Finding Peace in the Storm

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By: Roslyn Maglione

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.                (James 1:2-3 NIV)

Why does it always seem that when one thing goes wrong, 100 other things go wrong?  Or when you are facing the storm of your life, you then have a hurricane added in to deal with on top of it?  We feel these things happening because we are human; we are imperfect creatures that always think our lives should be picture-perfect or easy.  That is what the world wants you to think, that life should be easy and without conflict or hardships and if there are difficulties there is a product, drug, or plan to fix it.  I know that when I first came to faith in Jesus Christ, I thought that it would be my path to the stress-free life; that I would no longer have fear, disappointments, money issues, marital strife, or children that made poor decisions.  That lasted all of two minutes!

But the good thing is that I went to the Bible and read and listened to people that had been living in the faith much longer that could explain why there is still hard times and God will never give you more than you can handle.  Our suffering should be considered a blessing because God is preparing us for the next step in our faith.  He wants us to rely on Him, not on ourselves or things of this world.  When we are right in the middle of the storm, sometimes it is hard to see Jesus right there beside us because we become so focused on the problems that we miss the teaching moments and the opportunity to give in knowing that we will be taken care of and that there is a reason for our difficulties.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28 & 30)

We must always strive to not let our next catastrophe keep us from trusting God; have faith that God will always be with you.  Go to Him, rest in His peace, and know that HE is strengthening you and preparing you to be confident in Him always.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.   (Matthew 17:20)

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Removing Your Log

judging

By:  Holly Haglan

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  (Matthew 7:1-5)

Can’t we all relate to this verse?  Have we not all been on both sides of this?  Have you experienced judgment?  Have you judged others?   I love how the Lord tells us the problem, the repercussions of the problem, and how we can fix the problem. The problem: judgment. How often do we see something we disagree with and immediately find ourselves judging, hating, and even ostracizing others. If we are honest, as Christians we can be the worst at this.  Yet, if we are honest with ourselves when we do this are we not actually being hypocritical? I mean the reality is we all sin. No one sin is better or worse than another.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

The second  part of this verse in Matthew tells us the repercussions of the action of judgment: “for with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” This is saying that you will be judged as much and as harshly as you judge others.  Ouch right?  The Bible doesn’t say we can’t judge. We can, but watch out, for if you do it will come right back to you.  The Lord doesn’t say “oh as long as you don’t disobey me the way that person is then feel free to pass as much judgment as you want.” In fact, He brings up a very valid point, judgment  is yet another sin being added to you. Wow, right?  He says: “How can you say to your brother, let me take the SPECK out of your eye when there is a LOG in your own eye?” “Speck” versus “log” is very significant. I believe the Lord is saying that because of the sins you’re already committed adding judgment of someone else’s sin turns your speck into a log. He calls us hypocrites for doing this, which honestly is the best way to put it even though it may be hard for us to hear.

We serve such a good God. He doesn’t just leave us here. He then offers us a way to fix this problem: “First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out your brother’s eye.” Minimizing your own sin and loving others as hard and as genuine as you can will help you see clearly to help others take the speck out of their eye. The key word is to “help” your brother. Judging others only hurts you, but removing the act of judgment, looking internally and fixing your own issues, and then looking to help others do the same is God’s way of fixing this problem. How about we really begin to put this into action. Let’s do better at loving people in whatever season they are in, and strive to be the best person we can be, and provide abundant grace as God has so graciously provided to us. I know I will be working to do just that.

This Little Light of Mine

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By: Hannah Schelling

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16)

As children, most of us are taught the sweet and catchy song “This Little Light  of Mine”. For those of you who may not be familiar with this song, it expresses the importance of being an example unto others. The verses in the song tell us to let our light shine; to not let it burn out, to not hide it, and to not let anyone else blow it out. How does your light shine, how long and how bright? What does your light shine for, who does it shine for?. Are you hiding the light within your or has it burned out? These are questions that we all should start to think about as we go about our everyday lives because the Lord tells us to let our light shine. When we let the light of Christ shine through us we give glory to God.

A normal day to most people would consist of waking up early, going to work/school, taking care of kids , and  the other million things we do each day.  As we think about this sweet song  and  shining the light of Christ for others, we don’t usually consider doing so right where God has planted us.  I have been convicted that I tend to define “setting an example” or “ministering” – shining the light of Christ – as going across states and even to different countries. However, God wants us to shine his light right where we are at in our everyday lives.

God does not tell us there is one place more important than another. He simply tells us to “Let your light shine”. As Christians, our light is an example of God’s love and kindness. Yes many different countries need ministering, the whole world needs it. How about in your own home though? What about your sister, your brother, or father you haven’t been talking to much? What about your mother who seems to be worrying about her children? How about a friend in college with a load of stress and temptations, or even a co-worker that you haven’t gotten along with lately? One act of kindness can go a long way. One smile, one hug, and one word can make all the difference.

Walk in joy, show mercy, show kindness when all your heart feels is anger and sadness. Don’t let Satan blow your light out, because others around you NEED your light. Your light was set inside of you by an Almighty God, and he made it for you to shine. Not to be hidden under a bushel, not to be blown out when you are unsure if someone will need it or not. If we don’t keep it alive and burning who will? If we don’t share our light with others, how will they ever know the overflowing joy that Jesus brings? There are too many wonderful works of the Lord to be told to let our light be hidden. He shines too bright to not be praised. I mean really, think about it. How much has the Lord done for you already? How many prayers has He answered prayers for you?  Has he ever mended your broken hearts, dried countless tears, or provided when you had no hope?  And , ALL while we were still yet sinners? Don’t you want others to know they too can experience all of this? I sure do.

So as for me and my light, we will shine. I will overcome my anger for an annoying younger sibling. I will ignore my differences with a coworker. I will fix broken relationships and make a stranger smile so that, “they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven”. Be a change for your family, for a friend and for someone you don’t even know. Be the light they might not have in their life and in their heart, make them want it. I will shine my light until Jesus comes, I will not let Satan blow it out, and I will not hide it under a bushel. What about you?

The power of our Words

power of your words

By:  Dawn Ashley

A truly wise person uses few words: a person with understanding is even tempered.  (Proverbs 17:27 NLT)

God has had me camped out in Psalms and Proverbs the past 30 days.  It is amazing how much wisdom is packed into the book of Proverbs.  As I have been reading through Proverbs what grabbed me even more is how many of them mention the use of our “words”.  I know that often our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness. For me, one of my favorite ways God uses me is to speak His words of truth, love, encouragement, and affirmation over peoples’ lives.  However, my words that bring life when Christ opens up my mouth to speak can also bring pain to those I lash out at with the same tongue.  I find myself on my face before God and asking for forgiveness from my husband far more often than I would like to admit for my mouth.

Let’s admit it ladies, we like to talk.  Many of us also have a need to feel  heard, valued, and understood, especially by our husbands.   Why do we put this pressure on our husbands?  I think it is because many of us have wounds and hurts somewhere in our past that made us feel like no one, or someone special to us, didn’t listen to us; maybe our value wasn’t seen and that we were often misunderstood.  Because of this if our husband, the closet one to us besides Christ, doesn’t  listen to our idea or suggestion, we think he does not hear us or we do not bring value. If we tell our husbands how we might feel, and as a man he does not understand, we feel misunderstood.  What do we do when this happens ladies?  We blow our cool and  we talk….and we talk…and we talk, somehow thinking the more we talk the better chance we will have of showing them how we are feeling and they will finally hear us, value us and understand us. Ladies, Satan has deceived us.  What God has really been showing me lately is these are my wounds and pains that I am filtering my husband’s responses through, and not the reality of his heart for me.  Ladies, the reality is, there are some things for us to talk with our girlfriends about and other things that are meant for us to take to the Lord who understands us completely; and is always there to listen and finds us of great value.  We have to stop filtering our husbands responses to us through our wounds and believing it is his heart for us.  We have to stop putting so much pressure on our husbands to fulfill a roll they were never meant to fulfill…..to understand us!  1 Peter 3:7 does say that our husbands are to live with us in an understanding way and to show us honor, but not “understand us”. Let’s admit it: we are pretty complicated, sensitive and emotional; and those emotions can change from one day to the next or one minute to the next.  Let’s give our husbands some grace here.

So the next time ladies, we feel the need to give our husbands a lecture or fly off the handle out of our wounds, let’s step back,  be wise, and remain even tempered while giving God thanks for the man of God he has given us. Let’s reject the lie Satan tries to tell us about how our husbands see us and let’s give God thanks for them.  The longer we speak truth of who we are in Christ and who our husbands are to us ….a gift from God, the more we will begin to align our thinking with Truth and respond from that place.  Because ladies, when we respond from our wounds and project on our husbands, we create wounds for them and I don’t think that is something any of us want to do.  Our job is to be a helpmate to our husbands, not a hindrance.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.  (Genesis 2:18 ESV)

So join me in this challenge: let us choose to bring life to our husbands through our tongue, not death. (Proverbs 18:21). Let us stop a dispute before it even breaks out (Proverbs 17:14)  Let us choose gentle words and not harsh ones when we speak to the love of our life (Proverbs 15:1). Our gentle words are a tree of life to our marriage (Proverbs 15:14). Let us cool our tempers (Proverbs 15:18) and let us open our ears a little more to what God may be trying to say to us through our husbands  but we have been too busy talking to hear them, because in this place we will grow in our understanding and our wisdom (Proverbs 15:32).

Virtuous Patience

faithful

By: Savanna Howell

So that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12 ESV)

If we are honest, don’t we find ourselves at times praying  and expecting God to answer us  immediately or in the timing we see fit.  We forget we are on His time, not our time.  Don’t we also find ourselves disappointed if God does not answer our prayers in the way we ask.   We as Christians need to be imitators of the faith we speak of to others in our own lives. Through our faith and patience in trusting God with our prayers in his timing and with his answers we inherit the promises of God.  Isn’t that what we really want after all, to inherit the promises of God in our lives? We must focus on the faithfulness of God in our lives and recount all He has done for us because of the great love He has for us. We must develop this fruit of the spirit in our lives, patience, and learn to wait on God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

You all have heard  patience is a virtue.  Being patient is more than not complaining .  Suppose for example you are waiting for a friend and while waiting you are  happily reading or watching television.  Is this patience?  Maybe.  But is it virtuous?  I don’t think so. Patience requires something else in order in order for it to be virtuous. It requires discomfort. Even though it is uncomfortable, we must walk out this virtuous type of patience as we wait on God. The Bible warns us that if we forget what God has done for us and if we do not walk in this faith and patience and we begin to push our own agenda instead of trusting and waiting on God’s plan to unfold what can happen.

But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.  In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test. So he gave them what they  asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them. (Psalm 106:13-15 NIV)

So join with me, let’s walk in the fruit of the spirit of patience, virtuous patience, within us. It is already deposited there by the Holy Spirit.   Let’s recount God’s faithfulness and remember all He has done for us. In this place let us hold tight to the promises of our inheritance from God and the unfolding of His plan for our life.