Another year begins with all its uncertainties, expectations and anticipations. It is another year we will need to decide how we react to life’s challenges and blessings. Blessings are obviously much easier to accept than challenges.
Living in the Midwest, it looks like we will face incredibly cold temperatures this weekend (-24° with windchills predicted -40 to -50°). This is the time of year we start hoping for Spring and the January thaw. We look at the ice on the river and realize that we don’t know what type of spring we will face this. Last year we had some flooding and with memories solidly in our minds from 2008 devastating floods we can easily let our minds dwell on worrying what will happen. We can become totally overwhelmed with the negatives even to the point of missing the beauty God breathes into the ice formations around us.
An interesting story occurred over Christmas. A Russian ship filled with 22 crew and 52 passengers (scientists and tourists) became stranded in the thick ice of Antarctica. Three icebreakers were initially dispatched to try and crack their way through the thick ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. After more than a week, the passengers were finally airlifted to a Chinese icebreaker by helicopter. The trapped passengers and crew had to stamp out a landing pad in the snow/ice for the helicopter to land. The helicopter had to make several trips to ferry the passengers to freedom.
Watching video clips posted by some of the passengers showed them making the most of their trial. They weren’t despondent; crying “where is help coming from?”. They made the most of their time performing more science experiments and having fun with their circumstances. WHY? They were stranded in subfreezing temperatures, away from family at the holidays and initial rescue attempts definitely were NOT encouraging when the first ice-breaker became stuck as well. They chose to enjoy the days filled with HOPE and JOY.
We all have trials we will face in the year ahead whether they are health, finances, relationships or whatever. I recently knew I would likely face the holidays without hearing from a loved one. In the past this has been a difficult challenge for me. During one of my devotional times, God placed the following verse on my heart from Psalm 62:5:
Let ALL that I am WAIT before God, for my HOPE is in HIM!
I have this verse written on my mirror where I see it every morning and several times throughout the day. I have taken it apart word by word, emphasizing different words and phrases. God has blessed me incredibly through these words. No, I didn’t hear from the loved one, but because of God’s assurance, I continue to WAIT in HOPE. I have chosen to HOPE as I WAIT before GOD. God is working in this person’s life and in mine. I will WAIT with HOPE that the work God is performing in each of us will be in accordance with God’s will and for His purposes.
I pray that God will fill you with His HOPE as you WAIT before God in the year ahead ~ Faye
There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.
- Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
- Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
- A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
- Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
- Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
- Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
- Abandoned children and families …
- Confusion over health care, politics, finances …
The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.
The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.
The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.
The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.
Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.
Be filled with God’s PEACE.
Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.
Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye
What an incredible comfort and blessing! God watches over us. We need sleep. Many flowers close up at night for protection and rest. Many animals seek cover at night and rest, or if they are “night owls”, the rest during the day. But we have the wonderful knowledge that God NEVER SLEEPS. He is constantly watching over each one of us. Not just in the small town of Palo, or the larger metropolis of Cedar Rapids, or even just the United States. God watches the entire UNIVERSE. Nothing is out of His control!
I just finished The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and he ends the book with these reminders:
- Begin the day remembering you are loved and chosen by God. He is your Creator and you belong to Him.
- In order to maintain tranquility throughout the day – RELAX. It is a skill that we must accomplish – learn to relax. It is necessary for a REST-FILLED day.
- Live with a heart filled with JOY and PRAISE. Look for the good things in life each day – sunshine, breath, birds singing …
- Don’t be anxious, filled with worry. Surrender your concerns to God remembering He is in control of all things. “Take definite action about your worry. Tell yourself that it is futile and wasteful and even sinful (when continually rehashing something) because it denies the care of your Heavenly Father.”
- End the day with sleep that is filled with rest from God. Can’t fall asleep – remember these words which bring perspective, “What helped me to pass wakeful hours was just remembering the Insomnia of God: Behold He that keepeth Israel – He slumbers not, nor sleeps.”
May your day be filled with the blessings of remembering our God is a 24/7/365 day God ~ Faye
Why does guilt plague me? I feel guilty, not just bad, for not getting more things posted since I started working. At least I did struggle with the guilt feelings until God had another sit-down talk with me. God reminded me that this is His blog, I’m just His tool. He has always given me something to write about that has been a benefit to myself and/or others. So why do I let worry and guilt fester?
As I was sitting in the infusion chair yesterday, I was continuing to read from Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell. God’s timing being ALWAYS PERFECT, I found myself in a section that talked about overcoming the struggle with guilt. I thought I’d share a story from the book,
A minister in the north of England, who oppressed by guilt, had a breakdown, was advised by a wise doctor to concentrate on biblical passages expressing love, mercy, and forgiveness,temporarilyputting aside the ones on condemnation and judgment. The minister followed the doctor’s advice, and he was wonderfully restored.
I was waiting on a 20-something lady the other day who was struggling to make her hands work to get the money separated for payment. She was quickly apologizing for the time, and I was blessed to be able to say, “It’s okay. Take your time. I have R.A. and remember what it was like to struggle to pull up the bedsheet with my fingers.” Immediate relief seemd to pour over her face at not being judged or pressured. God’s grace is like that. God isn’t there ready to condemn – He’s ready to pour out His abundant grace on each one of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.
Paul says in Romans 5:20 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
God gives us His grace – abundant, freely given, unconditional, and inexhaustible in supply. Psalm 23 tells of God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Too often, we are our own worst enemy heaping on guilt and not being filled with God’s grace which in turn brings spiritual rest, peace, serenity and joy.
I’m praying that you will be blessed with the joy and peace that comes from resting in God’s inexhaustible grace ~ Faye
P.S. The incident with the young lady, reminded me of how abundantly God has blessed me – a good rheumatologist, medicines that have given me the ability to work a full day, and the support of family and friends.
I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.
These are all words that fit the definition of the word “onomatopoeia.” An “onomatopoeia” is defined as a the state or condition of a word formed to imitate the sound of its intended meaning, such as hiss, buzz, murmur, rustle. Over the years when I’ve looked at “Peace,” “Tranquility,” or “Serenity”, I imagine them coming to life as I write them on a page in my sermon notes. P-e-a-c-e just languishes on the tongue and makes one desire quiet calm. Se-ren-i-ty is a flowing, long, drawn-out word that when pronounced that way just brings a harmony to one’s world. Tr-a–n-qui-l-i-ty, likewise, lends itself to a feeling of restfulness and stillness. I visualize these words as scripty, flowing from a pen and off the tongue.
Our lives are so busy and we are bombarded every moment of the day it seems by the things that need to be done. Words like serenity and tranquility rarely fit in our vocabulary. Yet God wants us to be filled with His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
We can’t be filled with the peace – serenity – tranquility that comes from God unless we hand over our worries and fears to Him. Do you have a loved one who isn’t saved? Surrender them over to God in prayer. It’s not your battle to save them. It is God’s. God requires you to love them with the unconditional love of God. You are radiate Christ’s life to everyone. When you find yourself really loving someone through God’s eyes, you are filled with a serenity that comes from knowing God is in control and you have surrendered your will to His.
Are you frustrated with a body that isn’t working as well as it used to? Remember that you are uniquely made. Jesus knows what you are going through and more. Pour out your heart to Him and be filled with a tranquility that only comes from the Holy Spirit bringing you peace.
G.H. Morling says, “It is much that God the Father is above me; it is more that God the Son is for me; it is still more that God the Holy Spirit is within me.” When we live with this focus, we will be filled with the blessings of peace ~ serenity ~ tranquility from God.
May the blessings of grace and peace be yours from God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ~ Faye
Serenity doesn’t come from a life without trials. Look at the life of Jesus. He faced betrayal, hatred, beatings, family and friends disowning Him, poverty, and yet He was filled with an inner peace and calm. This calm came from KNOWing the Father intimately. There are many things in life that rob us of serenity – resentment, jealousy, bitterness, worry, pride, and busyness. I have learned over the years how much more I am filled with God’s peace when I am in His word daily. Being busy working in a garden center during spring, I’m finding I can always find more work to do, but I’m also having to intentionally remind myself to stop – slow down – and spend time in God’s word. If I don’t spend time with God daily, I’m finding that my times of walking and talking with Him aren’t as peace-filled, my life doesn’t have an inner calm about it. I realize I am missing what I really desire. Fortunately the boss wasn’t pushing me to keep doing, I was. Once again I need to reprioritize my time and refocus where God wants me to be.
I found I have been reacting to the events around me and as the spring-planting frenzy grows, I was thriving on the busyness of doing, but was suffering from the serenity that comes from resting in God. Whether that is quiet time talking, praying or reflecting on His word and acts in my life, reading His word or singing His praises, I know I desire that serenity even more during the busyness of life.
An old hymn, written by Horatius Bonar, reflects where God wants us to focus:
I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me and rest; lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon My breast.’ I came to Jesus as I was, weary, and worn, and sad; I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
I pray that the blessing of “God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Faye
Our pastor preached a challenging and encouraging message this Sunday on a topic I struggle with way too frequently – Worrying. He looked at Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus talks about God’s taking care of the birds’ needs and clothing the lilies in splendor. Jesus reminds us that if He cares for such tiny creatures and flowers that others don’t even see, how much more will He care for His creation that He gave souls to, sent His Son to die for, and filled us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus also reminds us that each day has enough worry for itself, so don’t leap ahead and worry about the future.
Jesus knows that each day has concerns and pressures. He wants us to live in trust that He has everything in control. We need to trust Him and be filled with His peace. His peace isn’t like anything the world has — It is so much deeper. He fills us to overflowing with the inner beauty and calm of peace that only comes from the Holy Spirit.
As our pastor preached, my mind kept going back to the things I worry about –
- life with chronic progressive illnesses
- what does God have planned for my future as far as work and my business
- finances, especially being underemployed
- using my time wisely
- coming up with things to write for God’s Abundant Blessings blog (ironic, I know).
But then I started to reflect on the past few weeks. I did a 180-spin in the snow a few days earlier, and as I cried out, “God, help me!” I felt His presence and a calm assurance that He was with me. When I sat in the waiting room while my husband had a heart procedure, and the nurse came out and said, “We’ve run into a little problem …” I was filled with incredible peace and serenity that only comes from God’s presence. (Things turned out well after the procedure.)
Trusting and letting go isn’t easy for this Type A person. I sometimes think that’s why God allowed me to have the chronic illnesses. They have given me a huge slow-me-down, and I’ve needed to continually trust in Him for my strength so many days and in so many ways.
I was reminded during the pastor’s message of a testimony I heard many years ago by Roger Bennett as he was facing a life with leukemia. (You can Google Roger Bennett testimony and hear several of his stories on YouTube.) Here are the words to Roger and Debbie Bennett’s song: Don’t Be AfraidThe disciples were tossed on a cold, raging sea But Jesus was sleeping so peacefully They cried, “Master, don’t you care that we die?” But He spoke three small words, “Peace be still,” It was the storm that had to die So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid I know how it feels to be tossed by the storms And I know how it feels to be battered and worn But then I know how it feels to be carried on through Called by the strength of the One who is faithful and true So don’t be afraid when the darkness is closing The Master is near, His voice calms every storm So when the world says it’s over, the Master says, “No, I’ve just begun” In your darkest of times, whether rain or in sunshine, don’t be afraid
©Onward Bound Music (ASCAP) / Homeward Bound Music (BMI). Album: Raise the Roof (1994)
Roger lost his battle with cancer here on earth, but I’m sure He’s celebrating greatly in heaven. And he’d likely be the first one to tell us – Don’t Be Afraid of the dark valleys, where Satan comes and tempts us to despair and worry. Trust God, and boldly face your future. Dwell in God’s providential love and grace.
Praying you are as abundantly blessed by God’s perspective, presence and peace as I am today ~ Faye
I’ve been struggling lately with worrying about tomorrow. Recently some symptoms have been showing up that have me concerned that my rheumatoid arthritis is progressing and treatment isn’t working like it has in the past. Having been down this road a few times, I’m ready to let my mind race ahead, search the Internet for what the symptoms might mean. Many of us live with chronic progressive illnesses that mean continual drug and treatment changes. Often it seems like the professionals are only guessing what will happen. Our bodies change frequently in ways we don’t want them too. Life gets very frustrating.
Some of us live with financial stresses. The paycheck doesn’t go far enough to meet the bills these days. Unexpected car repairs. Job layoffs and cutbacks. How can we be thankful when it’s so hard to get through each day? How in the world are we ever going to have a fun Christmas if we can’t pay what we have already?
God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:25-34
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Matthew reminds us that God Provides for ALL our needs. He makes sure the birds and lilies are provided for. Imagine how much more God who loves those who believe Him will provide for us. Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd; I have ALL I need.” I have all of my NEEDS met. I will rest on that promise, assured that He has today and tomorrow in His hands. He’s bigger than anything that I face in the future.
I find I’m singing the old song – His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Why do I feel discourged? Why do the shadows come? And why does my heart feel lonely, And long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion; A constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy. And I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Enjoy the day remembering God provides for all your needs ~ Faye