Leave Familiar For Fabulous

In the Old Testament, the Israelites camped in the wilderness wherever the cloud over the tabernacle stopped. When the cloud moved, they moved. I have found this to be true in my own spiritual life, The cloud of God‘s presence has directed my life and caused me at times to leave the familiar and comfortable, to face the unknown and unpleasant. The only way we develop spiritual muscles and grow in strength to face the challenges of tomorrow is if we are attached to God‘s presence in our lives. I have found a similar experience in worship songs. For a while, you can sing a song, and God takes you on a spiritual and emotional journey. But over time, that same song will lose its impact. Follow the cloud. Follow His presence. And your life will stay fresh and fabulous. 

The Most Distracted Age Ever

This is perhaps the most distracted age of all time, and it’s impacting all of us. Drivers are distracted, causing 64% of car accidents. Students can focus on a task for only two minutes. On the Internet, users can focus for just 40 seconds.   Those 25 to 34-year-olds check their phones 50 times a day, and spend two and a half hours a day on social media, while 8 to 18-year-olds spend 9 hours on social media a day. We access media screens an average of 2,600 times a day. No wonder it’s hard to focus on prayer, reading the Word, and even worship. Here are two recommendations for connecting with God during this Age of Distraction. Give God your freshest mind, when you are most awake and, secondly, eliminate other mediums that would draw your focused attention away from God’s Spirit. 

HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

We’ve all made bad decisions when we were hungry, angry, lonely and tired. That’s why remembering the acronym: HALT, standing for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired is a great reminder of when we need to STOP, take a deep breath, and recalibrate our connection to the peace of God that will invariably go beyond our understanding. Each of us have struggled to have good attitudes in order to make the right decisions. Reflecting back on when I’ve been most susceptible to making poor decisions and overreactions, it’s usually been when I’ve been hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Give yourself a break. Take a breath. Trust that God is bigger than any challenge you face, and that most decisions are best made after wise counsel and prayerful reflection. Be anxious for nothing! (Philippians 4:6)

Recognizing God’s Provision

Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize God’s provision at first. When the Israelites first saw the food God had provided for them in the wilderness to eat, they called it manna, which means “what is it?” At first, what God is providing to sustain you may appear to be unrecognizable. It will take eyes of faith and a heart of trust to believe that your future is bright because you know the One who wrote your future and He only does wondrous things (Psalm 72:18). God regularly tells me “Look again, Francis! And this time with eyes of faith.” When I do, at last I see He had my back all the time. “Jesus I want to believe you faster and trust You sooner, because You promised to never fail me, and You never have.”

Why Should You Be Any Different?

When King Sennacherib of Assyria sent an army to capture Jerusalem in 2 Kings 19, he demanded King Hezekiah surrender. Sennacherib foolishly mocked God and His people for trusting in Him, and listed all the nations he’d already conquered saying, “Why should you be any different?” That’s a great question. Why should we, as God’s people, be different when calamity and disaster are at our door? When the Bible says that God “…gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45), it is not saying everyone will receive the same judgement; it is saying each of us receive many of the same blessings. But, for those of us who are trusting Jesus, it says, “The godly face many dangers, but the Lord saves them from each one of them.” (Psalm 34:19, NET)

Waking Up Your Pain

We all love our sleep, and most of us frankly need more. But there are some areas in our lives we need to wake up, while we can. “My nephew was once trapped on his knees and unable to straighten his legs. Sadly, it caused severe and irreversible damage.” It reminds me of the issue many of us have with emotional pain. It’s been said, and I’ve found it to be true, that “We need to wake up the areas in our lives that pain has put to sleep. Pain whispers, ‘Never let people get that close to you again.’” At times, our avoidance of pain can leave us stuck in a perpetual state of unhealth. Movement, once possible, is gone because we were unwilling or unable to wake up to our need in time. Today, live awake, and allow Jesus to touch and heal every area of emotional pain in your life. 

The Truth God Knows

One of my daughters uses this phrase with her children when she thinks they are not being fully honest: “Is that the truth that God knows?” It’s brilliant! She awakens their conscience by causing them to consider the consequence of not being honest. Would to God we all rehearsed the same sentence whenever we open our mouths. “Is that the truth that God knows?” brings us face to face with the God who “judges the thoughts and intents of our heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) One of the ways I activate my conscience every morning when I get up is to allow the Word of God to wash over my mind and heart. Invariably, any deceptions or lies I am harboring get exposed. The Bible says we are made “…holy and clean, when we are washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” (Ephesians 5:26)

Not Going Through a Phase

Did you ever wish a season of your life would be over and then realized you weren’t going through a phase? This was your life. Joseph was a slave from his youth and for the rest of his life. And he lived for 110 years. You may not be going through a phase. You may be going through your life. So, I try to not let my hopes for the future be based on my circumstances being changed. That would be wishful thinking at best, and a complete waste of time. God knows what my future should look like, and what is best for me. He doesn’t need me to give Him advice. What He does ask for is my trust. Pray in faith, trusting that the God who loves you with an everlasting love has already chosen the best options for your future. And the fastest way to access His best is to leave the choice with Him. 

Stop Lying and Live Longer 

We all know stress diminishes our quality of life, but did you know it also shortens our lives? A study was done with two groups of people who had a lie detector determine how many times they’d lied that week. One group was given significant instructions about not lying; a second group were just told they would be tested weekly, but were given no specific instructions. While both groups reduced the number of times they lied, the group given more detailed instructions lied far less. Those who lied less also reported better mental and physical health, their relationships improved, they slept better, had less tension and fewer headaches. Whenever we lie we’re afraid of getting caught, and that produces stress. Telling the truth enriches our lives because we feel better about who we are and, thus, live longer. 

Not Created To Be Clones

The number one way you and I can tell we are not being led by the Lord is when we want to imitate someone else. In the Old Testament, the Israelites had lost their relationship with the Lord and, consequently, begged the prophet Samuel for a king to lead them like all the other nations. (1 Samuel 8:20) What a tragic decision! Here God created and anointed them to be a unique people, chosen by God, but instead they wanted to be a clone of someone else. God is a God of relationship. He wants us to look to Him first, and not to others. “Jesus, it’s Your kindness that allows us to have a relationship with You, Your Word that tells us we have a one-of-a-kind call on our lives, and Your love that continually draws us to look to You first, so that our lives can be truly blessed.” 

We Reflect Our Inside 

Before there were mirrors, there were puddles. We will always, in some way, reflect what is around us. That’s why the Bible challenges us when it says, “…stop fooling yourselves! Evil companions will corrupt good morals and character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33, TPT) Who we surround ourselves with, we will in time reflect. Additionally, we must be aware that what’s inside of us will eventually be reflected around us. What we say will flow from what’s in our heart. (Luke 6:45) Since I want to be aware of what’s inside of me, I allow God’s Word to reveal to me what He already knows. I take seriously the life and death admonition of Scripture, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT) “Jesus, let the puddles in my heart reflect You!”   

Joy is a Choice

Want to add more joy to your life? Sprinkle in a little faith! Faith is the miraculous ingredient that activates true joy in each of our lives. Whereas happiness waits to see what’s going to happen, joy blissfully opens its arms to every moment, choosing in advance to see life from God’s point of view. Joy comes in the morning, before anything has happened to make us happy! We can opt to let fear or worry come in the morning, or perhaps even depression and disappointment. It’s always our choice! If we so desire, we can invite discouragement for breakfast, take hopelessness out to lunch, and join despair for a candlelight dinner. It’s always our call. Will you choose joy today? Will you believe that God is able to provide for your needs. He will not fail you!