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Stress and Distress

October 31st, 2017

When Life is not easy God’s grace is sufficient

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“stress and distress.”

You and I live in a world of unceasing and increasing stress. Stress is harmful. Stress does a lot of things, none of which are helpful. Stress accelerates your heart rate, increases blood pressure, manufactures anxiety, creates mental and emotional exhaustion, steals peace of mind, and destroys health. Stress is from the emotions you feel when the pressure seems overpowering. Hurry and worry result.

The eventual consequence is distress. Naturally, everyone would prefer no problems. No worries. No uncertainties. But no troubles equal no growth and result in little or no faith. Written years earlier, these lyrics provide a faith perspective about problems, “If I never had a problem, how would I know that God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God can do. But through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus; I’ve learned to trust in God. I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.” (Through It All, Andrae Crouch).

The Psalmist, David wrote, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalm 119:143 NLT. God’s Word and truth is where you find wisdom. Don’t wish your problems away. Learn from them. Learning brings enlargement. The truth you learn by personal experience is truth that you will not soon forget. Life is better when you experience truth firsthand rather than trusting secondhand opinions from others.

Whenever David experienced distress, he also discovered something more about his God. God was there and His love did not wane, nor were His grace and power diminished. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as, “distress,” describes, “pressure or narrowness of room.” Trouble narrows your view, appearing to lessen your options and exaggerating your distress.

The Psalmist cried out to God, “When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, You gave me room; now I’m in trouble again. Grace me! Hear me!” Psalm 4:1 MSG. A more current expression would be this, “between a rock and a hard place.” Today, we call that stress. You won’t find rest and understanding until you turn to God. Why does it take us so long before we look to the only One who is all-knowing and always has sufficient grace and power?

Could there be times that God does not quickly deliver you from your distressing situation but allows circumstances to grow increasingly uncomfortable and confining until you will look to Him, and listen to Him, and embrace and obey His good will? “Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:1 NLT.

Even when in distressing times or circumstances, be confident. God can enlarge you in your distress. “God, You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1 AMP. His grace can give you needed relief, providing room to breathe and believe again. His power can push back the realities that press too tightly upon you, allowing you room to recover and regroup.

Life is not fair, but God is eternally loving and just. When life is not fair, God is righteous.  God promises, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV. When life is not easy, God’s grace is sufficient. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT.

Today, I pray for you to call on God in your distress and lean on Him in your weakness.

Christian Communications 2017-0707

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A Sabbath Life

June 10th, 2016

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious.

“God ended His work . . and He rested.” Genesis 2:2 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “a Sabbath life.”

Work is an unavoidable, important piece of everyday life; yet it is just not meant to be the only piece. God gave the first work assignment to Adam. See Genesis 2:8-15 NLT. God placed Adam in the midst of a bountiful garden, “to tend and watch over it,” instructing Adam to partner in all God had created. Partnering with God in His will and purpose is your life’s work. You do so in your daily circle of influence and opportunity He has given you.

Your work is your assignment of ministry and your ministry assignment certainly includes your daily work. When your work is different from your Godly assignment, you are neither happy nor fulfilled. Without a sense of assignment, you lack the understanding of what you are doing, the clarity of why, and the conviction that you serve the Lord God. Labor was meant to be fruitful and productive in what God entrusts to your hands. If you read Genesis carefully, you will note that labor, as did most of life’s responsibilities, became hard “work.” I find it interesting that because disobedience, God told the woman that her act of birthing would be with pain and man’s work would be with sweat and struggle. Both of which we now call “labor.” Read Genesis 3:16-19 NLT.

At creation, God established a Sabbath principle by His own example and later established the Sabbath principle in His Law, the Ten Commandments, “six days you shall work, and on the seventh, rest.” Read Exodus 20:8-11 NIV. Life is designed for a natural, complementary rhythm of both work and rest. Life is better lived when you are diligent in your work and provide ample room in your schedule for the principle of Sabbath. “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you . . we encourage you to do so more and more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 NLT.

Sabbath is the attitude in which you live your life before God and others. Here is Jesus’ simple, straightforward invitation: “Come to Me, all of you are who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest . . you will find rest for your souls.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NLT. Rest is more than inactivity. Jesus could say, “The One who sent Me is with me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” John 8:29 NIV. A Sabbath life is found in doing only what “pleases Him.” Rest for the soul comes from knowing what you should be doing and doing so as unto the Lord.

Life was intended to be neither hectic nor laborious. When your work becomes unsatisfying, wearying, or worrisome to you, you have lost perspective or misplaced priorities. If your goals are not being achieved however hard you work, your goals are not the same as His goals for you. When your life feels out of order, prayerfully check your priorities and activities and adjust accordingly.

Today, I pray for you to enjoy your work and rest as equally satisfying.

EDL Sabbath

 

Christian Communications 2016

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Fatigue

February 27th, 2015

“Come to Me . . and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “fatigue.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” No one can do their best or be their best when tired. Fatigue negatively impacts everything. Fatigue has been described as, “a shortness of breath in one’s soul.” That kind of describes it for me. When I grow tired, I am more negative, less prone to see solutions than problems. At such times, motivation is difficult to muster. I am less patient with myself and others. Fatigue adversely affects your emotions, attitudes, behavior, decisions, and relationships.

The busyness and unrelenting pace of daily life are exhausting. Everybody knows what it means to just feel tired of being tired. When fatigued, you are affected physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. There is that which exhausts the soul as well as wearies the body. Everything grows more difficult; even things you would otherwise find enjoyable or easy are more taxing when tired. Weariness worsens when you do not know when or where you will again find rest.

The worst fatigue is beyond physical; it is a deep weariness of soul that only God can heal. Daniel prophesied of a future time which would, “wear out the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:25 KJV. Does that sound a bit like this generation? Keep your objectives clear; remember that reward and satisfaction follows obedience. God’s Word gives clear direction. Isaiah discovered, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest. This is the refreshing . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Isaiah 28:12/40:28-31 MSG. Time in God’s presence rejuvenates the soul. The practical exercises of prayer, Bible meditation, worship, singing, thanksgiving, confession, and personal reflection elevate and refresh the spirit of man. Practice those frequently and faithfully.

You were created to be productive, but God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for seasons of rest. “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in the plowing season and in harvest you must rest.” Exodus 34:21 NIV. The busy, demanding times of planting, as well as harvest, would seem unlikely times for rest. Wouldn’t immediacy and importance of task dictate that you persevere? But God cautions that despite the urgency of preparing the soil for planting or when reaping the harvest, you need to follow the Sabbath principle of timely rest. The Sabbath principle is not a suggestion. God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, by keeping it holy.” Exodus 20:8 NIV. You ignore God’s instruction to your own harm.

Many things will deplete your inner resources, until you embrace God’s invitation, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . And you will find rest for your soul.” Read Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Rest for your soul is the only cure for weariness of soul, and that rest is found through unhurried time with God. St. Augustine, Christian theologian (354-430 AD), is reported to have written, “My soul is not at peace until it finds its rest in Thee.” Maybe you have been looking in all the wrong places for what can only be found in God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are confident where to find inner rest for your soul.

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Tired of Being Tired

July 11th, 2014

“Come unto Me all who are weary . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 NIV.

Life is exhausting when you do not know when or where you will find true rest.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “tired of being tired.”

Vince Lombardi, famed coach of the Green Bay Packers said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Fatigue affects everything you feel and do, both your attitudes and actions. Everyone knows what it means to feel tired – tired of working, tired of responsibilities, tired of bills, tired of problems, or tired of conflict. You are never at your best physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, when weary. Weariness makes everything harder, only adding further to your tiredness; even things you would find easy are more taxing when already tired. Life is exhausting when you do not know when or where you will find true rest. Eventually, you just feel tired of being tired.

I think that even things you want to do can be tiring, and the worst tiredness is not just physical. There is a weariness of soul that is worse. “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for you will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.” Galatians 6:9. Keep your goals and objectives clearly in focus, remembering why you are doing what you are doing and with expectation that reward and satisfaction will follow proper completion.

You were created to be fruitful and productive but also, God wisely built into your emotional and spiritual DNA the requirement for rest, “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.” Exodus 34:21. Planting and harvest would seem the least likely times to seek the luxury of down time. But God says that, both when preparing the soil for planting and when finally reaping the harvest from your efforts, you need to observe the Sabbath principle of rest. The Sabbath principle is not optional; God commanded, ”Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. Ignore that at your own peril.

When truly tired, you will be more negative about situations, more prone to see problems rather than solutions. When tired, motivation is difficult, and hopefulness is elusive. You will be less patient with yourself and others, poor company for those around you. Distinguish things that unnecessarily weary you. Worry, unmet needs, unfinished work, personal conflict, unforgiveness, sinfulness (See Isaiah 57:20-21 NKJV), discouragement, or unrelenting busyness will always deplete your personal, inner resources, unless you choose to live by God’s counsel. Bring them all to Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” St Augustine, 4th Century.

Are you finally tired of being tired? Rest is found, not in a place, but in a Person. “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened . . and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. The Bible says, “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you . . Those who wait upon God get fresh strength; they run and don’t get tired; they walk and don’t lag behind.” Psalm 116:7 NKJV/Isaiah 40:31 MSG.

Today, my prayer for you is that you know when and where to find true rest for your soul.

o7228

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Make Room for People

September 9th, 2013

“Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman.”  2 Kings 4:8 NKJV.

What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.

My thoughts and comments today are to “make room for people.”

Be careful; without realizing it, your life can become too small, or too busy, or so self-centered that you have room only for yourself. That lifestyle is selfish, unsatisfying, and eventually lonely. Making room for other people is an intentional lifestyle issue. The Bible is clear; “Therefore as [you] have opportunity, do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10 NIV. Jesus promised that whatever good you do for others is credited as being for Him, but also warned that neglect of others is negligence toward Him. “I assure you, when you did it to the least of these . . you were doing it to Me . . when you refused to help the least of these . . you were refusing to help Me.” Read Matthew 25:34-46 NLT.

In the Old Testament, there is an otherwise anonymous lady who lived in Shunem, a small, unspectacular village. But the Bible described her as, “notable.” Read 2 Kings 4:8-10 NKJV. Of the many words to describe a person; I think “notable” may be one of the best. Blessed are those who make room in their heart and home for others.  This woman can be described as “notable” because room for others in her heart and life provided a spare room in her home. “Let’s make a little room for [this holy man of God] . . and furnish it with a bed, a table and chair, and a lamp.” (Verses 9-10 NLT). She provided for his comfort, and more. From her practical furnishings – “a bed, table, and lamp” – I suggest three simple applications. She provided Elisha room for rest, refreshment, and revelation.

Make room for people to be rested. For those spiritually and emotionally drained from the cares of life: their struggles, failures, sorrows, or regrets, make room in your heart and life where others find shelter recovery. You can be a living example of Jesus’ invitation, “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened . . and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV. Proper rest renews vigor, hope, and fresh resolve in a person’s heart.

Make room for people to be refreshed. For those with a soul hunger for forgiveness, acceptance, friendship, understanding, hope, or practical help, make room in your life where others are refreshed in spirit. Your welcome and invitation to them becomes Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NKJV.

Make room for people to receive revelation. For those where questions and doubt have darkened their spirit, make room in your life for them where light and illumination reveals truth and hope. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father . . children of God . . [who] shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.” See Matthew 5:14-16 NLT/Philippians 2:15-16 NKJV.

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes Me . . whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these because he is My follower will certainly receive a reward.” Read Matthew 10:40-42 NLT. A friend of mine explained that principle, “What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you.”

My prayer for you today is that your heart and home are open to God and others.

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