Thursday, February 26, 2015

Work With it Wednesday

I titled this post "Work With it Wednesday" because it flows well with the alliteration.  More importantly, though, is that one of the main things that has stuck with me over these two weeks is to work with what God has given me.

I am a planner.  I like to know what is going on, when, where, and how.  I must have everything all lined up and planned out, and I tend to freak out when things don't turn out that way.  Schedules are my best friend.  However, this world is full of uncertainty.  Take this weather for example.  Just a few weeks ago, the extended forecasts had not a single day in February getting below 40 degrees.  Not only did it go below that, into single digits with negative wind chills, but we have gotten inches upon inches of beautiful snow!  It's easy to blame our weather people (I am guilty) for not knowing what is going to happen, but that's the truth.  They don't know.  Only God does.  He is continually trying to show all of the world that He is in control and we are not.  He is trying to get our attention before He comes back for good.

"He said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority."  Acts 1:7

As you can probably guess, not knowing whether or not I will be able to leave the house when I wake up in the morning would stress me out a bit.  Will there be snow?  School?  A delay?  Can I drive to the gym?  Will we still have practice?  What if I can't run?  Will I have to workout inside?  Here at home?  Do I have enough pancake mix?  Bananas?  Do I have to finish reading that book?  OH CRAP there's no electricity!  I'm freezing!  My toes are going to fall off!  When will it come back on?  Will we have to spend the night somewhere else?  Where to go?  Is Dad at work?  How can I do my homework and study the extra stuff without electricity?  How long will this last?  Should I run to a friends house?  What if my hands freeze?  I WANT COFFEE..its so warm...

Every day goes by so fast.  I am constantly wondering what is the best way to spend my time?  What is really worth it?

I know all these questions seem to make a lengthy list, but it is true.  I, along with many others, get overwhelmed by all that this world demands of us.

No matter all that we "have to do," there is only one thing that will ease the stress:  back away from "all that" and spend some time with the Lord.  He will fill you with peace and guide you to what you should do.  It may not make sense to take time away from the work to do in order to get more time to do it, but trust me, without having your mind right first, things will only go downhill.
When things are so uncertain (which is one thing I really do not like!), all we have to do is trust in God's plan.  Of course what is happening is part of His plan!  A quote from my small group's Bible study one night several months ago has stuck with me ever since: 
 "Nothing under God's control can ever be out of control."
Continuing on from the verse above, although there is no way that we can ever know God's timing for His miraculous plans or His return, we can be certain of this:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..."  Acts 1:8
Mom and Dad fuss at me a lot because I don't go with the flow very well.  And no, I do not like to fly by the seat of my pants.  But that is one thing that I am trying to work on.  I need to be flexible.  Working with the uncertainty of each day these past 2 weeks has really been a blessing! 
Sometimes, we have to take what we can get.  Work with what you've been given.  No, it may not always be what we want, but it's what God wants.  We risk missing so many opportuinites to be witnesses and servants for Christ right where we are when we try to change circumstances to fit our preferences.  When you just go with it, it takes a lot of the stress off.
The Sunday before the snow hit, my teacher Patty made another one of her funny, yet seriously relevant examples.
Don't be like Eore.  "Oh..woe is's going to rain tomorrow.  Oh Pooh, what are we gonna do?"
(If you had only heard her voice and seen her facial funny!)
How much time do we waste complaining?  Not just about things that are, but things that may or may not be, or cannot be avoided, or things that have no relevance to us whatsoever!  So we say time is short and we are always so pushed for time?  How much time could you save by not complianing so much?
"This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  Psalm 118:24
So what if it's going to rain tomorrow?  What if it's sunny right now?  Take advantage of that!
"...making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:16
Time is limited.  Our lives are so short in the grand scheme (God's scheme) of things.  We don't have to waste time because the situation "isn't desirable."  God put us where we are for a purpose.
"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."
Colossians 4:5
Others see the way we react to things.  Are we setting an example that Christ wants for the situation, or do we react with negativity and pessimism?
"Do everything without complaing or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars..."  Philippians 2:14-15
I know it's hard to rejoice and cooperate when things don't go our way.  But if you tell yourself from the start that it will be okay-commit to it, get it stuck in your mind-you're off to a good start.  Well, an even better start if you pray about it!  Another quote from my Sunday school people/lessons:  "Prayer doesn't change my circumstances; prayer changes me."
We all fail and all get frustrated with how things go.  Thank the Lord He forgives and lets us try again! 
 Next time you think that something stinks, sniff around for the aroma Christ has put there.  Accept each day as a challenge.  Embrace the challenges.  Use them as adventures.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning to Live THE Life

It's been a while since I have written any new blogs with the hectic pressures of school this year, but we've had a week and a half of snow days now, and I am full of things to share!  God has just been teaching me so much lately, and my heart is just busting to let others know of these beautiful things, too.  I am so thankful for all this time that we have had away from school; it has done wonders for my soul.  I've taken time to relax, clean, organize, cook, create, run for fun, study, try to catch up on school work, and actually do some things that I want to do.  Did I mention relax a little?  That was previously a foreign word not in my vocabulary.
Last night after my little Bible study in Galatians, I wrote down that my goal for today was to share some of these things that God has shown to me.
"Anyone who receives instruction in The Word must share all good things..."  Galatians 6:6
I mean, really, what good is all this if I keep it to myself?  I love having things, material and otherwise, to enjoy, but I also think of the quote I have kept in mind ever since I heard Mark Hall say it at a Casting Crowns concert last spring.  "We're not blessed so we can have, we're blessed so we can give."
  I'm not sure where to start, so I'll start with something  That could go anywhere!
Something we all strive for.  Obviously we all have life.  We're here.  Not dead.  But not just any life.  We want a good life, full, satisfying, exciting, joyful life.  We may work and work every day to do everything to make life all that we want it to be, but is it really working? 
There is this cycle that I get a picture of from Psalm 37:4
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

The more I make it a point to find joy in pleasing the Lord, the more joyful I become.  Then I want to do more for Him.  The more time I spend in His Word, the more I want to read and learn from it. 
LIFE is one of those things that is a deep desire of my heart.  I just want to enjoy my life!  I love it!  This led me to use the little directory thingy in the back of my Bible to look up verses about life.  I found some really encouraging verses that motivated me to change the focus of my life and to just uplift my heart in general.  After going through all those, I chose my favorites to redecorate my dry erase board in my room.
Aside from these, here are some other things that the Bible says about life:
-If you want to love life and have a lot of good times, what should you do? >>>Watch your mouth.  Turn from evil, but not only turn from it, but instead turn to good and go after peace. (Psalm 34:12-14)
-Think time goes by fast?  God will show you that it does.  Our lives are passing so quickly each day. (Psalm 39:4-5)  This reminds me to consider what I put my time into.
-In this dark and doomed world, is there hope to find the right things to do?  >>YES.  The Word lights up the darkness and shows us how to correct our wrongs and live a right life. (Proverbs 6:23)
-For a long time, I have always loved the part of the Sermon on the Mount about not worrying.  I am a worry-wart, that's why.  I usually go to the passage in Matthew 6, but this time I studied the account in Luke 12.  I could write an entire book just on this passage and how it has related to and changed my life at different points throughout my years.  I won't make you read through all that!  (Think to yourself, "Shew, thank goodness")  Originally, I had just noted verse 22 "I tell you, do not worry about your life..."  but when you find a good verse, it is usually a good idea to read around it, and you may find words even better than what you first saw!  One thing that messes me , up is that I think too much.  I want to have things "under control" but that is dumb.  Thinking of myself too much takes away from God's plans.  I get too set on my own plans and can't see what He has placed right in front of me!  If God daily makes the earth, sun, night and day, repeat perfectly to let all the earth work and animals thrive, why do I worry about myself getting a living?  If He takes so much care into these things we so often overlook, why do I doubt that my own life, the life of His dear child (1 John 3:1), would come full circle?  Jesus specifically says "DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR LIFE."  My mental effort should be put toward the things that He is working for His glory.  (Philippians 4:8)  Not only is that pleasing to Him, but it refreshes my mind as well.  You can also infer from this passage that the less you set your heart and mind on material things, the less likely you are to be disappointed.  Things in the world can be taken away, but heavenly treasures will never disappear.  That's what eternal means.  If we are living in worry and chasing after our own pleasures, we are living the exact same way as those who do not know God at all.  Worry and worldly pursuits don't set an example for unbelievers. 
-Are you letting Satan win in your life?>>>You may think, "No!  What a terrible thing!  Of course I'm not letting Satan win in my life!" but you may want to reconsider.  Do you ever feel depressed, unmotivated, pessimistic, stressed, torn down, hateful, vengeful, angry, and just disgusted with life or a situation, or anything similar to this?  That's Satan.  God doesn't want us to feel that way.  Satan wants these negative emotions in our lives to produce negative actions.  God has come so that we can make every moment, no matter what the circumstances, a moment of opportunity.  (John 10:10)
-This is one of the verses from my board, but it just makes my heart happy. "...a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19) This is something that can't really be explained.  True life and feelings that come from God are indescribable.  That's how He works.  But when you experience it, you know.  This passage addresses "the rich in this present world," but I believe that it doesn't just mean wealthy as in money.  We can all be rich in our own rights.  Whether that be talent, family, friends, a job, awards, creativity, intelligence, beauty, peace, or anything really, we can't put our hope in these riches.  Only God's riches are the ones that can sustain us through until we meet Him in heaven.  By being rich in the things of Christ, we will be prepared for whatever the world throws at us.  We will have what we need stored up in our hearts so that we can have this true life at all times.
God has given us so much in this world that we can use for His glory, so many things that He gives for our enjoyment!  All it takes is our dedication to having this attitude.