Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Week Thirty-Two - There's a Bad Wind Rising

 

Like as the wind fills the sails of a boat, whatever controls us directs our path.

So many Scriptures flood my mind as I read that little sentence encouraging me to consider carefully what wind is blowing through my life. Am I allowing anger to fill my sails? Do I think I have no power to control the wind or change course? Am I like a city without walls, and the wind is blowing everything of value away? Am I yielding to excuses or labels and failing to recognize my responsibility and God's power?

Years ago, God brought a little piece of Scripture to my heart and hammered it into my mind. 1 Corinthians 6:12 reads, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

I can do whatever I want, but not everything is good for me. Not everything is a wise choice. What I choose becomes the wind in my sails. It powers my life and eventually brings me under its power. So, what wind do I want driving my life?

This is the idea of Ephesians 5:17-21. Whatever we are filled with controls us. In this passage, the Lord contrasts being filled with wine or His Spirit.

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."

Let me show you some other things the Bible says we can be filled with.

We can be filled with sorrow. "But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart" (John 14:6).

We can be filled with madness. "And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus" (Luke 6:11).

We can be filled with wrath. "And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath" (Luke 4:28).

We can be filled with fear. "And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day" (Luke 5:26).

You see, many winds fill our sails, but God directs us to cooperate and submit to the wind of His Spirit and His Word. Why? Because allowing ill winds to have sway leads us to undesired havens. We won't find ourselves in a good place if we allow them to bring us into bondage or run us aground.

Romans 6:14 assures us that "sin shall not have dominion over you." We have power in Christ to shift the wind, change direction, and yield control to God instead of whatever ill wind blows across our path.

The thing is, these ill winds aren't satisfied only to affect you or mess up your day. They carry on to misdirecting your marriage, your parenting, your employment, and life decisions. So, choose wisely which winds you allow to blow through your life. Fill your sails with the Spirit of God. Allow Him to control you, and you will arrive at safe harbor!

Lord, fill my sails with Your Spirit and move my life according to Your course, for Your glory.
Amen


Monday, August 1, 2022

Week Thirty-One - Keep It Simple


Let's think a bit today about the idea of keeping things simple. Simple, instead of complicated. Simple, without contaminants. Simple, easy to see or understand, and not clouded by activity, rhetoric, or crafty designs.

What would your day look like if you made that your goal? Maybe you'd choose something simple to wear, have a nice little breakfast, and an uncomplicated schedule. You probably wouldn't be striving to compete and frustrated at every hindrance. Instead, you'd take things in your stride and end the day satisfied you had done your best. Then, after a nice little supper, you'd pillow your head in peace. No fuss. No complications. 

Our days rarely go like this, though, do they? Instead, we fret over what to wear because of who will be seeing us and the image we want to portray. We skip breakfast and rush out the door because we allow the demands of our lives to be more important than a good start to the day. We hustle and hassle all day long with people, ideas, and pressures arriving home too late to enjoy a good supper, so we grab whatever we can find, flop on the couch a while, and wake up the next morning to the same routine. 

Something needs to change! And it begins with re-evaluating our priorities and changing our habits. Lockdown should have helped us in this area, but instead, it looks like we all bolted to the door and re-entered at the same speed or even felt we were behind. We didn't change anything. We didn't take time to re-evaluate and simplify. No, we just kept going and added more stress. We would have been wiser to evaluate what to add back, what to amend, and what to leave behind. Then we could have come through less complicated, less contaminated, and more focused on God's glory.

I can't tell you how to simplify your life because each life is different. But I can encourage you to pare things down, chop down that to-do list, and give yourself some space. Life is not about how fast you get to the end. It's about enjoying the journey. 

Did you know simplicity and contentment are kin? It's hard to have one without the other. So I challenge you to look at your life. Is it simple? Are you content? What is making it complicated? Can you re-adjust some things? What is causing the insatiable drive? Is it pushing you too far? What would your life look like if it was uncomplicated, without contaminants, easy to look at, and unclouded? Why not choose a couple of areas where you can change things around? 

Let me share some suggestions from Adele Calhoun.

1) Simplify things and activities that keep life convoluted, complicated, and confusing.
2) Prioritize your love of God first.
3) Downsize your possessions.
4) Cut back on shopping and uncontrolled spending.
5) Eat simple foods.
6) Enjoy simple pleasures.
7) Remove distractions and preoccupation. 

What will this do for you?

1) You'll have a less cluttered life.
2) You will become a more precise, more distilled person.
3) You will have more space for loving and serving God and others.
4) You'll begin experiencing freedom from envy and entitlement.
5) You'll learn to stake your identity in God's love, not accumulation and possessions.

Those all sound fine, but the most beautiful thing I find about keeping life simple is time. Extra time to enjoy things God has given me and time to sit quietly with a thankful heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-19c is a great reminder - "It is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion...this is the gift of God."

So, dear friend, slow down. Take a breath. Let some things go and enjoy what God has already given you. Make life that simple!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Week Thirty - The Expert Juggler

In one of my videos, I talked about doing a brain dump to regain order in my life. By the way, if you didn't know, I have a YouTube channel, too. Just search my name on YouTube, and they should all come up.

Anyway, I was talking about when life gets scattered and confused, or tough things come, and you can't see your way through. At times like that, it is a good idea to focus only on the most important things, which can sometimes be hard to find. When I'm in that spot, I write down all the balls I am juggling and put them into order - most important, can wait, can get rid of, could complete today, etc. That usually unclutters my thoughts and brings me back on track.

But sometimes, I have trouble getting my balls to stay in the air or fall into a category. They become more like a ball and chain than a juggling ball! Or they won't roll straight or stay where I put them. That's when I am so thankful God is the one directing my steps. He knows where all my balls are and how they are acting.

Do you ever feel like that? To be honest, this usually happens when I create my own problem by taking on too many commitments. But other times, it is a deluge of activities and demands that all land uninvited on my plate. 

But God is the expert juggler. He manages everything. All nature, all our prayers, all kingdoms, and every broken heart are under His commitment. Nothing escapes His attention or is beyond His control. I love to think about that!

Even when my little life seems so scattered and unmanageable, God isn't afraid of it. He isn't intimidated or frustrated. He knows how it will work out. He knows how to keep all the balls juggling! And, He is right beside me.

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Many, many times, I have fallen back on this promise. When life is messed up and confusion sets in, I give the whole thing back to God, and He sorts it out for me. What a relief! He is right there - notwithstanding.

2 Timothy 4:17 says, "Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me." We all need the comfort of that promise because we aren't expert jugglers.

So today, come to Him when life gets messy and you can't see your way forward. Commit your works and let Him sort your thoughts. He will help you see the way forward. He is an expert juggler!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Week Twenty-Nine - It's Too Heavy

Do you have needy people in your life? Do they drain your energy and try your patience? Did you ever think, or do you understand, that God is aware of what they lack and has given you the resources to meet those needs? I hear some of you sighing and feeling the pain of that statement. Sometimes, I also struggle to be the caring and giving individual I hope to be. It can all seem too heavy.

When I feel that way, I remind myself of the truth and pray. God does nothing by accident. Every person that comes through my life is there for a purpose. Iron sharpeneth iron, right? And there are the sandpaper people that God uses to knock off our rough edges. Another quote I copied from somewhere reads, "Look not at the irritation but at the opportunity."

Blackaby says, "When a need surfaces around you, immediately go to the Father and say, "You put me here for a reason. You knew this was going to happen. What did You intend to do through me that would help this person become closer to You?" Recognizing a need in someone's life can be one of the greatest invitations from God you will ever experience. It's easy to become frustrated by the problems of others. They can overwhelm you as you become aware of need after need. Rather than looking at each new problem as one more drain on your time, energy, or finances, ask God why He placed you in this situation. Allow God to help you see beyond the obvious needs of others to the things He wants to accomplish in their lives. Don't miss God's activity because you're reluctant to carry the load of others."

Galatians 6:2 reminds us to carry one another's burdens to fulfill the law of Christ. His law is love. It comes alongside patience, wisdom, perseverance, and a host of other qualities that can only be developed as we exercise them by faith. Pressure causes us to grow when we handle it correctly. That heavy burden just might be God's tool.

Another thing I have found that helps me carry these burdens is to carve out time for them. I set boundaries, but I also designate purposeful amounts of time for these dear ones. I give them my full attention and listen carefully to the Spirit as we talk together so I can point them to hope in Christ. He is the one who will ultimately carry their burden, and they must learn how to find strength in Him.

So, if you have a heavy burden weighing you down today, take it to the Lord, and ask for direction and wisdom. Let me leave you with a couple more thoughts.

F.W. Faber puts a real challenge before us when he says, "Blessed is any weight, however overwhelming, which God has been so good as to fasten with His own hand upon our shoulders."

Scott Wesley Brown wrote - 

There is no problem so big God cannot solve it.
There is no mountain so tall God cannot move it.
There is no storm so dark God cannot calm it.
There is no sorrow so deep He cannot soothe it.
If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders,
I know my brother that He will carry you.

So, dear friend, when it all gets to feeling too heavy, remember, the Lord is carrying you!