Wednesday, October 26, 2016

day 25: brave when the walls fall

Read: Joshua 6:12-16, 20

I don't know about you but I am not sure I would have kept going. Day after day of this walking around the city business would be pretty embarrassing to me. I guess it's a good thing that Joshua was an older man by now. He'd seen God do amazing things for His people, now he had to trust Him for a flat-out miracle. I wonder what thoughts went through Joshua's head as he detailed his battle plans to his soldiers. I wonder how it felt to circle the city day by day, waiting for those walls to fall. But fall they did. God's ways may seem upside down and inside out sometime but they are true and trustworthy.

Remember that Jericho wall you thought about the other day? What are you believing for? Do you believe that the God who caused those Jericho walls to fall is your God - right here today in the middle of your own impossible circumstances?

Here is a song to remind you heart - our God is the God of the impossible. Whether it is dry bones becoming an army, or a dry heart finding a place to stop and rest in the middle of the weary desert. Or a wall falling down. 




day 24: brave in my exhaustion

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Here is another post from over the summer. 


I feel like I have hit a wall - as I write this it is the middle of summer break. My kids are all home from school my husband is working overtime doing heating and air. I am overwhelmed and feeling exhausted and angry. 

But God has been calling me to find streams in the desert. He is inviting me to worship right where I am, to take my eyes off of myself and my circumstances and lift my eyes to heaven. He is calling me to remember that He loves me, He is for me and not against me, He has compassion for me, He remembers my weakness (Ps 103:13-14) and He is my strength, my joy, my comfort. Even though it feels like right now all I am doing today is circling the wall, I believe that when the time is right He can cause these walls to fall. 




“"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬


day 23: brave when I've hit a wall

Read: Joshua 5:13-6:20

"I feel like I have hit a wall," I said. It was a chilly November morning as I walked with my best friend, and we chatted about the big fight I'd had with my husband that seemed to come out of nowhere and had no logical resolution, at least not that I could see at the moment. I felt like I had hit face first up against my own personal Jericho wall. I felt like I had come to a set of circumstances that I couldn't control, or even improve and that only God to break through. 

What is your Jericho wall? 
Maybe it is a relationship, a dream, a job, a set of circumstances.

Here is the thing I notice in this story. It doesn't say how exactly this story took place, but I wonder if Joshua was seeking God's wisdom as they drew near the city. When Joshua hit the wall the thing he did was seek God. I don't think he expected a physical manifestation of God to come down from heaven but I think he did go away from the crowd to seek wisdom, and strategy from God. 

This is the first thing I need to do too when I hit a wall. The first thing I need to do is to seek God, seek His  perspective, and ask for His strategy.

How about you? Have you hit a wall in something? Maybe you went through a similar season. I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

DSC_6826
Here is a picture of my husband and I from earlier this fall.


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day 22: brave in the fire

Read: Daniel 3 especially notice verses 19-27)

Sometimes I take "hard" and label it "bad". I go through a few tough hours and I say "I've had a bad day." I face something I don't like and I say "too bad for me." Sometimes I can trip myself up thinking that just because something is hard and uncomfortable and pushing me to my breaking point that it is bad.

I forget that God walks with me through the fire to refine me and to burn the ropes that bind me. I forget that in the middle of the fire God is right here with me. I forget that far from abandoning me Jesus is walking right there with me.

Sometimes I find myself fighting against the hard times instead of allowing them to refine me. I freak out in the middle of the discomfort and, let's be honest, pain, because I'm afraid that this pain is here to hurt me, to harm me, to scar me for life. I love that in the verses we read at the beginning of today that the three friends didn't even smell like smoke. I'm sometimes worried that I'm going to have to walk around with the scars of this hard season right on my face but for these friends not only were they not scarred they didn't even smell like smoke. I am claiming that as a promise for me in this season. It hasn't come to scar me, it has come to free me from the ropes that bind me. The pain will birth something new in me if I would just let the pain do it's work. 

Psalm 66:10-12, 94:12-14
Zechariah 13:9
1 Peter 1:6-9
Job 23:10
Romans 5:1-5 
Hebrews 12:11 
John15:1-12
Isaiah 43:1-7
James 1:2-4, 12 
Revelation 3:19-20




Would you be interested in doing an online virtual Bible study? Sign Up for my newsletter for those details when they become available. You can check out the Facebook Live video I posted a couple of days ago. You can also fill out my reader survey. 

Here is a worship video. I went to the Bethel Worship Nights in Atlanta yesterday and this was such a powerful worship song.

day 21: brave in the "but if not"

Today is a continuation of a thought from yesterday. If you haven't read that post yet click here

Read: Daniel 3 (especially notice verse 18)

This is the space I am living in right now - I know God can work in my circumstances but I'm also very much living in the space of "but if not" I am still going to trust him anyway. 

I have some big, in my face, on my heart all day long drama going on in my life at the moment but God is right here, in this space with me. Asking me if I will trust. 

This morning my husband and I had to have a pretty hard conversation about our finances that left us feeling a bit worn-down and world-weary. He moved on to leave for work and I stood in my kitchen making breakfast, with the baby in a sling.  As I ran the blender I could feel my sweet boy curl into my chest in fear at that big scary loud noise. He cried a little as I pulsed the blender. I said "it's okay, buddy. I'm here. I know it's scary. I've got you." And promptly burst into tears because I could feel my Daddy-God saying the same thing to my heart. It's okay, I know this is scary, I've got you. 

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I'm not writing this from my happily ever after. I wish I could write "and then everything worked out just fine" but I can't say that right now. I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know where we are going to end up with our situation. I know God sees me. I know he cares for me. I know He is not surprised by this. I know He is working in this for good. I know He is able to rescue us from us from our money-problems. But if not He is still good. He has still got me. 

But if not are some scary words to speak. But they are the words I need to say right now. I am going to trust God no matter what

See also: Hab 3:18-19, Is 12:2, Hebrews 11:39-40

Closing: Psalm 27 (NIV)

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life—

of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked advance against me

to devour me,

it is my enemies and my foes

who will stumble and fall.

3Though an army besiege me,

my heart will not fear;

though war break out against me,

even then I will be confident.

4One thing I ask from the Lord,

this only do I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze on the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

5For in the day of trouble

he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent

and set me high upon a rock.

6Then my head will be exalted

above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make music to the Lord.

7Hear my voice when I call, Lord;

be merciful to me and answer me.

8My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Your face, Lord, I will seek.

9Do not hide your face from me,

do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper.

Do not reject me or forsake me,

God my Savior.

10Though my father and mother forsake me,

the Lord will receive me.

11Teach me your way, Lord;

lead me in a straight path

because of my oppressors.

12Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,

for false witnesses rise up against me,

spouting malicious accusations.

13I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.

14Wait for the Lord;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the Lord.


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day 20: brave in the struggle

for my IRL friends & family - this was written a few months ago. Things have turned around and we are doing better. This was written right at the end of the summer. 


Lately I have been discovering that there is something worse than unemployment - underemployment.. It has been such an intense learning experience about what I really believe. Is it really God who is my provider? Do I really trust Him? Even when I can't see my hand in front of my face for the thick fog? When I don't know how we are going to make it through this months bills? When we are doing everything we can but nothing is coming through? Do I still trust God? 

Here is one thing I'm learning right this minute: difficulty has a way of turning up the color, like when Dorothy steps into the world of Technicolor. I am listening to Amanda Cook's album "Brave New World" and even though I have been listening to this album for a year and yet today these songs are vivid. The words mean ten times more than they did last month. 

Read Daniel 3: 

Read verses 13 through 15: what stands out to you in these verses?

Read 16-17

Daniel 3:17 "Our God is able" 

Is there a circumstance or struggle in your life about which you need to begin to say "my God is able"? 

Read Matthew 9:27-31 Do you hear Jesus speaking to you? He is saying "Do you believe that I am able?" Sit with these words for a moment, talk to Jesus about these words.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.””Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Other translations replace the word "still" with calm or quiet. What does it mean to you to be still in the middle of this struggle?

Why are you struggling to be still in this circumstance? Is there something that is keeping you from trusting God? Is there something you need to quit? Cease pursuing? Let go of and watch God at work in your circumstances? 

See: Ephesians 3:14-21 (esp 20) 

Write out some of the words from these verses that stand out to you. Remind your soul that the struggle is real, but so is God - and He is a great BIG God who can totally handle all of our problems and hard times, even the really huge ones. 

See also: Psalm 37:39, Psalm 50:15, 2 Samuel 22:29, Micah 7:7-8



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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

day 19: brave in my love






It's time to be honest, here in real-time. I've written before that I'm taking those first few steps towards being published. The vocabulary of the modern writer now includes words like "platform" and such - which I'm honestly okay with, it's something I have done before. But today I listened to a webinar about becoming a paid speaker and I took notes and I had a page full of ideas. Then Grayson woke up and the rest of the day was peanut butter sandwiches and baths for my peanut butter covered boy and talking on the phone to Eli's cyber-school teacher and then it was time for dinner. I kind of wanted to cry. Because it is sometimes easier to not have ideas or goals or dreams - to just get through the day dealing with the people and tasks that are needed for keeping up my family. But that is not who I am made to be. I was made to be a writer. And I believe that we are all better when each of us are being who we were made to be. 

Embracing the bravery that God offers His children is, I believe, foundational - it's the first step to so much more. And I know it is maybe easier for me to say it because it has been on my mind for the last two years - but I really believe it is not just me. I believe God is calling this generation to be brave. 

I know I've said it before but I'll say it again because I have to keep reminding myself of this over and over - bravery isn't just something we muster up from within ourselves. I believe the kind of bravery that God is calling us to is simply to embrace the bravery that God is offering to us. It is the door that He has opened, we just have to walk through it. It is the secret weapon He has give us, we just have to use it. And I don't think that this is necessarily limited to just the church. You see the word "brave" on everything right now. I don't think that this is a coincidence. I think that this is because God has dropped this into the hearts of a lot of people so that in a lot of different ways, different singers, different writers, different painters, different voices - all saying the same thing - maybe a lot of people will here it. Choose brave. When you are tempted to choose fear - choose brave. Choose love.

For each of us brave is going to look different. Whatever it is that God is calling us into - inviting  others into our homes, showing up to Bible study, dragging yourself to church when you really don't feel like it, asking someone you admire if they'd be willing to let you buy them coffee. 

For now I'm just walking through the grocery store reminding myself that if I really believe everything I have been writing then I will make it through this step in my process. If I really believe that God cares about my desires and that He put them in me to begin with and that if He intends for me to go through seasons of waiting for my good and that He is with me and for me in my weakness and anxiety - well then I can get through this season okay. 

Ruth had her season of waiting. She could have gotten stuck in the middle and given up. That would have been they out. But I think she was motivated by love - not just a need to survive but a genuine love for God, for Naomi and probably for Boaz as well. I need to keep on reminding myself to have that same motivation as well.  

 
Read: Ruth 3-4 & Matthew 1:1-16 (esp vs 5-6)

As I was thinking about Ruth's story and the points of connection and commonality between Ruth & Hannah's stories I was struck with this: their bravery was richly rewarded. That's not something I had in mind going into this study. I mean I believe that God blesses obedience, but I hadn't really connected how God uses our bravery to bless us too. I wasn't looking at the end-result because I can get stuck in the middle. I want to know that there is grace for the middle spaces - and there is - but there are also beautifully blessed endings to these stories of bravery. I want my life to be blessed like Hannah's & Ruth's and so I am going to keep moving forward, not giving up, enduring in bravery with hope for the end of my story.

Respond: How is Ruth's bravery blessed at the end of her story? 
What do you love about Ruth's ending? 
Can you think of a time when God blessed your obedience and the end of a season was marked by blessing? 
What are you believing God about for your own story? 
 


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

day 18: brave endurance

Like I've said before - most of these posts were written before the #write31days challenge  - so just so my IRL friends know, this was written in the spring.  


Last night I was up with my son. It was a miserable night with a sick kiddo who just wants his mommy, while I just want to sleep. Last night as I sat there in the dark, barely awake, barely able to keep my frustration in check, I thought about Ruth. I thought about her obedience, and her faithfulness and her bravery in ordinary things. I thought about how I don't usually think of these sleepless nights as requiring bravery or as being particularly spiritual. But down here in the mud of ordinary everyday obedience is actually where a ton of spiritual formation takes place. It's where the rubber meets the road, where you have to live out your intentions and practice what you preach. Whatever your "in the mud" place might be - school, office, kids, relationships - all of it can be used by God to refine us. He can meet us in these ordinary places, and work through ordinary actions to achieve an extraordinary story of His redemption.


If I'm honest - in these moments of ordinary suffering my attitude tends to be looking for a way out, or maybe a way through but I'm fervently praying "how long O, Lord?" all the way through. I think in these middle places, when life feels altogether too much to handle, what I really need is not for God to open a door out of this place, but for God to show up here with me. I need Him to be El Roy to me now, the God who sees me, I need Him to be Immanuel right here, God who is with us, I need Him to come and brush the gravel from off of my knees, and wipe the tears from my eyes and remind me that He'll never ever leave me, He will not fail me, not now. Not ever. I need to let this season change me, and refine me. I need to let go of the fear, I need to find my brave in the middle of this hard and scary yet ordinary season.

Read: Ruth 2 

Reflect: I love all of the dialogue in the book of Ruth. It not only moves the story along, I think it shows a lot of the culture in which this story is taking place but it also shows the hearts of these people. What I see in this story is love. The love that takes up the basin & towel. (see John 13:1-5) Did you notice Jesus' motivation for washing his disciples feet? Look again at John 13:1 - it's love. And perfect love casts out fear. They are oil and vinegar. They do not mix. Love drives out fear (and fear will make love run and hide!) Ruth chose love when I think I would have chosen easy. 

Respond:  What character qualities have you noticed in Ruth so far? How does Ruth show bravery in her everyday, ordinary obedience? How is Ruth demonstrating love? How does Ruth show bravery in the middle places of her story? How is God calling you, specifically, to act out your brave? 

Optional extra verses: 
1 John 4:18-19
John 13:1-5
Psalm 17:6-8 
Psalm 31:1-3 
Psalm 36:5-10
Psalm 37:1-9, 23-26
Psalm 94:17-18

day 17: brave in the mundane



It is so much easier to feel brave about a big hypothetical situation then it is to be brave about a real situation, even if it's relatively small. It is one thing to be brave on the mountaintop, to be brave walking on the water, or to be brave in fire. To reach for faith in a moment of victory or crisis. It is another thing altogether to be brave in the weary seasons of life that feel like you're just slogging through the mud.

Last year my "word for the year" was "Brave". It felt like God was calling me to go out into the deep places with Him, where the waves were crashing and the water was deep. My circumstances were feeling equally intense and it made sense. So I started the year off with big requests for God to take me deeper, to increase my faith and to help me learn what it means to live bravely, but after a couple of weeks I felt like the tide went out and I was left standing in the mud. Knee-deep in ordinary life, slogging through homework and dishes, pregnancy hormones and pre-teen drama, up to my eyeballs in laundry, grocery shopping and overdue library books.

Looking back at that year I believe this season of "slogging through the mud" was more formative than I realized it was in the moment. In the moment it felt ordinary. Now looking back I see God testing me, seeing if I would be faithful when the emotional high had passed and the tide of my feelings had gone out. I learned a lot about preserverance and about setting my face in the direction I felt God leading me and just moving forward in that direction trusting Him with the outcome.

Ruth is one of my heroes in the category of ordinary obedience. She took small steps of ordinary obedience that all led up to an extraordinary outcome and a mighty spiritual heritage. She was a woman of preserverance, faithful with the little and the lowly things but ultimately a precious mother in the linage of Jesus.

Ruth's story is also a story of love. Just like joy makes me strong love casts out fear.

Today we are going to begin our journey with Ruth - if you have the time today I'd recommend you just read her whole story from beginning to end to get a big-picture overview of the whole thing, but if you're pressed for time just read the first chapter - that's where we'll be camping out during today's study.


Read: Ruth 1

As you read jot down any questions you have or general observations.

Reflect: Be sure to pause after verse 5 and let the emotional impact of what you've read sink in. Yes, we know that Ruth's story has a happy ending, but she doesn't. She's at a pretty dramatic low point in her story. Can you even imagine what this must have felt like? I can only scratch the surface of what this must have been like for them.

Verses 13, 19-22 are really important for how we respond to difficult circumstances in our lives. Naomi blames God for her suffering and obviously feels that God has turned against her or is somehow punishing her. But we see at the end of verse 22 that God was still right there with them, providing for them, leading them towards a good future full of blessings. He brought them back to their hometown at just the perfect moment when they would be able to survive.

Respond:
How does Ruth show bravery in the beginning of her journey? 
How does Ruth express her love for Naomi? 
How do you think those two are related?
What do you need to be brave about right now?
Is God calling you to begin something new? 
Is it time to leave your spiritual Moab and head to Bethlehem?
How do you respond to God when life starts to feel more than a little bit crazy? 
What is God saying to you about this?
Write a prayer confessing God's nearness in the chaos, weariness and/or strait-up grief.
How can you express love to those around you TODAY?

Optional extra verses:
Psalm 34:18 near the broken-hearted
Isaiah 26:1-4 kept in perfect peace
Isaiah 54:10 my steadfast love shall not depart

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Monday, October 17, 2016

day 16: brave in joy!

Just so you know - I wrote this post in during the summer... so the circumstances have changed a bit but the heart of what I'm learning hasn't. 

Read: Nehemiah 8, 12:27-43

I think it is somewhere bordering on hilarious that the week I have set out to write about finding my brave in the middle of anxiety - my husband lost his job. In a single-provider home with six kids this is close to the top of the list of anxiety-inducing circumstances. 

So here I sit at my kitchen table, writing about Nehemiah, writing about anxiety and trying to figure out how I'm going to "practice what I preach" and weather this trial with faith rather than fear. 

This is what I've been doing: I'm just sitting down at my kitchen table every morning looking up verses about anxiety and copying them down. I'm looking up verses on joy and copying them down. I'm finding verses on hope and renewed strength and in between I'm remembering how good God has been to me and trusting Him with my future. In God's providence my pastor preached a sermon this week about anxiety and worry. He said something that has stuck with me through this week and that is the truth that we are not going to accept as okay the sin that Jesus died to set us free from. He also made the point that at it’s heart anxiety is the belief that I can't trust God and he doesn't care about me.

So I'm choosing faith and I'm choosing hope and when a tidal wave of stress threatens to swallow me whole, I'm choosing joy. 

I recently finished the excellent Bible study "Fight Back with Joy" by Margaret Feinburg. One of the things that I learned in this study is the power of joy. Nehemiah is a terrific example of being strengthened with joy, and fighting back against the darkness of life in this fallen world with the light of joy. 

There is something wonderful about VBS music. We’ve been riding around in our van singing along with the CD with the songs from VBS. And as we’re all singing about joy “bubbling up” I realize that this is one of the things I need to do more often. I need to invite joy into my days with songs like the ones that I’ve been listening to this week. 

I don’t know about you but I tend to think of joy like a surprise guest showing up at the back door with flowers. But lately I have discovered that joy is a friend we can invite to come over and into the ordinary yet extraordinary moments of our lives. We can invite joy to have a dance party in the kitchen while we make pancakes for brinner. We can invite joy to meet us for coffee at our favorite place around the corner. We can ask joy to meet us while we step outside to breathe in the sunrise (or sunset). We can shoot out a request for joy to show up with balloons for the kids.

I can invite joy into the quiet.
I can invite joy into the loud.
I can invite joy into the solitude.
I can invite joy into the crowd.

And by inviting joy into my life I am inviting strength because the joy of the LORD is our strength. I am inviting the courage I need to move forward - without fear hanging onto my ankles like a ball and chain, dragging me down into the ruts of worry and anxiety. 



Respond: 
What is the initial response of the Israelites?
What is Nehemiah's command to the people?
How can you implement this principle in your own life?
What can you do to invite joy into my life TODAY?
What do you do to invite joy into my life THIS WEEK?

Additional verses:
Luke 12:13-34
1 Chronicles 16:8-34 (esp 27)
1 Chronicles 28:20-21 (look it up in The Message Translation)
Isaiah 29:9, 35:4, 10
Habakkuk 3:17-19
Psalm 20 (esp v5), 27:6, 34 (esp 1-5), 95:1-2,
Matthew 7:7-11
Romans 5:5
Philippians 4:4-7
Hebrews 12:1-3



“You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalms 16:11 ESV



Listen: "City of Hope" Amanda Cook

Saturday, October 15, 2016

day 15: brave vs derailed

I know what it's like to feel derailed. It's a miserable place to be in. A couple of years ago I was moving forward with what I felt God was calling me to do but then I hit an obstacle and I allowed it to derail me. I stopped moving forward. I sat there, and then as I moved forward, carefully tiptoeing around that land mine I found myself circling back to the same place God had brought me to a year before. 

It was awful. 

At the end of the day I'm glad for the experience because I never want to be in that space again. Being derailed means that in that moment I gave up on God's calling, I stopped moving forward and gave into my feelings about my circumstances and made the choice to live by sight instead of by faith. 

Nehemiah didn't give up. He didn't give into the pressure. He didn't allow himself to become distracted or derailed. He is such an example & inspiration to me when it comes to refusing to be distracted. 

Read:  Nehemiah 4-6 
Respond:Tobiah and his friends continually try to derail Nehemiah. How do they attempt to derail Nehemiah?Can you relate to this? Have you been ever experienced being derailed in the past? Sometimes it can be positive things that threaten to derail us from the work that God has set us to be doing. Sometimes it's scary or hard things that frighten us off course or overwhelm our thoughts. Is there a circumstance that is currently threatening to derail you? How did Nehemiah respond to Tobiah? (See 6:3)  How does God want you to respond to these circumstances?

Additional verses:
John 16:20-24 - sorrow/joy birth
Exodus 14:14 - the Lord will fight your battles you must only remain still/calm.
1 Peter 5:5-10 humble yourself & cast your anxieties on the Lord... resist the devil, he prowls around looking for someone to devour.
Isaiah 30:5, 18 he rises to be gracious to me
Write out Psalm 126 in your own words as a prayer back to God.





Friday, October 14, 2016

day 14: brave in my anxiety

fight fear with joy

Nehemiah 8:10 "the joy of the Lord is your strength" 


Nehemiah is an example of someone who did not let worry or fear determine his actions.
Was he fearless? No, I don't think so. Was he brave & determined? Absolutely. He took precautions, and didn't rush into risky situations. He wasn't aggressive or combative. But he stood his ground and he kept at the work God had given to him to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. 


As I was growing up my mom would tell me that I cam from a long line of worriers. My grandmother was a worrier, my mom struggled with worry and had verses up around the house about trusting God and not giving into worry and anxiety. It has been a long journey for me to learn to trust God instead of running to worry when life has gotten a little janky. 


Look up the words worry and anxiety in a dictionary. Write down the definitions that catch your eye. How are worry and anxiety the same? How are they different?

Worry: to think about problems or fears : to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.
 (Meriam-Webster.com
)

Anxiety: an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it. (Meriam-Webster.com)


My option is that while worry is primarily a mental response anxiety is primarily a physical reaction. 

How would you say you experience fear primarily worry or primarily anxiety? 

I think of worry as a mental rut. The more I travel down that path the deeper the rut becomes. My goal is for that path to become overgrown.  


Read: Nehemiah 1-3
What stands out to you about these verses?

How is Nehemiah feeling in this difficult situation? (2:2)

How did Nehemiah act? (2:4)

What was Nehemiah's attitude? (2:4-8)

Who is the center of attention at the end of these verses? (2:8) 

I'll go ahead and give you my answer for that last question - it's God. He "gets the glory" He is the center of attention in this story. It is not Nehemiah. That should be so freeing and gloriously liberating. I am not someone who naturally seeks the spotlight or wants to be the center of attention, except for in my own mind. God in the spotlight sounds good to me, He is the one taking the bow at the curtain call. If I am the center of my own attention then I am going to get so wrapped up in my own little side-plot which means that worry is going to throw a party in honor of my massive problems. I need to get my perspective correct. Stop navel-gazing and start star gazing. 

2:9-16 - Nehemiah took precautions and was strategic in his actions - what do you think is the main difference between caution & worry? 

P.S. One of the things I really love about Nehmiah chapter 3 is reading all of the times it mentioned a family building the wall in front of their house. There were some families who did more and some families who did less, but a big "amen" rises up within me when I read about what a huge undertaking was completed and many of the families simply repaired the wall in front of their door. I want to be someone who does that. 

Is there a circumstance in your life that is equivalent to building the wall in front of your house? If nothing comes straight away to mind then sit with God for a moment. Ask him to show you the wall in front of your house - what are the different bricks? Are they sturdy? Crumbling? Somewhere between the two? Do you have some patches that are strong and others that are weak? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight. Feel free to reach out to a friend to talk about how they see this. Do you see your situation as part of a plan that is bigger than you?

How are you feeling about your circumstances?

How are your feelings influencing your attitude & behavior? 

What behavior is God calling you to?

What should your attitude be?

Write out Matthew 6:19-34 in your own words as a prayer back to God. 

Additional verses: 
Isaiah 26:1-4, 40:27-31, 41:9-10, 17-18
Psalm 103:4-5
Psalm 105:4-5
Psalm 84:5-7 & 11
Psalm 34:4-10, 18
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
1 Corinthians 1:26
Romans 16:25-27


Listen: "it is well" Bethel