Posted in Devotion

The Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Christmas is not all joyful and stress free for everyone. The stress of seeing family, of having money for the best presents, the anxiety the day brings and so much more cause this day to be less than joyful. However, unto us a child is born, a child who will be called Prince of Peace.

Peace. Christmas doesn’t seem so peaceful all the time. But peace is not a promise that things will be good all the time. Peace is knowing that even admits the bad that there will be good that comes later.

As you celebrate with your families and friends this holiday season I hope you are able to have peace. A feeling that no matter how this season plays out that good is coming. God is with each and every single one of you! God is never going to leave you.

The Prince of Peace has been given to you to remember to accept this peace into your hearts. Do you have peace in your hearts this holiday season?

Prayer: Almighty God, we thank you for the Son that you have given us on that first Christmas night. That you didn’t want to be without us, so you made sure you never were. Grant us peace this Christmas season and the days to come. In Jesus name, Amen.

Posted in Mental Health Awareness

The Bible is Triggering

The Bible is triggering. There is no content warning in the Bible.

All too often we look up a piece of scripture and we are surprised at what we find. We find examples of the very traumas that we have experienced, our friends/family have experienced, or we witnessed happen to someone we may or may not know. Reading these accounts between the front and back covers of the Bible does not make the discovery any less triggering.

Does this mean that we have to stop reading the scriptures? Absolutely not. It just means that we have to change the ways that we read the scriptures. Here are a few ways we can do that:

  1. Before we jump into a passage of scripture, look it up. You will be able to find out what the passage is about without reading the events themselves. This is like looking up the content warning for each passage before we read them.
  2. Read scripture in community. A community of those who have similar experiences or a group of people that have no idea what you’ve been experienced. There is more likely to be a trigger warning when reading in community, and in community you can find support if you are triggered. You won’t be exposed to this trigger in solitude.

Most importantly, do not feel that your faith is lacking or that you are in someway doing something wrong when you find a trigger in scripture.

Please know that you are not alone. Many Christians struggle with the triggers in scriptures. Many non-Christians struggle with the triggers in scriptures. The Bible is triggering, so where is the content warning?

 

What has been helpful for you when dealing with triggers in the Bible? 

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Motivational Monday

Making It Monday

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  –Colossians 3:23-24

Happy Labor Day to those in the US! And for those who don’t have the day off, make sure you make today count! You are serving the Lord no matter what profession you may be in! You have entered the mission field, make it count!

Posted in Sermon Sunday

July 8 2018

Deuteronomy 6:5

Leviticus 19:18

Matthew 22:37-40

In Matthew 22:37-40, and it’s parallel verses, Jesus sums up all of the Old Testament laws with just two Great Commandments. This is impressive because there are 613 Old Testament Laws. All of these laws have been summed up to love. Which I think we do lose a bit in translation with these two commandments. If you look at the Greek, Jesus says, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “you will love your neighbor as yourself.” We’re not given an option here. Jesus is literally commanding us, yet we treat them as options sometimes.

So let’s dive into the commandments a bit more. “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Let’s start with all your heart since that is the easier part. When we think of love we think of something dear to our hearts; family, friends, pets. Here we are told to love God with all of our hearts. Not just a piece. Now I know I said this is the easy part and you are all sitting there going I already don’t have enough of my heart to go around. Well… just wait.

Next we have, “You will love the Lord your God with all your soul.” I think we lose a bit in translation here too. The Greek word is psyche which means life. And not just the fact that you’re alive, but with everything that is your life. The job you have should be done loving God. The relationships you have should be aiding in your love towards God. The free time you may or may not have should be spent living God. You should be living your life loving God in preparation for spending eternity praising God.

Alright, so now you know that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. Next we will love with our whole mind. This one word, mind, covers the rest. Mind is our words, our thoughts, our knowledge, and our imagination. All we say, think and know should be loving God. To sum this all up, every piece of our heart, everything we do, all we say and all we think should be done by loving God. This should be easy right? I mean look at the God we serve! He is worthy of all that. Yet, we get busy, our mind wanders, and we are all human. However, we can only love because God first loved us. Therefore as long as we are striving to love God with all we are and strive to be in a constant relationship with God then God is pleased. It’s when we begin to wander away, when we begin to place things before God, that God gets sadden with our absence. But He never stops loving us. We aren’t perfect and God doesn’t expect us to be.

All of that and we haven’t even got to the second commandment yet. Take a deep breath. Are you ready? The second is like it, you will love your neighbor as yourself. This too is multifaceted. Who is our neighbor? Que the story of the great Samaritan. We are to love the least, the last, the lost, and everyone else as our neighbors and therefore as ourselves. Now this leaves room for one tricky excuse. I don’t love myself much so I don’t have to love others much. Sadly, we hear this more often than we should. If you struggle with this, Think of the love God has for you, but overflowing, never ending love. What God sees in you is what you should see in you. Then you should see that and everyone else is well. God loves everyone, and that is your neighbor is. If you think about it the second commandment falls under the first one since it is an action of love and God by loving others. So, why would you just choose to state it as well? He chose to state this just to show how important it is to love others especially when it’s just plain easier not to sometimes.

I just recently saw church sign that said, “God loves me God loves you let’s love each other.” The first time I saw I just kind of dismissed it, but then it kept coming back to me. And since it was on my path from Tyrone to Morrisdale, I saw an awful lot. Then I began to realize that this commandment really is just as simple as the church sign makes it look. If God loves your neighbor just as much as He loves you, why shouldn’t you love your neighbor? That was the question I had for my weekly devotion and I would really recommend doing the same thing yourselves.

Either way, challenge yourself to begin fulfilling these commandments the new ways. Maybe that’s a new spiritual practice to grow closer to God. Maybe it’s reaching out to new people in your community. Maybe they’re trying to compliment someone everyday. Whatever it maybe love. Love with all you are. Love with all you do. Not only will your relationships here on earth begin the blossom, they are relationship with God will grow expeditiously as well. You could even say Jesus knew what he was talking about.

Let us pray:

God we thank you for loving us no matter what, 24 seven, no exceptions. We thank you for sending your son to pay for the way and even die, so we may live with you eternally. We thank you that the Holy Spirit resides in each of us, so we may begin to love as you love. Grant us the ability to open our hearts, souls, and minds to love more. Then open our eyes to see your neighbors the way you do, Lord. May we honor you and all that we do amen!

Posted in Devotion

Who do you say I am?

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” -Matthew 16:16

Take a second. Flip to Matthew 16 and read 16:13-20. This is a powerful piece of scripture. Jesus is asking those closest to Him if they have learned anything from Him. This is a huge test of His teachings. We are thrown this question everyday. We say we’re nervous about something and someone asks us, “don’t you believe in Jesus?” What they’re saying is, “Who is Jesus to you?” This is a question we should be asking ourselves daily. Jesus is our Savior, the Son of God. Lord of Lords.

Is this who Jesus is to you? Do you have a special title for Jesus?

Don’t let your battle with anxiety cause you to stumble answering this question. Jesus doesn’t leave you in your time of doubt, so don’t leave Him either. When others face you with this question, answer it with pride.

So, Who is Jesus to you?

© 2018 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health Awareness

To help raise some mental health awareness, I created a survey to see what others thought about anxiety and being a Christian with anxiety. This post is the results of said survey with results from 44 participants.

Do you know someone who suffers from anxiety?

42 people answered that they knew someone with anxiety, which is 95.5% of the participants. This is actually pretty surprising since only 18% of the population is affected my anxiety (ADAA). However, this just goes to show why it is so important that people know about anxiety because even if they don’t have anxiety themselves, odds are they know someone who does.

Can you suffer from anxiety as a Christian?

38 of the participants answered yes and 2 answered maybe. Together that was 90.9% of the participants. This actually came as a huge surprise to me since it is typically Christians with anxiety that receive quite the backlash. This backlash is the number one reason Christians with anxiety don’t seek out help (Graber). Please read Graber’s little article on Christians with anxiety if you are still having doubts.

What do you think Anxiety is?

27 of the participants described anxiety as either stress, fear, nervousness, or worry. 7 participants, 16%, mentioned that it was a mental health issue or chemical imbalance in the brain. 4 participants either said they didn’t know or it was a made up disease. The ADAA defines anxiety as the inability to control worry for long periods of time which can lead to panic attacks, and there is a behavioral or functional change because of the inability to control their worry.

What advice would you give to someone with anxiety?

15 of the participants stated to seek professional help whether that be a doctor or a therapist. 9 participants stated to breathe or relax, but I do not recommend this response at all. I enjoyed that after reading those responses one of the participants wrote, “Definitely not to calm down.” Garber suggests to encourage them to get help and support them through the process.

Can you find examples of anxiety in the Bible?

While 86% of the participants believe that one can suffer from anxiety as a Christian, only 84% of the participants are positive that you can find examples in the Bible. Another 4.5% think there are examples in the Old Testament only. If you are looking for examples of anxiety in the Bible, click here.

Does Jesus talk about anxiety?

Here the percentage drops even more. Only 65.9% of the participants believe for sure that Jesus talks about anxiety. 22.7% are unsure if Jesus talks about anxiety or not. The Sermon on the Mount is probably the most common passage of scripture that is a prime example that Jesus talks about anxiety.

What most surprised you about these results? Did any of this resonate with you?

© 2018 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Motivational Monday

You are Worth it!

We all have those days that we just don’t feel worth it. Why would God die for us? Why would God choose to save us? What makes us worth it?

The good news is that God died for us while none of us were worth it. That is just how much I love that God has for me and for you. So the next time that you don’t feel worth it, please remember that God’s love for you is not based on your work it’s based on his love and that is never ending.

God bless! Have a great week!

Posted in Devotion

Sabbath Time

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. -Mark 2:27

Do you take a Sabbath? A day doing things you enjoy? Maybe just a few hours is all you can do.

If you answered no, then why not? We were not made for non-stop lives. We were made to stop, pause, and take some time for ourselves. God gifted us the Sabbath, so why are you rejecting it?

You may be thinking, “I am way too busy, I don’t have time for the Sabbath.” A Sabbath doesn’t have to be a full 24-hour period of time. It could be waking up an hour early to have some you time. Maybe it’s staying up an hour later. Any period of time you take for you is a Sabbath.

Another reason many don’t take a sabbath is because they feel selfish. Please don’t. See it as excepting a gift from God. If man were made for a sabbath maybe I could see feeling selfish, but the sabbath was made for man. God made the Sabbath for you!

So, next time you feel caught up in the business of life, an anxious period of time, or a stressful week, stop. Take a moment for you. Pick up that magazine that’s been sitting around for months. Eat a meal outside. Lay on the floor and just breathe. Whatever it may be, take the time for you. You will be glad you did!

A Sabbath Prayer:

Lord, the sabbath was made for man. It is a great gift that we usually reject. Please help me accept the gift of the Sabbath in my life Lord. Help me take time for me, so I can be better in my relationship with You and with others. Thank you for the Sabbath Lord. Amen.

© 2018 Kiersten Smeal