Reflection

Patience: A Disappearing Virtue

  • Posted on May 26, 2020 at 9:24 pm

On Facebook the other day, someone pointed out that patience seems to be wearing thin more these days as people have been cooped up for months. Other than conferences being cancelled, life has not changed much for me but I know that not everyone is used to working from home, being with their family all day every day, etc.

Like I trust many of you are, I am praying that this stay-at-home order ends soon, but in the meantime, let’s let patience have her perfect work (James 1:4). While you are at home with your family, work to make positive memories that will bring good out of stress. When you are out and about, make sure that you are exhibiting the Spirit of Christ. It seems like everyone has strong opinions as to whether to wear a mask or not to wear a mask. Whatever you are feeling led to do, do it as unto the Lord but give grace to those who are not doing the same thing you are. Not everyone can wear a mask, many don’t see a need for it, but this does not mean that they do not care about you. Give them space … literally as well as figuratively. Although it is good to use wisdom, ultimately life and death are in God’s hands. Everyone in the world could wear a mask and, without God’s covering, you could still become ill. Begin to trust Him regardless of what everyone else does.

For those of you who have more time to be on social media these days, use it for God’s glory. If you want to bring a dissenting perspective, do it in grace and humility. Refrain from calling names or making those who oppose your view to feel stupid. They say that it’s easier for people to verbally attack people using a keyboard but that makes no sense to me. Writing should be a natural filter where you slow down and think about what you are saying and how you are saying it instead of refusing to rein yourself in.

If you have noticed yourself becoming more and more impatient, call or text a friend and ask for prayer. If you can find a quiet corner, take some time to read your Bible and pray. Read your favorite passages or go through the book of Philippians. Ask your family to forgive you for allowing yourself to become so frustrated and maybe they will pray with you, that God will give you the grace you need for the rest of this season.

The enemy would like to use this time to cause us to be discouraged and angry and divided but, with Christ, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). If you are one of those blessed to be able to work during this time, thank God for that. If you are laid off, praise Him for continuing to meet your needs. If your family is getting on your nerves, rejoice that you have a family. The more you count your blessings, the less stressed you will be, and God will receive glory in the midst of the storm.

My God Shall Supply Your NEEDS

  • Posted on May 21, 2020 at 7:10 pm

When I was a child, I would quote Philippians 4:19 as my favorite verse:

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus.

This continued into my thirties when 1 Corinthians 4:8-10 began to hold more meaning. Lately, though, I find myself going back to Philippians. I don’t think anyone dreamed that our country would be shut down for months to the point that many are without jobs, but I believe that God will take care of His children during this time. Do not succumb to the habit of fretting but, instead, let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Hey, that’s another quote from Philippians 4 (verses 6 and 7). I think the “thanksgiving” part is key. If our attitudes are accusatory and full of complaint, He may let us feel a lot more want until we realize how good He has been to us.

I know I say this a lot but since we often need reminders … wants are not necessarily needs. This is important because many times we think God is failing us when, in reality, we do not need the things we think we need. This is a hard lesson for a lot of people and, honestly, there are things that I have grown accustomed to and would hate to be without (especially in the technology department), but if I had to downscale, my needs would still be met.

If you are at a place where you are struggling to make ends meet, praise God for the things you do have. Ask Him to give you wisdom to know what you need to do to get through this difficult time. And thank Him for meeting your needs–both past, present, and future. I would love to pray for you if you are going through a financial crisis. Simply email sonyelise@gmail.com and explain your situation, and I will help you present your need before the Throne of your Father. He is able!

How Zealous Are You?

  • Posted on May 12, 2020 at 2:13 pm

A while back when I was reading the book of Joshua, I began to think about how he finished the work that Moses started as he was commissioned to do. I picture him full of the fire of the Spirit as he slew king after king and conquered each territory that he entered. When he decided, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), he pressed on and never looked back. When Moses became frustrated and hit the rock instead of speaking to it, he was not allowed into the Promised Land, but God knew that Joshua could get the job done. It would have been easy for Joshua to strut around and think himself a big shot for being chosen as Moses’ replacement, but we never see pride rise up in him. I expect this is because one cannot be full of themselves and full of the Spirit.

Dictionary.com defines “zeal” as “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.” Does this define your walk with the Lord? Are you running toward Him, doing everything He asks of you with great energy and enthusiasm? Or are you merely coasting, going through the motions, and getting by? For most people, it seems to be the latter. Many profess their love for God but they do not show God how much they love Him. James 2:26 tells us that “Faith without works is dead.” If you really love your Creator, everyone around you should know it.

I can relate to the psalmist when he cried, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation!” I have not lost my joy, but I would like a resurgence of enthusiasm that doesn’t wane.

As I close today’s post, I want to encourage you to keep pressing in to a closer walk with the Savior. Don’t just declare your love for Him but exhibit it as you walk by the way, as you rise up, as you lie down, as you talk to your neighbor. Let your words be gracious (Colossians 4:6), your conduct pure (1 Peter 3:2), and your countenance a reflection of Jesus. Amen.

Book Review: Enduring Trials God’s Way by Scott LaPierre

  • Posted on April 17, 2020 at 12:48 pm

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” ~James 1:2

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

These scriptures are in the Bible and yet, many times, I think we would like to convince ourselves that they don’t really mean what they say. In his book Enduring Trials God’s Way: A Biblical Recipe for Finding Joy in Suffering, Scott LaPierre uses a lot of scripture to tell us how to follow the biblical pattern for dealing with trials. Everyone has them, but what separates the Christian from the unbeliever is how we respond to them.

If you are going through a trial, I think this book will be an encouragement to you. If you know someone who is going through a difficult time, this may give you some insights as to how to encourage them.

 

Table of Contents:

1. Expect Trials
2. Did You Do Something Wrong?
3. Count Trials As Joy?!?!
4. Blessed by Persevering
5. Longing for Jesus During Trials
6. The End Intended by the Lord in Trials
7. The Trials We Endure are Supremely About Jesus

Don’t Forget the Cross

  • Posted on April 13, 2020 at 8:57 pm

The weeks leading up to Easter, and Easter weekend itself, are a reflective time for me as they are for many people. However, while we were eager to get to the Resurrection and the reminder of the life that we can now have in Jesus, I pray that we do not forget the suffering that Jesus went through so that we can have this life. Now that Easter has passed, I imagine that most people go back to life as usual. At least as usual as it can get these days. But I urge you not to do that. Keep going back to the Cross and the price Jesus paid for your freedom. It is harder to live a life of sin when the Cross is ever before us.

As you go through this week, begin each day by reflecting on anything God showed you this past month. And if you didn’t think about much, then start today. Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Confess it. Unforgiveness? Ask God to help you to forgive as you have been forgiven. Anything that is not fitting for a Christian? Repent. Jesus did not die so that we could continue in our selfishness and arrogance. He died to make us new! But we must allow Him to do so.

Maybe you have been going through the motions of going to church but there is no life in you and you are not sure you’re really saved. Ask God to save you once and for all and start serving Him. You may have to go through the motions of prayer and Bible study in the beginning but, if you truly want to get closer to the Lord, you will begin to love that time spent alone with Him until you can’t get enough of it.

Each day is a new beginning. His mercies are new every morning. Let’s not go back to our old routines. Let’s move forward in new life with Him. Start today!

Two Trees

  • Posted on April 10, 2020 at 8:53 pm

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.  ~Jeremiah 17:7-8

I love this mental picture. The person who completely trusts the Lord and hopes in Him is compared to a carefree tree planted by a river, soaking up the perfect amount of sun and water. Its leaves don’t wither and it doesn’t stop producing the fruit that it was created to produce. It’s like it’s oblivious to everything else that’s happening in the world.

I find that when I am totally trusting God, I feel irresponsible. I wonder if I really understand the brevity of a situation. But that is where God wants us. He wants His children to go about their daily tasks and trust Him to deal with the things that they cannot alter anyway.

You’ve heard it said that you can’t change anything by worry while others think that worry must work since the things they worry about never happen. Whichever way you look at it, I would rather not waste time worrying. I know that my Heavenly Father watches over me so I have no reason to fear.

In contrast stands a tree on which our Savior was crucified. This was not a tree that was full of life; the sole purpose of this tree was to bring death. In dying on a coarse, rugged tree, Jesus would give us life like the tree planted by the water. In my mind’s eye, I see the confused look on a multitude of faces as the sky turned suddenly dark in the middle of the day. There was nothing good about this day. His mother cried. His disciples were perplexed. Had they been deceived like so many others who followed a false prophet and now the last three years of their lives were wasted? I expect that thoughts like these were running through their minds but, thanks to God’s Word, we know the end of the story. It’s only Friday now, but Sunday is coming!

It’s Not God’s Fault

  • Posted on April 3, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you. ~Jeremiah 5:25

Have you ever known people who feel like everything bad happens to them, but it’s everyone else’s fault? In reality, you can look at the situation and say, “You wouldn’t be in this mess if you had made better decisions.” Although some would say that outright, those who don’t would at least think it.

It is easy to see other’s flaws while thinking I am a pretty good person and yet Scripture says that there is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)! If you are in a bad situation, it is not God’s fault, nor is it your elderly mother’s fault. Quite possibly, it is yours.

I do not want to guilt trip everyone who is going through a hard time right now. God allows us to go through trials in order to test our faith and draw us closer to Him. And sometimes things just happen because we live in a fallen world. But if you take time to listen to yourself talk and you can’t think of anything positive that has ever happened to you, you might want to seriously ask God why. Are there idols in your life that are hindering your walk with Him? Did God ask you to do something years ago and you told Him no? He may still be waiting for you to surrender.

In Jeremiah 5, Jerusalem was going through a time similar to America. People who had once known the Lord and seen His hand at work now ignored Him. Sure, they gave Him lip service, but He no longer held their hearts. He had brought them out of Egypt and given them “a land flowing with milk and honey,” but they went back to a life of sin. Because of this, God declared that He would devour them (v. 14). Wow. Doesn’t that make you shudder?

In Exodus, the people repeatedly asked Moses, “Did you bring us into the wilderness to die?” In Jeremiah, God made it clear that it wasn’t Him that was to blame for their judgement; it was themselves. I often wonder what it will take for America to turn to God. It seems like when things are going well, we feel pretty good about ourselves and what we have accomplished, but when things go bad, it’s all God’s fault. In reality, the opposite is true. God loves you immensely. I expect that He has done a lot to try to get your attention. Maybe the pit that you have fallen into is a large part of that. If you are at the end of your rope and you don’t think you can sink any further, I exhort you to cry out to God. Read the Prophets. See how merciful the Father is and yet remember that He is also a God of judgment. Don’t let sin become a barrier to your finding true relationship with a loving God.

Encourage the Weary

  • Posted on March 24, 2020 at 8:41 pm

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.  ~Isaiah 50:4a

Wouldn’t you like to have the right words to say to everyone who is downtrodden? I expect that the number of those who need a word of encouragement is massive right now. Thankfully, for those who know the Lord, we can remind each other that He will not abandon us. He is going to take care of us no matter how long this quarantine lasts. Without the Lord, I don’t know how I would get through these times.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.  ~Proverbs 25:11

I was watching a live video feed this evening, and a gentleman mentioned that he hopes people are learning things right now such as the importance of washing hands, being clean, not going out when you’re sick, etc. I also hope that people learn the importance of being pleasant, smiling, not neglecting to share a kind word when the opportunity arises. When people are struggling to see even a glimmer of hope, I hope they find a Christian who is willing to listen and to pray with them. We want to receive these things; we need to be willing to give them.

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.  ~Psalm 141:3

I once knew an older man who declared, “When you get to be my age, you can say anything.” That may be true but I would counter and say that, no matter how old or young you are, courtesy and kindness are still important. I like the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is something I am praying about for myself this year, and I encourage you to as well.

I doubt there is a person on earth who doesn’t need to walk more closely with the Spirit. Those who are forced to slow down from the typical busyness of life should use this time to seek His face and “learn of [Him]” (Matthew 11:29). Let’s not take a day or a moment for granted. We are here for such a time as this, and this time may be all about growing in light and encouragement to those around us. Take some time to encourage someone today.

Don’t Be Afraid

  • Posted on March 19, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Don’t be afraid. Easy to say but not always easy to adhere to. How can one not be afraid when one’s livelihood is at stake? When we’re told not to leave our houses except in an emergency, and we don’t know how long this is going to last? I understand how hard it is to live with uncertainty, but I have some ideas that I think will help.

1. Turn off the TV. There is a reason that I don’t watch the news. People give me a hard time sometimes, but when I obsess over what is happening in the world or even in my county, it can cause me to be afraid to leave my house. I don’t need negativity controlling my life, and you don’t either. The fact is that it is hard to discern what is true and what isn’t. Is this a 2-week quarantine, or will we be here a year from now? Only God really knows, and hearing others’ predictions can be quite depressing. So turn off the TV, get on your knees, and ask God to give you His peace that passes all understanding. He can alert you to anything you need to know. Everything else is a waste of your time anyway.

2. Sing. Jake Hess sang, “How many times have you seen someone fighting while they were singing a song?” I would ask the same question about worry. Although I suppose it is possible, I don’t think anxiety can last long if you are praising your Savior and acknowledging the One who holds the keys to life and death, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty. Singing can’t hurt anyway, so you may as well try it.

3. Pray. “Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Tell the Lord how you feel. Ask Him to remove your fear and help you to focus on Him. Tell Him that you are trusting Him to get you through this time. And then praise Him for His love. He is so worthy!

4. Study the Word. You know how you never seem to have time for God’s Word because of all the activities you are a part of? Now is a good time to do some much-needed catch up. Don’t just read the Bible; study it. Get to know the Father. As you become more acquainted with Him, you will begin to understand how much He loves you which should give you the grace you need to trust Him more.

5. Don’t Isolate. I know the government is greatly limiting gatherings in many states but, in today’s society, there is no reason that you cannot connect with others. I am not a phone person so most of my interaction comes through Facebook, email, and texts, but I make sure to connect with people on an almost daily basis. Maybe it’s to see how they are doing. Sometimes I’m discouraged and needing prayer. This is what the Body of Christ is for–to be there for each other. If you are a phone person, call someone. Or Skype. The options are endless. Just please stay connected.

My future is uncertain too, but I am clinging to God’s promise that He will provide my needs. If He cares for the sparrow, just think about how much more He cares for us. This doesn’t mean that we will not go through hard things, but we can say with Fanny Crosby, “For I know whate’er befalls me, Jesus doeth all things well” (emphasis mine).

In closing, I will quote the chorus of another song I’m singing a lot lately.

Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

My Thoughts on the Coronavirus

  • Posted on March 13, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ~John 14:27

By now, I think everyone has heard of the Coronavirus. As I listen to conversations and read what people are saying, there seems to be two modes. Some are fearful and afraid to leave their homes while others think there is nothing to it. Young people especially think it’s a lot of hype as they are more disappointed about their group activities getting cancelled than they are about the fact that people are dying because of this outbreak. I feel like the answer lies in between the two.

We cannot say that this is no big deal because, to those who are being affected by it, it is. Sure, people die of the flu all the time and never make the news, but I think the concern with this virus is how long one can be infected and how easily it can be contracted.  Therefore, I would be slow to minimalize it. That said, fear is not the answer either. We cannot stop living just because we might get a virus. My advice is to use wisdom and be led by the Spirit. For myself, I plan to avoid public transportation for the time being, but I will still run errands, go on outings with my sisters, etc. If my brother or sister-in-law are scheduled to speak at a conference and we are still healthy, we will be there.

I pray that those who know the Lord will be a beacon of hope during this time. I can’t imagine the fear that must be going on inside of those who do not know where they will spend eternity. Or maybe they do know, and that’s why they are so scared. Your smile may be what will cause them to ask why you are so happy and give you a chance to share about the love of Jesus.

I don’t know what God is doing right now, but I do know that, amidst the uncertainty of the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years, God is still on the throne. He is watching.  It’s time for the Church to draw near to Him like never before, to turn from their wicked ways, and to seek His face (2 Chronicles 7:14). Even when things are going well, we should live each day as if it were our last, but what better time to start than during a time when we are faced with the reality that it really might be.

I am praying for those who are affected by this virus in some way. I pray for God’s covering on His people all over the world. I pray that those who don’t know the Savior will find Him and turn to Him before it’s too late. And I pray that God will pour out His peace on those who are struggling to find that serene place. May we all be faithful to keep trusting and serving Him. God bless you all!

 

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Top