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J.O.Y. in Troubled Times

Posted by Lorraine Serra on January 18, 2013 at 7:50 AM

A friend asked me about my last post, J.O.Y. in Trials.  Basically, he asked, “When you say to keep your eyes on Jesus, what do you mean exactly?”  Good question, and understandable from a “seeker”, someone who knows about Jesus, but doesn’t yet know Him as Lord and Savior.


Even if you do have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, which is wonderful and necessary, you might not yet have a daily walk with Him.   Of course, there’s another one of those ‘spiritual terms’ that needs explanation to a “seeker”. 


The challenge for us all is internalizing the gospel, believing the gospel, and exerting our faith in the gospel, every day, in all circumstances.   It becomes a lifestyle, and a mindset for your life, as you spend time in the scriptures. As you practice the presence of God it will cultivate faith, and help you to become fully persuaded that Jesus is the Great I Am, King and Lord of all. 


 A couple of illustrations come to mind.  One of my favorite scriptures for times of trials and troubles is Psalm 46:1.


“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  


The psalmist goes on to say that he will not fear, but will trust the Almighty, even if earthquakes cause tidal waves and instigate avalanches all around him.   Those are some pretty extreme pictures of trouble….the kind we have no control over, the kind we never saw coming, the kind we may not even be able to prepare for.


I was born and reared in Los Angeles, so I am well acquainted with earthquakes.   The worst one I ever experienced sent my bed rolling across the room on our linoleum floor at dawn!  On the other hand, another one some years later was pretty tumultuous: it wiped out our china, our fireplace, and cracked the stucco on our walls in several places.  Ain’t nothing good about earthquakes in my experience!


The point is the forces of nature are formidable indeed beyond our meager human capabilities.   In a similar way, our troubles, such as an unexpected illness, or death,  or a huge financial burden, a rocky relationship or feelings of distress and insecurity on the job, whatever the case may be, these can deal us a substantial blow, shaking our very core. 


Can I get an "Amen!"  here!



So, how can we “keep our eyes on Jesus” in the wake of such a devastating quake?    How can Jesus Occupy You?


First, we can choose to meditate on accounts of Jesus in the scriptures where His power and mercy are clearly demonstrated.  This may seem over simplistic, but it REALLY WORKS FOR ME.   Occupy your mind with Jesus.  Keep your spiritual eyes on Him, not on your circumstances, in order to get centered, settled, and lay your burden down.


God already knew this thing was coming.  It’s your turn.  Faith or fear?  TALK to God about it.  THANK HIM for how He entered time and space and changed the world then, and how He is with you now.


So many times Jesus brought calm, peace, healing and supply to the people who stayed close to Him and heard his voice.


 Is that some of what you may need right now?  Take time to focus on Jesus feeding 5000 people with a young boy’s lunch; welcoming the children to sit with him; healing the Centurion’s daughter with just a word; affirming Zaccheus, the outcast tax collector,  by dining with him; offering forgiveness to the woman caught in adultery; raising Lazarus from the dead, after 4 days, healing the blind, the lame, the deaf and more.  Think about Jesus calling Peter to walk on water and Jesus calming the wind and waves. Choose the account that speaks to your heart.   Start reading the Gospel of Matthew.  It records 29 miracles.   Who is your Jesus?


Jesus was like a gentle earthquake who impacted lives and changed circumstances from the inside out.  We don’t often think of Jesus as a warrior, yet His battle against sin, usury, hypocrisy and legalism was won through an unlimited supply of love, mercy, and ultimate self-sacrifice.  His inexhaustible grace towards undeserving, hopeless sinners pierces through our own troubles and puts things in perspective. 


God the Son, Jesus the Savior, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever, is aware and able to set straight the circumstances of our lives.  His desire is to bear you up, guide and instruct, and equip you for every circumstance as you follow Him closely.  His is a gift of rest produced by faith and trust.


 But, you can’t take my word for it.  You need to get into THE WORD for it.  The Bible.  It is like a refreshing shower to rid yourself of the grime of life.  Put HIS WORD in your mouth.  Speak it out loud and live it.  Ignore the words of doubt and fear.  Quiet the noise in your mind with His Words of Life.


A second way to “keep our eyes on Jesus” is to think about the attributes of God.  When we focus on His character, Who He is, His absolute authority over all things in heaven and earth, His greatness and majesty will shrink your trouble down to size.  Whatever befalls me, I know Jesus is guiding my path.


When Jesus Occupies You, suddenly the “things of earth will grow faintly dim in the light of His glory and grace” as the old hymn says.

 

So, back to Psalm 46:1 -- I researched the deeper  Hebrew meanings of the psalmist’s words:  “God is our refuge, a shelter, a sanctuary, a place of safety, and our strength, our force and security, full of might and power!   A very present, a wholly and abundantly, forcefully and unmistakably evident on the scene ready to meet you where you are God!  Of course He is!  You are His precious child!


He is a very present help. A real helper, bringing timely and appropriate assistance and providing substantial aid, physically, mentally, emotionally and tangibly in troubled times of distress, anguish, affliction, tightness, adversity and tribulation.


Meditate on these things. Be transformed from the inside out; let your heart be filled up with hope and learn to believe.  Know the peace and rest of God and watch how circumstances line up in your favor because of His exceedingly great goodness and super-abounding love.   It is OK to say, "Lord, I need you.  I need understanding.  Help me open my heart and mind to all You have for me.  With Your help, I am going to trust You."


I will share more of my own real life experiences next time.  It would be great to hear how Jesus calmed your personal storm.  Feel free to share!  God bless you.  I am praying for you!



 

 

Categories: New Beginnings Practicing J.O.Y. 2013

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