Waiting in Harmony

f there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

If there is one thing we all have in common, it’s that we hate waiting. We despise it. In our fast-paced digital world, waiting is a monotonous waste of time.

And yet right before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples to stay in town and wait on the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 24:49.) He didn’t tell them exactly where to stay, how long they would be there, or what they should do with their time. Nor did He explain what it would be like when the Holy Spirit came.

He just told them to wait. And then He left His followers behind.

The Waiting

Fifty days. That’s the amount of time between Acts 1 and Acts 2. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but it must have felt like forever to the 120 people who put their lives on hold to wait for the Holy Spirit.

But they didn’t wait passively. During those seven weeks, they

  • prayed continuously
  • ministered to one another
  • shared what they had with those in need
  • loved and prayed for one another
  • told stories of Jesus’ life
  • mourned Jesus’ death and
  • celebrated Jesus’ resurrection.

The Harmony

“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14 NAS). The KJV states, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication….”

That’s 120 people repeatedly gathering in one room for 50 days. Not fighting. Not panicking. Not seeking their own interests.

They were waiting in “one accord.” The Greek word for this phrase means “with one mind, one accord, one passion.” The expression combines two thoughts, “to rush along” and “in unison.” This creates a musical image, reminding us that a number of different notes must be combined to create a unique harmony.

All of Jesus’ followers were regular people. They had their own backgrounds, emotions, and beliefs about what God was doing. They didn’t check their individuality at the door when they walked into the upper room. But through prayer, they surrendered their own desires and wills to that of Jesus. As they submitted to Him, they were able to live and worship together, in true harmony.

The Results

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1 KJV).

When the big day came….when God showed up in full force…when thousands were gathered together outside… Jesus’ followers were ready! Because a small group of believers chose to be obedient and wait on the Lord, three thousand people were saved that day. And thus the gospel began to spread across the world.

Our Turn

As Christians, we still wait on the Lord. Individually, we wait for Him to give us guidance, for healing, and for loved ones to be saved. As a Church body, we wait for fresh movements, revival, and for the second coming of our King.

The great news is that we now have the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit within us! If we will allow Him to move in our lives and within the Church, He will direct us to Jesus—with one mind, in one accord, and in complete harmony.

If 120 people could start the Christian movement, imagine what the Church can do today!

Holy Spirit, help us to focus on Jesus. As we set our sights on Him, help us to live in harmony with You and with one another.

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

A Great Resource

If this topic interests you, I highly recommend the The Centurion’s Wife. This is an excellent fiction book set within the fifty days that occurred between Jesus’ resurrection and the day of Pentecost. It’s the first in the Acts of Faith series by Janette Oke and Davis Bunn.

The Problem with Proverbs 31

Have you ever been frustrated by Scripture? Have you let it become a stumbling block for you? Blogger Ashley L. Jones felt this way about Proverbs 31—until the Lord showed her the real meaning behind this amazing chapter. Here’s a hint: it’s not about being a Super Hero!

The Woman

If you’ve been a believer for a while, you’ve probably heard about Proverbs 31. Depending on your Bible translation, you may know this as the chapter describing the “virtuous woman” or the “excellent wife.” (See verse 10.) I used to think of this fictitious person as the Perfect Woman—Mother Theresa, Martha Stewart, and Ivanka Trump rolled into one modern day Super Hero.

Sounds cool, right? Sure, until you read the details.

This woman:

  • does good things for her husband every day of her life (with no exception);
  • makes beautiful clothes and linen for her family using exotic raw materials she’s sourced in the marketplace;
  • finds time to make additional items, which she sells through her own clothing line;
  • is also a successful farmer and vine dresser;
  • never sleeps, rests, or is idle (and probably doesn’t blink for that matter);
  • still has the energy to mentor others;
  • is strong, wise, and dignified; and
  • apparently doesn’t have a negative bone in her body. (God bless her heart!)

 

The Frustration

Is it just me, or does this woman give us over-worked, over-stressed, under-paid girls a bad name? Don’t you just hate her? Can we agree to ignore this chapter all together?

Okay, so I was a little mad at the Proverbs 31 woman for a while. I was also frustrated at the preachers and teachers who lifted her up as the standard against which all women are measured. I was doing good to get out of bed on Sunday morning, so this comparison to the Proverbs 31 woman was becoming a stumbling block for me. I began to feel guilt and self-condemnation because I couldn’t measure up. My solution was to ignore that entire chapter as best I could.

 The Truth

Fortunately, the Lord didn’t let me off that easy. Over a period of years, He kept bringing me back to Proverbs 31. Eventually, I discovered something amazing: this isn’t a to-do list of all the things we have to accomplish daily for God to love us and use us. Instead, this chapter is like a map of our spiritual journey as seen from a 20,000-foot vantage point.

For example, the woman buys a field, plants a garden, sells the produce, and then buys a vineyard with the earnings. Later, she helps the poor and needy. (See Proverbs 31:16-20.) We all recognize that we can’t reap what we don’t sow, and we can’t bless others if we have nothing to give. Even from a spiritual standpoint, we can’t offer the gifts of knowledge and wisdom until we’ve received them ourselves. Proverbs 31 contains many such natural laws, which helps us understand our spiritual journeys and track our progress.

I also realized that Proverbs 31 applies to both men and women. There are numerous Scriptures depicting God as a bridegroom courting His bride, which is the Church. (See Matthew 9:15 and Revelation 21:9-10.) So, when we read figurative Scriptures referring to the marriage relationship, we can usually put ourselves in the wife’s role and Jesus in the husband’s role. Applying this to Proverbs 31 has given me a new outlook on how we, the Church, interact with Jesus.

The Encouragement

Over time, I came to see that the problem with Proverbs 31 wasn’t with the Scripture at all—it was with my own misunderstanding of the Word. I encourage you to read this important chapter again with fresh eyes. Notice how the woman grows over time, from faithful servant to wise teacher. Then read the verses again as if the woman is the Church body and the husband is Jesus.

Instead of running from this chapter—like I wanted to—lean into it. Seek God’s guidance and understanding. Let go of the guilt of not being a Super Hero and pursue the greater role of an obedient child of God. May this bless you and encourage you on your journey.

“A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NAS).

 

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

Loving the Unlovable

LovingThe Unlovable

On Valentine’s Day, we treat our loved ones. Grown men stand in line to buy fuzzy teddy bears, overpriced chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, and mushy greeting cards declaring their undying love. Women shop as well, searching for a new set of tools, the perfect cologne and, of course, a mushy greeting card. Parents even buy treats and toys for their children, to remind them that they’re cherished.

However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, you’ll be thinking of those you love. You certainly won’t be thinking of those you don’t love.

The Unlovable

You know who they are. The woman who said hateful things about you behind your back. The guy who deceived you and broke your heart. We all know people like this. The ones who make life harder. The ones who hurt others to get ahead. The ones we can’t stand to be around. The ones we cannot, under any situation, love.

And yet that’s what God has called us to do: to love the unlovable.

An Impossible Command

Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for those persecute us. (See Matthew 5:43-47.) I thought about this for years, wondering how I could possibly live this out in my own life. How can we muster the courage, strength, or whatever goodness is needed to love those who hate us?

I finally have the answer: We don’t. We can’t. We simply don’t have what it takes.

But God does.

A Godly Love

Before we knew God, we had to manage on our own. Our emotions—from love to hate—were based on passion, desire, and fear.

Then, we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit took up residence in our hearts. The Bible says that God is Love. This doesn’t just mean that He Loves us, but that His Love abides within us. (See 1 John 4:8 and 15.) If we will tap into the Holy Spirit in us, we can dispense God’s Love (with a capital L).

Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself so all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). He saved each of us while we were still sinners. God’s Love is bigger than any sin we can commit, and there is no one God doesn’t want to save.

Exercises

There will always be people who wound us, aggravate us, or simply annoy us. But we aren’t limited to our own anemic emotions any more. Now, we can draw from God’s perfect Love that dwells within us.

The next time you happen upon your enemies, try these godly tactics:

• Fake it ‘til you make it. Act like you sincerely care for their wellbeing. This isn’t about lying but about positioning yourself to draw from God’s wellspring of Love.
• Don’t be ugly. Even when they’re not in the room, don’t say anything hateful about them. That would only negate the good work you’re trying to accomplish and open the door to hypocrisy.
• Pray for them. You can’t hate someone you’re praying for, so pray and pray some more.

Whatever you do, ask for God’s guidance and wisdom. Treat each interaction with your enemies as opportunities to be His hands and feet in the world. By this, God’s love will be perfected in you. (See 1 John 4:12.)

If you practice this enough, you will eventually prove something quite profound: thanks to God’s grace, no one is unlovable.

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook Page

Take Time to Chew the Cud

Meditation, Chew the Cud, Take Time, Slow Down, Live Purposefully

As we embark on a new year, we’re all looking for the latest methods to improve our physical and spiritual wellbeing. As a blogger, I feel compelled to offer my own sage advice:

Take time to chew the cud.

The Amazing Cow

Have you ever noticed that cows are always chewing on something? That’s because they have a complex digestive system. They use their four-chambered stomachs to regurgitate swallowed food (“cud”) so they can chew on it a second time before swallowing it again. It may sound gross to us, but this amazing process ensures the cows absorb sufficient nutrients from their fibrous diets.

Animals with multi-chambered stomachs that chew the cud are called ruminants. Under the Old Testament law, ruminants with split hoofs (like deer and cattle) were considered clean and acceptable to eat. I believe God used this rule to remind the Israelites to “do as the ruminants do”: ruminate. That’s not a common word today, but we’re all familiar with its synonym, meditate.

Pondering Meditation

In Christianity, meditating isn’t about achieving a state of mindlessness or controlling one’s bodily functions as in some Eastern religions. Instead, it’s the purposeful consideration of a truth or fact.
For example, in Psalm 119, David said he would meditate on God and His “precepts,” “wonders,” “statutes,” and “word.” Like a cow chewing the cud, David promised to ponder on these things over and over so he could absorb as much truth from them as possible.

Unlike grass and hay, which contain a finite amount of nutrients, God’s Word has unlimited value. We can meditate on it day and night and never exhaust its riches.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33 NAS)

Chew the Cud

Unfortunately, most of us get in a rut with our Bible study time. We often skip the Old Testament entirely and just skim through the New Testament. Even if we read a daily devotional, we usually forget its message long before lunchtime.

This year, I encourage you to take time to chew the cud. Let God lead you to a verse from Scripture or to a truth about Himself. Meditate on it in the morning, at lunch, while you’re driving, in the shower, and when you lay down at night. Like David, turn it over and over again in your mind, drawing from it all the spiritual nutrition you can.

As Joshua said, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8 NAS).

May your meditation lead to obedience, and your obedience to prosperity and success this year!

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com
(With thanks to the Cattle Empire for information on the anatomy of cows.)

Leave your comments on our Facebook page

The Most Lavish Gift of All

The Extravagant Gift

I was in a store recently when a homeless man came in and began chatting up the sales clerk. Apparently, John (as the clerk called him), had been in the store earlier and had picked out a reproduction of a painting.

“I told you I’d be back,” John told the clerk. “My sister Susan is going to love this! She’s done so much for me over the past few years, and I just want to give her something to show my appreciation. You said you can ship it to her, right?”

I watched as John produced $45 in wrinkled bills and an old envelope with Susan’s name and address on the return label. (I was reminded that homeless people don’t carry credit cards or use smart phones to manage their contacts.)

Although the painting was one of the most expensive items in the store, John didn’t haggle over the price. In fact, he seemed overjoyed to spend the money. Still, I wondered if he had any left to buy dinner. Where would he stay the night? Would his sister be pleased with the gift or upset over the cost?

As I tried to figure out how I felt about the situation, I watched John float out of the store on a bubble of joy and excitement. I realized he wasn’t just sending his sister something—he was sending her a grand gesture, an extravagant gift, and the joy he felt in giving it was its own reward.

 

 The Idol of Frugality

I thought back to when I was 16 years old. It took me weeks to save up $110 to buy a birthstone ring for my mother. It was a lot of money to spend on a single present, which was exactly the point. I wanted to show Mom how much I loved her by giving her a lavish gift.

My mind shifted again, this time to our current Christmas preparations. My husband Robby and I live on a budget, so we agreed to keep the presents to a minimum, focusing on those around us with immediate needs. Still standing in the store, I mentally patted myself on the back for planning a frugal Christmas. That’s when the Lord convicted me: “You already know that money can be an idol. So can frugality.”

It felt like I had been kicked in the gut! I thought I was being smart, but in those two sentences, the Lord showed me that I was beginning to live in fear—fear that the money would dry up, that the needs would exceed the funds, that God would leave us high and dry. It wasn’t conscious—I know God will take care of us—but I’ve been holding a firm grasp on the purse strings, afraid of giving God full reign.

 

The Most Lavish Gift of All

As these thoughts were pouring through my mind, the Lord told me something very important about Himself: “I am not a frugal God. I give lavishly out of my abundance.”

How profound! Our God is the most lavish spender of all time—and He spent everything on us! God gave His Son Jesus to mankind on Christmas, and then Jesus gave His life for us on Easter. God didn’t hold back with us. He didn’t budget or skimp. God gave us 100% of His net worth in the person of Jesus Christ—and we didn’t even deserve it.

 

 Let Us Freely Give

Now, I don’t propose that we max out the credit card bills in a misguided attempt to “bless” everyone around us. However, we should be more like John—focused not on what we lack but on our access to God’s abundance.

This Christmas, let’s allow God to guide all of our decisions—including how we spend our money—resting in the surety that He will not lead us astray. And let us freely dispense the priceless gifts of compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love, this season and throughout the new year.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NAS)

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

 

The Goodness of the Lord

Not every circumstance will be resolved the way you want, or how you plan it. But if you are obedient and make God your first priority, and if you wait upon the Lord, you will see His goodness in your daily life. (See Psalm 27:13-14.)

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NAS)

 

God is in Control

Last month, I posted a blog called When It’s Not About You. In it, I mentioned a situation that was frustrating my husband Robby and me. A large pine tree had fallen from the property behind us, across the corner of our yard, coming to rest in the tree limbs above the house of our next-door neighbor, Lynn. At first, we were upset about being in the middle of a contentious situation, but then God shifted our concern to Lynn, a senior citizen.

God showed us that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (See Isaiah 55:9.) He wasn’t worried about our sense of right and wrong, or even about our finances—not because He’s distant and callous but because He’s in control of those things. His concern in this situation was for Lynn’s welfare, and He was giving us the opportunity to help her, to be useful for the Kingdom.

Robby and I were so convicted! We immediately set a date to have the tree removed. Unfortunately, the earliest date available was still weeks away. We had just stepped out in obedience and faith, and now we were playing the waiting game! Every morning, we opened the blinds and saw that awful dead tree, spread across Lynn’s roof, and we prayed that it wouldn’t fall before it could be removed safely.

 

God is Still Good

Then, something amazing happened. When I was off from work one afternoon, I heard a knock at the door. It was a man from a different tree company asking if they could access our property. It turned out that the owner of the tree finally decided to have it removed—at his expense! I sat outside and watched as they cut the tree down and gently lowered it to the ground. It was so brittle that some of the limbs cracked and fell, but there was no damage to Lynn’s house!

I called our family to tell them the good news. Not only was the situation resolved, and Lynn was safe, but we didn’t have to pay the $1500 to remove the tree ourselves! Everyone was as amazed as we were. What if I hadn’t been home that day…what if the tree company we had hired had come out earlier…how had the tree withstood the recent hurricane…why did the owner finally agree to pay for the tree’s removal….? This was definitely a “God situation.”

Robby and I were obedient to the Lord when we made the appointment to have the tree removed. We had agreed to trust in God and do the right thing, no matter the cost. Now, I see that God was setting us up—not as a test but as a reminder of His goodness and provision. What a reminder that God really does loves us, and He is willing and able to take care of our needs! (See Luke 12:28-31.)

 

 Trust in the Lord

Whatever your situation is today, I encourage you to trust in the Lord. (See Proverbs 3:5.) His Word can still calm the storm; He is still our shield and protector; and He is a saving defense to His people. (See Matthew 8:27 and Psalm 27:7-8.)

Not every circumstance will be resolved the way you want, or how you plan it. But if you are obedient and make God your first priority, and if you wait upon the Lord, you will see His goodness in your daily life. (See Psalm 27:13-14.)

Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments for Ashley on our Facebook page

 

When It’s Not About You

Sometimes, the situation just isn’t about you. But, if you’re obedient, God can use you as His hands and feet to bless others.

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand” (Psalm 139:17-18 NAS).

 

We all love verses like this. They remind us that God loves us and thinks about us often. We are not lost or forgotten. We are children of the Creator! In prayer, we boldly go before the throne of God the Father to seek His will and to make our petitions.

 

Childish Faith

Like all children, though, we have a tendency to be self-centered. We have such a powerful, intimate relationship with the Father that sometimes we imagine we’re an only child, the sole recipient of God’s time and affection. After a while, we can start to think that every situation is about us. Whether it’s a lesson we need to learn or an opportunity to grow, we imagine ourselves as the leading actor in every scene of our lives.

But our faith isn’t just between us and God. Our kingdom is full of other believers—brothers and sisters in Christ—all of whom have needs and desires just like we do.

It’s true that God called us to have a child-like faith, full of hope and dependent upon God. (See Mark 10:13-15.) However, He did not want us to have a childish faith, focused on ourselves and ignorant of the needs of those around us. (See 1 Corinthians 13:11.)

 

Childish Behavior

I admit I’ve been guilty of this childish behavior—as recently as last week. Over a year ago, a pine tree fell from the property behind us, across the corner of our yard, coming to rest in the tree limbs above the house of our next door neighbor, Lynn. We’ve spent months trying to get the owners to resolve the situation before it got worse. Then its weight finally brought down an oak tree into our yard, and we spent more time sorting out who’s negligent, what insurance can be applied, who has to remove what, and who has to pay for it.

Through it all, I’ve been focused on my needs. But all my worrying and fussing has only made the situation more frustrating for me and my husband.

 

God’s Heart

I was on the verge of giving up and just calling a lawyer when I finally (belatedly) asked God for His direction on the matter. Much to my surprise, He didn’t seem concerned about my sense of right and wrong; I suppose He’s the only one who can keep a proper tally of such things. He wasn’t worried about my need for judgment, either, for He is the only true Judge. And He wasn’t fretting about our finances because He’s in control of our income and expenses.

Instead, God showed me what’s on His mind: our neighbor Lynn. He reminded me that Lynn is a disabled senior citizen on a limited income. She can’t afford to remove her portion of the tree, let alone repair a damaged home. It’s even possible Lynn could be injured or killed if the tree were to fall on her roof, and God doesn’t want that to happen.

I felt so convicted! While my heart had been turned inward, God’s heart was focused on Lynn and what she needs. I know God loves me as much as He loves Lynn and, yes, this will work out for the good for all of us. (See Romans 8:28.) But this issue is about Lynn and making sure she’s safe in her own home.

In other words, this isn’t about me.

 

God’s Hands and Feet

My husband and I now have an appointment to have the tree removed. Lynn offered to pay us back in installments, but we declined. Once we realized that God wanted to work through us to bless Lynn, we knew we had to be obedient.

We all love it when God moves in our lives, when we’re the focus of His blessings. But as we grow in the faith, we learn that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NAS). We should want God to trust us to be His messengers, comforters, teachers, and servants. It should be our heart’s desire to be God’s hands and feet in this world.

I encourage you to seek God’s heart in every situation. Don’t be discouraged if you realize God isn’t focused on you, but instead ask God how He wishes to use you to bless others. You may be surprised to find out how much of a blessing it can be just to be useful in the kingdom of God.

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Leave Ashley a comment on our Facebook page

 

Why Our Chickens Crossed the Road

Sometimes chickens need to cross the road

The Loss

The beginning of summer proved to be rough for my husband Robby and me. Our sweet kitty, Sue, developed cancer earlier in the year, and we started her on chemo. Unfortunately, the treatment was too much for her, and she passed away on May 21.

Sue wasn’t just a cat; she was our fur-baby. She knew just how to bring comfort and joy to our lives each and every day. That’s why her passing was so devastating. I trusted God had a plan, but I couldn’t make it out, and I was too upset that day to really care. Robby and I just sat in the window seat by Sue’s empty bed and wondered what we were supposed to do next.

Then the phone rang. It was our neighbors, the Smiths, asking if we were ready to take the girls.

The Gain

The “girls” are the two beautiful Red Star hens our neighbors had acquired the Sometimes chickens need to cross the roadprevious month. The Smiths were moving to a neighborhood that didn’t allow chickens, and we had happily agreed to adopt them. However, the moving date wasn’t for several weeks, and we hadn’t planned on taking the girls that weekend.

I looked at Robby and sighed. “Well? What else are we going to do? If I keep sitting here, I’ll go crazy.”

He nodded slowly. “OK. Let’s do it.”

The Smiths came over, bringing kind words of encouragement. They had previously lost a beloved pet and understood what we were going through. We then quickly got down to business. Robby had bought and assembled a coop a couple weeks beforehand, and the Smiths helped us reinforce it against predators. Working outside in the sun helped us forget about the empty house inside.

When the coop was ready, we went next door, loaded the girls in a crate, put the crate in a wheelbarrow, and wheeled them across the street. They clucked the whole way! We showed them to their new coop, and they immediately began to peck at the new soil. We couldn’t help but laugh at their little sounds and the way they ruffled their feathers as they bathed in the sand.

The Message

That evening, Robby and I marveled at what God had done. We knew why our chickens crossed the road that day, from our neighbors’ house to ours: to bring us comfort and joy when we needed it most, and to remind us that God loves us and has a plan for us.

We didn’t know when Sue would leave this world, but God did. We didn’t know what joy the chickens would bring us, but He did. He orchestrated the whole thing and brought us encouragement by way of the Smiths and two plucky hens, Lula Bell and Lu Ellen.

When the night seems the darkest, we should remember that God is not blind. He is not surprised when our circumstances change, and He is not hindered by our grief. All things work for the good to those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28).

Remember that it is God who arranges the events of youChicken2 [685404]r days. Your job is to simply be obedient to His call (like the Smiths were that day). I also recommend looking out for chickens crossing the road. You never know—they just may be the blessing you need.

Ashley Jones

Read more from Ashley at: Bigsisterknows.com 

Have you ever had a blessing come in an unexpected form?  Tell us about it on our Facebook page

A Father’s Song

In our house, it’s all about the Sting Channel.

Robby and I started listening to music through Pandora awhile back. I love everything from contemporary Christian to Blues, so I must have dozens of music channels saved in our queue.

But for our everyday groove, we stick with the singer-songwriter Sting (formerly of the Police). Pandora plays his songs along with similar artists, such as Sade. We find their music soothing, without being boring.

If you think this is an odd choice for a young married couple, you’re right.

I blame my father.

 

Dad’s Music

When I was 16, my little brother was born, and I moved into the bonus room above the garage. At that time, my dad’s musical instruments were up there, including his bass guitar. He would practice every night to whatever music featured the instrument he was playing. Sting and Sade were frequent picks.

I often enjoyed listening to him play, appreciating his skill and the opportunity to chill with my dad.

But sometimes, I would get frustrated. Like any teenager, I wanted to talk on the phone, check my email, or watch TV. I wanted my privacy and to be left alone. It wasn’t like we were really visiting, anyway; he was practicing and I was just listening. At those times, Dad’s music didn’t sound so sweet. Instead, it was annoying.

Only in the last few months, as I’ve sung along to all those familiar tunes, have I begun to appreciate the impact of those years listening to Dad practice. It’s like his music seeped into my heart and laid buried there until I needed a good melody to fill my own house. And now that I’m older, I can appreciate that Dad wanted to hang out with me; we didn’t have to exchange words to have quality time together.

 

God’s Song

God works in our hearts in a similar way. Although we like the direct give-and-take of answered prayer, and we seek the powerful messages that come through dreams and visions, God often approaches us with a gentle sound, a small voice, a whisper (see 1 Kings 19:11-12). Like any good father, He wants to be near us, and for us to want to be near Him.

Sometimes, we like what He’s doing; it fits into our schedule and how we want to spend our day. We hear the song God is playing over our lives, and it sounds pleasant.

At other times, we feel that God is invading our personal space, and we get frustrated that we don’t have any privacy. We feel Him working in our hearts, exposing our personal thoughts and feelings, and we just want a break. We’d be happier if the music stopped for a little while.

 

Just Listen

We need to realize that God isn’t working in our lives for the sake of the moment; He’s preparing us for the future. He’s getting us used to the sound of His voice, to the melody of His Spirit. If we will listen and store that away in our hearts, we can carry it with us wherever we go (see Deuteronomy 30:14).

There will come a day when we need a little music, something to get us through a difficult situation or the doldrums of daily life. We’ll search for something meaningful, and His tune will come to mind. We’ll begin to hum the lyrics of His Word, and we will fill our lives with His Song.

If you’re feeling resistant to what God’s doing in your life, I totally understand. But I encourage you to stop turning a deaf ear to what your Heavenly Father is doing. He has some amazing lyrics to sing over you in a beautiful melody of grace and joy (see Zephaniah 3:17). All you need to do is listen.

“The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him” (Exodus 15:2 NAS).

Ashley Jones

Read more from Ashley @BigSisterKnows.com

Leave your comments on our Facebook page!

 

 

 

Give Yourself a Break!

stress

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” I sat on the couch with my head in my hands. My husband Robby was trying to comfort me but didn’t have the answers.

I had been “down” for over a week. I couldn’t muster the energy to cook, clean, or write. I put in my time at work, but that was about it. I knew I wasn’t depressed or sick, but I couldn’t get over this malaise.

The Revelation

Later that week, I opened my morning devotional. I hadn’t read it in a few days and had to check the calendar to see what day it was.

“Well, no wonder!”

Robby looked at me inquisitively over a forkful of scrambled eggs.

“Look what week it is.” I pointed to the beautiful portrait of my late grandmother on box 16 of the calendar on the fridge. Box 10 marked the anniversary of her passing. It was currently day 15—smack dab in the middle of the worst week of the year.

After 13 years of missing Grandma, you’d think it wouldn’t sneak up on me anymore. But it does. Every single year.

The Guilt

As a modern Christian woman, I know that God is good, and He’s in control.

But this time of year always leaves me feeling lost and confused. This year, I subconsciously avoided it by focusing on other issues and vegging on movie marathons.

That just added guilt to the emotional pile, though: Was it really OK to avoid the painful memories this year? Why hadn’t I dealt with it in prayer?

Thankfully, God showed me something that released me from the usual dose of self-condemnation.

The Lesson

We’re all aware the body is equipped to handle amazing amounts of stress. In the “fight-or-flight response,” we get a surge of hormones, including adrenaline, that give us the energy, focus, and strength we need to run away from something or stand our ground.

Once the emergency is over, though, it may take a while for our minds to come to grips with what happened. Trauma victims may even suffer amnesia or remember facts differently than they occurred. These mental blocks and tricks aren’t evil—they’re just pause buttons to give us the time we need to process the situation.

The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14). God knew we would deal with stressful situations that could destroy us physically or mentally, and He gave us the tools we need to get through them.

 The Application

We would never tell a trauma victim to “just deal with it.” We wouldn’t dream of making them feel guilty for going through the necessary healing process. So, why do we allow ourselves to feel guilt and shame when we’re dealing with something difficult in our own lives?

I think the problem for Christians is that we confuse stress with doubt or worry. Doubt is a lack of belief, and worry is the result of doubting God. Stress, on the other hand, is a physiological response to a stimulus—whether negative (like a car accident) or positive (like planning a wedding)—that disturbs or interferes with our normal equilibrium (Dictionary.com).

When we’re stressed, it just means we’re going through something. It doesn’t mean we trust God any less, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

The Break

We all know we can handle stress better by stepping away from the situation or focusing on something else for a while. Sometimes, though, we may feel buried under it, like I did earlier this month.

If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to do what I finally did: drop the guilt and give yourself a break! Even if you’re not exactly sure what’s stressing you, trust that God has it under control. If you think you need a little help, reach out to a loved one or your pastor.

And remember, joy comes in the morning (see Psalms 30:5).

Ashley L. Jones 

Read more from Ashley @BigSisterKnows.com

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page