Our trials Are NOT Our End

“It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71. It was good for me. Affliction is good for me? Trials are good for me? Tests and temptations are good for me? Why? That I might learn. That I might grow. That I might serve. The Scottish minister, James Stewart, profoundly stated, “In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.” The wounded soldier has felt pain, he has been hurt, suffered, maybe even had to crawl out of a hole to get back on his feet. He has had to dodge enemy fire; he had to keep getting back up, time and time again. But he does. Psalm 147:3. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” It doesn’t matter what caused the broken heart or how the injury got there, God is ready to heal us of our wounds so we can move on and help someone else. Psalm 51:17. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” He sees our broken heart and spirit and that is just what He needs to work with and work through! “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39. Our trials are not our end. The scripture doesn’t mean we will not experience difficulty or even suffer in this life. We will! He did! But He promised...

When the patient knows better than the healer

Have you heard of the Abana and Pharpar syndrome? Naaman had it. He originated it, all because he did not want to humble himself. Naaman was a “captain of the host of the king of Syria” and the Bible says he was a great man, honorable and a mighty man of valor. But he was a leper. Naaman’s wife had a “little maid” who was taken captive out of Israel, and she was sympathetic toward her master and his condition. She told Naaman’s wife that if he were with the prophet in Samaria, he would be able to heal him of his leprosy. She was confident of the power of God and confident in the man of God! Naaman  eventually made his way to the house of Elisha the prophet. Elisha sent a messenger to Naaman and told him to “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” Sounds simple enough, right? Not for Naaman… “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” 2 Kings 5:11. This infuriated Naaman. He wanted pomp and fanfare to go along with his healing! “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”  2 Kings 5:12. Abana and Pharpar were rivers that were closer to home and much cleaner than the muddy,...

Don’t give them a second thought

Mesmerized. That’s how I describe my fascination with Joshua, the son of Nun. This man was encouraged time and time again by God to be courageous and without fear. “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9. “And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed…” Joshua 8:1. Armed with that kind of courage, Joshua gathered forces to help the people of Gibeon in Joshua 10. The Gibeonites had made a treaty with Israel, and because of that alliance, when the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces to attack Gibeon,  Gibeon sent word to Joshua for help. Joshua didn’t just send a token group of fighting men. He marched with his entire army to defeat the five kings. “The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” The Message version takes a little liberty here, but I like the possibilities. “God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.” Joshua was able to take them by surprise because the Lord brought confusion to the enemy. As they were running away from the Israelites the Bible says, “…the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” But it’s the next part that is so unbelievable it had to be God. “On the day the Lord gave the...

No claim over me!

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:27-31 ESV. Jesus is speaking with His disciples not too many hours away from His crucifixion. He speaks of peace in a world of uncertainty for them all. Reading this week, I couldn’t help but notice the phrase, “He has no claim on me,” speaking of the enemy: Satan, the liar, the evil one, the enemy of our souls. Jesus is letting us know in this simple phrase that He, as God in the flesh, would willingly giving His life; no one would taking it from Him! Not the Pharisees, not Caesar, not Pilate or the devil himself. Jesus was going to GIVE and we are the blessed receivers of that selfless sacrifice. Jesus would go on to defeat death, hell and the grave when He cried out, “It is finished!” on the cross. He would  overcome sin and death, paving the way for us to do the same while we live in this world. Sin has no claim on us! The world has no claim on us! C.S. Lewis reminds us we were not even made for this world: If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. Just recently,...

Mr. Big Stuff: The Sin of Diotrephes

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-13. Norah Jayne is a few days away from seven months old. She sits up by herself, loves bananas and carrots, giggles and smiles nonstop and gets mad in her car seat. Norah is also fascinated with… Norah.   She has discovered this beautiful baby in the mirror and she can’t get enough of herself! It’s so funny to watch when you sit her in front of the mirror. She gets so excited and it makes this nana wonder: does she know she is looking at herself, or does she think it’s someone else to play with? Either way, she gets so much joy, and so do we, just watching her. Diotrephes was probably like Norah when he was a baby. The problem is, Diotrephes didn’t grow out of it. He loved himself and enjoyed being in charge. If you have never heard of him, or don’t remember, he is mentioned in the little book of 3rd John. There is only one chapter in this book, and he is spoken of in two verses. John is writing the letter to Gaius and says to him, “I wrote unto the...

Be quiet, my big, fat mouth

It happened again: a wonderful opportunity for me to say what I felt. What I really WANTED to say, what was boiling up inside of me. It even NEEDED to be said — or so I thought. We have all been in similar situations: someone, your equal, whether on the job, in the family, the church, neighborhood, school, etc., approaches you and proceeds to dress you down in front of others when it is not their place to do so. Not only that, you have not done anything wrong whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. They just feel it is their responsibility to be the boss or overseer, even though they do not retain the title, and want things done a certain way…their way. This is the place I found myself a few weeks ago. I stood there and listened, admittedly my blood pressure rising faster than flood waters, but I listened. Finally, I gently interjected that I had done what was required, expected, and in the best interest of others, but that only invited more tongue-lashing. I did not retaliate, but walked away, only by the grace of God. But as soon as I got in my car, away from others, I called The Sweetheart. "You won't believe…..!" And I unloaded all my frustration on him. He listened, even agreed with me that I was in the "right", and by the time I arrived home, I was somewhat calmed down. What bothered me was that I would have to face this person the next day. Many would tell me to stand up for myself, and there would not have been...

Running away never solved anything

I remember the first time I ran away from home. Like many other disgruntled “littles”, I didn’t get very far. I also remember the first time I ran away as an adult. If I remember correctly, I had not been married to The Sweetheart but a few months and we had argued, so away I went to a trusted friend who, with much wisdom, sent me back home where I belonged. When I see that scene in my mind today? It makes me giggle. When I became a mother, I can recall jumping in that mini-van a couple of times, making sure the father of my children heard and was going to pay attention to his charge, and announcing I would “be back”. “Where are you going?” I didn’t have the answer, I just had to take a short drive to breathe. It happens. Adam and Eve ran and hid from the Lord after their sin. Moses ran away after he killed an Egyptian and Jonah famously ran from God because he didn’t want to preach to the people of Nineveh.  Elijah, fearless Elijah the prophet, was in fear of a woman and ran for his life! Do you feel like running away from your trial, your pain, your sickness, financial troubles, marriage difficulties or even just LIFE itself? Look at the following scripture: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7 It says that this trial you...

So you think you’re a failure?

Did you know that the Dyson vacuum cleaner is named for Sir James Dyson? Dyson was frustrated with the Hoover vacuum he owned because it would lose suction. He came up with the idea of cyclonic separation to create the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner in a universe filled with replacement, disposable sweeper bags. Dyson experienced 5,126 failures before he mastered the concept, but then met even more resistance in the UK because no one wanted to step out and be different with a vacuum that didn’t require you to purchase paper bags for the rest of your life. Give up? Never. This entrepreneur went to Japan with a hot pink Dyson and it won awards and eventually a U.S. patent. But even this wasn’t enough for manufacturers, so he was forced to form his own company to get the Dyson on the market. Today?  The Dyson bagless vacuum is worth more than £3 billion! The Apostle Peter was also doubting himself over a few bad days. He witnessed Jesus being led away to be crucified. He denied him. Three times. Try to put yourself in Peter’s place. Impetuous Peter. Insert-foot-in-mouth-before-thinking-Peter.  Walk-on-the-water-and-sink-Peter. (Hey, he did get out of the boat!) He might be you. He is me. But he didn’t walk away. He didn’t quit. He didn’t leave the disciples, but instead obeyed what Jesus had told them to do: go and wait in the Upper Room and He would send the Comforter. Peter was there when the power fell at Pentecost! He witnessed the 120 being filled with the Holy Ghost, that power from on high. He then...

When God sends people.

God sends people. Yes, He does. Years ago, during a particularly trying time in my life, I was desperate for answers. I had been praying and asking God for a miracle, or at least for clear direction. I imagined letters falling from heaven and lightning bolts to come out of the sky in answer to my prayer. But it didn’t happen. God answered the prayer in an unexpected way. He sent a person. He sent a friend in this instance. This friend drove from another state, several hours, just to BE with all of us. She didn’t even have the answers; God had not given her specific direction but to GO. So she did just that. She stayed until God said to go back home and all was well. God knew what we needed at that time; we needed Him and He came through our friend. Look at the story of Moses in the Book of Exodus 18:13-27. Moses was spending from sun-up to sun-down weighing the problems of the people. It didn’t matter how trivial or how important it was, they waited in line to talk to Moses, the man of God. Moses was worn out, physically, mentally and spiritually! Who wouldn’t be? We don’t have proof that Moses even asked God for help but Jehovah-Jireh knew something had to be done. He sent Jethro. Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law and although he was just there to visit, he was watching what was taking place every day and he could easily see Moses was stretched too thin. His answer? H suggested wisely that Moses appoint leaders over 1,000, over...

When You Just Need to be Comforted

“When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:18-19.   Your comforts delight my soul. Doesn’t that phrase alone just cover you like a blanket? When the anxieties of this life pile up and overwhelm us and our foot slips, the Lord will hold us up. His comforts will delight our very soul. The commentaries explain the word thoughts here to mean branches of trees, thick and entwined. Our lives are busy, complicated and sometimes distressing. Our thoughts run through our brains like thick branches all twisted together. God brings us comfort in so many ways. He relieves us of those anxieties, fears and uncertainties with His loving comfort, in an instant, if we will allow Him. The Comfort of His Presence: “Honor and majesty are (found) in His presence; strength and joy are (found) in His sanctuary.” 1 Chronicles 16:27 AMP. “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5. The Comfort of His Love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3, NIV. “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV. The Comfort of His Security:...