How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!
My son started playing the trombone at the start of this school year. Some people warned me that I would be in for trouble, and that the noise of his practices would drive me crazy. I have not found that to be true at all. When he practices, I always want to be nearby so I can listen in to hear his progression. I heard his struggles with notes, his first successful run of notes, his hushed “yes” under his breath, and his silly behavior to get him through it all. Now I recognize the songs he is playing and it sounds great. It was such a blessing to be able to have these moments and to continue to have these moments.
God loves to hear our beautiful music too. Some of us may be struggling with notes, and not have an ear to even reach the notes that are written. I remember this one time my son made this high pitched squeaking noise come out from his trombone that I jumped a foot in the air. I prayed that it never happened again, but I stayed in my chair and kept listening. God loves every time we sing, even with the squeaky notes that cause others to cringe. It is not about hitting the right notes, about getting the song just right. The most beautiful music comes from the heart.
Our God is an awesome God. He is our Lord, our Creator, the great I AM. He is our Comforter, or Saviour. He is our All in All. Today, as you are faced with struggles and triumphs, the good and the bad, don’t forget to sing to the Lord. Praise His great name. If you’re like me, it’ll warm your heart.
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”
– Psalm 150:6 [NASB]
Thomas was given the nickname doubter. No one wants to be a doubting Thomas. He needed to see Jesus and the wounds to actually believe. Yet when we look closely, the other disciples also only believed after they saw Jesus. It is important to have faith as a child and only believe. At the same time, I see this situation with Thomas in a positive light. Thomas believed after he saw– he simply wanted to be sure of things.
Today we have people attempting to tell us the Truth. Some people say they have heard a special word from God and they form their own groups that do not follow God’s Truth. There are people who manipulate God’s Word in an attempt to promote their vision. We have infomercials that stretch the truth, advertisements that are too good to be true, and much more. Sadly people are so very quick to jump at these lies, instead of seeking out the Truth. Thomas wanted to have evidence. He wanted to be sure. Once he knew the Truth, he believed.
Jesus told the disciples to stay alert and beware those who came and pretended to be Him. He warned them that there would be lies and schemes, there would be miss-truths that people would attempt to spread. We see this too many times still today. It is okay to be like Thomas and to want to see proof. When someone says that God’s Word says something, check for yourself. When a minister preaches a message that you are unsure about, dig into God’s Word. If you seek the Truth, the Truth you shall find (Matthew 7:7). Stay alert.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
– Jeremiah 29:13 [NASB]
There they were standing around this big hole while one person was doing work on the lines below. I often wonder why so many people are needed for some of the roadwork jobs. There’s one man needed to do the digging. There’s another person needed to ensure no one drives or walks into the hole, because it has been proven that orange cones sadly aren’t enough. There’s the man in the hole doing the hardest job. Then there are two or more people standing by the hole as spectators. They aren’t the hole diggers, the line fixers, or the hole watchers. What exactly do they do?
In my town they are doing a lot of road work lately. I keep seeing this same thing over and over again. It reminds me of the Church. God’s Word tells us that there are many parts to one body. We each have our own part to play with the Great Commission. Some people are ministers, some are teachers. Some people are encouragers, others are called to the mission field abroad. Some people are prayer warriors. Other people are choir members. The list continues. One thing not on the list is a spectator.
Nowhere does God’s Word tell us to stand around and watch life. Nowhere are we told to not do anything. We are told to feed the hungry, clothe the naked. We are told to share the message of Christ. We are told to encourage one another, bear each other’s burdens. We are to be “doers of the word” (James 1:22). Being doers does not mean simply within the walls of the church. From all this, we know that we have never been called to be spectators. To die for Christ is to live intentionally. To live intentionally means there is no standing around.
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
– James 2:14 [NLT]
I was reading Zechariah yesterday and when I came upon a verse, I noticed a word that jumped out. In Zechariah 8:13, the verse says to “fear not” or “do not be afraid” Then it continues with “but LET your hands be strong” [ESV, NASB, KJV, ASV]. Let my hands be strong? How can I let my hands be strong? I was reading from the NASB translation so I decided to look at other translations to see if there was a difference. God’s Word says, “let your hands work hard.” The NLT says “get on with rebuilding the Temple.” The Message translation says to “keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”
At this time, they were rebuilding the Temple but they were facing some problems. God was telling them to stay focused and press forward with His work. He provides all we need to get His work accomplished. I love the Douay-Rheims translation which says “let your hands be strengthened.” We are weak alone, but if we allow God to work with us, we are strong. We are not to work alone; we cannot do it alone. The word “let” is used, because we need to openly accept the help from God. He loves us and does not force Himself upon us.
The Message says that we are to “keep a firm grip” on God’s work through the situation. We are to focus on God and what He can do instead of looking at what we can do alone. The people who were rebuilding the Temple were being told they couldn’t do it. They were facing hardships. They were having the devil whisper in their ears.
God says we are to focus on what He can do through us. We still need to press forward. We still need to be building whatever God called us to build; however, we need to focus on what He is doing with the building process. When things look like they won’t work, when people are telling you that they won’t work, we are not to get deterred from doing what God called us to do in life. We are to keep a strong grip on God’s Truth. Whatever is not God’s Truth is not truth at all. If there is something going on in your life and you are feeling deterred from doing what God has called you to do, “let your hands be strong.” God can do anything! Keep a firm grip on Him and His promises for your life.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:13 [NLT]
The doctor’s office called to remind me of my daughter’s upcoming appointment and the office assistant left me a voice mail message. The message warned me that if my daughter did not make her appointment, there would be a fee accessed. I have considered this fee, and wondered how it is that when a person who is sick wishes to go to the doctor, they are charged whether they can make it, but also if they miss the appointment. The question is, do these people who don’t make it and have a viable reason, like they were too sick to even drive to the appointment, get charged? The doctors are to help the sick. Do they show mercy on the sick?
I am not trying to get into a long discussion about the doctors and the fees. We could go back and forth for hours about medical charges and the health care system. The point I am trying to make is our need to show others mercy. There are many situations each day where we have the option to act with mercy or to be hard like the world around us.
Jesus is the great Physician. He even tells us that He came to save the sick and needy. He understands when we don’t make an appointment and He forgives us and seeks to make us well. He addresses our needs and He mends and transforms us. We go from death to life. We go from condemned to forgiven. We go from sinner to saint. How wonderful is that?
Today I hope that you consider in each circumstance the mercy that has been shown to you, and that you share that mercy with others. People are tired. People are lonely. Everyone make mistakes. People are in great need. Some have hearts that ache with a great void that only Jesus can fill. Have compassion for people. Be merciful. Sadly, it may be the only mercy they see today.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Micah 6:8 [NIV]
We all seem to be in overdrive trying to rush through life. This morning I noticed something I see every day while taking my daily walks. The one street I walk on has a big dip which requires people to drive slowly or they will hit the underside of their car on the road. People that are unfamiliar with the street and do not slow down and pay attention to what is going on around them will hit bottom. Without fail, every morning or evening walk I will hear the all too familiar sound of the underside of a car making contact with the road. Sometimes I am even unfortunate to see the facial expressions the driver makes as they realise what has been done.
We are all guilty of doing this with our lives at some time or another. In a world that teaches us to be fast and to pile in as much as possible to our schedule, we rush. We think everything must be in a hurry. We do not have time to relax with family at dinner so we make a “quick and easy” meal or get some “fast food.” We listen to books in the car because we do not have a second to actually sit and read. We send text messages because we have no time to truly speak to another person.
What is worse is that we rush and make decisions without waiting for the Holy Spirit to illuminate us about the decision. We take it to God in prayer and then we do not like waiting for the answer. We pick and move along. We also get so caught up on what is going on later today, that we do not slow ourselves down to enjoy the right now. There is so much going on around us but we run the race as if we are wearing horse blinders, not able to take our eyes off what might not even happen on later today.
God did not create us to run around like crazy people in a world full of nuts. He wants so very much for you to have peace and happiness in life. If you are stressed out, overwhelmed, bogged down with so much on your plate, perhaps today is the day to take a deep breath, evaluate what is a priority and what is not, and have some “me and God time.” There is nothing so peaceful than some time with God. Whether you are reading His Word, worshiping Him, or simply resting in Him, you will find that He provides a comfort and a peace you cannot achieve alone. You will find that life can be so much better if you only slow down.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
– Psalm 23 [NASB]
As a parent, a dog owner, and a former caretaker, I have made an observation. When there is something that may seem to be dangerous to a person or a pet, people and animals feel safer in the situation if there is someone between them and the danger. I can note that my best friend would most likely jokingly say that if I was between the danger, it gives her a chance to push me toward the danger and run. All joking aside, the truth is that we feel comfort knowing we are not alone with the situation, and there is this protective barrier that causes us to feel safe as well. My children were not so scared to approach the scary looking clown when they were little if I was standing on the side closest to the clown. It gave them security. They knew they were safe with mum.
We have a barrier of protection from God our Father. We are facing much more than scary looking clowns in this life, but God promises us that we are under His protective wing. “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge” (Psalm 91:4a NASB). The Bible says that “He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11 NASB). Isaiah 49:2 says that the shadow of God’s hand conceals us, and we can rest knowing that our walls are continually before Him (v.16).
God is between us and the world, protecting us from evil. This is not saying that evil will not come our way. It simply means that He will keep protection of our soul. When we are His children, we have the promise of victory in Christ. We have the promise of everlasting life with Him. There will be evil– bad things will come your way– but you can find comfort knowing that God is between you and the evil. He is your barrier of protection. You are able to seek Him at all times and at any location to help you walk by whatever is trying to break you down, cause you to fall, and disrupt your life. We never need to do life alone.
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
– Psalm 121:7-8 [NASB]
Looks are deceiving. My poor dog was walking along the sidewalk like normal, and then up ahead was a Halloween decoration swaying in the wind. He jumped and then he dropped down in his hunting stance and slowly made his way toward the strange looking mummy figure. As we walked by, his eyes were glued on the mummy to make sure it did not attack. Even after we passed by, Max kept turning his head and looking back, focusing only on this falsity. He believed that the mummy was real and that it would come and attack. As a result, he approached the area slowly and was hesitant to take his eyes off of the decoration.
We often see things swaying in the wind and believe a certain way. Our minds can go wild when we have something before us. We take a fake mummy and turn it into a full on nightmare. I’m sure many adults can relate when they think back to that shirt that was hanging in their closet that they swore was a monster as a child. As we know, monsters do not exist.
The devil likes to use our fears and worries to his advantage. He loves when we think the goal is out of reach, when we feel like something is not going to work out, and when we think things are not going our way. We see something that is not the truth, but it seems like it could be the truth. Or in our minds we imagine what could happen– like the mummy could be real and come and attack us– rather than what is really the truth– that the mummy is just some plastic cut out used for seasonal décor. Like my dog, we then begin to focus on the mummy more than anything else.
When we focus on the mummy instead of focusing on reality, we tend to drop down in our own stance– our stance of fear and doubt. With believing the lies we are told and letting our minds run wild, we lose steam for moving forward with what God has in store for us. We sidestep, we fall back, we consider hiding. When David faced Goliath, he didn’t focus on the size of the giant. Instead he focused on the size of his God. When we have a mummy swaying in our life, remember you have a God bigger than any mummy. The devil is the father of lies, and he wants you to believe otherwise. Keep pressing forward. Through Jesus we have victory.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:12-14 [NASB]