Stay Rooted in His Love

With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zeph. 3:17 (NLT)

Have you ever had one of those seasons in life when you were absolutely overwhelmed and even fearful of what the future holds? Maybe you are going through one of those seasons right now. Your heart is anxious and you can’t seem to calm things down.

Think about it, life can be overwhelming at times. Jobs, kids, mortgages, relationships, friends, marriage, food (just trying to eat healthy is hard enough!), exercise, school, family, extended family, servicing the car, balancing the budget, sports, moving the lawns, washing the car, church, quiet time with God, school fees, health insurance, annual vacations, new socks…you get the idea!! What a crazy life when you sit and think about it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

In today’s world, we look to many different things to calm our fears and anxieties. In psychology, these are called coping mechanisms. I wonder what would happen if we would sit long enough to ponder and allow the depth of God’s love to really sink in to our hearts instead of trying to figure everything out and settling for coping mechanisms (temporary fixes!). I love the verse above because it simply says, “with his love, he will calm all your fears.

Because of His presence (always there) and His nature (always loving) it doesn’t matter how chaotic and overwhelming things get…His love is always available and is the perfect prescription for calming fears and anxieties. It also happens to be the very thing that drew us to God in the first place…His love. How powerful, yet how easily forgotten.

Today, if you’re feeling anxious, fearful, or overwhelmed, allow God’s deep love for you to calm all your fears. He cares for you and wants to let you know it. Take time to sit and ponder this today!!

Been Workin’ Out Lately?

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
– James 1:3 (NLT)

Have you ever returned to the gym after a long absence? I have…several times. The first few weeks of getting back into fitness are pretty hard. But, then you hit that point where you don’t feel like exercise is going to kill you anymore, and you can feel your stamina and strength increasing. That’s such a sweet spot to be in. But, here’s the thing, we have to go through those first few weeks to get there.

Those first few weeks are where faith is tested. We can’t see change, it’s hard, but we know deep down that it’s doing us good, so we keep on going.

Our belief and conviction in a God we cannot see gives us the opportunity to flex and grow…

The comparison is simple. Endurance in life is the same; it’s increased by testing, exercising, and reaching beyond what is comfortable to us. That’s why the Bible calls it faith. When things happen in life (many times things we can’t explain that are super difficult to work through), our belief and conviction in a God we cannot see gives us the opportunity to flex and grow…to exercise. These opportunities, as hard as they may be, build up our endurance muscles as time goes by. And, finally, we find ourselves facing things we never thought we could with peace and ease.

I want to encourage you today to not run from hardship. Don’t hide when unexpected challenges arise, but move into them with your faith. The book of James actually says to “consider it joy.” Joy when problems come? Well, yeah, if you’re thinking of them in light of the opportunity you will have to exercise and build your strength. Just as our bodies benefit from exercise, so does our faith. It will grow and deepen like never before!

If you’re going through something that is testing your faith today, consider what God is doing. He’s helping you exercise. Remember, He is still in control and knows just how much you can handle. He won’t give you any more than that! Let’s allow this perspective to change the way we face situations today!

Be Strong

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6 (NIV)

These verses take place at the moment when Moses passes his leadership over to Joshua. Joshua would be the one who would lead God’s people into the Promised Land. A land where they didn’t know what the future would hold, who lived there, or how people would react when they got there. But, they did know that God had promised it was theirs.

Unknown days journeyed with a known and trustworthy God. Sound familiar? Have you ever gone through a season in your life when you know that many different experiences await you? You don’t know if you should pull back and retreat or keep moving forward. Life seems a bit scary and you aren’t really sure what to do about it. Maybe you are going through one of those times right now. It could be that you feel like you are about to enter one of those times.

As Moses encourages Joshua, I want to encourage you – BE STRONG! Travel these adventurous and unknown days with faith and courage. On the days when your body aches, your heart is heavy, and your mind is unclear, lean into the strength of God and allow Him to lead and guide you. Don’t be terrified by what could be ahead, but look forward with expectation and hope. Knowing that the possibilities are endless with God.

So get up, dust yourself off, start the journey (or just keep on going) – Jesus is with you and you are strong enough!

The Power of Words

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Ok, so we’ve all heard the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s sung on every child’s playground and is pretty much used to resist against the hurtful words of the playground bully. We all know that many of the putdowns that kids hear from one another aren’t easily forgotten and, yes, they do to hurt! Henry Wadsworth once said, “a torn jacket is soon mended, but hard words bruise the heart of a child.”

It’s because of this that I love the encouragement that comes from Paul in the verse above. He reminds us of the power of our words to encourage and benefit others. Paul commands us to replace angry, bitter words with kind, compassionate and forgiving words. You know, the kind that are helpful to others. In fact, unkind words are actually uncharacteristic of a follower of Christ!

I wonder what kind of words our kids have heard from others this week. Have they been kind, loving words of encouragement or have they been careless words that would potentially leave nasty scars? I don’t know. But, I do know that when those kids come into our rooms this Sunday, I want them to leave feeling built up and encouraged and loved. So, let’s make sure our words are such that kids desire to come back and want to hang out with us again! Let’s let ‘em know what Jesus thinks of them! And, hey, it probably wouldn’t hurt to practice with our own families until Sunday gets here, right?!  Start today!!

Your Actions Speak Loud

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

If we are living lives that are rooted in Christ, we will keep our hearts open to opportunities to show His love to others. I’m reminded of a story that I’ve shared before, but, it’s very appropriate with a verse like this today….

A little boy was told by his doctor that he could actually save his sister’s life by giving her some blood. The six-year-old girl was near death, a victim of disease from which the boy had made a marvelous recovery two years earlier. Her only chance for restoration was a blood transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the illness. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.

“Johnny, would you like to give your blood for Mary?” the doctor asked. The boy hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, Doc. I’ll give my blood for my sister.”

Soon the two children were wheeled into the operating room—Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and the picture of health. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. As his blood siphoned into Mary’s veins, one could almost see a new life come into her tired body. The ordeal was almost over when Johnny’s brave little voice broke the silence, “Say, Doc, when do I die?”

It was only then that the doctor realized what the moment of hesitation, the trembling of the lip, had meant earlier. Little Johnny actually thought that in giving his blood to his sister he was giving up his life! And in that brief moment, he had made his great decision!

As you go through your day today, remember Johnny and his willingness to give up his life for his sister. Let it motivate you to show love to everyone around you. Not just in our words, but in our actions as well!

Laugh a Little

“We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy.” Psalm 126:2 (NLT)

You’ve heard it said that laughter is the best medicine. Well, it may not be the best prescription for what ails you, but it is beneficial for your health. Medical researchers have determined that laughter has a profound and instantaneous effect on virtually every important organ in the human body. AND, laughter reduces tension as it relaxes the tissues.

Crazy thing is, people join gyms and fitness clubs for cardiovascular exercise (me included), and laughter produces similar results at a far less cost. Don’t get me wrong, staying in shape physically is a priority for me, but I often wonder if I would get a better workout by laughing more. It stirs up the blood, expands the chest, electrifies the nerves, and clears the brain. Laughter provides a sort of refreshment to the entire body.

In our verse today, we find a group of people who were so filled with joy at what God had done in their lives, that smiling just wasn’t an adequate expression…they had to laugh! They were so thankful and blown away at His mercy and goodness that they had to laugh and sing. What a great picture of how our hearts should feel!

Make today a day that is filled with laughter. Yeah, we will go through difficult things, but celebrate the fact that God is good in the midst of those difficulties. He never changes. I’ve heard it said, “Laughter is the secret to a long and enjoyable life. People don’t stop laughing because they grow old. They grow old because they stop laughing. He who laughs, lasts.”