God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

This is a great piece from the Bible Nerd blog that will really make you think.

God Leads a Pretty Sheltered Life

At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame before God’s throne, but with embittered belligerence.

“How can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?” snapped a brunette, jerking back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror, beatings, torture, and death!”

In another group, a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing the rope burns. “Lynched for no crime but being black! We’ve suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, and toiled ‘til only death gave release.”

Hundreds of such groups were visible across the plain. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was, they all seemed to agree, able to live in heaven where all is sweetness and light, without weeping, fear hunger or hatred. Indeed, what does God know about man? What does He know about being forced to endure the trials of life? After all, God leads pretty sheltered life.

Read the rest here.

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Rejoice in God’s Will

Here is a great devotional that is a good addition to my JOY theme this year. I read this yesterday at Crossmap.com titledNot Simply to Endure or to Choose God’s Will but to Rejoice in it.” The author of this devotional is none other than L. B. Cowman of Streams in the Desert. 

I live with several chronic pain illnesses and have often pondered the subject of God’s will, especially during this particular season of my life. Is it really possible to truly rejoice in God’s will, no matter what our difficulties are? Yes it is, and Mr. Cowman’s devotional is a good reminder of this. I especially appreciate this part of the devotional: “the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.”

Not Simply to Endure
or to Choose God’s Will
but to Rejoice in it

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

A stoic person despises the shedding of tears, but a Christian is not forbidden to weep.Yet the soul may become silent from excessive grief, just as the quivering sheep may remain quiet beneath the scissors of the shearer. Or, when the heart is at the verge of breaking beneath the waves of a trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.

It is said that springs of sweet, fresh water pool up amid the saltiness of the oceans, that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes, and that the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.

May it continue to be! Therefore, amid a multitude of trials, souls who love God will discover reasons for boundless, leaping joy. Even though “deep calls to deep”(Ps.42:7), the clear cadence of the Lord’s song will be heard. And during the most difficult hour that could ever enter a human life, it will be possible to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you learned this lesson yet?

Read the rest here.

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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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Please and Thank You continued

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My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
—Psalm 45:1

Several years after Rick and I first moved to northern Arizona, I was trying to make money through my freelance writing. Psalm 45:1 was my writing goal, but still God dead-ended almost every one of my efforts. It took me some time to finally realize that even though I said I was writing for God’s glory, in fact I was not. I spent tons of time furiously trying to earn money through my writing but my ultimate goal was to become a well-known writer.

When I came face-to-face with that truth, I was appalled. How could I have let myself be pulled into such a different direction from when I first started writing? I immediately stopped writing for about two years while I spent more time in the Word.

A curious thing happened during that writing hiatus. God called me to contribute to a book titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. I’ve shared several of the prayers I wrote for that book here before. The daunting part of this is that the editor gave me only three weeks to write 30 prayer entries—yes, you read that right: 30!

There was a big problem with this. I was struggling through some massive migraines during all those three weeks. However, God walked with me through the whole thing because I not only got them all written and submitted on time, there was very little final editing that had to be done. And how interesting that the topics I was assigned to write about were “Prayers of Supplication” and “Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving”—in essence, please and thank you!

One of my posts last week was titled Please and Thank You, which was about my first time as a counselor at Royal Family Kids camp. During that week, I spent my days and nights in constant prayers of please and thank you. In the same way, my heart was constantly uttering please and thank you prayers while God supplied the stamina I needed to write those 30 prayers.

God used those three weeks to remind me of where He wants me:
close by His side, relying on Him alone to get me through
.

A long time ago I read some wise words from an unknown author. They went something like this:

Don’t get so involved with the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.

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Valley of Vision

This wonderful devotional was written by Joni Eareckson Tada and included in her Pearls of Great Price book. Joni has always been an inspiration to me, and I hope you are touched by this as much as I am.

Valley of Vision

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Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 

—Psalm 84:5-6

In the days of the conquest of Canaan, the Valley of Baca was known as a dry, waterless place where only balsam trees could grow. Some have called it “a place of weeping.” However, when we trust God during dry, parched times, we can turn our valley of weeping into a refreshing “place of springs.” 

My favorite Puritan prayer about valleys has seen me through many a dry place in my spiritual journey:

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision… Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty,Thy glory in my valley.[1]

Psalm 23:4 says, “… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We fear no harm in the valley because death can only cast its shadow on us. Evil has no grip on us. Truly, we find God’s brightest glory in our darkest valleys. 

Lord, You are the Great Shepherd who leads me through every dark valley. I trust You to turn my valley of weeping into a place of refreshment and encouragement.

www.joniandfriends.org

[1] Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision… A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, The Banner of Truth Trust, Pennsylvania, PA, 1997, Preface.

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Reblogged from Lynn Mosher: Encouraging the Heart-Uplifting the Soul.

This wonderful post from my bloggy friend, Lynn Mosher, goes along with my JOY and FAITH themes this year. Lynn has a special way of making a story come alive, and I know you’ll appreciate this as much as I do.

Thank you, Lynn, for allowing me to share this with my readers.

The Story of Joy and Sorrow

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Photo credit: Lynn Mosher

Once upon a time, twin sisters, Joy and Sorrow, lived in the same house with their Father, whose name was Comfort.

Joy skipped along her way enjoying every moment, savoring the sights and sounds of her everyday life, as her heart overflowed with praise and thanksgiving to her Father.

Sorrow, on the other hand, was somewhat defiant, rebelling against her Father, grumbling because of the pain in her life.

Nevertheless, they both experienced the same trials and heartaches, and yet, they each went about their day singing a different tune.

Read the rest here.

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Prayer When I’m Overwhelmed

 

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Many of us are struggling with so much these days. Health problems. Financial troubles. Maybe the need of a job or a place to live. Perhaps our children are not living as they ought to be. Or it may be that we have no idea where our next meal will come from.

I hope you will be blessed by this devotional that I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. This particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Supplication. 

 

When I’m overwhelmed by cares . . .

I will relieve your shoulder of its burden;
I will free your hands from their heavy tasks. 
—Psalm 81:6 NLT

 

When the cares of my heart are many,
thy consolations cheer my soul. 

—Psalm 94:19 RSV

 

Cast your cares on the LORD 
and he will sustain you. 
—Psalm 55:22

 

The LORD lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. 
—Psalm 146:8 NLT

 

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is 
always thinking about you and watching everything
that concerns you. 

—1 Peter 5:7 TLB

 

. . . I will pray.

Precious Lord,

From my window, I see children playing in the yard next door, soaking up the warm air and bright sunshine. I still remember those carefree childhood days, filled with simple pleasures—but that seems so far away now. Instead I feel as though I’m buried under a flood of cares: bills to pay, personality conflicts at work, family disagreements.

My life seems to be buried under an avalanche of responsibilities to be met and problems to be solved. My cares cover me like a cloak, blocking the sunshine from my dreary heart.

Help me lift my head, Lord. Fill me up with Your Spirit. Help me to throw off my cloak of sadness and let in the sunshine of Your love.

As an act of faith, I close my eyes and reach out to You—the Giver and Sustainer of life. I release my cares to You, one by one, piling them high at Your feet. The disappointment at work, the unexpected car repair, my aching joints, and on and on and on . . . until every burden is transferred from my shoulders to Yours.

Thank You for being my Burden-Bearer.

Amen.

Tell God all that is in your heart,
as one unloads one’s heart, 
its pleasures and pains, to a dear friend. 
Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you. 
—Francois Fenelon

 [From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

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FAITH for God’s Promises

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God has never promised to solve our problems.
He has not promised to answer our questions …
He has promised to go with us.”
—Elisabeth Elliot

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The Lord Brings JOY to My Soul

This is a story I wrote several years ago. It is pure fiction except for one thing: millions of people live with physical pain—or emotional pain or financial difficulties or _______ (fill in the blank)every single day…

The Lord Brings JOY to My Soul

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When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
Your love, O LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought JOY to my soul.
—Psalm 94:18-19

“Good morning!” Sherri smiled and waved, then hurried to help Macy up the ramp.

“What’s so good about it?” grumbled Macy. She stopped and leaned hard on her cane as she struggled with her shoulder bag.

“Here, let me.” Sherri slid Macy’s purse strap up higher, then gave her friend a hug. “Can I help you with your shopping?”

Macy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d be so grateful. Today has been a pile of things gone wrong.”

Sherri helped Macy into the store’s motorized cart and then pulled a shopping cart out for herself. They moved from one aisle to the next as Sherri tried to keep the conversation light. Macy just responded with grumbles or shrugs.

At the checkout, Sherri placed Macy’s items onto the checkout counter before unloading her own cart. In the parking lot, she stashed Macy’s grocery bags in her trunk and then turned to help Macy out of the cart.

“There you go! Do you need any help getting this stuff put away at home?”

Macy’s eyes widened. “How can you be so nice when I’ve been so rotten to you?”

“I figured this wasn’t a great day for you when you couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful blue sky,” Sherri replied. She lightly touched Macy’s shoulder. “The pain is pretty bad today, isn’t it?”

Macy nodded. “Yeah, but I had no choice. I needed so many things and I’ve been putting this off for days.” She struggled into the driver’s seat and looked at Sherri. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“You know. You look and sound so joyful when you must be feeling so bad yourself,” Macy said as she gestured to Sherri’s leg brace and the splint encasing her right wrist.

Sherri smiled. “I just picture God’s comforting arms around me, holding me close. Just the thought of that brings joy to my soul.”

Macy regarded Sherri for several moments. “You know, I should probably try that too.”

Beloved, life is not easy! But I’m sure you already know that. Please understand that I am not saying that thinking differently will change your circumstances. What I believe to be true is that changing our thinking can affect how we perceive our circumstances.

Trying to find joy in our circumstances is not easy, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I fail at this a lot but I’m thankful that most times I remember to reach out to the only One Who can bring true joy into my life: my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

May I pray for you about this?  Please reply in the comment section below this post or shoot me an email: faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.

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