nap time.

I have never been “good” at sitting still. I like to be doing something. I was the child in school who detested nap time and preferred to be coloring or playing instead.

Little has changed in adulthood for me. With the exceptions of an illness or a beach chair, I seldom nap. I still would rather be doing something more fun, more exciting than taking a boring nap!

Although I have outgrown (and graduated!) from grade school, I have not outgrown spiritual school. God teaches me new things every day, and sometimes we spend more days that I would like to admit reviewing the same lesson. Oh yes, the school of God is no joke! He asks me to recall important information I have already received in order to learn from my mistakes. Some of his lessons make no more sense to me than organic chemistry, and his examination style puts my pharmacy professors to shame!

As if all this were not enough, God also insists that I take nap time. I try to explain that I am “too busy” to stop and nap, but it is no use! I try to argue that I am not even tired, but He disagrees!

Hear the words of our Lord Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28, ESV

I sometimes do not even realize that I am tired and worn out until I finally stop. I also do not realize how heavy my burden is until I set it down.

Jesus commands us to come to him with our heavy burdens and our worn down souls so that He can give us rest. I hear you Jesus! I sure do not intend to disobey, but I do have a tough time knowing when my burden has become heavy and when I am tired and need rest!

Perhaps you can relate? We live in a culture that never stops and is always looking for the next best thing. It is so easy to get caught up in the social pressure of doing more, being more, going more. However, trying to keep up with the pace of the world brings nothing but frustrations and disappointments. The world will tell us we are not doing enough, but Jesus tells us the opposite. See my previous post for more about living in God’s timing: Standing on an hourglass

Jesus tells us that we are doing enough.. perhaps we are doing too much! Our loads are sometimes far heavier than we are made to carry. The burdens are not intended to be solely ours. Burdens can be anything that we are carrying around: guilt, sin, frustrations, worries, jobs, to-do-lists.

Jesus continues: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29-30, ESV

In Jesus’ day, a yoke was a wooden frame joining two animals for pulling heavy loads. It was also a common metaphor within the Jewish community for the religious laws that they were required to observe. There were so many laws to follow that practicing faith had become exhausting. [Remember, that Jesus was born into the Jewish community. Christianity began with His ministry on earth.]

One particular group of Jewish leaders, the Pharisees, were very judgmental and strict about the Jewish laws. Other groups of Jews felt guilty and “heavy burdened” from trying to obey all the laws they imposed to stay in God’s good graces. [See the book of Leviticus for all the many Jewish laws.] Under the Jewish law, the only way that people could receive forgiveness of their sins was by offering sacrifices at the temple, and the priest had to make the sacrifice on their behalf. How exhausting! I would be on a first-name basis with the temple priests for sure from going so often!

Jesus offers a lighter yoke, an easier way to do life. He tells the people to come to Him [instead of the temple priests] to lay their burdens down. Jesus not only will forgive us for our sins; He will also help us carry our heavy loads with no judgement for what we bring to Him.

Jesus, are you serious?! My loads are embarrassingly heavy, and I really do not want anyone to even see what I am carrying around! He says to bring it anyway!

Jesus wants us to come to Him, is willing to take our burdens, and wants to give us rest. He does so because He loves us, unconditionally and always. 

My hope is that you are able to recognize when you are weary and when your load is too heavy to bear, that you go to Jesus for rest, and that you allow Him to lighten your load. I assure you that He is more than willing to help and is waiting for your arrival!

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

bye. grudges, part 2.

I wrote earlier this year about grudges (see Grudges make smudges. ) and the energy they can deplete from your being. A grudge will hold your joy hostage before you ever knew what happened. Now that I am (one year older. one year wiser.), I have learned even more about the long-term effects these grudging ailments will have on your health. They are not worth your time, only your goodbye!

The day will come, even after you have diligently “spring-cleaned” your heart of any known grudges, that an old grudge will bubble to the surface. It may be older than your grandma, but still feel as fresh as a new baby. DO NOT STRESS! This horrifying, and possibly embarrassing, moment of recollection is NOT a sign of early onset dementia or temporary insanity.

I struggle to identify the revealing source sometimes, but if it is the work of the enemy, I am certain that God can turn that evil to good. He can use the upsetting memory as a way to prune you, to cleanse your mind of hateful thoughts and shameful memories, and ultimately draw you closer to Him. These blasts-from-the-past may be brought to light because they are a barrier between you and God. Ouch! Let it go, sister!

There is a catch. He only heals what we reveal. Anywhere that our hearts have hardened, the LORD can renew and refurbish, but only if we are willing to acknowledge our wrongdoings and repent. God forgives all things. We must just ask Him.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” – Psalm: 103:8-11, ESV

Read these words of assurance again, and again. Know that God loves you and will forgive you. Know that his grace and his mercy extend further than your eye can see and your mind can comprehend. Know also that God only wants His best for His children. He corrects us in love, so that we can grow closer to Him and the perfection He planned for us.

Take heed of this spoiler alert: this is where the enemy enters the scene:

“Be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8, ESV

What? Ole Pete just put “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” to shame! Total stalker status.

YOUR ADVERSARY (as in someone against you) is prowling around just looking for someone to destroy. In the words of my mother, “Horrors!” He is just watching and waiting for a chance to prance on you, to catch you when you are down and not on your guard. What better opportunity for his attack than when you are pouting about getting scolded?

Although it may feel like God is defining your impurity, He is actually refining your purity.

Hang in there, and remember that trials will come. We will be tempted and tested, and we will stumble and fall. By the grace of God, stand back up and seek His forgiveness. Repent and let it go! His love covers all things, even the dreadful grudges we may hold.

 ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

 

never a dull moment.

There are times when I feel that my life is lacking somehow because I am not married, nor do I have children. I imagine we all have these thoughts at times.. that our lives are just not complete somehow. We are blind to the richness of our current situations when we become focused on what we lack, or what we THINK we lack.

It is just too easy to feel less than or inadequate because our lives do not match up to those of our peers. We quickly fall into a tailspin of worry over our external timelines and internal time clocks. My previous posts Standing on an hourglass and my plans. both speak to those worries.

God never fails to remind me that my life is complete, just as it is.. right here, right now. Whenever I start to feel down (please note: not IF I feel down but WHEN I feel down), God always reminds me of my blessed life in the most simple and sometimes humorous ways. I remember that it is He that dictates my completion, my wholeness and my worth. He deems me valuable; therefore, I am.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17, ESV

Just last week, I was having an off morning and feeling that my life was sub par and boring. I feared that I was missing out on the excitement in life that surely comes with a husband and children. Woe is me! Near the peak of my supposed boring day, I hear a splish-splash in my bathroom. I realize with horror that I left the door ajar while I was running a mixture of bleach and detergent through my tub to clean the jets. Oh yes, Annabelle was in the tub playing and drinking the potent cleaning concoction! Just having a grand time! Just a little bleach!

After the initial shock and mild profanity, I got her out of the tub and washed her off and then begin to laugh. I was laughing so hard that I was nearly in tears. I realized that God was showing me that there is never a dull moment in my life! There are no limits with God. He is the author of creativity. He showed this pity party planner. that her life is indeed full through the devious act of a mischievous cocker spaniel. He will do the same for you.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act… Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalm 37:5,7, ESV

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is all about perspective. There will always be someone who has more money, a bigger house, a better job, a better wardrobe. Perhaps you envy the family or the doting husband of your friend. Remember that where we are is where God has placed us, and we are to trust completely and wholly in His purpose, even when we cannot see His reason or the road ahead.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to [Him] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:1,6, ESV

So even though we are not where we thought we would be in life, or we are longing for more in our current situations, we just need to have faith? Surely not! I find that talking about having faith and trusting God and seeking Him is far easier than the actions. The words alone are simple; the words in action are daunting and scary.

Trusting my future completely to God is scary at least, and attempting to draw near to Him seems impossible. I am a mere human. How can I possibly please God? Through God’s loving grace.. that’s right, G-R-A-C-E! This grace covers all our human short-comings and doubtful tendencies and allows us to draw near to the Almighty God with eager hearts of trust and open minds of faith.

Let us spend less time worrying about what we have not yet achieved or do not yet possess and spend more time seeking God and strengthening our faith in Him and His promises for us. Take comfort in knowing that you are RIGHT WHERE God wants you to be. You may be in a season that is short but bearable or a season that you never want to end. Either way, know that you are never alone, and that God has great purpose for your life in the right here and right now.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV

You heard the man! Paul tells us that everything God has made is good. That includes you and your life. What we need is less complaining about our situations and more action to better ourselves. Be thankful. Look at your life with new eyes, and count your blessings, even if running water and coffee is all you can think of! Open your Bible, read His Words of truth, and talk to God! A moment spent with God is never a moment wasted. The same is not true for time spent complaining.

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

New Year. New Time.

The beginning of a new year brings rushes of excitement and dreams of change. It represents a seemingly rare opportunity to hit the reset button and have a fresh start on life! A do-over. A clean space. A new page. A new time.

With the new year, we find blank space in which we get to create and choose. The possibilities are endless! We have a chance to erase the mess from the previous year and start all over again. We must not be so quick to move forward that we miss any valuable lessons to be learned from the past year. Whether you have gathered small subtle tips or large life lessons, I encourage you to carry the wisdom forward with you but leave the regrets and frustrations behind. No time for that in 2017!!

“… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.. ” – Hebrews 12:1b-2, ESV

We start the new year with a blank canvas full of room for our hopes and ideas! I encourage you to choose wisely what you allow on your canvas. Look past what the world deems important and focus instead on things above, things that truly matter and will last. Things that will strengthen you rather than weaken you, encourage you rather than lead you astray, comfort you rather than ignore you, and love you rather than entertain you. The world is full of flash and eye candy, but these sparkling moments of happiness are fleeting. Seek the joy that truly lasts.

This [bitter jealousy and selfish ambition] is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual … For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder … But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:13-17, ESV

I assure you that God will outshine anything fabricated by the world. When we seek these  temporary worldly joys, we focus only on ourselves and our own personal gains. James points out that disorder will likely ensue on a group filled with jealousy and selfish ambition. The first church did not need chaos and neither do we!

Seek God to find the joy that truly lasts. Make spending time with Him a priority in your day. Carefully choose what will be allowed to fill your life and enjoy each new day!

 

cropped-e-background.jpg
Annabelle

Check out this article from Proverbs31 Ministries on Time Well Spent!

http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/time-well-spent/