Confidence Restored

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world  you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.
JOHN 16:33 MSG

Are you a confident, faithful believer, or do you live under a cloud of uncertainty and doubt? As a Christian, you have many reasons to be confident. After all, God is in His heaven; Christ has risen; and you are the recipient of God’s grace. Despite these blessings, you may, from time to time, find yourself being tormented by stressful, destructive emotions—and you are certainly not alone.

During turbulent times like these, even the most faithful Christians are overcome by occasional bouts of fear and doubt. And you are no different. But even when you feel very distant from God, remember that God is never distant from you. When you sincerely seek His presence, He will touch your heart, calm your fears, and restore your confidence.

Bible hope is confidence in the future.   ~Warren Wiersbe

Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts you habitually occupy. Think defeat, and you are bound to be defeated.   ~Norman Vincent Peale

Jesus gives us the ultimate rest, the confidence we need, to escape the frustration and chaos of the world around us.   ~Billy Graham

Believe and do what God says. The life-changing consequences will be limitless, and the results will be confidence and peace of mind. ~Franklin Graham

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, You are my Savior and my Sustainer. I will be safe with You in heaven, and I am safe with You here on earth. Today, I will trust in Your promises, and I will be a confident, obedient, purposeful servant to Your Son.  Amen

Powerlessness And How It Can Help You

Most of us hate feeling powerless and indeed, it is not very good for us especially for extended periods of time. It can lead to depression, anxiety, outbursts of anger, alienation from others, physical symptoms and, in it’s trauma form, it can lead to the symptoms of Post traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (e.g. nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and loss of concentration or memory to name a few)

Sometimes powerlessness comes from circumstances we have little or no control over. Other times it comes from the consequences of our actions. The latter can be even more frustrating because we may say, “I could have done something different”. We ruminate and replay the situation over and over. This can be helpful if we can process it into lessons learned, insight, awareness about others, or ourselves and character growth.

It is interesting to note that sometimes powerlessness can be very powerful. When Jesus surrenders to the cross, His powerlessness redeems the whole world. This is illustrated, again, in the fictional Star Wars movie were Obe Wan allows himself to be slain by Darth Vader only to come back as a ghost to aid Luke in fighting the Empire. The Apostle Paul talks about his powerlessness with an affliction he has and how it helps him grow and be empowered. Joseph’s powerlessness in the Old Testament is the seed for his rise to power in the house of Pharaoh. Despite his brother’s plot against him, he is faithful and God sends him before his family to redeem them in their day of need. After they realize that the brother they sold into slavery is now in power over them, the brothers hear him say “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good”

Dealing with powerlessness is a tricky matter sometimes.

First we must realize that powerlessness in not necessarily, hopelessness.
Powerlessness may just mean you are not in control right now.

Second, it is important to admit our powerlessness to God and others.
This gets us out of the way sometimes and allows God to work in areas where we do not have the ability or opportunity to change things. Telling others about our powerlessness can be a request to help with need and, as a part of that, a place to get emotional support through listening, different perspective, advice, shared troubles/grief and accountability to change course as well as giving us structure.

Third, deal with powerlessness by processing it.
Write down what you are feeling and thinking, what you believe about yourself, the situation, what you may have done that contributed to the situation, what others may have contributed to the situation and what is purely circumstantial. Try to avoid “All or Nothing” thinking. The “All Is Lost” mentality is not very helpful. Slowing things down and evaluating the situation is usually better in the short and long run. Nehemiah puts this into action when he feels powerless at first to deal with greedy nobles who are loan sharking their fellow Hebrews right back into slavery. He slows down his anger and brings the nobles to task.

Fourth, after the initial shock wears off, try seeing where the processing leads you.
What does it tell you about the situation, yourself, others involved, your motives, your priorities, lessons learned, and how you can grow from it.

Over all powerlessness is not something to be desired but it is, essentially, unavoidable in life. How we deal with it and use it to grow and move closer to God and others is the key.

Fear Happens!

Fear is a basic human emotion. According to Wikipedia, fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of pain.

In general fear falls into two categories: the threat of pain or death, and the threat of social rejection or isolation.

Psychologists have suggested that fear is one of the basic or innate emotions, along with joy, sadness, and anger.

Distrust can be explained as a feeling of mild fear or caution and may occur as a feeling of warning towards someone or something that is questionable or unknown.

Terror is an acute and pronounced form of fear. It is an overwhelming sense of immediate personal danger. It can be caused by perceiving the object of a phobia or trauma, which is common in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Terror may overwhelm a person to the point of making irrational choices and displaying atypical behavior.

Paranoia is a term used to describe a fear that is irrational. It is experienced as longstanding feelings and perceptions of being persecuted. Paranoia is an extreme emotional state combined with thoughts, or possibly delusions that one is in danger. As a result people might change from normal behavior to extreme or maladaptive ways.

In a 2005 Gallup poll a national sample of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15 were asked what they feared the most. The question was open ended and participants were able to say whatever they wanted. The most frequently cited fear was terrorism.

The top ten fears were, in order:

  1. terrorist attacks
  2. spiders
  3. death
  4. being a failure
  5. war
  6. heights
  7. criminal or gang violence
  8. being alone
  9. the future
  10. nuclear war.

That was before the economic stress we have experienced in the past few years, so I imagine that would be one of the answers if the poll were taken today.

Fear is different than the related emotional state of anxiety, which typically occurs without any perceived external threat.

When we are afraid we often want to escape and avoid, whereas when we are anxious we tend to perceive the threats as uncontrollable or unavoidable.

Some of us are more aware of our fears than others, for various reasons. Many of us have been taught to ignore our feelings all in the name of being good managers of our emotions! We are admired when we can pretend we aren’t afraid!

When we try to ignore or repress fear our bodies and our emotions still keep score! We develop many physical as well as psychological symptoms and diseases because we ignore or mismanage our fears and anxieties.

Fear can be described by different terms varying from mild caution to extreme phobia and paranoia. Fear is related to a number of additional cognitive and emotional states including worry, terror, horror, panic, and dread.

As an individual emotional state, fear can also affect the unconscious mind, where it can become manifested in the form of nightmares or night terrors.

Fear may also be experienced within a larger group or social network. In this way, personal fears that are compounded by social influence may become mass hysteria.

In faith communities we are often admonished that we are experiencing fear because we do not have enough faith.

In faith communities we are often admonished that we are experiencing fear because we do not have enough faith. I suggest that it is much more compassionate to respond to someone who is struggling with fear by first listening to what they are saying for quite awhile, tenderly helping them explore the details of the fear so we will have a better understanding of the situation.

God’s ultimate plan is for each of us to recognize our need for Him and we also need a supportive network of other people that will help carry us through difficult times. A scriptural model for this is the man who was lowered through the roof to where Jesus was teaching so that he could be healed. (Luke 5:17-20) His dedicated friends tirelessly supported him physically (and I’m sure emotionally) in order to get him help.

1 John 4:18 tells us that …”perfect love drives out fear….”

We might be more in line with God’s plan by becoming a ‘perfect lover’ to someone: simply hearing them share their fears without trying to fix them or giving them scriptures or lists of things to do to cover or smother their fears. When we as caregivers jump too soon to a solution we are not communicating love! So 1 Corinthians 13:1 might classify us as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. We would do well to follow the formula in James 1:19 and “…speak little and listen much…..”

If you are affected by fears or anxiety negatively impacting your life or your relationships, we will listen. We have many caring therapists who can assist you in finding the best treatment for your situation.

Rely Upon Him

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
1 PETER 5:6-7 NASB

Do the stresses of these turbulent times threaten to overwhelm you? If so, you must rely not only upon your own resources but also upon the promises of your Father in heaven.

God is a never-ending source of support and courage for those of us who call upon Him. When we are weary, He gives us strength. When we see no hope, God reminds us of His promises. When we grieve, God wipes away our tears.

God will hold your hand and walk with you every day of your life if you let Him. So even if your circumstances are difficult, trust the Father. His love is eternal and His goodness endures forever.

Faith is not merely you holding on to God—it is God holding on to you.   ~E. Stanley Jones

God can do all that we need.   ~Juliana of Norwich

God calls each of us in secret to make certain sacrifices which always involve a risk, even though it may differ from person to person. He does not promise us success, or even final victory in this life. God does not promise that He will protect us from trials, from material cares, from sickness, from physical or moral suffering. He promises only that He will be with us in all these trials, and that He will sustain us if they remain faithful to Him. ~Paul Tournier

I was learning something important: we are most vulnerable to the piercing winds of doubt when we distance ourselves from the mission and fellowship to which Christ has called us. Our night of discouragement will seem endless and our task impossible, unless we recognize that He stands in our midst. ~Joni Eareckson Tada

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, whatever “it” is, You can handle it! Let me turn to You when I am fearful or worried. You are my loving Father,  and I will always trust You. Amen

Anxious?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
PHILIPPIANS 4:6 NKJV

We live in a fast-paced, stress-inducing, anxiety-filled world that oftentimes seems to shift beneath our feet. Sometimes, trusting God is difficult, especially when we become caught up in the incessant demands of an anxious world.

When you feel stressed to the breaking point—and you will—return your thoughts to God’s love and God’s promises. And as you confront the challenges of everyday living, turn all of your concerns over to your Heavenly Father.

The same God who created the universe will comfort and guide you if you ask Him . . . so ask Him. Then watch in amazement as your anxieties melt into the warmth of His loving hands.

Worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil.   ~E. Stanley Jones

We must lay our questions, frustrations, anxieties, and impotence at the feet of God and wait for His answer. And then receiving it, we must live by faith.      ~Kay Arthur

So often we pray and then fret anxiously, waiting for God to hurry up and do something. All the while God is waiting for us to calm down, so He can do something through us. ~Corrie Ten Boom

The fierce grip of panic need not immobilize you. God knows no limitation when it comes to deliverance. Admit your fear. Commit it to Him. Dump the pressure on Him. He can handle it. ~Charles Swindoll

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, sometimes this world is a difficult place, and, as a frail human being, I am fearful. When I am worried, restore my faith. When I am anxious, turn my thoughts to You. When I grieve, touch my heart with Your enduring love. And, keep me mindful, Lord, that nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen this day that You and I cannot handle together. Amen

Facing Fears

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for  I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
ISAIAH 41:10 NLT

We live in a world that is, at times, a frightening place. We live in a world that is, at times, a discouraging place. We live in a world where life-changing losses can be so painful and so profound that it seems we will never recover. But, with God’s help, and with the help of encouraging family members and friends, we can recover.

During the darker days of life, we are wise to remember the words of Jesus, who reassured His disciples, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 NIV). Then, with God’s comfort and His love in our hearts, we can offer encouragement to others. And by helping them face their fears, we can, in turn, tackle our own problems with courage, determination, and faith.

God knows that the strength that comes from wrestling with our fear will give us wings to fly.   ~Paula Rinehart

His hand on me is a father’s hand, gently guiding and encouraging. His hand lets me know He is with me, so I am not afraid. ~Mary Morrison Suggs

Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated. Charles Stanley

Facing our deepest fears means making peace with our seen self and with our unseen self.   ~Sheila Walsh

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect love, a love that casts out fear and gives me strength and courage to meet the challenges  of this world. Amen

Finding Peace

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
JOHN 16:33 NKJV

Oftentimes, our outer struggles are simply manifestations of the inner conflict that we feel when we stray from God’s path. Jesus offers us peace, not as the world gives, but as He alone gives. Our challenge is to accept Christ’s peace into our hearts and then, as best we can, to share His peace with our neighbors. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, we are transformed by His grace. We are then free to accept the spiritual abundance and peace that can be ours through the power of the risen Christ.

Have you found the genuine peace that can be yours through Jesus Christ? Or are you still rushing after the illusion of “peace and happiness” that the world promises but cannot deliver? Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your friends, claim the inner peace that is your spiritual birthright: the peace of Jesus Christ. It is offered freely; it has been paid for in full; it is yours for the asking. So ask. And then share.

Prayer guards hearts and minds and causes God to bring peace out of chaos.   ~Beth Moore

Before God changes our circumstances, He wants to change our hearts.   ~Warren Wiersbe

When we do what is right, we have contentment, peace, and happiness.   ~Beverly Lahaye

Peace with God is where all peace begins.   ~Jim Gallery

To know God as He really is—in His essential nature and character—is to arrive at a citadel of peace that circumstances may storm, but can never capture.   ~Catherine Marshall

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, let me accept the peace and abundance that You offer through Your Son Jesus. You are the Giver of all things good, Father, and You give me peace when I draw close to You.
Help me to trust Your will, to follow Your commands, and to accept Your peace, today and forever. Amen

Worried?

Give your worries to the Lord, and he will take care of you.
He will never let good people down
.
PSALM 55:22 NCV

Because life is sometimes difficult, and because we have understandable fears about the uncertainty of the future, we worry. At times, we may find ourselves fretting over the countless details of everyday life. We may worry about our relationships, our finances, our health, or any number of potential problems, some large and some small.

If you’re a “worrier” by nature, it’s probably time to rethink the way that you think! Perhaps you’ve formed the unfortunate habit of focusing too intently on negative aspects of life while spending too little time counting your blessings. If so, take your worries to God . . . and leave them there. When you do, you’ll learn to worry a little less and to trust God a little more—and that’s as it should be because God is trustworthy, you are protected, and your future can be intensely bright.

Worry is the senseless process of cluttering up tomorrow’s opportunities with leftover problems from today. ~Barbara Johnson

This life of faith, then, consists in just this—being a child in the Father’s house. Let the ways of childish confidence and freedom from care, which so please you and win your heart when you observe your own little ones, teach you what you should be in your attitude toward God. ~Hannah Whitall Smith

Things can be very difficult for us, but nothing is too hard for Him. ~Charles Stanley

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.   ~Elisabeth Elliott

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, You sent Your Son to live as a man on this earth, and You know what it means to be completely human. You understand my worries and my fears, Lord, and You forgive me when I am weak. When my faith begins to wane, help me, Lord, to trust You more. Then, with Your Holy Word on my lips and with the love of Your Son in my heart, let me live courageously, faithfully, prayerfully, and thankfully today and every day. Amen

Beating Stress One Day at a Time

This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
PSALM 118:24 NKJV

Face facts: just getting by in these turbulent times can be stressful . . . very stressful. You live in a world that is brimming with demands, distractions, and deadlines (not to mention temptations, timetables, requirements, and responsibilities). Whew! No wonder you may be stressed.

What can you do in response to the stressors of everyday life? A wonderful place to start is by turning things over to God.

Psalm 118:24 reminds us that this day, like every other, is a glorious gift from the Father. How will you use that gift? Will you celebrate it and use it for His purposes? If so, you’ll discover that when you turn things over to Him—when you allow God to rule over every corner of your life—He will calm your fears and guide your steps.

So today, make sure that you focus on God and upon His will for your life. Then, ask for His help. And remember: No challenge is too great for Him. Not even yours.

Life is strenuous. See that your clock does not run down.   ~Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

There are very few certainties that touch us all in this mortal experience, but one of the absolutes is that we will experience hardship and stress at some point.   ~James Dobson

If you’re willing to repair your life, God is willing to help. If you’re not willing to repair your life, God is willing to wait.   ~Marie T. Freeman

Prescription for a happier and healthier life: resolve to slow down your pace; learn to say no gracefully; resist the temptation to chase after more pleasure, more hobbies, and more social entanglements.   ~James Dobson

TODAY’S PRAYER
Heavenly Father, You never leave or forsake me. Even when I am troubled by the demands of the day, You are always with me, protecting me and encouraging me. Whatever today may bring, I thank You for Your love and Your strength. Let me lean upon You, Father, this day and forever. Amen

God's Protection

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
MICAH 7:8 HCSB

Have you ever faced challenges that seemed too big to handle? Have you ever faced big problems that, despite your best efforts, simply could not be solved? If so, you know how uncomfortable it is to feel helpless in the face of difficult circumstances. Thankfully, even when there’s nowhere else to turn, you can turn your thoughts and prayers to God, and He will respond.

God’s hand uplifts those who turn their hearts and prayers to Him. Count yourself among that number. When you do, you can live courageously and joyfully, knowing that “this too will pass”—but that God’s love for you will not. And you can draw strength from the knowledge that you are a marvelous creation, loved, protected, and uplifted by the ever-present hand of God.

Whatever hallway you’re in—no matter how long, how dark, or how scary—God is right there with you.   ~Bill Hybels

God helps those who help themselves, but there are times when we are quite incapable of helping ourselves. That’s when God stoops down and gathers us in His arms like a mother lifts a sick child, and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.   ~Ruth Bell Graham

Life is literally filled with God-appointed storms. These squalls surge across everyone’s horizon. We all need them.   ~Charles Swindoll

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.   ~Peter Marshall

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, sometimes life is difficult. Sometimes, I am worried, weary, or heartbroken. And sometimes, I encounter powerful temptations to disobey Your commandments. But, when I lift my eyes to You, Father, You strengthen me. When I am weak, You lift me up. Today, I will turn to You for strength, for hope, for direction, and for deliverance. Amen

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries