A Reasoned Response

Most of my answers are soft (Proverbs 15:1); however, my life was filled with people who took me for granted and ignored me unless I YELLED and unleashed the full fury of my Italian wrath every once in a while.

I always wanted to have a sweet response when someone stepped on my last nerve, or yanked my chain one too many times, but people tended not to take me seriously unless I yelled.

Therefore, when the people in my life changed, I had to practice giving soft answers, to practice choosing to give a reasoned response, rather than letting my emotions build within me until I simply exploded (Psalm 116:7).

In the ensuing years, God allowed my children to grow up into responsible adults who live in their own homes. He also gave me a husband who nurtures and cherishes me.

God helped me to understand that I do not need wrath to get my point across. All I need to do is to quietly say, “I really want you to take me seriously, and listen to what I am saying.”

Our authority is in Christ, not in our self or the intensity of our words. In Christ, quietness is our confidence and strength (Isaiah 30:15, 32:17). When two people disagree, they can always find a compromise.

When we speak with God’s authority instead of our own, people listen. We get the person’s attention, share our needs and then relax in quietness and confidence that the Lord will fight for us, as we wait on Him (Exodus 14:14).

We can trust that God already placed the seed for a miracle in every trial, which we will ever encounter. If we water this seed with faith, patience and confidence in God’s faithfulness, a beautiful plant of blessing will grow.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that Satan battles for our soul through our mind, choices and emotions. He knows he already lost our spirit to You, but he wants to destroy our soul, and our witness for You (Proverbs 34:13). Help us to choose to step out of our self-effort and into Your authority by the guidance of Your Spirit (Proverbs 16:23; Isaiah 45:22).

Wounds from our past and ever-occurring wounds in our present life – being belittled, discounted, deprived emotionally or physically, abandoned, insecure and frightened in our heart – will manifest in our words.

Yet, as we trust You, You help us to heal from our wounds. We will dwell in security and rest (Isaiah 32:18). May our thoughts and words be pleasing to You as we rely on You as our rock and Redeemer (Psalm 20:14).

Thought for the Day:
As God heals the wounds in our soul, as we relinquish our pet peeves and idols to Him, as we surrender control of our life to Him and realize that nothing can happen to us that is not already part of His plan for us (Isaiah 7:4), then we can think and speak quiet, confident thoughts rather than broiling negative emotions.

Proof of God’s Love – Part 2

God absolutely cares about us and the matters, which are important to us (1 Peter 5:7). He has our best interest at heart.
God’s discipline is a proof of His love for us (Hebrews 12:6).

He helps us to cast down the idols in our soul (2 Corinthians 10:5). I know that I have an idol in my life when my feelings get hurt and when other negative emotions start popping up in my heart.

If something irritates me, angers me or stresses me out, I can be sure there is an idol at the root of the issue, which I need to surrender to God.

Many times the issues, for which I am crusading, are best left as a matter of prayer, rather than trying to influence someone to accept my ideas or to act a certain way.

Another idol of mine is organization and schedules. I keep lists and calendars. I love order and proficiency. I feel secure and they keep me from forgetting appointments. They help me to have what we need, when we need it.

However, other people in my life are more impulsive and extemporaneous. They live a fluid life, and my need for order restricts them.

I had to surrender this idol to God and then learn to be more adaptable, flexible and spontaneous. This helped me to have more fun.

Of course, my ability to keep schedules helps us to stay organized, but I had to learn to be less inhibited and to lay down the idol of my need to attempt to control life.

God is also healing me from codependency. I am learning not to serve others by putting their interests and needs above my own to the point of depriving myself of the peace and joy of walking in God’s Spirit. ( http://www.amazon.com/The-Christian-Codependence-Recovery-Workbook/dp/1936451050 )

God is teaching me to live interdependently with other people and to hear His will for my involvement in their lives. Many times, the discernment He gives me is a matter of prayer rather than action.

Prayer:
Father God, I am learning to trust that You are faithful to restore balance and peace in our life in Your own way and time. Thank You for reminding me that You love the people I care about more than I do.

You have a perfect plan for each life, and You will work out everything in their life for their good (Romans 8:28). You may use me to help in some situation; but more often than not, You choose to do the work in their lives as I pray for them.

Thank You for the freedom from idols that You provide for us. Help us to walk in Your Spirit, so that we will not fulfill the carnal impulses of our flesh (Galatians 5:15-21).

Thought for the Day:
As we monitor the negative emotions, which disturb the peace of God in our soul, we can rely on God to reveal the issue at the root of them, so that we can lay down these idols at His feet.
( http://www.theophostic.com )

Proof of God’s Love – Part 1

I love the discipline of the Lord, because I know it is a sign that He loves me (Hebrews 12:5-6). He points out idols, which I erect in my life; and He helps me to lay them down at His feet.

They are not obvious idols like money, addictions, covetousness or seeking other gods. They are sly, subtle idols, which usually stir up negative emotions in my soul.

For instance, I like everyone to be happy. I am tenacious and dogged, and I will move mountains to ensure that those I love are happy and content.

However, having everyone delighted and satisfied is an idol in my life. This state of sublime joy is impossible to attain through human effort.

I have to be willing for my family members to be unhappy and discontent, and to stop trying to fix things for them. I need to lay my family’s happiness at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to work out His will in their lives.

Another idol, which He recently exposed in me, is that I like having my ideas valued and taken to heart. I come up with good ideas, because of the analytical mind God gave me.

However, some people reject my ideas before they even hear my whole thought (Proverbs 18:13). They acclaim ideas, which other people have; but disdain most of my ideas. God delivered me from these idols and so many more.

The Lord only disciplines His children (Proverbs 3:12). This is a sign of His enduring love for us and that He cares enough to remove things from our life, which have a negative effect on us.

Prayer:
Father God, remind me to walk in Your Spirit and not to care if people receive my efforts to do Your will. They have issues of their own that You are working out in their soul. Their behavior and words are no real reflection on me.

I want to make a difference in people’s lives, but I do not want to walk outside of Your will. I lay down my need to help others and I commit myself to Your will for my life and theirs.

Thought for the Day:
Idols come in all sizes, shapes and packages; God will reveal them to us as we listen to His Spirit each moment of the day.

Are Our Habits Helpful?

The habits we develop throughout life control our thoughts, choices and behavior. Some of them cause us to sow to the wind, and then we reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). Others prevent us from trusting in God, since we think that we can serve Him in our own strength. Habits should not control our life. That’s the job of God’s Spirit.

God will reveal the habits in our life, which are idols, and give us the power to lay them down at His feet (Philippians 2:12-13). We relinquish our habits and follow the leading of God’s Spirit each moment of our day. As we submit to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). We are no longer drawn to sin and bad habits, which destroy our life.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He “lead captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8; Luke 16:19-31). He freed the Old Testament Saints from separation from God and led them into the heavenly realm (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27-30). Jesus is now our Advocate (1 John 2:1). He frees His New Testament Saints from Satan’s deception and sin’s temptation. He enables us to relinquish our habits good and bad.

We do not depend on good habits to accomplish God’s will for our life. We live in the Spirit and we walk in the Spirit as we further God’s Kingdom while we live on this earth (Galatians 5:16-25). We follow God’s presence rather than human effort and habits. When God’s Spirit abides within us, we are His children; and where He leads us, we will follow.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to meditate on Your Word, to listen to Your voice and to walk in Your precepts. We no longer need habits when we have the powerful and active Spirit of God to shape our thoughts, words and deeds. Thank You for involving Yourself in every area of our life and for providing for all of our needs with Your glorious riches (Philippians 4:19). Show us where we fall short of Your glory and help us to walk only in Your ways (Romans 3:23; Deuteronomy 5:33).

Thought for the Day:
When Satan takes our circumstances out of our hands, then we can cling closer to God. When we relinquish our problems to His care, He is better able to provide for us through them. – 1 Peter 5:7

Slow Down and Spend Time with God

The soul is the most overlooked aspect of our Christian life. Prior to salvation, we allowed our heart to advise us, control us and comfort us. This does not refer to our blood pumping organ, but our inner self of thoughts, choices and emotions – our soul (Proverbs 4:23, 15:13, 23:7; Matthew 12:34-35). This way of life is weak, at best, but all we had.

When we come to Christ, our spirit is Born Again, and we begin the adventure of living in and by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16-25). This is when we start to mistrust our soul, and rightfully so. However, we also ignore the needs of our soul, thinking that they are carnal and unholy. Some of our soul’s demands are unrighteous idols, which we lay at the altar for sacrifice (Romans 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 3:3).

Yet, many of our soul’s desires are given to us by God, and He wants to supply them through His glorious riches (Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:16). We can nurture our soul by listening to praise songs, reading God’s Word, learning a new hobby, taking college courses that interest us, making new Christian friends, planting a garden, exercising to trim down and raise endorphins, serving in the ministries of our church, planning a healthy snack to look forward to every day, joining Bible study classes, etc.

The most powerful way to nurture our soul, however, is to be a friend of God. It takes time to develop this relationship, but it is so nourishing to our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Slow down and spend time alone with God. You will focus on the wholesome side of life, find peace and joy in the midst of negative circumstances and feel God’s presence in each moment of the day.

Prayer:
Father God, Satan has his agenda for our life, and we merrily follow his lead until we come face to face with Your invitation to accept Jesus as our Savior. Satan’s deception is no match for Your presence in our life. He fades into the background and loses the battles he wages for our soul. Your Spirit nurtures our body, soul and spirit as we follow Your direction for each new day. We love You and give You all the praise and glory for Your wondrous intervention in our life.

Thought for the Day:
God’s Spirit transforms our soul into the image of Christ throughout every moment of our life. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

The Cleansing Tears of Grief

Stress will kill the human body. We allow so much stress into our daily life that we often end up on medication to heal the results of stress on our body and soul. It affects our cardiovascular, endocrine, psychological and immune systems—as well as most of the other organs in our body and our spiritual health. There are many proven healthy ways to deal with stress.

(See: http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/19047-how-to-deal-with-stress-god-s-way)

 

We have stress at work, home and sometimes even in our social life, which makes us sick in body and soul. Scientists and doctors agree that God designed our body to shed stress hormones when we cry. This helps to protect our brain and bodily organs. When we grieve our disappointments and losses, our tears cleanse our soul, but they also help our body.

 

After times of tears, our heart rate and our breathing grow calmer. Tears also produce endorphins, which improve our emotional well-being. Allow your soul to grieve to the extent, and for as long as it needs to, in order to gain relief from your loss. Grief only affects us negatively, when we allow it to take over our life, to exclude us from healthy activities and to closet our self from life.

 

Tears will also alert those around us that we are hurting. These people usually respond with kindness and concern, and they benefit us physically and emotionally as well. Grief can strengthen our connections with family, friends and even perfect strangers who stop to show they care. Therefore, do not hold back your tears; let them flow.

 

God uses our afflictions to purify us, to teach us patience and to help us to learn to take authority over the devil (James 1:5). He also uses our grief to cleanse us of inordinate affections and idols, which are deeply rooted in our life. God always brings comfort to us in our sorrows, through other people and by His Holy Spirit. God uses grief to restore our soul to health (Psalm 23:3).

 

God strengthens us through our night of grief, and brings us joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5). He is our ever-present help in times of trouble (Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 46:1-2). As we grieve through our sorrow, its strength dissipates and our soul feels lighter. We not only grieve the loss of people and pets, but also treasured objects that were ripped from our grasp unexpectedly. If we do not allow our soul to grieve these losses, we carry that pain with us all of our life.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we often hold on to our grief, because it brings us comfort in some distorted way. We do not realize that grieving through our loss is much healthier for us. Give to all of those who grieve the comfort, which only You can supply; Your deep, internal comfort, which changes our focus and attitude about our circumstances. Thank You also for the Body of Christ, which supports us in our times of sorrow.

 

Thought for the Day:

Blessed are those who mourn, for God will comfort them. – Matthew 5:4