Tuesday, February 28, 2017

It's All Good...Until It's Not



Ever had one of those days when all things that could go wrong do? You know how you wake up bright and early, spend time with God, feeling refreshed; like you have a good grasp on life, and then...you go to your car only to see a flat tire. And because you are running late- you get stuck in traffic. Then you get to work and a coworker says something that rubs you the wrong way, during lunch you find out that the restaurant no longer carries your favorite entree that you get every time you visit (this always takes me to my limit-#Hangry). At work, you can't complete the project that was due yesterday because the data system is down. And then....I'm sure you get the point. One small thing after another leads to a storm of imma about to go off in this place! Our actions are no longer spirit-filled and we are following the ways of our current culture.




Once we leave the privacy of our own walls-- life can sometimes hit us (sometimes before we even walk out the door!), things we can't control pop-up on the radar, unannounced (how dare 'bad things' not warn us before they happen!!). We had no idea that XYZ would happen, but it did. Sometimes my responses just happen automatically. Was there a better way to handle that? Oh now I want the Holy Spirit’s guidance?!?! What was that scripture I read from this morning??? Can anyone relate??? No, ok...I guess that's just me. 

If we serve the Prince of Peace why is it so difficult to keep that unexplainable peace throughout the day? How can one incident ruin a great mood? One negative encounter can change the course of the day and then we are all of a sudden riding the wave of emotions based on our environment and other people. Life happens, it is guaranteed that in this life we will have trouble {John 16:33}. Paul tells us to count it all joy and he knows a thing or two about perseverance {James 1:2}. Although I don't have answers for you, the Bible is FULL of guidance and wisdom to keep us aligned with the Prince of Peace. You see, if you believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within you. With His constant Presence, He will produce things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control {Galatians 5:22-23}. Ummmm, yes please I will have ALL of those things. And we do. So why is it that we don't access them on a regular basis? According to Paul, "I am just all too human..."

I love Paul's transparent description of the struggle with sin found in {Romans 7:15}

"I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate." 
Man, this is the struggle. He goes on to explain that because he knows what he doesn't want to do and does it anyway, he is really not the one doing it, it is sin. This is the power that tries to take over our lives and causes us to react in ways that we know are not right.  

(Insert Jesus here)--- Jesus our Lord and Savior was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He died (and rose on the third day) so that we could truly live a life of freedom not controlled by our sinful nature. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are controlled by the Holy Spirit and NOT by our flesh. So how does all of this work- I'm more of a practical girl- what does all this look like during everyday life...

Pray all Day Every Day 
This should be the first, second, third, and last thing we do! I often find myself just saying "Jesus" in my head when dealing with tough situations. It keeps me from saying anything else...hehehehe 
Pray continually! {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18} Most of us pray in the morning before we start our day, in the evening and/or during church on Sunday thinking that it will keep us full for the week- But it won’t- and it doesn't. 

Just think about it like this- in the morning we eat breakfast because we are hungry. If you are anything like me, I have to have a few snacks in between all of my meals, and then there is lunch and dinner. We are constantly filling ourselves up with food. Because our body triggers our hunger pains and that is how we know it is time to eat. It's the same with filling up on God's word and prayer. A man does not live off of bread alone {Matthew 4:4}, so as often as we have to eat (and more) that should be our approach to prayer and reading through God's word. If I'm easily irritated and ready to "pop off" on someone that is my cue that I'm in need of time with Jesus. It should be something that happens throughout the day and not just during our designated "quiet time." It's so easy for me to feel at peace when I can seemingly control the environment but, it is out in the uncontrollable world where I truly need the Holy Spirit to guide me. 

Be Still and Listen 
Sometimes the noise in our lives drowns out the small still voice that is trying to guide us {Isaiah 30:21} Social Media, music, work, and just daily busyness keep us from being focused on God and more focused on the ends and outs of our days.  It's important that we are constantly aware of God's presence so that we can be aware of what He is doing. Take a few seconds to quiet yourself - Be still {Psalm 46:10} and allow the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. Just a 10-second break before responding to situations will allow the Holy Spirit to speak to or through you. Never speak when you feel emotional!!!

Emotions 
Don't be led by your emotions. Contrary to popular belief, we have a choice to act differently than what we feel. Following our emotions will keep us on a constant roller coaster based on people, the environment, the weather, and whatever else. Whenever you are having a rough day remember you may feel a certain way but your response to this feeling doesn't have to be negative. You can choose not to "pop off"- this is honestly my new favorite word ever since I heard President Obama say it. Anyway, I digressed-During a 10-second pause. Be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to anger. {James 1:19 } Just whisper "What should I do Jesus?" hehe hehe no, seriously ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and think of the consequences. Just because you feel anger doesn't mean you have to act on it. 

Practice Practice Practice 
We care about #practice. The Holy Spirit will lead us but Paul reminds us that it requires practice to run our race {1 Corinthians 9:24-27}. We have to be willing to train ourselves to be self-disciplined. The Holy Spirit will prompt us but we have to take the cue and actually make the choice. When my body tells me I need to eat the whole box of Girl Scout cookies (this may or may not be a true story- don't judge), I need to make the choice to choose a better option. It sounds small and silly, but in those little things, we are able to practice self-discipline and learning that we don't have to follow our every want. We have to actually make the choice to respond differently to circumstances.

It’s not easy to live a life that glorifies God. It's not easy to go against the culture and the norms presented to us. I more often than I care to admit react and then go to the Holy Spirit requesting some assistance. But praying, remaining still, not being led by our emotions, and spending time actually “doing” the Word will help put us on the path that God has already mapped out for us. 

Do you find yourself running low when not so great things happen throughout the day? How do you handle those times? 


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