From Our Hearts to Yours
Picture this. You are merrily going through your day. So far, so good. For a patch of time, it’s been smooth waters. Maybe you’re thinking, Wow, look at me go! See me sail! There’s not even been a speed bump. Life is sweet!
And then…everything goes sideways. The phone rings. The mail arrives. An accident occurs. Your boss reprimands you. The kids get home from school whining. Or your husband home from work complaining. And everything — all that peace and order and well-being and control that had you soaring through your perfect day — falls apart. It’s like out of nowhere someone shot a torpedo into your beautiful little boat.
What is the general first response most people make when something like this occurs? In a word, reaction. Your natural tendency is to strike back, talk back, react, blow up, defend yourself, fall apart, cry, throw your hands in the air, or just give up. Well, right here, at this very juncture, your first choice has got to be to stop. I think of it as coming to a screeeeeching halt! Just put the brakes on—on your emotions, on your mouth, on your actions. Just stop! And might I say, stop quickly!
Why? Because the surest way to make a wrong choice is to rush before reasoning. To fail to stop and think before acting. To make a quick or snap or emotional decision without making sure you know the right way to handle a situation, or before you know the right decision to make. You can see it right in your Bible: “He sins who hastens with his feet” (Proverbs 19:2). You can also read that in contrast “the heart of the righteous studies how to answer” (Proverbs 15:28).
Poor decisions leading to failure can happen oh so quickly! It’s like lightning. One minute all is well, and the next brings the crash and the devastation. All you have to do is fail to stop before you do anything, fail to stop before you act, fail to stop before you move, fail to stop before you speak. Once again, just stop.
Sure, there are some decisions that have to be made instantaneously. But even if your house is on fire, or there’s a terrible accident or medical emergency, or the baby’s on the way now, you can still stop even for a millisecond and take a breath, and blitz through some options, and shoot up a “Help, Lord!” That one or two split-second stop can help you form a plan on the go while zooming onward to handle a crisis.
So, the first step toward any good decision begins the same. Stop…then you can begin to look and listen. Then you can look for help. Then you can look for solutions. Then you can look for answers. And then you can listen to the wise counsel of others, and most of all, to the still, small voice of God guiding and instructing you about how to handle your problem His way – the wise, the best, and the right way.
Question: I have friend who tells herself to “stop, drop, and pray” before reacting. What phrase or verse from the bible can you use to remind yourself to stop, and think before acting?
John 3:29 – …joy is mine, and it is now complete.
One year on a beautiful autumn Sunday, Jim and I drove to from our California home to Sequoia National Park to see the fall leaves. Driving to and through the park, we enjoyed the spectacular colors and God’s striking handiwork. We also found a rustic stone lodge perched on the edge of a stream. As we crossed over a little bridge, we stopped and looked at the brook that ﬂowed beneath it and sounded so pleasant and refreshing. It sounded like a lovely place to just jump in and splash around.
But, peering over the rail, we were surprised to discover the cause of the water’s sweet sound. We saw piles of large, jagged rocks that were impeding the water’s surface, even redirecting its path. This was certainly not the place for wading. It was even quite perilous. Nevertheless, the little brook gave forth utterly joyful sounds! Both Jim and I marveled that something so traumatic could cause something so lovely!
Yet isn’t this stream a picture of what real life is like— or at least of what the Christian life should be like? Our lives are ﬁlled with disappointments, crises, tragedies, heartaches, affliction, and struggles—just as Jesus said (John 16:33)! But the good news is, that as you and I encounter disquieting rocks that impede our progress, disturb our tranquility, break the surface, and redirect our path, God can give us the joy we need to produce sounds of praise to Him.
Beloved, Jesus desired that our joy might be full (John 16:24), but affliction, loss, stress, and pain can too easily rob us of any sense of joy. But, when we turn our gaze upon God in the midst of our suffering, we suddenly ﬁnd the power we need to praise Him despite the pain and to give thanks for His goodness…even when things are not so good. Thanks to the working of His Spirit in us, you and I can experience joy that transcends circumstances and transforms something traumatic into something truly lovely.
A Prayer to Pray: Jesus help me remember that Your joy is my joy and nothing in this world can take that away. Guide me through my circumstances and challenges so that my joy might be complete, rather than diminished.
As a new Christian and young mother, I chose Proverbs 22:6 as a guiding scripture for raising my children. This admonition says parents are to “train a child in the way he should, go and they will not depart from it.” A decade later, however, my parenting didn’t seem to be working the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t reaping the results I had expected. I had expected easy teen years (ha!). And, I’d expected to be my daughters most trusted confidant. Really, I thought I would be their BFF!
I realize now that this ideal scenario is a blessing to those who enjoy it. But, it is not guaranteed for every parent / child relationship – even in Christian families. There are individual struggles and challenges to each and every parenting relationship. You yourself may worry that you do not have what it takes, or didn’t begin early enough to guide your children successfully in God’s ways. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. Maybe there are some wounds between you and your children that need to be healed.
God knows and God knew. He knows all about it — all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. And, God knew all about it when He placed your children in your care.
I want to encourage you that God is the author and ﬁnisher of your faith and your life (Hebrews 12:2). He is the source that covers your failings and gives hope for your future. God is also the author and finisher of your children’s faith — which can give us hope at any stage of our children’s lives!
Question: How does it encourage you to know that God is ultimately the One responsible for your child’s faith?
Special Contest Announcement – Today’s the last day to enter!
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry today.
If you’re like most teens, you have no problem at all memorizing the lyrics to your favorite songs. I see teen rocking in the car or singing along with their headsets. The words are stored in their minds and coming out of their mouths. Well, that’s how easy and natural memorizing God’s Word can be, if you choose to make it a part of your life.
The Bible also tells believers to “hide” God’s Word in their hearts. Why? So they won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). When you have the Bible in your heart, it serves as a safeguard against sin, against making wrong choices, and against suffering the painful and shameful consequences that go along with making wrong choices.
Mary, the young teen who became the mother of Jesus, was passionate about memorizing portions of the Bible. How do we know this? Because Mary was a girl who treasured and pondered God’s Word in her heart. When she opened her mouth to praise God for the blessing of the Savior, out came Bible verses — she cited at least 15 passages from the Old Testament (Luke 1:46-55). These were verses and truths Mary had memorized on purpose (a choice!) and learned by heart. They became her language. When she opened her mouth, her lips leaked God’s Word. And it was His Word in her heart that helped her live out God’s plan for her to become Jesus’ mother.
So, here’s a special assignment for you. What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Write it out and be sure to memorize it. Make it your own! And if you can’t think of a verse, use one of the two below to get you started:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)
Just think — the Bible is all yours, all the time. And it’s the ultimate source of truth and power. God’s Word makes its way into your heart. It turbo charges your soul. And it changes your views about yourself, other people, and the things that are happening in your life. Do you want a more rewarding and fulfilling life? Good news! You can have it. Your better life is as close and as easy as making the choice to pick up your Bible each day, open it up, and take a few minutes to let God speak directly to you. When you do this, you’ll know what to do and how to handle everything that comes along in life.
Question: How has memorizing Scripture helped you make a tough decision or calm you in a difficult situation?
Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.