Meditation Monday – Our Times

​”But I trusted in thee, O Lord : I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” –  Psalms 31:14‭-‬15

Do you ever wonder how you will die? Will it be long and painful, or unexpectedly short? If you find you are thinking about your own death, you need to recognize that those thoughts are not healthy, and they are NOT from God!

David was a man whose life was hunted by a madman, put in danger during many battles, and pushed out of his own kingdom by his son. I’m sure there were times he wondered how his own life would end.

“But I trusted in thee, O Lord : I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand:”

If we, like David, put our trust completely in the Lord, we can have peace in knowing that our life is in God’s hands! So stop worrying about your end, and rest in the knowledge that God is holding your times in His hand!

Meditation Monday – You Are On God’s Mind

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” – Psalms 139:17‭-‬18

There are roughly 7.6 billion people on the earth right now. Can you imagine God having time to think about every single person? Yet, David said, “how precious are thy thoughts unto ME, O God!” 

Not only does God think about us each individually, He thinks about us often! David said, “if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand”.

Think of the many sandy beaches around the world. Imagine the wide expanses of desert that are spread throughout many continents. Picture the sand underneath the oceans. There is an estimated 500 quadrillion grains of sand on the earth! I think it’s safe to say that God thinks of us A LOT.

Not only does God think of us individually, not only does God think of us often, but God’s thoughts of us are PRECIOUS! David said, “How precious are thy thoughts unto me”! So as you walk through your busy day, remember – you are on God’s mind!

Meditation Monday – Sleepless Nights

Insomnia usually goes hand in hand with anxiety. It can be a brutal cycle that causes the believer to cry, plead, and bargain with God!  I wish I could say I have learned to accept sleepless nights, but I still struggle. 

I have, however, learned a few truths about insomnia. God sees your struggle, He cares about it, and He wants to comfort you through it! Eventually you will sleep again. Meanwhile, turn on a loud fan, plug in your Bible reading app, and settle in for a sleepless night of fellowship with God. 

“I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” –  Psalms 77:6

Meditation Monday – Our Steps

Do you ever feel like everything in your life is falling apart, despite your best efforts? The Bible tells us that we were not made to direct our own steps. We were made to have our steps directed by God. You can know real peace in your mind – and your life – when you allow God to lead you! 

Jeremiah 10:23 “O LORD , I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” 

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Meditation Monday – Sustaining Care

A large bridge needs many strong cables and cords to sustain it in the air. These cables help bear the weight of all who cross it. The cables don’t remove the weight that bridge must hold, they only offer enough support that the bridge is not damaged or weakened.
How many times do we get angry because God won’t remove uncomfortable or difficult situations from our lives? Scripture tells us that God wants us to cast our burdens upon Him so He can sustain us.  To sustain means to provide what is needed to survive and to help bear the weight. 

Have a problem in your life that’s too heavy to bear? Cast it upon the Lord! He will stretch out His loving arms and support you through your difficult time, providing strength to get you through!

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord , and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” – Psalms 55:22


Meditation Monday – Lonely Trials

Feeling alone in your trial? Some trials can be so difficult, they take your breath away. You tell yourself no one can understand, and are even convinced that people are “talking”. Often, when we are in the midst of a trial, we begin to pull away from our support system, believing no one really cares.

Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking you are alone! The Bible urges believers to help each other out in times of need. If you are pulling away from your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are robbing yourself from God’s blessing in your trial! If you are a child of God, you are never alone! There is a Christian brother or sister somewhere, waiting to help “carry” your load.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” – Hebrews 10:25a

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

What Makes a Good Friend

This article is lovingly dedicated to my friends. Thank you for being there for me, especially these last couple of years! You have listened to my fears, hugged me as I cried, prayed for me, and been there for me at a moment’s notice. You have taught me by your examples how to be a friend, and you have loved me, despite me.  I love you guys!!

Pacing the busy church foyer, my 13-year-old self tried to muster up courage. 
Realizing I just needed to take the plunge, I walked towards the girl.  She had perfect blonde hair that flowed past her shoulders.  Her dress was a beautiful flower pattern, with puffs and ruffles in all the right places.  Looking into her questioning, blue eyes, I nearly lost my resolve. 

“Um…I just wanted to know….what do I have to do to be your guy’s friend.  I mean….do I need to change the way I dress or do my hair?  I just really want to be your friend!”

Smiling at me, the girl gently placed her hand on my arm.

“You don’t need to change.  Just give it some more time.  It will get better, I promise!”

Little did I know then, that 26 years later, that very girl would be one of my dearest and closest friends!

I am in no way an expert on friendship, but I am very blessed by the many friends God has given me.  Some friends go way back and others are newer, but they all are very dear to my heart. 

Making friends is not something that has ever been easy for me.  Approaching people I don’t know will make me break out in cold a sweat.  I say stupid things, and most of the time, come across as very awkward!  My husband tells me that I start to laugh in a high pitched voice, and even talk faster than normal, when I am talking to someone I don’t know. For me, making new friendships has required a lot of work, and, as my dear friend said to me so many years ago, patience.

Maybe you are in a church or a community where you find it difficult to make friends. Before you blame the church members, or even your neighbors, make sure you are following Biblical principles when trying to develop new friendships.

You mean, the Bible says something about making friends?

Yes.  In fact, there are several examples of friendships in the Bible.  David and Jonathan, Moses and Arron, Paul and Barnabas, and Jesus and His disciples are just a few friendships we can read about in the Bible.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD FRIEND

A Common Bond in Jesus Christ – While a Christian should be friendly to the unsaved world, he shouldn’t be best friends with them.  The Bible reminds us in James 4:4 – “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  Don’t forget, that you can’t serve the world and Jesus. An unsaved individual is going to live like the world and is going to do worldly things.  Luke 16:13 – “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  

Be the First to Reach Out – To have friends, the Bible teaches that you have to take action.  You have to be the one that reaches out first.  If you are standing in the corner by yourself, hoping to be flocked by a group of new friends, you are going to be sadly disappointed!  It doesn’t mean the church is unfriendly, it means the church is busy serving.  Maybe they are as afraid of you as you are of them.  Put a smile on your face, get out of your corner, and reach out to others!  Get involved in the church, and be patient.  It takes time to make friends!  Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Forgive – Weather you are offended because someone isn’t friendly enough, or your closest and dearest friend has just stabbed you in the back (yes, I know that was extreme), you need to forgive.  Ephesians 4:32b – “…forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  True friendship won’t seek revenge or hold a grudge.  Proverbs 24:29 – “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.”

Be Generous – The best way to make a new friend is to be generous.  Inviting someone over to your home for a delicious meal is a wonderful first step in getting to know someone!  Meeting for coffee and dessert is another excellent way to form a friendship.  If you doubt this, just look to Jesus’ example.  He invited Himself over to Zacchaeus’s house for dinner!  Luke 19:5 – “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”  If you have a friend in need, and you feel the Holy Spirit moving you to help, you better obey!  Not only does true friendship give when there is a need, but you will be rewarded for your generosity!  Proverbs 3:28 – “Do not say unto thy neighbor, go, and come again, and to morrow I will give when thou hast it by thee.”

Watch Your Tongue – That old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” applies right here.  Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The worst thing a group of friends can do when they get together is gossip about other people.  In fact, if you have friends that sit around and gossip about your pastor’s wife, MAKE NEW FRIENDS.  Seriously, do I need to remind you about Miriam?  Numbers 12:1 – “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married”.  Miriam got her tongue wagging out there in that wilderness against Moses’ wife, and God called her out for it! “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them…and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow…And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days.”  If you have tried to make friends and have found yourself still sitting in the corner alone, you need to examine your tongue.  What are you talking about when you are around other people?  Are your words pleasant?  Do they edify others in the Lord?  Proverbs 15:2 – “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.”  Just because you have knowledge about someone else, doesn’t mean you should pour it all out for everyone to hear.  A true friend will speak pleasant words about everyone! Proverbs 16:28 – “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”

Be Faithful – If you want to know who your friends are, look to see who is still standing after a storm.  Trials and difficult situations can often “weed out” friends.  Don’t desert your friend in their time of greatest need.  If you don’t understand what they are going through, you can still be there for them by telling them you are praying for them and that you love them!  Bring them a meal, send them a card, send them a text, or meet them for coffee!  Lend your ear, and if you are asked to share your opinion, do so with meekness.  Proverbs 17:17b – “A friend loveth at all times”.  Proverbs 27:10 – “Thine own friend, and they fathers’ friend, forsake not.”

Have Some Character – A true friend will bring out the best in you. When you leave their conversation, you will be strengthened in your own Christian walk.  Romans 14:19 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

Be Truthful – Truthfulness is a hard quality to find in a friend.  Often, one will tell a “little white lie” in order to avoid hurting a friend.  But the Bible tells us a good friend will tell the truth, even if it hurts.  Proverbs 27:6 – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  A true friend will gently share the truth, weather it is desirable to hear or not. It does not always have to be painful, however.  If done in the right spirit, it can be a blessing!  Proverbs 27:9 – “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by heart council.”  

If you are desiring to have more friends, or have found yourself in a place that seems unfriendly, be sure you are applying Biblical principles to your efforts.  At the end of the day, remember, you have a Friend Who will never leave you!  Just look to how Jesus treated His friends.  He fed them, laughed with them, healed them, taught them, ate with them, and He even washed their feet!  How does Jesus treat you?  Jesus is our best example of what makes a good friend!

John 15:15 – “Jesus said, I have called you friends.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation Monday – PEACE

What is the one thing in your life that you would give ANYTHING to find peace regarding? Millions of people all around this world are searching for some kind of peace. Some will pay any amount of money to gain it. They will take any kind of drug, do any kind of dangerous action in order to gain the comfort of peace. However, it is never a lasting peace. As soon as the money is paid, the drug worn off, or the action complete, the unsettled feeling returns again.

The Bible says we can have PERFECT peace! Not only is this peace free, it is lasting, and it is available for anyone! Focus on trusting God with your everyday (and extraordinary) circumstances, and you will find peace that is so perfect, you won’t be able to explain it!

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” -Isaiah 26:3

Meditation Monday – Joyful Trials

Have you ever noticed someone going through a difficult time in their life, yet they still managed to have a smile on their face?  Before you credit their own strength, consider their source of power.  God has promised “fullness of joy” for any who dwell in His presence.  No matter how difficult your life may be, walking in the presence of God gives genuine peace (Phil. 4:7), and that is something to smile about!

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” – Psalms 16:11

 

Overcoming Anxiety Series #1 – What Is Anxiety?

Article disclaimer: I am not a medical or psychiatric professional, nor am I qualified to give medical advice. This series on anxiety is based solely on my own experience and research. These articles are not intended to replace professional medical advice or diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please seek council from your doctor before making any changes to your prescription health regime.

If you were to poll several random people on what the definition of anxiety is,  you would receive several different answers.

Some would define anxiety as the feeling they get when they have lost their car keys, or have an exam to study for. While these feelings can certainly be described as “anxious”, they are not the kind of anxiety I will be talking about in this series.

Anxiety physically affects people in many different ways.  It is usually not the same from one person to the next.  Symptoms of anxiety can range from very mild (headaches or nervousness) to very extreme (panic attacks or inability to function in society).

What is the Definition of Anxiety?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anxiety as this: “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill; fearful concern or interest; an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.

WebMed (http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/understanding-anxiety-symptoms) describes multiple symptoms of generalized anxiety as the following: “persistent fear, sometimes without any obvious cause, that is present everyday; inability to concentrate; muscle tension; muscle aches; diarrhea; eating too little or too much; insomnia.”

What Causes Anxiety?

When trying to determine the cause of anxiety, one must consider several different factors.

The Spiritual Factor

The spiritual factor is the most common answer for anxiety sufferers among Christians today. It is often assumed that the individual is backslidden or not trusting God with their problems. While this may at times be the case, I have personally known spiritual Christian women and men, who suffer from anxiety. In fact, the weakness that anxiety caused in their lives eventually became their strengths, because they had completely given them over to the Lord.

I have heard of instances where a lost individual struggling with anxiety, trusted Christ as their Savior and found they had not only gained Heaven, but they gained victory over their anxiety! The worry they had over their eternal future had given them such turmoil, it was causing them great anxiety in other areas of their lives. Solely trusting in Christ gave them power to break the chains of fear and anxiety! If you are not sure of your own eternal destiny, please read this article that tells how there is HOPE for you!

For the Christian, there is always a spiritual factor related to anxiety. God may be using anxiety as a tool to draw you closer to Himself. He could be using anxiety to prove His precious promises to you! Do not brush aside the spiritual aspect to your anxiety problems.

The Physical Factor

At times, anxiety can be the result of an underlying medical condition, such as a malfunctioning thyroid or adrenal gland. Once you realize that you have anxiety, it is important to go to your doctor to make sure your symptoms are not the result of something medical.

I have read of many anxiety sufferers finding relief from their symptoms by making simple dietary changes. Some popular trends are ketogenic and whole food diets. Removing processed foods and drinks from their diets had helped improve how they felt and the frequency of panic attacks.

While I cannot say that lack of exercise contributes to symptoms of anxiety, exercise has been found to help reduce its symptoms, and therefore is worth mentioning.

When our bodies begin to lack the minerals and vitamins it needs to properly function, our bodies can react with symptoms of anxiety. I will not go into detail in this series on what supplements can be used to help relieve anxiety. However I strongly encourage you to do your own research, and to not rule out natural remedies in aiding your treatment for anxiety symptoms.

The Mental Factor

Every-day stress can contribute to the mental factor of anxiety. The burden of finances, children, caring for elderly parents, your own health, and even your ministry can weigh you down and cause mental anguish.

On a daily basis we are filling our minds with something. Talk radio, the 11 o’clock news, Netflix, and even gossip are just a few things we allow into our minds.

As Christians, we need to recognize our need to limit the negativity we allow into our minds. Turn off your radio and TV! Turn off your phone!  Walk away from gossip!

Philippians 4:8 – “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Filling your mind with Scripture, worship, and positivity is a HUGE healing step towards overcoming anxiety.

Recognizing Anxiety

Some people with severe anxiety question their diagnosis and believe their symptoms are some kind of medical issue. The doctors must have missed something! They will spend excess amounts of time and money, going from doctor to doctor, requesting test after test, before finally accepting their diagnosis. Once they have come to terms with the reality that what they have is truly anxiety, they will finally begin the healing process.

Conclusion

Once you have accepted the fact that you have anxiety, and you have recognized the three factors that could be causing your anxiety, you need to determine your path of healing. 

Natural healing is one option that is not widely known. While this healing path is a longer road, it has much less unpleasant side effects, both short and long-term. Finding the right balance of minerals and vitamins for your body is a journey that will require much patience, but I believe in the end, is very rewarding. 

Prescription medication is a more known option for anxiety sufferers. While the effects are immediate, most anxiety medication is not meant for long-term use. Antidepressant medications can be taken long term, but over time, doses will need to be adjusted. Like anxiety medication, antidepressants can also have unpleasant side effects both short-term and long-term.

So how do you know what is right for you? The best way to determine what healing process best suits your own personal situation, is to seek council. A pastor, herbalist, physician, or a psychologist are all ways for gaining knowledge of what your options are. Have your spouse or a close family member help you in your decision process. Lastly, don’t forget to pray. Ask God to direct your decision, and to lead you on the correct path. 

Remember, every person is different. Not only will each person’s cause for anxiety be different, their level of anxiety and reaction to anxiety are going to be different, as well. It is only logical to assume, that each person will heal differently. So don’t get discouraged if your healing process is longer, or different from someone else’s! God has promised to give us wisdom if we ask. Once you have prayed and soght council, be confident in the direction God has guided you.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5 KJV

http://bible.com/1/jas.1.5.KJV

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If this article was helpful to you, please be sure to like it! If you know of someone who suffers from anxiety and is searching for answers, please be sure to direct them to Claiming the Promise!

Stay tuned for next week’s Overcoming Anxiety Series #2 – Six Helps for Christians With Anxiety.