Category

Articles

Category

The world seems to be falling apart. Hate is rampant, pain spreads rapidly, depression smothers and violence rises. All of this junk amasses together until it’s a heavy burden that we, as humans, often feel obligated to carry.

That might not paint the most encouraging picture, but I think it’s a fairly accurate depiction of our times. We need only glimpse at the news to read or hear about the most recent tragedy or law. More and more, I find myself getting so frustrated at the world and at the people who spew hate. But really, more than anything, it hurts my heart, and I sometimes think I can feel my soul deflate.

Even as Christians, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with restricting anxieties, feelings and thoughts — to believe the darkness has won, to have our hope stifled and to allow our light to dim. But it’s in those times that it’s so important to remember God’s promise to us.

“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20 KJV)

I’m sure most of us have heard and read that verse before. But God recently showed me just how relevant those words are now, in 2019. I read yet another news story that detailed a world teeming with hate and injustice, and it really bothered me — my emotions, my heart, my soul, everything.

In that moment, God’s quiet voice whispered to me, spreading through my soul like the soothing Balm of Gilead: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Even when everything seems to be going wrong. Even when good is considered evil, and evil is considered good. Even when you don’t think you can take another step. Even when you don’t know where your next breath is coming from. Jesus said, “Yep, even then. I’ll still be with you.”

Maybe you feel like you’re at wit’s end, unable to continue on, stuck in the mire, about to give up. Maybe you think God doesn’t care anymore or that He’s abandoned you and everybody else on earth.

Maybe you’re discouraged by the perilous times of the last days, where humans are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV)

But Jesus said, “Even unto the end of the world.” And I believe those words hold real meaning for this generation of Christians that are facing the tumultuous times leading up to Christ’s return.

God still cares, and He hasn’t forsaken us.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6 NKJV)

God will not fail you. No matter where you are right now, He sees you. Even though you don’t know what’s in front of you, He does. He is already there. No matter what you’re going through — be it loneliness, discouragement, fear, confusion, disease or whatever — lean on Him. No matter what’s going on in the world around you, He still loves you. He is your peace and your refuge. He is your hope and your salvation.

So, trust Him. Give Him your hopes and aspirations, your wants and dreams, your doubts and worries, your fears and anxieties. Put those in His hands and turn your focus on sharing His joy, love and peace with a world that is hurting and desperate for hope.

 

Article by Jennifer Englishjensrandommusings.wordpress.com

 

A little girl was invited for dinner at the home of her first-grade friend. The vegetable was buttered broccoli and the mother asked if she liked it. “Oh, yes,” the child replied politely, “I love it!”

But when the bowl of broccoli was passed, she declined to take any. The hostess said, “I thought you said you loved broccoli.” The girl replied sweetly, “Oh, yes ma’am, I do, but not enough to eat it!”

Do you love others? “Of course I do!” We all would say that! It’s the only right answer. But what do you mean by love? So often we love like that little girl loved broccoli: We love in the abstract, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t want to get too close.

The Apostle Paul’s famous chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, tells us what biblical love looks like. Paul makes the point that the use of their God-given gifts would amount to nothing if the Corinthians did not make selfless love their priority.

In addition to cultivating our relationship with Jesus Christ and serving the people He has placed in our life (husband, children, family members, friends), we have also been commissioned to sacrificial love for people we’ve never met in places we’ve never been. This is not a special call for certain Christians. It’s the result of being like Jesus.  This is what Jesus does.  This is what love looks like.

Listen to how He described the ministry He was sent to do: “…He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; (Luke 4:18 NKJV).  And then He tells us,As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. (John 20:21 NKJV).

The only way to achieve this kind of love is to serve.  Because the truth is, we will serve somebody.  Either we serve others with grace, or we serve others with a grudge – or we can serve ourselves and love will wither. The greatest love is rooted in service to others.  Love is a verb that does!

Hudson Taylor once made a statement that stirs my heart:

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go [to the mission field]. With the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

While God may not ask you to live in a foreign country, all of us are called to adopt a missionary heart no matter where God has placed us.  Ask Him to show you where and how to start being His hands and feet. Though the need around the world is staggering, He often wants to cultivate sacrificial love within us by starting with one person.  Right here.  Right now.

Allow God to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and easy. We lead full lives and may feel we don’t have much time or energy available to serve others. But we must remember that what God calls us to do, He equips us to do.

 

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Do you find it difficult to find the time and opportunity to obey the command to love your neighbor?  Don’t forget that kids have a great ability to break down people’s defenses and to open lines of communication. Here are a few ways that children can help us know and love our neighbors in the middle of busy days:

  • Starting Conversations. It’s easier to start a conversation with someone at a community event if our kids are playing together. I’ve also found many people start conversations with me when my kids are with me, simply asking how old they are and where they go to school.
  • Meeting New Neighbors. While anyone can bake cookies and knock on a neighbor’s door to say “welcome,” there’s something about having a child with you that makes this less intimidating.
  • Spending Time Together. If you meet neighbors with kids the same age, it’s easy to make plans to get together at a park, to go on a walk together, or have a playdate at one of your houses.

As women, we fill many roles: spouse, mother, caregiver, friend, and employee. Sometimes our day begins at 5:30 am and ends with a slow crawl to the bed around 11:00 pm. Downtime is only during our five or six hours of sleep, and that too is sometimes disturbed by the needs of others. This lifestyle can cause long-term stress that eventually may cause problems both physically and mentally.

It is hard for us to admit that we are stressed out. As Spirit-filled women, we are supposed to stay calm, relaxed—and oh yes, smile. Long-term stress can affect our health. Some warning signs may appear such as sleeping problems, headaches, upset stomach, difficulty concentrating, and feeling tired most of the time. We may also feel irritated with others for little or no reason, have feelings of depression, anxiety, tension in the neck and back, in addition to changes in our normal weight.

During stressful times, God has provided a very unique way for our bodies to handle pressure. Our brain produces a chemical called oxytocin which has a calming effect on the body. This chemical is released in higher levels during childbirth, breastfeeding, and when we seek support from female friends.

I am reminded of a story in Luke chapter one where Mary was informed by an angel that she, an unmarried young woman, was going to have a baby. There would be no announcement in the local paper regarding her marriage to Joseph, no planning for the big wedding of her dreams, no choosing her wedding party, no showers or walking down the church aisle—yet a baby would be born to her.

I can just imagine that Mary was stressed to the max! So what did she do? First of all, she probably had moments of anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, a little tension in her neck, along with worry and irritation like she had never experienced before. What in the world was she to do about all this stress in her life? Well, she just packed her little ’ole suitcase, got on Cleo, her donkey, and headed for a town in the hill country of Judea to visit her relative, Elizabeth.

Much like us today, these two women, whose stress levels probably hit number ten on the one-ten scale, begin to talk. As Mary poured out her feelings to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and began to encourage Mary. Mary in turn began to sing a new song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” You talk about oxytocin levels on the rise. I can just imagine there was an abundance of it flowing!

Oh how great is our Creator, to create within our brains a chemical that calms our stressed minds with just the simple act of talking with a friend. God knows exactly what we need; how marvelous is God’s plan for each of us. So get on Cleo your donkey—or better yet, get in your car—head out to the home of your best friend, and talk. Let the oxytocin start flowing. Move from stressed to blessed!

 

Doris Dollins has been in the nursing profession almost twenty years. She has been a hospice RN for the past twelve years. Doris is the mother of four children and thirteen grandchildren. She is a member of the UPC of Paris, Texas, pastored by Robert Myre.

Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.