Heart Stuff

  • A Steadfast Heart

    Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

    Psalm 112:6-7

    When things are going really well and life seems calm, do you sometimes find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? Do you allow worry to cast a shadow over your present blessings? I am currently coming out of of a long season of difficulty and waiting. Even though I am generally an optimistic person, some of the recent knocks of life have led me to be cautious, keeping me from joy in the present.

    A few years ago, my husband and I both found ourselves out of jobs in the same weekend. When I heard the news, I had no idea what we were going to do. It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. In the back of my mind, I believed that God would work on our behalf to bring purpose and blessing in our situation. What I couldn’t anticipate is how long it would take.

    I was fortunate to find work fairly quickly, doing something that I love. My new income provided just enough to squeak by each month.

    Despite my husband’s efforts to find a teaching job, not a single door had opened for him. We continued to limp along and I convinced myself that I just had to rally a little longer, keep burning the candle at both ends, to make it all work. When you have been waiting a long time for a rescue, you begin to feel like you have to make it happen. It is easy to grow weary and start doubting God’s faithfulness and provision. I was foolishly deceived into thinking that our survival depended on me, because it was the only thing I felt I could control.

    Finally, our season of waiting was coming to a end, and by God’s provision, my husband started substitute teaching at the local Christian school where our children attend. It filled the financial gaps and provided just what we needed, right when we needed it. By the end of that year he was offered his dream job, a full-time teaching position at that school.

    After what felt like forever, we had two incomes again, stability in our schedules and in our finances. Despite all this, I never relaxed. I hadn’t switched out of survival mode. I still stressed out over the finances and felt stuck in anxiety. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I didn’t truly believe the storm was over and that I could stop and take a deep breath.

    I had been so busy worrying that bad news was just around the corner, that as a result, I was missing out on the joy of answered prayers. That’s why Psalm 112:6-7 touches a tender place in my heart. (Verse 7 especially)

    “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

    While this is a struggle I am still growing through, it is a comfort to read these words and be reminded that I don’t need to fear bad news. I don’t need to take matters into my own hands, I need to loosen my grip and trust my Heavenly Father. When I slow down and zoom out to the big picture, I can clearly see God’s constant and steadfast presence in every detail.

    Circumstances are ever changing. But God remains strong and steady. He will never change. His goodness and love endures forever. God has already planned ahead for my needs. So today I choose to rejoice and be glad in the day the Lord has made.

    I will live in the moment and appreciate what the Lord has done for me, in any circumstance, good or bad. As I trust in Jesus, he makes my heart more like Him-steadfast and secure, and unshakeable.

    In whatever season you find yourself, I pray that you will step back and pause and look for Jesus. He is there, ready to provide for your every need and hold you steady. Trust in Him and have no fear.

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  • God Knows Just What You Need

    Show me your worries and I’ll show you your idols.

    Matt Gioia

    I’ll admit the first time I saw this quote I didn’t like it. Not because I disagree, but because it hit a little too close to home. I felt physically uncomfortable because I am a worrier. I tend to perseverate on things that God has taken care of not once or twice, but countless times, without fail. Things like financial stress, the kids getting sick, balancing work and mom-guilt, worrying about parents’ long-term health, car problems, and the list goes on and on.

    These are not small things, and one could feel justified in feeling some worry or stress over them. But I am talking about a heart issue. A trust crisis. We all need reassurance that everything will be okay when times are tough. The problem occurs when I crave reassurance more than I crave a deeper faith, and I seek solutions before I seek my Savior. Sure, my initial intention is to give my worries to God, to allow Him to provide in His perfect timing, but when my patience runs out, I cling more to my worry than to the One whose grace is sufficient for all my needs.

    When I’m feeling like this, I’m reminded of Gollum from The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings–weak and cranky, clutching protectively to “my precious”. Only instead of a golden ring, it’s my worries that have become my idols.

    The only thing that snaps me out of that state is a major perspective shift. If I look at things through my human eyes, my solutions will be short-sighted and a band-aid at best. God’s perspective is limitless. He can see the beginning, middle, and end of my story all at once. He knows exactly what to do and when. 

    In Luke 12:27-34, Jesus reminds the disciples of the bigger picture and resets their perspective.

    “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

    “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'” 

    Jesus calls the disciples (and us) out! He lovingly says to not worry about the things of this world. Even the birds have all their needs met without striving or panic. Jesus draws the disciples’ attention to the real issue: their hearts.

    When our hearts are set on worrying about material things, our focus is inward, our treasure becomes our security in those things. Jesus invites us to a better way. He calls us to set our hearts on heavenly things by seeking His Kingdom. Then, everything else will fall into place.

    James Bryan Smith said it beautifully, “The kingdom of God is never in trouble, the kingdom of God never runs out of resources and the kingdom of God is never lacking in power. Therefore, those who live with God in this available kingdom are never in trouble, never lack provision, and never lack power. In the kingdom of God, I discover that I am safe, significant, and strong.”

    As God’s beloved daughters, we have access to all the resources of the Kingdom of God, and His Kingdom is unshakable. And God is pleased to give us His Kingdom.

    When we find ourselves consumed by worry and stress, God helps us zoom out to look at things from an eternal, Kingdom perspective. He helps us prioritize according to His perfect will and grants us peace that passes understanding. He reminds us of our worth in Him, countering the lie that we are beneath His notice. 

    Because the truth is, dear friend, that you are precious to Him. He knows the number of hairs on your head and treasures you. He knows what you need, even before you need it and delights in caring for you. He won’t waste a moment of your present difficulty and will redeem your pain for purpose. As we seek God and step into Kingdom life, we are transformed to be more and more like Christ. And while our circumstances may not immediately change, our hearts and perspective will.

    If worry has become an idol for you, I want to invite you to bring it to Jesus. Let him speak peace to your soul and help you realign your heart with His. He will continue to work on your behalf and provide for your every need. It’s ok if your life doesn’t look like a picture of perfect peace. Sometimes trusting Him is done through tears and clenched fists. But God’s grace and compassion for us never run out. He walked this earth and experienced all the same things we do. He will not abandon you in your time of need. He will sustain you and gently turn your face toward his loving gaze.

    Lean into Him, set your heart on His Kingdom, and rest your worries in God’s capable hands.

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  • Peace Beyond Understanding

    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    Philippians 4:7

    Sometimes in life we find ourselves in situations that just don’t make sense. When life takes a turn we weren’t expecting like a sudden job loss, a broken relationship, or a loved one who falls ill. During times like this it can feel like our world is out of control and the chaos of emotions threaten to overtake us. How do we find the peace we crave in the midst of these situations?

    I have looked to this verse in Philippians many times when my life has been turned upside down. This verse brings me comfort because it speaks directly into these circumstances. It says that God gives us a kind of peace that transcends all understanding. It’s the kind that doesn’t have to make sense. As we allow God into our situation, He guards and protects our hearts and minds with His peace.

    Is there a tender part of your heart that you need God to guard? Do you need God to bring His peace to calm your anxious mind? He will show himself faithful in protecting your inmost heart and mind. Take the mixed up and messed up of life and lift it up to God in prayer. Whatever you are facing, He is there to carry you through it.

    Almighty God, when we are facing a situation that is beyond our understanding, we need your loving peace to guard our hearts and minds. We lift up to you our circumstances and and know that we may not always have the understanding we crave, but you promise to carry us through it because of your great love for us. In Jesus name, Amen.

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  • Rejoicing in Trouble

    But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.”

    Psalm 5:11

    Often in the Bible we see a juxtaposition between joy and trouble. They seem to come together. Sometimes we think joy is a response to all being right in our world. Joy doesn’t come only in the absence of trouble, but is made all the more meaningful and more pronounced by the presence of trouble.

    In times of trouble, those who put their trust in Jesus have reason to rejoice—not because the battle is over, but because they are sheltered in the midst of the battle. God doesn’t always eliminate the trouble, but he does give us protection and will defend us in the middle of it. How amazing is that?!

    When we choose to turn our heart toward the source of our salvation instead of focusing on our situation, we can find joy even in times of trouble. Trouble and turmoil can serve to push us into the arms of Jesus where real joy lives.

    Jesus, we know that in you we find our help and protection. Even in our sorrow, trouble or turmoil, you bring us joy with your presence. This joy doesn’t come from the lack of these things, but the miracle is that the joy you bring comes in spite of these things. Our salvation is secure in you and that brings us such joy!  In your name, Amen.

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  • Treasure in Jars of Clay

    For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

    2 Corinthians 4:6-9

    There are days I feel like I can take on the world, but most days I am caught in the hamster wheel of life, just trying to get from one day to the next. I don’t always feel smart enough or strong enough or worthy of the calling.

    I was encouraged recently when I came across the above scripture. In 2 Corinthians 4:7, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are like “jars of clay” with a “treasure” inside. Paul used a metaphor of clay jars to symbolize our physical bodies. Elsewhere in scripture we are referred to as being made from clay (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 103:14). Just like the clay jars in ancient times, our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific purpose (Isaiah 45:9; 64:8; Romans 9:21). Our bodies are beautiful, functional, and yet breakable.

    Our “jars of clay” hold a valuable treasure that God has given us. It is “the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4), the knowledge of our Creator through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:26).

    I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a fragile clay jar. I’m reminded every day of my frailness when I say something unkind, when my body doesn’t work like I want it to, or when illness strikes. And then I wonder . . . why would God choose to put His greatest treasure in me? Why does God use fragile earthen jars to carry His greatest treasure?

    Could it be that that is where His light shines the brightest? Sweet sisters, the moment you and I placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, we were given a treasure. Paul defines this treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:6 as “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” God sent His Son into this world to shine light into the darkness, to expose people’s sin and to point them to the only answer, Jesus Christ. And now God has left that light shining in our hearts.

    It seems inconceivable that God would choose to use us to carry the spectacular, brilliant, blinding treasure of the Gospel! He’s entrusted it to our weak, broken jars because it’s through our cracks and holes that His light shines through.

    “To show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinth 4:7b

    When we are weary and wandering through the valleys of life, that is when in Christ we must live through the power of God and when His light shines brightest. Apostle Paul knew that the treasure within him—the gospel—was the only thing able to give him the power to face the valleys before him.

    Let us not forget that the power to face our valleys comes from the treasure inside and not of ourselves.

    Paul continues to encourage the church with these words: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:7). Are you feeling stuck, lost, confused, or lonely right now? Here’s your promise and hope, dear one: whatever valley you are facing, it will not crush you; you will not be driven to a pit of despair that you cannot be delivered from; you will not be forsaken or destroyed.

    Writing these truths on your heart will help you to remember that while you do not possess the power to endure the hard things you face on your own, you have the power of the Holy Spirit working in you on your behalf! This passage reminds us that our times in the valley are an opportunity to witness God’s power, might, mercy, loving-kindness, and sovereignty for His people. We not only have a treasure inside these jars of clay; we also have His life in us–we are living testimonies of God’s deliverance.

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  • The Prince of Peace

    Have you ever found yourself staring down a fight? Facing something so difficult and so daunting that you weren’t even sure how to proceed? I know I have had seasons of my life that gave me a run for my money (and sanity). My instinct is to steel myself and get ready for the fight ahead. There inevitably comes a point when I’ve done all that I can do and my own reserves have run out but there’s more fight to be won. I either grow weary and panic, or sink down, feeling defeated and alone.

    I recently was wading through just such a season when I heard a song by Hillsong United called Prince of Peace. I am a songwriter at heart and love when great lyrics hit me out of nowhere. My breath caught in my lungs when I heard this line: “…staring down the fight, my eyes found yours”. This new picture in my mind’s eye of staring ahead at that impossible thing and suddenly having Jesus meet my eyeline…dear one, it brings me to tears of relief. Before I even begin to fight, He is there, His eyes on me, ready to lead me safely through.

    The lyrics continue “…shining like the sun, striding through my fears, the Prince of Peace met me there, you heard my prayer.”

    I pray with all my heart that if you are facing the difficult, heartbreaking or impossible, that you will look for Jesus. Lock eyes with Him and know you are not alone. When we seek him with all our heart, he promises we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

    You can listen to the song here. Close your eyes and let Jesus stride through your fear, with your hand in his.  Allow Him to lead you through your impossible thing. The Prince of Peace will meet you where you are. He has heard your prayer.

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  • God’s Favorite Ingredient

    Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of walking alongside some truly incredible women as they navigated different crises in their lives. I say privilege because while some of the themes of my own journey may grant me certain insight, the details of my own experience don’t fully mirror theirs. It would be easy for them to say I’m underqualified. Yet they allowed me in to pray with them, to hold and comfort their children, and to hold and comfort them. I witnessed their tenacity and resolve as they would straighten up, wipe the tears from their face and plow ahead because life does not slow down for grief.

    Often, when the hurt seemed to last too long, and there was no clear end in sight, I’d find myself wondering, “How do I speak hope into a situation where I cannot see God working? What can I possibly say that doesn’t fall woefully short of the magnitude of their circumstances? How is God going to redeem this for good?” When someone you love is in the trenches, it can challenge your faith in God’s timing and methodology, just as if you were going through it yourself. I craved reassurance that God was going to come through for my friend like He did for me.

    Recently, one friend in particular was especially on my heart when Revive Ministries had a chance to attend the She Speaks conference in North Carolina. I went with the expectation of learning more about writing and speaking, but did not anticipate finding the answer to these burning questions.

    Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 ministries, was the first main session speaker. She spoke from her new book that’s coming out soon called It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way. She tackles some of the really hard questions about walking a life of faith in a broken world. Lysa knows trial, heartache and pain in a very real way, and by God’s grace has held onto faith and hope, even in the darkest of shadows. I sat in the packed ballroom, on the edge of my seat, ears straining to hear a message of hope that I could relay to my friend, and tuck inside my own heart for when I needed it.

    Midway through her talk, Lysa referenced a phrase that talks about God’s light shining through the places we are broken and cracked. She acknowledged that it really is a lovely sentiment, but also posed the question “What do you do when there aren’t even cracked pieces of your life left to glue back together? What do you do when all that’s left is dust? You can’t glue dust!”

    Time stopped for a moment as her words echoed in my heart and mind. What do you do when all that’s left of your life is dust?

    Lysa gently reminded us that “God’s favorite ingredient is dust.” He breathes life into dust and creates new life. When living water is added to dust, it makes clay, and in the hands of the Potter, we become the work of His hand. Jesus spits into dust, making mud that he places on the eyes of a blind man healing him and giving him sight. (Genesis 2:7, Isaiah 64:8, John 9:1-11)

    Lysa said it beautifully, “Dust does not signify the end, it is often what must be present to begin what is brand new.”

    There is no situation that is so far gone, that our Creator cannot breathe life into it. There is no mess so great that our God cannot redeem it for purpose and beauty. I don’t know about you, but when the journey stretches on just a little longer than I want, when it is hard to discern how God could possibly rebuild from the ashes, remembering God’s favorite ingredient gives me renewed hope. It was the reassurance I had been craving, from God’s own Word, breathing life into me again.  I pray it will bolster your faith and give you hope too, for your own sake or for the sake of a dear friend.

    Note: We are not receiving any compensation for promoting Lysa’s book or Proverbs 31 Ministries-we just really love what they are doing and wanted to share with you! This is one little nugget of Lysa’s awesome talk at She Speaks! She has so much more to share about how God’s love and timing truly are perfect, in her book. You can get a sneak peek of It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way & pre-order your copy here

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  • Fighting Through Fear

    I went through my first haunted house when I was 8 years old. My family had gone to the Enchanted Forest and it took some convincing, but I promised my parents that I would be just fine and that I would definitely not have nightmares.  

    My dad and I stepped through the creaky old facade and into a single, dimly lit room. Darkness closed in around us as the doors swung shut with a boom that I could feel all the way down to my Keds. The room was completely empty, except for a 10-foot statue hung on the wall directly ahead of me like a 3-D portrait. It was a sinister imp-like creature with horns and glowing red eyes. I stood glued to my spot, absolutely petrified. My legs no longer seemed to work and my voice left me. All I could do was stand there wide-eyed, searching for a way out. My dad had gone ahead, thinking I was still in step with him, but in the darkness, I had lost sight of him.

    I began to cry and I could hear my dad’s voice calling out, “This way. You have to come this way.” I couldn’t see him, but I squinted in the direction of his voice. As my eyes adjusted, I could see a narrow hallway leading out to the next room. The problem was that in order to get away from this terrifying picture, I had to walk directly toward the thing that had me paralyzed in fear, and then to face unknown terrors that surely lay ahead.

    It felt like a full fifteen minutes before I could convince my feet to move, but finally I managed to side-step along the wall until I reached the place where I would have to cross the room directly under the picture. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes, I saw my dad standing just an arms length away, under the most beautiful, glowing, green EXIT sign.  I mustered all my strength and ran to him as fast as I could. Relief washed over me as he grabbed my hand and led me outside into the fresh air and bright sunshine.

    While life is not always like a haunted house, it can feel equally scary sometimes. Have you ever been so afraid of something that you became paralyzed from taking action? Maybe it’s fear of failure, or making a the wrong choice in a difficult situation. Sometimes, simply fear of the unknown can be absolutely terrifying.

    When we allow fear to reign, it blinds us from seeing the way out clearly. Instead of walking forward toward our Heavenly Father, we allow fear to keep us immobilized and backed into a corner. In these moments, our minds are focused on our fear instead of on Christ. We are really questioning, “Can I trust that God can see what I cannot? Do I want something better, or will I stay here, feeling stuck and afraid?” Dear friend, the only way out of that dark corner is to grab hold of God’s hand and follow Him out into the fresh air and bright future He has planned for you.

    When we submit to the perfect love of Christ, it permeates every dark corner so that all fear is driven out and we are left with the courage and boldness that comes from living in Christ.

    “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7)

    Today is the day to decide to stop allowing fear to paralyze you from the great things God has in store for you. In Christ, you have all you need to achieve God’s best for your life. Put timidity and fear aside and take hold of power, love and self-discipline! Go! Even if you have to side-step along the wall to get to Him, God will be there, waiting for you. He will give you authority to overcome all that lays in your path. Exchange fear for faith; trust today and live the life you were intended to live!

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  • Finding Gratitude in Truth

    I broke my favorite glass yesterday. I was rushing around, trying to get out the door and the iron fell over and bumped the glass. It shattered it into a thousand pieces. I swept up the glass and simultaneously held my dog back with my foot to keep her from stepping on the glass. In that moment, I was consumed by a flurry of negativity and frustration and started to cry. Despite having been a good day up to that point, at that moment, it felt like it was all falling apart.

    Have you ever had a day like that? First one thing goes wrong, then it seems like everything else does too. Normally, I’m a pretty optimistic person and I like to find the bright side of things, but when my day starts to feels out of control, it is easy to perseverate on the negative. It’s easier to feel gratitude when things are going our way and life seems pretty smooth.

    Growing up, we used to sing a song in church based on Psalm 100:4 that went “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his courts with praise..I will rejoice for He has made me glad…” It is a song that I know by heart and often sang without really thinking about the words. It is a song of gratitude and praise, but it can mean so much more depending on how you hear it.

    When I hear the lyrics, I think of expressing gratitude for the day, for being alive, for God’s creation and power, and a call to rejoice and be glad. A friend of mine was going through some difficulties in her life and heard the lyrics from a different perspective. She heard it like this:

    “I WILL enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I WILL enter his courts with praise. I WILL say this is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.”

    What she heard was a choice–-a determination to worship and be thankful. Despite the tough stuff she was facing, she was choosing joy and gratitude, even when hope seemed elusive and life was hard.

    Gratitude in all circumstances, good or bad, is a decision made in the heart and the mind.

    It is on the mind that I want to focus especially. Our thoughts have the power to shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. Because of this, it is so important that our thoughts be firmly established in truth.

    Paul gives us some great imagery of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. In every situation, we have a chance to stop right in our tracks and choose which way we will allow our thoughts to take us. Will we see everything that is going wrong and let our thoughts control us, or will we capture those thoughts and turn our mind toward Jesus instead? It will take practice and we will have to work at it, but the reward is peace and incomparable joy.

    After my favorite glass broke and I had swept up all the precious pieces, I sat down and caught my breath. I ate some food and enjoyed the silence of the house for a moment. I prayed and asked God to re-orient my thinking and give me strength. I focused on the truth and remembered that my day really hadn’t been a bad one. Work went well. I made it home safely. My husband had fed the kids and they were all at the baseball game where I would meet them to enjoy the rest of the evening. Peace washed over me, and I was filled with gratitude that I could come to Jesus with even the smallest of things.

    Things completely turned around from there. My family had a wonderful time together and we enjoyed the day and one another. If I had left my thoughts unchecked, I would have been stressed out, grumpy and distracted instead. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the game or be patient with my kids. It would have robbed us all of a lovely evening.

    When stress has me tangled up in knots, I am learning to pause, reconnect with God, re-orient my thoughts and choose gratitude and joy. When the unexpected happens and all you want to do is throw your hands up in the air and say “Jesus take the wheel!”, practice the pause. What thoughts do you need to take captive today so that you can find gratitude in truth?

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  • Exchanging Worry for Joy

    “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9

    Every once and in awhile, I wake up to a day when my insecurities and worries threaten to get the best of me. It starts subtly, but can quickly spiral into a full-on questioning of the meaning of life! “Who am I? What if people don’t like what I have to say? What if I didn’t really hear God right and I’m not the right person for the job?”

    Do the worries of life sometimes overwhelm you? Maybe the little everyday stressors stack up and weigh heavily on your heart. I have recently realized how easy it is to become trapped in a prison and it’s called worry. You may know it by its other names…anxiety and fear. These things can immobilize you and keep you from the joy and peace that God intends for you. It is a slippery slope off the path that leads to peace and joy. It starts small and grows until all you can see is that worry or fear.

    Good news! God has given us a way to be set free. In this section of Scripture, Paul tells the church in Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He follows it by saying, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.” Although these two phrases may not seem related, they are meant to go together. He knows we cannot fully rejoice until we let go of the worry and fear. Joy and worry are opposites in nature. Worry threatens to take our joy. Fear is out to destroy our peace. We must give our worry, in every situation, to God through prayer. When we lay them down in His capable hands we are set free from the hold they have over us. We trust in an all-powerful God, our Heavenly Father, who knows and loves us. He takes care of our worry and need, and gives us peace instead.

    Maybe your worry isn’t over a situation but rather a matter of the heart. Some of my biggest worries are over my own insecurities. Paul reminds us that there is a way out when the insecurities start to surface and whisper lies into our heads. The first key is relinquishing our worries to God. Once we allow God to take them over, we need to start filling up with truth.

    In John 8:32, Jesus said that, “the truth will set you free.” In Ephesians, Paul talks about putting on the armor of God and the very first item is the belt of truth that wraps around us. This is why he goes on to say,

    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

    Paul is reminding us to fill up our minds with truth and goodness. This can help us take every thought captive for Christ as we compare it to this list. When the narrative in my head starts to spiral out of control, I can stop and ask, “Is this true? Is this right? Is it lovely or admirable?” When I stop to line my thoughts up with these questions, I often realize that my thinking is not grounded in the truth. I am caught up in the lies of the enemy. Satan wants us to remain ensnared by the untruths that tell us that we are not capable, not good enough, not called, that we are unlovely or unloved. He wants us to feel alone and paralyzed by worry, fear and insecurity.

    But God’s message is different. He gently calls us as a loving Father, to hear truth.
    “Come to me, my child. Give me all that weighs so heavily on your heart. Let me remind of what is true. You are radically loved. You are uniquely and wonderfully made by me and I make no mistakes. I have called you to be my child and be a light in this dark world. You have purpose and significance–there is work in this world that only you can do. I have given you everything you need to do my good work and I will provide for all your needs. Put your trust in me. You are never alone for I am with you always and will never leave you or forsake you. I will take your worries and give you peace that will guard your heart and mind”

    So today, if you find your worries and anxieties spiraling out of control, put these things into practice. Ask yourself, “Are my thoughts based in truth? Does the message in my mind match the message of God’s truth?” If not, talk to God about it and let him know what is on your heart. Trust Him with all that burdens your heart and mind and allow His peace and joy fill you up. He will give you a peace that rises above your circumstances, so that you truly can rejoice.

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