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Finding Rest: Matthew 11:28-29

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When we visited Ocean Shores last summer, I wore Buddy out, walking along the beach. He found rest amidst the grass. However, it was inadequate to protect him from the strong wind that afternoon.

I don’t know about you, but at times I want to run away from the nastiness that’s being spewed since the last Presidential election. But, unless I want to hide in a cave for the next four years, I have to deal with it. Jesus has been my hiding place to run to and find rest.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”–Matthew 11:28-29

Preachers claim that Jesus is referring to a team of oxen: A young ox is yoked to the experienced, older ox who plods along, focused on plowing a straight line. When the newer ox stops goofing around, trying to go his own direction, and yields to the older ox, he finds that the yoke becomes easier.

I find anger, fretting, fear and frustration very taxing emotionally. It’s like a slow poison that damages your health and soul. Jesus promises that when we focus on Him, we’ll find rest. When we allow Jesus to direct our lives, we will find we’re happier and our soul feels lighter.

Jesus has a better path for our minds to travel in.

“Do not FRET…”–Psalm 139

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and DO NOT CURSE.”–Romans 12:14

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”–Romans 12:17

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…”–Romans 12:19

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”–Romans 12:21

“Do not FEAR for I have redeemed you…you are precious in My sight…”–Isaiah 43:1, 4

“Do not WORRY about your life…”–Luke 12:22

“My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”–John 14:27

As you can see in John 14, peace is something God gives to you. You cannot create peace within yourself nor obtain it from the world we live in. Ask Him to give you peace in your heart and by faith trust Him to have given it to you and thank Him for it. When the world and angry people around you start to make you feel stressed out, turn your focus toward Jesus and follow His way: praying for your enemies/opposition and trusting Him to work it out. Focus on His attributes. He’s the great Lord of Hosts, the Omnipotent God. Nothing is too difficult for Him to handle. (Jeremiah 32:17)  He’s in control at all times. He laughs at the nations. They are but dust in His sight. (Psalm 2)

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.”–Isaiah 26:3

 

 

Relaxed During The Storm: Ephesians 1:11b

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There’s a lot of anxiety during this election season. One side worries about losing their Constitutional rights and the other about being left out. Mud is being slung from both sides, some of it sticking, some of the darkness still waiting for illumination.

Buddy can rest because he knows he’s loved and being taken care of. He’s even resting on the dragon, the symbol of our great enemy, Satan. It also helps that he doesn’t understand the evening news or read newspapers.

We, too, if we’re in relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, can rest in God’s loving care: “Who works all things after the counsel of His will.”–Ephesians 1:11b, NASB

When I get anxious about current events I remind myself that everything that is going on in this world is under His control. It’s hard for me to really wrap my mind around that truth. So much is out of my control and I often feel helpless, a minnow trying to swim against a rising tide of garbage flowing my way. It’s not easy for me to understand God’s awesome power because it’s so out of my own experience. Even, despite my best efforts, Buddy ran off around the Fourth of July holidays and was nearly killed by a van on a nearby street when I was taking a shower. Even what I think is under my control, ultimately, is often an illusion. I’m dependent upon God 24/7 to protect me and my loved ones. In a sense, that’s comforting because it means He’s really been in control all the time.

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”–John 16:33, NASB

Jesus reminds me that He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent; meaning He is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere. No evil catches Him by surprise. He’s working all things according to His plan. Sometimes,  to be at peace, I have to LET GO OF MY PLAN and trust that He’s working out HIS PLAN for the world, when His plan seems to be at odds with mine.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I go from your presence?”–Psalm 139:7, NASB

I highly encourage you to memorize Psalms 23 and 139. When I pray through these Psalms, I find my anxieties melt away as I remind myself of God’s power, faithfulness, and tender care for me.

Wayward Thoughts: Philippians 4:8

I KNOW I’m supposed to trust God and guard my thoughts. But Buddy had run off the night before and was still missing. I went to work to try to keep busy, to avoid fretting at home and thinking too much. I’d spent hours the night before and an hour before work looking for Buddy. My family was looking for him that morning and I’d put in word at the local QFC, coffee shop, gas station and Starbucks about Buddy. Neighbors were looking for Buddy. I’d posted on Facebook and had put together a game plan on calling all the local vets and the dog chip registry. I activated my prayer network. Even my pastor was praying.

I’d done all I could. So what was I doing?

Fretting!

I foolishly CHOSE to focus my thoughts on my friend who lived in an area similar to mine, suburban yet adjacent to a heavily wooded area. One morning he had opened the backdoor to let his cats into his home and found one hiding under a bush and another being munched on in the jaws of a coyote.

Buddy is only 20 pounds. There’s no way he could defend himself against a coyote, possum or raccoon. Maybe not even an angry rooster! And he was car stupid. I’ve seen squirrels in our neighborhood looking both ways before crossing the street. Not Buddy.

So, although I sensed the Holy Spirit within me was trying to calm me down and reassure me that all was OK, I insisted on picturing Buddy being munched on by a coyote.

Really being positive, wasn’t I?

We’re admonished in God’s Word: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”(NASB)

My thoughts already flunked the first command: I didn’t know the truth about Buddy’s status. And whether I was thinking positive thoughts, “Buddy was rescued and I’ll be reunited with him soon,” or “Buddy is terrified and being munched on,” it wouldn’t change the outcome.

Only whether I had a stomach ache and stressed out or not.

And, more later, Buddy is back with me, snuggled at the end of my bed at night where he belongs.

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