Characteristics of Christians

Who else suffers from anxiety and stress? I know I do from time to time, but as Christians, we should be able to have peace. We’re supposed to rest in the peace that God gives us upon on salvation. Granted, that can sometimes be difficult to do—especially if your personality errs toward perfectionism and worry (like mine does).

As Dr. Stanely’s devotion for today says, though, we should find hope, joy and peace in everything that happens to us—even our difficulties, for they aren’t in vain. God works everything together for the good of those who love him.

When we feel ourselves beginning to stress or worry, let’s immediately stop and say a prayer turning it all over to Jesus. He is our friend and helper and doesn’t want us to carry those heavy burdens that hinder the working of the Holy Spirit.

JANUARY 26, 2021 TUESDAY

Today’s verse from Romans 15 is Paul’s concise description of how God can transform hearts and attitudes when people trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Instead of being filled with fear, anxiety, frustration, and stress, they can now—empowered by the Holy Spirit—be characterized by hope, joy, and peace.

Yet all too often those old emotions come back when circumstances are difficult. We walk around, weighed down with concerns even though Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). As anxious thoughts and hopelessness take over, we not only suffer personally but also cease to be a light in the world because Christ is no longer reflected in our life. On the surface, in fact, we appear just as pressured, stressed, and fearful as those without Christ.

Although we don’t rejoice in the adversities themselves, we can find hope, joy, and peace in knowing that our difficulties aren’t in vain. God may be refining our character and melting away things that don’t reflect Christ. If we submit to whatever road the Lord has chosen for us, His Spirit will guide us and—slowly but surely—produce His fruit.

Daily Devotions

Writing Wednesday – The Yellow Butterfly

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Tears stung her eyes as she floated around the pool, the floatie leaving soft ripples in its wake. She gazed up at the robin’s egg blue sky dotted only by a few cottony clouds. The sun shone down upon her exposed skin, kissing her with warmth and making the droplets of water glisten. Yet despite the warmth of the beautiful summer day, she felt cold inside.

Her chest felt tight as memories of other summer days when the sky looked just like this assaulted her. The treetops swayed just so, the same tempo they’d exhibited so many years ago when those who’d passed on where still living. The feeling in the air was the same, and yet it wasn’t. There was no way to describe it but bittersweet nostalgia and saudade.

She wondered about where they were now. It pained her to think that they had merely faded into a state of nonexistence. Surely there was something more. A heaven, perhaps, where there was joy and peace forevermore. She liked to think that, but sometimes doubt crept in, tormenting her.

A lump gathered in her throat. She couldn’t breathe. Although she was floating atop the water, she was drowning – drowning deep inside the depths of her soul that was muddled with confusion and pain.

Please…show me a sign…something to let me know that they are okay, that there’s something after this life. The plea ran through her mind unbidden, torn from her bleeding heart.

She took a deep breath, willing herself to breathe, to calm, and opened her eyes. There in her peripheral vision was a brilliant yellow butterfly the likes of which she’d never seen ’round these parts before. It flitted over in a zigzag to hover directly above her in her direct line of vision, fluttering steadily in place, as if it had paused to look down at her.

She stilled and stared up at it – its bright yellow wings unmarred by any other color or markings she could see. The seconds ticked by until in the strangest phenomenon, it swooped down directly in front of her eyes for just a millisecond before rising up and fluttering away across the yard.

She floated in a stunned silence, contemplating the strange appearance of the yellow butterfly. When a yellow butterfly appears, a deceased loved one is near.

A soft smile lit her face. Coincidence? Perhaps, but she had just enough hope to believe the odd yellow butterfly was the sign she’d so desperately prayed for. The lump in her throat subsided, and peace filled her soul again as she was filled with a rekindled faith. Thank you, her mind whispered to the divine source that had sent the fluttering of hope.