Devotional Thoughts: Beauty & Worry

Do not worry my friend! God takes good care of His people. In a time of such uncertainty there’s a lot to worry about. This verse is nestled inside of the Sermon on the Mount. Before this verse we are told to give to the needy, taught how to pray in The Lord’s Prayer, spoken to about fasting and we are then instructed to not store up treasures on earth but in Heaven.

So much hooplah these days about how we look and what we wear. We are not our bodies! The part of me that will last forever is the soul. My body is temporary, so why would I spend time and money getting Botox, face lifts and lyposuction? This temple will DIE. My body is just a temporary home. Time is best spent on heavenly things. What are these heavenly things? Living out our faith to the best of our ability and choosing obedience. When we do this we do heavenly things. We make a mark on eternity looking different than if we hadn’t stepped out in faith and obeyed.

In Heaven I won’t need Botox! My body will be perfect. It won’t have any faults. We don’t know anything without fault here in this life. There’s not even anything to compare this to. We do from time to time talk about someone’s inner beauty. I’d certainly rather be known for inner beauty than outward beauty. There are many people our culture so considers beautiful they are even worshiped. Some of these, if we met them, would probably be ugly inside. True beauty only comes from God. If we want to be beautiful we need to repent of our sin and turn and follow God. God changes the heart and soul; we do not.

Young ladies, do not let media images shame you. If you belong to God you have an eternal beauty that is second to none! Don’t listen to the evil voices of this world tell you. Listen to that soft, still, powerful voice of God and you’ll have a beauty people won’t even understand.

So, don’t worry about what’s for dinner! We aren’t and greater or lesser if we just have a PB&J sandwich at home or if we dine in a lavish restaurant. There’s a large banqueting Table we are invited to, it’s just not time yet.

My beauty is the same whether I’m wearing something I bought in a thrift store or whether I’m wearing the finest linens. As a teen I was quickly cured of my name brand loyalty when I accepted Christ. My identity wasn’t tied up in a brand name everyone else was wearing. I didn’t feel that need to fit in so much anymore. I fit in the most important heavenly space and that’s what mattered most to me. This felt like freedom, like coming out of a place of bondage that enslaved me as a teen who was trying to fit in everywhere. I remember being one way with a certain group and another way in another place. I wasn’t happy with myself. Just giving my life over to God freed me from so much! Everyone who’s waited to do this tells me they really regret they didn’t do it sooner once they’ve arrived on the other side. Come on over! There’s sweetness here! There’s freedom in your soul like you’ve never imagined!

Devotional Thoughts: How to Have Peace

God’s Peace, incomprehensible Peace, Peace that doesn’t even make sense is available to us. This verse says it guards my heart and mind.

The verse right before this one tells us to be anxious about nothing. How do we do that? It says to give our requests to God in every situation with thanksgiving. By giving God my anxiety and worry, I release it. I trust God will handle it. Many circumstances that arise in life I know I cannot handle but after expressing these to God my burden is lifted. I can press on.

This doesn’t mean that everything will be ok. It does mean that ultimately I know whatever happens, even if I die I know I am with God. I am His and that’s what matters most.

Years ago a professor taught me that it’s a healthy exercise to give things, and even people back to God. We humans try to take control in situations where we need to let God work. I am guilty of this! Some days we need to say, “God, I don’t even know what’s best to do. I give this person to You, I give my feelings to You, I give this circumstance to You. I cannot handle it anymore.” This exercise is then followed by naming my gratitude, making a list of what I’m grateful for. I find when I do this I have a greater peace in my life. I can withstand much more than I thought I could.

When I do this my thoughts settle, my anxiousness fades, my worry is defeated and I can focus and not make things worse in my thought life. This protects me from bitterness and anger that can fester and create more sin and division.

Saying one should have peace about everything isn’t healthy. It’s normal to grieve. It’s normal to be angry, and it’s normal to get upset and disagree. It’s what we do with these things that determine whether or not we have peace.

Devotional Thoughts: Peace

This world is not my home. in this chapter, Jesus was preparing his disciples, the twelve men, for what was to come. We know they still didn’t understand. John 16 is a telling of what will happen next. Even though Jesus told them what would happen, they still scattered and walked away from him and even denied Jesus as he went to the cross. Jesus tried to prepare them and I believe he prepares us too if we will listen.

How do we listen? We sit quietly and we listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. How do I know it’s not my subconscious voice rising up inside of me?

One night while in seminary I was driving home from a youth pastor job that I commuted 45 minutes to and from. This was in Texas. A hail storm came in quickly and danger was imminent. I pulled under the next bridge and thanked the Lord I found what felt like a safe place. I thought about the Korean students I studied with who had no transportation and I thanked God for my car and told God I’d serve Him even if I had no car. I cried as I spent a sweet moment with God underneath that bridge. The storm lightened and I made it safely back to campus.

A few days later the mailman knocked on my door asking if I drove a little black car. I answered yes and he said, “not anymore.” When I saw my car it was smashed to the ground like a pancake. Another student rented a moving truck and had hit the top of the structure I parked under and the entire thing crushed my car.

Somehow I had a peace that made no sense in that situation. I knew I’d be ok. A car is a luxury. I don’t know what people expected out of me but I believe God prepared me for this.

I hate to say it but in the busyness of life I need to pause more and just listen. When I do this I’m able to weather any storm. God will not just sustain me but God will even grant peace and empower me. There is no peace without God.

What the disciples experienced was far greater than just a car being crushed. They watched Jesus walk to his death. They ran away. They denied him. They thought it was all over. But it wasn’t over! He resurrected and lives!

Jesus appeared to his followers and they were given the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit too. I can take heart! I can have peace. This is the best news my friend!

One Step to Living at Peace With Ourselves, God and Others

Over Christmas break my teen daughter expressed she was having trouble sleeping.  She felt worried when she was laying down at night.  I asked her what she was worried about and she couldn’t even seem to pinpoint the problem.  A few weeks later when school resumed I asked to see her grades.  I discovered quickly why she was stressed out!

She had a 0 for a paper that was supposed to have been turned in on December 21st.  It was now January 3rd!  Over break I helped her brother edit a paper he worked on and tweaked many times.  She watched as we went through this process knowing all along she had a paper she hadn’t done.

When I discovered she had an outstanding paper I reminded her of one of our household mantras: “Work before play!”   If our work isn’t done, it’s not time to “play.”   If my homework isn’t done I cannot watch TV for example.  This is a simple teaching of priorities to my children.

I explained that she would be grounded until she finished the paper she had outstanding. It had to be written well enough to turn in.  I helped her work on this and edited it and she turned it in.

“No wonder why you couldn’t sleep!” I said.  “You were hiding from me that you hadn’t done one of your responsibilities.”  She was punishing herself with worry when all she needed to do was get that paper done.

One life lesson I’ve learned is that I am at peace when I have fulfilled all my obligations and responsibilities.   I too cannot sleep when I have something I’m behind on.  I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night to work on things that are worrying me.   Sometimes just making a simple list helps me tackle what’s stressing me out. This helps me feel more organized.  I feel like I have a deeper grasp on what’s ahead.

I think this has a spiritual lesson for us as well.  Our hearts cannot live in peace if we are hiding things.  Confession is a healthy practice that helps us all be more emotionally and spiritually healthy.  It’s healthy to name our faults and weaknesses before God and to the people we trust.  It feels soooo freeing and good when we can break free of something that is worrying us deep in our soul.  Making headway in an area that we feel we are failing in builds our confidence.

If we just do what we are supposed to we feel at peace.  We can even get ahead! Hiding things we don’t want others to discover is very stressful.  Each day is a fresh new opportunity to stop hiding things and make them right.  Step up to the plate and start doing that one thing that bothers you that you’re not doing well enough.

I imagine this is why criminals who are running from the law sometimes turn themselves in.   The unrest in their souls and the stress of always thinking they’re about to get caught is excruciating.

Lay it down, confess it, do your best to make it right and move on.

The wisdom of Proverbs 28:13 (NIV) says it best:

  “ Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,

    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

My daughter did this and she is sleeping soundly now!   I hope this discussion will help her strive to keep up with her schoolwork better and will encourage her to apply this lesson to the other areas of her life as well.

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