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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Sinful Man … Holy God

According to Ecclesiastes 7:20,  Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.

That is a real problem with only one solution: Jesus Christ. By His death on the cross, He bridged the gap between sinful man and God.

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God showed how much he loved us
by sending his one and only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love–not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice
to take away our sins.
—1 John 4:9-10

Jesus Christ chose be the bridge between sinful man (all of us) and God. In accepting the penalty for our sins, Jesus’ death on the cross paved the way for us to be able to live in paradise with Him forever. There is one catch: we each need to ask Jesus Christ into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord of our lives.

It is very easy to ask Jesus Christ into your life:

ADMIT that you are a sinner.

BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for you.

CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life.

You can read more details about this on my A…B…C page.

I watched this video the other day featuring Chris Tomlin singing “At the Cross (love ran red)” and I know it will bless you as much as it did me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

In case you cannot view the video for any reason, go here to read the entire lyrics.

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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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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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Sing to the Lord

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Sing to the Lord,
for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.
—Isaiah 12:5-6

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Welcome Patricia Knight!

If you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you’ll recognize the name Patricia Knight because she has graciously allowed me to share some of her devotionals here from time to time. Now Pat has agreed to contribute to my blog on a monthly basis, so it seemed appropriate to tell you a little bit about her.

As I’ve shared here before, I consider Pat to be one of my Christian mentors. She is my far-away friend whom I met online in 2003 when we were both writing devotionals for the same online chronic illness ministry. Although Pat and I have never met in person, we share such a strong love for the Lord that our bond of friendship has strengthened immeasurably over the years.

Pat and I have spoken by phone a few times but our daily lives don’t mesh well enough to make it possible very often. We live on opposite sides of the country so there is that 2-3 hour time difference. We also each endure chronic pain illnesses so our awake times are very different. Even though Pat lives with extreme pain most of the time, her constant encouragement and thoroughly trusting dependence on the Lord have shown me how to live joyfully no matter how I feel. As she wrote on a card she sent me recently: 

As iron sharpens iron so one woman sharpens another.
—Proverbs 27:17

In this case, I like her use of “woman” instead of “person” as the passage was originally written. Yes, she and I do sharpen each other to keep us grounded in our faith.

Pat is the author of REJOICE! and PURE JOY, two books filled with joyful devotionals. Besides having written encouraging devotionals for an online chronic illness ministry, she currently maintains a ministry of handwritten encouraging notes for those who are hurting. I have been blessed many times over the years with one of Pat’s beautiful notes!

Pat, I’m so thankful for the blessing of you in my life!

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The Potter’s Clay

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There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have delivered us into the power of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand. —Isaiah 64:7-8

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God’s Will Be Done

I have been reading John MacArthur’s wonderful book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer (1) and am learning so much! I was particularly struck by a portion in Chapter 6, “Your Will Be Done,” where Dr. MacArthur shares this portion of Philip Keller’s A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer. (2)

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Caution: you will never again sing Change My Heart, Oh God (by Ron Kenoly) without remembering this powerful story.

Author Philip Keller, while visiting in Pakistan, read Jeremiah 18:2, which says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” So he and a missionary went to a potter’s house in that city. In his book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, he writes,

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece …. On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases, and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he led the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop. When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me. For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. “This is where the work begins!” he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole. With his long, thin arm, he reached down into the darkness. His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

“I add special kinds of grass to the mud,” he remarked. “As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay. Then it sticks together better.” Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart. In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me ….

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly. It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory to Jeremiah 18: 3. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.”

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter’s stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water. Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water. As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands. And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands. Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands. The water was the medium through which the master craftsman’s will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay. His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father’s will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word ….

Suddenly, as I watched, to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop. Why? I looked closely. The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet …. Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object ….

Suddenly he stopped the stone again. He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet’s side. It was ruined beyond repair! In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands….

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (Jer. 18:4). Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force. Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master’s hands? Because he had run into resistance. It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father’s will – His intention to turn out truly beautiful people – brought to nought again and again? Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster? Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter’s shed was this: Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl? Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God’s very life from which others can drink and be refreshed? Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passers-by will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it? It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

“Father, Thy will be done in earth [in clay], in me, as it is done in heaven.”

(1) Copyright © Third Edition, July 1, 2011. Alone With God, John MacArthur Jr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

(2) Copyright © 1976. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, Philip Keller. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

 

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What Must I Do to be Saved?

Reblogged from As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith.

My bloggy friend, Raymond Gary Candy, has a wonderful blog called As Seen Through the Eyes of Faith. He shared this great post there a couple of weeks ago, a good reminder for those of us who already know Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. However, this would be a good tool to use if you’re unsure about sharing your faith with unbelieving family and friends.

Thank you so much, Raymond, for the granting me the privilege of sharing this with my readers.

What must I do to be Saved?

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“And brought them out, and said, Sirs,what must I do to be saved?
(Acts 16:30)

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi,we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (John 3:1-2)

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4)

Read the rest here.

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JOY for Your Unfailing Love

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When I rededicated my life to Jesus and was baptized back in 1995, I was still a baby Christian. I spent lots of time reading my Bible, but to help memorize Scripture verses, my wonderful friend Donna gave me several audio tapes containing songs set to actual Bible verses. Oh, did I ever love singing along to these songs, and to this day when I read certain Bible passages, the songs I learned back then immediately start playing in my head.

I was researching passages about JOY recently, and my eyes zeroed in on Psalm 90, verse 14:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, 
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 

I suddenly remembered a song I had memorized from one of those tapes, so I did some online research and actually found it on youtube:

Granted, the entire song is comprised of only the words of this Scripture verse, but that is exactly what helped me memorize it so well.

I found those audio tapes today (yes, I still have them!) and since I also still own a cassette player, I am going to start playing these again to refresh my memory. Call me a dinosaur for holding on to these old things, but why should I buy the CD or MP3 version of these if I already have them in an older format that still works perfectly?

Beloved, how about you? Have you ever used music to help memorize Bible verses?  Share your experiences with us below.

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