Don’t understand?

Pr. 3:5:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

Last week I lost a friend to suicide.  How do you line that up with your faith?

Just like anything else.  Keep trusting in the Lord.  In this life we will have trials.  Although God’s plans for us are good, we live in a sin-cursed world where disease and sin have tainted things.  Sin brought in death and disease.  Sin brought in meanness, evil intentions, cruelty, and poison.  The life we live in this temporary place will have trials and pain, but God can turn every pain and trial around for good.

Joseph’s brother’s plotted to kill him, but instead threw him in a well and sold him into slavery.  He was falsely accused of attempted rape, imprisoned, forgotten.  But of all of the things that were meant for evil in his life, Joseph said, “God meant it for good to save many people.”  And he was right.

This morning I was reading about all the apostles of Christ that were mocked, scourged, homeless, sawed in half, tormented, etc.  (Heb. 11:32-40)  It was said that they did it that they may receive a better resurrection.  Paul, as well, was shipwrecked, snake-bitten, imprisoned, and had a thorn in his flesh that the Lord would not remove.  The Bible says he accepted that gladly for the promise of the power of Christ upon him.

How in the world can we accept suffering, pain, or trials?  How can we make it through these dark times in our lives?  By trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding.

It doesn’t make sense to us when the pain comes.  But the Word says that His ways are not our ways.  Perhaps, like Joseph, He is going to make something beautiful come from our pain.  Death and suffering don’t come naturally to us, but God has sent us the Comforter.  God supplies for our needs.  He comforts.  He gives joy and peace in the storms and trials of our lives.  When the storms come, He is the One in which we can take refuge.

The Lord is the One who provides the peace that surpasses all understanding which guards our hearts and minds when we pray to him in our times of anxiety.  The Lord is the One who shows Himself strong for us when we remain loyal to Him.  The Lord is the One whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.  It is the Lord in which we need to continue to trust.  He will be as faithful tomorrow as He was in the beginning.  He does not change.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness, in which we can place our trust and our hope!

jamie

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True trust in God

I know it’s Christmas, which is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but the next chapter in my regular reading this morning was about Jesus’ crucifixion.  He was brought before Pilate, accused, betrayed, scourged, ridiculed, struck, spat upon, mockingly worshiped, forced to carry His cross, pierced, blasphemed, and killed.  Only as He died did one of the centurions proclaim, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

During our Christmas performance at church last night, Mary, the mother of Jesus sang a song that said, “Only God knows what my eyes cannot see.  When I don’t understand, I still believe there’s a plan…that only God knows.”  Mary had trusted the Lord even when it made no sense to her.  Joseph had done the same.

As I read about Jesus’ death this morning, I couldn’t help but note the striking difference in feelings that emerge from the story of His birth and the story of His death.  How proud I felt last night of Mary and Joseph for truly trusting God, in His sovereignty, and being vessels to carry out His plans.  We find Joseph trusting in and obeying God more than once as we read the scriptures.  We find Mary, not only being willing, but also magnifying and rejoicing in the Lord.

The story of Jesus’ death includes His mother, as well.  Yet, as I read about her looking on as her Son had been humiliated, abused, and was now suffering and dying on a cross, I felt such sadness for her.  How much harder must it have been to continue to trust in God’s plan during that pain.

And yet, we find her afterwards, in Acts 1:14, gathered with the other believers, continuing in one accord in prayer and supplication.  She continued to submit herself to the Lord and His will even though she had witnessed His will including the horrific death of her Son.  She understood what Jesus’ death meant.  She understood that there is so much more to this life that what our eyes can see.

Oh, how I pray that we will be able to trust in the Lord as Mary did.  As the end approaches, and things increasingly point us away from the Lord, we must still trust in Him and His will.  He still has a plan, and if we’re willing, that plans still includes us.  There is so much more for those who believe in Him.  There is so much more than what our eyes can see or what we can even understand.

The birth of Mary’s Son brought the gospel, healing, and deliverance to those who heard and were touched by Him.  The death of Mary’s Son brought salvation upon the whole world.  Whatever God does through our willingness is also a part of His plan.  We can trust in the One who continues to be faithful.

Counting on Him,

jamie

Don’t forget who He is

When going through trials and tribulations, if we have no refuge to which we can run, how can we stand?  If there is no shield in which we can trust to guard us, how do we keep moving?  Without a Comforter to overwhelm us and bring the peace that passes understanding, how do we not lose all hope?  With no solid foundation on which to make a stand, what keeps our feet from slipping into calamity, misery, or death?

God was the Restorer for Joseph.  He was then the Deliverer of the Israelites from the hands of Pharoah.  He was the Promise-Keeper for Abraham and Sarah.  The power of God was a cloak for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace, heated 7x hotter than usual, so that their clothes did not even smell of smoke.  God was mighty enough to shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel, delivering him from certain death.  David counted on the Refuge, that was God.

God was the Salvation of the people in Ninevah.  Jesus is Savior of the world, and the Forgiver of the woman at the well.  He was the Comforter of Peter.  He was the Healer of the centurion’s servant.  God was the Redeemer of Saul, who then become the apostle Paul.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.  He is the one who is coming quickly, bringing His reward with Him.

God is zealous for His people, saying that, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Without the hope that comes from knowing and trusting in God, how can we have any endurance for this life.

He has been my Healer, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Shield, my Refuge, my mighty Defender, my Strength, my Comforter, my Hope, my Provider, my Forgiver, and so much more.  Who has He been for you?

Allow Him to be more,

jamie

 

Integrity in action

Pr. 6:16 starts a list of 7 things the Lord hates.  One of them is a lying tongue.  It seems to just be the norm that people lie, or at the very least make endless excuses for their actions.  Last night; however, I was refreshed when speaking to a college freshman who was telling me about his first “all-nighter” of the semester.

He wasn’t bragging, mind you, but just telling me about how he only got 15 minutes of sleep that night and that he probably won’t do things that way next time….meaning, he won’t procrastinate.

His assignment was a book review.  It was due Monday morning, and Sunday night he sat down to work on it.  His plan was not to read the book, but just get some bits and pieces and type his review from there.  However, his plan was spoiled when he stumbled upon the integrity statement on the assignment.  The statement basically said that by turning this assignment in I am saying that I read the book in full, etc., etc.

After exclaiming in a bit of frustration, he knew what he must do.  So, he stayed awake until 4:30 a.m. reading the book in full, and finished his assignment by 6:30.  He simply said, “I couldn’t lie.”

Honestly, I was amazed by the story of the character this young teenager.  If he had written his review well enough, no one would have ever known if he had truly read the book or not; however, he knew that reading the book was his only choice.

It reminded me of Joseph.  His own brothers sold him into slavery, he was thrown in jail for something he didn’t do, and he was forgotten by one who promised to speak well of him.  Although the Lord had given him visions of a life of greatness, over and over he found himself being stepped upon and despised.  He had every opportunity to become like the world and turn his back on integrity and on God.

However, deep down in his heart, Joseph loved the Lord.  He would not sin against his God.  Joseph’s love of God made him a man of character.  Even if no one was looking, Joseph’s fear of the Lord helped him made decisions that proved his integrity.  As a result, God used him for greatness, indeed.

I was encouraged by the choice of this young teenager who would not sin against God.  Truly, integrity and character are still alive in this world.  We still have a choice.  And, since God is the same God, He will still bless those who choose to honor Him.

Let’s imitate this young man of integrity.  When it comes to sin, for us who love the Lord, there is really only 1 choice.

Humbled,

jamie