Thursday, August 10, 2017

3 Ways to Rise Above Chaos

3 Ways to Rise Above Chaos

We all have them:

     Days when a heavy burden brings any hope of progress to a screeching halt.

               Were overwhelmed by emotion.

                    Or tasks.

                         Or vain imaginations.

A sense of crushing disorder can set in when were afraid of the future or the past, or when we have a significant choice to make. The chaos wears us out until we can no longer discern the Lords leading over our own feelings. We break down - and disabling procrastination sets in.

Succumbing to excuses is often the easy road. Giving in, however, keeps us from walking in obedience to God and thats not a road we wish to travel. When we cant force ourselves to render a decision or take the next step because were consumed with uneasiness, we need a plan to rise above, to climb out of the pit.      

We often grasp on to anything that gives us reason to pause.  Instead, we must cling to the Lord and His strength in order to press ahead. 

He is our lifeline. And He is always available to help us. How?

1)   As we PRAY.  Ill admit there are days when Im so consumed with the junk of life that I dont remember to pray. Instead of calling on God the author and finisher of my faith, my ever-present help in times of trouble - I phone a friend or consult a blog post for advice.

Let this be an official reminder to us all: prayer should be our immediate reaction and not our last resort. Talk to God. Tell Him everything youre experiencing. Ask for His help, guidance, and provision. Hell give it.

2)  As we remember our PURPOSE.  The Lord whispers through His Word that He has plans for us. He reminds us that were created for a specific purpose, one that no one else on earth can accomplish in the same way.  

In her book Becoming a Woman of Simplicity, Cynthia Heald offers the following quote by teacher Bruce Bugbee:

The Lord bestowed a unique combination upon each of us: spiritual gifts, talents, personality traits, and individual life experiences, all woven together into the beautiful tapestry of our lives. This is what He desires to use for our Kingdom assignment.  

When we sense the Lord’s hand on our back and move forward in His strength, we can lift our feet from the miry clay. A desire to move forward to get unstuck - for Him and for His glory helps us step in the direction of His calling.

3)   As we work to PRESS ON.  Perseverance. Endurance. Persistence. Each term indicates moving through a course of action even in times of difficulty or adversity. Encountering a challenge is not a reason to give up. In fact, it can confirm that youre on the right road.

Each time I move deeper into ministry, a significant trial of some sort arises. Without fail. Over the years the Lord has helped me see this as an indication that Im on the right track. If the enemy tosses obstacles in my way, I know he detests what Im about to do. If he opposes my actions, then they just might bear much fruit and I know I must power through the struggle.  

Most often, the obstacles seem unrelated to my ministry activity. For example, I accept a speaking assignment then immediately have a rather large malfunction at home (it could be a relational issue or a maybe something mechanical like a furnace going out). The two events appear to have nothing to do with one another, but I may feel tempted to reschedule a client planning appointment to take care of the matter at home.

Ive learned to look at all events through a Kingdom lens and fight to stand firm in the battle. In doing so, I press on in the work the Lord has given. The home matter gets resolved, of course, and when I keep God and His work as a priority, the situation at home is restored quickly by His hand. Its evidence of His faithfulness!

Chaos can overwhelm us, but we dont have to let it win. Through our prayer, our purpose, and by pressing on, we can overcome and climb out of chaos.

Your Turn:

When have you felt overwhelmed by a feeling of chaos?

How did you handle it?

Will you do anything differently when it strikes again?

Please comment below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to connecting with you!

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

God's Promise of Restoration

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The heaviness in my heart was palpable, dampening my spirit and darkening my disposition. In a word, I felt defeated, reflecting on the loss of relationships, time, and even hope. Why, I wondered, did I continue to pour myself into that which did little to offer freedom, heal hurts, or prove beneficial?

Settling in to listen to the Sunday message, weariness blanketed me like a fog. My sacrifices of the past many months felt significant and costly but were bearing little if any tangible fruit.

My heart wailed, Whats it all for? Why, Lord, am I going through this? A full-blown self-pity party threatened to overtake me and I wondered if the Lord had any encouragement to offer.

He did.

A visiting missionary delivered a captivating message of Gods love and provision. Story after story proclaimed the generosity and care of a loving Heavenly Father who poured out compassion in the most distressing, hopeless situations.

I felt I was in a distressing, hopeless situation too. Would the Lord show me His mercy?

The missionary shared countless Bible verses but one delivered a spark of hope to my hurting heart:

And everyone who has left houses, brothers or sisters, father or mother, children or friends because of My name will receive 100 times more and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 HCSB

God's Promise of Restoration 

The Lord sees our sacrifice. He is keenly aware of what we give up for Him and will replenish our dry cisterns. He allows hardships but promises restoration.

He promises it.

My mind traveled to Job who lost his servants, children, livestock, livelihood, and his health. In the early chapters of this book, were given a glimpse of Jobs estate. It included 7,000 sheep 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large number of servants (Job 1:2 HCSB).

After all the tragedy and loss Job endured, we see Gods restoration and learn that he doubled Jobs previous possessions. The LORD blessed the last part of Jobs life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters (Job 42:12-13 HCSB). 

Unquestionably, the new possessions did not erase the horrific pain of prior loss, but God generously restored even more than Jobs sacrifice, and through the journey restored his hope and peace. The Lord counted Jobs cost. He measured it, and He restored it in double portion.

As I listened and reflected on the missionarys testimony, I realized the question is not IF God will reveal blessing, but WHEN. I felt the Holy Spirit providing assurance that the offering I considered sacrificial would bear Kingdom-sized fruit in Gods perfect timing and lasting fruit at that.

My heart found refreshing rest in the promises of Gods Word. I received and embraced the encouragement I believe He meant for me.

God's Word says that when we walk in obedience, He will restore your fortunes, have compassion on you, and gather you again (Deuteronomy 30:3). 

I began to recall personal examples of times God has proved this to me in the past:    

            Its not uncommon for me to wake in the morning and think, I have too much going on today. I dont have time for Bible devotions. On days when I listen to that logic and forgo my time in the word, my day is nearly always in disarray, with one appointment crashing into the next. I run late, I experience conflict, and Im not on my best game. But when I get on my knees before the Lord even when I feel I dont have time I see my day progress with a level of efficiency and grace that I recognize as Gods blessing. Its no coincidence. It is God restoring the sacrifice of time.

            There are times when the Lord prompts us to financially give beyond what we feel we can afford. When we allow human logic and a glance at our bank account to lead us to a decision, we struggle to make ends meet. But when we obey the Lords direction, our needs are met in every instance. Its no coincidence. It is God restoring the sacrifice of financial giving.

                  When were asked to give our time serving others, Ill admit Ive grumbled on occasion. After all, my own yard needs a tremendous level of attention, yet God asked that I help someone else with theirs. Its humbling in such times to see Gods hand of returned blessing when a neighbor plows the snow from our very long driveway. Its no coincidence. Its God restoring the sacrifice of obedience.

God loves us with an everlasting love. He gives us all that we need at the precise moment that its needed. He restores our sacrifice with lavished bounty.

Hope for Today

If you are struggling as we all do sometimes, wondering when the Lord will restore what you have sacrificed, I encourage you to abide in the Lord and trust. God sees everything that you are doing. He knows your heart, your motivation, your level of weariness, and your breaking point. Hes right beside you, providing strength and perseverance to go the distance. Hang in there and wait with expectation. In the fullness of time, He will reveal His plan and show you the fruit of your faithfulness.

Maybe youve walked a similar journey and have seen the Lords generosity. Your story is sure to encourage others. Please share it with us!

Leave a comment below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. I cant wait to hear from you!

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Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28

Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Ways to Show Generosity Without Opening Your Wallet

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What comes to mind when you think of generosity? If you’re like me, you may think of charitable contributions, helping the poor, or financial giving to your church missions or benevolence ministries. Like me, you likely think of sharing your hard-earned income.

Recently, I felt the Lord prompt me to take a few steps back as I thought though the idea of philanthropy – to the reason why we show generosity in the first place.

As followers of Christ, we’re to respond generously to the needs around us because that is what Jesus modeled for us. It is one way that we can reflect His glory to a watching world. By giving to others, we show God’s love and kindness.   

I don’t recall ever reading about Jesus sharing money in an offering plate, yet we see that throughout His ministry, He demonstrated the extravagance of His giving nature. A few of His notable examples follow:

            Jesus gave His compassion,

            His grace and mercy,

            His healing touch,

            His salvation,

            His joy.

            His instruction and wisdom,

            His time, and

through His most sacrificial gift, Jesus willingly laid down His life.

The Bible offers much encouragement toward generosity (click here to see a long list of Bible verses on the topic). I recently read a wonderful post by Melissa Tumino that expounds on some of the spiritual results of generosity based on Proverbs 11:25. I love Melissa’s reminder that true generosity comes from a pure heart. It should never stem from an attempt to make amends or to receive personal gain or attention. 

Generosity is giving without expectation of receiving anything in return.

There’s no question that we should show generosity, and there is ample Scriptural encouragement to do so. Sometimes the question, however, is how. How can we show generosity to others when we aren’t flush with cash or when we need other creative options?

Here are 10 ways to show generosity without opening your wallet:  

Give generously to others through your

1.     Time

2.     Encouragement and support

3.     Thanks / Gratitude

4.     Mercy and grace

5.     Patience

6.     Prayer

7.     Good deeds

8.     Smile and positive attitude

9.     Love and kindness

10.  Community service

Should you also give financially? By all means, yes! In addition to monetary gifts, not instead of them, seek ways to tangibly serve and give to others in open-handed ways.

Your Turn:

In what non-monetary ways have you shown generosity to others?

Continue the conversation by commenting below or connecting on Facebook or Twitter.

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28

Cathy McIntosh is the author of Finding Joy in the Journey: Savoring the Fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word makes it clear that He provides the gift of joy to each of His children. Struggles that are common to many women - such as fear, worry, shame, trials, and confusion, cannot steal our foundational, divinely given joy.  Click here to purchase.