A “Prospering” Soul — the Stress-Killer

My sister-in-law, Christine Schmidt, sent this email message the other day, and I thought it had some interesting insights. Hope is speaks to some of my stressed-out friends. 🙂
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Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well (3 John 1:2).

The KJV reads it this way: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

There is a correlation between good health and having things go well for you on the one hand, and your “soul” being well or prospering on the other.   The “soul”  is the mind, will, and emotions of our everyday life.  The things we meditate on, the decisions we make either good or bad — these lead our emotions to either rise or fall.   Dr Colbert, who has a monthly column in Joyce Meyer’s magazine, has talked much about how stress releases bad chemicals into our bodies which cause so many diseases.   When we think of stress we often think of busy schedules, things at work, traffic jams, or tiring domestic chores. But greater stress comes from our own emotions, and we’ve all had a lot of hurt and wrong thrown our way in this life.  

Relationships are the key to God’s blessings in our lives. Unfortunately, they can also be the key to the enemy’s plan of destruction for our lives.   Wherever you go in life you will have to deal with people — there is no escape.  🙂   But let’s not forget that God has formed us and knit us together and declared His plans over our lives to be GOOD!  He has also empowered us to keep our emotions healthy by depositing into us his goodness, patience, love, joy, peace, meekness, kindness, faithfulness, and let’s not forget self-control.   

He has promised to never leave us and never forsake us.  How He accomplishes this is not only by his presence within us but by providing us with every weapon of our warfare to come against any situation we find ourselves in.  “Our weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).   We often think of these weapons referring to prayer.  But they are not exclusive to just prayer.  When dealing with stressful emotions our weapons are the fruit of the spirit –- which lead us to peace.

He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1).   Godliness is the way to peace, and peace is the greatest conqueror of stress in our lives!

Have a great day!
Pastor Christine

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Christine Schmidt is co-pastor of Jubilee Family Worship Center in Rochester, NY. 
This message, used by permission, is from her “Word for the Day – 12/16/2008”.

Created for Impact

You were created for impact.

So how did you spend your day today?

The Bible teaches that God has laid out plans for your life since before you were born.  Plans for purpose. Plans of good things to drop in your lap, gifts from him simply because he loves you.  Plans for a destiny that is both pleasing to him and rewarding for you.  Plans of action, of good works, projects for you to complete placed along the road in your journey.  Plans of relationships — first with himself, and secondly with others.  Good stuff.

And, efficient planner that he is, he gave you all the equipment you need to fulfill those plans.  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness — through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3).

We are born with gifts and talents.  We develop skills.  We grow into the internal desires and ambitions that are hard-wired in our DNA. And those gifts, skills, and desires get amplified when we join his family, and our spiritual DNA enhances our natural abilities.  Because of our relationship with him, now “all things are possible”.  We were created, equipped, and then commanded to touch those around us, to use our abilities to help them.  In a word, to have impact.

So how did you spend your day?

I’ll admit, this is a troubling question for me.  “Today? Really?”  Hmmm.  I dropped some money in the Salvation Army bucket while heading into a store.  I looked at my checking account to see how much I could give to an organization that feeds and clothes the poor.  I spent some time writing to a friend, offering some advice on how to overcome some issues in his life (I like to think of it as “encouragement” but it might more closely resemble “nagging”).  Hey, I did let two cars merge onto the road ahead of me (at two different points!) so they wouldn’t have to wait for the mile-long backed-up holiday traffic behind me.  And, resisting the flesh, I didn’t curse at the woman in the opposite lane who seemed to love the sound of her car horn because she was in a hurry and got stuck in the same traffic as the rest of us.  “Impact? Really?”  Hmmm, what else?  I finished up a major project at work that might help make a few customers’ lives easier. (Does that count?)  Ha! — I did spend some time this morning praying for a few friends (squeezed in between my own urgent requests).  Surely, that counts.

You know, we can’t all be Mother Teresas.  We can’t all be Billy Grahams.  Or even Dr. Phils.  We can only work with what is set before us; we can only touch those people we encounter while going about our work-a-day lives.  But our lives have to be about more than just our own interests.  Like Jesus said to his worried parents, we should be more “about out Father’s business.”  And two things he requires of us: to love him and walk with him, and to love others and be a blessing to them.  To deepen our relationship with him, and to become his hands in this world.

My list today seems so insignificant, so pathetic.  But maybe it’s just a starting point.  We have to prove ourselves faithful in the little things before God can use us in bigger things.  I still have so far to grow in my relationship with him, and in becoming more productive in my day to day activities.  But the desire is there.  I want to live a life of greater impact. 

So how did you spend your day?  Today might not have been your most shining hour either, but don’t give up.

You were created for impact.

It’s all about Relationship

I hate disappointment.  It messes me up.  Especially when it’s directed at God.  “What? Can God disappoint?”  Sure — if our expectations are off the mark.  God never promises to give us the desires of our hearts if our hearts look to things he doesn’t want us to have.  And in my case, it may not be so much that I wanted something he didn’t, as much as it wasn’t time yet.  It’s a future thing; a timing thing.  Like a kid being told to wait until Christmas to open that present he really really wants right now, I felt that frustration and disappointment.  And like a spoiled kid, it affected my feelings toward God.

This morning, apologizing to God for reacting to my bruised feelings, I began thinking again about what it means to really trust.  Like that kid trusting his parents will take care of him, even when they say “No” and he doesn’t get his way all the time.  And I realized again, that it’s all about relationship.  And really, that’s all God wants from us.  Our imperfections and failures, our faults and bad behavior do not trouble him as much as our disaffected relationship with him. 

When we’re in need, when we try to work up our faith enough to believe for our requests to him, our actions, our performance will never be enough. “It is all by his grace — not about you … not by your works so no one can boast” (Eph 2:8-9).  We can’t try to muster up our faith by recounting how we’ve succeeded in keeping his commandments, how we’ve mastered sin in our lives, how many good things we’ve done, or how holy we’ve become.  We approach him with the confidence that only comes through an intimate relationship with him — a relationship based on what he’s already done for us.  And ultimately when we stand before him on that Great Day of Judgement, he will gladly overlook our shortcomings, cover them over and erase them with his Son’s blood — all because of our relationship with him. 

Somehow, that eased my mind, calmed my disrupted peace.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy …” (Tit 3:5).  So, I messed up.  I missed his timing.  I got disappointed and my feelings hurt.  But I can trust in this guy who loves me so much that he did everything that is required for me.  He laid out his plan well in advance. He placed gifts along the road for me to pick up as I cross them.  He prepared good things for me to do long before I ever reached them.  I can relax in that.  I can let it go.  My plans and my timing aren’t that important.  I just have to keep walking and he will move the road so that it goes in the right direction. Or like riding a tandem bicycle, he’s in the front seat steering, and I’m in the back seat.  I don’t need to know exactly where we’re going or how to get there.  I just gotta keep on pedalling, and he will get us to where we need to be.  But life truly is “built for two”: if I stop moving, we don’t go anywhere.  I have a crucial role to play too.  But it’s not my job to steer.  It’s my job to pedal.

All these images merged in my mind, re-inspiring my trust in him, and rekindling the love that my buised feelings masked. It’s by his grace, his work, his plans, his timing, his steering.  All I have to do is keep moving through life, tied to him, and he’ll get us where he wants us.  And for that, I can let go of my disappointment. Things don’t have to go the way I expect or when I expect them. I can let my agenda and timetable fall to the floor. It’s okay.  When I consider that he’s done all that’s required, I can trust him.  That’s the very foundation of my relationship with him.

And as long as I keep pedalling in his direction and don’t get bogged down in the mud of disappointment and mistaken expectations, I can relax and enjoy the ride.