Discouragement

Prayer for Protection and Guidance

Oh Great an Wondrous Jehovah,
I slip into the mighty protection of Your hand.
Lord, forgive me for not trusting You with
the disappointments in my life.
Sometimes, I let all the little things add up
and rob the precious joy I find in You.
Help me to see when I put unreal expectations on
others, especially my friends and family.
It is harmful to us, affecting our relationships
in a negative way. Your Word teaches and gives me
wisdom for each and every day.

Heart Hope at the End of Your Rope

What produces or gives your heart sustained and real Hope? Can you do anything that produces Hope?

But I need something more! I've tried everything and nothing helps. I am at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Romans 7:17a and 24, The Message


Before we can get a hopeful answer to this predicament, we first have to arrive at the door of giving up! Just like Paul; who remember, had a religious pedigree as long and as impressive as the State of Texas is wide-we must exhaust all of our personal resources.

The Spiritual Man (Words Change Their Meaning)

As time passes, words change their meaning and often come to mean something very different from their earlier intent. In Shakespeare's day, the word "honest" meant sexually chaste; now it refers to a general truthfulness and dependability.

At other times, words remain somewhat the same in their general meaning, but with a dramatically different intention. "Spiritual" is one such word. Paul in Romans 7:14 says,

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

The word "spiritual" is, in the Greek original, pneumatikos; it does refer to nonmaterial reality, but even more, to power. To say God's law "is spiritual" is to say that it is powerful beyond man's ability to imagine. It has all the power of God and His heavenly hosts behind it. In this sense, the spiritual man is the most powerful man; he is not a pale and weak figure on the sidelines of life, but God's mover and shaker.

Perseverance is Key

Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
--James 1:4

We go through periods when we seem to be standing still or slipping backwards. Perseverance is what brings complete recovery. Committing myself to the task before me, one minute at a time, one day at a time. There are rewards along the way... goals that have been accomplished, the sense of well-being, clarity of heart and mind.

Pushing too fast before you are ready or being critical of yourself for not getting through it faster can prolong the process.

Does God Get Tired?

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:4

I'm more than usually tired this afternoon. I am beyond tired.

When I came home a few minutes ago - earlier than I'd planned - from my errands, I thought how mortally exhausted I am, and the verse I'm using for the text came to mind. And I realized that though I might get tired - whether sleepy or physically worn out, or both - God doesn't. He upholds the entire creation by His will, and yet it is as easy to Him as breathing is to me, and indeed I suspect that it gives Him positive pleasure to do so. I'm tempted to say that it's restful for God to do all that He does, but that would perhaps cause some people to infer that God requires rest, and of course He doesn't. When the Bible says that He rested on the seventh day, it doesn't mean that He'd gotten tired creating the universe and needed a break. It means, rather, that for six days (and I can't make anything out of the Bible's statements except 24 hour days...unless in that early period the morning and evening added up to more or fewer hours than 24) He had been active in creation, and on the seventh day He ceased to be active in that work because it was finished.

Freedom from Bondage

We celebrate our nation's freedom yet there are so many people who are still in bondage. They are in bondage to schedules, deadlines, television, sports, alcohol, drugs, sex, profanity, and all the other things that come before Jesus and keep them from serving Him and spending time with Him as He has commanded us to do. He has told us that we should have no other gods before Him. However all too often we allow things that will one day mean nothing come before Him and our service to Him.

No man 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. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6:24-26, 33-34 King James Version

Overcoming Stinkin' Thinkin'

One of the most common types of skills learned in psychotherapy today focuses on our thinking. Unbeknownst to many of us, we often engage in internal conversations with ourselves throughout the day. Unless we're trained to examine these conversations, however, many of us don't even realize we're having them! For instance, imagine looking in the mirror at yourself. What's the first thing you think when you look at yourself? That thought is a part of our internal conversation.

Having these kinds of conversations with yourself is perfectly normal and in fact, everybody does it. Where we mess up in our lives is when we let these conversations take on a life of their own. If we answer ourselves in the above example with something like, "I'm fat and ugly and nobody loves me," that's an example of "stinkin' thinkin'." Our thoughts have taken on an unhealthy attitude, one that is working against us instead of for us. Psychologists would call these thoughts "irrational," because they have little or no basis in reality. For instance, the reality is that most everyone is loved by someone (even if they're no longer with us), and that a lot of our beauty springs from inside us — our personality.

Ascending the Heights of Grandeur

Only in Papa can we ascend the heights of grandeur, while at the same time plumbing the depths of commonness. That sums up my journey in Christ. The expectations of greatness have far exceeded my wildest dreams or imaginations and the simplicity has astounded me -- a simpleton (not meaning that in a self-deprecating way).

At times I've literally pinched myself to see if I was only imagining where I was being allowed to sojourn. And at other times I've slapped myself to make sure I wasn't asleep at the wheel of life. I know you can track with me. You can, can't you? Or am I the craziest of the King of Kings, Kingdom Kids?

The royal helpmate he gave me to share the journey with... the offspring (natural and spirit born) that have so far exceeded any dream I could have held for their life in Christ...the people he's allowed me to walk with and know... the lifelong friends who have loved me through the 'best and worst' of times (you know who you are)... the exotic and also awful places on this planet I have followed him to... the absolutely insane investment he continues to make in my life... on and on it goes!

Facepalm Moments

When I first saw the image of Jesus doing a "Face palm," I laughed. The exasperated look of our Savior, indeed, conveys the message of "why did you say/do THAT?" And you and I know what that is. It usually has something to do with sin. Sometimes, we look downright foolish. I mean, c'mon, how many times in life have we, ourselves, done a similar face palm?

Remember, lying is a sin.

In any case, some lesser face palm moments often involve us- and our big mouths. Yes, we really blow it here. It's not just about "taking the Lord's Name in vain" either. It's not even about other expletives (you know the words). It, instead, has to do with the negative and untrue statement we utter.

It's Time for Joel's Perspective: Promises Fulfilled

Our cities (and our personal lives) may seem like those in Canaan, surrounded by walls that reach up to heaven -- walled in by unbelief. But -- let's not forget -- the walls of Jericho fell. The walls of unbelief are beginning to crumble. What is long overdue is the shout of the people of God.

I grew up near the mouth of the river Elbe in North Germany where I used to see huge flat-bottom river barges set fast in the mud banks. No tug or marine engine could shift them. But the tide quietly rippled in, hardly perceptible, creeping higher and higher up the sides of those immovable hulks. Soon those hundreds of tons were floating. From the quay I could move them with the slightest kick.

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