Upward and Outward


“He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD’!”

~Job 1:21~

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

~Philippians 4:6~

It’s been years since I’ve been able to attend church. Most of the time I am unable to physically go to the service. Since this is the case, I often listen to sermons or lessons online.

One of my absolute favorite speakers is Chip Ingram. His method of teaching is full of Biblical wisdom and practical advice. His lessons are easy to follow and last about 30 minutes on Podcast.

This morning I started listening to the series, “Living Above Your Circumstances.” The whole lesson was about “understanding the power of focus”. Am I focusing upward, outward, or inward?

I have SO much to learn. For one thing, I need to learn how to look for the things I can praise God for. Some days I can do this without much thought or difficulty. Other times I have to grasp hard for those gems that fall through the crevices of life’s sidewalk.

Sometimes my not-so-nimble fingers can pick up those glorious gems with ease. Then there are times like today where I need a pickaxe to break through the concrete.

It is a challenge to “choose” gratefulness and praise God. In fact, the last thing I want to do is thank God for anything when I have constant pain and no comfort. It’s tempting to let anger and bitterness root themselves into my heart. Of course, anger and bitterness are never the answer. Not if I want to remain strong and healthy in my mind. Plus, that just alienates me more from other people because no one likes to be around a person who is vicious and angry all the time. It doesn’t help me and it doesn’t help others.

I have started to realize just how lax I am becoming. I am allowing the circumstances to define who I am and how I’m acting. Maybe it doesn’t appear that way to others. After all, I have become a pro at masking the pain and frustration. Those who are closest to me understand. Those who EXPERIENCE chronic pain and illness know the struggle even more.

I don’t always want to “look” for the things that are worthy of notice and bring honor to God. Sometimes I say to myself, “You know what? Screw this! I’m tired of fighting and staying positive! I’m tired of FIGHTING all the time! I’m just going to do whatever I feel like!”

Then that quiet voice within starts to speak. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I begin to feel a stirring within my heart. “Pray…pray…pray. Just tell God everything and let Him turn the focus back to Him. Let Him be your strength and get you through this. Trust Him. You know you can. He KNOWS.”

Lord Jesus,

     You know me better than anyone. You know how I struggle with pain and illness. You know I want to just give up and die. I am frustrated and angry at my situation. I’m not mad at You. At least I don’t think I am. I know You are the ONLY one who can heal me and help me.

     Jesus, help me to search for things that draw me back to praising You. Let me be overwhelmed with gratitude so that I can love others abundantly and unconditionally like You. Help me to praise You and bless others.

     By the power of Your Name, Jesus, I bind anger and bitterness within. Anger and bitterness…you have no place in me or my heart. I am a forgiven child of God and command you to LEAVE! In Jesus name and by the power of His blood and atonement, GO! I will not allow you to stay in me. You are not welcome.

     Thank You, Lord Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for all You have done for me. Lord God, You are awesome and great. There is power in Your name. Thank You for giving me Your Comforter…the Holy Spirit. Thank You that I am more than a conqueror. NOTHING can separate me from Your love (Romans 8:31-39). Thank You for being my guiding light and confidant. I do not deserve Your grace or mercy yet You freely give them to me.

     Please help me to continue to rely on and turn to You. Help me to draw others to You. When they see what I face, help them see You and Your power in my life and in my writings. Let their hearts and lives be blessed in ways only You can bless.

May Your name be praised.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Living on the Edge (Chip Ingram)


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