Tag Archives: confidence

Blank Pages: The Best Days Are Yet to Come


Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos

Good-bye, 2016!

The New Year’s Eve parties are over, the last of the New Year’s Day football has been watched, the black-eyed peas (if you’re southern, like I am) have been eaten, and the holiday guests have gone home. It’s January 2, 2017, and 364 more brand-new, unsullied days stretch out before us. Social media is filled with people lamenting how terrible 2016 was. And really, it wasn’t great. We lost too many favorite celebrities and watched the worst mud-slogging political race most Americans have ever seen, to mention just a couple of rotten apples 2016 gave us. 

But that was then; this is now. This is the moment the new year really begins. The day people return to their jobs. The day the Christmas tree is put away, holiday leftovers are thrown out, checkbooks are balanced, and the first tentative steps toward keeping the new year’s resolutions are taken. This is the day that always reminds me of the first day of school, when my crayons stood in bright, fresh soldier rows, my little cigar box held my newly sharpened pencils, and my Red Chief writing tablet lay empty and open on my desk, just waiting to be filled with carefully crafted cursive letters and a good bit of side-doodling. Nothing yet was dirty, crumpled, torn, or marked on. Possibility and imagination sprawled before me, inviting me to write something wonderful. Today is that day. Today is the day to pack away any leftover bitterness, resentment, depression, or hopelessness that 2016 hung around your neck. Today, this day, is full of promise and hope.

Hello, 2017!

As I turn my face away from 2016 and look to the new year, I am reminded of God’s word in Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; even now it springs up. Do you not perceive it?” The word perceive is defined as “to become aware of or conscious of something; to come to realize or understand.” So, perceiving, then is the key to understanding this verse. The word of God teaches us that we must walk by faith, not by sight. That is, we must see with the eyes of our heart, where our faith resides, because our physical eyes may not actually see what God is doing. We have to perceive, become aware of, become conscious of, the areas in which He is already working in our lives.

How does that happen?

To do this, we must look expectantly at our future with our faith-eyes wide open. Anything is possible. Miracles of forgiveness, healing, financial blessing, restoration of broken relationships, and redemption. What do you need this year? God says to ask and you will receive. He goes on to say, “Which of you, if your child asks for bread, would give him or her a stone?” Our Father tells us to approach his throne boldly, with confidence, as you would expect your own little ones to approach you, knowing that He wants to hear from you. He wants to provide. We are to ask, expecting to receive because “if you, then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your own children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7: 7-11)

Make it personal

I am in no way proclaiming that God is the great Santa Clause in the sky, just waiting to fulfill your total wishlist and drop that luxury car in your driveway, but I am saying He desires good things for you, and He sees your every need, both spiritual and physical. And the Father is even now doing a new thing for you, do you not perceive it? If you don’t, if you can’t see past the fog of 2016’s disappointments and hurts, ask God to open your faith-eyes.  Try it out! Tell him your needs and wait expectantly for Him to act. Keep believing that He will act. Stand in faith while you wait.  And if you don’t get around to doing all that today, remember His mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every day with God is a blank page. Consider carefully how you will fill those pages, whether with faith or with doubt and despair. But if you want to choose joy and faith, let the eyes of your heart perceive what the Father is saying to you even now.


Filed under Spiritual Journey

Peace…Be Still

The Word in Me Today: Peace




Photo by Karen Mitchell Smith of TopShelfPhotos



All right, I confess. I’m a worrier. The “what ifs” and the “maybes” and the “I should haves” sometimes start ringing in my mind around 4 AM. I try not to worry, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but it happens. By the time I actually get out of bed, I’ve usually started an action plan. And somehow that plan almost always involves me fixing my own problems.

But that’s not what God has called us to do.  In Mark 4:35-39 we see an interesting account of Jesus and his disciples. The scripture says, “That day, when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”

If the disciples had taken matters into their own hands, abandoned ship perhaps, they would have drowned. Instead, they stayed in the boat with Jesus and asked Him to do something to help them. Even though their faith was very young, and they had not known Jesus long yet, they instinctively knew He could change their situation. And He did. Jesus commanded the storm to stop.

In Phillipians 4:6, Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

The disciples made their petition known to Jesus, and He acted on their behalf.

But My Problems are SO Big!

Jesus, fully God and fully human, understood with his man’s mind and his God’s heart that his followers struggled with anxiety. Not only was there the occasional storm in their lives, but they lived in a difficult time when taxes were high and a pagan culture ruled them. And Jesus knew that by choosing to follow Him, his people would suffer the wrath of  Rome. Yet he told them to consider the lilies of the field, and said, “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans [Romans] run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Peace Replaces Anxiety

Jesus gave his followers, and gives to us, something to replace worry. In John 14:27 He said, “”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

If peace could be bottled and sold on store shelves, it would be a priceless commodity. But it isn’t something that is offered by this world, and it cannot be obtained. Peace is something to be attained. And there is only one way to attain lasting peace. In a world where the rules change almost daily, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And forever! The peace that comes in knowing the Savior cannot be purchased. It can’t be learned. It can’t be manufactured and bottled and sold. It is a gift from God that comes to us when we learn to take our anxieties to the cross and, with thanksgiving,  leave them there.

I believe we have trouble doing this because we are used to the peace the world gives. The world’s peace is transitory, ever changing and very much circumstantial. Did you get a raise at your job? That peace of mind  is good only for as long as your company doesn’t start layoffs. Did you finish that difficult project you had been so worried about? The peace and relief you feel will  last only until the next project comes along. We have trained ourselves to find peace and comfort in things the world gives, but in the back of our mind, in the dark hours of the morning, there is that nagging knowledge that at any moment, whatever we are taking comfort in can be ripped from our grasp.

On the contrary, Jesus gives peace that is eternal. When the winds blow or the earth shakes or the lay offs come, Jesus Christ still holds your hand. When we learn to stay in the boat and wait for Jesus to act, His peace stills our storm. His name is a strong tower; the righteous run into it, and they are saved. His word is a two-edged sword. His resurrection power quickens your mortal body. If God is for us, who can be against us?

It Can Work For You!

Over and over God’s word speaks peace to us, but we have to seek it. Where do we find it? We can’t find peace in the USA Today over coffee, but we can find it in the living Word of God over coffee…or lunch…or on break from work…or before bed. Whenever the world is threatening your peace, His word is there, and it doesn’t change like the nightly prime-time channel line-up. God’s peace is everlasting, His kingdom has no end, and it doesn’t suffer economic downtimes. God is not out there on a thousand hillsides to see if he owns less cattle than before! His Word endures forever. That, beloved of God, is true peace.

In Isaiah 30:15, God says, ” In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Just prior to that verse, in Chapter 28, verse 16 b, He says “One who trusts will not panic.” What an amazing promise! Here God is referring to the coming of Christ, the foundation stone in Zion. One who trusts that Rock, “WILL NOT panic.”

Finally, in Proverbs 14:30 it says, “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”

I encourage you to find a quiet place today and let the peace of God wash over you. His peace is unending, like the waves of the ocean. Find your strength in quietness and confidence, and stay in the boat with Jesus.


Filed under Word in Me Today