Sunday, June 28, 2009

Get Ready for the Future-2

A friend of my daughter lost her well paying job several months ago. Two weeks later she found out she had cancer. A single mom with a 12-year old, she’s facing unbelievable trials. The treatment sickens her for two weeks out of the month, therefore she can’t hold down a regular job. She shared with my daughter that the hardest thing is when she needs to ask her daughter which meal she wants to skip that day so their food will last. Her sister, church and friends are helping her.

But the odds are heavy against her. Let me tell you when I first saw her about a month ago, she was on standing on stage with my daughter at their church singing and honoring God with the praise worship team. How is that possible? Doesn’t she have every right to be bitter and angry about her circumstances?

Strength to Stand

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the word.... I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” 1 Peter 5:8, 9, 12

When Peter wrote those verses to his fellow Christians, they thought of the mangy, starving lions and the filthy arenas where believers were killed and tortured. So comparing the devil to a loin was real to them, not like ones we might think of behind bars in the zoo, or in Africa.

What mangy, filthy animal has Satan thrown in your path to disrupt your life? Adversaries of depression, bitterness, anger, isolation, financial hardship, defeat from circumstances or physical illness? Be alert, and recognize those traps. Then chose to stand and fight against our natural inclination to give in to them. God will help. “The LORD is my strength and my shield.” Psalm 28:7a

You will not be alone. We are not alone. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” Hebrew 13:5-6

When we stand on our faith with God as our strength and helper, then we can sing like my daughter’s friend, “The LORD is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalm 28:7

Standing up again and will sing.

Photo: USFWS

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Get Ready for the Future

Times are wild and crazy with our economy, country, and world. Some of this hits my family directly. The next few posts I would like to share what the Lord is teaching me in hopes that it will help some of you, too. The first in this series is:

Strength in the Strain

“You too be patient: strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:8

That sounds great. I know and believe our Lord’s return is coming in His time, but it’s the “strengthen your hearts” that stopped me. How do I do that? I, many times, pump myself up with good feelings, only to find them deflated in no time.

The physical and spiritual heart function in the same way. We all know that to maintain a healthy physical heart we “should” exercise, eat well, and have fellowship/love with others. The heart doesn’t get strong by just thinking about doing those things or even knowing those things. It takes action. Ditto with the spiritual heart.

First, let me tell you right now, exercising is a strain and major pain. But without any stress, muscles, heart and all that other stuff would turn into mush. The spiritual heart alike cannot grow strong without experiencing the pressures that come with life. Why? If all remained hunky-dorey it would never grow in the strength that God makes available. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14. So God tells us again to wait (yuck) and courage will come. Well, it’s certainly not coming from me, so it has to come from God. “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” Ephesians 3:16 Yes, it comes from Him.

Now second, eating, which I love to do and it is one of my favorite pastimes, can heal or kill your heart depending on your intake. The same is true of the spiritual heart. “My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word.” Psalm 119:28 This one is easy; meditate, read and hear the word of God in order to feed the heart and soul. His words are alive and can quicken the heart. For my heart to continue to be healthy, this must be its daily diet.

Third, fellowship with family, friends and outside help if necessary can give the extra support to keep me in alerted to my physical heart. For the spiritual heart it’s necessary to open up and let others pray, support and succor in time of strain, then sweet fellowship will follow. And of course the Father, “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

If the strain is tearing you up…complete steps 1-3.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Consider it all Joy?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials," now hold on right there. Is James crazy? But he goes on. "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have it's perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-3

Okay that sounds fine, endurance, perfect and complete and no needs. Then the next verse says, "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." 1:4. Does this sound contradictory to you? Didn't James just say we wouldn't need anything and be perfect? Can't we just stop at the end of verse 3 and stay at the "lacking in nothing" part? Why would James stick this verse right after verse 3?

I believe it's all found in verse 12, "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved he will recieve the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." This crown has been called the "lover's crown." I want one of those to present to my Savior.

My family is encountering trials right now. All similar to what many of you may be going through. It's in the handling of them that determines our character, according to James. Asking God's wisdom is important, yet it's His answer that might make us squirm. Will I continue to persevere no matter what? May God grant wisdom and strength to do so.

Fanny Crosby wrote these words as a child of eight:

O what a happy soul am I
Although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot and I won't.

Never say, "bring on the trials, 'cause I want to be strong", because you may not be. But resolve to kneel before the throne when they do come and let God's strength help you through.

Determined to Endure