How to Find Peace and Joy When You’ve Fallen and Failed

It’s easy to be consumed by our failures isn’t it?

We rehearse continually in our minds the “if-onlys.”

If you’ve lived long enough to be able to read and understand this then you’ve lived long enough to fail.

Regret takes over and your mind fixates on how you missed rather than what you gained.  A sure recipe for feeling miserable and wasting time.

Because in case you hadn’t noticed you can’t fix yesterday.  Trust me I’ve tried.  Doesn’t work.

But you can do something about today and tomorrow.

Paul writes, “I forget what is behind and look forward to what is ahead.”

Paul had plenty of “if-onlys” he could have fixated on.  Yet he chose instead to look forward to what God promises.

Think about what you really need right now and a promise of God that fulfills it.

Ask him for it.  Then picture that he’s giving it to you right now.  Anticipate his promise.

Then start living in that expectation.

Feel the joy as the regret sloughs off and your mind sees your dream.

Move forward in renewed strength to see those promises become reality.

And forget the “if-onlys”.  Not a fun way to live.

I’m not wasting any more time on them.

Got a lot more fun things to do.

 

*Philippians 3:13

How Do You Find Hope and Peace When You Feel Overwhelmed with Problems?

I know so many people struggling with overwhelming issues.  Health setbacks, family chaos, financial stresses, job challenges.  Maybe you are too.

In the midst, even as a believer, it’s easy to give up hope isn’t it?  To think, “It’s always going to be like this.”

Or to feel, as a friend once said, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

Yet, when that becomes your focus where does it leave you?  Feeling hopeless doesn’t it?

That’s what I love about this promise from God through the prophet Jeremiah.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When that promise was given the Jews were exiled.  They had lost everything.  Life seemed hopeless.

Yet into the midst of their darkness God shines a ray of light.  He says, “Take heart.  Stop looking around you.  Instead look beyond you.  I have a plan for you, to prosper you and give you a bright future.”

He says the same to you today no matter what you face.

Just ask and trust him for that promise.  He will deliver it.

Then you’ll say, unlike my friend, “I don’t need any luck because I’m blessed.”

 

*Jeremiah 29:11

How Do You Find Peace and Joy in the Midst of This Discontented World?

Anti-depressant drugs bring billions of dollars annually to drug companies.  Drug addictions to prescription and illegal drugs run rampant.

How can we live in the most affluent society in history yet so many are depressed and need to escape?

How can people become so despondent because they’re the only one of their friends who doesn’t have the latest smart phone with faster texting?  I guess because they can’t get as much texting done while driving.

I don’t fully know the reason but I do know the cure.

Paul writes, “Don’t be conformed any longer to the ways of this world but be transformed by renewing your mind.”

See it all starts in your mind.  So how do you transform it?

First, as you trust your life to God and ask him to change you.

He transforms your mind.  Oh, not all at once, actually that might scare your friends.  But he does it over time.  Your hopes rearrange, your values shift and your contentment expands.

Then as you continue to focus on God’s promises, that he will provide for and walk with you, your mind changes.

You discover peace and joy in the midst of this discontented world.

Then you’ll know you’ve been transformed, from the inside out.

I have and you will too.

Personally I’m all in for denting the drug companies’ profits.

 

*Romans 12:2

How to Live with Boldness and Confidence in This Scary World

Our world is a scary place isn’t it?  Just turn on CNN as they breathlessly chatter 24 hours a day about the latest threat that may end planet earth as we know it.

Yet, frankly you don’t need to look around the world.  Just look around your city.  There are some areas you wouldn’t wander after dark.  Heck, I’m not sure I’d wander too many places after dark.

So, in a way, we have a choice.

Do we let fear overtake and squelch our lives?  Or do we live life in confidence and boldness the way it was meant?

David wrote, “I will fear no evil, because your rod and your staff comfort me.”

This from a man who spent years trying to keep from living a very short life due to his enemies.

See he didn’t fixate on the threat around him.  Instead he focused on God with him.

As a shepherd he’d carried a rod as a weapon for protection.  And he used his staff to guide and rescue his sheep.

He gives us a picture of how God does the same for us.

When you grasp that promise instead of fear you’re filled with comfort and confidence.

Then you can boldly live your life to the fullest.

Oh, and it helps to turn off CNN.

 

*Psalm 23:4

How to Find Happiness When You’ve Been Hurt by Someone You Trust

We don’t live very long before someone hurts us do we?  From the school yard bully to our first girlfriend or boyfriend we wise up pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, that’s mild compared to the hurts inflicted by those we trust.

An abusive parent, an unfaithful spouse, an unethical business partner, an undermining friend all have the power to inflict real damage.

It can leave us seething with anger and wanting revenge.  Yet, that continues to inflict even more damage.

We’ve been told to forgive and forget, but how?

I love the words of Joseph when he meets years later his brothers who sold him into slavery.

He said, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”

Wow!   What a perspective.

See Joseph didn’t excuse his brothers’ evil and hurtful behavior.

Instead he looked through the cloud of hurt at the good God intended.

Remember, the evil someone works against you isn’t the last word.  God has the last word.

So when you’ve been hurt instead of focusing on the evil look through eyes of faith to the good God intends.

Then you’ll see clearly the blessing as the memory of the hurt grows dim.  And you’ll be able to forgive and forget because God has turned your hurt into healing.

 

*Genesis 50:20

How to In the Midst of Grief Be Surprised by Joy

We all get blindsided by loss and grief don’t we?  A marriage fails, we lose a loved one, we’re downsized out of a job.

Suddenly we plunge into the night of grief.  We think, “How can I possibly go on?”

After days and months we wonder, “Will life ever be normal again?”

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is, unfortunately, this is life.  The good news is that joy will return.

You’ll find healing in the midst of the hurt.

You’ll find laughter in the midst of the tears.

Dawn will break into the midst of your darkness.

The Psalmist promises, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I love that and have seen it so many times.  In the midst of the pain unexpectedly a laugh sneaks in.  A smile creases your face.  Lightness lingers in your heart.

No matter your loss God sees and knows.  He’s with you in the darkness and will lead you into the light again.

When you just draw close to him he fills you with his unexplainable joy.

So whatever you face today in your night.  God meets you there and will lead you into the dawn again.

Then you will truly be surprised by joy.

 

*Psalm 30:5

Feeling Beat Up? Renew Your Self Confidence Again!

It’s pretty easy to feel beat up emotionally isn’t it?

I mean, in your career, you just never seem to measure up to the best.

Others are cuter, more popular, more fun.

Maybe, like me, you were always the last to get picked for the school yard baseball team.

Then maybe you’ve been rejected by someone you love.

It can leave you feeling less than worthy can’t it?

Well, I’ve got good news for you.  And honestly, really good news for me.

As I’ve heard said, “God made you and he doesn’t make junk.”

Or as Psalms says more eloquently.

“I praise you because I am miraculously and perfectly made.  And I know all your creation is perfect.”

See, God made you perfectly.   And he has something great that he created only you for.

So when you look at yourself and think, “Yikes.”

God looks at you and thinks, “Ahh, perfect.”

So the key is to look at yourself through God’s eyes.

When you do you’ll suddenly see yourself in a whole new way.  And you’ll discover the great things God put you here on earth to accomplish.

So go ahead.  Be a little proud.

I promise, if I get the chance, I’ll pick you first for the baseball team.

 

*Psalm 139:13

How to Change Your Life from Frustration to Strength

Do you ever have those times you think, “Wow, I messed up again.  Why do I keep making the same mistakes?  Why can’t I get it right?”

To tell you the truth I do.  A lot.  And there’s probably a few times my wife wonders the same thing about me.

Yet, it often seems the harder I work at trying to change the more frustrated I become.  Then when I feel worn out from trying, I revert back to the old behaviors again.

I think, “Yikes, what can I do?”

Paul wrote, “He who started a good work in you will continue it on until he completes it.”

See God not only forgives your past he changes your future also.

This makes the promises of Jesus unique.

Religion says, “When you’re perfect enough then God will accept you.”

Jesus says, “You won’t ever be perfect enough so I accept you the way you are.  Then I’ll change you from the inside into the person you and I want you to be.”

Now that’s reassuring isn’t it?  Especially to those of us who maybe are just a smidge flawed.

It only comes as you ask and expect God to act.

Then he does.

Sounds like a darn good trade to me.

*Philippians 1:6

Worn Out From Your Struggles? Be Encouraged!

Do you ever go through those times where problems seem to pile up?  I mean, you get one challenge solved only to have two more waiting in the wings.

You’re running to keep the other shoe from falling only to see a bus heading at you?

And no matter how fast you run the behinder you get?

Well I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, well, welcome to life.

The good news is you can find encouragement in the midst.

Jesus never sugar coated the struggles of this life.  Yet, he offers an antidote.

He said, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take confidence!  I have overcome this world.”

He doesn’t say struggle on until you get to Heaven.

No he says, “Right now, in this world, in the midst of the struggle, be encouraged.”

Wait, what?  Why?

Because no matter what you face Jesus’ power is greater.  No matter the challenges that seem impossible Jesus has the power to overcome them.

No matter the discouragement you feel, Jesus sees your circumstances and loves you.

So he says, “Put on confidence.”

Look at his power rather than the world’s.

And then you’ll overcome this world in that power.

But I’d still watch out for the bus.

 

*John 16:33

How to Find Peace in a World That’s Exploding

Does it ever feel to you like our world is exploding in one giant holocaust?

I mean, I won’t even turn on the news any more.

A terrorist set off a bomb killing scores of people.  War broke out on a new front.  The economy is tanking or certainly predicted to for the hundredth time.

And that doesn’t even count all the challenges you face personally does it?

It’s enough to make you want to go live in a monastery isn’t it?  Well except for, you know, all the stuff you have to give up.

So how do you find peace in the midst of this crazy world?

Jesus gives a remarkable answer.

“I have told you all of these secrets so that in your relationship with me you will discover peace.”

He says simply, “Live with me and then you’ll discover an unexplainable peace.”

A peace, that no matter what is blowing up around you, fills you from the inside.

No matter what you face you’ll have peace Jesus is with you because he promised.

I’ll tell you, I’ve experienced that peace.  And this is from a person who could turn worrying into an art form.

It’s real.  It’s yours.

But I’m still not turning on the news.

 

*John 16:33