Resetting - Renewing - Restoring - Rejoicing
Saturday; June 23, 2018
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
TODAY’S CHALLENGE – SEE IT AND BE IT. Visualization plays a key role in your life, whether you realize it or not. What you constantly visualize and think about is generally what you become. If you are always dwelling on the negative -- your health problems, the money you owe, your troubled relationships -- then you give even more power to these things and they continue to manifest in your life in abundance. By contrast, when you constantly visualize life the way you want it to be -- optimum health, increased income, free of debt -- then these things will begin to appear. It almost seems like magic, but there is nothing magical about it. Our minds work by association. There is so much information coming at us on a daily basis that we can’t possibly process it all. So we experience life and relate to the world in terms of things we already know. You create a model in your mind that allows you to make sense of the world around you. When that model is positive, and focused on your goals, then you see the opportunities in all situations. Make a habit of constantly focusing on the positive and visualizing the person you want to become. When you regularly visualize yourself as successful and effective, then your mind will find a way to bring that visualization into reality.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland Isaiah 43:19
MOVE FORWARD ANYWAY: BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN. Living by faith in this fallen world can sometimes be like walking through a fog, where you can’t see where you’re going. You want to believe that God is with you on your journey, but you can’t seem to find Him while challenges such as sadness, shame, doubts, and confusion obscure your vision. Jesus Christ shared breakfast on a beach with His disciples after His resurrection, and the story of that morning reveals that God sometimes shows up in unexpected ways – breaking through the fog of ordinary life with surprising insights. Acknowledge the fog around you. Just as Jesus’ disciples were caught up in a fog of grief (after His death on the cross), you, too, will always be struggling with some kind of fog surrounding you because the sin in this world obscures the way God originally intended it to be. Face the reality of the fog around you and be honest with God about it. Admit the reality of your situation if you’re: struggling with sorrow about unanswered prayers, confused about something you’d like to believe but have doubts, discouraged by shame you feel because of your mistakes, exhausted from trying to reach a goal that keeps eluding you, or wanting to skip church because of the difficult people there. Once you face the fog, you can start the process of breaking through it. Look for God in the fog. Jesus was right there on the shore when the disciples looked over there from their fishing boat – but at first, they didn’t recognize Him. God has promised to be with you always, so choose to trust His promise, even when you can’t sense the reality of His presence with you. Keep in mind that the Bible says while we’re living in this fallen world, our perception of God is like a reflection in a mirror, but when we get to heaven we’ll be able to see Him face to face. You may experience some dramatic encounters with God’s Spirit on Earth from time to time, but most often you’ll find God’s faithful presence in the ordinary moments of your life – from enjoying a walk in nature to playing with your children – and the more you look for God, the more you’ll start to notice Him. Accept God’s unconditional love for you. Despite their hard work fishing, the disciples hadn’t caught any fish to offer Jesus as food for the breakfast meal they shared that morning. But once Jesus helped them, they caught so many fish that their nets were straining from being full. Jesus is willing to meet you wherever you are and help you move forward from there. Don’t worry about coming to Jesus empty-handed, since He loves you unconditionally. He knows all about your weaknesses and failures yet loves you completely anyway. Accept that love by inviting Him to fill the empty places in your soul with His great love. Keep going even when you feel like giving up. The disciples chose to cast their fishing nets into the Sea of Galilee one more time because Jesus asked them to – even though they were discouraged from having failed to catch anything through their previous efforts. Then, they experienced incredible success. No matter how discouraged you become, decide to keep living faithfully (such as showing up at church to worship God, volunteering to serve others, caring for difficult people, and praying with endurance) and God will eventually give you a breakthrough. Take care of yourself by nourishing your body, mind, and spirit together. Rather than serving only spiritual nourishment, Jesus served physical food and gave new mental insights to the disciples that morning on the beach. While it’s vital to take care of yourself spiritually, it’s just as important to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. So eat a healthy diet, drink enough water, get the sleep and exercise that you need, and prioritize time for investing in friendships and enjoying fun and relaxing activities. Face the uncomfortable parts of life. Jesus’ conversation with the disciples during breakfast implied that their futures would include some suffering and mystery that would make them uncomfortable. Faith doesn’t make anyone impervious to going through tough times or circumstances that don’t make sense to human understanding. Choose to trust God with your future, no matter what, since He has good purposes planned for your life. Devote yourself wholeheartedly to Jesus. The famous question that Jesus asked Peter during this resurrection appearance was: “Do you love Me?” Jesus wanted to know how much Peter truly loved Him – how committed Peter really was to making a relationship with Jesus his top priority. Jesus is asking the same of you. Show Jesus how much you love Him by centering your life around your relationship with Him. Once Peter devoted himself wholeheartedly to following Jesus again, Jesus reinstated him to leadership. Jesus will work through your life in powerful ways after you devote yourself to Him. Let suffering strengthen your faith and courage. Jesus warned Peter that he would die as a martyr for his faith, but when that happened years later, God brought good purposes out of Peter’s suffering. Be confident that when God allows you to go through suffering (from illness to unemployment), He will redeem your ordeal by using it to accomplish good purposes when you trust Him. Decide to follow Jesus as Peter did, not turning back but moving forward with confidence that God will do what’s best through your life. Focus on following Jesus wherever He leads you. Peter asked Jesus what would happen to another disciple, John, and Jesus essentially tells Peter that he should focus only on God’s plans for his own life rather than getting distracted by what God may do in other people’s lives. Keep your own focus on what matters most: following where Jesus leads you. When you do, fog will clear out of your life so you can see how God is doing something great through you. MOVE FORWARD ANYWAY: BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Isaiah 43:18
At the end of the day when you are weary from all of the effort and energy you have expended and you are sore and tired from being hit hard so many times, but the dream is not realized, the one thing that tells you to keep going; to get up tomorrow and to keep moving forward, is your faith. Honor this and cherish it. Faith is what makes you human. It gives you energy and hope. And if you let it, your faith will deliver you to wherever you want to go in life.

Pamela Guy-Strayhorn