Anxiety is running high these days—riots in the streets, political confusion, and a silent virus  infecting the world. It’s enough to make anyone lose sleep. But Jesus reminds us to cast all our cares on him (1 Peter 5:7). He also invites us to ask for anything in His name (John 14:14), and He will grant it.

In a world that seems hopeless, Jesus is our hope. In a world that seems helpless, He is our helper. In a world of anxiety, He is our peace.

As I’m reading Bible verses and devotions to help me listen to God, I have been coming across many verses on thanking God. Thanking Him in all circumstances. Thanking Him in the midst of trials. And thanking Him as I bring my prayers and requests to Him.

I’m pretty faithful in bringing my “to-do” list to God. I’m never shy about asking God for what I need. But I am learning to add thanksgiving to those prayers. When I tell God what I need, or ask Him to resolve pressing issues, I add, “Thank You that You hear me. Thank You that You will answer. Thank You that Your timing is always right.”

Does this mean my prayers will be answered faster? No. It means that when I pray with thanksgiving, God replaces my anxiety with peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV).

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman

Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and adults. She is a lyricist for children’s piano music, contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, and presenter at writers’ conferences. Her newest book is releasing soon, I Love You to the Stars—When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers.

 

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I was just eighteen when I landed my dream job writing for our local newspaper during college. After graduation I joined the full-time staff, covering news stories and writing special features and a weekly column where I shared my Christian convictions. This brought invitations to speak for church and civic events.

What wisdom did a twenty-something have to share? My favorite presentation, “Living in Joy,” I packed with quotes and Scriptures about happiness and how to find it. Being young and eager to tackle life’s big questions, I didn’t have much spiritual depth—but I offered a solid solution to every problem. Jesus.

Many years have passed and I still offer only one solution to every problem. Jesus. But I’ve learned much more about following Him through sunshine and shadows.

I discovered joy isn’t the destination. It’s the journey. It’s part of the luscious fruit produced by the Holy Spirit when we’re fully surrendered to Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Joy doesn’t depend on perfect circumstances. It depends on our trust in a perfect God who designs our circumstances and allows everything for a purpose. I don’t have to see His purpose to believe He has a purpose.

In baffling places where I see no purpose, this verse satisfies me. “For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36 Amplified).

If nothing else, He’s developing patience and endurance. I can live in joy, confident He is in control and working on purpose.

These choices are key to a joy-filled journey:

  • Living in a state of continual forgiveness
  • Forgetting the past
  • Casting every care on the Lord
  • Choosing joy

Whatever challenge you’re facing today, don’t let it rob your joy. Choose joy!

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.

 

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Therefore, do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil (Romans 14:16).

Upon my recent retirement from a demanding leadership position, I found myself nearly paralyzed with fear. So many “I never thought I’d…” statements danced chaotically through my mind, robbing me of peace.

Unbidden, my long-since-settled divorce reared its ugly head, reminding me of all of the losses I’ve incurred. My ideal picture of retirement had always included a husband, a family, and grandbabies. The real picture of my solitary leap into the golden years stood in sharp contrast before me, filling me with dread.

One of the first metaphors to come into my mind during my transition process was a great ship, cast about by wild waves, untethered, silhouetted by a full moon hanging low over dark waters.

Feelings of terror accompanied this picture. I had to nearly tie myself down to stop from soothing those unsettling feelings by jumping back into overworking—my life-long drug of choice.

Knowing myself well, I resisted temptation to continue my Type-A ways in my new world. I gave myself the gift of saying “no.” And I gave myself the gift of unscheduled time alone. Allowing time to grieve the changes in my life—and the loss of yet another dream—released the anxiety of uncertainty. A quiet peace took its place.

From this place of peace, the sound of His voice rang true. Child, what brings you joy?

His voice led me back to my first loves—nature, horses, writing, loved-ones around my table sharing great food and better conversation.

The untethered metaphor still rings true—though the feelings evoked today are of excitement and unbridled joy for a new adventure yet unfolding.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Anchored in Death

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Recently retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home.  She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. Capsized by Death, the fourth novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, releases November 2019. Anchored by Death, third in the series, was a Bronze Medal winner 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards; a 2018 Selah Awards finalist; and a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her second Jo Oliver Thriller, Shattered by Death, was a finalist in the International Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Interact with Catherine www.CatherineFinger.com. Follow on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author; and Twitter CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.

 

 

 

 

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In Bible study on the Book of Exodus, our lecturer said the Ark of the Covenant was a “portable Eden.” It was a gold box God told the Hebrews to create so He could once again dwell among His nomadic people on earth and be in covenant with them as they traveled.

Once the temple in Jerusalem was built, God then dwelled there, in the midst of the land He’d promised them. It became “Eden.”

That talk sent a flutter through my chest. Why? Paul told the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple since the one in Jerusalem had been destroyed. It has never been rebuilt, by the way. Not that it needs to be because God now dwells in the hearts of believers.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1Corinthains 3:16).

That makes you and me portable Edens!

So, Eden is not a lost world. It still exists. The peace that passes all understanding still resides. Faith, trust, and compassion flourish. This wondrous place now travels with us wherever we go in this un-Eden-like world. It is our “go to” spot whenever we need it. Better than comfy pants or chocolate.

If this portable Eden is always with us, and thus God is, why are we not more serene and content?  Something to ponder. Also, if our hearts contain that marvelous, fruitful place called paradise, why do we try to bring the seeds of worry, strife, anger, and bitterness through the garden gate? Those need to stay outside. We don’t need to haul them inside to dwell where only God should.

Where can we find God today? He still dwells in Eden, a heartbeat away.

Photo credit: simon-wilkes-691856-unsplash (royalty-free photos)

Julie B Cosgrove

Julie B Cosgrove

Julie B. Cosgrove is a professional speaker, freelance writer, and award-winning author of twenty-one faith-based books. She is a digital missionary on staff at Power to Change (Campus Crusades Canada) assisting twenty-seven-plus volunteer writers from all over the world to produce free, daily devotionals as well as meaningful testimonies and articles. The two websites, The Life.com and Issues I Face, have yearly readership in the hundreds of thousands in five languages. Her blog Where Did You Find God Today? reaches readership in over fifty countries. Visit her website www.juliebcosgrove.com. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Authors Network, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she’s an INSPY Award semi-finalist and a Grace Award Finalist. She was awarded Best Religious Fiction 2016 and Best Cozy Mystery 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors. Another cozy mystery, One Leaf Too Many is the ACFW Book Club book of the month for August 2019.

 

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Several years ago, I was experiencing a season of hardships. The emotional pressure in my life had escalated – facing deadline upon deadline, bad medical news, grief over my father’s death, plus the daily stress of church leadership and family responsibilities. I sat in my doctor’s office in tears. All I wanted to do was escape, and drive to the beach to spend time with God. Only by talking to God, and having Him talk to me through the Word would salve this pain.

I knew that I would be okay if I could just get to the beach and let God’s love wash over me like the waves wash over the sand. So I drove home, told my husband I would be gone for a few hours, and I grabbed my Bible, journal, and a few devotional books. I rushed to the beach, anxious to spend time with God. I read, prayed, journaled, walked, listened – and read some more. Finally, both peace and a plan came.

Today, this is still my path to peace. The Psalmist agrees. “My soul finds rest in God alone!” Find a cozy place with God today, cuddle up with the Word, and let the peace of God wash over you. God’s peace is like the waves that wash over your toes planted in the sands, so faithful to come to shore, wave after wave, God’s peace will come to your heart, verse after verse, from His Word.

Pam Farrel is the bestselling author of 46 books including Discovering Hope in the Psalms, Becoming a Brave New Woman, and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman. With her husband Bill, she runs Love-Wise and helps people with their most vital relationships, with God, in marriage and family, and friendships. Fin hope and help for your family at Living Love-Wise Community 

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