Pain’s Absence vs Pain’s Potency

PainsAbsence-PainsPotency

Scripture reminds us that God’s presence does not equal
pain’s absence.
However, because of God’s presence,
pain’s potency
is limited.
Difficult times may certainly lead to dark days,
but dark days need not mean defeat.
Ask God to give you strength to call on Him,
even in the darkest moments of life.

Begin this day crying out to the Lord.
Wait expectantly for His answer and trust His presence.

—Paul Purvis, First Baptist Church Temple Terrace
Temple Terrace, FL

Magnificence from Insignificance

Magnificence from Insignificance

By Patricia Knight

In the early history of mankind, for decades God’s people followed a predictable pattern of disobedience, prompting God to allow their enemies to conquer and enslave them as punishment for their sin. When the people could tolerate servitude no longer, they cried out to God in repentance. God was merciful and raised up judges to deliver them from exile and to lead them back into fellowship with Him. Peace was enjoyed for a time until the people once again adopted the pagan methods of worship. Then the cycle revived and revolved as before.

The judges God selected from among the Israelites had no specific knowledge or talent, but God was aware of their potential.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at the outward appearances,
but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The Lord focuses on a person’s character and desire to submit to His will and instructions.

God called the lowly rather than the mighty to do His work. God used Ehud, the second judge, to deliver peace to Israel. Left-handed and courageous, Ehud was qualified for the gruesome task of killing Eglon, the enemy Moabite king. Because most people of his day were right hand dominant, only Ehud’s right side was searched for a weapon before he entered the king’s quarters. “Ehud made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing” (Judges 3:16). From there he wielded it to kill the king, ensuring peace in Israel for the next eighty years.

Israel had no iron weapons, but for Shamgar, the third judge, an ox goad was the tool of his trade. A crude instrument used for prodding draft animals, it was a long wooden rod, sometimes fashioned with a metal tip. The ox goad doubled as a weapon of war that Shamgar used to kill 600 Philistines who had been terrorizing their main route of travel (Judges 3:31). Shamgar learned that whatever you have, no matter how humble, God will use it for His glory.

Judge Gideon was commissioned to save Israel from the Midianites. As leader of a group of quiet, persistent marchers, Gideon signaled them to blow trumpets and break pitchers at the precise time appointed by God, demolishing the walls of the city of Jericho. The enemy was pursued and subdued by the Israelis, securing peace for forty years.

When God first called Gideon, he was weak, frightened, and timid. Before Gideon could serve, God had to strengthen his wobbly knees and his cowardly heart. It proved to be a long, arduous process. God was patient, always supplying the man He chose with His Spirit of power. Weak vessels are the only kind He will use, not wanting man to boast of his own accomplishments, only those that glorify God.

After judges ruled Israel, the people begged God for a king like those who ruled their neighboring countries. Saul, their first king, had a humble beginning as a donkey wrangler. The people chose Saul based  entirely on his physical attributes. Saul was not God’s choice, but because the people were insistent, God allowed them to learn a difficult lesson. “God changed Saul’s heart; the Spirit of God came upon him in power” (1 Samuel 10:9, 10b). God was patient and instructive with Saul, giving him every opportunity to succeed, but Saul didn’t give himself wholeheartedly to God or to the people’s interests. His monarchy was punctuated with pride, selfishness, personal ambition, disobedience, and jealousy. David eventually replaced Saul as king. Contrast Saul’s performance with that of David, God’s choice for king. David’s heart openly communicated and worshipped his heavenly Father. He was fervent about serving God and his people, whereas King Saul was self-serving.

God typically chose little men in character; mediocre, and feckless, to do His work—to lead and to achieve. They had no obvious talents and often possessed glaring faults, sometimes the very reason God chose them: Moses escaped after murdering an Egyptian; Jesus’ disciple, Matthew, was a despised tax collector; the Apostle Paul sincerely believed he should annihilate all Christians; and Peter, Christ’s disciple, denied knowing his Master on three consecutive occasions. God uses common people to do uncommon jobs; ordinary folk to perform extraordinary feats. He converts His weak children to towers of strength to promote His important tasks, all of them through the Spirit’s power and direction. The weakest and the most unprepared were believers God could mold and make from a previously inadequate person into a useable instrument for His glory. “Does the Potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay something for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9:21).

Is God using you to your full potential to accomplish His work? If your heart is open to His love and responsive to His leadership, there is no end to the magnificence He will create in your life. You may never be recognized as a person of importance, but God knows that your heart is responsive and prioritizes obedience to Him. “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter. We are all the work of your hands” (Isaiah 64:8). No one who yields to the molding of God remains commonplace. Our Lord only deals in the extravagant and the splendid, lavishing believers with unique abilities to accomplish His sovereign work. “But each man has his own gift from God” (1 Corinthians 7:7).The more we submit to His will, the greater power with which He equips us.

Believers, exercising their own efforts, are unable to achieve anything for Christ. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit within us, who provides the strength and grace to please God and makes our lives count for Him. “The Lord… has filled you with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills” (Exodus 35:30-32).

As a believer, would you be eager and available to respond when God has a job to be done? To be hand-picked for a unique task, as the judges and kings were in ages past, identifies us as outstanding in our faithfulness toward God today. God delights in His servants and endows each one with spiritual gifts. God peers into your heart, looking for your willingness to serve, obey, and submit to his will. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

Let us offer ourselves unreservedly as instruments for God’s work. Mortals cannot submit to the immortal without a major transformation occurring. Insignificance will give way to magnificence under God’s direction!

My Shelter

Ps73-SovereignLord-Pier--AMP

My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever.
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do. 
—Psalm 73:22-26, 28

My #Glory

My Glory

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me;
my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
—Psalm 3:3

That God is “glory”—or “excellence”—beyond our understanding, none can deny. But do our hearts look up to Him today in humble, earnest worship, and know the truth, and speak the truth—”Thou are MY GLORY“? Our safety lies in the fact that He possesses us. Our deepest, holiest joy comes only when we humbly say in the hour of secret worship: “Thou art mine.” Oh, Lord my Glory, be Thou my shield this day. Amen.

The Lifter Up of Mine Head

Oh, Thou who hast given
Thy glory to me,

Anoint my blind eyes

Till Thy glory I see.

Lift up my bowed head,

Be my shield and my light,
Till Thy radiant glory
Shall banish my night.

[Taken from Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord, by Charles E. Hurlburt and T. C. Horton. Copyright © 2002 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.]

My thoughts

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, O LORD,
make we dwell in safety.
—Psalm 4:8

According to Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Psalm 3 has been called a “morning psalm:” in other words, a good psalm with which to start the day.

He calls Psalm 4 “an evening prayer.”

I love the way Dr. McGee puts it: “In spite of all the problems and troubles that David had, he trusted in the Lord. He could sleep at night … He simply trusted in the Lord, pillowed his head on the promises of God, and went to sleep.”¹

Imagine! David “pillowed his head on the promises of God, and went to sleep”! I love the visual imagery this conjures up.

A good night’s sleep is something our bodies need in order to regenerate and get ready for the next day. But for many of us, sleep problems dominate our lives. When we don’t get the refreshing and restoring deep sleep we need, we suffer the physical, psychological and emotional effects throughout the next day, and often beyond.

I’ve always been a very light sleeper. I will fall asleep almost immediately, but then wake up at the least bit of sound. After years of sleepless nights, I’ve learned to wear ear plugs. These do a great job of muffling the harsh sounds that jar me awake.  Certain sounds slip through anyway every so often, like the barking of neighbors’ dogs or the annoying beeps of a smoke detector that needs new batteries.

As I begin to fall asleep, there is usually a hymn going through my mind, one of several that I’ve somehow remembered from listening to Scripture songs over the years. I drift off while praising the Lord in my mind and heart and this, plus the silence that surrounds me, usually puts me right to sleep. And I notice that when I wake up during the night to change positions, that same song is still running through my mind.

But then there are the nights when I can’t sleep, no matter what I do or think about. That’s when I need to remind myself—like David did—to pillow my head on the promises of God, letting thoughts of anything else work their way out of my mind. I need to relax and allow Him to comfort and soothe me through any negative or unsettling thoughts, which only work against my desire and need for sleep.

Beloved, no matter how much or how little sleep we get, one thing should be a constant source of comfort to us: that the Lord is always with us while we sleep, keeping us safe in His care. And no matter if our night is sleepless or not, we can still rejoice in each new day and take comfort from the knowledge that the Lord is:

  • OUR SHIELD
  • OUR GLORY
  • THE LIFTER OF OUR HEADS

Now that’s something worth counting on!


¹Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee. Copyright © 1982 by Thru the Bible Radio.

Strengthen your #Faith

There is a great question and answer section on Billy Graham’s site titled Answers. Today’s post is from there and is an excellent reminder for all of us.

Q: I admit my faith is weak, but I know it would be strong if I could only see Jesus with my own eyes, even for just one minute. Why shouldn’t I ask God to do this for me?

A: God has already given you everything you need to make your faith stronger. Instead of praying for Jesus to appear to you somehow (which He never promised to do), you should be praying instead for the discipline to use the means He has given you to strengthen your faith. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

I often think of the similarity between physical strength and spiritual strength. What do we need to stay physically strong and healthy? We need two things: food and exercise. If we don’t eat, we’ll grow weaker, waste away and eventually die. And if we don’t exercise, we’ll also grow weak and won’t be useful or helpful to others.

Read the rest here.

Pearl of Great Price

Pearl of Great Price

by Joni Eareckson Tada

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value,
he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46

One day my father-in-law, Dad Tada, presented me with a family heirloom, a string of genuine pearls.  He told me they had been harvested in Japan, not far from where he lived much of his life.  I was captivated by the milky, soft glow of each perfect pearl.  Ken draped the pearls around my neck, and I wheeled to a mirror.

As I admired them, Dad Tada explained how a pearl is produced.  A tiny bit of sand lodges in the flesh of an oyster and becomes an irritating intrusion.  Unable to expel it, the oyster covers the particle with layer after layer of a milky secretion until the irritation has become smooth, round, and acceptable.  It also, inadvertently, becomes a precious gem.

A pastor once wrote, “Pearls, unlike other jewels, are drawn from the animate creation.  (Other jewels are made from rocks and crystals and are mined out of the earth…)  Pearls are produced by life — a life which has overcome the working of death.”

Jesus, the Pearl of Great Price, is unlike any other.  He is the precious gem set apart from the rest.  He lived in such a way that He overcame the working of death.  He is superior because His love poured forth from a life wounded by pain.  He has become our example.  We experience irritants in our lives, but God gives layer after layer of grace until the irritation becomes smooth and acceptable.  What was an intrusion becomes a precious gem for all to admire… and for God to receive glory.

Pull your string of pearls (imitation or not) from your jewelry box and hang them over the mirror above your dresser for a few days.  They will brighten your bedroom and your appreciation for Jesus, the One and Only Pearl.

My wounded Savior, teach me through Your example to let intrusions in my life become pearls.  Remind me how You transform pain into beauty.

Joni and Friends


Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.