Striving vs. Living

Image result for image of striving

Strive: 1. To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; applicable to exertions of body or mind. (Merriam Webster Dictionary 1828)

I think that I have spent a good part of my life striving – striving to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife, a good mother, a good neighbour, a good friend, a good employee, a good member of society, a good church member. I definitely strove to be a “good” Christian. I worked VERY hard at trying to please God – at least, striving for what I thought would please God.

Unfortunately, I never felt like my striving was enough – for anybody – especially God. The more I strove the more defeated and condemned I felt. The more striving I did, the less living I enjoyed.

This inner conflict was made worse by the fact that I was attending, what I now realize was, a very legalistic church. My “spiritual” life at that time seemed to be made up of a lot of “can’t do this” and “shouldn’t do that’s”. One would think that as a type “A” perfectionist personality, that type of living, all kinds of black and white rules, would suit me well. In reality, all it did was make me ever more conscious of the fact that, no matter how hard I  strove, I couldn’t do any of it on a consistent basis. That made me feel like there was no way I would ever be “good enough” for God, which in turn caused me to feel condemned and defeated. I eventually left that denomination.

My first breakthrough in this battle came after pouring out my concerns to a pastor from a home fellowship that I had started attending. He advised me that when I read the Bible, to take any verse that described who and what we are , and what we have in Jesus Christ, and make it personal and put “I am” into the verse.

For example:

Rom 3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 

To get that into my thick skull, I would insert “I have been” justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;

Note to self – I have been justified (made righteous before God) by God’s grace through my faith in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to be good enough!

Romans 6: 1-14 talks about the fact that when we accept Jesus Christ, we share in his death and resurrection. Spiritually, this means that :

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 

Note to self – because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I share in his death and I am freed from sin – NOT by striving to obey rules and regulations.

Col 2:10 And you are complete in Him,

Note to self – I am complete (made full and perfect) in Jesus Christ, NOT by my striving to do everything perfectly.

I read and re-read these truths over and over again until The Truth of them took hold deep inside of me. Now I no longer walk around with the burden of striving to be good enough for God.

Although I was no longer under the bondage of guilt and condemnation for my sins, I remained under bondage worrying that I wasn’t doing enough for God. I kept hearing the verse from Matthew in which Jesus tells his disciples to “go and teach all nations…”. I would feel inadequate and guilty every time I heard a message about evangelism.

I involved myself in a wide variety of volunteer community service organizations as well as church ministry. I found that I loved teaching the rightly divided word of truth to believers but was very uncomfortable with approaching unbelievers with the gospel – no standing on street corners waving signs for me!

A personal crisis changed my life dramatically and everything that I had been striving to do for God was lost in the aftermath of the storm. I was left feeling COMPLETELY  useless in the Kingdom of God as well as in my own world. I REALLY struggled with a HUGE feeling of having no purpose in life – mine or God’s. I felt cast adrift with no sense of direction. I kept thinking “what is the point of life in this world if I am not using mine to serve God and humanity”??? For me, life without a worthwhile purpose, has no purpose at all.

I received a breakthrough in this struggle after participating in a group study of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life

Through that study I discovered the truth that the main purpose for my life was to have a close and loving relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba. This is something that I am able to do 24/7, whether or not I am attending church, carrying out ministry or volunteer work, or just staying at home.

I must confess though, that because I am a “do-er” type of person, and because I know the great need of this world and have a sense of urgency, I can still struggle with the feeling that I need/should be “doing” more. But I try to allow God to be the one to open up opportunities for ministry rather than me “chasing” them. I also try to remember to “bloom where I am planted”, which at this time, is looking after my beloved husband, and “being there” for my sons and mother, all of whom are struggling with various life’s challenges.

Now, instead of always feeling like I need to be constantly striving to carry out some sort of “work” for God, I spend much more time enjoying living with Him – no matter what I am doing.

I pray that you experience the freedom in exchanging striving for living.

 Joh 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

 

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Oh Happy Day (?)

According to the trending news feed on my Facebook page, today is supposed to be “International Day of Happiness”.

Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognise the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.

It is somewhat ironic for me that it falls on a day when I am NOT feeling happy.

My hubby is home sick – AGAIN. He has used up all his sick days and he is now quickly running out of vacation days. I am stressed because our finances are really being stretched at this point. The situation will become worse if my hubby runs out of vacation days and has to start losing paid days. The stress is making me anxious and the anxiety is making me grumpy and definitely UNhappy!

Now I am feeling self-condemnation because, as a Christian, am I not supposed to be “happy” at all times – despite my circumstances?

So I have decided to do a bit of research on the concept of “happiness”.

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following simple definitions of “happy” and “happiness”:

: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.

: a state of well-being and contentment

Well, according to the dictionary, I may have some right to my current state of unhappiness as my “situation” is stressful which is not enabling me to live in a state of “well-being and contentment”.

But is that an accurate “truth”? The fact is that my current situation is stressful, but the whole truth is that, according to the Word of God, because I am a child of God, I should still be living in peace and contentment, regardless of circumstances.

Pro 16:20 … and whoever trusts in Jehovah, happy is he. 

It is interesting to note that the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary includes the following statement as part of the definition of “happy”:

The pleasurable sensations derived from the gratification of sensual appetites render a person temporarily happy; but he only can be esteemed really and permanently happy, who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God. 

Notice that the first part of the above statement says that happiness derived from gratifying “sensual appetites” (not meaning just sex but anything that pleases all of our five physical senses) only gives temporary happiness. True and permanent happiness comes from knowing God as a faithful, trustworthy, loving, merciful, gracious, compassionate, understanding and forgiving Heavenly Father.

I am a very emotional person and for me, happiness is an emotion based on circumstance rather than on a conscious state of being based on faith. I definitely need to work on that!

Having said that, I do believe that there are times when it is okay to be unhappy. Even the Bible says so!

Ecc 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens: …
Ecc 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

But I am going to try to work harder at feeling, if not “happy” in certain circumstances, then at least feeling more peaceful knowing that God is in control.

And I am going to review my previous post If You’re Happy and You Know It .

Wishing you much happiness on this International Day of Happiness. 🙂

Dazed and Confused

“I’m dazed and confused, hanging on be a thread
I’m being abused, I’d be better off dead
I can’t stand this teasing, I’m starting to crack
You’re out to get me, you’re on the right track”

The above lyrics are from a blues-rock song in 1967, written and performed by Jake Holmes. The rock group Led Zeppelin re-did the song on their 1969 debut album.

While I don’t feel that I would be “better off dead”, I must confess to feeling somewhat “dazed and confused” myself lately.

This week I developed inflammation in both of the sacroiliac joints in my lower back. This has caused a literal “pain in the a**”! I am hobbling around like an old lady and groaning like an arthritic hound dog. Hot and cold flashes are my companions as I alternate between ice packs and heating pads. Anti-inflammatories and muscles relaxants induce a definite couch potato demeanor. And my new fashion accessory is a supportive, magnetic back brace – which looks ever so elegant with my ankle socks and bathrobe!

This literal pain in the butt has caused me to miss: leading one ladies’ fellowship and participating in another, cancel my son and family’s visit (which was to be our Christmas visit), and give up a shift at work at a time when we really need the extra money!

This is on top of having to deal with increased fatigue, lethargy, depression and anxiety due to the change in seasons and my suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

AND THEN – my poor, sweet hubby has been suffering from a migraine for the past three days! He has used up his allotment of medication and can’t get a renewal for at least 2 weeks!

He has had so many migraines this year that he has used up all his sick days and vacation time so that when he has to take a sick day now, he is losing a day’s pay. This is not nice at any time of year but especially not at Christmas.

So – yes, I am feeling “dazed and confused, abused and hanging by a thread” at times.

When I am feeling like that, I turn to the only place and person that I know to turn to – my Heavenly Father. While I absolutely believe that He does not send me these trials, I confess to wondering why I have to keep going through them and why deliverance and healing do not seem to be forthcoming.

Like David in the Psalms, I pour out my questions, my fears and my frustrations to God.

“O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.” ~Psalm 38:9-10 (NRSV).

Psa 69:1 To the Chief Musician. Concerning the Lilies. A Psalm of David. Save me, O God! for the waters have come in on my soul.
Psa 69:2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
Psa 69:3 I am weary from my crying; my throat is dried; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.

I beseech, entreat and implore Him to help us.

Psa 118:25 Save now, I beseech You, O Jehovah; O Jehovah, I beseech You,…

I remind Him of His promises.

2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us. 

And then I purposefully take stock of all the blessings that I do have and I thank God for them. I also purposefully look to see little blessings in every day – like the handsome bluejay at the bird feeder yesterday and the cute red-breasted nuthatch today. Or the unusually mild temperatures we have been enjoying this November along with the mellow, golden sunlight.

Php 4:8 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.

I also try to be grateful for the peace and quiet that is my environment and be thankful that I don’t really have anyone making any pressing demands on my limited energies.

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the end, the truth of it is that when the struggles of this life make me feel dazed and confused, there is only one place to which I can turn – Heaven, and only one person to whom I can turn – God – in the name of His son, Jesus Christ. Without them, where would there be any hope?

Psa 118:14 Jehovah is my strength and song, and He is my salvation.

2Th 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, who has loved us and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
2Th 2:17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work…

Blessings

R.I.P.

Isa 57:1 The righteous one perishes,… 
Isa 57:2 He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

“Requiescat in pace” is Latin for “Rest in peace” , often abbreviated as “R.I.P.”. For centuries, it has been used as an epitaph on the headstones of those who have died, especially if they were Christians. The phrase first came into use around the 1700’s and was a prayer that the soul of the deceased would find peace in the afterlife.

I think that a better prayerful use of ‘Rest in peace” would be for the living, not the dead. God is a God of the living, not of the dead and He wants His children to live “restfully” and “peacefully” in Him.

Mat 22:32 “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

When life is difficult, I think that it is especially important to learn how to “rest in peace” in God. I have struggled with this concept in the past. I am a “do-er” and “fixer” of things. Sitting back and doing “nothing” is very challenging for me. While I still have the occasional struggle with worrying and holding on to things, I am learning the wisdom of “letting go and letting God”.

I must confess that often my health issues force me to “let go and let God”. I have often warred with fatigue and pain. My self worth has often come from my accomplishments so when I am unable to “accomplish” I often feel like a waste of skin. I thank God that He does not look at me that way.

Although I do not believe that God caused my illness nor that He is using it to correct or punish me, it may be that I have not manifested physical healing (as of yet) so that I may learn, like the apostle Paul, to lean on God and to trust that His grace is sufficient.

2Co 12:7 and by the surpassing revelations, lest I be made haughty, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be made haughty.
2Co 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me.
2Co 12:9 And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.

When I trust in God and lean on His grace, I have rest and peace in this troubled world.

Heb 4:9 So then there remains a rest to the people of God.
Heb 4:10 For he who has entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His.

Today as I write this, my head is buzzing and my tummy rolling. I wanted to paint, go for a walk, do some house work and cook some chili. All I am able to do is sip mint and ginger tea and sit in my recliner. Although I am disappointed at my lack of ability to accomplish anything today, I am giving the day over to my Heavenly Father and resting in the knowledge of His mercy, grace, understanding and love and in doing so I am able to “Rest in peace”.

Heb 4:11 Therefore let us labor to enter into that rest

Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,…

My prayer for you:  Now may the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Rom 15:33

 

 

Know Your Enemy Pt. 4 – How to Fight Back

For the past couple of weeks I have been doing battle with a very nasty episode of bronchitis. My weapons for this battle included two visits to the Emergency Dept., a chest x-ray, antibiotics, two puffers and pain pills. After 2 1/2 weeks there are still a few minor skirmishes going on in my airways but I am finally winning the battle. I thank God for the medical helps that He has made available to me.

I also thank God for equipping me with the weapons of warfare that are needed to stand against the attacks of my enemy, the devil. Although the war has already been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our enemy continues to do battle with God’s people. He knows that his time is limited and he is busy wreaking as much havoc and destruction as he can before his time runs out.

In knowing how to do battle, one must understand who and what is one’s enemy. The devil is a spiritual being and he uses spiritual weapons.

Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

In order to do battle with a spiritual being who uses spiritual weapons, we must also use spiritual weapons. We have been given these weapons through faith in Jesus Christ.

1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Jn 5:4 For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. [in Jesus Christ]

We can not fight the devil in our own strength, but we can be mighty in battle when we are in God and work through God.

2Co 10:3 For though walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh.
2Co 10:4, 5 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ;

When going into battle, you not only need weapons, you also need protective armour. God not only supplies the ultimate weapons, He also supplies the ultimate armour.

Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Eph 6:13 Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Therefore stand, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness
Eph 6:15 and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16 Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,
Eph 6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Truth.  Righteousness.  Peace.  Faith.  Salvation.  Word of God.  Prayer. These make up your armour and your weapons and are “mighty through God”!

So how do we win the fight against our enemy the devil?

Jas 4:7 Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Submit to God, put on His armour and wield His sword, which is His Word.

The following scriptures are my prayer for you:

1Co 16:13 Watch! Stand fast in the faith! Be men! Be strong!

Eph 6:10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

 

Blessings

 

 

 

Today

Today, both my husband and I woke up with tension headaches.

Today, we both felt anxious and had jittery tummies.

Today, we had to drive 1 1/2 hours to court to meet with lawyers to discuss an ongoing family legal issue that has been dragging on (and 0n).

Today, I prayed, a lot, both in my understanding and in the spirit (in tongues).

1Co 14:15  What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:

 

 

Today, I asked my Heavenly Father for wisdom and He gave it.

Jas 1:5 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.

Today, I asked for God’s spirit of peace, and He sent it.

Luk 1:78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
Luk 1:79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Today, I asked for an understanding and wise judge, and one was supplied.

Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Today, although I prayed for but did not receive a final resolution as of yet, I was given hope for the future and yet another chance to develop patience.

Rom 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Today, I approached the throne of grace and received God’s matchless grace and mercy.

Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Today, I needed God. Today He heard my prayers. Today, He gave me what I needed.

I will love God, today, and forever.

I pray that you will find God, today. Just reach out to Him. He is willing, ready and able to supply all your needs.

 

Act 26:29 And Paul said, It is my prayer to God that, in little or great measure, not only you, but all those hearing me today might be even as I am,

Act 20:32 And now, brothers, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Blessings