Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Look Ahead

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again. Psalms 71:20

Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things.  Who is like you, God?  Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,  you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.  Psalm 71:19-21 NIV

       I feel like the verses above are my life story right now in action.  I am so excited and thankful to be in the 'revive me again' phase.  I am seeing and living in God's restoration of me in His timing.  He is definitely 'comforting me once more.'  In this process, I want it to be clearly known that Christ is doing all these good things in me, and it's not by my strength at all.
      Don't you think life is so much easier when your will and God's will are in alignment?  Oh, I definitely do!  When our thoughts and actions are only about self and not about 'love one another', then we build fences and don't grow as God intends.  May we always pray for God to lead us and show us His way for our lives.  "Show me your ways, that I may walk with you, show me your ways, I put my hope in you,  the cry of my heart is to love you more, to live with the touch of Your hand, stronger each day, show me your ways."   
     Sometimes when we have been under a cloud of trials, the sun shining in restoration seems all the brighter.  I have felt the small things in life be huge frustrations, but with God's restoration of strength become miraculous milestones.  For examples, being able to drink through a straw again, sit on the side of the bed without being held, going longer without my mask to talk and eat, being able to swallow again my favorite foods, and more.
      My will during my darkest of days was to finish my race of life, but it wasn't God's will.  When I realized God's will was actually my will too, it made my life easier to deal with as I improved.  I had prayed, Lord, if it's your will, let me be active again in this world and let Your light and power shine brightly through me.  This was the will of us both and I am forever grateful.
     "We’re often looking for God’s will—especially when we’re in a difficult situation. We wonder, What will happen to me here? Should I stay or does God want me somewhere else? The only way to know for sure is to do what He asks you to do right now—the duty of the present moment—and wait for God to reveal the next step." []

    "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way."  Psalm 37:23

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Where Do You Look?

       It is our natural tendency to look for answers to our questions, but where do we look?   "Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, but Faith looks up." by Ralph Waldo Emerson  It's sad but often true, that God is our last place to look to.  We find it easier to search in what we can see, than to trust in what we can't see yet.  God is always with us and waiting for us to seek Him in all things, circumstances, and in the questions of life.

       I found the quote above by accident, coincidence, or by God's leading.  However I found it, the quote describes my feelings as of late and put it into words for me.  As I have progressed over the past 3.5 months, I have realized there is a new me.  The new me struggles to get back physically, as much as possible, but I am forever changed in many other ways.  I have more empathy with those in chronic pain.  I have gained wisdom on the importance of knowing what you want or don't want on your last days.  I have gained strength in my faith, trust, and convictions with respect towards God and His sacrifice for me and the world.  I have increased my level of courage in what I am able to endure with God carrying me through various unwanted trials. 
       I have also lost some things along this trial too.  I have lost patience with negativity in my life, through words and actions of others.  This is highlighted by one of my doctor's perspective on me and his words of little hope for my wellness.  I have lost strength in my abilities and the little independence I had in a few matters.  I have lost a love for some worldly things and traded that in for a desperate longing for the Heaven that awaits me.  I have lost interest in politics and worldly matters, but I remain invested in my participation at the level I can be involved in.  I've read the end of the Bible and know that hard times are part of the end times, but God is sovereign and wins victoriously in the end.
      "Our world offers a multitude of ways to compromise on what we know is right, but if we’ll make up our minds ahead of time, we’ll be able to stand firm in our obedience to God. Although a world that does not believe may mock our values and lifestyle, their respect for us actually lessens when we waffle and give in to temptations. What’s worse, our witness for Christ is damaged.Conviction about God’s truth is like an anchor. When the winds of opinion blow and the waves of temptation pound us, we can know with certainty the right way to respond. Don’t vacillate in your obedience to the Lord. Your unwavering stand for what’s right can powerfully influence others." []
       I have gained and lost all of these things, only by looking upward to God.  God gives and takes away, blessed be His name forever and ever.

      What a great quote on the valleys of life.  There would be no hilltops without the valleys and the view from the hilltops wouldn't be so magnificent without the valleys either.  The valley you are in may seem like the lowest point in your life but if you look up to God and ask Him to help you find His purpose in this trial then He will answer you according to His will.  Don't dwell in the valley, but climb out with purpose and as a better you.  Grow, mature and multiply the blessings you've gained and learned during this time God has been at work in you.
      "In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me. As Paul Tripp says, “Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.” [DesiringGod]

When we know what God wants us to do,
But then we refuse to obey,
We’re ignoring the voice of the Lord,
And sinfully choosing our way. —Sper

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Where Do You Live and Love?

"The humble soul endeavors more how to glorify God in afflictions than how to get out of them." -- Thomas Brooks

         It is said that the three basic needs of life are food, clothing and shelter.  Your shelter may be a room, an apartment, or a house.  How would you define your residence, a house or a home?  There is a difference.  Anyone can build a house but it takes more than physical strength to make a house into a home.  'Home' includes peace, love, security, emotional warmth, things you love, respect of others, and hospitality.  Unfortunately many families live in houses, not homes.  "“home” is a place we seek out, long to return to when away, and fiercely defend, whether against invaders or from the outsider who tells us that any place is better than the one in which we live." So what is missing?  God and his command to "love one another."
        "The Blessed will say 'We have never lived anywhere except Heaven.'  The Lost will say, 'We were always in Hell.'  And both will speak truly."  by C.S. Lewis
        One of the hardest places to live out the Gospel and be a true reflection of Christ is in the home.  We schedule our times with others and make sure it is a good day with a good attitude and are feeling our best.  In our homes, we see it all... the faults, the tempers, the need for personal space and just everyday reactions to life's unfairness.
        Proverbs 24:3-4  "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
        Proverbs 24:27  "[Put first things first.] Prepare your work outside and get it ready for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house and establish a home."
        Proverbs 11:29  "Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
    and the fool will be servant to the wise."
        The next two quotes are from Our Daily Bread...... "C. S. Lewis wrote, “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” We can thank God for the “pleasant inns” in life, but let’s remember that our real home is in heaven where we “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)."
        "A loving, spiritual atmosphere is the feature most desired in a home, and that can be found in a simple one-room house or in a spacious mansion.  Yes, I think we would all agree that love for our family and the fear of the Lord can turn any house into a dream home."         As Valentines Day approaches tomorrow, lets consider how much we show Christ's love to each other both inside and outside our homes.

Give me a house to call my own,
Family and friends to make it a home,
Love and kindness that never depart,
Enough to fill a thankful heart.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Thoughts and Mercy

        As a blog writer, I often try to make my blogs somewhat personal.  Today's blog is about our thoughts and you can't get much more personal than that.  Our actions are often seen and speak loudly, good or bad, but our thoughts can be hidden and yet find a way out too.  The Bible warns us in Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard our hearts, for everything you do flows from it" and that is so true with our thoughts.  Sin begins with a thought and progresses into active form when we justify our wrong thoughts as okay and acceptable.
       "The mind is the control tower of life. Your thoughts greatly influence not only your successes, failures, and choices but also your relationship with the Lord and others. Godliness comes from thinking the way God does.  Yet there are several problems that can negatively impact your thought life. One of the most persistent is the influence of your past. When you were saved, God gave you a new spirit and a new life. However, in letting you start over, He did not blot the past from your mind. The Father wants you to be able to draw from your good and bad experiences when ministering to others. He also wants you to appreciate His grace and knows it is important for you to remember what He rescued you from." []
        As for myself, the past few months after my fall, I have struggled with my thoughts.  I had so much time where I was alone and at rest with just my thoughts.  I was tempted by my medicine and circumstances into thoughts of anger, pity, depression, and anxiety.  That's when the rubber meets the road and my beliefs and convictions were tried and tested.  Philippians 4:7  "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Psalm 119:87  "They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts."  I don't know where the following quote is from, but it is so true.  "God is working even while you are waiting. Think of this time of waiting as a process that will eventually culminate in a victory. In the meantime, remain faithful and know that God is there with you, preparing you for the battles, goals and victories to come. "   My waiting has been full of impatience, struggles and fear but it has led to trust, milestones, and witnessing the power and love of God for me.
       I want to praise God not only for the grace He has shown me, but also to be a reflection of His mercy to others.  Mercy is not my strong suit or spiritual gift so I want to share a list of ways to be merciful from my devotional by Rick Warren.  I need this list reminder myself and this is my best place to archive it. 

So, how will you be merciful?  [Rick Warren...Living in the Goodness of God]
  • Be patient with people’s quirks. What person in your life has irritating quirks? How can you practice patience with that person this week?
  • Help anyone around you who is hurting. See who around you is obviously hurting—and then look for a way you can help this week. If you can’t find anybody, then you’re not paying attention. Look closer!
  • Give people a second chance. Who in your life needs a second chance? How can you show that person mercy and compassion this week?
  • Do good to those who hurt you. Maybe you’re suffering from an old wound that you have not been able to let go of. Choose to forgive and then turn it around for good. Who is that person in your life? Will you make a phone call or a visit this week?
  • Be kind to those who offend you. Who offends you? Maybe it’s a politician or a comedian that you can pray for. Maybe it’s a Facebook friend who has different views and says some pretty offensive things. How can you be intentional about showing kindness to that person this week?
  • Build bridges of love to the unpopular. What person first comes to mind when you think of an outcast? Who spends their lunch breaks eating alone or doesn’t seem to have any friends at soccer games? What specific thing will you do this week to bridge the gap between you and that person with love?
     *  Value relationships over rules. 

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NLT)