Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Love Lessons

I’m skewered by texts. The family issues first mentioned in my blog titled Focus continue. I do what I always do, what I’ve always done – I grieve and talk to the Lord.

Me: I’m wounded, Lord. This situation really hurts. (Is there anything in the Bible about being wounded I ask myself. When I see the first verse that pops up, I smack myself in the forehead. Duh.)

Jesus: Take heart. I was wounded so you can be free. The Romans lashed my body so all could be healed. When they crushed the crown of thorns down on my head, it was for your peace of mind. I long for everyone to be whole. (Isaiah 53:5)

Me: Yes, but it’s someone I love. Someone close to me. Someone I trusted.

Jesus: I know. I get it. It was my close friend, remember? Someone I trusted, who ate my bread, who walked with me, who laughed and talked with me, who lifted up his heel against me. It’s hard, isn’t it? (Psalm 41:9)

Me: But, Lord, what’s being said isn’t true.

Jesus: Think about my trial when I was brought before Pilate. Many people talked about me. They lied. Finally, two men were found who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” They twisted my words. (Matthew 26.61)

Me: So what am I supposed to do? Should I defend myself? No one will listen anyway.

Jesus: Remember when I stood before Pilate? When the leaders brought accusations against me in front of him, I chose to remain silent. He even asked me, “Don’t you hear what they’re saying?” Pilate was surprised when I said nothing. (Matthew 27.14)

Me: I don’t know how you stood there, silent. I wanted you to tell them off just like I want to be catty and snarky right back, to tell my side of things.

Jesus: Grace. My grace is sufficient. My lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough, always available, whatever the situation I’m here right beside you. All of you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Me: What do I do? What can I do?

Jesus: The most difficult thing of all and yet, the simplest. Love. Work at love. Lift patience and kindness. Practice contentment. Put others first. Forgive. Rejoice in truth. Be assured, my love for all of you will not fail.

Me: There’s not anything I may go through that you haven’t already experienced, is there?

Jesus: No, there isn’t. Hope, faith, and love. These three things remain, but the greatest of these is love.

Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:11 AMP


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Fret Not, The Anxiety Cure, God’s 3-Step Plan to Peace of Mind

Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6, 7 NIV)

Worry

Anxiety knocked.

I opened the door.

“Welcome,” I said. “I sensed you might stop by today. Have a seat. I’ll put on the tea kettle.”

Even before she sat down, Anxiety jumped right in. “What are you going to do about money?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” I wrung my hands. “I could work. I want to work.” My thoughts started spinning. “Not really full time and not at a retail store. But I’ll do – whatever.”

“It’ll run out – eventually – and then what?” Anxiety goaded. “It’ll be too late then.”

I agreed wholeheartedly as the whirlwind accelerated.

We sipped our tea.

“Your husband,” Anxiety whispered knowing she treaded on thin ice here, “he doesn’t really get it. He’s oblivious.”

“Or,” I quickly countered, “He knows God will care for us.”

Anxiety smiled that smug “as if” smile of hers. “You should look for a job now. Push ahead. Don’t wait.”

The whirlwind spiraled.

“Yes,” I said. “I will. I am. I have.”

She finished her tea and drew back for the sucker punch. “You probably won’t even find one, you know.”  Anxiety pummeled me. “It’s your age. Your experience. You cost too much. Why hire you when they can get someone much cheaper?”

“I’ll accept cheaper.”

Ignoring me, she continued. “Plus your skill set is too broad. You worked all those years and for what?”

As I added my own accusations, the tornado force winds spun me off the ground. “It’s a shabby, gray, just-get-by existence for you. You should know better. Hasn’t God always taken care of you? Oh you of so very little faith.”

And so it was I spent a day bemoaning my existence and worrying about the future, my husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and their children, retirement, and the country. Also, my dog, at eight, might have only five or so more years to live, love, and enjoy.

Eventually, it occurred to me that I hadn’t glanced at my Bible in over a week let alone hung-out with my best friend, Prince of Peace. Hmm. With those thoughts, the tornado dispersed and I dropped to the floor

Anyone who lives with anxiety, that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, knows how easily it sneaks up and how difficult it is to quiet. Some of us have lived with it so long, we think it’s normal.

Telling me to stop worrying, like my husband tries to do, is meaningless. If I could stop being anxious by obeying an order, I would. I don’t want to live in this fretful state. I just don’t always remember how to make the spinning stop once it’s started.

In the Amplified Bible, the phrase “fear not” appears fifty-six times, “fret not” and “do not be anxious” four times each. God instructed Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man and conqueror of the Promised Land, to fear not and to be strong and courageous three times in the first nine verses of the book of Joshua.

God knows us, knows how we’re anxious and fretful, so he developed a plan. It’s found in Philippians 4.

Step 1 – Eyes up. Communicate. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests).  Prayer is simply talking to God. Whether I talk, write, or think the prayers, God tells me to bring all of my anxieties, worries, and concerns – everything, no limitations, no conditions –  to Him for He cares for me affectionately and watchfully (I Peter 5:7).

Step 2 – Eyes out. Develop gratefulness. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving.  Thankfulness forces me to look up, around, and outside of myself. It changes the focus from me, myself, and I to the world around me and to the God who made it.

Step 3 – Eyes fixed. Stand firm. Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. It’s not a one-time prayer, at least not for me. We’re in a battle and we need to stay the course, to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking (Matthew 7:7). Before worry starts to assail me, I need to determine in my heart that God has my back and stay focused on Him when the attacks come.

God’s promise in Philippians 4:7 says as we bring our cares to Him, thank Him, and continue in Him, His peace which passes all understanding will garrison and mount guard over our hearts and minds. Isaiah 53:5 says it this way. The chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has already paid the price so that we can have peace, His peace. He said in the world we’ll have trials and tribulations but be of good cheer, He’s overcome it.

Father, – Oh, how I need my heart and mind guarded these days. When anxiety knocks, remind me of this teaching. Help me to immediately turn to you, to trust You will care for me. I give You the specific cares on my heart today and am determined to leave them there. Let your praise be ever on my lips and bubbling over in my heart. You are so good, Lord. Keep my eyes focused on you. Eyes up, eyes out, eyes fixed. Amen. It shall be so.


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Lean on Me

Lean on me when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on. (Bill Withers)

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms. (E.A. Hoffman)

 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 AMP)

KC Leaning

Gramma, Quinn, and KC

It occurred to me during my prayer walk that I need to be m ore like our dog KC.

As a breed, boxers are known to be leaners. They love to be near their humans. KC is part boxer and a big time leaner, all 75 pounds of her. Sometimes, she presses against me so firmly she falls if I move. She pushes in close when she’s happy, scared, or in need of doggie loving. I don’t have to tell her to lean. She just does.

On the couch, she jumps up and places her body so close to mine I’m forced to put my arm around her where, amazingly, my hand falls right on her tummy. There’s no room for it at my side because she’s snuggled in tight under my armpit. She lays her head across my chest, a very happy dog.

In a storm, she comes to me knowing I’ll protect her.

In the quiet, she’s beside me contented in my presence.

It doesn’t matter what is occurring around us. I’m her pack and she stays near me. Even as I write, she’s resting at my feet.

As I walked, I sang Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and pictured my dog. How can I lean into Jesus with the same determination KC presses against me. Like her, not because I have to but because I want to be with Him. To dwell in the secret place, hidden under His wings, safe in His love, my head resting on His chest – now that’s sweet. Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.