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Posts Tagged ‘refuge’

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 Company of Friends

June 7th, 2017

Navigating difficulties requires the support of friends.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“The Company of Friends.”

Trouble is a common experience. You won’t always cause it. You won’t always enjoy it. But you can and must learn from it. Trouble is never enjoyable, but it can yield a maturity of life and faith that is learned in no other way. Trouble can be faced with faith, not fear. The Bible says, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow.” Read James 1:2-5 NLT.

According to James, there are three elements which develop character and spiritual growth. Trouble – on occasion, everyone experiences troubled times or troubling people. Time – you must exercise patience and endurance to rightly learn from trouble. Truth – Godly perspective brings wisdom. Trouble is something you will have; time is something you must give; truth is something you must learn and in which you must be confident.

Among the things I have learned about trouble, this is most important. Navigating difficulties successfully requires the company and support of friends. Solomon wrote, “Two are better than one . . if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble . .” Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT. Value those friends who will accompany you in your struggles and sorrows. Everyone needs someone alongside on their journey.

When you face troubled times or troubling people, which the Bible calls, “tribulation and persecution,” there are two questions your soul ponders about friendship. Are you there for me? And, do you care for me? Prize the gift of those friends who offer their company and compassion when you struggle most. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need . . As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 17:17/27:18 NLT.

Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NLT. Be that kind of friend to others. My Dad taught me a valuable lesson about the responsibility and mutuality of friendship. By his words and example, he taught me that, “You will have the kind of friends that you choose to be for others.”

I have learned the irreplaceable value of friendships. Friendship is a treasure not available for purchase or barter, and a treasure nothing else can replace. I am grateful for friends who have invited me to share their lives and inspired me to live the best version of God’s plan for my life.

Fortunately, even when no one else can be there for you – when they cannot, or will not – God is there! “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV. Though the dearest of friends may not be able to be near, God can and will be there for you always. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear . .” Psalm 46:1-2 NIV. Though any circumstance and emotion may suggest differently, God is ever present. Always cares. Always there. “For God Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be confident in God and His care for you.

Christian Communications 2017-6810

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Fragile Hearts and God’s Comfort

May 28th, 2016

“May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise.” Psalm 119:76 NIV.

Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

My thoughts today are about, “fragile hearts and God’s comfort.”

There are times when life should come with a warning, “Fragile, handle with prayer.” Life can be painful; people can be fragile. Life will hold its share of bumps and bruises. When your heart is breaking, when difficulties multiply, when problems overwhelm, when you think you cannot make another day, you can know and trust the God of all comfort. God always handles people with care. You or someone near you needs God’s comfort today.

If you have seen a mother comfort a sick or fussy child, or a father gather a frightened toddler into his arms, you were watching God at work. Nothing comforts a child like its mother’s arms, held close to her heart, and hearing her familiar, comforting voice. The crying stops and the child settles, resting quietly and safely in familiar arms. That’s a practical and tender picture of what God does for any child of His. God comforts them.

I have watched elderly saints struggling with pain that no medication seems to ease until God invisibly takes them in His arms and whispers His words of peace and assurance. I have witnessed families gathering at a graveside where hearts are aching and tears flow, until God touches broken hearts and they begin to heal. Remember, “The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” Deuteronomy 33:27 NLT.

Jesus said, “I will pray to the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever . . the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” John 14:16-17/26. The word is also translated, “helper, counselor, encourager.” Comfort expresses God’s character even more than describes His compassion.

Run quickly to, “the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV. His comfort to you is to overflow to others. “May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, Who loved us and in His special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say.2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NLT. God’s heals your hurt to empower you to bring healing to others. A simple prayer, word of encouragement, or expression of practical care can be an immeasurable comfort to others.

Today, I pray for you to experience God’s loving care and healing comfort.

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Christian Communications 2016

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Friends

October 23rd, 2015

“A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

The wise person knows where and from whom they will receive help and healing.

My thoughts and comments today are about “friends.”

Maybe you would recognize the theme song of Cheers, a television program popular from 1982-1993. “Making your way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got; Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same; you want to be where everybody knows your name.” The odd lot of likable characters found a sense of family and friendship in the iconic Boston Pub.

When life feels increasingly bewildering and unfriendly, you will seek the company of others, “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” When you need refuge while you sort out life, where do you go? Some choose a busy, noisy place to drown out their own thoughts and concerns. Others like a quiet place alone where they can reflect and consider. But all seem to appreciate the reassuring company of people who welcome them whatever the time or trouble. See Proverbs 27:17 NIV.

Luke reports a time soon after Pentecost when Peter and John were brought before the prevailing, religious authorities and threatened to cease their bold declaration of the deity and resurrection of Jesus. Read Acts 4:1-21 NKJV. This was a threat of no small concern. “When they further threatened them, they let them go . . and being let go, they went to their own companions.” Acts 4:23/31 NKJV. Their response was to seek out the company of friends.

What is your immediate response when you find yourself in unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or unsafe situations? Gordon MacDonald authored, “Restoring Your Spiritual Passion,” a book of spiritual influence in my life. He proposed that every person needs three things when confusion or conflict comes and your joy of life wanes: (1) a map marking safe places where you find out who God is, (2) a calendar reserving still times when you can hear what God says, and (3) the names of special friends who encourage you to obey what God asks. “A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 AMP.

But let me be clear, it’s not just any friends. The company with which Jesus’ followers gathered were people of like faith – friends filled with the Spirit of God (Acts 4:31), friends of one heart and soul (Acts 4:32), and friends who were selfless, even sacrificial (Acts 4:32). Similarly, en route to imprisonment at Rome, Paul was thankful for friends, “The brothers and sisters in Rome had heard we were coming, and they came to meet us at the Forum on the Appian Way. Others joined us at The Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Acts 28:15 NLT.

Friends include you in their lives. Jesus elevated the stature and privilege of friendship when He said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 NIV. Those kinds of friends continue to restore and strengthen my faith every day.

Today, I pray for you to have valued and reliable friends for the best and worst of times.

Christian Communications 10137
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The Capacity to Regress

July 28th, 2014

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do.” Romans 7:15 NIV.

Your capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the capacity to regress.”

At times, I am bewildered by how little I really understand about myself. While feeling proud of my progress, I am puzzled by the ease with which I revert to ways and habits I previously found unworthy. As old as I am, that still perplexes me, as it did Paul, “I do not understand what I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV. I surrender progress achieved with much effort and diligence, and find myself closer to where I was than where I need to be. My capacity to regress to unprofitable behaviors is a besetting temptation.

When where you have been still holds attraction, the path of progress can be challenging. Read James 1:12-15. Temptation alone is not sin, but spiritual maturity and Godliness are measured by your recognition and rejection of any temptation to regress to familiar yet ineffective ways of coping with everyday life.

You will never find confidence or growth by returning to options once familiar and places formerly comfortable. As danger threatened or opposition arose, Israel looked over their collective shoulder with misplaced fondness for what they left behind in Egypt. “In their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39. Read Nehemiah 9:9-17.

Before judging Israel harshly, consider your own temptation to return to negative emotions, old prejudices, wrong attitudes, unworthy appetites, unholy ambitions, or unhealthy habits. Paul encouraged and warned the Galatians, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1.

Let me suggest some Biblical examples of regression and suggest their causes, (1) Complicated discipleship, “From that time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” John 6:66-69. (2) Competitive affections,Demas has forsaken me having loved this present world.” 2 Timothy 4:10. (3) Confusing circumstances, After Jesus’ death and reports of His resurrection, Peter and other disciples returned to fishing. See John 21:1-5. A vulnerable time is when disappointment in people or situations and the resulting discouragement dissuade you.

Maybe today you identify with the Apostle Paul in his struggle with bewilderment. Paul wrote, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I allow . . for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15-21 NIV.

In the succeeding verses, Paul confessed his despair over his spiritual frailty.  “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25 NLT. I suggest three spiritual practices that bring clarity during bewildering times: God’s Word, (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV), Jesus’ example, (Hebrews 4:14-16), and the Holy Spirit’s empowering, (Acts 1:8/Romans 15:13). In your panic, the answer may first appear to be running back to your weaknesses; God’s answer is fleeing to a safe refuge – into the arms of God. See Proverbs 18:10/Psalm 27:5/91:1-2.

Today, my prayer for you is to set progress as your highest, spiritual priority.

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