Ready for Change

Students and teachers all over the country are preparing for a new school year. Even though they may be returning to the same school, there will be an element of change such as new teachers or students, new friends, different classes, different expectations. They prepare by purchasing new clothes and new school supplies, making plans, and building expectations.

What do you do when you’re expecting a change in your life? In most instances, we also begin making plans and gathering the necessary supplies to make that change easy and successful. We often do whatever is necessary to be sure we are ready for that change.

One Sunday, the preacher asked how many of us came to church expecting change and how many came prepared for change. Thankfully he didn’t ask for a show of hands because honestly that question knocked the air out of my sails. I was forced to admit to myself and God that I’ve just been going through the motions lately.

I am normally a person who prepares for change. I’ve spent most of the summer preparing for the change in my teaching position. There were so many things to do and learn, and my primary focus was on getting ready for the change. But lately I’ve failed to prepare my heart and mind for the change that God wants to do in my own personal life, in my walk with Him, in my heart, and in all other areas of my life on a regular basis.

As Christians, we are called to be more Christlike, and let’s face it, we are far from that goal. It’s an ongoing project that will not be complete until our time on earth is done, so we must take every opportunity to seek those changes which need to be made.

God calls us to be different from the world in Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. In order for us to be transformed, we must be ready to change.

Spend time in prayer before church services and ask God to prepare your heart to be willing to recognize any change which He is calling you to make. Spend time during the week reading His word and taking time to hear what the Holy Spirit wants you to do. Change doesn’t just happen. We have to prepare and plan for it. Get up and get ready for God’s change in your life. You’ll be glad you did!

Advertisements

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25

A kind hearted woman gains honor. Proverbs 11:16

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

God is with her, she will not fall. Psalm 46:5

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her. Luke 1:45

The Lord is my strength and my shield. Psalm 28:7

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you where you go. Joshua 1:9

Under His wings you will find refuge. Psalm 9:1

Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6-8

By the grace of God, I am what I am. 1 Corinthians 15:10

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Isn’t this an inviting photo? I took it tonight after we suddenly found ourselves in complete darkness. Fairly quickly, we were able to get light from a cell phone, so that we could light this old, oil burning lamp. How in the world did we ever find a flashlight, candles, or matches without our ever present cell phones?

As we sat in the dark, my attention was drawn to this lamp that my husband lit and placed on the mantle. I was reminded of Psalms 119:105 – Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light to my path. Then I recognized a new beauty cast by this light in the dark.

The HOME sign in the background reminds me that this world is not my home. The life that we work so hard for each day is only temporary.  I have a much better home that is yet to come with my heavenly Father who is the light of the world.

On the left, is an old metal cross that reminds me of Jesus and the price that He paid for my salvation, as well as yours.  Salvation that none of us deserves, but is available to all. The Lord is my light and my salvation – Psalms 27:1.

Beside the cross sits an unlit candle. (I’m not sure why my husband didn’t light this candle except that God had a lesson for me to see in this photo.)  That unlit candle reminds me that there are many who don’t know Jesus, and it’s important for us to share the light of His love to those around us.

On the right hangs the letter “W” which normally represents our family name; tonight it symbolizes the world – a world that is living in darkness and needs the light of Jesus. In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” – John 8:12. 

Below that letter is a clock which not surprisingly represents time. It’s time for us to find peace and hope in the quiet, glow of His presence. It’s time to walk with Him and talk with Him. It’s time to do whatever He’s been calling you to do. And it’s time for us to take time to share His light with others.

Finally, on the left is a burlap sign which says, “Keep calm and pray”.  When your world seems overcome by the darkness, look to the only true Light in the dark, pray, and calmly let His light shine through you.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it – John 1:5. 

Just Believe

What is your reaction when someone tells you not to be afraid? My first reaction is usually fear and lots of questions. When we were young, my brother and our friend convinced (or maybe I should say coerced) me to ride the new double loop Shock Wave roller coaster at Six Flags. I was filled with fear and questions, but they insisted there was nothing to worry about. After a lot of screaming and even some crying, they had to practically carry me off of it, but I survived!

In Mark 5, Jairus, a synagogue leader, had a young daughter who was very ill and dying (v 23). The synagogue leaders of that time were skeptical of Jesus, but Jairus took a huge leap of faith and went to Jesus for help.

Along the way Jesus stopped when a woman touched his garments hoping to be healed. Jesus immediately recognized that healing power had passed from Him. So He insisted on identifying her, assuring her that she was healed by her faith, and most importantly loving her.

Surely Jairus felt impatient or worried as he waited for Jesus to go to his daughter, but he didn’t react impulsively. He simply waited. While Jesus was still speaking to the woman, news came that Jairus’ daughter had died. But before Jairus could respond with anger or grief, Jesus said, “Be not afraid. Only believe” (Mark 5:36).

Jairus must have had many emotions going through his mind, especially fear and questions. He may have felt that all hope was lost, but Jesus was telling Jairus that He was not finished. They continued on to Jairus’ house where Jesus resurrected the young girl. It is possible His delayed arrival was part of a greater plan. The girl’s resurrection was a much greater miracle than healing her illness, and Jairus’ faith grew as a result of the entire experience.

Jesus knows our problems before they actually occur. He also knows the strength of our faith or lack of faith, but there is no problem we could ever face that is too big. God’s timing is not usually our timing. Sometimes we must wait for answers. When the circumstances of our life seem totally hopeless and God does not seem to be acting, maybe it’s all part of His divine plan.

If life feels like a roller coaster that you never wanted on with double loops of trouble and mountains of unexpected delays, remember Jesus words to Jairus in Mark 5:36 – “Be not afraid. Only believe.” Believe what? Believe that God can. Believe that He does exist. Believe that He is with you. Believe that its never too late. Believe that He is stronger. Believe that He will carry you.

Just as my brother and friend did at Six Flags, God will be with you through the ride, He knows all the dips and loops in your life before they even occur, and He will carry you when you can’t go on.

photo credit: auspices <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/26432632@N08/6169711244″></a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Fear of the unknown causes much distress in our lives. When things are out of our control, we often worry, feel stressed, and even become physically ill. Unfortunately life is not always as perfect as it appears on social media. People are hurting all around us. Those who are battered and bruised may show visible signs of their pain. Others endure pain that we cannot perceive. Whether its physical or emotional pain, many are fighting battles of which we are unaware.

Isaiah 42:6 says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them.” The Israelites were blinded by their captivity, and they experienced the same fears and questions that we experience today. God did not forsake them. He delivered them and guided them to the Promised Land. Today, He continues to turn the darkness into light, makes the rough spots smooth, and never forsakes us, just as He did so many years ago.


Often when the way grows dark and we can’t see what lies ahead, it is easy to wonder where is God and why isn’t He working. We may forget that He is always there. Isaiah 42:6 reminds us that He will smooth the rough places and will never desert us. It doesn’t matter how dark or rough the road becomes, our Almighty God has the power to turn the darkness into light. Even in that darkest moment, when things seem to be spiraling out of control and we possibly even doubt God’s presence, we can trust that He is still there just as He promised! The secret is to turn our focus from the fear, worry, pain, anger, or stress and instead focus on seeking Him.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The Cross Room

The young man was at the end of his rope. Seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer. “Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy a cross to bear.” 

The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room, then open that other door and pick out any cross that you wish.” 

The young man was filled with relief. “Thank you, Lord,” he sighed, and did what he was told.  Upon entering the other door, he saw many crosses, some so large that the tops were not even visible. Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against the far wall. “I would like this one, Lord,” he whispered. 

And the Lord replied, “My son, that’s the cross you just brought in.”

Author unknown

As we trudge along dragging our own personal cross, the weight of it sometimes seems unbearable. Like the man in this story, we may wish to trade for another that is easier to manage, but we usually don’t have to look very far to see someone carrying a much greater burden. 

After my husband’s accident, there was a time when he was critical, and the team of doctors were watching for complications which could require immediate brain surgery.  During this time, we waited, prayed, and wondered if those complications would occur and how damaging they might be. But even as we waited, I saw other patients and families in the ICU who were suffering so much more. I also knew of families in our hometown who were suffering greatly as well. Our cross seemed heavy, but there were many crosses in that hospital that seemed much larger. During that time and still today as he recovers, God provided all the strength and grace that we needed to get through each day. 

Recently my new doctor decided to do some bloodwork to determine exactly what kind of arthritis I have been dealing with for several years. I didn’t think much of it at the time. A few weeks later, my cross suddenly seemed even larger and heavier after a much unexpected diagnosis of Lupus. The pain began years ago but had gradually progressed.  There had seemed to be a good explanation for every symptom that had appeared over the last decade, so I never thought much of the possibility that something more could be the cause.  Although nothing had changed physically, the emotional weight was immense at first. But God quickly reminded me again that there are many with greater burdens than mine. I know if I walked into The Cross Room I would see that my cross is tiny compared to so many others.  

The Cross that we bear may be heavy at times, but it’s ours. I would not trade my or my family’s cross for any other because I know that God has prepared us specifically for these crosses. We aren’t equipped to carry the weight of your cross, just as you haven’t been equipped to carry the weight of ours. Whatever you are going through, whatever struggle you face each day, whether its physical or emotional, God has given you everything you need to carry that cross.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness -2 Corinthians 12:9.  Through our difficulties, God’s power can shine!  

When you think you have no more strength to carry it, call to Him. He will provide a way whether it be a rest or simply a realization that your cross isn’t nearly as large as you thought.  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you – Psalm 55

It is easy to get discouraged during difficult times and allow fear to control our thoughts and actions. It helps to remember that no matter what I’m going through, I can trust that God is there leading the way and will be with me each step of the journey.

Noah and his family were in the ark for a very long time as they waited for the rain to stop, waters to recede, and the ground to dry.  According to Genesis 8, it was about 370 days. That’s a long time to be stuck on a boat with wild animals, livestock, and a handful of family members. No matter how large that ark was, you know it was not quite big enough to escape the smell of so many animals or to find a moment of peace and quiet!  As they waited for the ark to stop drifting, they may have wondered if the huge sea of water would ever disappear or would they be stuck in the ark forever. Once the boat settled on the earth and they still had to wait for God to open the huge door, I’m sure they must have wondered if He had completely forgotten them.

There had to be many days of fear, discouragement, doubts, questions, or just being frustrated with the situation on that ark and even the changes waiting outside.  As the only survivors after the flood, they may have also felt very alone.  Don’t we all experience similar feelings while waiting to see God at work in our situation?

But God remembered Noah – Genesis 8:1.  God did not forget about them or leave them to their own devices to figure out what to do. In the Old Testament,  remember  means to pay attention to. In other words, God took action. He never forgot them! He had a plan all along and what seemed like a lack of action was more about His timing.

When your situation has you beat down with worry and fear, know that God has not forgotten you. He is right there with you! He won’t leave you sitting in a stinking ark wondering what to do. When the timing is right, He will open the door, and you can plant your feet on solid ground as the sun shines brightly on your face. You are always remembered by God!

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” God promises to be with us every step of our journey. In fact, He is not just with us but is leading the way.  He is always one step ahead of us, and nothing will happen that is out of His control.

Which of God’s promises helps you to remember that God is faithful to remember you today just as He remembered Noah so many years ago?

photo credit: Richtpt (Rich Uchytil) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/38017341@N00/37348919445″>Beach Sunset</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

%d bloggers like this: