Suffering Well Part 1

There is so much pain in my world. It seems most everyone I know is suffering in some way these days. My friends and I have parents and other loved ones who are ill or dying and it causes them emotional pain as they watch these people who mean so much to them suffer physically. Children suffer through difficult years, spouses suffer emotional turmoil, financially many people are suffering due to hard economic times. How can we minister to those who are suffering? While it is not necessary for us to experience all kinds of suffering to minister to one another, God in His providence allows us to endure trials of many kinds so we can do just that. in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul says this: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. for just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same...

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Beyond Feelings

Foundational to any desire to change habits is the ability to preach truth to yourself and get beyond the emotional strata. My rant of the day encompasses how many people (especially women) live by their feelings rather than living by what they know to be true and right. We eliminate our time with the Lord because we don’t feel like it right now, or we aren’t finding something that trips that emotional trigger so we decide that putting all that effort into reading and studying is not for us at this point in time. After all, who wants to do all that work and not feel any better at the end of it? I find it very easy to decide not to go to the gym some days because I don’t feel like it. I rationalize that I am moving boxes and running up and down steps more so that should make up for it, right? There are a million more examples I could give you for how we abandon thoughts for feelings. How much like petulant children we are! Whatever it is doesn’t meet our need of the moment so we abandon it and search for something to make us feel better, loved, needed, wanted, good and on it goes. I am so thankful Jesus did not have such an attitude about His life! I often ask my...

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Imitate Me?

Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Can you say that? I know that I shudder when I think of saying that to people. I want to… I want to be able to say that. I see I am so far from who Paul was at the time he wrote these words. I pray that I won’t have to wait until I am old and grizzled before I finally put off enough of my flesh to be able to encourage people to imitate me as I imitate Christ. What gets in my way? It is those sinful desires again…my heart lusting after forbidden fruit that is as temporary as a ice cube on an August afternoon. It gives me some pleasure, maybe even some relief but all too soon it is gone and I am more miserable than I was before I had it, because I want more. My flesh is never ever going to be satisfied and why I don’t get that on a permanent basis I don’t know! How can I encourage you to imitate me when I see the crud that is displayed in my life and is a revelation of what it is in my heart? When I hear the words coming from my mouth that are not edifying, or loving, or patient or kind? When I know my temper flares with impatience and...

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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

As I sit and ponder what to say today, I have several thoughts running through my mind about things I want to get across before I am ever finished on this blog. I think quite a bit about the many distractions we are faced with each day. Our expectations of ourselves are so unrealistic! I include myself in this category. We are subjected to all of the world’s temptations and offerings constantly through television, radio, magazines and the internet; and yet we think our 15 minutes with God in devotion form each morning is going to be enough to help us to fight against the onslaught of trash dumped on us all day long. What fools we are. If you find yourself struggling with worldliness, fleshly desires and temptations then do a little check up on your heart. What is your first love? Who is your first love? What are you most passionate about in your daily life? Is it your music or books? Is it your children or your job? Your favorite sports team or activity? Is it your Christian service? Even good things when they replace our love for Him can become bad things. Honestly, there can be only one main thing, and it has to be Jesus. When we push Him out in favor of even the best of human activities we are being diverted and...

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“God Is Displeased With Me”

Yesterday I finished up the blog by focusing on those important truths that transform our lives at salvation. I said, “In the instant that the salvation that Christ bought for me by His blood was completed I was instantly brought into the Light, adopted, redeemed, sanctified, justified, and guaranteed that I will be one day glorified.” I was speaking truth against the poor theology that says “God is displeased with me.” It is so important that you grasp that God’s pleasure rests upon you constantly because of your union with Christ. Since Christ is the only reason for God’s pleasure resting upon you in the first place, what do you think you can add to gain more of God’s pleasure than what He has already done? Is Christ sufficient? If your works were not enough to gain you favor with God before, why do you think they will gain you favor with Him now? Logic follows that since God is pleased with me only because of Christ, what (if anything) can I do to make Him displeased with me? I maintain that while there are plenty of things I do that God is displeased with, He is no longer ever displeased with me. Does this mean that God condones my sin? No. Does it mean that sin doesn’t matter to God? NO! Does believing this mean I can sin...

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He Is More Than Enough!

Last time we met here together I was telling you about why Jesus is enough and how we can make real application to life of this truth. Allow me to draw you a word picture; all that Christ has done for us, and all that we are in Christ is to be continually refocused and returned back to God through obedience, serving others, forbearance, overlooking hurtful offenses and so on. All these responses are actually evidence of the love of Christ that wells up within us like a geyser is passionately lived out for His glory and overflows onto others in our lives. Often those people who benefit from the reflection of our love for Jesus Christ are people who we have conflict with, such as spouses with whom we have discord, children who are ungrateful, co-workers and employers who take advantage of us. Our view of their response to our graciousness changes radically when our motive for doing these things changes. You see, if I am serving others for the glory of God then does it matter if I am appreciated? If I am obeying and submitting to a harsh authority because of Christ, and because it pleases Him then is it going to be bearable? I maintain that when my goal for all I do in life is to glorify God then nothing else matters. God receives...

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He Is Enough!

What does your theology tell you about who you are? Sadly, I find many people are very fearful of God and live in a perpetual state of self-condemnation. I believe it is this way for a variety of reasons; few churches teach the fundamentals of our Christian faith anymore. When words like justification, sanctification, redemption, sanctification, and propitiation are not used or taught, and there is little to no teaching on the sovereignty of God. Instead of learning these crucial doctrines in our Bible studies and Sunday education classes, we are fed weak material that is supposed to “fill our love cup” or meet our latest felt needs. Consequently, many people have no real idea of what has been done for us and who we now are in Christ. I see women (and men) from these kinds of churches wandering through life defeated, discouraged, in despair and unable to live in the victory they have in Christ. A few years ago I began to learn many things about God’s grace. Thanks to a few wonderful books like The Grace Awakening (Chuck Swindol) and Transforming Grace (Jerry Bridges) God began to open my eyes to the truth of the believers position in Jesus Christ, the certainty of our eternal destiny, and the permanent and total salvation in Christ. These truths were not new to me; I had learned them throughout...

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Where is God In All of This?

(From time to time I come across things I have written in other places that I think will benefit you, the reader. Some of them are years old and others not so old. I post them here to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and to give you hope. Wherever you are in life today there is a “tomorrow” and God is gracious…He will sustain you.) From my journals…. Where is God in all of this? He is right here, walking with me through the fire and the storm and the weariness and the sorrow and the anger and the everything else. In the midst of uncomfortable or hard circumstances Satan wants me to curse God and blame Him. He wants me to give up and say this is not worth it. I will not. God is all I have. I need Him, and nothing in this world will make me do that because He is keeping me! He is keeping my faith, He is keeping me close to Him, and He will never let me go. I am weary and nearly numb. I could just let myself go and sit and sorrow without hope, but I have much to do and to do wallow is not glorifying to God. I want to glorify Him spite of it all. I need your help Lord to do that. I am so...

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Seeing My Heart

I still find myself struggling with wants and desires for “things.” Is that laying up for myself treasures on earth, or is it being responsible for the things we already have? I want to live to serve Him. I know this means I will never be wealthy, I will not have “extra” nor will I ever have security in money. I desire that my thoughts be centered on accumulating valuable things in heaven instead of here on earth. Are my eyes on heaven, and am I measuring my behavior by what effect it will have in heaven? I cannot lay up treasures both on earth and in heaven; no one can serve 2 masters… It seems like I am often mastered by the lack of money more than anything! I have for a long time now desired to be relieved of the complexity of life dominated by “stuff.” It is so easy to slide back into that mindset! I pray God will help me to keep my heart fixed on Him. This is where God is so good. My faithful Father is never slow or failing to remind me that overcoming the flesh and denying my sinful desires comes only from my union with Him. Positionally this is never in question; I am always united with Him. Practically, it this union demands that I tend to my relationship constantly!...

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A Beggar at the Table

I have received several great insights from the Lord. 1) While I will receive a new and glorified body in heaven, one that will be perfect, my Savior will for all eternity bear the scars of my punishment upon His body. Forever will be the nail marks in His hands and feet and forever will be the mark of the spear in His side. So that when I am accused before the throne of the Almighty One, for the sin I continue to commit, Jesus can show the scars and say, “see, I have paid for that with these.” Oh the thought of my careless sins grieves me at this moment. That I would take so for granted the wounds He bears on my behalf. 2) I am far, far, far to self-reliant. I am far too independent. I too much want to go my own way in my own wisdom- such as it is. I am prideful. I do not confess my need of Him as I ought to. I go tra la la la la-ing my way through my days, rarely consulting Him about my plans. Places of adversity- they cause me to cling desperately to Him like He prevents me from falling off the cliff. And then when I am on top of the mountain again, seemingly out of danger, I brush my knees off, wipe...

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