The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Having raised two darling children of my own, I know what it is like to need peace.
Many people are stressed from trying very hard to be everything everyone else wants them to be. I tried to be a great mom, wife, friend, sister, and daughter while I was raising my children. It’s good to be your best every day. However, I found out that I couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. I couldn’t accept all of the invitations to do things with and for people.
I needed peace.
When I see other people getting stressed over their work situations or dealing with family issues, I know what those people need is the same thing I need. The world gets crazy sometimes. We need a place to go where there is no chaos.
Where is your place of rest?
Psalm 29 1-11 is a great place to go to get away from it all. This chapter is where I can read about the power of God’s voice. The authority and energy in the voice of the Lord breaks the cedars and twists the oaks. The strength of the powerful voice of God shakes the desert and thunders over the mighty waters. I read in these verses that the voice of God makes all other powers impotent.
In addition, I can read about Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41. In verse 39, we read, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” This tells me that because God is for me and not against me, he uses his powerful voice to quiet the storm inside me. He stills the waves that distract me from his love.
When I need strength to go on, I can run to God who is all-powerful. When I need peace, I can go to God who speaks peace to my chaos. It is this great and majestic God who gives strength to his people and blesses his people with peace.
This God of strength and peace is my place of rest.
I go to God to find my happy place.
He is there for you too!
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
If you participated in the novel-writing challenge called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, then:
Writing 50,000 words takes a lot of work. You had to have some direction to move forward with an interesting plot. You had to have characters who could handle the conflict you threw at them. You had to have persistence to keep going when it was hard to balance your writing time with all of the other things normal humans do during the month of November.
Now you can take a break. (Don’t worry. It's only a short break. I know there’s all that editing to do.)
It’s important to let your body and your soul take a break from all the energy you used during your writing time. To others, it looks like you weren’t doing much. But we know better.
You can share your excitement with your friends and family who will be proud of you for typing out the beginning to your outstanding piece of literature. But when you rest, you need to pull yourself away from the work and the Christmas shopping and the decorating.
I don’t really mean sleep, but that is part of it.
Resting for a Christian novelist means to find some meaningful and comforting Bible verses to read and relax in while you tell God how thankful you are that he gave you gifts to use and praise him with. When you are writing, you are showing God that you appreciate his gifts. When you are resting, you are reaching for his comfort and refreshing.
Prayer in your Post-NaNo days is about wrapping yourself in the arms of God and letting him speak peace to your soul.
For example, if you read Acts chapter ten, you can see that “peace through Jesus Christ” is why Peter was in that place speaking to those people. It was unlawful for Peter, a Jew, to visit with or associate with a Gentile. He was in a Gentile’s house speaking with great freedom because of the peace God had given him.
You and I can listen to God’s words of peace when we need rest.
Here are five Bible verses to refresh your soul:
- Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
- Psalm 23:3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
- Psalm 85:8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.
- Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Every Easter, the world sees Christians celebrating a gruesome death. Some might see it that way, but that’s not all there is to it.
On Easter Sunday morning, many people enter a church with expectation and hope. They want to come together to celebrate life with joyful singing. But what happened to provide that scene?
Just as in fiction where the hero has to overcome terrible conflict in order to save the world from destruction and have a happy ending, Christians are aware that their blessings came from horrors endured by someone other than themselves.
When we have conflict in our lives, we have to separate what we want from what we have to do. We can take our example from Jesus. Before he was on the cross, he had time alone with God in prayer and asked if he could somehow not go through with it. Then he acknowledged his true goal: to do the will of his father.
He saw beyond the cross.
Jesus knew what was ahead of him and how it would feel. There would be painful, skin-ripping torture. He would have nails driven into his skin. He also knew that pain would be temporary.
So he looked at the joy.
How does one find joy in an upcoming torture and crucifixion? The joy in Jesus was greater than the pain. The joy was not temporary, but eternal.
When he prayed about what he had to experience, he was battling through the temptations we all face as humans. He was not above temptation, but dealt with it daily. His flesh cried out in anticipation of the soon-coming pain. But Jesus knew his purpose.
He’s our Savior. He came to us to show us the great love of God. Without his sacrifice, we would all be dealing with our own sins. Instead, his sacrifice in our place paved the way for our return to God. Because of his persevering obedience, we can be gathered into the embrace of God for all eternity.
His pain paid for our freedom. And now, we can accept his invitation to live in his joy.
Jesus knew we would be together with him. He did whatever he had to do to make that happen.
He lived and died for the joy of eternity with us.
So anytime you think you’re not special to God, just look at a cross.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Part Five: Be teachable
There are three truths (among a whole lot of others) that we sometimes forget when we’re trying to improve our lives and get frustrated with the process.
Truth: You don’t know it all.
Truth: You could improve in a few areas.
Truth: Some people want to help you identify those areas. Take the hint.
Many people have some expertise in the area of their gifting. But while doing quite well in that one area, we forget that others can help us learn in areas that are not our gifting.
For instance, the painter is able to create beautiful art, but doesn’t like it when the tax accountant down the street wants to brag about the art she created. These two women could cooperate and help each other. The tax lady could help the painter become more organized, and the painter could give the tax lady a few tips about making her art more appealing. For this to work, both of them would have to be patient and humble.
Being teachable is humbling yourself and allowing another person to share their gifts with you.
This is a great way to enhance your own self-improvement, but it also makes your neighborhood a better place to live.
Pick one of these five ways of making your community better to work on today. And pick another to work on tomorrow. Set up reminders in your phone’s calendar to do specific things this week.
Your diligence to put these improvements into practice will pay off. You’ll eventually have all of these good habits and set a good example without even trying. Remember, it takes time to expand your gifts, good habits, and good attitudes. Give yourself a break and don’t expect perfection in the first week.
Each of these five things shows consideration for others while creating good habits for yourself. When others see you setting the example of kindness, they’re more likely to join you in helping out in your community.
Keep at it. Don’t give up. You can do this. You’re making your community better.
Thanks for seeking God with me.
Want to read this series from the beginning? Here's Part One.
Want to read this series from the beginning? Here's Part One.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Part Four: Give with a passion
Show some passion for doing what you love. Many people get involved in a job they love, but allow the mundaneness of everyday life to drag all the joy out of it. After a while, they are burned out and uninterested in something that used to make them excited to go to work.
If this is you, take a moment to reflect on the reasons you used to love what you do. Find out if there is anything still in you that thrills you about that job. You can make a list of ways you used to do things and revisit them one by one to see if you can revitalize your passion.
Then jump in. Dive into your job with renewed vigor. Use your job as a ministry where you can serve your coworkers and customers with the renewed passion that is building up in you.
Serve with verve. Give to others with exuberance and put some pep in your step.
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Part Three: Give your job the extra effort
Part Two was about having a work ethic. This is about putting in the extra effort.
There are many ways to go above and beyond. One is taking advantage of the opportunities that pop up without warning. This requires you to be observant, selfless, and generous.
You can turn “Must I” into “May I”. For instance, don’t say, “Must I pick up after someone else?” Instead, turn that into, “May I pick up that trash on the floor for you?” Offering to clear a table or put away items that were out for a project will set the example for others. You can do a quiet gift of service and see others learning in your wake. Start a tidal wave of good deeds in your community with small daily acts.
Attitude shows up in the body language. You’ll be impressive when people see the twinkle of joy in your eye as you serve others without whining. Just doing the job is one thing, but doing it with a smile is impressive.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Part Two: Have a work ethic
A work ethic isn’t just about working at your career. You can give your effort to cleaning up after picnic in the park. You can put a little more care and concern for others in whatever you spend your time on.
If you buy a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, you expect them to have a consistently good product and consistent service. If you expect that from others, you can give that. Shouldn’t we consider what we give to our community on a daily basis?
Doing good works that God has prepared in advance is easier when you always give your best—just because you can. No one else can use your gifts the way you do. It’s your choice to bring you’re A-game wherever you go.
Be prepared. In your job, at home, or at play, you know what you will need to have with you. Try to have what you need in advance of needing it. This makes you look good to your friends, family, and employer.
Keep reading! Here's Part Three.
Want to see Part One? It's right here.