Friday, April 26, 2013

When Your World Is Falling Apart

      All of us, at some point in our lives suffer loss, grief, disappointment, agony, ill health. Most of us bewail our sad experience and wonder why God has done this to us, or, as Christians wonder why He allows such miserable things to happen.
      When our children go astray and ruin their lives, our hearts are broken. Some parents refuse to accept that their offspring could do whatever it is that they have done. Some parents break all ties with their children. Others try to keep the communication lines open and pray for them earnestly and continually, trusting that at some point, God will restore them to a right relationship with Himself.
When our health fails and we just want to die, our soul often despairs because our bodies remain in agony. We wonder why the Lord has left us to live in such a state. Sometimes we feel as if no one cares. We become lonely and depressed.
      Sometimes a storm, such as a hurricane, tornado, or sink hole, destroys everything we have. Some people have suffered these calamities more than once. Anger and bitterness are normal reactions when calamity steals everything from us, or a loved one is brutally taken from us.
      Friend, God has not left you alone. If you don't know Him, it is possible He has allowed this into your life so that you would come to the realization that you cannot handle everything on your own. You would realize that you do NEED GOD. He cares for you as no one else ever could. He wants to comfort and strengthen you. He wants to give you His peace but He cannot, out of His good nature, override your determination to shut Him out.
      Sometimes God allows things (sometimes horrible, unspeakably painful things) into our lives so that the rest of the world, who don't know Him, can see how He helps you through those most difficult circumstances, so that they, too, may want to know their Creator.
      Satan goes to God every day, according to scripture, to tattle on we, God's children. (As if God didn't know and see everything.) Read the book of Job. In one day he loses everything, as he was the wealthiest man in the world at the time. All ten of his children die; all of his cattle and crops are gone; his wealth is plundered; and his wife wants him to curse God and die. After all that he is stricken will a very painful illness. Three of his "friends" come to him and for many days, accuse him of offending God and suffering the consequences for his unconfessed actions.
      Job gets depressed and grows weary of his "friends" trying to get him to confess to something he hasn't done.
      Yet, in the end, God heals him and gives him twice as much wealth as he had before and gives him ten more children. God also heals his body. Why did God allow all of this calamity? To deepen Job's love and resolve for his Creator, to show Satan that Job's love was deeper and greater than Satan's desire to destroy, and to show Job's friends that they were not as righteous as they thought they were. All of it worked to strengthen Job's character and solidify his faith in God.
      Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are: Romans 8:28—"For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose;" and Psalm 34:7—"The angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear Him."
      No matter what you are going through, though it may be the hardest thing you have ever done, trust God no matter how dark the day, no matter how bleak the circumstances or the horizon ahead. He loves you and only wants your best. God bless.

Friday, April 19, 2013


"His sisters sent unto Him saying, Lord, behold he whom Thou lovest is sick."-- John_11:3
THE LAPSE of years made it possible for the Apostle to draw aside the veil which curtained the happy friendship and fellowship of Christ in the home at Bethany. It was the one green oasis in the rugged wilderness through which He passed to the Cross!
There were diversities in that home, Martha, practical, energetic, and thoughtful for all that could affect the comfort of those she loved and served; Mary, gifted with spiritual insight and tender sympathy; Lazarus, probably a man of few words, quiet and unobtrusive, but Jesus loved each one (Joh_11:5).
The sisters never doubted that Christ would speed at all hazards to save Lazarus after the breathless messenger had brought the tidings of his sickness. Anything less than infinite Love would have rushed instantly to the relief of those troubled hearts; Divine Love alone could hold back the impetuosity of the Saviour's tender heart until the Angel of Pain had finished her work. He wanted to teach His disciples never-to-be-forgotten lessons, and also He was eager for the spiritual growth of the faith of the sisters.
This chapter might be more truly known as "The Raising of Martha," for our Lord enabled her, matter-of-fact and practical as she was, to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He insisted that her faith was an essential condition in the raising of her brother to life. The emphasis is on the word "thou" (Joh_11:40). Our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle, and He chose the least likely of the two sisters to supply the pivot on which He could rest the lever of His Divine help. As she withdrew her objection to the removal of the stone, her faith suddenly became capable of claiming the greatest of Christ's miracles.
He calls to us also to help our brethren. In many cases those who have received life from Christ are still bound about with grave-clothes, old habits and evil associations cling to them and impede their progress, and He bids us "Loose him and let him go." He asks for our co-operation in the emancipation of those who have been held fast in the power of the Evil One.
This was copied from my daily devotions on my e-sword program (free download), devotions by Charles Spurgeon. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love Hurts

            There are three children I pick up for Sunday school and church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. I've been doing this for about six years. I love them as if they were my own, but they are not mine and I cannot treat them as such.
            The way they talk to each other breaks my heart. Their older sister treats the middle one as if his very existence annoys her. She laughs at him when he tries to answer a question. She constantly tells him to shut up. She treats him as if he is the worst possible thing in her life.
            The youngest child so wants to be like his big brother that everything his brother experiences is his experience also.
            I see other families who constantly bicker, belittle, and put each other down. They may laugh on the outside but that doesn't mean those words don't hurt. Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22 say the same thing: "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly." A talebearer is not just a gossip monger (someone who spreads rumors); it is also someone who constantly tattles on someone else or blames someone else for their own misdeeds. A child whose parent allows this behavior is teaching that child that he or she bears no responsibility for his or her own actions, that nothing is ever their fault. This leads to anger, guilt, and self-centeredness. It must be dealt with or that child will be a bully, if not physically then emotionally.
            There are no wounds worse than those meted out by those who are supposed to love you. I would rather take a beating than have a member of my family belittle me. I know those wounds all too well. They don't heal without God's healing touch, but even after that the scars remain on the soul. The person who delivered those wounds may apologize, may even ask forgiveness, but the feelings of inadequacy and inferiority remain for a lifetime. Satan torments me with them on almost a daily basis, often in subtle ways I don't see until the end of the day. It keeps me from persevering. It keeps me bound to giving up instead of pressing on. It keeps me ineffective. I have prayed about it for years. I am progressing toward perseverance but at the age of 61, I wonder if I will accomplish God's will for me before this life is over.
            Do you have the right to demolish someone else's soul, especially a family member? Do you have the right to hold a grudge? Do you have the right to be bitter and angry? Well—what if Jesus had stayed bitter and angry at his tormentors? (We are all tormentors of Christ: He was wounded for OUR transgressions; He was bruised for OUR iniquities. The chastisement of OUR peace was upon Him. All WE, like sheep, have gone astray, and have turned every one to his own way. We could not have a relationship with Jesus if He had been angry and bitter. He forgave us (including you) our sins. He forgave us for putting Him to an open shame. He forgave us every curse word said, every vile thing we have ever done, every lie we ever told, every mean or hateful thing we ever did, He forgave every evil thought. Every one of the things we have ever thought, said or done, was LOADED, PILED, HEAPED, upon His back. The weight of the sins of this world caused Him to sweat great drops of blood as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane just before He was arrested. He who was perfect, who had NEVER done, thought, or said one evil, vile thing, who only did good to everyone He met, took our punishment and forgave us.
         Do you think you've suffered more than He? Look at Him, hanging on that cruel cross meant for the dirge of the earth. Do you really think you deserve less anguish, less pain than He? Jesus endured the shame of the cross for us. Why do we think we deserve better treatment than what He received? Who do we think we are? Thank God we are not getting what we deserve, because all we deserve is hell. Anything more than that is a blessing and mercy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

You Can't Legislate Morality

             If I've heard this once, I've heard it a thousand times. People who believe we should be allowed to do as we please often say this when Christians take a stand against abortion or gay rights. And they are right. Morality cannot be forced. God gave us the Ten Commandments to show us that no one can keep the law. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…" Isaiah 53:6.
            But if we don't at least attempt to legislate morality, how do we have laws to protect us from rape, murder, incest, stealing, malpractice, unsafe drivers, etc.? Without laws we would have chaos. What you think is right would not seem right to someone else. Who then would be responsible for determining right from wrong?
            Some laws are necessary. God put all them in the Bible to help us understand right living. Does He expect us to keep all of them? No. He gave them to us so we would know we can never get to heaven on our own. Our best efforts to be good will always fall short. We are imperfect beings in an imperfect world. But there is hope.
            You see, heaven is not awarded to the good. Hell is not punishment for the bad. Romans 3:10 says none of us are good. Jeremiah tells us that our thoughts are only evil continually. You don't believe that? Think about it. Even when you're thinking good, positive things, are you wondering what's in it for you? Are you trying not to think "so and so ought to have heard this sermon," or "I sure hope so and so gets his/hers?" Even when we're trying to be good our hearts are sitting in judgment of others.
            Homosexuals often sit in judgment of heterosexuals. Murders excuse their behavior because of something someone else did to them or because they are trying to make a political or religious statement. Some people who call themselves Christians sit in judgment of homosexuals, people who live together in intimacy without benefit of marriage, or have had an abortion. I must admit there are issues, and some political icons, that I take great exception to. I, too, am guilty of judging and being critical, and I must daily confess those sins (among others; I'm very far from perfect) and ask God for forgiveness.
            But does that mean I should, as a Christian, a born-again believer, accept the governments decisions without dispute? Absolutely not. I accept every person's right to choose right from wrong. However, I do not have to agree with every decision. I hate abortion. It is murder. Does the woman have a right to choose? Yes. Every person (even without government legalization) has the freedom to choose to kill or not to kill. The only difference is, women don't want to have to feel guilty about their choice, so they want government approval. The government should have stayed out of the whole issue. Abortion doctors are guilty of murder. The woman who chooses to have an abortion is guilty of murder. But both can be forgiven if they but ask God. Spare me the rhetoric of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's life. Abortion has always been a choice for the doctor if the mother's life is in danger. That's a no-brainer. In the cases of rape and incest, it is still murder, but again, we have a forgiving God. God has a purpose for every life. I believe in adoption. I believe in Biblical counseling. God understands these issues. He opens His arms in love, waiting to heal the hurt and heartache that comes with those decisions.
            God does not hate homosexuals. He hates the lifestyle and destroyed two cities because of it. It is not the nature God gave us. I've heard the argument that people are born that way. We are all born sinners, and, even as little children, it easy for us to be influenced to do those things that are not natural for us. God can heal. There are agencies out there that are able to help a homosexual change. It isn't easy. For some, the whole concept of what love is supposed to be has been skewed at some point. For some it has been there all their lives. For others it started in puberty. Regardless, God is waiting with open arms to heal you and show you His unconditional love. I do not have the skills to counsel these types of situations, but I can pray. I have, and have had homosexual friends. I will not abandon them. I care about them. I believe most homosexuals are nice people. They have many talents; they are polite, courteous, and friendly. I don't hate them. I just don't want them to be deprived of a relationship with my heavenly Father, who is the embodiment of love. No one, not even a Christian, can live in sin and have fellowship with God. God is holy and cannot look at sin. The only sin that sends us to hell is rejection of Jesus Christ as God the Son. If we receive Him into our hearts, we will allow Him to heal us of all of our sin and work toward making us more like Him.
            As Christians, we need to take a stand for what's right, not belligerently, but in compassion. Remember, it is not our goodness that will get us into heaven. The only difference between us and the rest of the world is our relationship with Jesus. If we aren't willing to show God's love and point the way to Him, we will be held responsible for our friends and loved ones who aren't saved, being cast into hell on judgment day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Messages Do You Give Yourself?

Do you ever call yourself names? Do you tell yourself you're dumb, stupid, or call yourself an idiot? If so, what prompts you to do so? Are these things that other people have said to you throughout your life? Do you get upset and mad at yourself every time you make a mistake, or lose something, or make a mess?

Are you technologically challenged (like me)? Don't think that just because I can post something on a blog that I am smart. I'm more like a robot. I can do what I have been taught to do, and some things take a lot of teaching.

The reason I'm writing this particular message is because I suspect there are a lot of people like me out there who are in the habit of putting themselves down. Maybe your parents, siblings, or classmates have put you down and you have accepted their opinion of you. Please don't do that anymore.

I discovered something about myself a few days ago that has helped me a lot. You see, I was one of those awkward kids who never quite fit in. There were a few kids that picked on me and I accepted their evaluation of me instead of accepting the evaluation of the kids who did like me. Our nature is to accept the negative first. Our minds are like digital recorders and the more negative messages we tell ourselves, the more we become convinced that that is who and what we are. This is negative pride. Whenever our attention is more focused on ourselves than others, we are being self-centered.

We recently went on a trip with other family members. Our truck was carrying the luggage of four people. I knew I had to pack light or everything wouldn't fit. I suffer from dry eyes a lot. I have packets of TheraTears that contain small plastic tubes of eye drops which are connected together. I packed 1 set of four tubes. On the way home my eyes became very irritated and I looked frantically for those eye drops. I took everything out of the side pocket of the suitcase. They weren't there. I took everything out of my make-up case. They weren't there. I took everything out of my purse. I could not find them anywhere.

I was so mad at myself for not being able to keep track of even the smallest thing. I must have left them in the motel room or something. I spent the next two hours fuming because I could not find the necessary drops to soothe my eyes. The day after we got home I found them—in my purse. The first thing that happened upon finding them was the Lord speaking to me: "You didn't ask me to help you, did you?" No, Lord, I didn't. "You didn't ask me to soothe your eyes, did you?" No, Lord, I didn't. "My child, there is nothing wrong with your mental status. Sometimes your eyes and your brain don't make a good connection—like your cell phone and a cell tower. You are not alone. Many people experience this. Stop beating yourself up. I don't make junk. You're okay." My father-in-law, recently deceased, once said pretty much the same thing to me. He told me to read a book called, "I'm Okay; You're Okay." I had forgotten about that book until now. God doesn't make junk. We are all okay, regardless of what anyone else thinks. God didn't make a mistake when He made you, and He didn't make a mistake when He made me. The Bible says God uses the foolish things of this world (like we all are sometimes) to confound the wise.