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

Supersize Your Confidence and See Your Dreams

I’ve sat through way too many sermons where the preacher said, “We all need to suffer for Jesus.”

I remember a whole series on “Fox’s Book of Martyrs”.  Talk about looking forward to Sunday.

And how many times have I heard some church saint say about her problems, “Well, it’s just my cross to bear.”

Then Christians wonder why new people don’t crowd in their doors yelling, “Wow, supersize me with a helping of that misery.”

Yet, I see something completely different.  Yeah I know, not the first time someone noticed that about me.

A promise that says exactly the opposite and fills me with confidence.

“‘For these are the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.  ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.'”

Wait, what?  You mean God isn’t spending his days snoozing and then wakes up looking for opportunities to swat you?

Rather he has plans for you to prosper.  He has plans to give you success and abundance beyond what you can imagine.

Nowhere does he say, “I plan to make you miserable.”

What do you think would happen to your confidence and happiness if you truly focused on that promise?

And what do you think would happen in your life out of that confidence?

Supersize me with that!

 

*Jeremiah 29:11

How to Find Happiness When Bad News is Getting You Down

I write on another website some posts that are a bit edgy.  And sometimes I get myself in trouble.  Yeah I know, what a surprise.

Some readers, who I would guess are fundamentalist Christians, miss my offbeat humor and seem less than supportive, shall we say.

Sometimes it causes me to think, “Why would anyone from the outside looking on want to be a Christian?  I mean, if I want to feel depressed  I can turn on the news.”

We don’t need religious bad news added on top do we?

Yet, that contrasts with what Jesus promised.

He said, “I have told you these things so my joy will be in you and your joy will be full.”

Wait, what?  We’re supposed to actually find joy in our relationship with Jesus?  Who knew?

See he doesn’t take us out of this world of bad news.  But instead fills us up with so much good news it can’t help but spill out in joy.  Think about how attractive that would be.

Well and frankly, how much more fun.

And just because we listen to what he promises and actually just expect them.

Now that’s something to get happy about.

A couple of readers from the other website I hope read this.

 

*John 15:11

Are You Tired of Religion? Would You Like Peace Instead?

I’m tired of religion, even Christian religion.  I give up.  I can’t keep all the plates spinning.

Do you ever feel that way?

Worn out doing all the things that hopefully will tip the scale in your favor with God.

But then not knowing for sure how you measure up.   Whether God’s happy with you or not.  Whether you’ll attain Heaven or not.

I’m pretty sure the scale is tipped way over in my case and not to the positive.

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

The bad news is your scale probably looks similar to mine.

The good news is that’s exactly the place you need to be to find God’s love and peace.

Jesus said, “Come to me and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble and you will find rest for your souls.”

That’s it.  No five steps, no slavish sacrificing, no self denigration.

Just come and learn.

Then you find soul deep peace and rest.  The quest to prove your self-worth to God has ended.  He accepts you blemishes and all.

He says, “Sit with me for a while and take a rest.  Then walk with me and learn how to really live.”

Now that, even I can do.

And I’m still tired of religion.

 

*Matthew 11:29

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed and Tired? Discover Peace!

Do you ever get really tired?  I mean, deep down in your bones dog tired?

We all run at a frenetic pace don’t we?  Then add on top all the challenges that seem to pop up constantly.

Do you ever have days it seems the faster you run the behinder you get?  I do for sure.

That’s why I love what Jesus promised.

“Come to me, all of you who feel weary and overwhelmed and I will give your rest.”

Wow, exactly the prescription we need isn’t it?

And the thing I love about it is, there’s no five step list.  Like you need more to do anyway?

No just simply come to him.  And if you already have he says, “Keep coming back into my rest.”

He promises you’ll find peace deep in your soul that will give you rest.  You’ll find confidence that he is still in control of the challenges of your life even if they seem out of control to you.

In that confidence you will find rest, deep soul level rest.  And you can let the challenges fade until another day.

I’ve discovered the truth of this promise over and over.

Sometimes I just don’t know why it doesn’t stick better.

 

*Matthew 11:28

Do You Need to Refill Your Happiness?

Have you ever you felt just empty inside?  I mean like you’re drained and have nothing left?  Your energy and joy are dissipated?

Maybe you’ve slogged against an immovable challenge.  Maybe you feel alone because of the loss of a loved one or a broken relationship.

And no matter how hard you work nothing changes and you finally just feel empty.

I’ve felt that, way too many times.  Particularly before I entered into a relationship with Jesus.

But I can tell you when I entered into that relationship something changed.  I felt a joy and peace and love that filled me in a way I never imagined.  And it continues to this day, though it can get a bit leaky occasionally.

 Jesus promised, “The water I give will become like a spring of water bubbling up into real life now and eternally.”

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who responded astutely, “Please give me this water so I won’t get thirsty ever again.”

That’s the only way you receive it and refresh it.  But it’s also that simple.

Then it will bubble up into peace and joy and love like you’ve can’t imagine.

And assurance you’re filled with God now and will live with him forever. 

Please pass me that water.

 

*John 4:14

How to Fill Up the Emptiness Inside with Amazing Life

When I was younger I seemed to have it made.  Lots of friends, a good education, a career ahead of me.  Yet, there was just something missing.

I can’t explain it other than, there seemed to be an emptiness inside that I couldn’t understand or fill.  No matter how many parties I attended.  No matter how many mugs of beer I drank. When the party ended and I sobered up the emptiness returned.

Through a series of events I finally discovered what Jesus so long ago promised.

“Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst.”

I’d probably heard that verse somewhere through my growing up years going to church but somehow it never sunk in.  Perhaps because I was more focused on partying than getting to know the living God.

Yet, I finally asked, as the woman Jesus was talking to, “Lord, please give me this water.”  And he did.

Though life has at times been challenging, like it is for everyone, that living water filled up the emptiness.

I never again felt truly alone and that my life was pointless.  I quit wasting time wading around in the weeds trying to find what only God can give.

I’m thankful for that.  And that I don’t look like I kept on partying.

 

*John 4:14

How to Find Comfort and Direction in the Midst of the Craziness

I talked with a friend recently who’s going through some challenging times financially.  He’s holding up pretty well but I know feels worn out.  He’s working hard but there’s only so much he can do.

He worries sometimes, like all of us, how he’ll pay the mortgage and take care of his family.

I said to him, “You know, I finding life surprising.  Challenges pop up in ways we never see coming.   Yet, over and over I’ve also discovered God’s unmistakable comfort and direction in the midst.”

“In a way we’re all walking wounded.  Like a hospital filled only with patients.  We have no idea what we’re doing but we’re just trying to help each other.”

I was reminded of that in a verse.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort we’ve received from God.”

God will comfort you in mysterious ways no matter what you’re facing when you simply hope in his love and direction.

Then you get the opportunity to share that love with someone else who needs encouragement.

And mysteriously you’ll find yourself even more encouraged.

Yeah, my dad told me I’d have crazy days.  He just failed to tell me there’d be so many.

 

*2 Corinthians 1:4

You Can Have an Amazing Fruitful Life

In college I had it wired.  Lived the fraternity life with parties and friends.  Eked out good grades, drove a nice car and had a family business waiting.

Yet somehow it wasn’t enough.  I often felt like I was running.  I couldn’t stop and think about my life.  If I did I saw only emptiness.

I look back now years later and can’t imagine my destiny if I’d not miraculously found a relationship with God.

I wouldn’t have my wife because we’d have never met.  I wouldn’t have our kids we because, well you know.

I wouldn’t have had our life adventure that though at times certainly challenging always has been fulfilling.

I thought about that as I read a promise of Jesus.

He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”

What an amazing offer.  Far from curtailing your life, living in a relationship with God brings richness you simply can’t create.

And I can tell you it has little to do with living it perfectly.  Believe me, I know.

God, in his love, simply says, “Join me.”

Then the adventure begins.

Never one day have I looked back with regret, only relief.

 

*John 15:5 (NIV)