Monday, December 30, 2019

Talented or Not, Just Try

Psalm 66:8-10 "Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver."

          Today's blog is about the importance of trying, despite what you think about yourself and how well you do.  "The main end of life is not to do but to become,” F. B. Meyer said. And for this we are being prepared every day.  The refining process may be very painful, but it will not destroy us, for the Refiner sits by the furnace tending the flame. He will not allow us to be tried beyond our endurance; it is for our good.  We may not understand why we have to endure such misery year after year. The ordeal seems endless and pointless.  God is placing us into a crucible in which we acquire patience, meekness, humility, compassion, and the other “quiet” virtues our souls naturally lack.  So don’t be afraid and don’t fret. Your present trial, as painful as it may be, has been screened through God’s wisdom and love." []

        I want to be able to say one day, as in Job 23:10,  "When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."  The older I get, the more I see how faithful He has been in not only preserving my life but filled it with goodness, mercy, patience, and grace.  He has also surrounded me with guardian angels, with super-strength wings of speed of protection.

       I want to share a couple of examples of where I've tried, despite my obvious lack of skill and learned from it:

1]  During my 7th and 8th grade years, I played the flute in band.  My teacher said I was so uncoordinated in the beginning that I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time.  Yet, I improved enough and qualified to get in the marching band in the 8th grade.  I was never 1st chair or very good with my flute, but I do believe it helped my lung strength and capacity at the time.
    For some reason, I don't recall, I went to band camp at Henderson University in Arkadelphia one summer.   Band camp was a learning experience for me, not so much in flute but on physical needs.  I refused to wear my braces that summer, despite all the hills and walking.  I had to try and fail, to prove to myself that I really needed braces.  I realized my need for braces, when I fell and sprained my ankle at the end of the week of camp.  For my good try effort at band camp, I won the 'best camper' trophy.  What a surprise and joyful reward.
     Aren't life lessons often learned by try and fail methods?  God is so patient with us by giving us a new chance every morning when he wakes us up to choose him to follow.  I look forward to waking up with Jesus one day and receiving my everlasting rewards.

2]  During my married years, I gradually learned about computers.  I started out with simple arcade games and advanced on.  A big part of my free time was spent on a game called Acrophobia.   The game involved 3 to 7 letters under a specific category and you have 30 seconds to type in an acronym or phrase with the given letters. The game has 10 players who vote on the best answer.
      My pastime became an obsession, one might say.  I joined a game club, called Cloud9, and soon became the captain of my team.  Being captain meant finding team players, organizing games and running a website.   Captain did not mean best player, but I tried and used other skills to help my team.
      Our hobbies can become idols or a misplaced priority.  We must use moderation in all things.  I definitely overworked my fingers and can only type with accessible modifications now.  Even though I had fun, it was a misuse of some of my time.  God wants us to have fun and live an abundant life within his preordained boundaries and him as top priority.

3]  I attended a church where music lessons were taught to anyone interested, but mainly children.  I was asked if I had any interest.  I had the desire to learn, but didn't know of anything I could play with my physical limitations.  The teacher came up with a hammer dulcimer.  I took lessons for 3-4 years and performed at recitals twice a year.  I learned so much during that season of my life: humility, perseverance, and patience.
     I certainly was never very good at playing, but just taking the chance to try blessed me and others.  Sure I messed up in my practice and live performances, but if I hadn't a least tried, I would've already failed.

       "Christians are tried and purified when God uses difficulty to burn away our self-reliance, pride, and earthly wisdom. If it seems as if God is silent during this process and He is not answering our cries for help, He may be giving us an opportunity to grow stronger in our faith.  Pain and problems can produce the shining, rock-solid character that comes from trusting God when life is hard." []

       God is shaping us everyday for his glory, through joy and pain.  "No one enjoys heartache. Yet God uses pain to mold His children. Although times of happiness are wonderful, times of suffering tend to produce more growth. Brokenness can highlight parts of us that try to act independently of God. If we have unsurrendered areas of our life, they may hinder our Father’s purposes for us."  We must try to do our best in this life, with his guiding.  When we try new things that stretch us beyond our comfort zone, you will not be the only one blessed.  Others will see your example and will be inspired, challenged and encouraged in their own walk with Jesus.

God's purpose is that we walk in intimate oneness with Him and serve effectively according to His purpose and will. To accomplish this, He has to break us of our resistance and self-reliance.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Time..How We Value It's Worth

Ephesians 5:15-16  " Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

           Today's blog is about time and how we use it, spend it and waste it.   How often I hear from people in my own circle of life, that there isn't enough time for Jesus in a person's life in all different ways.  Although, there are countless hours for Facebook, television, drive-time radio, and partying.  Do you realize God is waiting for a moment of your time to lead, encourage, and bless you and your life?  "The way we use our time reveals what we really believe to be important in life. The Lord Jesus Christ spent time alone with God the Father, no matter how packed His schedule." []  Is your schedule busier and/or more important than Jesus'?  

           How we live comes from who we are, as we cling to the living hope found in Jesus alone, and there we will find strength to persevere.  For the believer, success can be defined as the ability to find the will of God for your life . . . and then doing it!  Success begins with wisdom and the fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins.  When we use our time to seek and know the Lord, we can build our foundation upon him and stand firm in all we do.

        Psalm 74:16  "The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon."
       "He is the Lord of time, and will be so, till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us acknowledge God in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honor, by working for him every day and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night." {M. Henry]

           Psalm 106:43  "Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin."
          Just as the Israelites, we have all been at a point of rebellion towards God in our lives.  We have tried to run our lives on our own terms and ways, but we lead ourselves into trouble with that way of thinking and living.  Thankfully, God is full of mercy, truth and power and 'His will' will be done, despite us.  "God can change lions into lambs, and, when a man’s ways please the Lord, will make even his enemies to pity him and be at peace with him. When God pities men shall. Tranquillus Deus tranquillat omnia—A God at peace with us makes every thing at peace."  [M. Henry]

          Psalm 119:20 "My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times."
          Just as David had prayed that God would open his eyes and the law to him, in this verse, he prays for the desire to know God and his mercy.  This is how we should spend our time and reap the everlasting benefits from it.  Also, spend your children's time in ways of teaching them about God and his ways.  If you don't teach your children to love God, the world will teach them not to.  "If you want to be heard, don't follow the herd."

         "In everyone’s life, there tends to be one central issue around which all else revolves. Perhaps it is family, financial security, or a career. In a believer’s life, however, the first priority should be to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33). People sometimes say, “I’ve made Jesus a part of my life,” but that is not enough. Jesus is life for His followers. Without Him, the believer’s life has no purpose or meaning. Seeking God’s will requires perseverance. Rather than simply taking life as it comes and reacting to each situation, we must make our decisions according to the principles of Scripture. Therefore, to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness means we make the pursuit of Christlikeness our primary goal."  []

        "God isn’t subject to time. Because he created time, he operates outside of time. He uses time to test your faith and to build your character. While you’re working on your goal, God is working on you. And God’s much more interested in you than in what you’re trying to accomplish, because you’re not taking your accomplishments to heaven. You’re only taking your character."  [R. Warren]

         As for myself, I see times in my life where God wasn't my top priority.  I, also, see those times as trouble-some and in need of more than I could give myself.  Now, more than anytime in my life, God is my top-priority, always on my mind and my leader in all decisions.  My life goal is to lead and encourage others to use their time in God-invested ways.

The time we have to do God’s work is limited, so we must use it wisely.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Who's Talking To You

Isaiah 26:3-4  "You will keep in perfect peace  those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord,the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal."

Philippians 4:6-7  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 3:15  " Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

John 14:27  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."

Philippians 4:19  'And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

          Today's blog is about the voices in our head that we listen to and God's bigger plan.  "Peace is more than a mere word, idea, or feeling. It is actually an awesome gift of God that He gives to those who, through faith in Jesus Christ, belong to Him and walk obediently in His ways."   God provides peace to all believers, but when we feel like we are in a state of chaos, we haven't let his peace rule and govern our hearts and lives.

          "When we doubt His faithfulness, worry and fear will creep back in. We’ll dwell on all the uncertainties, forget God’s promises, and try to carry the burden ourselves."  This is when the devil wants to get in our heads and create lies that lead us to doubt God's goodness for us.  When we allow sin to control our lives, our peace with God is disturbed and our conscience frets.  "We must learn to trust His wisdom and be satisfied with His choices for us because only then will we have His peace."

           "When we depend on Him and l ive in His sufficiency, we not only experience His peace, but we also become a witness to others as they see how God can work in a life submitted to Him.  Courage is the quality of mind or spirit enabling one to meet danger or face opposition or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness."

           Many situations in life have the capacity to make us feel hopeless and helpless.  Whatever the cause, the most important issue is how we respond to the situation. Perhaps we’d like to give up and walk away or blame God or someone else, but instead of simply reacting to our distress, let’s consider how the Lord would have us respond.  We should 1] Remember our salvation experience and remind ourselves of the trust we have put in God, 2] Remember that God has a purpose for each of our lives and there is purpose in our pain, 3] Remind yourself of the confidence you have in God's love, promises and his faithfulness, 4] Rely on the Holy Spirit within you to help you press on thru the difficulties you face in life, 5] Remind yourself of the commitment you made to live a life for God, as long as he gives you breath, 6] Turn to your believing friends for prayer, encouragement, and truth thru God's word.

        As for myself, I've faced many scary situations in life.  It wasn't until this past year's ordeal with my fall and subsequent brain bleed that I can say I truly felt helpless and almost hopeless.  I say almost hopeless, because I did doubt God's goodness for the rest of this life but I never doubted my eternal life's destiny.  Some say the devil was talking to me and creating doubt thru my pain meds but I only think that was partially true.  I thought a lot about giving up before I said it out loud.  Death is a reality, we will all face but it's not to be spoken of lightly.  I was fearful of the upcoming days because of the pain I had never experienced before but now knew all too well.  I also knew of a place from Revelation 21:4 where"‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”   I was never more ready to be there, even tho I had so much to lose, temporarily.  THANK GOD, I had a God that wasn't done with me yet and a strong support system to remind me daily of it.  God's bigger picture and purposes are so, so much bigger than what we could dream or ask for.

         So, I urge you to expect difficulties in this life but trust in God who is greater, bigger, and more powerful than anything you will ever face.  1 John 4:4  "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  1 John 4:9-10  "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Monday, December 2, 2019

God Gives and Takes Away But My Heart Blesses His Name

          Today's blog is about the things in my own life that God has both given and taken away.  "Though not every physical ailment gets put back together, bearing those crosses opens us to God’s presence. Every time we experience injury and loss, Christ invites us to live without fear, without closing our eyes. Even if things do not go back to “normal,” honest dialogue with God about our weakness brings wholeness that transcends disease." []  In my talks with God during my physical losses, He still encourages me to not only live well, but fully.

          As a baby during child development, I was normal in my growth and progress.  I began walking, just as others did at my age.  At age 5, my right foot began turning in and falling became a too frequent incident.  After seeing orthopedic doctors, I began wearing corrective shoes that led to AFO leg braces.  God granted me the gift of walking, although not flawless, till I was in my mid-twenties.  God didn't give me a sit-on-the-sidelines kind of spirit, but one of a do-what-you-can while you can spirit.  My childhood included bike riding, rollerskating, dodgeball, jump rope and more.  My braces weren't an excuse to do less, but a supporter to do more.

          My voice is a symptom of vocal cord paralysis.  Therefore, my voice has never been 'strong' but as my disease is progressive, so has my voice weakened.  In my early twenties, I felt my voice was a thorn in me, like Paul, and I pleaded for it to be better thru surgery.  As with Paul, God said to me too, "“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”   My surgeries made me significantly weaker, but did not destroy me.  I began wearing sleep breathing aids in 1992, but only began wearing them during the day around 2005.  One might say that my voice did improve in 2011, when I began this blog, angie's that's that.  God does work in mysterious ways.

           God gave me the physical strength and ability in life to accomplish all of my dreams and goals.  One might assume by looking at my physical state now, that my life has been small or not full of my expectations.  That false assumption couldn't be further from the truth.  I have done more in and with my life than many able bodied individuals.  I've  completed college, been married and divorced, worked at my dream job for 5 years, traveled far and wide, and developed countless friendships along the way.  When my strength began to fail me, God didn't forsake me or leave me alone.  Instead, he provided me with a strong support staff to help me accomplish my daily desires.  Since my life has become less independent and more dependent on others, I see that my life is more God-focused and my abilities are used more for his glory.

           This blog is in no way meant to boast about me, but is meant to show how God both gives and takes but never forsakes his children.  What I consider earthly loss, I also consider more of an eternal gain.  "For when I am weak, then I am strong."  God has taught me how to live well, while dying with a progressive disease.  Thank God that I was not only elected and chosen by him, but also that I freely accepted his gift of salvation.

          If you are struggling with loss, illness, or pain, I pray that you seek and trust in God's bigger plan and purpose for your life.  God sent his Son so that you may be set free and live life to the fullest.  Turn your own weaknesses into a learning benefit for yourself and others.  May God get the glory in all things from our lives.