TRUST GOD

In The Serenity Prayer column, published the first Friday of each month in 2019, we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our lives today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right…

 

Attitude matters.

Whether we trust that God will make all things right really doesn’t change what God is going to do. What God does is always right whether we trust Him or not. The lesson here is more about how we live in the process while we’re waiting.

Time passes the same.

When waiting for an answered prayer, a new job, a life season to change… we can either be stressed, angry and sick or peaceful, happy and healthy. Either way, the same amount of time will pass from the beginning of the wait to the completion. How I walk it out is up to me.

Simple but not easy.

This principle of trusting God seems so simple. We hear it a lot in Christian circles. But little is taught about how to actually live out this trusting time. The season I’ve been in for the last three years has been one of the hardest in my adult life. It’s been all about waiting for God to make something right out of something that was very wrong. I’ve struggled often with a poor attitude while watching my sweet husband be so positive. Different things are easier for different people.

How to trust.

When I think of trusting, I think of the childhood game where we would fall back into the arms of a trusted friend who would catch us. We knew our friend wouldn’t drop us or let us fall because we believed they cared for us. If we can believe that our girlfriend can love us so much to catch us, why can’t we believe that our God, our Heavenly Father, who loves us even more, will not only catch us when we fall, He will make the circumstances into which we fall be perfect for us! And hose circumstances will then help us rise higher.


Trust in the Lord completely,
and do not rely on your own opinions.
With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
and he will lead you wherever you go. Don’t think for a moment that you know it all, for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion and avoid everything that’s wrong. Then you will find the healing refreshment your body and spirit long for. ~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (TPT)


Let’s not be shaken or disturbed about where we’re going, how we’ll get there or when we’ll arrive.

Fall back.

Trust God.

He has a perfect plan.

He is with us all the way.

 

Contemplate trusting God with this beautiful song by Bethel Music.

FIX YOUR EYES

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes…

 

What we focus on draws our attention. When we focus our eyes on something, we will eventually gravitate towards it. If I am riding a bicycle and start looking at a tree on the side of the path, there’s a good chance I will ride towards the tree.  While driving a car, if we take our eyes of the road in front of us and start looking at something on the side of the road, it’s possible we will run off the road.

What influences our life changes our behavior. In our lives if we focus on the wrong behaviors we will eventually begin to act on those things. If we are hanging around people who have bad habits like drinking, smoking, gambling, using drugs, etc… it’s just a matter of time before those same bad habits will show up in our life as well.

I will meditate on your precepts, 

and fix my eyes on your ways.  

~ Psalm 119:15

By keeping our hearts and minds focused on Christ, keeping God’s Word in front of our eyes daily we will be certain to walk out the right behavior, good habits and attitudes.

Where are your eyes fixed today?

 

Contemplate where your eyes are fixed today with this lovely song by People and Songs.

THE COMFORTER

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.

 

In the shepherd fields of David’s day the sheep depended on their shepherd for everything. Because sheep aren’t very smart creatures they need guidance to food and water; protection from predators and from getting lost or hurt. If a sheep wondered off from the fold they could easily get lost and die.

In his most famous psalm, David uses the rod to represent discipline and protection. While the staff represents grace and comfort.

When a sheep got lost it could look up and see the shepherds staff guiding them back to the fold. Or when a sheep got caught in a bush or a ravine the shepherd could use the crook at the top, which is the staff, to rescue it.

In much the same way God is always ready to guide us when we need it or to correct us when necessary. And with His sweet amazing grace He reaches down and rescues us from a bramble bush when we get caught.

Where can we find our Good Shepherd’s rod and staff today?

How does God guide, discipline and rescue us today

The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
    down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
    better than red, ripe strawberries.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
    and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?

~ Psalm 19:7-11 (The Passion Translation)

Certainly God uses people and circumstances to direct, protect and discipline us. But primarily today God guides us through His living Word: The Holy Bible.

This is why it’s so important that we stay close to God’s Word everyday! As sheep, we’re easily distracted. We may wonder off and put ourselves in a tempting, even dangerous situation.

Just like a loving parent, whose child has wondered away from them, we may need to be rescued and then disciplined. It’s sometimes hard, but we need to see our corrections and rescues as comfort from a loving father.

With this sweet song by Ellie Holbomb contemplate God’s loving arms reaching out to comfort you today.

NOT AS I WOULD HAVE IT

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it…

 

 

The Serenity Prayer is one of the most familiar prayers of all time. Although widely used around the world, it’s primarily known in the addiction recovery communities. While the entire prayer is asking God for help, I believe this particular portion (including last months section), is referring to our most painful moments in life.

Most of life doesn’t turn out the way we want. So we have two choices: to either accept life as it comes or not. This is where most addictions start. Because most of us can’t physically run away from our life, we will mentally or emotionally run away by abusing food, sex, drugs, alcohol, work, shopping, the Internet, social media, video games, etc…

The beginning of recovery step work starts with accepting that we can’t but with God we can. God knows what’s best for us. Some days we want what God wants, but yet we don’t.

We want to accept this painful situation, but how can we?

Scripture tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that lay ahead. Maybe this particular pain we’re going through holds a special blessing for us that will only come when we’ve made it to the other side of the struggle.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. ~ Hebrews 12:2

Just as Christ endured pain and suffering at the hands of people and situations, we too have struggles to endure.

Whether the pain we’re dealing with is from our own personal challenges,   caused by other people or situations out of our control, we often ask… Why?

In times of painful struggles instead of asking why try reciting The Serenity Prayer. Another Scripture confession I like to use during troubled days is this verse below:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~  Philippians 4:13

Hold on to this hope.

Look to Jesus.

Knowing your reward is coming!

We must remember, no matter how hard things are, God’s will is always better than our own. Contemplate letting God’s will be done in your life with this beautiful song by Feast Worship.

 

 

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The seventh step of humility is that we admit with our tongue and are convinced in our heart that we are of less value than others. ~ The Rule of Benedict

If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:30 

 

Benedict’s Rule goes against our grain and most everything we’re taught today. In today’s terminology the seventh step of humility is asking us to make room for personal growth.

This radical self-examination, seeing ourselves as inferior to others, is not to be done in a self-deprecating or undervalued way. However, we are to humbly consider ourself lower than others in the hopes of lifting them and ourselves up to God.

In recognizing our personal limitations we find the first secret to victory. If we can humble ourselves and admit our human weaknesses, see our need for help from God and others, we’re on the right path. Scripture teaches us, God’s power works best through those who know their limitations and who turn their weaknesses over to Him. Those who pridefully think they can do everything on their own strength are in great danger.

Knowing that God’s power shows up when we recognize our weaknesses should give us hope and courage. As we depend more on God for our energy and effectiveness we’ll not only develop stronger Christian character but we’ll deepen our faith and bring God glory to those around us.

As we examine ourselves in comparison to others it may be easy to put ourselves down. However, if we humbly take a balanced look at both our strengths and weaknesses, we can prayerfully put them in God’s loving hands. Then in His perfect timing, with His unlimited power, God will give us what we need to overcome our limitations.

When we give God our limitations, He makes us limitless in His love!

Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:7 (TPT)

Contemplate the limitless love of God with this fantastic song by Colton Dixon.

 

LIGHT TROUBLES

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.*

 

Everyone has troubles in life. Some people expect when they turn their life over to God they will live free from problems. The opposite is actually true. Jesus told us not to be surprised when we encounter problems in this fallen world.

Thankfully God gave us many lessons in Scripture to help us work through our troubles. Here are a few verses that will help us unpack Paul’s teaching:

  1. 1. See troubles as tests to refine our character.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and privies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed  to the whole world. ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7 **

We must accept that troubles are burning away our character flaws; purifying us to be more like Christ. We can be confident that God is directing our lives toward good and will always provide the strength we need to make it through.

  1. 2. See troubles as opportunities to grow and learn.

Brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2-4 **

We don’t want to fake happiness in the face of troubles, but rather we can have a positive outlook knowing the trouble we are enduring are producing good character qualities in our life.

3. See troubles as preparation for your glorious future.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. ~ Romans 8:18

God often uses troubles to test what we are able to withstand. He is testing to see what weight of glory are we prepared to live under. Too much glory, too many blessings on an unprepared life could crush it. But the glory resting on a prepared and fully sanctified life will establish it.

The Apostle Paul gives us great insight into the troubles we will encounter. He wants us to recognize God has a purpose for the troubles we’re going through. Let’s go forward and see our trying circumstances with a different prospective and with a better attitude. We can trust that God is refining our character, giving us opportunities to grow and preparing us for a glorious future with Him!

We hold tight to the promise of new life

Our hope in Jesus Christ will never fail or fall

These light and momentary trials

Are gaining us a prize that far outweighs them all.

~  from Light and Momentary by For All Seasons

Contemplate the momentary trials you’re undergoing. Click and listen to  Light and Momentary  by For All Seasons .

 

*New International Verson

** New Living Translation

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

On the second Friday of each month in 2019 we are studying one of the most memorized chapters in the Bible: PSALM 23. Join me as we bring fresh application of this beloved psalm to our lives.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me…*

 

During the time David wrote this psalm, a traveler going through the desert valley of Judah on foot would often risk their lives. The shadows cast by the mountains may be hiding unknown dangers: lurking bandits or wild animals. But the faithful could be assured that they need not fear because the Lord was near.

Each one of us walks through dark valleys in various seasons of our life. During these times of struggle it’s important that we not compare our valley walk with that of fellow believers. We each struggle in different ways and for different reasons. A dark valley experience for you may not be a dark valley experience for me and vice versa.

I may be going through the toughest season of my life while you seem to be floating along on cloud nine. If I’m not careful I could become resentful and bitter at you and/or God.  What I don’t know is that you may be having a family crisis that you can’t talk about. But all I see is you composed; not stressed or worried.

Others are watching us walk through our valleys.

What are they seeing?

Do they see someone who is bitter, angry and afraid?

Or do they see someone joy-filled and trusting God’s plan for good?

To be honest, this is difficult for me. I must remind myself almost daily to be patient, trust God and know that He loves me and hasn’t forgotten about me. I’m not in this valley alone. This valley has a lesson to build in my faith and character if I will just let it.

There are measures of God’s Presence that you can only experience in the valley. ~ Bill Johnson

The dictionary defines a shadow as a dark figure or an image cast on a surface of a body intercepting light. What’s intercepting the Light in your life today?

Maybe your valley seems dark because God’s Presence is so near protecting you under His wing.

If you are walking through a dark valley today take a few minutes to contemplate God’s Presence with this beautiful prophetic worship song by Nathaniel Coe III and Somer Jordan.


*New King James Version

TAKING AS CHRIST DID

In The Serenity Prayer column each month we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is…

 

Taking as Christ did. In this passage of The Serenity Prayer we are asked to take our world as Jesus Christ did. We’re to surrender to God’s will in and for our life. We are to accept the things we cannot change and see that our hardships can be the pathway to Peace if we will accept them with the right heart attitude.

Walk in courage. As we walk in courage, not fear or resentment, God will give us the needed wisdom to make right decisions and to carry the burdens we are to bear. One day at a time, maybe even one moment at a time, we may have to endure hurtful people and difficult situations.

Look to Christ. We can look to Christ Who Scripture says, never trusted himself to man because He knew their fallen state. He took His assignment and for the joy that was to come, endure even the worst death a person could die — crucifixion on a Roman cross.

Follow Jesus’ example. As Christians we are to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, being willing to sacrifice our lives for Him. Our sacrifice may not mean physical torture or death like millions experience every day around the world. But every time we sacrifice our selfish desires, accepting the path put before us, we can know that God sees our heart and efforts and will honor them with His grace to make it through.

Surrender. When Jesus accepted His assignment and came to earth in human form, He demonstrated the ultimate act of surrender and love. He surrendered His authority and power for a time so that He could live as we do. He wanted to experience the temptations, pain and suffering that humanity does. It is here His sacrifice takes on its full meaning of hope. When Jesus took our suffering He cleared our pathway to a direct relationship for us to have with the Father through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ surrendering and taking the world as it is allows us to surrender and receive God’s amazing grace and love.

Prayerfully listen to this powerful worship song by Hillsong. Contemplate taking on the heart attitude of Christ, surrendering all selfish desires… lay them at His feet and He will draw you near.

CONTENTMENT

In observance of my Benedictine Monastic practices, on the last Friday of each month in 2019 we’re walking Saint Benedict’s 12 Steps of Humility. With each step we come closer to our spiritual transformation and the perfect love of God.

The sixth step of humility is that we are content with the lowest and most menial treatment. ~ The Rule of Benedict.

“I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” ~ Philippians 4:12-13

Benedict isn’t approving poor treatment. 

Like much of the Gospel things are backwards in God’s Kingdom compared to what the world would teach. At first glance Saint Benedict seems to be asking us to put ourselves below others in a negative way. It’s true we’re supposed to let others go before us out of respect but not with a self-deprecating manner or attitude. In humility we let go of the part of ourselves that we think is so important; we put others first and become willing to do menial tasks. Then we are able to let God honor us not look for it from people.

Accept life circumstances as they come.

Saint Benedict asks us to follow Christ and what the Apostle Paul teaches us in the Scripture quoted above. We can’t think we are above anyone or any situation in life. We must find peace in the struggle, with God and with ourselves. As we trust God to strengthen us, we can face whatever circumstance comes our way.

Outward situations can’t dictate our happiness.

A humble heart is fixed on God so much that the changing external circumstances of life don’t affect our mood. Our realities don’t dominate our state of mind or spirit. We submit our desires to God’s will in our life for today knowing He has good planned to come from it all.

Humility steps lightly in peace.

“Humility steps lightly, not intent on having the now be more… Humility enables us to see that the present holds riches for us that we have not seen before because our eyes were focused beyond the present moment.” ~ Joan Chittister.

Humility finds contentment in God’s love.

God doesn’t want us to strive for the things of this world. Neither does He want us to strive for His love. We don’t have to do anything for it. God has freely given us His love. He wants us to freely receive what He has already given us. All we have to do is come to God and let Him have all of our heart.

Find contentment. Stop striving. Receive His love today!

Soak in the contentment of God’s love as you listen to this incredibly beautiful worship song by Rita Springer.

RENEWED DAY BY DAY

The third Friday of each month in 2019 we’re studying my favorite life verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15-18. This section of Scripture has proven a solid source of faith for me through many challenges over the past fifteen years. As we work our way through this passage you’ll see it build on the previous phrases all the way to the end.

All this is for your benefit so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day…

 

The faith walk isn’t for the faint of heart. When we look back over our life we will see the days that matured our faith were the ones that were the most difficult. The trials and challenges we undergo are building our faith and character. Even things we’re waiting on are growing us into more Christ-like people.

Spiritual growth is not without pain and suffering. As our scripture states above, we may feel like we are wasting away outwardly, physically. But inwardly, spiritually, we are being renewed each day, maybe even each moment depending on what we are going through. I know I’ve been through situations that just making it through the hour, much less the entire day, was stretching my faith to its limits!

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG)

God doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. He isn’t going to allow us to go through something that He hasn’t already prepared us for. That means this situation, this season of life, may be new to me but God knew it was coming. In this process He’s peeling off a layer of deadness, as it were. God is taking the old me that I know, the old life I’m comfortable with, the old habits that I cling to and making them new. He’s making me new, making life new, making today new!

We are still alive because
the Lord’s faithful love never ends.
Every morning He shows it in new ways!
You are so very true and loyal! ~ Lamentations 3:22-23 (ERV)

Enjoy Danny Gokey’s recent release. See today is a New Day!