Be usable during the trials

Laying block with oxygen.  What’s stopping you??

My father was bed-ridden for several years, and then weak for several more.  Why not healed?  One night the Lord spoke to him and told him to build a house for someone he’d never met.  He wasn’t able to in his own strength.  The Lord also spoke to the pastor at his church and told him to give away a substantial amount of money.  He spoke to another man and told him to donate land.  Person after person stepped forward, obeying God’s leading, and a home was built for a family from start to finish in 40 days.

My dad’s weakness enabled God’s strength to be perfected and manifested.  Might I suggest that before that time my dad may have been too busy to hear the voice of God in that way?  Or too busy to take the time to help organize and attend a project of that magnitude?

God uses us all in different ways and for different reasons.  We just have to be available for His purposes and plans.

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

These are the words the Lord spoke to the disciple that was sent to put his hands on Saul (who would later become the apostle Paul–missionary to thousands), when he would regain his sight.  And yet, Paul always had what he called a “thorn in his flesh” that God never removed.  He said he prayed for the Lord to remove it and the Lord told him no.  The Lord told Paul that His grace was sufficient and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.

It’s interesting that when Paul was called into ministry he was shown how many things he would suffer God’s name’s sake, and how the Lord told Paul no, and how now, in 2019 we think our Christian walk should be about our comfort, our happiness, our delight….about us.  When did things get so twisted?

Christianity just simply isn’t about us.  It is about the Lord.  It says about Saul, “Immediately he preached the Christ in synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”  He began immediately doing what he was called to do, and people immediately began wanting to kill him.  (You can find all of this in Acts 9)

Job, in his agony and suffering repented and humbled himself before the Lord…before he was ever healed or restored.  Then, in Job 42:8, the Lord put Job in charge of praying for his friends.  In his state, he was best suited to pray for his friends.  He was the one God called to pray, to work, to do His will.  And then, praise God for him, He was restored.

Sickness and trials are not a problem that keeps us from fulfilling God’s call in our lives.  It may hinder us from doing all the things we want.  I know I still have times when I can’t sing, can’t raise my hands in worship, can’t teach or even attend church; however, if we are still alive then God can still use us.

Ask God how He can use your vessel.  When He gives you an opportunity, don’t let it pass you by.  Don’t fear that you’re too weak.  In your weakness, His strength is made perfect.  It has been proven over and over:  see David and Goliath, Noah and the Ark, 3 Hebrew’s in the furnace, on and on.  God will give you all that you need to complete the task He sets before you.

Be available just as you are,

jamie

 

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On their behalf

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about how we should show love to those in pain and trials and not offer judgment and accusations, in the way that Job’s friends did.  I also mentioned how we can pray for those we know who are in pain.  I wanted to talk more on that today, because that is probably the one of the most important things we can do, and yet sometimes we neglect it.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we find the record of Jesus and a centurion.  The centurion’s servant was lying at home paralyzed, and in terribly agony and pain.  (Some versions of the Bible say he was dreadfully tormented.  yikes!)

The centurion came to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.  This story is powerful in so many ways.  If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to read it.

The centurion knew, and acknowledged that Jesus was powerful enough that He need only speak the word and His servant could be healed.  He didn’t even require that Jesus come to his home to do it.  He knew Jesus could do it from right where He stood.

And this is the part I want to stress:  The centurion’s faith alone was great enough that Jesus marveled at it.  (vs. 10)  The servant’s faith was never called into question.  Perhaps his was just as great.  Maybe it wasn’t.  All we know is that the centurion interceded on the servant’s behalf, and that the servant was healed that same hour.

We are called not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also to pray for one another that we may be healed. (Ja. 5:16)

Unless they’ve told us it’s the case, we never need to tell someone that they aren’t being healed or delivered from their trial because their faith isn’t strong enough.  We need to intercede on their behalf.  We never need to accuse someone of being sick or in trials due to sin, but we need to pray for them.

What the centurion did on his servant’s behalf is an excellent example of how we should live.  Job, as well, before his children died, offered up offerings to the Lord just in case his children had sinned.  These are excellent examples of people who are going to the Lord on behalf of others.

Not everyone will be healed.  Is that hard to hear?  God has plans for people that sometimes do not include healing, because He uses people in so many different ways.  But that should never stop us from asking.  We do not know His plans.  We need to ask.  We need to seek.

Above all, though, what we need to seek, for ourselves and for each other, is a relationship with Him, which will keep us calm in every storm, every trial, and every sickness.

Let’s be interceders and never accusers,

jamie

Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie

 

How are they so calm right now?

    Photo taken straight through my kitchen window. Notice the water drops…they’re on the outside.  I was safe and dry on the inside.

I was taking a few moments to just enjoy myself and gaze out at the rain through the kitchen window this morning.  Then I looked over and had to laugh when I noticed that our outside cat, who was now inside, was doing the same through the sliding door.

Tropical storm Michael is upon us right now, so we have a nice, steady rain here right now, some wind gusts; and it’s still a bit dark out.  Inside our home this morning; however, it has been so nice and peaceful.  It’s been very calm and quiet this morning, and I’ve felt an unusual type of peace.  It’s been quite lovely.

It reminded me of something that God can do in our lives.  Sometimes there are storms in our lives.  Winds can blow, rain can pelt down, floods can rise.  Things in our lives can be out of control all around us.  Oh, but God…He can keep everything calm and peaceful within us.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Ph. 4:6-7 (NLT)   

God will give us peace that exceeds anything we can understand, and it will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.  That’s the peace I’m talking about.  The peace that keeps us calm on the inside while the storm rages around us on the outside.

It won’t make sense.  People will wonder how we can be so calm.  We may not even believe it ourselves at first, but then we will understand that God has just been faithful once again, like He has been before!  He cannot lie, so if He says He will give us this kind of peace, then we can take Him at His word.  We just have to trust Him enough to try it.

So, the first step is do not worry, but pray.  Tell Him what we need.  Thank Him for all He has done.  And then…then comes that peace…the peace within the storm!  I want that peace in the storms of my life, don’t you?  Let’s give it a shot!

Praying for your peace and mine,

jamie

Lessons learned on today’s hike

Life can put any manner of obstacles in our path.  Sometimes we are strong and energetic, jumping right over them.  Other times we are a little more cautious, stepping carefully over them.  There are other times; however, when we are so tired and wearied that we just feel like sitting down and weeping before them, giving up.  If that happens we sometimes even backtrack and wind up back where we began, making no progress in our journey at all.  It can happen to any of us.

 

 

Life can also offer us bridges.  Sometimes bridges can be scary things.  They can be very high, very rickety, made of rope, built over raging waters, or just something that someone fears.  In order to cross a bridge, we have to have faith that what awaits us on the other side of a bridge is worth us crossing it in the first place.

Those obstacle and bridge moments are definitely moments in our lives when we are prone to call out to God.  We cry out for help from the One we know or have heard can calm our fears or give us peace.  We reach out for the one that calms the storm when the bridge starts swaying.  We ask for help with the obstacles when we know they are Goliath’s that we cannot defeat.

 

It’s those other moments, when the path is clear and the going seems easy that we can get so confident that we forget we are still need of that same Savior.  We see the empty path and assume we can handle the steps ourselves.  We don’t feel the urgency to read our Bible like we did when we were facing the bridges, so we read less and less until maybe we aren’t reading at all.  Meanwhile, there are roots under the leaves that begin trip us up as we go.  Suddenly, the small roots begin to look like the large obstacles once again.

We think our prayer time can wait until we get around the curve, but then we get busy with our day and forget.  Next thing we know, we look up and see a bear lumbering towards us.  Because we haven’t been plugging into the power of the Holy Spirit, we aren’t prepared when the enemy meets us on the path.  Now we’re weak, meeting him in our own strength, and full of fear again.

I’m reminded of how David yelled out to Goliath, “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of the Lord, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.” 1 Sam. 17:45-46

We don’t just need the Lord on our side when the obstacle is in our face.  We need to have had the Lord by our side all along, so that once we meet the obstacles we are sure to face we can face them with a David-like faith, strong and sure.

Walk with Him daily,

jamie

You are not going to crash

I love the methods that God will use to get a message to us.  Migraine rescue medication combined with tension and sadness made for a rough morning today.  I was persevering, though.  I read my Bible while I ate my breakfast, I listened to praise and worship music all morning long.  I know where my strength lies, but sometimes I feel like I’m clawing for it.  Have you ever felt that way?  Is that just me?  Hmm…

Then my kids and I sat down for our morning devotions and the book said, “It is a great gift from God to be able to hear, but what you do with what you hear is your gift back to God.”  Then it quoted Jesus,

Everyone who hears these things I say and obeys them is like a wise man.  The wise man built his house on rock.  It rained hard and the water rose.  The winds blew and hit that house.  But the house did not fall, because the house was built on rock.  But the person who hears the things I teach and does not obey them is like a foolish man.  The foolish man built his house on sand.  It rained hard, the water rose, and the winds blew and hit that house.  And the house fell with a big crash.”  (Mt. 7:24-27)

I could literally hear God reminding me that my house is not built on the sand.  My house, my faith, my hope…they are built on the rock.  The solid rock of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Yes, it is raining hard right now, and the waters have been rising lately.  The winds have been blowing from one direction and then another, but MY HOUSE IS BUILT ON THE ROCK!

I’m not going to fall or crash.  I’ve got the Mighty God, the Great I AM, the Prince of Peace holding me in His hand.  My life is built on a solid foundation and I can take refuge in the stronghold of His name.  I can’t just talk about trusting Him in a blog on Monday and then forget it on Tuesday.  I have to do it!  And I am.

I was immediately comforted by the Lord as we read that devotion this morning.  If the winds are blowing around you and the rains are pouring down, pelting you from all sides, take heart.  If you can literally see and feel the waters rising around you, stand firm.  Your house is built upon the Rock and YOU WILL NOT FALL!

Stand firm…He is holding you steady,

jamie