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Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

I have been struggling to remain close to God and to trust Him for a while now.  Things have been difficult lately, and I have not been handling it well.  It’s been hard for me to continue to trust God and believe that He is still working for my good when it doesn’t feel that way.

I have been stuck in a rut for a while now, and I’m tired of it.  Though many times before I’ve tried to get out, it only seems to be temporary.  Ultimately it has just felt too hard to trust God.  But I also realize that I’m making things much harder on myself by pushing away the one Person who could help me and comfort me.  I’ve been holding back with him, trying to protect my heart from the closeness and then loss of closeness that follows with the ups and downs.  But I realize I need to just go all out and seek to give all of myself to Him, trusting that He will work it all out.

 

And He gave me a verse for when I worry about not remaining close to him. It was the same as the very first verse He gave me when I was 18 and first saved.  I poured out all of my 18 year old problems to Him, and he spoke to me for the very first time with Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”  To me that said don’t worry about how all of the problems would be solved but just seek Him.  That’s all that matters.  So I did!   And he gave me that verse again now 28 years later!  (Am I that old?…Nah.)   So its like, oh yeah, I guess that still applies! Lol.

So if I start complaining and worrying and distancing myself from God again, you can remind me of Matthew 6:33!  I’m sure I’ll be needing it!

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In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
-John 3:3 (NIV84)

I am having a lot of fun planting my garden this year. It is very satisfying to turn a plot of weeds and dead plants into new life. We have had really great spring weather here, warm and rain at the right time. So my little baby seedlings are sprouting up everywhere and thriving. I’m so excited to see them grow! But I remember that for those babies to grow and thrive, there first had to be death. The plant from last year had to die in order to make new seeds that have the potential for life.

We have been doing a study at church called Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. He says that many Christians just want to be fans of Jesus and not really followers. Fans really like Jesus and think He is great, but they don’t want to give up their lives to Him.

I completely understand how that feels. It is very scary to give up your life! Especially if you are not sure you can trust the Person to whom you are giving it. But as we learn that Jesus is good and righteous and loves us beyond our imagining, then we can begin to trust and give ourselves over to Him.

In his book, Kyle refers a lot to the verse “Then [Jesus] said…“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) This verse and others that talk about dying to yourself have always bothered me. They seem so harsh, and so I would try my best to avoid them!

But this study has been pushing us to look at them. What I have found out is that when I am trying to live for myself and to get what I think I want, to try and force life to work out according to my will, then I live filled with anxiety, the feeling that things are wrong, discontent, and even depression. But when I choose each day to tell God that I give my life up to Him and want live for His will, amazingly I find peace. I find contentment. I don’t have to try to force anything to work out. I just simply follow God, and His will is done. And whatever happens to me is under His control and therefore is ok. I’m relieved from anxiety and instead experience peace and even joy, because I am doing what I was created to do: follow God. To try to live any other way is going against the grain of who I was created to be.

So like my little baby plants who experience new life this Spring as a result of death in the Fall, I also need to die to my old self so that I may experience the new life that Jesus offers me now. I hope my babies will grow and thrive as i hope each of us will grow and thrive as we give our lives up to God each day!

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If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.  Luke 9:23

We are doing a new Bible study at church, Not a Fan, by Kyle Idleman.  At first this guy really gets under your skin because he’s pretty blunt about giving up your life for God.  Of course, I know we are supposed to do that, but I prefer the more gentle approach! lol  We are also using the Follower’s Journal which has something for you to do with God each day, that I am actually really starting to like because it leads you to intimate fellowship with God.

The first day we were to take five minutes to close our eyes, picture Jesus saying the above quote to us,over and over, and then write our reaction to His invitation.  I was really annoyed by this assignment because this verse is so in your face.  I have always tried to avoid it!  lol  But I begrudgingly did it.  Eventually God made me aware of the end of the verse: “follow Me”. I realize this is what God has already been leading me to do.  Stop trying to live for myself, but instead follow Him.

I have been struggling with anxiety, feeling like things are always wrong.  God has been showing me that what I needed to do is choose to live only for Him.  Get my eyes off myself and onto Him.  He wants me to follow Him with tunnel vision, to look only to Him for His approval and not try to human approval.  He wants me to look only do His will each day, for my only goal to be to follow Him, not to try to make my own plans work out.   If I do that then everything is not wrong in my life because I am seeking to do God’s will and follow His plan for each day.  Then no matter if I succeed or fail from an earthly standpoint, I have automatically succeeded from God’s standpoint and His is the only view that matters.

So when I go throughout my day and I find myself wandering down into the negative pit,.  I may be thinking something didn’t work out the way I thought it was supposed to or that I am doing something wrong.  I wander farther and farther into negative thinking about all the problems in my life.  I need to stop myself and purposely redirect my thinking to choose to look at God and what He wants me to do.  I need to remember that if I am following Him then everything works out the way He wants it to.  So nothing is wrong.  If I can learn to think this way on a regular basis, develop a new habit of it, then I become a conqueror in Jesus.  I can live above the ups and downs of circumstances and emotions. I can be free, flying above it all with Jesus.  So God help me to do that because You know I can’t do it without You.  But I can do all things through You who gives me strength.  Help me to fly with You.

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No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Rom 8:37 NIV84)

I struggle with feelings of defeat, as if everything in my life is wrong and everything I do is wrong. Logically I know this is not true, and I am very blessed. I know that it is satan attacking me, trying to incapacitate me by putting my focus in myself and my weaknesses. It’s really awful when this happens. I can get stuck in this pit and have a really hard time trying to remember how to get out or even have the will to get out.

A couple of nights ago my God Calling devotional (ed. by A.J. Russell) really helped me. It said:

Joy is the sovereign balm for all the ills of the world, the spirit-cure for every ailment. There is nothing that Joy and Love cannot do…Aim at conquering…the world around you. Just say, “Jesus conquers” — “Jesus saves” — in the face of every doubt, every sin, every evil, every fear…Do this to every ill and it will vanish, as night when the sun arises.

So the night I couldn’t sleep, I read this devotional and prayed over and over, “Jesus saves. Jesus conquers. Jesus heals.” Immediately I felt my fear leave me. I felt God calming me and I fell right to sleep.

I have wondered why saying this has such an effect on me. I know it has power because it is truth from the Bible. It also gets my focus off of myself and puts my eyes on God and all the amazing things that He can do. I see Him as my Great Savior from all sin and defeat. I see Him as my Conqueror who can do all things through me, conquer any pain or fear. And He is the Great Healer who has the power to heal all that is broken in me.

In God’s hands, I really can do anything. I can chose to reject fear and spiritual attack because He is so powerful, and I belong to Him. Satan has no real power over a son or daughter of the Great King! Because of God’s power, I am more than a conqueror. So…

Jesus saves.
Jesus conquers.
Jesus heals.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 NIV84)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, [Jesus] because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1 NIV84)

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Seek God First

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry…” (Matthew 6:33, 34 NIV84)

This was the very first verse God ever spoke to me through 24 years ago the night I was saved. For the first time I believed that God was real, and I was pouring out of my heart all of my worries. It was almost like I had finally found my long lost Daddy and had stored up so much that I needed to tell him from the 18 years i had lived without him.

Then I started reading the Bible in Matthew, and when I came to that verse above, God spoke to me through a verse for the first time ever! I understood that God was telling me not to worry about all of the myriad of anxieties I was telling him about but just to seek Him and He will handle everything else.

I began writing in my blog again this week and had forgotten how much I love writing about God and getting to share what He is teaching me. I really enjoy it, like it was one of the things He has made me to do. But at the same time I feel anxious that I will not be able to continue to write, and sometimes that anxiety makes me want to avoid the whole thing, thus causing me to miss getting to serve God with the gift He has given me.

So I was telling my sister about this and she reminded me of this first verse that was so special to me. And she is right! I don’t need to worry about it. Here is her advice for the day:

“You just make it your goal to seek the Lord’s sweet and deep love and fellowship with no other intention in mind, and I know He will lead to to write as much or as little as He desires. The pressure is off!!! You know? Seek Him first and everything else is added.”

Amen, sis! :)

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Spirit of Joy

Its been a while since I’ve last written. Since then I have been through ups and downs spiritually. Sometimes I struggle with feelings of unworthiness, and other times I’m able to accept what God is teaching me about humility and joy.

Because Jesus died for me, I am forgiven and completely acceptable to Him. But I think I am learning that it is not because of what I’ve done but because of what He’s done (obviously!), but sometimes it’s really hard to understand that. Especially when I begin to learn how sinful I really am!

But as I learn about my sinfulness, God is also teaching me about joy. I need to reject the feelings of unworthiness and determine to believe what God says about me, that He loves me just the way I am, that because of Jesus, He accepts me and actually sees me with Jesus’ holiness. I need to believe that I have nothing to fear because God loves me and controls everything that happens to me for my good. I need to believe that I am a conqueror in Jesus, that all I have to do is follow Him as He reveals His plan for me. I need to believe that everything is ok because God loves me.

Then God begins to bring that truth to life in me and the result is…joy! I don’t have to live with a spirit of depression or fear or anxiety, because I am a child of God. Instead I can live with His Spirit of Joy in me! And when I allow this, how amazing it feels, to be free of all that junk. Now if only I can become more consistent with it. That’s my goal for 2013.

Have a joyful 2013!

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…Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Cor 10:5

I have always struggled with negative thoughts and anxiety, which lead to depression and doubting God.  Recently our church has been emphasizing taking every thought captive for God, learning to train our minds to think of good things, to think His truth.  So with all of these messages at church I think God has been finally getting it through to me after all these years!  I have begun to ask God to help me think His thoughts, to see things the way He does, and to know His truth in a particular situation. 

In answer, sometimes He provides me a Bible verse that I can pray over and over to fight the negative thoughts.   One prayer I have learned to pray when I am doubting God is, “God, You are good, and You have good plans for me.”  Somehow stating that fact, even if I don’t feel like it is true, begins to redirect my thoughts and changes my feelings as well.

Sometimes when I ask for help with my thoughts, He brings light to my situation, helping me to see His truth.  When looking at it in His light I have to admit that He would not want me thinking those negative thoughts, in fact that they aren’t even true, and are actually harmful to me.  Then He helps me to choose to believe His truth.  Over time these rogue thoughts begin to be more aligned with God’s.  Soon they become a habit, a new way of thinking as we begin to develop the mind of Christ. 

 That is my goal, and I still struggle with it.  Some days I do it better than others.  But at least I can begin to see a glimmer of how it works and how I don’t have to be a slave to lies and negativity.  And then I get the honor beginning to have the mind of Christ, desiring His will, and becoming closer to Him.  That is the ultimate goal of all this anyway, isn’t it?

Please help us God in our endeavor!  We can’t do it without You, and in fact You are the whole reason for doing it.  Thank You that we have freedom in You and do not have to submit to evil.  Thank You that we can begin to think like You and act like You.  And thank You for Your power to help us.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.   Phil. 4:8

But we have the mind of Christ.   2 Cor. 2:16

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chron. 16:34

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jer. 29:11

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