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Truth in Trials

When Trials Are Difficult {Trials Tuesday}

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. – 1 Peter 1:6, NLT

Last week, I began to unwrap this idea of grieving. Some might ask, “grieving what?” It might be chronic illness, or more than a diagnosis or list of symptoms. There is a lot to process and grieve in my case.

Seven years ago, I was finishing up a bachelor’s degree and receiving an acceptance letter that would cause me to pick up my things and move to a new city. And today, I am somewhat content in my role as a “stay at home aunt and daughter”. But the reality is harsh. Chronic illness has, in fact, changed my life in a very big way.


Every so often, I am reminded that chronic illness, or trials in general, bring that luscious spiritual fruit. I love the spiritual fruit {even though I despise the trial itself}. An example of the spiritual fruit in play:

With our family, we have the opportunity to remain calm – even when our senses are overloaded with noise. A family’s house gets loud. But when we allow the Lord our God to work in our hearts, things will change.

For me: The greatest blessing is – the ability to remain loving and self-controlled when my niece comes over on the weekends. Today my house felt enormously loud, but by God’s grace I could remain calm, redirect, and begin my Bible study time. My sinful self didn’t get angry and begin yelling at these little people I am leading by example. This is a direct result of Jesus Christ!

I have days when I am “off” so to speak, and my niece will ask what happened. This is my reminder that I need to re-evaluate what’s going on in my heart and walk with Jesus. Honestly, it could be due to debilitating symptoms, not enough Jesus time, or something else. The bottom line is: Spiritual fruit is a blessing in my life, and it can be in yours too!


Fruit Means Pain –

It has taken much work to reach this place in my life. Seven years’ worth of working with the Lord has shown me that trials are painful, but God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is going to be the One to get me through it. Things won’t always go my way, but He will get me through it.

It won’t be painless. There will be many tears, but He will get us through this one baby step at a time.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” – Isaiah 55:8

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:20

This week, I desperately need to consult my Bible on a daily basis. I need to stay in step with the Spirit, so I will stay close to Jesus and not give into my sinful desires (Galatians 5:16).

Feature image by Rye Jessen.

Until next time,

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Inspiring Women (05/17)

Jesus as Center Stage

Hi friends! For the month of May, we will be using a reading plan given to us by Sweet to the Soul Ministries. Feel free to stroll through their Facebook page and blog. They even have a journaling kit and Bible study for this month’s plan!

Matthew 6:33-34 is the verse for us on this first of May. This is the perfect Scripture for us to focus on – as we kick off our week.

But put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all those things will also be given to you. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIRV).

Each day has its own set of worries and stresses.

We cannot worry about them. Will tomorrow be stressful? Yes. Will tonight be stressful? Most likely. But here is the bottom line: We have to place God and His Kingdom above those things. We have to place God and His Kingdom high above the concerns we have in this life.

I read a Scripture yesterday that comes to mind, so I want to share it with you all today.

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective (Col. 3:1-2, MSG)

The truth is – we need to keep our minds focused on Jesus. When we choose to follow Jesus, we know His way is far better. His way is infinity better than any way we could concoct in our minds. Jesus Christ, the King of the world, is the One who is worthy of our focus.

And if He is telling us we don’t need to worry, then, we honestly do not need to worry. As difficult as it may be, we need to let go of the concerns of this world and deliberately choose instead to trust our great God.

I would like to draw your attention to the book of Mark – where we are given much insight. Ready for this?

The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced (4:18-19, NLT).

When we first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it had the opportunity to radically change our lives. For many of us, Jesus has been doing an amazing work in us. But His work is cut short. Why? Because of the allure of worrying ourselves to pieces, trying to get rich now versus basking in the anticipation of Heaven’s glorious riches, and honestly – wanting other things. In our hearts, we can place other things above our desire for Jesus Christ.

We need to allow Him to take center stage. He is not the back up act, but He is the real deal!

We need to decide for ourselves if we want to fully follow Jesus Christ, enjoy the full fruit of His promises, and begin to surrender the “other stuff” to Him – trusting Him to be more than enough.

Featured image by Auré Pereira.

In Christ,

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Categories
Chronological Bible Study

1 Samuel 4-8 (Part 1)

“Why did the Lord…? (1 Sam. 4:3)”

Unfortunately, we get like this also. We go out to fight without praying and our spiritual armor, then we bring forth our questions like this.

We want to make and carry out our own plans, but expect God to bless them.

When we do this, we are forgetting one little thing –

The Lord is the One who rules over all (1 Sam. 4:4)

Israel lost the war on the Philistines, because they went their own way versus stopping to pray and see what God wanted. They even, acted in a way – that causes the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant {which is a BIG deal} to be stolen. For seven long hard moments, God’s glory departed from Israel.

Friends, we need to pray in the battles we face. We need to pray in the midst of the battle, but also need to pray before the battle even begins. We desperately need to use prayer as our weapon. If we forfeit the weapon of prayer, we come under attack and lose the advantage.

But when we put on the full armor of God (see Eph. 6), we are aware of the devil’s schemes and can overcome his tactics. To quote 1 John 4:4, ““Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

As Israel faced losing the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, they faced God’s glory departing. There was much sorrow in this. Their sin greatly cost them. They disobeyed God, by not seeking Him. They wanted to turn to their own way, versus turn to the Lord and His way. As sons and daughters of the Most High God, we need to rethink the way we make decisions and live the lives we have been given.

Even when hard things happen, we can make the decision to seek Christ above all else.

As we observe our lives and see the battles we are facing, we need to choose to allow Jesus Christ, our Savior and King, to become our Battle-Winner. His strength and presence is far more than our enemies can handle!

Featured image by Jens Lelie.

Categories
Chronological Bible Study

Genesis 12-15; Psalms 38-40

jan-16

Assigned Reading: Psalms 38-40; Genesis 12-15

Because our study is chronological, it took us to the book of Job after Genesis 1-11. Well now that we have read, mourned, and repented with Job and his friends, it is time to return to Genesis. Are you ready? Genesis is a beautiful book with much insight and truths.

Psalms –

Chapter 38 – Our lives can reek from our foolish sins. David’s life was in ruins, because of his sins. When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it truly does eat away at us. Let us confess our sins before our Maker who knows absolutely everything about us. I want to share the ending of David’s prayer. It’s beautiful, regardless of the translation.

Don’t dump me, God; my God, don’t stand me up. Hurry and help me; I want some wide-open space in my life! (vv. 21-22, The Message)

Chapter 39 – The Psalms remind me of many truths. Here, we are reminded that we need to join David in watching what we say and do. Our lives are short, and we need to remember our hope. Our hope is found in Jesus Christ, our Savior and God’s Son. He is our true wealth and joy. He is our Deliverance from our own rebellion.

Lord, we need Your rescuing – from ourselves. We need Your help. None but You, Lord!

Chapter 40 – God heard David’s cry and helped him. God can deliver us from anything, but we need to bring the things of our lives to His precious feet. God’s plans for us are soo many – too many to list. So, let us come confessing our sin knowing our need for Him and cry out for His eternal help!

Genesis –

The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you (12:1).’

God began his journey with Abram. Abram was called to go to the land God would show him. God showed him the promised land that God was going to give Abraham’s family. Their family would have a long journey to go, before reaching this land of “milk and honey”. This land of abundance would be theirs, but in time.

… if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you (13:15-17).”

… Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (15:5-6).

Between the call to the talk he had with God about Abraham’s further inheritance, Abraham faced hardship. Many things of hardship, but God’s promises still stood true. Though childless, God’s promise of many descendants was still true. Abraham knew the power of taking God at His Word. We have to trust God, even when our lives are “in the waiting” to see what God is going to do.

God’s promises still stand, even if our circumstances look vastly different than the outcome is supposed to be. Abraham’s reality looked so different from what God said his life would look like in a few years. This reveals the power of our God, and the need to trust Him. Things won’t always look like we envision, but He will provide the things He promises.

Categories
Chronological Bible Study

Job 21-23; Psalms 21-22

I got behind this weekend, so I am going to start anew today. I have read almost all the Psalms from January 7-8, but, not the chapters of Job. Hopefully, I can come back to those reading at some point.

jan-9

Assigned Reading for January 10: Psalms 21-22; Job 21-23

Psalms –

Chapters 21 – God shows us His strength in the way He treats us. The victory we seek, is in Him. Our trust rests in Him, where we cannot be shaken. God is the Authority over all of our foes. God loves us, and will act for us.

How are we praising God for His strength?

Chapters 22 – This psalm prophesies Jesus and His crucifixion. Throughout the psalm, we learn increasingly more about what Jesus faced and felt at the cross (and it was written long before Jesus was born in a manger). Jesus went through so much, for our sake. He is our Strength even now, when life seems like it is ruled by uncertainty. God is the One who gives us life, plans out the details of our lives, and listens to our heart’s cry – even crying with us. Jesus has come for us; He has done it, and brought salvation to all mankind.

For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help (Ps. 22:24).

Job –

Chapters 21-23 are what is on the agenda for today. We are half way through the book of Job. Can you believe it? I have been struggling with reading the book of Job lately, but I am trying to keep going – knowing it is about meeting God in this place and see what He says about the life of Job. It’s been interesting to read Job’s response to sufferings and then to read David’s heartfelt prayers on his struggles.

Job knew the character of God, as he made his case before God. He is outraged about how the wicked get to live in prosperity, while he struggles in his time of testing. But, I think his friends just added to its intensity. Eliphaz falsely accused him of even striping people of clothes, leaving them naked (see 22:4-10). They are convinced he has done something wrong – worthy of suffering like he faced. If there was one word for Job, it would be deliberate. Job is trying to find God, and his suffering adds to how he reacts to his friends, to God, to everything.

Our suffering is brought on, by being Satan’s enemies – quite honestly. Satan, our accuser, wants to destroy us and our faith in Jesus. But, we have already won the victory – because of Jesus Christ. Our hope is in Him! We have won – so stay the path, and watch how God will restore you and remind you of your hope.