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.)
As a young person, I prayed to know God’s will, mainly wanting to know what career I should choose. I didn’t hear any answers to that prayer. I had grown up in church and committed my life to Christ at an early age; however, I didn’t learn to rely on Him and to submit my will to His until years later.
Most of the time, I tried to live by feelings, fear, “ought-to’s,” and my own understanding. This resulted in my making many poor choices in life. Those decisions never gave me the happiness, satisfaction, or sense of being loved which I craved. It’s no wonder they didn’t provide those things, though. What I longed for comes only from trusting and loving God with my whole being, letting go of my own ways, and living for Jesus. I wanted good things, but I didn’t trust the Giver of all good things.
Although my faith has grown since then, I still don’t always make wise choices. But I’m learning to trust God more and ask Him about things in life. I’m also trying to focus more on Jesus and less on me. How thankful I am for God’s patience and forgiveness! He never quit loving me, and He never gave up on me.
Thank You, Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – NKJV
“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11–NKJV
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.
Verses from Psalm 86: 1-5, 8, 12-13, New International Version, with my thoughts:
1. Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Am I poor and needy? Maybe not financially since any American is rich compared to most people in other parts of the world. But I am spiritually poor when my faith is small and I get discouraged. I’m needy because I am a broken person living in a broken world and both body and soul can be wounded and/or knocked off balance.
2. Guard my life, for I am faithful to You; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God. The key to receiving God’s help is for me to faithfully seek Him instead of other answers and to trust His power and care. I will have no other gods besides the living God, Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. I will be faithful to You, Lord.
3. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to You all day long. I will be persistent and patient in prayer.
4. Bring joy to Your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You. I will trust in You, Lord, with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). (In Your presence is fullness of joy—from Psalm 16:11.)
5. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. Thank You, Lord, that You abound in love to me as I call on You.
8. Among the gods, there is none like You, Lord; no deeds can compare with Yours. For example, what other god could cause a dead stick to bud, blossom, and bear almonds as You did with Aaron’s staff?
12-13. I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever. 13 For great is Your love toward me. You have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead. Yes, I will glorify Your name forever and praise You with all my heart, Lord, for great is Your love for me!
(Image from Pinterest)
I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus Christ died for me and exchanged His righteousness and perfection for my sin and failure, and He rose again leaving sin and failure at the cross, and He lives forever at the Father’s right hand. He intercedes for us (me), and His Holy Spirit lives in me to work out Christ’s righteousness in my life.
My trying to be perfect and pretending to myself that I am–these prevent me from receiving the mercy and forgiveness Jesus went through so much to provide for me. “If we say we have no sin, we are calling God a liar” (1 John 1:10), and we can’t partake of the pardon and cleansing offered in 1 John 1:9.
I’m through trying to hide my sin, failure, and mistakes (from others and myself) behind a façade of personal goodness. I choose instead to hide them in the blood of Jesus where they are dissolved and carried away.
Let me cease from trying so I can rest in trusting.
Psalm 42:11 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (New King James Version)
This is what I need to tell myself when I get disappointed or discouraged: “Self, hope in God. Let the disappointment go and trust God to work it for my good and His glory. O my soul, don’t look to others nor hope in satisfactory solutions. Let God satisfy you. Trust His wisdom, not your own. Remember, soul, that you find rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1). Hope and trust in Jesus our Lord.
“Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” (from the hymn “I must tell Jesus”)
O Lord our God, the God who hears,
The only God who loves and cares,
The holy One who answers prayers,
You hear our cries, for You are near.
Omniscient God, God all wise
Your love extends beyond the skies.
Let us see truth with open eyes,
Believe Your Word, reject the lies.
We praise You, Lord. In You we hope.
We trust in You because we know
You deliver us from every foe
And comfort, heal, and make us whole.