Sunday, January 28, 2018

Psalm 34--Trials and Suffering

Psalm 34
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

        This blog is a little different in that I'm not going to share my trials but rather give you a guide towards handling your own trials with a Biblical perspective.  I hope you see past your suffering and onto a greater purpose in your trial of's not meaningless!                                                                       

“It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

I Peter 5:10-11  - "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

From, "When trouble strikes, we sometimes forget our knowledge of God, too. We struggle to recall past answers to prayer, specific guidance provided by the Holy Spirit, and lessons learned in previous crises. Only the present seems real. Our minds spin with future implications, and our troubled emotions inhibit clear thinking.  In our own strength, we lack sufficient resources and abilities to meet life's challenges. So God provides what we need. Our suffering is never a surprise to the Lord. He knows everything we are going through. More than that, He’s orchestrating our circumstances for His glory and our benefit, according to His good will."

Psalms 34  -  Three Points that Comfort Us in a Trial of Suffering

1.        God is always near (vs. 7, 15, 18). Drawing near to God is the first step in handling trials.
2.        God always hears (vs. 4, 6, 15, 17).  God wants to hear from us, even in our  despair.
3.        God always delivers (vs. 4, 6, 7, 17, 18, 19, 20).  God delivers us from fear, shame, and trials.  He does not  always  do it our way, but He does guide us towards the right path.

Nine Points of Trials and Suffering: [by Lisa Jones]

1.    Pain of suffering pierces every heart (James 1:2)  We all face trials, no one is immune.

2.   God’s timing and our timing are very different.  We are not in control.  God says, ‘stop, you are not in control, I am, so stop fighting and enjoy the ride.’  We don’t know how long our trials and suffering will last, we just have to take it ‘one day at a time’; and leave it to God.

3.   Suffering is an issue of faith and obedience.  Hebrews 5:8 says we are to learn by suffering.  II Cor.  says  “walk not by sight, but by faith”.  Life is not to be lived by feelings.  We start by faith, live in faith, and end in faith.  “I have no purpose, why go on?” starts a downward spiral of feelings.  If we trust ourselves, our souls will atrophy.  Remember that no trial gets to us without going through Christ first, so there is always purpose in our suffering.

4.   We will always try to understand, but no one will ever grasp all of what God is doing (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Our weakness is sometimes created by suffering, and it may be the very weakness that saves our life.  Trust in God!

5.   Trouble was never meant to be faced alone.  Psalms 1:1-3 and 6, says 'wicked' means to live by one’s own understanding.  Satan wants us to either go to the “wrong” people, or isolate ourselves.

6.   Humility and Integrity are non-negotiable in the midst of trials.  Let God be God and trust Him!  (am I teachable or do I isolate myself or become defensive?)

7.   Forgive those who harm you.  Forgiveness is a command, not an option.  We  must forgive!  Not forgiving causes a burden of bitterness and suffering on others, and ourselves.

8.   God wants to create “Holy Scars”.  God can heal the scars on our hearts.  God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.

9.    It is all about God and glorifying Him.  Psalms 119:67, 71, and 75.  Job 42:1-6 . . .but now I see You (God).  Adversity is God’s university.  Declare who God is.  Don’t talk about God, talk with God.  God has a purpose in everything.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Blessing of Encouragement

   Romans 15:5-6  "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

         We all face trials in this journey called life.  We were not called or ever meant to suffer through it alone.  We  are commanded to 'love one another' and that includes encouragement.  When we are in the midst of a trial, Satan looks for a foothold to bring upon us depression, doubts, fear and blame.  God, on the other side, wants to use our trials to build our character, faith and dependence on Him.  We can each use our own personal experiences to help build each other up from falling into those tempting low points.

          I have been blessed recently by a world-wide support group of family and friends, near and far through my kidney stone trial.  Encouragement comes in many forms and the variety has blessed my heart, mind and soul.  The prayer support has been phenomenal and if a prayer for me opens a conversation between someone and God, then it reassures my belief in that there's purpose in the pain.  To God be the Glory!  Encouragement came in a jar filled with notes and verses for each day to remind me that I wasn't alone.  Encouragement came through visits, not just for me but my parents too.  Encouragement came through messages by both snail mail, phone calls and social media.  I was not only encouraged spiritually, but in humanity.   God is alive and working in the lives and hearts of others, as well as my own.
          Another great encouragement to me was my friend, Lisa Jones, sharing her journal study notes on suffering and trials with me.  She has graciously allowed me to share this with you here on my blog...

 The Bible  Says This About Suffering

1.       Suffering silences Satan (Job 1-2)
2.       Suffering gives God an opportunity to be glorified (John 11:4)
3.       Suffering makes us more like Christ (Phil. 3:10, Heb. 2:10)
4.       Suffering makes us appreciative (Romans 8:28)
5.       Suffering teaches us to depend on God (Ex. 14:13-14, Isa. 40: 28-31)
6.       Suffering enables us to exercise our faith (Job 23:10, Romans 8:24-25)
7.       Suffering teaches us patience (Romans 5:3, James 1:2-4)
8.       Suffering makes us sympathetic (II Cor. 1:3-6)
9.       Suffering makes and keeps us humble (II Cor. 12:7-10)
10.   Suffering brings rewards (II Tim. 2:12, I Peter 4: 12-13)

 Suffering People in the Bible

1.       Job (Job 1-42) Job had greater knowledge of God and understanding of self.

2.       Miriam (Exodus 15:20-21; Numbers 12:26:59)  Got leprosy from God as a chastisement for rebellion.  She repented and was healed and restored.  She learned that God  sometimes uses suffering to chasten His disobedient children.

3.      Ezekiel’s wife (Ezekiel 24: 15-27) She was the wife of a major prophet. She had an illness that resulted in death.  Source from God to illustrate God’s dealings with the nation of Israel.  The result was that God was glorified, and that God sometimes uses suffering and even death to accomplish His purpose.

4.       Mephibasheth (II Samuel 4:4; 9:1-13)  Young grandson of King Saul, he was crippled through a fall.  Source and reason not given.  It resulted in a lifetime of affliction with no cure.  The lesson is that God doesn’t always tell us the reason for our suffering.

5.        Paul (II Cor. 12:1-10) A great apostle to the gentiles who had a “thorn in the flesh”.  Implied that it was a gift from God.  The reason was to keep Paul from exalting himself because of his unique spiritual experiences.  It became a blessing because it increased his dependence on the Lord.  The lesson is that God doesn't always bring temporary healing, even to the most devoted children.

May our trials help us to be more compassionate with others, more aware of God's presence and work in our lives, and develop a greater dependence on God than ourselves,

Sunday, January 14, 2018

God's Undeniable Sovereignty

        Welcome back, blog readers!!  What a journey and struggle it has been to end 2017 and bring in the new year , 2018.  Someone asked me, "Do you any life changing thoughts or moments to share from your kidney stone trial?"  Yes, and that's what I would like to blog about today.
         We often acknowledge that 'God is in control' of things in the big picture, but do you believe He controls the details as well?  Yes, He makes the sun rise and set, the tides flow to and fro, and has predetermined the end of each of our days.  But, does He orchestrate the details of our lives?  The answer is a profound, thankful YES!  Romans 8:28  "And we know that in all things God workfor the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
          My entire kidney stone experience was filled with I would call "God Highlights" [GH], where I could see God controlling details for my benefit and peace of mind.  I just want to share these moments where I didn't even know anything needed changed, fixed or reassured.  I began this saga with a doctor with 20+ years experience.  His plan involved a 3 week ordeal of hospital/home, back n forth stays.  Probably due to my numerous questions and his rushed bedside manner, he handed me off to a new young, right out school doctor. [GH]  Dr. Gerald Heulitt was the best... thorough, kind, unhurried, and confident in his delivery of his 3 day hospital only plan. [GH]  Even tho I had been waiting since late October for a plan of action, I believe the delay was purposeful so that I could not only enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas but the surgery schedule for Dec. 26th and 27th was pretty empty. [GH]  My pre-op nurse was one I had as a home health nurse years ago and her presence was a reaffirming assurance that things were going to be okay. [GH]    One of my greatest fears was having to lay on my stomach for 2 hours of surgery, but the plan changed when the tube placement setup failed. [GH}  The surgery was completed sucessfully on my back, with no incision and without repeated procedures needed. [GH]  I also want to say I had an excellent team of doctors all watching out for me in every aspect involved. [GH]  These are just a few undeniable moments of God's sovereignty in this specific trial of my life.
       "Thankfully, God guides believers through times of turbulence (Ps. 23). He is the Good Shepherd, who constantly abides with His world-weary lambs. Jesus vowed to His disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). And His promise was fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to indwell and care for each of God’s followers. Paul poetically described the Spirit as a seal placed around believers until they are called to their heavenly home. In other words, He provides a protective barrier against evil forces desiring to snatch us from God’s hand."
         As God guides me through my trials and tribulations, I believe He has chosen me to be a voice to praise Him in the storms.  Though my voice may be a whisper, I use my resources to point others to Christ in whatever way He wants to use me.  The poem above "Not Just Any Life" was written by Lynda Vu for a friend of mine but he thought it applied to me as well.  It blesses me that he would think so.  I pray my life and actions do make an impact on others, so they too will consider a surrendered life and an everlasting life for and with God.

You are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be;
To lift up the lamp of the Savior
That others His light may see. —Anon.

        As you endure the woes of life, are you able to lean on His everlasting arms?  Can you thank Him not 'for' all circumstances, but 'in' all circumstances?  Are you a reflection of Christ to comfort others in their trials of suffering?  Be the Light to another's darkness.