Thursday, May 31, 2012

People And Pebbles

See all 2 photos
Source: My Photo
Round, oblong, circular.
Small, medium, large, in between.
Striped, mottled, spotted, plain.
Striking, subtle, none the same.
Each unique, each its own.
Each a beauty, each alone.
All treasured, measured, valued.
All created, shaped, hand-hewn.
Just as pebbles are nary the same
So are we, God made.
Copyright 2012 Tracia Bussey
Source: My Photo

On a trip to Maine one year, we visited a beach along the Atlantic coast. I was amazed at all the beautiful rocks along the water's edge. They were in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. I had never seen anything like it before. It was such a contrast to the powder white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast, of which I was most familiar with. I picked up as many of the lovely little jewels (rocks) as I thought I could possibly carry in my pockets and brought them home with me. I hadn't thought about these lovelies in a long time until just the other day when my grandchildren were visiting. I brought the rocks out and prepared a glass of water. I showed my granddaughter how each one was pretty, but when it was dropped into the water, the colors and designs suddenly became more vibrant. That was when my mind began thinking about how God designed each of us, so differently and beautifully hand crafted.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God's Yoke Don't Choke

I Corinthians 15:58  (NIV)  "Be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."

How many times do we feel that our serving or giving goes unrewarded?  I doubt there's no one who can say they have never grown weary in well doing and ended up with a sour attitude.  I believe that the enemy is always close at hand, ready to whisper into our ears the lies that our 'working for the Lord' is in vain.  Just because we don't see fleshly or carnal rewards does not mean 'good' has not been accomplished when we serve God.  This scripture reminds us that nothing we do for God is useless.  The big question should be, "do I do what I do for God, or is it done for people?"

It is altogether possible to become weary in serving God, but it is inevitable that weariness will set in when we are serving the demands of people.  Matthew 11:30 (NLT) says,  "My yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light."  These are words I have learned to live by.  I cannot tell you the number of situations I have found myself in where I felt I was choking on a heavy burden.  Every time, it was something that some person had talked me into, or something that I had taken on myself, neither one led by God.  I have found that when I respond to what God has asked of me to do, it may be challenging and hard work, but it isn't heavy nor does it feel as if it is choking my life.

We need to pray and follow where God leads and be enthusiastic about it.  If we find that we are hearing the enemy's voice whispering that there's no profit in serving God, then let's shut him down and remind him that there's nothing we can ever do for the Lord that is useless.  If we give the Lord our little lunch, He will multiply it to feed thousands!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Don't Be People Pleasers

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men.  I would not be a servant of Christ."

A huge pitfall in life is living to please other people.  The old saying, "You can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time" is true.  There was never a more perfect person who walked on this earth than Jesus Christ.  The same people who hailed him as King when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey one day, were the same people who cried, "crucify him" the next.  If we do receive man's approval, it is fleeting and may be lost, but God's approval will never waiver.  This is the only approval we should pursue.

The last part of this scripture brings another fact to light, we cannot fully serve Christ when we are trying to please men.  We can't serve two masters, we will follow the one we are most compelled to please!

May our hearts and desire be to value the approval of God and not the approval of people.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Who Is God?

He is...
Alpha and Omega
Beginning and the end
Creator of the universe
And yet He is my friend.

He is...
Truth and righteousness
Holy and pure
His words will never die
To the end they will endure.

He is...
Almighty and all knowing
All power and all love
He's a mighty roaring lion
And a sweet, gentle dove.

He is...
Maker of my body
Designer of my soul
A light unto my path
Showing me where to go.

He is...
Fairer than ten thousand
A bright morning star
Lovely Rose of Sharon
And He dwells in my heart.

He is.

Copyright 2012 Tracia Bussey

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grow Up!

I Peter 2:2 "Like newborn babes, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation."

When my children were born, they needed to be fed on a regular schedule, about every 3-4 hours they would drink a bottle of formula or be breast fed.  This was necessary for them to grow and develop.  As they got older, they began needing more than milk, so cereal and baby food were added to their diet.  Eventually, they had plenty of teeth and were able to begin eating solid foods.  Each stage of their growth was dependent upon the type of nutrition they received in order to develop.  If my children had never been given anything more than a bottle of milk every 3-4 hours as they grew older, they would never have developed normally.  They would have been weak, abnormally small, and probably would not have lived very long.

Here in I Peter, the scripture is speaking of spiritual babes and spiritual growth, likening it to physical babies and physical growth.  As newborn Christians, we are like babes, needing to be fed milk, easy to digest food.  As we grow older in Christ, we should begin to also expand our diets until we grow into maturity.  However, we do not see a lot of maturity in the family of God.  So many times, what we see is Preschool actions from adult believers.  Notice I didn't say 'mature' believers.  Spiritual maturity is not evident by the amount of knowledge a Christian has obtained, nor by the number of years they have attended church or even by the amount of money they give.  Spiritual maturity is evident by the way Christians get along with one another, by the way they love the world and by the way they are devoted to obeying the Father.

As this scripture encourages us, crave spiritual milk!  If you realize you are lacking in spiritual maturity, go back to the basics.  Crave spiritual milk, go back to your first love.  We can't skip a firm foundation in Christ.  His love, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His sacrifice, none of these we've earned nor deserved, but because of the before mentioned, we are saved!!  Let us walk humbly in His way in complete surrender to His will so that we will mature in Christ and be able to grow up as strong believers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worry Is Fear

Philippians 4:6-7 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

As a child growing up, I imagine I must have heard the phrase, "be careful" a million times, and as a mother myself, I imagine I have said that phrase two million times!  In this scripture, Paul is saying to be careful for nothing.  He is speaking of worry, not wise caution.  We could change this wording to say, "Don't worry over anything, but pray about everything with peace knowing God's power is sufficient, being thankful as you are asking for Him to answer your requests."

It does not profit us to pray and then worry that God didn't hear or that He won't answer.  Worry is fear, fear is not faith.  If we are wavering in our assurance of God's power, love or ability, then we need to ask Him for His help in our unbelief.  God always meets us right where we are at, even if that place is far away.  Sometimes we have to ask Him to help us to believe that we CAN believe.

As a child can be brutally honest, we should be honest with our Father.  I always encouraged my children to tell me the truth, teaching them that they would receive a much worse correction for telling a lie about what they had done wrong.  Our Father God is an even better parent than any of us could ever be.  He is more interested in helping us grow and become all we can be in Christ, fully showing forth the characteristics of our God than in making us walk a chalk line.  The more honest we are, or actually, the more we confess our sins, then we have a promise that he is faithful and just to forgive those sins!  I John 1:9

Monday, May 21, 2012

Whom The Son Sets Free Is Free Indeed

In Luke 8:26-39 is the story of the maniac of Gadara.  This poor man was possessed by many demons which had driven him insane.  He was so crazed that he wouldn't keep any clothes on himself and he lived among the tombs.  The scripture here tells us that when this man saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him begging to not be tormented.  Jesus spoke to the demons inside the man asking their name.  They answered, "Legion" meaning many.  They begged Jesus not to send them into the deep but allow them to go into a herd of pigs nearby, which he did, and the pigs ran off a cliff into the water.  The man gained his right mind once again and was delivered from insanity and a tormented life.

When Jesus entered into that region of the Gadarenes, those demons knew he was there.  When he came near, they were afraid and begged mercy of him.  When Jesus enters into the region of our lives, let me tell you, the demons knows he's there.  He has the power to deliver us from even the worst of situations, thousands of dilemmas "Legion".  He can help us think straight and have our right mind about us.
II Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound mind."

Let Jesus send your pigs a packing, taking every tormenting demon with them!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Darkness Fears The Light

For some reason, of which I've yet to know fully, God has used a particular number to stress a few things with me.  That number is 222.  For weeks and months, during an intense time of fasting and prayer, it seemed this number would show up everywhere I looked, on the clock, on a billboard, on a receipt, on a mile marker, it was so often that I begin to ponder about it and ask God, "why are you making this number stand out to me"?  One of the scriptures that I discovered in my search about 222 is Daniel 2:22, "It is He who reveals the profound (deep) and hidden (secret) things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him."  Wow, what a comfort!  To have the assurance that even though I may be in the dark about things, God is not!  He knows everything that I'm wondering about, concerned over and fearful of.  He is the One who can reveal the things that are hidden and profound, so, why should I look anywhere else for answers.

When I was a child, I was an extremely frightened kid.  I'm not sure why, maybe because my older sister took great joy in telling me stories that scared me, or maybe it was the fact that I was a little over sheltered, being born late in my parent's lives, or most likely, the enemy had a plan to keep me huddled in a corner, afraid of everything.  Regardless of the reasons, I was one terrified little girl, and one of my biggest torments was the dark!  I was afraid of the dark because I thought there was 'something' there.  If had no name, no face, no identity, no character, but it was real to me.  Even after I was married, I wanted to sleep with a lamp on beside the bed.  The Lord delivered me from this terrible curse in my early twenties and I can now say that there's no fear of the dark anymore!  Thank You Jesus!

God knows what is in the darkness!  He knows its name, its identity, its character and its face, and His light dispels the darkness that surrounds the thing that is tormenting you, bringing revelation and freedom from the curse of the enemy!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Humble Opinion Concerning Leaders

We are quickly coming closer to election time for public offices, both on local and national arenas.  I am sure that I am not the only person who desires to cast my vote with careful consideration of each candidate’s qualifications, leadership abilities and personal integrity, however, what should appear to be a simple process can become confusing and frustrating.  It seems that there's few who have all the integral, moral and spiritual standards that I feel are important for an individual to lead a state or nation.  Just recently I read historical information about one of America’s presidents, William McKinley, Jr.  This man would definitely get my vote today!  

When McKinley turned eighteen, he joined the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War.  By the end of the war he had worked his way up to major.  While considering the fact that death was always a possibility in battle, he wrote this in his diary: “Fall in a good cause and hope to fall in the arms of my blessed Redeemer.  This record I want left behind, that I not only fell as a soldier for my Country, but also as a Soldier of Jesus.  (McKinley’s friends and relatives could be comforted with solace) that if we never meet again on earth, we will meet around God’s throne in Heaven.  Let my fate be what it may, I want to be ready and prepared.” 

Following the war, McKinley became a successful lawyer and married a lady who was a temperance worker and Sunday school teacher.  The couple experienced great hardship with the death of their two young children, after which McKinley’s wife fell into a nervous disorder that left her a semi-invalid.  McKinley cared for his wife until his death, remaining a faithful and devoted husband.

Over the years McKinley held various offices in local and state government and in the House of Representatives.  In 1896 he ran successfully for the Presidency of the United States.   During his inaugural address, he kissed his Bible that was opened to Solomon’s prayer, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?” (II Chronicles 1:10 KJV).  He declared that he would be “relying upon the support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty God.  Our faith teaches us that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored  the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.”

McKinley was shot by an assassin on September 6, 1901, whom he publicly forgave.  His doctors were unable to keep him alive after an infection set in and spread through his body.  His last words were the words to his favorite hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.”

This is the kind of person that can be trusted, one who is willing to sacrifice, forgive, work hard and remain true, even when times are difficult.  This is the kind of individual who would be willing to do the 'right' thing over the 'popular' thing!  We need more of these kind of people running for public offices today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayer For The Awakening Of God's People

Lord, I pray Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Let Your will be fulfilled through Your people, Your church.  Bring revelation, reveal Your will and make it known to our hearts.  Reveal Your heart and cause it to become our heart.  Reveal Your thoughts and help us to renew our thoughts to be in line with Yours.  Open our eyes, our ears and our minds.
Awaken Your people, stir us from within, stir the very depths of our beings and cause them to begin to be moved by the wind of Your Holy Spirit.  Oh God, our God, forgive us for becoming cold and distant with You.  We're calling out in repentance Lord.  Forgive our apathy.  Forgive our lack of hunger for Your Word and Your presence.  God, draw us once again to Your well of living water.
May our hearts pant after You, allowing nothing to quench our thirst but more of You.  We commit to stir ourselves, shake ourselves from this spiritual slumber.  We wipe the sleep from our eyes, Oh Lord, we desire to be alive once more in Your will and Your way.
Psalm 51:10 New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When I Am Afraid

Psalm 121(NIV) 1I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life;8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

This scripture has been a rock that I have stood upon many times in my life. When I miscarried twins at age 41, when there was a breach in the relationship with my oldest daughter, when my youngest daughter struggled with anorexia and suicide, when I buried my dad, when I buried my mother, when the person I called my closest friend and prayer partner betrayed, lied and tried to destroy our church, I prayed, "I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from You Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!"   

He IS Maker of heaven and earth!  He IS always there!  He IS keeping watch over our lives!  He IS where our help comes from!  We can rest in His arms and put our trust in His ability to carry us through any storm we may face in life.  I know there will be more obstacles to face here on earth. The longer we live on this fallen earth the more opportunities there will be to experience hurt and sorrow.  God never promised that we would be able to escape these things, but He has promised that He will be our refuge, a shelter in time of trouble.  

Religion tells us if we 'do' steps 1, 2, 3, then we will be guaranteed results a, b, c.  The Old Testament proved to us that man cannot live out the law of God without His Grace.  We can't be 'good' enough without Jesus.  We are always trying to find the 'system' or 'steps' that will grant us power to avoid the sorrows of this life.  We are actually longing for heaven, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more sadness, no more loss, no more tears, no more death.  But this will never be heaven.  Until we reach heaven, we have a God who will walk with us through the valleys, He will not forsake us in times of trouble.  His Grace is sufficient for every situation we face!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Run Well And Finish Strong

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."

I am not a runner, by no means, so I don't relate to this scripture as one, however, I do relate to it concerning goals.  Having a goal thoroughly motivates me to be diligent and aggressive in pursuing and completing a project.  A race that is run by foot also has a goal; to cross the finish line and obtain the prize!  I love a finished task, to be able to step back and look at a completed job.  In this life, we should have a goal;  to cross the finish line and obtain the prize!  That prize is eternal life in heaven!  

This scripture gives a picture of a crowd watching a race, cheering them on to win.  This life is a race with so many things the enemy, Satan, has designed to trip us up.  There's a crowd of saints cheering us on.  I believe those who have gone on before us and completed their race are in that crowd.  They are longing for us to run well and finish strong.  This scripture tells us the main thing that is going to trip us up is sin!  We need to strip it off and throw it down, it's like weights, pulling us back and slowing our strides.  How do we do it?  Verse two explains...

(NLT)  2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Keep our eyes on Jesus!!  Keep running toward Him!!  Keep our focus stayed on the One who has overcome the cross - where our sins were forgiven!!

Let us run well and finish strong!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hope Deferred Makes The Heart Sick

Proverbs 13:12 (KJV)  "Hope deferreth maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life."

We start out in a relationship with Christ with extreme hope and expectancy that God will take care of everything which concerns our lives.  Over time, however, it seems easy for us to lose that fervency we once had and our hope in Christ begins to slip.  Maybe it's because our expectations weren't met in the time span we thought, or people involved in church have let us down, or we've just plain given up on God because we have failed or fallen down in our faith.  

According to Strong’s Bible Dictionary, the word 'deferred' means to delay, draw out or become displaced.  Our hope  becomes delayed, drawn out -  the things we hoped for haven't come to pass in our timetable;  Our hope becomes displaced -  transferred to another place; our hope becomes dependent upon our abilities, our jobs, our works, etc.
God’s promises are true, but His timetable is rarely ours.  God never quits, but we do.  Only God is able to fulfill 100% of our expectations.  Humans will never be able to fulfill 100% of what's expected of them!  If our hope is placed in anyone or anything but God, we will be let down every time!

A displaced expectancy sets us up for disappointment.  We tend to put high expectations on certain people, certain situations, certain environments.  These displaced expectations always leave room for hurt.  Such as, we have high expectations of our relatives and friends.  Then when they don’t fulfill those expectations, we are wounded.  Only God can fulfill our highest expectations, but we must build those expectations upon His Word, His truth, not on our selfish desires.

This scripture that speaks of the heart being sick is not speaking of the blood pump, the organ that beats in our chest.  It is speaking of the innermost part of our being, this heart is the same meaning as the heart of a tree, the core.  Our very core becomes sick.  Dictionary meanings of the word 'sick' are, deeply distressed, upset, disgusted, revolted, weary, tired, pining, longing, in need of repairs, unable to produce - thoroughly weary, discouraged or bored. 
Do you relate to any of these definitions of 'sick' in your spiritual walk with God?  If your answer is yes, then you're hope is deferred!

God desires to impregnate us with a viable expectancy!  Satan wants to rob us of the ability to be reproductive!
God desires to jump start our hope!  Satan wants to keep our hope dashed against the rocks of life!
God desires to heal our disappointed expectations!  Satan wants to keep us in disappointment!
God desires to reproduce His goodness through us!  Satan wants to reproduce his hopelessness through us!

Our hope must be built on nothing less than Jesus Christ our Righteousness!  Will we fail?  Yes!  Will we fall down?  Yes!  Did God know we would before He gave His Son as a ransom for our sins?  Yes!  His decision to make a way for us was never based upon our abilities to 'be good enough'.  He was well aware that we would 'never' be good enough, thus the need for the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ that would cover our shortcomings and failures.

I have told you these things so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world The words of Jesus in John 16:33

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No One Like Mother

Of all the people in the world, I have to say no one compares to Mother.  She's the person who seems to believe the best in me, even when I can't see anything good.  She's the person who is always interested in hearing what I have to say.  She's the person who has a consoling word, a warm hug, a shared tear in hurting situations.  Mother is a confidant, someone I can trust with personal fears and struggles.  Mother can also be depended upon to be there in a pinch.  Mother will share her opinion openly, she won't hesitate to pray and stand on God's Word.  Mother is the one person in my life that I miss the most.  She's been gone 3 years now and I still can't get used to the fact I can't pick up the phone and give her a call.  I still long to share important things in my life with her.  I still miss hearing her voice call my name, although in my mind, I can still hear it clear as a bell.  The greatest thing about being a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, is the hope of one day being together again in heaven.  We're only seperated through death for a little while, only to be reunited for eternity.  If your mother is still living, cherish her while you have her.  It shouldn't matter whether she is everything she should be, none of us are, it should only matter that she's your mother, the only one you'll ever have, no one will ever take her place.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

God's Creation Is Good Therapy

Well, I just got back from a lovely trip to the lake!  The views were amazing and the weather just as delightful!  The fishing wasn't bad either, LOL!  It was so refreshing to just take in the wonderful experience of God's creation.  I believe it's one of the best stress-busters!  I would rather sit in our little boat, floating on the lake, looking at the sunset or sunrise, the trees, the wild flowers, the water, the sky, the birds, the animals, than be in a plush condo.  There's just something calming about appreciating the creations that only God can make.  The creations of man are amazing, but nothing like a Bald Eagle flying overhead (which we had 4 sightings of either Bald Eagles or Osprey, I'm not sure which they were, but they were awesome), a group of river otters playing in the water along the river bank, or the fresh smell of the trees and ground after a rain.  All of which man cannot create, only an Almighty God, who displays His works all around us.  If we take the time to breathe it in and be thankful, we benefit from it, both spiritually and emotionally.  Take a few moments each day to look at all He has created and give Him thanks!!!  It will do you good!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We Need To Sit At His Feet

In Luke 10:38-42, we read a familiar story about two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were acquainted with Jesus and entertained him at their home.  Let’s read this passage, 38) “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.  39) And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.  40) But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  Bid her therefore that she help me.  41) And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:  42) But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (KJV) 
Now, I feel it’s safe to assume that Martha had also sat at Jesus’ feet, since we read in verse 39 that her sister Mary ‘also’ sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word, however, it appears that Martha has become upset in this occurrence with serving without Mary’s help.  She comes to Jesus and asks him if he doesn’t care about her lonely situation and even asks him to instruct Mary to pitch in.  This story has been used countless times to stress the need to spend time in reading, studying and listening to the Word of God.  I’ve heard it used to illustrate to women that we should let the household chores wait and give the first fruit of the day to God, and I’ve yet to hear any woman declare her liberation from cooking, cleaning, laundry, child care and job with this concept!  In fact, most of the time, it just feels like there’s one more brick on the pile now, and still there’s no help with the tasks that are to be done.  Do I hear ‘amen’?
I don’t believe Jesus was merely trying to get Martha to forget the meal preparation and serving.  After all, he was one of the main ones who would be eating that meal.  No, Jesus was using the opportune moment to help Martha get free from worry!  Oh my, now that’s something that could truly bring some liberation! 
Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down.”  Matthew 6:27 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Did you know that 40% of things we worry about will never happen?  30% are about the past – which can’t be changed, 12% are about criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% are about health, which gets worse with worry/stress and 8% are about real problems that can be solved if a solution is sought.
Worry is a big waste of time and energy, kind of like the hamster’s exercise wheel – spinning, spinning, spinning, making us tired and weary and never getting anywhere!
The Bible tells us not to worry, in fact, it is mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament as something we should avoid.  The words used most often for worry and anxiety in the New Testament come from the same Greek word, meridzoe, which means ‘to be divided, to be pulled in opposite directions, to choke.’
In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us: “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.”  Luke 8:14  An Old English word for worry meant ‘to gnaw’, like a dog with a bone, a worrier chews on his problem all day long.
Why is the Bible so adamant about avoiding worry and fear?  Because God knows worry short-circuits our relationship with him.  It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior, Jesus Christ!  A life filled with fear has little room for faith! 
Worry and fear pulls us away from God, causing us to question his care for us, just as Martha asked in verse 40, “dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?”  When we are burdened down, choked by life’s worries, and yes, even riches and pleasures – worried about how we don’t have what others have or enjoy the things we want – we challenge the heart of God.  We also become angry with others, just as Martha was upset with her sister.  She was ‘worried’ about getting everything done for the Master and there was Mary, just sitting there listening to the Master!
Are there things in this life that are overwhelming?  Yes!  Is there more to do than there is time?  Yes!  Do bad things happen to good people?  Yes!  Will my worry and fear change any of these facts?  NO!
Paul had plenty to worry about as he sat in a Roman prison.  He didn’t know if his head was about to roll or if he would simply be beaten near death, or maybe both.  He had done all that God had led him to do.  He had been a faithful servant.  Worry and fear could have taken him down the same road as it did with Martha.  He could have been angry asking God, “don’t you care that I am left here alone in this prison, my life hanging in the hands of unjust men?”  Instead, he wrote the book of Philippians, an incredible epistle of joy.  Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
3 Steps To Victory Over Worry
  1)  Be anxious about nothing.  (Not even one thing!  Not our families, not our finances, future nor past.  Allow one little worry in and another is sure to follow, then another.)
  2)  Be prayerful about everything.  (“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden”.  Corrie Ten Boom)
  3)  Be thankful for all things.  (Gratitude has the power to change our attitude!  When we are willing to give thanks to God in all things, not just some things – to consciously thank him even when we don’t feel very grateful – something in us begins to shift.  We begin to see life as Christ sees it, full of opportunities rather than obstacles.  When we view life through eyes of faith, fear diminishes.)

So much depends on our perspective.  If God isn’t bigger than my problems, then my problems are bigger than God.  At that point, anxiety takes charge.  Our human mind can only focus on a couple of things at a time.  When we’re focused on a problem and our inadequacy to handle that problem, there’s no room for God.  When we shift our focus from the problem to God and begin to thank him for taking care of everything that concerns us, there’s no room for the problem.
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  Paul gives us a list of things to think about when we’re tempted to fear, worry and doubt (fret, grumble and growl).  Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” 
I John 4:18 “Perfect love casteth out fear.”  This is the main reason we need to sit at Jesus’ feet.  We need to humble ourselves before him, repent of our self-bent ways and receive his love and forgiveness.  When we are secure and assured of his perfect love, we can best overcome fear and anxiety.  Fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty.  Why did Adam and Eve hide from God after they had sinned?  They were guilty.  They could not feel the security of God’s love.  Did it change God’s love?  No!  He doesn’t change.  He is not human with human faults.  He IS love and there’s no shadow of turning in him.
A friend of mine once said, “I want to stay low at the foot of the cross”.  I adopted that into my heart, to desire to stay low at the foot of the cross, the place of my redemption.  The very moment that I begin to feel self sufficient and adequate is the very moment I’ve struck out on my own without him.  The very moment that I begin to boast in my knowledge and feel that I’ve got everything under control is the very moment I begin to sink, I’ll be swimming for shore very soon. 
At the feet of Jesus may I ever stay
Pouring out my worship to Him.
At the feet of Jesus is the only place
That I find peace and rest.
At the feet of Jesus are mercies anew
Filling my life with grace.
At the feet of Jesus is a sweet exchange
For fear He gives me faith.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to Him are radiant: their faces are never covered with shame.”  Psalm 34:4-5

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jesus Remembers Our Worship

John 12:3 (KJV)  "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair:  and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."
This scripture verse is a beautiful picture of worship.  If you're not familiar with this story in the Bible, Mary was a prostitute, and the ointment of spikenard was an expensive product, bought with money she'd earned.  She desired to honor Jesus with what she had, because she believed he was the promised Messiah, the son of God.  She entered into the house where he was being entertained, uninvited, and poured out her worship upon him.  She was ridiculed and scolded for her actions, but Jesus received her worship and told her she would be remembered.  Mark 14:9 (KJV) "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her."
It is believed this expensive ointment would have been her life's savings, she gave it all;  she came to Christ and he received her, she was forgiven;  she wiped his feet with her hair, representative of her glory;  the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment, her worship affected the atmosphere of her surroundings;  her actions were recorded in scripture, she IS remembered!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now That I See Jesus

"Life works better when we know how to glance at things but gaze at God.  Seeing Him clearly will enable us to see all other things clearly." ~ Selwyn Hughes.
I'm reminded of the encounter between Peter and Jesus on the stormy sea of Galilee as told in Matthew 14:22-23.  The wind was blowing, the waves crashing and thrashing the boat, the sky dark and ominous, lightening flashing and thunder hammering the air when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water toward their boat.  Peter called out, "Lord if that is truly you, bid me to come to you on the water."  Jesus reached out his hand and said, "Come".  Peter climbed over the side of the boat onto the water and began walking to Jesus, keeping his eyes fixed upon his Lord.  But then, his gaze drifted and he saw the waves, the sky, the wind.  At that point, he has lost his focus on the One who was keeping him above water, and began sinking into the sea.  Jesus reached down and took hold of Peter, saving him from death.  The waves and wind, lightening and thunder were there all the time, but as long as Peter kept his gaze upon the Lord, he walked on top of the storm!
Life is full of storms, some big, some small, some that seem to never pass.  The wind of circumstances can blow us side to side giving us little possibilities for rescue, but when we can keep our eyes fixed upon the One who calms the raging storms, we can walk on top of the troubled waters that life throws our way.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3,7

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Serving God Shouldn't Cause Us To Judge Others

Luke 10:41-42 (my paraphrase), "You are worried and anxious about many things, but there's only one thing that you really need."  In this scripture, Jesus is speaking to Martha, whose home He was visiting.  Martha is worried and scurrying around trying to make sure the meal is just right and all the details are seen about.  After all, everything she was trying to do was for Jesus!  Her sister, Mary, is just sitting at Jesus' feet listening to everything He is saying.  She is upset with her sister that she isn't concerned about the natural things that need to be done, and most of all, that she isn't helping her do them! She asks Jesus if He doesn't care that she's so burdened and that He should tell Mary to get up and help her.  Jesus then uses that moment to emphasize with Martha that she is fretting over things that are temporary and passing.  Oh how we get caught in that one, or at least I have so many times.  There's really only one thing we need, and that is to keep our hearts and minds stayed on Him, to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul.  If what we're are doing, even if it's 'for Jesus' causes us to be angry, fretful, worried, upset with others, it is not uplifting nor supporting the character of Christ!  The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, self-control. Where's the love?  Where's the joy?  Where's the peace?  Where's the patience?  Where's the kindness?  Where's the goodness?  Where's the gentleness?  Where's the faith?  Where's the self-control?  If we can't find evidence of any of these in what we're 'doing for God' then we need to drop it and get back to sitting at Jesus' feet!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When I'm At The End of My Rope

Psalm 121 (KJV) "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.  He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:  he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is thy keeper:  the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord shall preserve thy soul.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore."
There's been many times that I've quoted this scripture, usually when I'm at the end of my rope concerning a situation in my life that I see no answer for.  It has brought peace and assurance to my heart every time!  When it comes to our relatives, children, grandchildren, husband, wife - relationships in general, there are times that we have to look unto the hills where our help comes from, the Lord God Almighty who made heaven and earth, and cry out to Him for help to keep our hope alive.
When life runs rampant out of your hands, be reminded of these words, "The Lord is thy keeper, He doesn't slumber nor sleep, but shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore"!