The alarm goes off and immediately I’m struck with a feeling of dread. There’s so much to get done today and not enough time to do it all. Stress takes
over and fills my heart with worry.
We’re all running the race against the clock. Work or school, church obligations, finding time to spend with family and friends, that emergency that pops up in the middle of an already busy day and a million other little things. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day. Somehow we manage to get most of it done. Maybe not everything, but the most important priorities get checked off the to-do list. The rest will be waiting for us tomorrow when we get up and do it all over again.
Does this sound like your life? Are you at the end of your rope? Are you wondering how you’re going to make it through yet another crazy, busy day?
There’s a better way. Instead of that stressful, chaotic day, we can have a peaceful day. Peace may be the last thing we’re thinking about when its crunch time. But at the end of the day, when our head hits the pillow, peace is what we all want.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
I must have read this verse a thousand times over the years. But this time, when I read it, God whispered something to me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. “What rules your heart?”
Unfortunately, for me, the answer always seems to be stress and worry. I guess I’m a bit of a worry wart. But all of that worry gets me nowhere fast. It makes me feel like a hamster on my little hamster wheel and there’s no way off. And the worst part is, all that stress and worry keeps me from experiencing the lasting peace of Christ.
And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!
When Jesus spoke these words, He knew that I would be a worrier. He knew that I needed to be reminded of God’s love and peace. So, why am I worrying and stressing when God has promised to take care of me? I don’t know! It just happens and then I have to take a step back and realize that I don’t need to worry. I can trust God. If He cares about the grass and the flowers, then surely He’s going to get me through today.
Maybe for you it’s not worry but something else that is keeping you from having the peace of Christ. It could be family drama, work problems, troubled relationships, fear of failure, a longing for something different in life or one of so many other things that pull us apart. Whatever it is, Jesus wants you to have the peace that only He can offer.
So, how can we find peace?
If you are a Christian, then you already have peace in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is peace! And He gives us His peace! The Amplified Bible describes this kind of peace as “an inner calm”. Isn’t that what we all want? To have an inner calm when life hits us hard? To feel peace in the midst of chaos? This peace is a spiritual peace that comes from the confidence of knowing Jesus.
Emotional peace, that feeling of peace we are looking for in the chaos of life is more elusive. But we can find it by doing these two, simple things.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Read the Bible
Your word I have hidden in my heart.
It seems so simple, yet, when we’re in the thick of it, it’s so hard. We get caught up in everything else that we need to do and forget to make time to spend with Jesus. But if we want to experience the peace of Christ we need to choose to make Jesus the focus of our life and walk with Him every day. When we do that, the peace we are looking for will come.
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It seems that I’ve spent the last few years waiting for God. It’s been hard. Patience doesn’t come easily for me. I just want to do something, ANYTHING, to get from where I am, to where I want to be. But God said, wait. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Until I thought God would never give me the green light to move forward with all that He has for me to do. And finally I got it…the green light I’ve been waiting so long for!
Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness,
And rivers in the desert.
God gave me this verse recently to say, “Now is the time, go for it!” This new thing that God wants to do in my life means taking action and putting myself out there, something that I’ve been longing to do, but now it seems so scary. Will it work? Will I succeed? Or will I fall flat on my face? Whatever happens, I know I have to trust God and follow His plan.
But God doesn’t just want to do something new in my life. He wants to do something new in yours too!
Do not remember the former things…
Let’s face it, we all have a past. And it probably has a few things in it that we’d rather not think about or share with the rest of the world. But that’s okay because God is giving us permission to let go of those hurts and disappointments from the past. So, whatever hardships you’ve endured up until now, take them to God and leave them at His feet. It’s okay to forget them and move on.
Behold, I will do a new thing…
God has something new in store for us! Something greater than we can even image! But we have to be willing to accept this new thing and take action to achieve it. God doesn’t expect us to be spectators in our own lives, He wants us to participate fully in this new thing and see it through to fruition. I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking it too. Taking action is hard. I feels unnatural and like I’m setting myself up for a big letdown. But this is where it gets good, because God continues on…
Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?...
Spring is finally here. And with it comes the beautiful blooming flowers and budding trees. All winter long these flowers and trees have been there resting, taking root and waiting for the right time to spring forth. We’re just like these flowers and trees. We’ve been waiting, praying and letting God’s Word take root in our hearts, so that when springtime comes for us, we’ll be ready to bloom.
I will even make a road in the wilderness…
Have you ever gone hiking? There are usually some pretty well worn trails that other people, or maybe animals have made. Instead of stumbling through the tall grass, rocks and downed tree branches, we choose to walk these trails. When we start to take action and work toward this new thing in our life, we will face roadblocks. But God promises that He will go before us and blaze the trail. He will remove the roadblocks when they present themselves. He will remove all of the debris in front of us and make a road for us to walk on. And He will lead us into this something new. There will always be roadblocks in our path, but we can hold tight to God’s promise, that He will make a road in the wilderness for us.
And rivers in the desert…
Back to that hike through the wilderness, only this time it’s a hundred degrees in the shade. When the temperature is soaring, you’re going to get a little bit thirsty. All you can think about is a cold, tall glass of water. (And maybe some ice cream!) Okay, just the water, but you definitely need a little refreshment when it gets so hot outside. Likewise, when the heat is on in our lives and we feel like we’re failing in this new thing, it’s easy for our spirit to become parched. We’re so focused on the task at hand that we forget to replenish our resources, like reading the Bible, praying or seeking God’s will. But in the midst of our thirst, God is our oasis in the desert of our lives. He offers us a cool river to relax and refresh ourselves in, because He understands that we get tired and discouraged when things are hard and don’t go the way we thought they would. So, when hard times hit us square in the face, all we need to do is to turn to God. He will fill us up when we’re empty and pick us up when we’re down. Then, when the thirst subsides and we feel better, we can continue on.
Now is the time. God wants to do something new in your life! Will you let Him? Will you accept this new thing that He has planned for you? I know my answer. I will gladly accept this new thing. I will follow wherever He leads me. I will hold tight to His promises when things get tough. And, when the time is right, just like a blooming flower, I will spring forth.
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The world tells us that having wealth is the most important thing in life. And that having money is what gives us worth as people.
In my life there never seems to be enough money to make ends meet. I live on a tight budget and I try to make every dollar stretch. With the economy the way it is, I’m sure you do too. Somehow, by the grace of God, we make it through. The bills get paid and groceries are bought, but we’re still just getting by.
Because of this, it seems that we’re all looking for that proverbial “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”. Whether it’s praying that we win the lottery or inherit from a long lost rich relative or maybe we work eighty hour weeks to get ahead.
But God has a plan for us. A perfect plan to give us lasting wealth. It’s not wealth in the traditional sense, but something much greater. I’d like to share with you what God has to say about true wealth and what He thinks gives us value.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
lay up for yourselves…
The phrase “lay up” in verse 19 and 20 means “give priority to”, so these words of Jesus are about the priorities that we have in life. I often ask myself, “What are my priorities in life and are they pleasing to God?” Sometimes my priorities are in line with God’s and sometimes I have to do a real gut check and change my way of thinking.
Our priority as Christians should always be to have a lasting relationship with our Savior and to reflect His light to the world.
where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…
The world tells us that having “stuff” will make us happy and give us meaning in life. They say that the more “treasure” you have the better off you’ll be. But material objects can be broken, stolen or lost.
We all need money to survive and it isn’t necessarily bad to have stuff. It’s the importance that we place on these things. When they become more important to us than anything else, we are missing out on all of the blessings that God wants to give us.
treasures in heaven…
Our reward is waiting for us in heaven. Jesus is that reward and when we live for Him, then we are storing up treasures in heaven. The things that we do here on earth matter. Are we looking ahead to what awaits us in heaven and concerned with furthering God’s kingdom or are we only concerned with our current circumstances and paying the bills?
there your heart will be also…
The condition of our heart is what is most important to God, and in verse 21, that is what Jesus is talking about. When our focus is on making money and accumulating wealth then we aren’t making room in our heart for Jesus. But when we focus on the spiritual rewards of a Christian life our walk with Jesus will be greatly improved.
Our first priority should be on our personal relationship with Jesus and then on sharing our faith with other people. What is your priority? Is it acquiring wealth? Or is it your relationship with Jesus and bringing other people to Him? If you search deep within yourself you will find the answer. Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you the areas of your life that keep you from having a meaningful relationship with Him. Rest assured that He will give you the answer.
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For You are my hope, O Lord God…
We all have hopes and dreams in life. We expect that the goals we set for ourselves will work out exactly as we plan. Sometimes they do, and we can celebrate our accomplishments. But sometimes life gets in the way of our best laid plans. We go through the motions. We get up every day, go to work and take care of our families. Somehow those hopes and dreams that we started out with get left behind and begin to slowly fade away. When this happens, we’re left wondering, is this all there is in life.
Like most of you, I’ve had my hopes and dreams crushed under the weight of life’s demands. A few years ago I set out to accomplish a huge life goal of mine. I put everything I had into it. I truly believed that it would change my career and my family’s future. I was so invested in it, both financially and emotionally. But no matter how hard I worked, it just didn’t happen. I was devastated and became disillusioned with the work I was doing. I felt like a complete failure. I had let my family and myself down and I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong.
But the problem wasn’t in the work I was doing or the amount of time I had invested into it. The problem was who I was counting on to see that project through. I was relying on myself and my own abilities instead of relying on God. Thankfully, we don’t serve a God who is uncaring or unfeeling. He understands how we feel when the hopes and dreams we have for ourselves fall flat. He knew how much I was depending on this career change, how much I had built it up in my mind and how terrible it felt to see it fail.
When we put our hope in ourselves we are trusting in our own ability to make something happen. We are essentially saying to God, “I don’t need you, I can do it on my own.” When we start down the path of thinking that we don’t need God we are setting ourselves up for a fall. We deny ourselves the opportunity to see the goodness of God’s plan if we don’t surrender ourselves to it. And we miss out on all of the blessings He has in store for us.
The solution to my problem was simple. I needed to put my hope and trust in God and what He wanted for me.
Hope in God is different from hope in ourselves. It is grounded in His truth and faithfulness to us. It is a concrete confidence in God’s ability to make His will for our life happen. When we surrender ourselves to God’s will and put our hope in Him, we no longer need to rely on our abilities. We can trust that God has our best future in mind and He will lead us into it.
When I began to put my hope in God, He led me in a completely new direction. A direction full of opportunities to serve Him that I never thought were possible. It may be a different life than what I had planned, but it is a better life than I could ever imagine.
As Christians, our hope is not in ourselves or in material things. It is in the firm foundation of our faith. We have a loving Father who is faithful to us. He is always willing to hear us when we cry out to Him, support us when we seek His will and give us hope for the future. Put your hope in Him and He will show you the way!
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But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57
What do you think of when you hear the word, Victory? Maybe you think of gladiators entering the arena with one goal in mind… total victory. They fight hard, overcome obstacles, and if they are victorious, win their freedom.
Or maybe you think of a Civil War soldier marching through a field, his rifle raised as he faces a brutal battle. His future is uncertain and he doesn’t know if he’ll see home again, but he’s fighting for the glory of the cause he believes in.
I can only imagine how Jesus must have felt as the Romans led Him up to Golgotha. He was facing the pain and agony of the cross, but He was also promised victory over death. He had prayed for this cup to be taken from Him, but He chose to die a sinner’s death in our place anyway. On the cross, death and sin were conquered. And just as God the Father had promised, when Jesus rose again, He had the victory!
But Jesus doesn’t keep this victory all for Himself. He gives it to those of us who believe in Him. As Christians we are active participants in the victory of Jesus! All we have to do, is to claim that victory as our own. Let’s take a look at some verses that show us how to have victory in Jesus.
And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:4-5
To have victory in Jesus, we must accept Him as our Savior. When we do, we no longer live our life for or take comfort in the things of this world. If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins, then our faith in Him has already given us the victory we are looking for. If you have not put your faith in Jesus, now is the time. Do it right now and claim the victory! If you are already saved, then be encouraged, you have victory over death and sin through your faith in Jesus.
Believe that God is on your side
for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
In this life we will always have hardships. If you are not currently in a crisis, then you soon will be. It may be financial, emotional, physical or spiritual, but you can bet your bottom dollar that you will wake up tomorrow facing some kind of conflict. But no matter what this world throws at you, God will be there with you, fighting the battle for you. He is on your side and He will see you through it. He has already won and He will give you the victory!
Prepare for Victory
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But the victory belongs to the Lord.
A soldier gets ready for the battle. He puts on his armor, readies his weapon and prepares his horse to ride out onto the field. Just like the soldier, we should also prepare ourselves for the battle ahead. Praying, reading the Scriptures and seeking God’s will, these are the weapons we use as Christians in our spiritual battle. But no matter how many preparations we make or how confidant we are in our abilities, we must always remember that true victory belongs to God. We can only achieve victory by placing our trust in God’s Son, Jesus.
A victorious Christian life is not a perfect life. We make mistakes and we have pain and hurt sometimes. But we keep moving ahead, fighting the good fight. Because we know that we have already won the battle. We have victory in Jesus!
Keep fighting. Don’t give up. We are victorious!
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About the Artist
Connie Rowland is the Artist and Blogger behind Master's Hand Collection, a series of Christian artwork that depicts God's hand in our lives. Each picture features an inspirational word spelled out in American Sign Language with a corresponding Bible verse. Check out the About page for more info on Master's Hand Collection and Connie.
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