TOWARD WHOLENESS POST REBLOG #14)     8/19/20

One day as I traversed part of Anxiety Valley, I wrote in my journal:

           Jesus, You know me (Psalm 139) and You walk and talk with me—in reality, not just imagination. You are here. I will trust in You. Please help me believe and trust You more. You gave me a good night’s sleep last night in answer to my prayer. Thank You. I pray that I would always be grateful for all your good gifts.

In anxious times, doubts attack. Like I get afraid that God might expect me to do everything “right,” and I wouldn’t know what right was or how to do it. This line from a Carroll Roberson song might help me relax: “He did for me what I could not do for myself. He did the saving, and I did the crying for help.” Oh. Right. I’m not in charge. I don’t have to be in control.

Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, it comforts me to remember that I’m in Your hands. Nothing can pry me loose from Your hands. Not even my failures and poor choices can loosen Your grip on me. When fear or self-focus blocks my view of You, You are still here. You don’t quit loving me. You never give up on me.

Thank You, Lord, for your unfailing, everlasting, unbreakable love. Amen.

Psalm 73:22-23 “I was a fool and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You. Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand.”

John 10:27-30 [Jesus said,] “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

Psalm 139:5 “You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.”

Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?”

Deuteronomy 33:3 “Indeed God loves His people; all His holy ones are in His hands. They follow in His steps and accept His teaching.”

(Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible except for Ps. 139:7 which is from the New Living Translation)

 

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Doing Good Things

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

This verse says that all of us who are new in Christ can do the good things God planned long ago for us to do. I wonder what those things are.

I used to think they were big things like preaching, prophesying, or doing miracles. I didn’t do big things like that, so I feared that I missed doing the good works God prepared ahead of time for me to do. But maybe God’s good plans include smaller, less noticeable acts. It could be that He plans for me to show kindness and mercy, forgive those who offend me, help meet another person’s need, write a devotional blog, or pray for a friend (or an enemy).

As I seek to follow Jesus, He shows me good things I can do.

(Painting by Renoir titled “Girls at the Piano” is Public Domain from: https://www.wpclipart.com/ )

 

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Value on the Journey–Journey to Wholeness Reblog 13

Can any good come from overwhelming panic feelings? Yes, but you couldn’t have convinced me of that when I struggled with them day after day for a few months. One day, I wrote this in my journal:

‘“In Your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant.’ –Psalm 143:12 New Living Translation

“Lord, I wake up each night in panic after sleeping only a couple of hours. And when I get back to sleep, again I wake up in about 2 hours. Then I wake up each morning in panic. I try to hold onto Your unfailing love, to Your faithfulness, but the fears overwhelm. Please help me!”

Then 3 hours later I wrote, “The anxiety continues to overwhelm. I remember some lines from a Chris Christian song: ‘Don’t give up; don’t give in. Give it all to Him cause He cares so much more than you know….’*

“How do I give it all to You, Lord? I reached my hands up and said, ‘I give this anxiety to You.’ I still feel anxious. But maybe my feelings are lying to me again.”

Today on my journey, though, I can look back and see that in that time of misery, God worked in my heart. He prepared the soil. He planted seedlings like greater humility and deeper trust in Him. In the time since those months of difficulty, I have seen God’s seedlings grow. Patience flowers bloom. Fruits of faithfulness and joy develop.

So I can encourage those Christians who struggle today: God is holding you close. He is working. He will bring you through this wilderness, even as He has brought many others through their rough seasons.

To those who have never made Jesus their choice, could He be calling you with your current troubles? Jesus makes all of life, even problems, worthwhile.

*Chris Christian, “Look How Far You’ve Come” from the album Mirror of Your Heart. You Tube video of song at: https://youtu.be/M13Ex3_yeYE?t=8

(Post originally published October 6, 2018)

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COLOSSIANS #16: GROW LIKE A TREE, NOT LIKE A WEED

This whole post by Pastor Tom really spoke to me. One of the things that really stood out was the idea that it is “Jesus who causes me to grow. One thing he said was, The growth comes not because we earn it, but because we trust” Jesus. He says not fight with Jesus about “basics like reading your Bible, praying and being involved in Christian community,” but only Jesus can make growth happen.

Clear Bible

man in white shirt using macbook pro Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.com

Sometimes our  Christian culture can give us the idea that we ought to be constantly having amazing spiritual feelings and experiences. But at best, that idea is distorted. The message of this text – the message of the Bible – is that a lot of the growth we have in Jesus takes place below the surface. A lot of it is kind of ordinary. It is quiet and deep, and maybe even slow. This applies to both churches and individual Christians. Growth is something Jesus does in us and for us. He uses simple, straightforward means to grow us, and anyone can participate in those means.

COLOSSIANS
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Changing Thinking

When someone suggested I call customer support about one of our office machines, I grumbled, “They’re never any help.” I added in my mind: I’ve had nothing but trouble with that stupid machine from the beginning! Also, communicating with tech support totally frustrates me.

Really? Am I thinking that people should immediately solve the problems and if not, I need to get angry? Or do I believe that because I’ve had difficulties before, things can’t change? Maybe faulty thinking is behind my irritation. How can I change?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 New Living Translation).

I can start with prayer. Lord, please help me! I have harbored anger and frustration in my heart. which have come out in angry words. I also felt resentful toward people who seemed to get better service than I did. I confess these things as sin. Please forgive me.

I could follow up with choosing God’s way over mine. I choose to “cease from anger and forsake wrath because it tends only to evil-doing” (Psalm 37:8–Amplified Bible). I will “put on” the new me which is being re-created in the likeness of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). Now I can forgive others and choose to overlook someone’s fault. I will walk in an attitude of generosity which rejoices when others are blessed.

As I follow Him, Jesus leads me to experience abundant life. What a relief to be able to accomplish my tasks without tripping over my old non-renewed mind!

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Learning in the Struggle – Journey Reblog #12

At one time when my anxiety symptoms intensified, I reached out for help. Through a series of misunderstandings, I ended up spending a night in a “suicide watch” unit, even though suicide has never been an issue for me. But while I was there, I met a young mother who had tried to take her own life. I wished I knew how to help her.

Since then I’ve learned of others with similar struggles. I prayed privately for one young woman: “Father, she can’t seem to grasp how much You love her or how precious she is to You or how faithful and mighty You are or how You are for her and not against her. Please help her.”

2015 San Francisco, CA

 

I understand where she’s coming from. I remember when I went through my own storm of anxiety. My troubled mind latched onto doubts and let truth slip out of my hands. I wrote wonderful verses in my journal, like Romans 5:5, “…For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Also, Psalm 56:9, “…This I know: God is on my side.” (Both are New Living Translation) Still I felt unable to trust and believe the truth.

Doubt pointed at me (and my focus followed his pointing finger) and whined: These things are true for others, but maybe not for me. I don’t have as much faith as other people. I might not love God enough, or perhaps I’m not good enough. There could be conditions on these promises that I’m not meeting.”

Two things that helped me were getting proper medication and understanding that I could choose to believe God no matter how I felt. Now that storm has passed, and I’m learning to turn my gaze away from me and back to God. It occurred to me that whatever I’m lacking, He is great enough to make up for. He calls me to believe Him, trust Him, and rest in Him.

 

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Paths of Peace

Speaking to his infant son John (John the Baptist), Zechariah said, “[You will give the Messiah’s] people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…[and the Messiah will] guide our feet into paths of peace.”

Thank You, Jesus, for guiding my feet into paths of peace.

When I go Your way regarding anxiety, I receive peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). If I trust You and anchor my mind in You, You keep me in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). You give real peace, not the shaky peace the world gives (John 14:27).

Jesus, You tell me not to let my heart be troubled or afraid. Sometimes I think I can’t prevent my heart from being troubled and afraid. But the truth is that with Your Holy Spirit in me, I have all the power I need to choose obedience, trust and peace instead of fear, agitation and anxiety.

Yes, thank You, Lord, for Your guidance into pathways of peace.

Amen.

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Hope in God – Journey Reblog 11

As my journey continued through the distress of almost constant panic, I journaled about my feelings. In mid-January I wrote:

The hours and days pass moment by moment, and I feel faithless and fearful. But I choose to trust in You, Lord Jesus Christ.

            I need sleep! I got very little last night. Lord, You are the One who sustains my body. You know what I need, and You determine how soon the meds will take effect. You are the One who gives sleep.

            I seek You. I need You, Lord! You alone can help me. I don’t feel faithful or trusting, but You alone are Lord, and I’m determined to believe and trust You. Please heal my body and mind. Amen.

When a godly friend prayed for me, I thought that would fix everything. I was disappointed that I still woke up every couple of hours at night and first thing in the morning in panic. I also feared that I would be a disappointment to her—as though it were my responsibility to make the answers come instead of God’s!

Maybe I’m trusting in my ability to believe God instead of trusting in God Himself.

            Father, I don’t know how to change. Please help me focus on You and really trust You. Amen.

The medicine did finally start helping me sleep. I came to the place where I didn’t wake up in panic mode each morning.  By balancing brain chemicals, the medicine also enabled more reasonable ways of thinking. And God is helping me to change my thoughts to healthier patterns (Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”)*

So I want to encourage anyone who is still thrashing through the forest of anxiety/depression symptoms to hope or keep hoping in God. He will lead you out of your distress at just the right time because His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 42:5 “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.”*

1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”*

 

*Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

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Source of Sabotage

In a conversation with a respected friend, one remark flew right past the logic center of my brain and poked a hole in my heart. My friend had said one thing and somewhere between my ears and my soul it got twisted so that I heard something entirely different.

I heard blame: “XYZ’s unpleasant behavior is all your fault,” and I heard put-down: “You are a bad person, worthy of rejection.”

Aha! Rejection! There’s a mental stronghold where the enemy twists thoughts, shreds meanings, and shoots out his lies. I see other strongholds in my soul too, but what can I do?

Asking the Holy Spirit to show me the truth might help. He points out a foundation stone of pride—thinking life should work the way I want it to. So I could start with humbling myself before God and remembering that He’s God and I’m not.

I’ve let past rejections and hurt feelings build up instead of dealing with them God’s way. Now fortress walls guard a breeding ground for grief and misunderstanding. They ought to come down as I choose to repent of my bitterness and to quit focusing on myself.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV).

(Picture by Colin Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13083522)

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