Monday, August 24, 2009

Peace in Trials

James 1:2-4 (The Message): Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Last week, this blog was about finding peace in the midst of trials. It does seem everyone is going through something these days. I have learned that I can have horrific circumstances and have perfect peace and contentment, knowing God is in control. There are other times when just the smallest thing causes extreme turmoil within me. Have you noticed that happening in your own life?

I believe the difference is whether or not I have left the entire situation in God's hands. There are times when I give things to him and take them back. Have you heard the story of the little girl who had a broken doll? She gave it to her dad to repair. Yet, she would not take her hands off of it. That's me sometimes. How can I expect God to take care of things if I don't leave it with Him.

When I truly let things go, I am able to walk in perfect peace, no matter how difficult the storm. Last week we talked about journaling. In times when I am having a hard time letting go, God knows it anyway, so getting it out on paper really does help me gain a better perspective.

Another thing I do is find scriptures that apply to my situation. I put them on 3x5 cards and put them in various places around my house so I can pray them often. Romans 10:17 tells me that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so I must hear it so I can believe it.

Even though at times I have struggled with believing, by praying scriptures daily, eventually something happens. It's like scales fall off of my eyes, and I really believe what I'm praying.

Listening to worship music and singing words of praise to God, even when I don't feel like it also help me! There have been times when I had to force my mouth open, but when I did, it got a little easier with each note. As I sang sacrificially to God, His presence flooded me in a way I can't even describe, and supernatural peace was finally mine. I love Psalm 50:23. It says, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."

It also helps to have a friend to share my burden with (Gal. 6:2) -- someone who will stand with me and encourage me. However, I'm not a fan of sharing all the details with everyone who comes along. I feel it just emphasizes the problem if I talk about it that much. I need to be dwelling on God's promises -- not my circumstances.

I know this is not an exhaustive list. Are there things you do that I have not listed that really helps you while going through trying times? I would love to read your comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HELP! I Need Peace

Philippians 4:6-7 (God's Word Translation): Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God's peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

The last couple of weeks, I have talked with many who seem to be going through struggles of some sort. Whether your trial is physical, financial, emotional or due to circumstances beyond your control, God wants to give you more peace than you can even imagine.

It sounds like a simple formula -- just rejoice, give your requests to God and then you will have peace! Have you ever found yourself feeling so gripped with fear that you could not even open your mouth -- you felt paralyzed? What did you do to move from that place?

For me, I've found journaling to be a tremendous help. As I write down my concerns and empty those thoughts that play like a horror movie through my mind, something refreshing starts to happen. Scriptures I've memorized before start to resurface, and I'm able to rise above the circumstances and trust God.

David was a good example for us. In Psalm 43, after journaling about his despair, David was able to say, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing God's Word. Sometimes my mind has to be emptied of all the other voices to really hear the Word. Then instead of just words on a page, they become alive, and I am able to have peace in the midst of the stormy circumstances.

My next blog post, I will discuss other things I do in times of trial. In the meantime, I would be interested in hearing what helps you when you are struggling.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reach Out & Touch Someone

John 16:13: But when he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

One thing I pray daily is that God will prepare me for the day. I give him permission to interrupt my plan with His own. His Word says the Spirit of truth will guide me. I will admit, I don't really like interruptions. I like marking things off my list, but I've learned His agenda is so much better than mine.

There are times friends come to my mind. When that first started happening I would just think, "I wonder what is going on with them," and go back to what I was doing. I learned the hard way, it is often God wanting me to pray for and maybe even contact them.

Today I read the story in Acts 10 about Cornelius. He was a Gentile -- a devout, god-fearing man, and in a vision an angel instructed Cornelius to send for Peter. The angel could have shared more, but instead God chose to use Peter.

Is there someone God has chosen you to encourage today? Even a text message or quick email can speak volumes to a person who is struggling. I'm not asking you to preach a sermon--only to let people know you care. Just expressing you are thinking about them is often enough to make them feel refreshed.

Ask God today who is on His mind and heart and be willing to pray for them and possibly reach out.

I would love to hear your comments!