I Wonder – Followup

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Last week I was looking back at some of my first posts, back in 2011. My second post was titled “I Wonder…” When I read it again, I was struck by how much has happened and yet stayed the same since then. Hmm… isn’t that considered a paradox?

This is what I wrote then.

Lately I’ve been wondering about the deeper meaning of life. I mean, what if this is all there is?

I read this earlier today:

“If I see God in everything, He will calm and color everything I see! Perhaps the circumstances causing my sorrows will not be removed and my situation will remain the same, but if Christ is brought into my grief and gloom as my Lord and Master, He will “surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7).”

Now, I have to start by saying that I do try to see God in everything, but I’m not really sure about that “calm and color everything I see” stuff. When I live with yet another migraine (and this current one has lasted almost all week), hear about helpless hurting children, view photos depicting yet another flood or earthquake, read about another tax hike-pay cut-employee cutback-home foreclosure, or simply stand by the side of a close friend struggling just to make ends meet, I ask myself again: what is life really all about? Are we simply here to suffer through life’s challenges and then die? Or is there something more?

We all have a yearning to know the reasons behind our circumstances—that desire to justify the bad things that happen to us. If we seek to do what is right, help others who are in need, and are very careful to not hurt anyone or anything, why must we still suffer?

I don’t have the answers, although I know Who does. Stay tuned…

Fast forward 4 years to where I now am physically.

Every day is a new adventure in pain. I still live with several chronic pain illnesses: Fibromyalgia (FMS), Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), and chronic migraines. CFIDS is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

Some people with FMS or CFS/CFIDS/ME get better over time. Others get worse, and I’m in this group. Add to this that my migraines now assault me daily. We live at a 5500 foot elevation, and my doctor told me once that she believes my body never has adjusted to living in a high elevation area, even though we’ve been here for almost eleven years.

Every prescription medication I’ve tried for any of these illnesses has either not worked for me or caused huge side effects. Alternative therapies such as acupressure, acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic or massage only work as long as it takes to administer the therapy. Several years ago I used to work out several times a week, until I realized that exercising through my pain was causing even worse migraines.

Does this get me down? My feelings try to make me feel frustrated and helpless about all of this. But read on to find out the one Reason I can grab hold of those feelings before they take over.

This leads to what’s going on now with me spiritually.

I am more convinced than ever that God is with me every single day. My true hope is in Jesus Christ and this is what carries me through each day. On days like today when I’m going through yet another FMS/CFS flare and everything I do causes even more pain, migraines and nausea, I struggle with all of this.

Not the why of it, because I know everything in my life is part of God’s plan for me. It’s the persistence … the everydayness of it … that is wearying. 

These days, my life is a very delicate balance. I need to weigh everything. If I want to do something as simple as the laundry, I need to allow for rest time before as well as afterward. And most times there is payback after the activity even if I have rested well beforehand. It is very frustrating.

In spite of all that, there persists in me a joyful hope that never fails to uplift my heart. I know without a doubt that God is always with me throughout all of it. And if anyone can truly understand my pain, it is Jesus. He not only understands it, He holds me close in His arms and comforts me when I am in pain and feel discouraged. He is my God of hope. He helps me cling to that hope, which turns my frustration and weariness into joy and peace.

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:13

Beloved, please remember that if we completely place our trust in God, He will fill us with hope, joy and peace. The more we trust in Him, the more He supplies all the hope, joy and peace we need every single day.

Hope in God is saying “no” to fear or discouragement, and by so doing, saying “yes” to something that will satisfy much more down the line. Wait on God, believing that what God has planned is so much better that what we grab for ourselves! —Joni Eareckson Tada

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YHWH

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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. —Deuteronomy 6:4

The four letters of YHWH are often referred to as the Tetragrammaton, which literally means “four lettered name.” Vowels were later added to the Tetragrammaton to make the name YAHWEH, which is most commonly transliterated as JEHOVAH.  When a Bible translation has LORD in all caps (actually capital L and small capital letters), it signifies JEHOVAH. 1

“One of the oddities of history is the loss of the proper pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH, the personal and covenant name of God in the Old Testament. ‘Jehovah’ is a spelling that developed from combining the consonants of the name with the vowels of a word for ‘Lord’ (Adonai). ‘Yahweh’ is probably the original pronunciation. The name eventually ceased to be pronounced because later Jews thought it too holy to be uttered and feared violating it. It is translated ‘LORD’ in this version.” 2

Recently I saw a video titled YHWH. It is a powerful presentation of what our YHWH should mean to us, especially during this time of year when we contemplate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

This video was a project started by Dan Stevens in which many people worked to put together an awesome video. The final product—the video below—will cause you to praise God, our LORD, for His many attributes. He is indeed our great I AM.

You can read all about this collaboration at www.YHWHproject.org. If you scroll down almost to the bottom of the home page, you can read the narration, Words by Sh’maya / shmaya.co.uk.

 

1 PreceptAustin.org

2 THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Believe!

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 If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?  —Oswald Chambers

There is a strong connection between the words believe and faith. They both come from the same root word in the Hebrew.

Faith (pistis) is a noun, something you have:

  • a firm persuasion
  • assurance
  • certain conviction
  • Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

Believe (pistueo) is a verb, something you do, based upon that faith:

  • to trust in and fully rely upon
  • to accept as genuine and true
  • to be firmly convinced about
  • For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. —2 Timothy 1:12

True faith in God should lead to our believing in what He has done for us.

Some people will think: If I really could believe!  

but the point truly is: if I really will believe.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light
for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
 
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done
has been done in the sight of God.
—John 3:16-21

Jesus places much emphasis on the sin of unbelief:

 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue,
so that they were astonished, and said,
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary,
and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
“And His sisters, are they not all with us?
Where then did this man get all these things?”
And they took offense at Him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor
except in his hometown and in his own household.”
And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:54-58

“This is a tremendous revelation. Note what it was that limited the power of God when He was here. It was unbelief! “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. He did very few miracles there. My friend, the great problem with you and me is that we do not have faith to believe—and I’m talking about faith for the salvation of men and women. We need the kind of faith that believes Christ can save the lost. He is limited today in your own community, in your church, in your family, and in your own life by unbelief. And this is certainly true of me also. Our Lord states a great truth here. Let’s not bypass it.” (1)

Beloved, read that last verse again:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
—Matthew 13:58 

It should not surprise any of us that Jesus places so much importance on the sin of unbelief.

If you have any questions on how to be saved—in other words, in how to completely trust in Jesus—please read my A…B…C… page. And you are always welcome to email me at faithlhj777 at gmail dot com. 

Related: http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/spiritual-life/believe-in-your-heart/

(1) Copyright © 1983. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee

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Great is Your Faithfulness

Great is Your Faithfulness

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Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:21-23

How often do we do things that disappoint the people in our lives?

Maybe we’ve made a promise that later we found we can’t keep. Perhaps we raise our voice in anger again even though we don’t mean to. And how about the times when a friend or family member tries to sympathize with our pain? They mean well, but you’re certain they just don’t understand. I’m sure you’ve wanted to tell them, “You have no idea what it’s like to be in this kind of pain every day.”

At this point, we have two choices: to dwell on our misery or get on with the business of life.

We can moan and groan about our circumstances so everyone is aware of how much we are hurting, or we can demonstrate God’s presence in our lives by rejoicing in the knowledge that He is faithful to be with us through our tough times.

I have a very close friend (you know who you are!) who is a good example of one who lets God shine through her in spite of her constant pain. She once shared her feelings about pain with me this way:

“It is just pain. It could be worse. I could be suffering with pain and dying. It is only pain. I can still live and make the most of my life, to extend myself as far as I can go, to reach for the stars, to do the unimaginable. The pain will still be there. So, why not celebrate?”

This dear friend is such an encourager. Her positive attitude is a beacon of light in the darkness of pain. Quite simply, she makes me smile no matter how awful I’m feeling.

Beloved, the Lord is our only hope! He knows exactly what our pain is like and He will help us through it “every morning; great is [His] faithfulness.” He understands how constant pain can undermine a positive attitude and make us feel hopeless. But He’s always with us, ready to offer His love and comfort: “therefore I have hope.” Won’t you please pray with me?

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s so hard to be cheerful and hopeful when I’m feeling so rotten. It’s easier for me to just give up and let the pain take over. But, Lord, I know that You love me too much to let me feel this way. Thank You for what You are teaching me through these trials and for being with me always. Help me to let Your joy flow through me to touch the lives of others who may also be suffering. You are great and greatly to be praised! Amen.

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The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

Last week I shared Jack Kelly’s article, The Three Questions of Matt. 24. I consider this to be a kind of followup to that so I wanted to post it soon after the Matthew piece. Since this one is a Bible study, it is longer but well worth the read.

The Olivet Discourse … Luke’s Version

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelly  

Students of prophecy often pay more attention to Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse because of its greater length and detail. But when we bypass Luke’s account, we miss one third of the Lord’s message. That’s because the disciples asked the Lord three questions and in Matthew 24 He only answered the last two. Also, it’s Luke’s answer to their first question that confirms the whole message as it relates to the End Times.

Here’s why. When a prophet revealed events that would take place beyond the lifetimes of the people he was speaking to, the Lord often provided a short term partial fulfillment to validate the distant prophecy. This is because He had told the people that if what a prophet said didn’t come true, then the people were not to fear him, for he hadn’t spoken for the Lord. (Deut 18:21-22)

Read the rest here.

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Your Stay on Earth

 

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If you address as Father the One
who impartially judges according to each one’s work,
conduct yourselves in fear during the time of
your stay on earth;

knowing that you were not redeemed
with perishable things like silver or gold
from your futile way of life
inherited from your forefathers,
but with precious blood,
as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,
the blood of Christ.
—1 Peter 1:17-19, NASB

Did you know that we are all in a temporary living situation? Our earthly home is just a brief blip in eternity. According to the English language, eternal means:

without beginning or end, always existing, lasting forever

We are only on this earth for a very limited, brief time. I was struck by the different ways “the time of your stay on earth” (the NASB version above) is expressed in different Bible translations:

English Standard Version (ESV): the time of your exile

New Living Translation (NLT): your time here as “temporary residents”

New International Version (NIV): your time as foreigners here

Common English Bible (CEB): the time of your dwelling in a strange land

So, Beloved, how are we spending this momentary period of time? Are we existing just for each day? Do our lives reflect simply our current circumstances? Is there any proof that our lives here are joyful?

Or … are we fully preparing for our eternal home by immersing ourselves in the Word and sharing the Gospel message and telling others about our ultimate Hope?

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.

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.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
—Philippians 4:4-8

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The Three Questions of Matt. 24

The Three Questions of Matt. 24

From GraceThruFaith

A Feature Article by Jack Kelly  

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)

One of the mistakes Christians make in reading the Bible is caused by our tendency to look at everything through “Church colored glasses.”  By that I mean we read it as if it all applies directly to us without regard for the context or historical background.  I know Paul said everything that was written in the past was written to teach us (Romans 15:4) but that doesn’t mean it was all written to us or about us.  It means we’re supposed to learn from the experiences of those who came before us.  A prime example of this kind of mistake can be found in our interpretation of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25).  I’ll show you what I mean.

Read the rest here.

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Please and Thank You

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A couple of weeks ago I encouraged you to try the Thank You Challenge 2015. I didn’t remember until recently how and when my own thank you lifestyle began, so I want to share that with you today.
 
Back in the late 90’s, I served as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp, for abused and abandoned children. On the last night of camp when all counselors and administration staff gathered to pray, we counselors were surprised to receive a special gift. Although we didn’t know it, the camp administration team had been watching all of us counselors as we interacted with each of the children in our charge. They met each night to search the Scriptures and find just the right verse to describe each of us.
 
To my utter surprise, Hebrews 11:1 was given to me.
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God called me to this ministry even though I felt totally unprepared and uneducated for the task. I tried to ignore God’s call on my heart but He kept showing me that He wanted me to go there. I resisted, until one night at a prayer meeting I heard Him whisper to my anguished heart, “I want you to do this for Me.”

How could I ignore that?

One of the little girls in my charge was a particularly tough case. This sweet little 8-year-old had been shuffled from one foster home to another. She was certain of only one thing: that she could expect abuse or negative treatment on a regular basis. Like so many of these abused children, she learned to bury her true emotions and instead developed a defensive posture, along with the frequent tendency to declare “No!” in response to any suggestions, fun or not. 

Her stubbornness was not easy for any of us to deal with. Whenever we were to start anything new, whether it was crafts, chapel, or even games, her standard response was “No!” She would literally crouch down and keep shouting this over and over again. I found myself praying almost constantly that entire week. My prayers would start, “Please, God…” and as the Lord helped me deal with each difficulty, they then became, “Thank you, God…” 

Our goal was to give these children a week of carefree fun, but her tantrums kept testing my patience and that of the camp directors. After a couple of days of this negative behavior, we had a discussion about sending her home early which greatly upset me. How could we take away this one week of fun from someone who rarely had the chance to do anything enjoyable? I pleaded with the directors to give her another chance and they agreed. 

That night I asked God what I could say or do to help her adjust better because I wanted her to enjoy her camping experience. He showed me that her life was full of commands. She was never asked about anything. He then gave me one word: choices. 

Even at camp she was expected to adhere to rules and a schedule, which in itself is not a bad thing, but difficult for her to deal with considering what the rest of her life was like. As I prayed about all of this, God showed me that if she was given some limited choices, her responses might be different. 

That week at camp was a mixture of faith and fear, trust and anxiety, exhilaration and fatigue. God heard my Please and Thank You prayers and honored them as I faced each new challenge. The completely awesome part of this whole story is that before camp week was over, my stubborn yet sweet little charge asked Jesus Christ into her heart. And not only that, but a few years later, I heard that she was a counselor-in-training there! 

Beloved, Please and Thank You are very powerful words. They bless the giver as much or maybe more than the receiver.

 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
—James 4:10

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

—G.K. Chesterton

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From the Great Omission to the Great Commission

By Anna Popescu
First published at Cataclysm Missions International on  March 1, 2015  

From the Great Omission to the Great Commission

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee,
to the mountain where Jesus had sent them.
When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but some doubted. 

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, 

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
Go, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you.

Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

—Matthew 28:16-20, ASV

Do you believe you are not equipped to share the Gospel message? Perhaps you feel as if you would not be able to find the right words to say to someone about how Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind. Maybe you’re somewhat shy and tend to keep things to yourself. Or you could simply be afraid.

Any of these could be true but none of them are valid reasons for not sharing your Christian faith with others who need to hear it. Place your complete trust that what Jesus told his disciples is true:

I have said these things to you, while still living with you.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives, give I to you.
Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful.
—John 14:25-27

Please pray about and ponder the impact you can have on people in need of a Savior as you watch this video of Jonathan Cahn preaching “From the Great Omission to the Great Commission.”

 

Jonathan Cahn is the founder of Hope of the World. According to the “About” page on their website, Hope of the World “is devoted to giving out the Word of God to all peoples – to fulfill the Biblical mandate & Great Commission of God – to bring salvation to the Jew, to the Gentile, & to all unreached peoples of every land. Our mission is to spread the Gospel of salvation through radio, television, & shortwave broadcast, literature, internet, recordings, Bible distribution & compassion projects to the needy around the world.”

Please visit Hope of the World to find out more.

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