“In nothing be anxious” (Phil. 4:6).
No anxiety ought to be found in a believer. Great, many and varied may be our trials, our afflictions, our difficulties, and yet there should be no anxiety under any circumstances, because we have a Father in Heaven who is almighty, who loves His children as He loves His only-begotten Son, and whose very joy and delight it is to succor and help them at all times and under all circumstances. We should attend to the Word, “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
“In everything,” that is not merely when the house is on fire, not merely when the beloved wife and children are on the brink of the grave, but in the smallest matters of life, bring everything before God, the little things, the very little things, what the world calls trifling things — everything — living in holy communion with our Heavenly Father, arid with our precious Lord Jesus all day long. And when we awake at night, by a kind of spiritual instinct again turning to Him, and speaking to Him, bringing our various little matters before Him in the sleepless night, the difficulties in connection with the family, our trade, our profession. Whatever tries us in any way, speak to the Lord about it.
“By prayer and supplication,” taking the place of beggars, with earnestness, with perseverance, going on and waiting, waiting, waiting on God.
“With thanksgiving.” We should at all times lay a good foundation with thanksgiving. If everything else were wanting, this is always present, that He has saved us from hell. Then, that He has given us His Holy Word — His Son, His choicest gift — and the Holy Spirit. Therefore we have abundant reason for thanksgiving. O let us aim at this!
“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” And this is so great a blessing, so real a blessing, so precious a blessing, that it must be known experimentally to be entered into, for it passeth understanding. O let us lay these things to heart, and the result will be, if we habitually walk in this spirit, we shall far more abundantly glorify God, than as yet we have done.
–George Mueller, in Life of Trust
Twice or thrice a day, look to see if your heart is not disquieted about something; and if you find that it is, take care forthwith to restore it to calm.
–Francis De Sales
Whom the Lord loves He chastens . . .” (Hebrews 12:6). How petty our complaining is! Our Lord begins to bring us to the point where we can have fellowship with Him, only to hear us moan and groan, saying, “Oh Lord, just let me be like other people!” Jesus is asking us to get beside Him and take one end of the yoke, so that we can pull together. That’s why Jesus says to us, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Are you closely identified with the Lord Jesus like that? If so, you will thank God when you feel the pressure of His hand upon you.
“. . . to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29). God comes and takes us out of our emotionalism, and then our complaining turns into a hymn of praise. The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us and to learn from Him.
“. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some Christians well, we might think from just observing them that they have no burdens at all to bear. But we must lift the veil from our eyes. The fact that the peace, light, and joy of God is in them is proof that a burden is there as well. The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine, but most of us see only the wine and not the burden. No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God living within the human spirit; it creates an inner invincibility.
If your life is producing only a whine, instead of the wine, then ruthlessly kick it out. It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak in God’s strength.
|April 14, 2014
If You Really Loved Me, You Would …
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)
How could he do this to me?
My mind raced as the digital numbers on the clock read 1:25 a.m. Then 2:15 a.m. I rolled on my other side, away from the clock’s red glow, with the hope of finding sleep before my alarm rang in a few short hours. But racing thoughts made sleep impossible.
Earlier that day, I’d learned about some bad choices my son made and then we’d had an argument. This news rattled my confidence as a mother and caused all kinds of questioning thoughts to keep me awake. Was I losing my son? Was he going down the wrong path for good? What did I do wrong?
Somehow, during my middle-of-the-night mental rant, I worked myself to a dangerous place: I doubted my son’s love for me.
After all, my sleepy brain reasoned, if he really loved me, he would never have done what he did. He knew I wouldn’t approve, and yet he still made that choice. How could he?
After that thought had planted itself in my brain, my heart felt vulnerable and in need of protection. Something in my mind whispered, “take cover” and walls started to rise around my heart.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve wanted to retreat from what felt like rejection. Unfortunately, I tend to expect people I love to behave in ways I would … to make choices I would. Or at the very least, to seek my advice and adapt their decisions based on my feedback. When that doesn’t happen, I sometimes translate it as a lack of love.
In those difficult moments, it seems safer to close off parts of my heart when I feel rejected or not validated. But I’ve learned that’s a very lonely way to live. And it’s far from the way God wants me to love.
I’ve struggled with this kind of reaction for years, yet God continually challenges me to stop playing it safe. Loving others isn’t easy. God didn’t call me to play defense when it comes to love; He called me to play offense.
In fact, God modeled this type of love by showing it to me first.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Here’s what this verse means to me:
While I was making choices that would hurt God’s heart, He sent His son, Jesus, for me.
While I was rejecting God’s ways, His Son was nailed to a cross for me.
While I was choosing selfish ease and comfort over obedience, Jesus died on that cross for me.
For me! And for you! We are women who don’t always make good choices. We are far from perfect. We’re messy, risky and difficult to love sometimes. And yet God chooses to go on the offensive to show us His love.
My bad choices are just as hurtful to God as my son’s bad choices were to me. Yet not once has God tried to place guilt on me by saying, “If you really loved Me, you wouldn’t have done that.”
In fact, God did just the opposite. When God was justified to condemn me for my willful, selfish choices, He chose to remove my guilt rather than place more on me.
Oh how this truth brings me to my knees! How can I place such heavy expectations on others when God doesn’t place them on me? How can I withhold even an ounce of love to make a point, when I make so many wrong choices of my own?
That night, I confessed my selfish thoughts to God and asked Him to help me be bold enough to be a woman of grace, not guilt. To be a mother who models His love and not my oh-so-flawed version.
The next morning I embraced my son before he left for school. I spoke no words of condemnation, nor did I remind him of his choices. I texted him mid-morning: “I love you.” He texted back the same.
Later, my son walked in the kitchen. “Hey, Mom, can I talk to you?”
We sat in the living room while he admitted how wrong his choices had been. Regret lay heavy; he was sorry. In fact, he was making a change going forward and was thankful for my love.
Not every situation works out that well. But in this instance, I’m thanking God for His quick intervention in my heart and my son’s.
Loving others is messy, and I sure don’t do it as well as God. But with His strength, I’ll keep trying. It’s definitely worth the risk.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my wrong thoughts, words and deeds. Help me to love others in spite of theirs and hopefully turn their hearts toward You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.