Categories
Thessalonians

Week 6: Friday Five (1 Thess 5:9-28)

This is our last week of meeting the Thessalonians through Paul’s first letter to them. We will be moving on to 2 Thessalonians. Are you ready? It will be a beautiful time of continuing to meet and learn alongside the Thessalonians!

(1) Through Christ’s death, we can now live with Him. No longer will we face separation from our heavenly Father. Whether we live or die, we are His forever and will stand in His presence. We have been justified by the grace of God, as we choose to accept His free, yet costly, gift of salvation through Jesus’ death and amazing resurrection!

“Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him. It is not important if we are alive or dead when Jesus comes (1 Thess. 5:10, ERV).”

(2) We are commanded to encourage one another, as we wait for Jesus’ return! I can see why this command is so important. As we walk through this life, we cannot go without the accountability, comfort, and urging of our faithful friends who help us to continue trusting in Jesus Christ – our living God! We are blessed to stand in Christian community, and this Scripture reminds us that it is still much needed.

“Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do (vv. 11, MKJV).”

(3) Consider how you treat others. We are reminded that we can’t hate people, simply because they hate us. This is not how Jesus “raised us”. Our heavenly Father wants us to do good unto others, even if they aren’t showing any kind of goodness towards us. Let’s remember this, as we wrestle with learning to love others as Christ has loved us.

“Don’t be hateful to people, just because they are hateful to you. Rather, be good to each other and to everyone else (vv. 15, CEV).”

(4) Keep thanking God for whatever happens. Through the course of our lives, we will see good and bad. While we may hate the bad seasons of our lives, it is part of living here on earth. Celebrate the goodness of our risen Lord. Raise your hands with thanksgiving that this life is not the end. We have our Redeemer’s miraculous resurrection power working for us!

“Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do (vv. 18).”

(5) Yield to the will of God. As we choose to trust in Jesus, we will enter a “sanctification process”. What this means is: God is going to continue working in you, as Philippians 1:6 teaches us. He is going to give us peace, but make us holy as well. Allow God to work in you, through how you respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Keep submitting to Him.

“I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this (vv. 23-24).”

Feature image by Ben Duchac.

Categories
Chronic Illness Uncategorized

Choosing Joy – Infusions

I started having infusions last week. I wanted to write a little bit about that this morning (yes, as I sit here while saline is being pumped into my dehydrated body).

IV-fluid955
Taken from http://www.4FreePhotos.com. Photo by Alegri.

 

A few weeks ago, I called my cardiologist in a panic. Immediately received a call back that we would be started infusions. So last Friday, I begun this little road of infusions.

Now truthfully, I had a mixture of emotions – in terms of receiving infusions. See, I have what is called Interstitial Cystitis. When I received an antibiotic infusion around Easter last year, I received with it – unbearable bladder and pelvic floor pain. It was the most horrific pain I have ever endured. Needless to say, I attributed it to infusions in general and decided “never again”.

Never again, didn’t exactly last as long as I thought it would.

  • * * * * *

 

Faith: The Driving Force

Because I place my faith in Jesus Christ (and not my circumstances), I felt led to give it another go. So, my first infusion was on Friday (2/12/16). The infusion itself went great. It wasn’t anything like that horrible experience a year ago. My pain from IC was minimal.

Concern #1

One of my concerns wasn’t solely the infusion. It was the environment. I became concerned with how my anxiety would hold up. Anxiety is a common symptom of a number of health issues. But, it is a common occurance when it comes to POTS, not sure how my body will hold up, or being in a crowded room.

God Answered

God calmed my fears, the moment I stepped into the infusion center. It was not crowded like last time. There were very few people present to receive their infusions the same time as mine. It was such a tremendous blessing for me to receive, as I take this step of faith to begin receiving this infusion to help stabilize my blood pressure, heart rate, and blood volume.

Concern #2 (and the comforts God provides)

Another concern I had was time. How do I fill the gaps of time, without becoming frustrated at the thought of sitting still while the saline is being infused into my body? I brought plenty of things to keep me occuppied. Check out the list –

  • Blanket
  • Laptop and charger
  • Two smart phones charged up
  • Headphones
  • Binder
  • Bible
  • Bible Study (which right now is – the Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer)
  • Snack

If the list sounds obsessive, you aren’t alone. I know, I bring a lot of stuff. I look around me at this moment, and most people bring solely their cell phones, headphones, and/or someone with them. Since I have to come alone and am naturally a writer, I know how to best occupy the time. But, each infusion is an opportunity to know God does provide for me during this scary time of beginning infusions.

Every time I go for my infusion, it continues to solidify my trust in Jesus Christ and to recognize Him as my true Provider!

I occupy the time, by sitting and writing. Which is what I am doing today. Today, I am armed with my laptop, charger, and headphones (along with my data-filled cell phone).

Today’s Experience

Grace

Today, nearly a week later, I am having my second infusion. We had some “problems” getting the IV started up. But, it is going. My IV has probably about 10-15 minutes left. Which isn’t bad considering it took us about 30 minutes and 4 tries to get an IV line going.

I made a mistake today.

I was too tired to get up to hydrate beforehand.

You know with POTS, it just happens!

Add in IC, what’s left to explain?

But thank God, they didn’t ask. They didn’t say a mean remark. There was no shaming (other than what little bit I poured on myself). There was just grace. They kept trying. They listened when I expressed my concern about not wanting to utilize my left arm (left-handed). I love how loving and gracious the staff is with me.

As I reflected on their love and grace, I know they appreciate the simple fact of experiencing it themselves. I stayed loving and gracious to them. Today was just one of those filled with moments where I had to decide what my response would be.

Making The Decision

This Morning

This morning, I just couldn’t get up and go. I was just too exhausted. I would wake up to do something or answer my phone, then immediately went back to sleep. If I hadn’t made this appointment, I might even of cancelled. But, I didn’t. I got up. I got dressed.

And, I got up the courage to come.

One of the things that made today rougher was – due to how tired I was, I let myself get dehydrated in the process.

Making today’s saline infusion even more needed.

IV Process

No matter how much they tried, they just couldn’t get the IV started. They tried my preferred arm for IV’s, and it just wouldn’t work. After three tries, my options were clear. Either spend more time here than one would prefer using a baby needle. Or, offer up my dominant arm for them to use, for the good vein. I opted for the latter.

I made the decision to not complain. Whereas others would stand ready to complain, I had no desire to complain. I decided I wanted to choose joy. Choosing joy… 

Choosing Joy Instead

I spend a lot of time reading Rachel‘s encouragement on a variety of social media fixtures. So, it is today to choose joy. I chose joy today. I chose joy over complaining. I chose joy over criticism. Simply put, I chose joy.

Choosing Joy Today!

In life, we will encounter situations that are far beyond our control and preferences. But, we can still choose joy.

I chose joy today, and wanted to glorify God in the midst of my circumstances. I was thanked for my patience. My IV infusion went well.

In the midst of an infusion, I was able to offer other things – joy, grace, and my time to worship my great Savior! Isn’t that what all things in our lives should do? Glorify God?

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for
this is God’s will for you who belong to
Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18, NLT).”

Categories
Sunday Strength Uncategorized

Sunday Strength: Hitting Reset

Sunday Strength

Wanna know my favorite part about the beginning of a new week? The ability to hit reset.

I love the ability to hit reset.

A few weeks ago, I felt led to jump start into some new changes. One of which is following a Chronological Bible Reading Plan. I have decided to use my blog’s facebook page, as a form of accountability. I try to write each day about what I feel God is telling me -&- hope to build some kind of community between myself and other followers of Jesus. And well, this week, I have slacked off in that study. I might even be a day (or 2) behind on it.

God knows I need to hit reset. Not just in one area. I just need a new week, a new beginning, and thank God – it’s that time. A new week and month.

Perhaps, you need a new start too. This is made possible with the Lord our God! Jesus came, to give us a new life. This is why He came. He came to dwell with us and make a way when there didn’t seem like any way – for us to enjoy a right relationship with our Creator. He came, to give us life and community, and we don’t have to do this on our own. We don’t have to keep focusing on our screw-up’s.

We have God on our side.
Christ paved the way, for us.

God’s Mercies

The bigger-than-life-blessing is God’s mercies are new each day. We may have found ourselves entangled in less than honorable pursuits this week. But, His mercies are still made new with each day.

This week, we can come before God – and be flat out honest.

He already knows, which makes our coming before His throne of grace much more of option than it-already-is. Not only is He ready to give us the grace we need, He already knows we need it.

Our Focus

Need to hit reset? Me too. However before we prepare to hit reset, let’s focus on the grace of God. The One who forgives the inexcusable. The One who gives us strength, when we don’t think we have it in us to reset. We haven’t screwed up that badly in hindsight. Have we? God stands ready, to help us as we seek to follow Him.

Remember, His grace.
Remember, His love.

Come to His throne of grace today. He already knows exactly what you need. Just come and be with the Father – enjoying the grace we have been gifted with.

How enduring is God’s loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day. (Lam. 3:22-23, VOICE)

Since we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God who has passed through the heavens from death into new life with God, let us hold tightly to our faith. For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God. 

So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Categories
Spiritual Disciplines

Choosing Jesus: Thanksgiving Edition 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Today, is Thanksgiving. We know there is one big component that should characterize our day – our week. Giving Thanks. In other words, joy. gratitude. celebration. coming together in unity with our loved ones. These would sum up the past three weeks of spiritual disciplines –

Celebration

Gratitude

Holy Communion

How can we go about our week in such a way, where our hearts can experience honest thanksgiving and building the community God placed us in?

One word for us, today: intentionality. Let’s be intentional, as God places us in community, allows us to experience things in which we can be thankful for, and we taste the sweet provision of our great God.

Why?

God has given us much! We may not have what our hearts’ desire, but God has gifted us with so much. Much of what we have, we are undeserving of. Instead of letting our heats be dominated by greed, we need to allow thanksgiving to cultivate in our hearts.

As I write this, I am reminded of one particular verse.

This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24, NASB)

Rejoice.

Gladness.

These both require us to do something. They are verbs, but gladness (and rejoicing) doesn’t just happen! We must be intentional. As we go about our lives, and the holidays, let’s be people who choose gratitude versus the disease of greed.

Benefits

Choose thanksgiving. Choose community over being alone. Invite others into your life, so God can use you in their midst. Choose to celebrate God’s work in your life. Even if He isn’t doing things the way you want, choose Him and thanksgiving over His work in your midst. Choose to be thankful about all the things He is doing, that you just can’t seem to wrap your head around. Choose to celebrate that He works differently and better than you ever could. Remember the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Activity

Choose to take time this week, to stop and look at your life. Look at your life with God in Jesus Christ. Can you honestly say, “my life is hidden in God”? Or, have you allowed other things to crowd Him out?

During the holidays, these things have a way of “showing up”. Especially as we think about “Black Friday” sales and deals. We begin the process of thinking we need stuff we really don’t need.

Keep Christ first.

Not just this season.

But every single day.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Col. 3:2-4, NRSV)

So kill your earthly impulses: loose sex, impure actions, unbridled sensuality, wicked thoughts, and greed (which is essentially idolatry).  It’s because of these that God’s wrath is coming [upon the sons and daughters of disobedience], so avoid them at all costs. (Col. 3:5-6, VOICE)

Categories
A Month in My Shoes ('15 Challenge) Five Minute Friday

MMS – Joy

MMSFor the month of October, I am joining many bloggers in a challenge to write every single day for 31 days. I learned about this challenge through another challenge I participate in most weeks. The “Five Minute Friday” challenge is going to expand to last the whole month! Each entry, will be five minutes unedited of writing on a particular theme – found on Kate’s blog.Today’s theme is “joy.”

Joy is not an emotion.

It is a state of being.

Joy Versus Happy

We can sometimes confuse joy and being happy. These are two different concepts and experiences. Here’s why:

When we are happy, it is totally based upon our circumstances. If everything is well, if I have accomplished much, I may ‘feel’ happy. But, it’s temporary.

It has nothing to do with what’s going on behind the scenes on the scale of eternity.

When we have joy, it has nothing to do with us or our circumstances.

The Truth About Joy

Remember who the Author of joy is. Joy is a spiritual thing.

To have authentic joy, it has to be brought back to our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

It comes from a deepening trust in our Savior and knowing His truth – more than simply head knowledge. It has to extend beyond a surface-level-knowledge. It has to be brought on by our Savior alone.

This kind of joy is anything, but temporary. It is eternal. It is not based upon us, but upon our Savior and experiencing Him in our daily lives. More than any other relationship, we have to experience Him. When I feel empty, I know (all too aware of the pangs of emptiness) it’s from not being with my Savior. To just sit with Him. Let Him pour into me. Some times, it’s because I just need more of Him – or I am in a season. Continuing to seek Him, is a big one for me.

Continuous Walk

Joy comes from a continuous walk with our Savior Jesus. Walk implies, we are moving somewhere. When we go for a walk to a specific destination, we would never try to trek backwards. But at times, we lose our focus. We lose the thought that we are headed to a specific destination – and get lost along the way.

We need to remember our Author of joy daily, and welcome the pursuit He wants to have with each of us. He has much more peace and joy in store for us, then this world could ever promise (and this world cannot deliver it – just promise it!).

Authentic Joy

God’s joy is authentic. When we see others who appear to be happy, we have to consider that some act happy – but in actuality they are not. I know the same is true of me. I have days where I am exuberant with joy. Then, there are days where I wear a mask. Counterfeit happiness.

We need seek out joy, through our relationship with God in Jesus Christ!

Further Reading: John 16:33; Galatians 5:22; Hebrews 12:1-2.