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Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

July 28th, 2017

Emotions provide color and beauty to life.

 “I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed.”  Psalm 61:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “Overwhelmed But Not Overcome.”

Feelings enrich your experience of life. But there are times when feelings are confusing, even overwhelming. In such times, you can find comfort and companionship from Jesus. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. Feelings are real but they are not always right. You have to deal with them but you do not have to believe them. There will be times when you may wish you didn’t have so many feelings to contend with. But I would not want to be without emotions, nor should you. Emotions also provide color and beauty to your life experience.

Jesus felt crushing emotions and dealt with them, as when He agonized over Jerusalem’s rejection. Luke 13:34-35 NIV. Or as He wept in Gethsemane’s garden when He foresaw the suffering of the cross. Luke 22:42 NIV. There is good news for such times. “[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.

At such times, easy answers won’t comfort you nor will empty platitudes that urge you to ignore or deny your feelings make feelings go away. I have learned that feelings are real, whether positive or negative, and you must reckon with them. Denying troubling feelings only amplifies their power. They won’t just go away because you wish they would. You should deal with them. You do not have to submit to them. Your feelings are real, but not always based in reality. Ofttimes, it is better to doubt them than believe them. Don’t become a slave to your emotions.

Embrace and enjoy healthy emotions; God gave them for your blessing. But what can you do with the unhealthy ones – like anger, fear, discouragement, worry, doubt, frustration, jealousy, or distress? God always has the answer. “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4 NIV. First, do not indulge feeling guilty for honest emotions, nor continue entertaining unhealthy emotions either. Bring them out in the open. Without shame, place them in God’s presence where the Holy Spirit can help you handle every emotion. That’s what Jesus did in His agony, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow . . Father, please take this suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not mine.” Mark 14:34 NIV/36 NLT. You can fully trust God in such moments, if you will.

To understand feelings, you must examine their origins. Sometimes, only God can expose the source of your feelings. When emotions overrule your will, bad feelings prompt bad choices. The Holy Spirit within you will always give you the power and wisdom to make right choices, if you ask. Remove the hurry and you reduce the worry.

More than circumstances, busy schedules are the root cause of feeling overwhelmed. You feel overwhelmed when stuff pushes God to the outer edges of your life. When you are overwhelmed: make time to recuperate physically, mentally, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually. Take time to rest. You must prioritize the necessary time. Take time to share your need for prayer with a friend. Take time to quiet your heart in God’s presence. “I am content and at peace, as a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms, so my heart is quiet within me.” Psalm 131:2 TEV. Take time to pray, asking God for help and healing. Take time to listen, until you hear a fresh, invigorating word from God.

Feeling the emotions of circumstances beyond his strength, David determined, “I will cry to You for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering Rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge.” Psalm 61:2 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to choose daily to live by strong faith and not strong feelings.

Christian Communications 2017-0579

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The Language of Touch

June 9th, 2017

A touch communicates more than words will express.

You place Your hand of blessing on my head.”   Psalm 139:5 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “The Language of Touch.”

Physical touch has its own language. A simple act of touch can communicate comfort, inclusion, assurance, affirmation, or even healing. An extended hand speaks of welcome and acceptance. A pat on the back is congratulatory, affirming a job well done. An arm around a person’s shoulders registers comfort and assurance. An embrace communicates affection. The language of touch communicates what words are inadequate to express – compassion, understanding, sympathy, comfort, or reassurance. In contrast, isolation from human touch can be debilitating to one’s personality and sense of wellbeing.

Along with our family and friends, we each need appropriate, physical interaction. Babies who were touched and held more frequently by attending nurses are found to thrive, gaining body weight more quickly than infants who were not touched and held. It would seem we never outgrow the need for a loving, caring touch from others. For reasons that will have to be explored elsewhere, it seems like we Americans are more inhibited about this than are our European cousins. But no one does as well without frequent interaction and the appropriate touch of other persons.

Jesus was always touching people and being touched by them, even some that others would not have touched. He touched lepers and freed them from their prison of social isolation. He touched the sick and they resumed normal lives. He touched the blind and they could see as before. Jesus laid His hands upon children and blessed them. His touch restored lifeless bodies to life. In Scripture, great importance is given to the “laying on of hands.” Along with the spiritual significance of impartation, there is the very real physical importance of identification and empowerment, evidencing a new connectedness and beneficial involvement with one another.

That personal touch is available to you as well. David seemed incredulous as he wrote, You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 NLT. What would it mean to you today – every day, any day – to know that the hand of God was upon your life for blessing? After David describes the breadth of human experience, he adds, “Even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.” Read Psalm 139: 7-12 NLT.

When He lays His hand upon you, God identifies Himself with you. So often in Scripture, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” chose to identify Himself with individuals, even with all our imperfections and frailties. Consider that God would place His Name alongside of yours. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV. The double negative of that verse asserts that our God can and will be touched with, “the feelings of our infirmities,” and welcomes us with grace.

When He lays His hand upon you, God commits Himself to you. He commits to provide, protect, and direct.  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NKJV. Imagine having the sufficiency of God always available to you.

Today, I pray for you to experience the benevolent touch of your God.

Christian Communications 2017 – 6408

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About the photo: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several Biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam.

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Prayer and God’s Reinforcement

March 10th, 2014

“Our Father . . don’t let us yield to temptation.” Matthew 6:13 NLT.

Prayer is a preemptive strategy against evil in any form.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prayer and God’s reinforcement.”

With self-mocking humor, a person confessed, “I can resist anything except temptation.” Seriously, temptation is exactly what you must resist. Temptation has a potential far beyond what you first assume. I have never heard of temptation referring to things noble, charitable, or sacrificial. Temptation always refers to being lured into conduct or conversation harmful and shameful.

In answer to the disciples request that Jesus teach them to pray, Jesus set forth a pattern in what is commonly called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Read Matthew 6:9-13. “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father . . don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13 NLT.

There are moments and situations when your will and best efforts need spiritual reinforcement. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” James 1:12-14 NKJV. Here is the problem; you can too easily be enticed by wrong desires if not vigilant. Read Romans 7:15-25 NKJV.

Prayer is preemptive. Your first defense for temptation is aversion and avoidance. To His disciples, Jesus’ was clear, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 NKJV. Jesus’ words apply to you as well. Your humanity is vulnerable; prayer is among the greatest of means whereby you weaken the flesh and strengthen the spirit within you. Prayer keeps your focus where it needs to be. “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is . . and not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 NIV. Prayer sets your thoughts and emotions firmly on what is holy, rather than things base and carnal.

Prayer reinforces resolve. The battle is fiercest in the midst of temptation. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV.

Prayer fortifies reinforcements. “For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 KJV. “Succour” is an old English word, rich in significance, translating a Greek word meaning, “to come hurriedly at one’s call for help.” Prayer marshals the reinforcements and resources of Heaven to your defense, relief, and aid to, “Deliver [you] from the evil one.” Read Luke 4:1-13 NKJV/Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV.

My prayer for you today is: in temptation, you will stand strong in Christ and His Word.

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A Healing Touch

September 6th, 2013

“And Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’” Luke 8:45 NKJV.

When your last, best option is Jesus, you are very close to a miracle.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a healing touch.”

Everyone needs others’ help sometimes. Our common pride of self-sufficiency is usually short lived. Life soon eliminates any delusion of one’s ability to always do life on their own. You were designed for community with all the mutual caring and contribution that affords. Ever needed help and either didn’t know how to ask or did not know who to ask? I’ll bet you have; I know I have. When you are at the end of your abilities and resource, you need to learn how to reach out. When you are serious about receiving help, you will be willing to lay aside your dignity to receive help. Pride and embarrassment are emotional luxuries desperate situations do not afford you.

The Bible shares an intriguing story of a woman desperate for help. Read Luke 8:43-48 NKJV. There are valuable, practical lessons you can learn from her personal sacrifice, absolute desperation, and noble courage. It is unrealistic to expect or ask others to charitably do for you what you are just unwilling to do for yourself. “There was a woman in the crowd who had a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had spent everything she had on doctors and still could find no cure.” For twelve years she had expended every effort, until exhausting all physical and financial resources she had. Her need was no less, but her options were. When your last, best option is Jesus, you are very close to a miracle.

Being another person in the crowd with a need is not enough. Disheartened but determined, severely weakened yet pressing against a pushing crowd, she reached out and “touched the fringe of [Jesus] robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.” Jesus would do for her what neither she nor others could do. When you cannot help yourself and when every other resource has failed, reaching and touching Jesus releases the power and resources of Heaven. See Philippians 4:19 NKJV.

“And Jesus said, ‘Who touched Me?’” The disciples were incredulous. A huge, unruly crowd was pushing and jostling for Jesus’ attention and Jesus was asking them who touched Him. A better question would have been who hadn’t pushed or bumped into Jesus. Ah, but her touch was different. Her touch released the abundance of God into the barrenness of her need. “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out of Me.’” In an inexplicable, miraculous moment the pain and helplessness of a dozen years were forever removed.

Her need was physical; she needed healing neither she nor others could provide. Today, your desperate need might be physical, or financial, or emotional, or psychological, or relational, or spiritual – the answer is the same for you as for this faith-filled lady. Jesus’ healing touch releases God’s ample provision into your depletion, whatever its origin, duration, extent, or complexity. With authority, the Bible says, “For we have a high priest which [can] be touched with the feeling of our infirmities . . let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 KJV. Set aside all reticence, embarrassment, or pride of person and come confidently to Jesus. Jesus will recognize your touch and respond with ample grace.

My prayer for this day is that you will not be shy to bring your need to Jesus.

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Wilderness Experiences

March 18th, 2013

“He . . guided them in the wilderness . . and He led them safely.” Psalm 78:52 NKJV.

Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wilderness experiences.”

Everyone will spend some time in “a wilderness.” A wilderness experience is where and when you feel alone. You are somewhere unfamiliar, uncomfortably betwixt and between, not where you were nor where you want to be. The Bible references “a wilderness” as a place removed or apart, or a place barren and lacking. Life will include those moments and places. At the least, wilderness experiences are uncomfortable.

There is always a danger of knowingly walking apart from the will of God and experiencing the dearth of fellowship and spiritual emptiness that result. But at times, life’s journey may simply take you through things you do not choose. Among a litany of such experiences, The Apostle Paul wrote of “perils in the wilderness.” Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV. Wilderness experiences hold perils for those unprepared.

A wilderness is not as much geographical as the experience of emotional, relational, or spiritual lack; more than a place, it’s a difficult time – a circumstance and time when your heart feels adrift, your future seems uncertain. Wilderness experiences may be triggered by hurtful misunderstandings, false accusations, serious illness, financial lack, painful divorce, unemployment, loneliness, discouragement, loss of direction, or many things really.

In such wilderness experiences, it is easy to become lost, beginning to think the worst and fear there is no way out. Disappointment – “things not as appointed” -leads to discouragement; discouragement brings disillusionment; disillusionment results in despair.

Israel’s wilderness was a detour they chose out of fear and lack of trust, yet God was there with them. A wilderness was neither God’s intention nor their final destination, just an experience along their journey. “He . . guided them in the wilderness like a flock; and He led them safely, so that they did not fear . .” Psalm 78:52-53 NKJV. In every uncertain time, be sure of God and His Word.

The wilderness can weaken you, leaving you vulnerable. Very honestly, the Bible says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1-3 NKJV. Read Luke 2:4-13 NKJV. When the Devil appealed to Jesus’ humanity – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16-17 NKJV) – and misapplied the Holy Scriptures, Jesus responded clearly and firmly with the truth. Indeed, the “truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV. Here is the good news: “[Jesus] was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV. Jesus identifies with your struggle and invites you to identify with His success.

Jesus prevailed by knowing, trusting, and confessing God’s Word; that’s the same way and only way you will prevail in your wilderness experiences. The Bible is your wilderness survival guide. Luke reports, “And Jesus returned [from the wilderness] in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 4:14 NKJV. In your wilderness, you will not be alone; with the Word of God within and the Holy Spirit empowering, and God alongside, you will come out of the wilderness in the power of the Spirit with your faith intact.

My prayer for you this day is that you will walk with God confidently.

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