Tag Archives: focus

Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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Before Goliath, a Lion & a Bear

David conquered a lion and a bear before he ever faced the greatest challenge of his lifetime – Goliath.

And prior to governing all of Egypt, Joseph ran Potiphar’s household.

Have you ever considered that previous battles in your own life were preceded by similar ones?  Battles that we survived and ones that we developed stronger faith through.

As I contemplate my own health challenges at the moment and my role as a health advocate for my daughter, Sarah, I am reminded that there were former struggles that prepared me for such a time as this.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I used to take my father to all of his medical appointments and have helped him during his recovery on a number of occasions.  I am his medical power of attorney and have advocated for him countless times.

And, of course, being a parent of three children predisposes one to seeking the best treatment for another.

Prior to this, after the premature death of our mother twenty-three years ago, my younger sister and I became chief health advocates on behalf of our 98 year old grandmother.  (Yes, our maternal grandmother survived our mother by two and a half months!)

Life has a way of revolving in cycles, doesn’t it?  If you live long enough, cycles repeat themselves and you glean important lessons and wisdom.

I am thankful for the lessons of faith, courage, patience and compassion that I have learned over the years.  When we are facing the storms of life, it is very unpleasant and we look for the nearest exit.  But, if we keep our eyes focused on the God who calms the seas, our faith will grow and we will be stronger because of it.

When we were rear ended by a drunk driver in May 2014, I determined very early on that I would focus on the positives.  I was keenly aware that my children were watching my responses to the situation and that by highlighting the pain and negativity, it would only serve to prolong our healing process.

Sometimes we need to reframe a situation, to step back and focus on the unchanging truth of the Bible and God’s promises to be with us.

During difficult times, it is helpful to keep a “Thankfulness” journal.  It is hard to remain discouraged when we keep our sight on God’s blessings.

Each of us have much to be thankful for.  Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.  We need to realize that while we may have needs and wants, most of us are more wealthy than a large percentage of the world.

Often, the feeling of being out of control is a seed of discouragement.  To counteract this, concentrate on what you can do to improve the situation.

Yes, you can’t change your spouse, but you can work on you.

Yes, you may not be able to avoid surgery, but you can occupy your mind with positive things in the meantime.

Yes, you can’t make the neighbor turn down their loud, obnoxious music, but you can turn on your favorite music and work on a hobby that brings you joy.

Yes, you can’t make your co-workers like you, but you can invest your efforts in being the best employee possible.

I’m not suggesting mind over matter.  I’m suggesting changing your focus/mind in order to change your reality and future.  Life’s realities often begin in the mind.

I am reminded of a story I heard a while back:

A lady who happened to be blind was being relocated to a new room in a retirement home.  A nurse asked her how she felt about this change as she was about to be taken to her new living quarters.  The blind lady replied, “Oh, I absolutely love it!”  The nurse was astounded.  How could you love it already?  The blind lady said, “I already made up my mind that it’s going to be wonderful.”

Her situation hadn’t changed.  She remained blind.  But she was not blind to the fact that she should have a positive mindset in order to be happy.  I think that’s where many of us flub up.  When bad things happen, instead, we tend to focus on all the negative things and lose sight of the possibilities of a positive outcome.

So, if you find yourself in a raging battle today, friend, remember that, “This too shall pass.”

I think that’s another fallacy we often believe.  Life is ever changing.  Bad things come and go.  Good things come and go.  Ebbs and flows.

We will be in a better position to face today’s battle if we remember, like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, all of the previous battles along with their lessons.  They would build monuments in the desert where God performed miracles in previous battles.  We, too, should do the same.  Remind ourselves that the same God who delivered before, will again, deliver us!

“Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.”

 ~ Psalm 107:6

 

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This World is Not Our Home

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Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from the world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

~ I John 2:15-17

It often amazes me the hold “pop culture” has on believers.  Recently, I’ve noticed that during the Pastor’s sermon when he references a popular actor or actress in making a point, the reaction and connection of the congregation is very engaging.  They can totally understand the Pastor’s point.  He has broken it down into terms they identify with.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being familiar with the latest movies or t.v. series necessarily (unless they are in opposition with the Word of God, that is).  But, the issue is what captivates our attention?  What holds our hearts?  Are we devoting equal or greater time to studying God’s Word, the message of Good News, so we may be strengthened in our faith?  Are we who we say we are on Sunday… on Monday through Saturday?  This world is looking for authenticity.  Will they find it in us?  If not in us, who then?

I am a stubborn person.  Yes, it’s true.  So, I naturally dig my heels in when it comes to conforming to this world’s standards!  I refuse to be a cookie-cutter human doing.  I refuse to fall into the rut of looking like Barbie, wearing the latest color clothing someone has deemed to be the latest and greatest, behaving in a way to be accepted by society, listening to the most popular tunes and lyrics that are not edifying at all and, my personal favorite, looking out for #1 solely!  I refuse.  You know why I refuse?  Because I choose to base my life on the Word of God.  And the Word of God says that I am to be a “peculiar people”, “a royal priesthood”, a “holy people”, a “chosen generation” who are called out from among the world.

It says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2

We need to often remind ourselves that we are merely pilgrims passing through!  This world is not our home as Christians.  We have the hope of heaven in our hearts if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  That is an exciting thought, my friend!

This world, with all of its problems,

is fading.  The Bible says that heaven and earth will pass away, but it’s His Word that will remain.

What are you investing in today?

Remember … This world is not our home!

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