Stress is one of the big "joy killers" that God wants to help us minimize. Stress makes it difficult to operate and is a cause of terrible unhappiness, illness, and even death. According to one news article that I read, between 75 and 90 percent of doctor visits in developed countries could be directly or indirectly traced back to stress.
Faith is an antidote for stress. Faith and trust that everything is in God’s hands, that He is in control, and that He is able to bring about something good from even the worst situations, automatically eliminates a lot of stress from our lives.
It had been about three years since they had answered the call to follow Jesus. Each had his own story. Nathanael was told he was "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit."1 Peter and his brother Andrew heard the words, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men,”2 while casting their nets into the sea. Matthew was sitting at his tax collector’s booth.3 The years that followed had been the most exciting and intense years of their lives. Jesus was the most incredible person they had ever known, and they loved Him deeply.
When I think about Valentine's Day, a day when people give special love gifts to one another, I think most of all about God's great gift to us in the form of His son, Jesus. Then I think of how all the love that we feel for others on Valentine’s Day and every day of the year is possible because of His love. There’s no time for Him that isn’t a time to give. I want to follow His example as much as I can.
I found a poem that was very meaningful to me and expresses some of the gifts we receive from our great Valentine every day of the year. When our love cups are overflowing with His gifts, it makes us want to share that love with others so they can experience it too.
As we stand before the New Year, we don’t know what’s in store for us. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is that we can leave the past, with all of its cares, pains, heartaches, and mistakes, behind. We can’t undo one single act or unsay one single word, but if we will give our grief and regrets to God, He can make this New Year a fresh start.
Every day of the past year is beyond our reach, and we should leave it there. God has the past in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets. It’s sad how some people say they’re trusting God, yet they worry about the blots and stains on the pages of their past.
Most people have a few things that make Christmas special to them. Here are a few of mine.
The spirit of giving
I love the spirit of giving that permeates Christmas. It’s often a time when even the least generous become more giving. It’s a time when children can learn the joy of giving as they share what they have. It’s also a time when everyone can give something, whether they have a little or a lot, and find reward in doing so.
Thanksgiving is primarily a North American holiday, celebrated in the U.S. in November and Canada in October, but it would be nice if the whole world would designate a day to reflect on and thank God for His goodness. Our Creator has bestowed so many gifts on humankind. He gave us the gift of life and a marvel-filled world to spend it in, replete with an endless variety of beauty and beautiful experiences. As the Bible says, God has made everything beautiful for its own time and purpose.1
He has given us the love of family and friends, and every joy that we experience. Not only has He given us the gift of life as we know it, but He has promised that our souls will outlive this earthly existence. He offers us a future in eternity through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Regardless of whatever else we may be looking for in life, we all have one aspiration in common: we all want to be happy.
Happiness is different things to different people, of course, but some seem to think that it is as simple as having a good time. As children, we all do that. We think that happiness means doing as we please, having lots of fun and not much work. Eventually, after getting into plenty of mischief and suffering many stomachaches, most of us learn that happiness does not come from grabbing everything we want—that happiness is not the product of idleness and chocolate creams.
Have you ever thought about the choice Moses had to make when he forsook Egypt? That choice is what made Moses great. Solomon is known for his wisdom, Daniel for his vision, David for his psalms, and Peter for his zeal, but Moses was great because of the choice he made.
We read in Hebrews chapter 11 that Moses is included among the heroes of faith in God’s hall of fame. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”1
Being a Christian can feel like an uphill fight, because much of what Jesus taught goes against human nature. Look at the list below and ask yourself if what Jesus said comes naturally to you.
Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you.
Over the years I have seen some dear friends be marvelously blessed by God.Some of these same people had previously gone through what seemed to be a series of incredibly trying times. They had faced a lot of difficulty, had been deeply disappointed, and hadn’t seen the fulfillment of their dreams and desires. From time to time, I would comment to my wife, Maria, “It will be so great to see them truly happy!” And the wonderful thing is, today nearly all of them are.