How to rest in God’s care

One of the easiest things to do when you’re in the middle of a trial is panic. We stress about the circumstances, the what-ifs, and unknowns. They say that 80% of the things we worry about never even happen. I am so thankful for the Bible, especially in difficulties. God says He understands and cares, and He asks us to rest in Him.

It isn’t always easy.

We often begin to try to rest, but our minds instead want to wallow in self pity, self doubt, and even in our own suffering. Like some kind of a morbid game, we “enjoy” thinking about our yucky circumstances instead of training our minds to think on the Lord and praising Him.

My faithful blog readers know that I have found Philippians 4:8 to be life changing. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

We need to focus our thoughts to the good stuff. Look for it. Meditate on it. Have a life habit of praise—even when everything around us (and maybe inside us) is falling apart.

The next verse describes the result of obedience and thought control. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9).

Resting in the Lord is a concept that Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, finally learned. The book that describes his struggles, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, is one I would recommend to every Christian.

Who can rest in God’s care? Those who belong to Him. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:29). There’s great security in knowing we are God’s children. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). Have you received Jesus?

Resting in Jesus means we acknowledge His willingness to help us.

  • The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:4-6).
  • Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
  • Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Mark 11:28-29).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).
  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment (1 John 4:18a).

Heaven is the ultimate rest. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).

When our focus is on God’s Word and how the Lord desires to be our refuge, we cannot fear and be anxious. When we learn to rest in Him, we are at rest in our souls.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Rest in Him.

Is there power in prayer?

I’ve heard the sayings, such as: “The devil fears when Grandma gets on her knees.” “Don’t underestimate the power of a praying woman.” “Prayer changes things.” There are many more, and you’ve probably heard them. We understand the sentiments, and the sayings are true up to a point.

But, what is wrong?

Is the power in prayer?

Nope.

I don’t mean this disrespectfully at all, but even people in false religions, sects, and paganism pray. They are also sincere.

For illustration’s sake, lets describe a scene that might happen somewhere that practices idolatry. A woman kneels with her floral offering and a lit candle in front of an idol. She prays.

Is there power in her prayer? There might be sincerity, but there’s no power. Why? The problem is in the one she’s praying to. The image can’t respond. It can’t hear, walk, talk, or react in any way. Her prayers go absolutely nowhere.

The power isn’t in sincerity.

It isn’t in prayer itself—the words.

Power in prayer is only because of to Whom we pray. God answers in incredible, supernatural ways, because He can. He is God.

Jesus’ model prayer that we call The Lord’s Prayer begins, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth (from Luke 11:2).

Notice, this prayer begins with the acknowledgement of the object of our prayers—God the Father. He’s in heaven and worthy of our praise because of His holy name. The next sentences pray for His kingdom to come—literally praying for the Lord Jesus to return—and for God’s sovereign will to be done in the universe.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with our powerful, holy, omniscient God, who has a plan for all times. That recognition is the premise for powerful praying.

We pray to God. He has the power, and His will will be done. We can count on it.

James was writing to Jewish Christians. He instructed them to pray when they were sad or happy and also for the sick. Then, he gives the example of Elijah’s powerful prayer.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit (James 5:13-18).

Notice where the power came from: the Lord shall raise him up. The promise of the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availing much is because of God’s power. Prayer is effective because the Lord answers.

The example of Elijah was because he knew beforehand God’s will about the rain. God had already revealed it to him. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah was merely communicating the message from the Lord about what would come to pass. Prayer was Elijah’s means of communicating with God.

The power comes from God and God alone. We do nothing magical when we pray. Prayer is a wonderful means of communicating our emotions and petitions to God. It is the way we visit with Him and have a relationship with Him. Then, we watch Him answer.

God’s answers in one of three ways:

  1. Yes. God will immediately answer your prayer. Sometimes, these yes answers are miracles.
  2. No. Knowing better than you do about what is best, God denies your request.
  3. Wait. God wants you to keep praying and looking for the answer. He will answer in His own way and time. By the way, God’s answers are always on time.

I love Jesus’ parable about the lady who bugs the judge. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)

Many times, the Bible exhorts us to pray. In fact, we’re supposed to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). All the time, all day long, we’re to be communicating with the Lord.

He has the power.

He can answer.

He will answer.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

“Vergüenza ajena” and 5 steps towards modesty in dress

To have vergüenza ajena in Spanish means “to be embarrassed for someone, to experience shame that they should experience.”

I personally have experienced vergüenza ajena many times because of someone else’s silly actions, but I’d like to talk about one subject in particular: clothing.

Yes, I know it’s summer, and it’s very warm. There are different ways of dealing with the heat and clothing. We could take our hot weather styling tips from the people in tropical areas who wear colorful, loose cotton dresses and flip-flops. That’s the perfect way to beat the heat.

Being a visual person, perhaps I notice things more than others. One thing is sure: Christian women are not taking as much care as they used to in their clothing choices.

It is not because there isn’t any modest clothing in stores. There is. Midis are in this year in lovely, flowing fabrics, pleated and not. Cute dresses abound. Tops are looser this year. So, it’s not because we can’t.

Getting married? There are more modest dresses now than in many years. Sleeves are back in style. There’s something for every taste for both bridesmaids and brides.

Not very long ago, I asked a large group of women in ministry, “How would you define modesty?” Many replied that modesty begins in the heart with a desire to please God in actions and dress. Some referred to the meek and quiet spirit that God loves (1 Peter 3:4).  

Modesty is more than dress. It’s an attitude.

But, it’s also about dress. God expects women to be dressed in modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9). This passage is talking mostly about a woman’s spirit. I agree. It seems, though, that women who love God should also dress to please Him.

What modesty and pleasing the Lord looks like varies in cultures and climates. For example, a woman living in northern Alaska will dress to be warm, and the lady at the equator will probably wear a sleeveless, loose dress. Is the bundled up woman more modest because she’s wearing more clothing? Let’s not be ridiculous.

So, if a woman loves Jesus and wants to please Him in every area of her life, how should she dress? I believe we have some hints in the Bible.

  • How do the godly women we know dress (and act)? For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves (1 Peter 3:5a). Our clothing examples should be godly women.
  • We’re not supposed to call attention to ourselves by over-the-top dressing. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel (1 Peter 3:3).
  • Good works and dress go hand-in-hand. Both our sensible, controlled lifestyle and our clothing should form a sweet testimony for the Lord. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
  • Modest. The online dictionary defines modest: “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention. (of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing a person’s figure.” Granted, different people have differing ideas about what is proper, decent, or revealing.

In a junior-high camp one summer, I taught the girls about modesty. We did an experiment. I had bought a fashion magazine, similar to Vogue—high-class, with full-page fashion photos. We used about fifteen of them, holding one up at a time. I asked the girls as a group, “What do you look at first? What part of the model’s body draws your eye?”

Some of the photos showed off parts of the body Christians would not wish to emphasize. Sometimes it was the cut or shape, and sometimes it was bare skin. A few of the photos only emphasized the woman’s face. The girls responded immediately, shouting their answers. It was obvious in each photo what was emphasized.

I believe it is easy to dress modestly, if a woman desires to do so.

Any Christian woman or girl who wants to please God in her dress can take these steps:

  1. Try the item on in a room with the biggest mirrors you can find.
  2. Ask yourself, where does my eye go first?
  3. Determine: is any part of the item too tight, revealing, or short?
  4. Pray. Ask the Lord, “Does this please You?” Listen for His answer through the Holy Spirit.
  5. Consider if your pastor’s wife or any godly woman you admire would wear this.

Don’t cause other Christians to be embarrassed (vergüeza ajena) for you. Take the time to dress with care.

Modesty in dress is important. It pleases the Lord.

How to let your light shine

Most Christians want to shine as lights in the world.

This passage gives us a clear outline about how to do it.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain (Philippians 2:14-16).

First come double don’ts: murmuring and disputing. Complaining (murmuring) is a terribly negative influence. The word used here literally means mumblings. I have several friends who love nothing more than to complain—or at least it seems that way. Their discontent affects those around them. I mean, how can you possibly share a blessing after someone has spent four minutes complaining? A griper throws cold water on others.

Arguing (disputing) has a similar effect. This isn’t talking about a good, logical debate—which may be profitable. It’s about being argumentative and actually doubting God. Have you ever known someone who, when you say anything, their first response is, “No, it’s the other way”? How does it make you feel? Lousy, defeated. You can’t say anything to that person without being contradicted. All you need is one of those experiences to understand what a dampening effect disputing has on Christian light-bearing.

Next, we have a positive goal: be blameless and harmless. It elaborates a little: showing we’re sons of God and having a pure lifestyle—in the middle of a crooked and perverse nation. Sounds like Paul was reading today’s newspaper, doesn’t it?

Then, we have the shining light part, my favorite. Jesus said, Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14). When we are in Christ, we are lights. We don’t have to try to be lights, we are. Our duty is to let that light shine. Climb to the top of the hill and be a beacon.

How?

Share the Bible! It’s the Word of life. This may have a dual application, as the Bible is the Word of life. Here, the word life indicates fullness of life and eternal life. Jesus is the Word. John 1 begins with: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men (verses 1-4).

Holding forth the word of life is the job description for every believer. Know your Bible. Let it rule your life. Share it. Tell others about Jesus. Show them from the Bible how they can trust Christ and be saved. Live a life that reflects Jesus.

Be bold.

Let your light shine.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

What junk to keep, share, and pitch? Lessons from organizing

My husband and I have been going through our junk. Maybe that should be spelled J-U-N-K, since we accumulated way too much of it in our more than twenty years in this house.

Who would’ve thought we could accumulate so many papers? Some of them are necessary. More than 99% should have been pitched years ago—except for tax returns and those kinds of things. Many of them have gone up in flames in late-night bonfires.

Who would have dreamed we would have boxes of books and toys from one of our children, now to go to our grandchildren?

How is it even possible we had clothes stashed in places I didn’t even know about?

Boxes for just in case, suitcases big and small, old garden boots, and much, much more.

As more bags get donated, trashed, and recycled, I wonder how we accumulated all this in the first place. What possessed us? Why did we hoard all this stuff?

The answer goes deep. What if we need it? Procrastination: we will get to this later. Storing for said child for the future. Making sure we have all legal paperwork, so not throwing away any of it.

None of this is necessarily wrong, but I have made some resolutions for the future:

  • Take care of papers as they come.
  • Organize other people’s stuff, if need be—in nice, sealable plastic boxes.
  • Trash junk—or give it away. As we all know, one man’s junk is another’s treasure.
  • Live towards minimalism, but not quite.

You see, I love decorations. I like the things that make a house look homey. Extreme Spartan living isn’t for me. (You may do it if you like; I’m only expressing my personal preference.) I like real houseplants, pretty dishes, candles, and a decorated mantle. Blue and white china makes me smile.

I got rid of my collections, and I’m not a bit sorry. (Never thought I could do that.) They got donated to a good cause, and I hope someone else enjoys them.

It’s time to start over and start new and hopefully, never, ever have boxes of papers or badly fitting clothing stashed in our house again.

This post isn’t just about organizing my home. It’s also about spiritual stuff. Unfortunately, it’s a lot like a house full of things.

There’s stuff we need to combat and trash: the devil’s darts, negative thought patterns and behaviors, a complaining spirit, and bitterness.

  • Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:16).
  • But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (Colossians 3:8-9).
  • Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer (1 Corinthians 10:10).
  • Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesians 4:31).

Some things can be recycled.

  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (John 16:20).
  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We need to save some stuff for others: wisdom gained over the years, biblical advice, blessings to share, a song of praise.

  • Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (1 Corinthians 2:6-7).
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Beautiful, useful things should be saved and enjoyed.

  • Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).
  • Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

Above all, we’re to be content with what we have today. What do we really need? What God has supplied.

  • Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

May God bless you, today.