In Sync

By Linda Tancs

The belief that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28) is a recognition of Divine order. It’s an abdication of the need to know how things will work out (Proverbs 3:5). Instead, it’s an acknowledgment that things will work out. All things. Not some things or even most things. God is the ultimate timekeeper, syncing all the times of your life into a harmonious whole. You can probably look at some circumstances already and see how it worked out for the best. God’s not done yet.

More Than a Conqueror

By Linda Tancs

There’s no shortage of famous conquerors in world history, like Napoleon—renowned for his strategy and command of the battlefields of war (until Waterloo, that is). For most of us, there’s a different battle brewing. It’s in the mind, where nagging thoughts often plague and condemn us that we’re not where we need to be, not up to the task, not able to navigate life successfully, and so on. When the mind wages war we need to remember that we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). What does it mean to be “more than a conqueror?” It means that, unlike Napoleon, there is no battle and, therefore, no need to conquer. We’ve already won. Through Christ, we are ready for anything and equal to anything that comes up in life (Philippians 4:13). Victory is assured; you needn’t worry about meeting your Waterloo.

Young at Heart

By Linda Tancs

Do you consider yourself “over the hill?” Maybe you can relate to King Solomon’s description of aging in Ecclesiastes 12:3—the body grows feeble, your teeth decay and your eyesight fails. Don’t be discouraged. The Psalmist promises fruit, freshness and flourishing in old age (Psalm 92:14). Indeed, some of the greatest heroes in the Bible were advanced in years. Moses got the call to deliver Israel when he was 80 years old. Isaac died full of years at 180 (Genesis 35:28), as did Jacob at 147 (Genesis 47:28). King David reigned until the age of 70, and Anna the prophetess was anywhere from 84 to 103 years old when she served in the temple at the time of Jesus’s birth (Luke 2:36-38).

Think of age as just a number. It worked for our heroes in faith. As the song Young at Heart says, it’s worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who is your strength (Philippians 4:13).

An Early Start

By Linda Tancs

You may remember the adage “children should be seen and not heard.” It seems a bit old-fashioned by today’s standards, considering the many contributions to society thanks to whiz kids in fields like science, technology, engineering and math. It was pretty old-fashioned by biblical standards, too, considering God’s anointing of youths like David, Jeremiah and Timothy to advance the Kingdom. David was a young lad of about 15 years when the Lord instructed Samuel to anoint him as a king (1 Samuel 16:12). Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah was just a boy when called to minister to the Israelites, denouncing idolatry, greed and false prophets (Jeremiah 1:1-8). And Timothy was a young man (perhaps a teenager) when he first met Paul and would become one of Paul’s most trusted missionaries, serving the church in Ephesus (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5). The bottom line? You’re never too young to make an impact.

It Came to Pass

By Linda Tancs

The renowned artist Auguste Renoir was an Impressionist painter, best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. He suffered terribly from arthritis in the last decade of his life but continued to paint. When asked why he continued working in such agony, he replied, “The beauty remains. The pain passes.”

That quote reminds me of the Bible phrase, “it came to pass.” It occurs with great regularity, especially in the Old Testament. You might be tempted to just brush it off as a transitional phrase, a way to mark the passage of time in a story with a flourish. But this simple phrase has the potential to mean so much more. Imagine applying it to your difficulties—a job loss, financial reversal, broken relationship, health challenge, or whatever it may be. The problem, or event, didn’t come to stay; it came to pass. Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes teaches this principle of coming and going (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In every storm of life, the pain will pass but the beauty (the ultimate good) will remain. In other words, as Paul reminded the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

Joy to the World

By Linda Tancs

Joy is the essence of a Christ-centered life. Indeed, Jesus reminded his followers that He came for us to have and enjoy life (John 10:10). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, an attribute of the Christian life (Galatians 5:22). It’s good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). So how do you acquire it? One way is to avoid fear, worry and control. What do you fear? Abandonment? Failure? Death? Fear is sometimes instinctual but often learned behavior. Paul reminds us that God did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Worry is closely associated with fear. But why worry when you can pray (Philippians 4:6-7)? As Matthew pointed out in his gospel, worrying won’t add one cubit to your life (Matthew 6:27). Another joy-robber is a need for control. Are you a control freak? Don’t be a slave to your own agenda. It’s not about you (1 Corinthians 6:19). Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to advance God’s agenda, the common good, which is to look to the interests of others above your own (Philippians 2:4). Imagine how joyful you’d feel contributing to the needs of others, especially the poor and needy.

Sticks and Stones

By Linda Tancs

An old childhood rhyme begins, “Sticks and stones may break my bones.” In the Bible, stones (and clubs) are often depicted as obstacles, even instruments of death. For instance, we’re reminded of stoning as a punishment for sin in the story about the adulteress brought before Jesus for sentencing (John 8:2-5). Also, Jesus reacts disappointedly to his arrest with the use of swords and clubs, as if He were a robber (Mark 14:48; Matthew 26:55; Luke 22:52). And then there’s the imposing stone placed before the entrance to the tomb following Jesus’ crucifixion (Mark 16:3).

What are your “stones” in life? Age? Infirmity? Anger? Resentment? Fear? Don’t let them break you. There’s no stone so big that He can’t roll it back. Focus on building a better foundation based on the One who is the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Acts 4:11).

Excuses, Excuses

By Linda Tancs

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else—Benjamin Franklin.

When you feel called to something, how do you react? Are you reluctant, like Moses (Exodus 3:11)? Are you willing, like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or do you feel unworthy, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6)? When you’re called according to God’s will for your life, an opportunity is a wonderful thing to pursue (Ephesians 5:15-17). So why is it so hard sometimes?

Among other things, a fear of failure often leads to procrastination or choosing the path of least resistance (or so it seems). Don’t be afraid to take risks (Proverbs 22:13). Set reasonable goals (Proverbs 20:4) and have an attitude of expectancy, a return on investment (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, cast down your wrong thinking for the kind of thinking that Scripture advocates and you’ll overcome mindsets that undermine your efforts (Romans 12:2).

Be Inspired, Not Tired

By Linda Tancs

How energized are you? Do you feel like the tortoise—or the hare? If your answer is the tortoise, know that you’re in good company. Recent studies show that, among other factors, stress and social media are taking a toll on energy levels. It’s disheartening, especially considering that Scripture exhorts us to begin each day with zeal and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11).

So how do you put some zest back into life? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to get inspired. As the literary figure Goethe allegedly said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” What are you dreaming about? What did you dream about as a kid? What do other people think you’re good at? Do you have a hobby? Another tactic for zeal is gratitude, something encouraged in the Bible (Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2-3). Jesus likewise encourages you to give your tired mind, body or soul to Him for refreshment (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t be tired; get inspired.

 

Who, Me?

By Linda Tancs

“I’m not up to the task.” How often have you felt unworthy or unfit for a task? At least once, no doubt. We often shrink with fear when faced with an assignment that we perceive will test our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. During those times it’s good to remember how ordinary folks in the Bible were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Consider the prophet Jeremiah, called by God at a young age to minister to a nation; he thought he was way too young and inexperienced to be effective (Jeremiah 1:4-8). Mary pondered how she, a virgin, could become mother to our Savior (Luke 1:34). Moses felt inadequate to the task of demanding Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:11). Jonah was so intimated by God’s call for him to witness at Nineveh that he fled on a ship (Jonah 1:2-3). Gideon thought himself too lowly of a man to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-16).

You get the picture. Yet in each case, God didn’t expect his draft picks to act alone. He promised to be with them. And so it is with us. He’s present in every task, duty, charge, assignment or obligation (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20). Because of that, you can accomplish anything with the strength that He gives you (Philippians 4:13).