Father, please help me live today in a way that brings joy, not sorrow, to Your Holy Spirit because You have identified me as Your own (Ephesians 4:30 NLT: “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.”)
Ephesians 4:30 brings other verses to mind, like the ones in Romans 8 which tell me that nothing can separate me from God’s love and Hebrews 13:5 that says God will never fail or abandon me.
An old hymn also comes to mind: “Never Alone” which we sang with this chorus:
“No, never, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me. He’ll claim me for His own. No, never, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.”
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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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.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:1-3a NIV).
“Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. [Other versions say, “and the unrighteous their thoughts.”] Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously” (Isaiah 55:6-7 New Living Translation or NLT). [Other versions—“freely pardon,” “freely forgive,” and “abundantly pardon.”]
Holy Spirit, I need Your help to forsake my old negative ways of thinking that I learned from the world and culture around me. I want to come and drink living water and partake of the bread of life. Please point out to me where I’ve chosen the wrong ways so I can repent. I will choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs me to get rid of my old corrupted nature—my ways of thinking and doing which aren’t under Your control. Instead, I am to “let the Spirit renew [my] thoughts and attitudes,” and to “put on [my] new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (NLT). So with Your help, that is what I’ll do.
I’m determined to quit feeding the old me with its negative thought patterns and behaviors which have no life. I want to start feeding my new nature which is becoming more and more like Jesus. He is life and the Giver of life. I will partake of Him and His Word, and I will grow.
A couple of winters ago, I went through a 4-month long battle with anxiety. Most of the time, the anxiety had the upper hand, but God, using various means both “sacred” and “secular,” faithfully helped me through the struggle. During that time, I felt humbled as God exposed pockets of unbelief and pride in my soul.
All my life I had tried to perform to perfection (unbelief pocket). I constantly compared myself with others, looking down on some and looking up to others, thinking I ought to be like them and feeling ashamed that I wasn’t (pride pockets).
My prayer: Lord, I need help! How can I break free from these ugly traps? I need to trust Your grace instead of thinking I have to be perfect for acceptance. You hate pride. I don’t want to continue in it. In Your Word, You tell me to keep my eyes on Jesus and to set my mind on things above (heavenly things) where Christ is. Holy Spirit, please help me put these Scriptures into practice in my daily life. Amen.
With my eyes on Jesus, and my mind set on heavenly realities, I can get away from self-focus, dump the ungodly stuff out of my pockets, and fill up on the life God gives.
From Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….”
Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Psalm 16:8 “ I have set the Lord always before me [One version says ‘I keep my eyes always on the Lord’]; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
(All Scriptures NKJV.)
One of my goals this year is to learn to listen better—especially to God. The following reminded me of my need to work toward this goal.
At a family holiday gathering, one of the exhausted children whined for his father’s attention. All the adults, including his father, were busy with other pursuits. While I worked on a craft project, the Holy Spirit nudged me to help the child. I thought, “I’d comfort the boy, but I don’t know what to do. My attention or attempts to comfort would only get him more upset because I’m a rather distant relative.”
So I asked God what I could do, but I kept on working on my craft instead of stopping to listen. After a few minutes I got an idea of what to do. By that time, however, the child had sat down on the couch and fallen asleep.
By being too busy to listen to our Father, I missed an opportunity to obey Him and perhaps become less distant to my young relative. Maybe I can learn from this experience to stop and listen next time the Holy Spirit nudges.
“…Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” -Hebrews 3:15 New Living Translation
Today as I focused on Jesus—His beauty, wisdom, goodness, and grace—a thought of past failure came to distract me. So I had to remind myself that my past was taken care of at the cross.
Thank You, Jesus, for carrying my sins away there.
Yesterday’s gone. I can’t go back there. If I keep trying to go back, I’m going to miss Jesus in the now. He is living TODAY. Likewise, I won’t see Jesus in this day if I get off into the lands of “What if…” or “If only….”
My thoughts, words, and actions today are writing a page in the story of my life. When it is written, I want it to bring honor and praise to God my Father and His Son Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit gives me power to do that.
Jesus calls me to follow Him and abide in Him in this “Today.” So I tell myself, “Stop looking at guilt and regret, and quit trying to control tomorrow. Look at Jesus and trust Him.”
“Blessed is the [person] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For [they] shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV)
I don’t like going through difficulties, but I suppose I couldn’t know God as my refuge if I never went through a storm. Jesus, You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust (Psalm 91:12). Today I will trust You, God, as my refuge.
Psalm 139:9-10 “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Both verses NIV)
No matter where we are, God will guide us and hold onto us. He will strengthen and help us and hold us up. So why do I whine, complain, or try to run from the troubles God allows for me? Do I imagine that God is going to train me and use me without getting me out of my comfort zone? Or do I cling to unbelief so that these sure promises become just words and wishful thinking in my life? Sadly, sometimes I do. These foolish thoughts, bad attitudes, and lack of faith don’t please God, nor do they bring Him glory. So I repent. I turn from these old ways and choose to believe the truth of God’s Word. Gracious Father, Your ways really are better than mine. Mighty Holy Spirit, please help me change. Amen.
Dear Father, all too often my relationship with you reverts to more religion than relationship. Praying, reading Your Word, Bible study, keeping rules, fasting, and quiet time with You are all good things. However, their value in getting closer to You diminishes if I do them as just routine, something more to check off my list of to-do’s.
One lure that draws me toward the religion trap is the foolish idea that I need do all those things so I can earn Your love, favor, attention, and approval. But of course these things (love, etc.) are gifts of Your grace, not things I earn. You already love me to the max. Jesus showed that when He suffered and died so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. You are my Father, and I am Your child (John 1:12). Your Word overflows with declarations of Your favor for and attention to those who belong to You. Besides these, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit so we have power and resources to live purposeful lives that please You.
I want to keep doing those good things, but let me do them because I love You and because they draw me closer to You. May I throw out any hint of earning anything. Thank You for reminding me of the wonderful truth that You desire relationship rather than religion. Amen. My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation)
The other morning as I walked along, one of those old “if-only” thoughts popped into my mind. I used to torment myself with those a lot. I’d whine, “If only I had gone God’s way instead of mine, then I wouldn’t have hurt so many people, and I would be enjoying ‘X’ benefit that I don’t enjoy now.” Possibly true, but I can’t change what I’ve done, and there’s no longer room in my life for “if-only.”
That kind of regret focuses on me, not on Jesus. It brings no honor to God. In fact, it hints that I have hindered His power to forgive and heal. It hisses that God is somehow limited by my failure. How ugly! I’m going to my thought closet right now to yank out every one of those if-only garments that the Holy Spirit will show me. That will make room for more praise and thanksgiving and additional attractive spiritual clothing (like humility and patience).
Hebrews 12:2a “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
2 Corinthians 5:15 “And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for [Him] who died for them and was raised again.”
Ephesians 4:17, 22-24 “…[You] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(All Scripture quotes NIV)