Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To the Goal

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To the Goal

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day fifteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day fifteen with an important reminder to keep your eyes fixed beyond the temporary as you hold fast to the eternal goal.

Hold On To the Goal

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

Hold On To the Goal

What are your goals in life?  What is your primary goal?  What are you doing to reach your goals?  Have you ever had a goal that was important to you at one time but you have quit pursuing?  Why?  As you look at your current situation, what is your goal for today?  Why?  What goal do you need to hold on to in order for you to have hope in the midst of your current chaos?

Life is full of distractions for everyone, but for those in the midst of the chaos of disaster, the temptation to lose sight of life’s goals becomes even greater.  In fact, sometimes it is critical that we develop daily goals that are manageable, even while we keep an eye on the eternal goal that ought to guide our life.  If our ultimate goal is to take hold of the eternal life to which God has called us, then perhaps we ought to consider what the pursuit of that looks like each day in the midst of our disaster and recovery.  Cutting through the fog of chaos often requires a flexibility that makes it easy to lose sight of not only the eternal goal, but the short term goals that get us beyond the disaster and into recovery.  When our plans are changed by situations and circumstances beyond our control, it can be easy to question whether any of our goals are even attainable.  The answer to that question will have a lot to do with the source of those goals.  Disaster has a way of refining our goals like little else can.  When so much is lost, it can be difficult to have a goal beyond just getting through another day.  Yet when we hold on not only to the goal of getting through the day but also to the eternal goal we most long for, we find the hope needed to keep going.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine the goals you think most important.  Pray that you would evaluate all of your goals in light of the eternal goal that God has taken hold of you for.  Pray that you would hold on to the goals that God has for you even as you endure the chaos of life.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Let Go Of Greed

Holding On and Letting Go: Let Go Of Greed

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day fourteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day fourteen with an important reminder to let go of all forms and traces of greed.

Let Go Of Greed

“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”
Luke 12:15 (NIV)

Let Go Of Greed

How much is enough?  Are you sure?  What determines that answer in your life?  Why?  Is greed more about what you have or about what you want?  Why?  Have you ever missed out on something you wanted, or needed, because of the greed of someone else?  How did you feel?  How will letting go of greed help you to not only have hope, but help you to share hope with others?

“I’ve lost so much, it is only fair that I take whatever I can get.”  Perhaps you’ve heard someone say that, or even said it yourself.  Such an attitude may not be greedy in and of itself, but it definitely has the seeds of greed when the “whatever” is limited.  Particularly when recovery resources are limited, it can be very difficult to consider the needs of anyone but ourselves.  In fact, the fog of chaos can make it appear in our mind as if we’re the only one who is in real need.  For most of us, the seeds of greed are hidden well enough that we rarely recognize them.  In fact, even considering that we need to let go of greed probably seems a bit abrasive to many of us.  Yet without a deliberate effort to let it go, greed has a way of weaving itself into our mind in ways that eventually come out.  Like so many other things that we need to let go of, doing so will require that we replace it with something so that the hole left is filled.  When it comes to letting go of greed, it is the act of sharing that best fills the hole left by greed’s absence.  Letting go of greed allows us to see the needs of our friends, families, and neighbors to be as equally important as our own — or maybe even more so.  Letting go of greed gives us hope as we not only look to God to provide all our needs, but we also trust Him to do so.

As you pray, ask God to help you examine your heart and mind for any seeds of greed that you need to let go of.  Pray that you would look to the needs of others even above your own.  Pray that you would know the hope God desires to give as you let go of greed and learn to share.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To Sound Teaching

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To Sound Teaching

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day thirteen of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day thirteen with an important reminder to seek out, follow, and hold on to sound teaching.

Hold On To Sound Teaching

“So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”
2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NIV)

Hold On To Sound Teaching

What is the best advice you have ever received?  Do you still follow it?  Why?  Have you ever been taught something that you later found out was not true?  How did you feel?  How does the teaching that you hold on to influence the actions you take when times are chaotic?  What is some sound teaching that you need to hold on to and put into practice today?

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Unfortunately, in the midst of chaos we often grasp at anything that offers a semblance of stability.  It is in times of disaster that it becomes extra critical that we seek out sound advice and teaching.  When we are in desperate need of help, it becomes very difficult to see through the motives of offers that are actually designed to take from us rather than help us.  It is especially true in these times that we must recall the sound teachings that we have learned in times past.  While good advice from friends and family can be quite helpful, there is nothing as lasting as holding on to the sound instruction of God’s Word.  Part of the beauty of God’s Word is that it portrays people that sound eerily similar to you and I.  Through their stories and examples, we find the value of holding on to God’s teachings in the midst of disaster — and we find the consequences of not doing so.  While there will be many decisions you must make that will feel rushed, none will be so hurried that you can’t take time to ask God for His instruction.  Holding on to sound teaching will give us a strong foothold to stand against not only the schemes of satan, but also against the schemes of those who would want to take advantage of our misfortune.

As you pray, ask God to refresh your mind with the sound teaching you have learned from Him — and of Him.  Pray that you would see through all the bad advice and hold on to sound teaching as you find hope in the midst of your chaos.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Let Go Of Fear

Holding On and Letting Go: Let Go Of Fear

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day twelve of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day twelve with an important reminder to let go of the fear that keeps you from fully trusting God.

Let Go Of Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18 (NIV)

Let Go Of Fear

What has been the most frightening part of the current chaos you are in?  Why?  Are there things that can be done to take care of the cause of the fear?  What?  How does fear influence your recovery efforts?  Is letting go of fear the same as eliminating it?  Explain.    What would it take for you to let go of fear today so that you can live with hope in the midst of your chaos?

Many times when something bad happens in our life we find ourselves just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Our response to disaster and chaos is often a fear that something else, something much worse, is just around the corner.  While there may or may not be something worse coming, we must learn to let go of fear in order to accurately handle the current chaos we are dealing with.  In many ways, fear and worry are twins which try to rob us of the value of today by making our thoughts dwell on the “what ifs” of tomorrow.  While there is a healthy fear which keeps us from doing things that would harm us, it is the unhealthy, paralyzing fear that we must let go of in order to find hope in the midst of our chaos.  We must face each moment, and whatever it brings, with an absence of the fear that wants to make us stop moving forward.  The only real way to let go of fear is to turn to God in a greater trust for each moment.  And yes, that sounds a lot simpler than it is.  Replacing fear with trust is a difficult process that can only be done one step at a time.  When you do learn to take those steps, you will find that letting go of fear opens up a window of hope in the midst of whatever chaos you face.

As you pray, ask God to help you identify the different fears you have in the midst of your current situation.  Pray that you would have wisdom to know which fears are helping to protect you and which fears are holding you back from what you need to do.  Pray for that you would learn to trust God enough to let go of your fears that are stealing your hope.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To Righteousness

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To Righteousness

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day eleven of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day eleven with an important reminder to hold on to the righteousness you have in Christ and allow it to define your actions.

Hold On To Righteousness

“I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”
(Job 27:6)

Hold On To Righteousness

Have you ever had someone ask you to do something that you knew wasn’t right?  How did you respond?  Does your response differ based on how doing so would benefit you?  Why?  How important is righteousness to you?  Why?  How important is righteousness to God?  How will holding on to righteousness in the midst of your chaos give you hope as you look toward the future?

Disaster and chaos can bring out the best in people and it can bring out the worst.  There will always be those who try to take advantage of the hurting and there will often be temptations to take “shortcuts” to recovery.  God’s desire is that we would hold on to righteousness for His Name’s sake.  How we deal with the disasters we face, and how we deal with people during those disasters, will say much to a watching world about the God we claim to serve.  When we hold on to righteousness, we do everything above board and we treat all people openly and fairly.  When I think of disaster and chaos in the Bible there are many examples, but perhaps none as extreme as the story of Job.  Even while lacking the “backstory” that we have regarding the source of the disasters he faced, Job knew that holding on to the righteousness of God was his only hope for the future.  When we hold on to a righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ, we find that our current disaster doesn’t have to define us or define how we treat others.  It is in the righteousness of Christ that we have hope that extends beyond any chaos that we are experiencing today.

As you pray, ask God to help you to always see and do the things which are right.  Pray that your mind would not be clouded by the fog of chaos as you make decisions each day.  Pray that you would not only know the right things to do, but that you would do them.  Pray that the eternal reward of holding on to righteousness would fill you with hope today.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Let Go Of Guilt

Holding On and Letting Go: Let Go Of Guilt

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day ten of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day ten with an important reminder to not let the enemy take you on a guilt trip for things which are beyond your control.

Let Go Of Guilt

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
(Hebrews 10:22)

Let Go Of Guilt

How often do you think about the cause of your current chaos?  Why?  Do you feel you need someone to blame when things go wrong?  What happens when the disaster you face isn’t really caused by a person?  How often do you look back in an attempt to see if you could have done anything differently to avoid or lessen the chaos you are in?  How will letting go of guilt in the midst of your chaos give you greater freedom to see beyond the immediate?

Second-guessing is a game that has no winners.  All of us can look back and see things we could have, and even should have, done differently.  Even if we are at fault in some way, holding on to guilt is a dangerous thing that does no good for anyone.  One of my favorite verses says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  When we choose God’s forgiveness, we can let go of the guilt that the enemy wants to haunt us with.  Sometimes the guilt we hold on to isn’t even reasonable, but when there is no one else to blame, we blame our self.  Letting go of guilt doesn’t mean that we ignore anything we may have done, but rather it means we deal with it and move on.  It often feels like the enemy does everything he can to fill us with shame so that we hold on to our guilt.  If there is anything to be ashamed of, we must take care of it appropriately and then fully release it to God.  When we let go of guilt we find that we not only live with greater peace, but we are also better equipped to handle whatever the day brings.

As you pray, ask God to help you identify any guilty feelings that you may have.  Pray that you would see clearly what was your responsibility and what wasn’t so that anything that may need taken care of can be dealt with.  Pray that you would know the sweet peace that comes from God’s grace as you let go of guilt.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To Courage

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To Courage

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is day nine of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day nine with an important reminder to keep on keeping on as you hold on to courage.  

Hold On To Courage

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”
Hebrews 3:6 (NIV)

Hold On To Courage

What is the greatest difficulty that you have overcome in the past?  What gave you the courage to keep going when things seemed out of control?  How much courage will it take to overcome your current situation?  How can an awareness of God’s faithfulness help you hold on to the courage you need now?

When fear tells us to quit, courage drives us to keep going.  Very few times in life are the obstacles we must face more obvious than in the midst of disaster.  Often times the difference between succumbing to disaster and overcoming it comes down to having the courage to keep on going, and keep on trusting God, no matter what.  For most of us, we don’t think a lot about courage, or fear, until something happens that puts our courage to the test.  In those times when we find many reasons to fear, we are left with a choice — give in to doubt or hold on to courage.  When surrounded by chaos, courage is what allows us to keep moving forward even in the face of our fears.  It can be difficult to look ahead when the present situation seems so dark and overwhelming, but courage will help us see beyond the darkness and into the light that is God’s presence.  As you consider your future, it is important that you keep your gaze lifted beyond the current chaos even as you deal with it on a daily basis.  Knowing that you belong to an eternal family should give you a greater perspective in how to face each day’s struggles with courage.  With Jesus as our example and strength, we hold on to courage in the midst of chaos and find that our fears no longer have control.

As you pray, ask God to help you understand the things in your current situation that cause you to be filled with fear.  Pray that you would live with courage from God that helps you to face each day’s fears and keep going.  Pray that you would draw courage from being a part of God’s eternal family.

In prayer,

Tom