Friday, August 31, 2012

Trusting God to Be Enough

Trusting God to Be Enough
Psalms 147:3
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

 Psalm 119:50.
This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your Word has quickened me.

Psalms 73:28
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. 

There are times in our lives when our hearts are so broken we don’t know what to do. We are trying to trust God but it’s difficult and circumstances are not going well. We begin to fall into the pit of despair and can’t seem to find our way up.  In the pit, we let our imagination run away with us and in the darkness of pain, we begin to imagine that God is not there. 

When we begin to assume, presume, suppose, dream up, think up, or conjure up in our minds, that God is not all that He says that He is or that He will not do what He has promised, we, at that point, we are listening to worldly wisdom and human ingenuity that is altogether powerless to free our minds from the forces of darkness ( the pit) and bring us to maturity in Christ. Speculations, thoughts, ideas and reasonings along with false religions, barricade men and women against the knowledge of a Holy God and the truth of the gospel to make them genuinely free.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Can a person really trust God? Is He dependable, constant, and faithful? Does His unfailing love actually surround a person who trusts in Him? Psalms 32:10 ~ Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. It is not easy to trust God especially in times of pain and adversity. Nobody enjoys suffering and when it comes we want to be relieved as quickly as possible. Listen, as Jeremiah, known as the Weeping Prophet, reveals his heart: This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him (Lamentations 3:20-25).

Do you have this kind of a relationship with God that exhibits confidence in His care for you? Or, in your intense sorrow, have you been blinded by pain and see no evidence of God, His presence, or His power? Is God and His Word enough in your burden of affliction to restore your trust in Him or has your imagination taken you to the pothole of distrust, skepticism and doubt?

~The One who is our Healer never changes~

Christ is the eternal Son of God, and He is in His divine attributes ‘the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). If therefore He loved in the days of His flesh, He loves now; if He cared then, He cares now; if He healed then, He heals now. It does not necessarily follow that He will do now all that He did then, or that He will do what He does now in the same way as He did then, for His purposes in some things are different at present from what were in the past. Nevertheless, Christ is changeless in character, and we may be sure that He is infinitely interested in us and concerned about us. (Quote by Henry Frost)

As bleak as life may seem right now, God’s lovingkindness is always present and His incredible faithfulness endures throughout the ages. May we never forget that in God’s great love for us––– this love also encompasses His grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faithfulness which is His wondrous character. When we doubt if we can trust God, we in essence, question His character. My dear hurting friend, trust that God is enough and know His character never changes!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why We Suffer

Someday We’ll Understand Why We Suffer
Job 23:10-14
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.

“It is said that a bar of steel worth five dollars when made into ordinary horseshoes will be worth only ten dollars. If this same five-dollar bar is manufactured into needles, the value rises to $350, but if it is made into delicate springs for expensive watches, it will be worth $250,000. This original bar of steel is made more valuable by being cut to its proper size, passed through the heat again and again, hammered and manipulated beaten and pounded and finished and polished, until it is finally ready for its delicate task.” ( M. R. DeHann, M.D.)

I do not know why oft ‘round me,
My hopes all shattered seem to be;
God’s perfect plan I cannot see,
But some day I’ll  understand.

Some day He’ll make it plain to me;
Some day when I His face shall see,
Some day from tears I shall be free,
For some day I shall understand.

~unknown author

In the Scripture above, Job does not say, “I know the way that He takes,” but rather, “He knoweth the way that I take.” Wouldn’t it be nice to know what God was doing in our lives? I think if we knew what God was planning and we could see all that lay ahead, we wouldn’t need faith to accept God’s way. Job, in the midst of his deep affliction, found comfort in knowing, God knew what He was doing. When God leaves us alone, and does not allow difficulties, testings and trials in our lives, be assured, we become unfruitful, aimless and empty. 

God uses suffering to teach us to have patience and to purify our lives to be more like Him.

Patience can only be learned by being tested, by having pressure and inevitable troubles come into our lives because of our relationship with Christ and then, enduring through those trials. Unless our patience, like our faith, is tried, we will never learn to be still and know that God is in control of all things–––this will allow us to experience the ability to remain faithful under tremendous weight and pressure without giving in. Romans 5:3-5 ~ And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

God uses suffering to teach us to be compassionate with others in pain.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 

Those who can bring the greatest comfort and peace to our hearts are those who have suffered personal affliction themselves and have tasted the sweet relationship that comes while walking with Christ during the suffering. When we suffer for righteousness sake, it helps build our patience and endurance to avoid any sense of self-pity when suffering for Him. Sharing with other believers the divine comfort that God brings is encouraging, when with that comfort, we experience God’s everlasting love through grievous heartache.

Thought: The process of making us more like Christ cannot be done without suffering. Testings, trials, suffering and chastening are God’s way of purifying, cleansing and conforming us into the image of His dear Son. If the Lord does not send us affliction, we may doubt whether the Lord sees in us anything worth cultivating. The measure of our worth to Christ may well be measured by the trials and testings He sends. 

Job 10:14 ~ For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. The Lord will perform and complete what He has appointed for us through His divine plan for our lives.

Take heart dear child of God–––our Father makes no mistakes and though we may not understand all that has come our way, some day we will understand and know the worth of every trial. 1 Corinthians 13:12 ~ For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know (fully) even as also I am (fully) known.

Friday, August 17, 2012

How Excellent is Thy Name

Sweet Song of Praise

Psalm 8:1,9
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.  O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

        What comes to mind when we hear His name–– is it the Sweetest Name We Know
Is there strength and power and joy of heaven, that comforts our troubled soul? 

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds, to a heart so filled with pain; 
To soothe the aching broken heart and heal the wounds of shame.

O, Lover of our burdened soul, our never ending Friend,
Though weak and weary, bruised from sin, forgiveness has no end.

May we lift our voice to heaven’s throne, of the matchless worth of Christ, 
Our Prophet, Priest, and Glorious King, our Sustainer and Giver of life.

O LORD our Lord, what eternal excellence is given to Thy name,
The sweetest song of highest praise, will be to His wonderful, precious name.
                                                                                                                        by Dianna Moffitt Carroll

There is a well of strength hidden in the praises we sing and give to our Lord. Though our hearts are heavy and at times we don’t know what to do, we can meditate and ponder upon, how excellent is Thy name. He is our Counselor, the Prince of Peace, and our Mighty God in need: to defend us, comfort and guide us, throughout our anxious days.  Don’t let the songs of praise be mere words written with ink, but let the sweetest name ever sung–– bring healing to the soul. For then we’ll discover the marvelous privilege of getting to know, the One whose name is exalted above every name and at the name of JESUS, every knee shall bow.

Philippians 2:9,10

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 

I Chronicles 29:11-14

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.  Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.  

Thought: David, in his songs of praise to God, expresses loving words of adoration in which we see God’s name proclaimed as excellent and above all other names. He extols the Savior and the wonder of His precious name giving Him praise for the victory, greatness, power and strength unto all who praise His glorious name. Why praise the name of Jesus and give all honor to His name? Because He is worthy to be praised and His greatness is unsearchable in heaven above and on the earth beneath. Hebrews 13:15 ~ By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. “...That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Have You Lost Your Head?

Have You Lost Your Head?
Philippians 2:1-8
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Very seldom does arguing accomplish anything except to widen the gap between two parties. “To win an argument is to lose a friend,” Quote by Benjamin Franklin. There are some behaviors that hinder good relationships with other people and these are often associated with a deficient relationship to God. God has created us as social creatures (Genesis 2:18) and as social creatures, we naturally have the desire and capacity for fellowship but, because of our deficiency in Christ, inadequate feelings and thoughts over take us causing deeper problems. We bring our deficient attitudes and problems to other people causing heated arguments and as the age old adage says, “We begin to make a mountain out of a molehill!”

What is your relationship with God? Have arguments with others escalated into sinful actions or reactions? Has God separated Himself from you and discouragement has set in? Isaiah 59:2 ~ But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Regardless of the situation you have encountered, the most important question is this, “How have you handled it?” God’s way is to grind away the powder of pride and leave us with an indestructible character of true godliness. Unless you are inhuman or from another planet, you have probably already experienced this unforgettable despairing event–––something common to all mankind.

What should be our response to arguments that have caused shame, humiliation and /or criticism? 

We need to endure patiently never trying to get even. Trust the Lord for wisdom through this experience without retaliation or revenge. Ecclesiastes 7:8 ~ Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

We need to accept willingly the words brought against us and not get mad. Accepting criticism is the hardest thing in the world to do. We need to see criticism as a tool of God to shape our lives for future good.  1 Peter 2:20 ~ For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

We need to judge honestly and not get defensive! Human nature craves to be justified of guilt and there are six words we all hate to to say, “I was wrong–––I am sorry.” Although we may be innocent of the charges brought against us, we need to be wise, looking deeper into the situation and see if the purging hand of God is at work. Proverbs 16:6 ~ By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. By Christ’s steadfast love and faithfulness our iniquities have been atoned for and when we fear the LORD it turns us away from evil doing.

We need to commit totally to the Lord and not be discouraged! The attitude we need to commit to  daily is, dying to self and the flesh, not an end in and of itself, but a beginning to the crucified life. Galatians 2:20 ~ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Thought: When I want to be justified of all my guilt...I need to die. When I want my own way...I need to die. When my heart has been shattered by hurtful words...I need to die. When desires and dreams that are wonderful and good are all put aside...I need to die. When relationships have failed and I am blamed ...I need to die. When I have lost my head and not guarded my heart...I need to die. Christ gave to us a powerful example to follow on the eve of His crucifixion when He, in His deepest sorrow, spoke these words, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Christ became obedient unto the death of the cross and if I want to be transformed into His image, I must also embrace the cross, putting to death my will and trusting God in His sovereign care of me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Perspective in Pain

What is My Perspective in Pain?
Psalm 55:4a ~ My heart is sore pained within me: 
Psalms 55:22 ~ Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
David is pouring out his heart to the Lord and lamenting the pain he felt in the betrayal of a friend. This friend was either Absalom, his own dear son and/or Ahithophel, a former close friend. For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him:  But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company (Psalm 55:12-14). Though David is in deep despair, he communicates ultimate confidence in his God and expresses that confidence by saying, cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee. The word for “burden” implies one’s circumstances or lot in life. David’s words convey what his heart was experiencing, that the Lord would uphold him in all the struggles of life including great loss through betrayal.
The Story Behind the Pain: I Samuel 13- 18
King David’s son, Absalom, was overwhelmed by the pain and sorrow his half-brother, Amnon caused when he took advantage of his sister, Tamar. In Absalom’s bitterness and grief, he plotted to kill Amnon and by taking matters into his own hands, he rebelled against God’s purpose in this trail. The adversity Absalom encountered was in essence situations God allowed to benefit Absalom but he refused to embrace obedience in the midst of his great pain. The sinful actions of Absalom continued to escalate into greater realms of retaliation, rebellion and revolt against his father, King David––ultimately leading to his untimely death.
Though Ahithophel and Absalom appeared to have the upper hand in making David’s life hard––don’t kid yourself into thinking that God is not around when the going gets tough. God is in control of every circumstance––good or bad? There are two sides to every situation––a dark side  and a bright side! Things looked difficult for David, but in his pain he learned to have a deeper trust in God. Circumstances that are filled with pain and sorrow should not drive us from God but to Him and His Word. Seeking out Scriptures to relate to our adversities will not only profit us but we will gain insight into the Scriptures while trusting Him to work out in our lives that which we need to learn. 
Not only should we profit from our adversities but we should remember them and the lessons  taught through them. God wants us to do more than simply endure our heartaches and trials or just find comfort in them. He wants us to remember them so to bring about growth in our lives. The most valuable way we profit from adversity is in the deepening of our relationship with God. Through adversity we learn to bow before Him, to trust His ways, and to experience the comfort of His love. We begin to pass from knowing about God to knowing Him in a more personal and intimate way. What do you do when you are facing problems? David committed the matter totally to God and used his circumstances as a springboard for richer fellowship with God. That may not always be easy to do, but the benefits are eternal! 
Thoughts:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10). Can we say with Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, so that I may become like Him in death”? This should be the heart cry of every believer to express the deepest desire in knowing Christ in an ever-increasing intimate and personal way. What is my perspective in pain? Trust the heart of God, He knows what is best for me.