Reflection

Praise Him Anyway

  • Posted on February 17, 2018 at 6:13 pm

The other day, my body was tired. I had things I needed to do but I decided that I would be furthest ahead to take the day off so I could be up on the days when I needed to be. I don’t like unproductive days but I am learning to rest in the things that I can’t control.

As I sat in my recliner and listened to a CD, I rejoiced in the fact that I do not have to be up to praise the Lord. Even when my body is weak, my soul, mind, and spirit can still worship. What a blessing!

When life does not give us what we want, we have a choice: We can grow bitter and hard to be around, or we can rejoice, knowing that God works all things together for good to those who love Him. I find that the trial does not seem so hard when I turn it into praise. This is something I have had to learn. The flesh desires to complain and receive sympathy for what we are going through, but the Word tells us to rejoice in everything. With the Holy Spirit’s help, you can do just that.

I should clarify that there is a difference between complaining and telling someone honestly how you are doing. I don’t ascribe to the belief that Christians should never admit when they are sick or having a rough day. We all struggle at times, but we should not live in that struggle. We should not forget that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Be honest, but let your purpose be so that your friends can intercede for you and be ready to give God the glory when He answers your prayers. Then you will be able to encourage others with the encouragement that you have received. We serve such a faithful God. No matter what you are going through, praise Him anyway.

God Can Speak through the Old Testament

  • Posted on February 14, 2018 at 7:43 pm

There are people who believe that most, if not all, of what God spoke in the Old Testament was for that particular people group and not for all people at all times. Although there were times that God gave a specific command to a specific person for that season, I believe that everything is in Scripture for a reason and that there are things that we can learn from it and even expect the same results from an unchanging God.

Right now, I am reading through Ezekiel. What jumps out at me is God telling Ezekiel, “Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. … If you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (vv. 17, 19). Although this is a specific word to Ezekiel, I think I can safely say that it applies to all of us. If you know someone who is living in sin and you do not warn them of judgment to come, you will be held responsible. You cannot control the outcome but you need to at least sound the warning.

When you read the Bible, do not automatically discredit things as cultural or just for the people in that day. Take time to pray over each portion of Scripture and ask God what He desires to speak to you. You may start noticing how much you can apply to your life today.

Deliverance Will Come

  • Posted on January 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from the workers of iniquity,
And save me from bloodthirsty men          (Psalms 59:1-2).

I was struck last night by how much faith and trust David had in God. Although he was a man of war, David did not use his weapons to extract vengeance on his enemies. Instead, he cried out to God, knowing that God would move on his behalf. There were times he got discouraged and thought God had forsaken him but, more often than not, he praised God for His greatness and trusted Him to answer his petitions.

I doubt anyone reading this has been relentlessly pursued by someone trying to kill them, but I wonder how many have given those who have wronged them over to the Lord, trusting Him to deal with the situation. Maybe you wanted instant payment for that wrong, so you have taken it upon yourself to get it.

I think of the widow in Luke 18 who petitioned a judge for justice. In spite of being persistently turned down, she continued to ask day and night until he finally relented. Verse 7 says, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?”

I think many times our prayers aren’t answered because we give up too quickly. If the answer doesn’t come when we want it, we look for other ways to get what we want instead of waiting for Him to provide the perfect solution.

If you are asking deliverance of the Lord, whether it’s justice for wrong done to you, financial provision, healing, or anything else, I encourage you not to give up. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking, willing to do whatever He asks of you. He hears your cry, but the answer will only come in His time. Be patient and trust in Him.

Keep Moving Toward God

  • Posted on January 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Notice that all those who have made a deep impression on the world, and have shown most brightly, have been men who lived in a dark day.

These words from D.L. Moody jumped out as me as I began my devotions the other morning. He went on to give Biblical examples of people who made a difference in the midst of trying times.

I don’t know about you, but I look at the world around me, and it feels hopeless. How did John Wesley and George Whitefield get so many to stand and listen to them preach for hours? I’ve heard stories about old-time preachers whose mere presence would move people to repentance. That doesn’t seem to happen today.

I ponder this a lot, and I still have more questions than answers, but one thing that occurs to me is that we live in more of an entertainment age today. I expect that there are few Christian leaders who spend hours in God’s presence, who will turn off the television to study their Bible and strive to obey it. Maybe the coldness is not because of more sin in the world; maybe it is due to more lukewarmness in the Church.

First Peter 4:17 tells us that judgment must begin in the house of God. We should be on our face every day, asking God to show us the things that displease Him and give us the strength to turn from those things. When you begin to see the world as people who are on their way to Hell, it should sober you. But you can’t help others find their way to God if you don’t know the way yourself.

For some, you may be so far from God that it will seem impossible to get back to where you need to be. Start with one area at a time if need be. As long as you are moving toward Him, you will find Him.

*Quote above taken from the devotional, They Walked With God, published by Moody Publishers. Copyright 1993.

Give God Your All

  • Posted on January 3, 2018 at 9:21 pm

This past year,  I have been burdened about the state of Christian marriages. I know of several couples that have split up recently, and it breaks my heart. This morning, as I read Jeremiah 3, I was reminded that worse than being unfaithful to your spouse is being unfaithful to your God. You cannot love the world and love God. One or the other will have your allegiance.

Thankfully, God is still willing to forgive those who bow before Him in contrition. He longs to be in relationship with you. And with God, you do not need to part at death. Your life with Him can be eternal.

I hope you will evaluate your goals and dreams, your activities and passions. Are you walking with the Lord, or are you living for yourself? Is pleasing Him important to you, or are you more concerned about pleasing people?

Happy New Year 2018!

  • Posted on January 2, 2018 at 7:17 pm

Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope you all had a blessed weekend. I have been doing a lot of praying, and I believe my verse for this year is going to be Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” I’m still learning what it means to do justly, but I desire to love mercy and to walk humbly. I am convinced that, if everyone walked this way, the world would be a perfect place.

Besides studying to grow spiritually, I will also be working on my physical health. I am doing much better than I was a year ago, but I desire to keep making progress so that the setbacks are minimal.

One of my brother’s frequent hashtags is #ReadOldDeadGuys. A couple weeks ago, I found a devotional featuring excerpts from such old dead guys. I have already started it and am excited to be able to glean from their walk and wisdom. For those of us who are relatively young, time will tell what kind of a legacy we will leave. Those who have stood the test of time, who were faithful to God and family, who didn’t give the lusts of the world a second look–they are the ones that I want to learn from.

Have a blessed year continuing to grow in the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father.

What is a Clean Heart?

  • Posted on December 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

I used to think of “a clean heart” as a moral one, but I’ve come to realize that there is more to this than might initially be seen. David wrote the above verse after his adultery with Bathsheba but I think there are other ways to apply it to our lives today.

A clean heart can definitely start with seeing those around us as people instead of sex objects, but what about those that you cannot stand? A clean heart toward them might mean ridding yourself of hatred and bitterness or anything else that is clouding your heart. I talked about forgiveness yesterday, so I won’t belabor the point. I will, however, encourage you to keep digging. Once you have dealt with the bitterness and hatred that have started to spring up, watch for anger, envy, lust, and whatever else is creating a barrier between you and the Father. Habits are hard to break but these need to go.

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, and self-control. These are the things that will clear out the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. If these do not define you, I encourage you to actively seek these things. You will never be truly happy until you do.

Thoughts on Forgiveness

  • Posted on December 27, 2017 at 11:11 pm

I have been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately: how important it is, how difficult it can be, and what it looks like. In spite of popular opinion, forgiveness is not always acting as if there is not a problem. It isn’t necessarily reinstating relationship with those who have hurt you. Forgiveness definitely can be manifest in these ways, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, if someone molests your child, you may not allow the offender back into your home or social gatherings, but you will need to make sure that you do not allow bitterness and hatred to fill your heart.

If you have lived for any length of time, no doubt someone has hurt you. It may have been something major like I mentioned above, or it may have been a much lighter infraction but one that hurt just the same. I believe that, in each situation, the key is to be led by the Spirit. There are people that Scripture tells us to stay away from. But there are also times that we need to swallow our pride (which no doubt was hurt) and respond in the love of Jesus despite our heartache. I have done both and they have been equally hard but God’s grace accompanies a heart that is seeking Him and striving to do the right thing.

Scripture tells us that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48) and that he who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). Too often, I forget just how much I have been forgiven … but then I read God’s Word, and I see how much I need His forgiveness. How then can I not forgive those who sin against me?

When someone hurts you, I encourage you to do the following:

1) Take time to evaluate the situation. Was the offense intentional or unintentional? Does he or she know that you are hurt by their action?

2) Pray for the person. If the offender wanted to hurt you, pray that God will change his or her heart and bring conviction. If he or she is unaware of the offense, ask God to show you how to graciously point the error out.

3) Read God’s Word. Read verses on forgiveness and ask God to help you to see just how much you have been forgiven–by God and others.

4) Ask for wisdom. Before you act, make sure you know what God desires you to do in the situation, not what your flesh would like to do. Can the relationship continue? To what degree? Relationships are important. Many times, God uses people to help us to grow. There are relationships, however, that hinder that growth and distract us from doing what God has called us to do. These are the ones that we need to distance from no matter how difficult it is to do so.

The Christian life is not always easy but it is rewarding. This next little while, I plan to challenge you, as God is challenging me, to do the hard things that become easier the closer we walk with Him.

Suicide: Never the Answer

  • Posted on July 2, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Lately, I have been thinking of someone that I used to pray for quite regularly. Last year, he decided to end his life, making prayer no longer necessary. This was not a close friend so I did not feel the loss as keenly as some and yet it still leaves a void, as I wish I could send another email to see how he is doing.

Quite a few years ago, one of my cousins committed suicide. Again, we weren’t close, but it made me wonder what it is that causes such hopelessness that one can lose sight of friends and family and do such a permanent thing.

I expect that just about everyone has grieved someone who hit that place of despair. People don’t like pain. They don’t like problems. Many times, taking their own life seems like an easy way out, but it always leaves behind people who now have a part of their heart missing because of a senseless act.

I thank God that I have never been seriously suicidal. When I begin to feel really low, I find a friend to reach out to, who I know will tell me how good God is and how much they love me. That does so much to lift me out of a dark valley.

I have several friends who deal with depression and I’ve been there myself, but I just want to encourage you, my readers. The things we go through on this earth really are light and temporary trials. They may not seem like it at the time, but this too shall pass. No matter how much you are suffering now, you will cause much more pain by ending your life too soon. You may think that no one loves you but that is a lie from the enemy who likes nothing better than to kill, steal, and destroy. Fight against those thoughts.

If you are reaching the point of despair, call a trusted friend, read Bible verses that remind you of God’s love and His presence, play Christian music. Do not play depressing secular music during this time. God placed you here for a reason. Focus on Him and on others instead of yourself and your circumstances. Don’t make others grieve for a lifetime because you couldn’t hold on just a little longer.

Thinking Out Loud 6/30/17

  • Posted on June 30, 2017 at 9:37 pm

I am having a setback with my health right now which can be very discouraging but I am noticing a difference this time. God is answering my prayer to draw me closer to Himself. I still take breaks to read or watch a movie, but it is not as challenging to spend time in His presence as it has been at times. I find myself longing for it, embracing it, and actually finding peace in it, which I cannot say is always the case.

I become overwhelmed when I think of everything I have to do in a short amount of time and, yet, my God never fails. He is working even when I cannot, and I praise Him for that.

Although I do not like being down, there are benefits. For one thing, I actually notice when I’m having a good day. I also know that, when I have energy, it’s easy to spend that on everything except for the important things. When I slow down is when I take time to think and pray and evaluate what I’m doing and what God desires me to do. My goal is to live this way all of the time.

I think the key is to be content in all seasons. When I’m well, I should praise God because He has a work for me to do. When I’m down, I should praise Him because He has something He desires to speak to me. When I’m in between, I have even more to praise Him for as I get the best of both worlds.

I desire to be still and know that He is God. Not always easy, but that is where peace and contentment reside. In spite of what I may believe, my worth is not based on how much I am accomplishing. God can perform His work with or without me. My job is to seek Him, know what He wants from me, and then do it. I can truly praise Him in all circumstances because I trust my Father to do what is best for me.

Tomorrow may be rough, and I may wonder again what my place and purpose is but I continue to pray, Lord, draw me nearer. Let me feel Your presence. Don’t let go of my hand even when I lose sight of You. Keep taking me back to Your Word and Your Truth. Help me to be faithful.

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