Day 31: Stress

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you …” John 14:27

I opened up my Bible word search app and typed in the word stress and what did I find? Hundreds of verse that had this word? No, not a single verse! So, since the Bible does not use this word, then it must not mean anything, right? Wrong!

Since the word stress is not found in the Bible, how do we know how to deal with stress in our lives … because stress is a very REAL thing? Well, there are some very REAL things (sins) that happen to us when we are under stress. So, let us start there.

PEACE: We have a loss of peace, when we are under stress. John 16:33

FEAR: As it affects us mentally and emotionally, we can experience fear and anxiety. Isaiah 41:10

ANGER: We can become irritable and angry very easily and quickly when we are under stress. Ephesians 4:26

WORRY: Since it comes with a lack of peace and increased fear, it will also cause us to worry more. Luke 12:22-23

I like to follow the holistic, natural, or functional medicine doctors. What are they saying today is the #1 key factor in our health … and no, it is not the gut, although it does play an important role? It is STRESS! Stress is defined as a constraining force or influence. It has many sub-definitions, one of which is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension which can play a major role in one’s health.

Stress, just like sin, if left unchecked, can cause almost insurmountable issues. If this is the case … and it is … then we need to find out what are the stressors in our lives and systematically remove them. My life, life in general and life in ministry, carries a heavy load of stress with it. We can be told to de-stress til we can repeat it in our sleep, but that is not going to take care of our stress. We are going to have to start searching for what the key stressors are in our lives.

So, this is what I did. I sat down and listed EVERYTHING that I could think of that was a stressor … external and internal (feelings, thoughts, health, etc). Here is some things that you may find in as your stressors also:

Physical illnesses, Lack of sleep, Overloaded schedule, Rushed from being unprepared, Rushed from being short on time, Not eating properly (enough small meals throughout day to keep blood sugars stable), Not getting any exercise, Listening to demands of others, Marital issues, Child issues, Debt/Financial, Job (boss/co-workers), etc.

Do you believe that Satan just loves to keep us in a stressed-filled and stressed-out state day in and day out? I do! Because it brings our health down … in God’s temple (abiding place), which leads to less effectiveness in ministering and serving our Savior.

Stress CAN be controlled! Now that we know what sins that stress brings into our lives and what the contributing factors are, we can definitely start working toward lowering stress in our lives. What a great weight can be lifted by eliminating stress in our lives!

A-Z Lessons of Life

Good morning, y’all! I just wanted to drop in really quick and give you a brief insight into the devotions for August.

The topic that I have chosen for this month is “Learning Life’s Lessons.” Life is truly about one lesson after another, is it not?

How many lessons have we listened to but did not learn? How many lessons have we studied but still failed? How many lessons have we actually passed?

I believe, that we have easily fallen into the mindset that we are adults now and we are not in school. But, school is in session every single day, my friend, in your life and mine.

May our lives not be filled with failures, but may we LEARN LIFE’S LESSONS

There is LIFE in LEARNING! May we learn our lessons well!

Day 30: Serving

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, doest thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” Luke 10:40

The life of Christ here on earth was filled with serving, was it not? He did not come here to be served, but He came here to serve. Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” He did this as an example for us to follow.

I grew up in ministry and have been in ministry my entire adult life so far and I have seen the pendulum swing (heavily) both ways when it comes to service. On one hand you have those who seemingly are content to fill the pew … when they decide to come to church … and on the other hand, you have those who seemingly spend 42/7 (no, that is not a typo!) “ministering” (serving). Which one is correct? Neither one!

It is just as much a sin to underserve as it is to overserve. Shock! But, it is true! The Bible just told us that in black and white in our verse for today.

There is a principle that we see in Matthew 6:33 that ties in here … “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Did you catch it? It hinges off of the fourth word in this verse. What it is? First, correct?

Do you know what the definition of the word first is? It is something that comes before all others. It is the primary or principle thing, is it not? It outranks all other things. But, do you know what? There are other things! Serving our Savior must be our first and primary priority, but God knows that there must be a balance found as well … because He knows that there are other things that require our time and energy as well.

In verse 39 of Luke 10, it says, “And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” Now, let us go back and reread our verse for today … “But Martha was cumbered about much serving …” It really is, or should not be anyways, a surprise that Luke used the conjunction but here because clearly there is a vast difference between what Mary was doing and what Martha was doing. Correct?

Do you and I not find ourselves caught up in the Martha lifestyle being “cumbered,” or all tied up in knots, over-serving and forgetting that the first part (our first priority) must be our time spent at the Savior’s feet?

I am a slow learner, but I am learning. I am slowly moving forward in my proper service to Him and to others. May you also find yourself in this learning and growing process as well … and may we not forget that then “all these things shall be added unto you.”

We cannot do it alone, but we can do it with Him as our guide!

Day 29: Suffering

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

What is suffering? Who suffers? What kind of sufferings can we experience? How can we bear up through suffering? These are several things that I want us to take a look at today.

What is suffering? Suffering is defined as the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Pain comes in different forms … physical pain from an injury, mental pain, or emotional pain are a few types. Distress is anxiety, sorrow, grief, or heartbreak. Hardship is destitute or deprivation.

Who suffers? All who are in human flesh suffer, do they not? Even Christ, when He was on the earth, suffered (I Peter 4:1).  He was even “tempted” (tested) as we are … Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

What kind of sufferings can we experience? Well, that is a very loaded question and one which I do not have enough space to cover every single kind. But, I will share some and I am sure that many more will come to your mind that could be added.

Poor health; Loss of a child (in miscarriage, in an accident, or from an illness); Infidelity of a spouse; Rebellious teenager; spouse who does not take the spiritual leadership in your marriage or family; drama-filled families (usually over petty things); financial debt; never having enough income to pay bills; death of a spouse;  disillusionment in the church; judgement of others towards you; demanding boss; someone you love distancing themselves from you

How can we bear up through suffering? Well, here are four simple principles that can make a huge difference:

1) Trials come to purge (purify) us of sin Psalm 66:10-11 “For thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.”

2) Learn to gain our strength from God HimselfII Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness …”

3) Learning from our suffering I Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.”

4) Using that experience to be able to help others who are traveling the same road II Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

Day 28: S-E-L-F

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

I hope that you did not jump straight to the text of this devotional and skipped the most important part … the scripture verse. Oops! Well, I will not tell anyone that you are taking a minute to go back and read it now. Oh! You did read it? Well, please take a minute to go back, reread it, and then meditate on it a moment.

What did God show you here? Did you see a pattern laid out in this verse? It is kind of a lengthy verse, I know! Yet, there is such a solid truth found right here in front of us!

“What is it?” you ask. Well, it encompasses this thought … life is ALL about God! Not me. Not self. But, simply God. Can you see it now?

I have been diligently planning and preparing for this year’s fall ladies retreat in Mexico. It is always the highlight of my year! I love to plan and share what God has given me to the ladies there. It is always such a blessing! This is your personal invitation to come join us one year. Typically, it is the last Friday and Saturday of September, but this year we have had to move it to September 13-14.

God always has a way of giving me the theme a year in advance. So, what do you think the theme is for next year (2020)? It will be based out of Galatians 2:20 and it will be “Giving it OWL to God!” I know, that owl does not translate to Spanish in this context, but the thought is what counts.

I enjoy scrolling through Facebook and Instagram from time to time. To be honest, I enjoy it less and less because there is so much out there about S-E-L-F. Self in this sense is so contradictory to the verse that we just read, is it not? Life is NOT about myself, my friend! Life is ALL about God! Do you agree?

· Savior — There is only one who could save me from sins … and it was NOT self! II Corinthians 5:21 “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

· Eternity — There is only one who can give me eternal life … and it is NOT self! John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ …”

· Love — There is only one who loved me enough to give their life for me … and it was NOT self! John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

· Faith — There is only one whose faith in counts … and it is NOT self! Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

Day 27: Confidence

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” Hebrews 10:35

There are so many times in life where we are faced with important decisions and once that decision is made, we still have to wait for the fruition of that, correct? Who loves the waiting game? No hands?! Yeah, mine was not up either!

Really the only instant thing in life is salvation. Growing, learning and maturing take time. Starting training for a career, starting a family, looking for your first home, buying your first car, starting a business, planting a garden, learning a new skill, etc. All of these are decisions that we make but then have to wait for completion, correct?

So, during that waiting time, what do we need? Confidence, am I right? We need the confidence to see with eyes that believe and eyes that trust that the final product or event will take place.

In the beginning, there is usually a lot of excitement for what will be forthcoming. But, as time wains on, it is hard to keep up the excitement and the confidence that things will ever be fulfilled. I am going through one of those times right now in my health journey.

We need to be able, with confidence, continue forward even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel to guide us or to give us hope. Our hope must remain in Him who giveth life and giveth us all things.

I have recently made some very positive changes in my health regime. I know that what I am doing is very good for my body and my health, but yet there are many days and many moments where I find myself floundering in doubt. Maybe there is an area in your life where you are struggling as well. Do not give up hope, my friend! Keep your confidence! Keep your belief and trust strong!

¨ Psalm 42:11 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

¨ Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

¨ Psalm 119:114 “thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.”

¨ Romans 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope. And hope maketh not ashamed …”

¨ Lamentations 3:24 “The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.”

¨ Micah 7:7 “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.”

¨ Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Day 26: Pride

An high look, and a PROUD heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” Proverbs 21:4

Pride is a very controversial word these days in our society. It has taken on many meanings and connotations. But, the pride that I want us to look at today is the one found here in this verse. It is the “high look.” The one which forces our nose and chin up into the air. Yep! You have seen this one before, have you not?

To be PROUD means “to be puffed up about your accomplishments; to think highly of yourself (that you are better or too good to do certain things); to trust in your own self and disregard the instruction of others (you think that you know better than others, especially those in authority over you).”

Pride is a powerful tool of the devil that can quickly and dramatically bring a child of God down in defeat. Pride can even be seen in a child of a very young age. Have you ever seen one who was so determined to climb a step or tie a shoe or ride a bicycle without help? There it is rearing its stubborn head right before your eyes … and in one so young.

What about we as adults? Do we let pride control our lives? Umm, I believe that we can claim a resounding, “YES!” on that one.

Pride can actually infiltrate many areas of our lives. We may be aware of one area, but have we checked all of the areas? When we went searching for pride in our lives, did we search every room? Did we search under every rug and behind every door? Well, let us see …

· In our finances – Do we trust God enough to give Him our 10%? Malachi 3:10a “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house …”

· In our friends – Are we are afraid that God won’t give us any friends, so we grab anyone who we can, whether they are a good influence on our lives or not? Proverbs 16:28 “A froward man soweth strife; and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

· In our time – Do we demand “ME first?” I Corinthians 10:24 “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”

· In our sin – Are we willing to admit that we are wrong and ask for forgiveness, when needed? I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

· In our relationships – Do we think that we know more than our peers, our spouse, our pastor, or those in authority over us? Proverbs 3:7 “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.”

Day 25: Deadly D’s

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

I know I have done a lesson … well, a mini-series of 30 lessons actually … on the Deadly D’s, but I believe, that we need to focus on several that I see popping up in our lives as Christians.

The devil desires nothing more than to beat us down with these Deadly D’s. But, we are going to fight back, are we not? In order to do that though, we must equip ourselves (gain knowledge of these deadly darts that the devil hurls at us). We can gain victory in these areas!

¨ Doubt: means a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction — Romans 14:23 “And he that doubteth is dammed if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

¨ Discouragement: means depression of one’s spirit — Psalm 42:5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

¨ Distraction: means diverted; confused; lack of focus; not focused on the proper thing — Matthew 14:28, 30 “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water … But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”

¨ Detour: means not the main, direct route; a roundabout way — Jonah 1:2-3 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa …”

¨ Discontent: means unhappiness of the condition of things — Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

¨ Dishonest: means untruthful — Romans 12:17b “… Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”

¨ Depression: means feelings of severe despondency — Proverbs 12:25 “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop …”

I do not know about you, but I have seen some of these in recent days in my life. Seeing them here defined and scripture that talks about them, makes me realize how deadly they can be if I leave them unchecked.

Let us find strength from God today to overcome these Deadly D’s! Let us send the devil on the run and let God give us the victory!

Day 24: Soldier

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” II Timothy 2:3

Most of us are probably familiar with the hymn, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Well, it was written in the mid-1860’s by Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. He was born in 1834. When he was a child, his father was in a bad carriage accident that left him crippled for the rest of his life. Since his father was unable to work, he traveled and took Sabine with him.

Sabine did not receive much formal education due to the constant traveling as a child, but he was a very brilliant young lad. Even though he was self-taught, he had a very sharp and active mind which led him to write many books, articles, poems, hymns, and tracts.

This hymn was planted in the mind of Sabine one Sunday after seeing a baptismal group “march” in their flowing white robes to the baptismal area. It reminded him of soldiers marching off to war. So, later when he was needing to write a marching style hymn for Sunday School, the words flowed freely from his remembrance of this scene.

I know that we talked about the armor of a soldier in the devotional on day 4 and this devotional on the characteristics (character traits) of a soldier probably should have preceded or followed that one, but we will focus on it today instead.

So, what are the character traits that our life as a Christian soldier should portray? First, let us look at the definition of a soldier. A soldier is one who is a member of an army; one who stands up for a certain cause and fights, if needed. Wow! That should be you and I as Christians, should it not?

1) One who not only FIGHTS, but represents (stands up) for a certain cause

2) One who has great INTEGRITY (one who is honest/tells the truth, is not under-handed)

3) One who is DEPENDABLE (one you can trust to always do what they say they will do)

4) One who looks out for the best of OTHERS

5) One who makes WISE decisions

6) One who shows INITIATIVE (one who does not wait to be told what to do, but sees what needs to be done and does it)

7) One who has TENACITY (one who holds firm to what is right; one who does not back down by pressure from others)

8) One who is FAITHFUL (one who is always there; they are never missing)

9) One who FOLLOWS (God)

10) One who stays FOCUSED (they know what needs to get done and they do it before they allow themselves time off, time to do other things or time to relax)

So, how is your life looking right now? How many of these character traits could you put a check by, if asked?

It is not too late to start building character in your life as a soldier of Jesus Christ! May you make that commitment today!

Day 23: WWJD

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” I John 2:6

I know that the title today dates me, but there is something here that we all need to see and follow. God sent His Son to this earth and He left for us an example. An example is not given to be thrown in the corner or set on a shelf. No, my friend, we are to FOLLOW (utilize) that example.

In life, we find ourselves making decision after decision after decision. Our lives are FULL of decisions, are they not? So, what do we use as a “rule of thumb” when making decisions? Or do we just go with the flow? Or come up with a resolution off the cuff?

I trust that this is not the case for you because EVERY decision that we make is important. Every decision that we make has a consequence. May we choose wisely!

1. Think as Christ thinks — we do this by searching His Word for answers. Numerous answers are not going to be there in black and white, but do not despair … there is an answer there in principle, if nothing else.

2. Be teachable — no one knows it all, so do not try to act like you do because no one will believe you.

3. Use what you have in your hand right now — the parable of the talents so clearly teaches us this principle, does it not? That is only one of the many other biblical examples of this.

4. Search and see if there is some root source or sin that is affecting this situation or decision — ask God in prayer to help reveal if there is a root issue that is involved.

5. Have we properly handled the situation thus far? Sometimes God does not allow us to move forward because we have not learned the lesson that He wants us to learn in the situation.

6. Have we spent enough time in our prayer closet seeking God’s face in the situation?

7. Do we have a friend that we can confide in and know that they will not only pray for us, but will keep that confidence as surely as God does?

If you get nothing else in all of these devotionals, get this … God’s Word has all the resources that we need to live a healthy and profitable Christian life. Yet, what doth hinder us? Our unbelief!

Maybe #1 needs to be changed to this … putting our whole belief and trust in the One who has so generously and freely given us all things in His Word to guide us in this life here below!