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When Life Goes Awry

June 23rd, 2017

Look past your pain to find God’s help.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, Who gives generously to all.” James 1:5 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “ When Life Goes Awry.”

Life does not always go well. And when it doesn’t, you either react or respond. It is important to know the difference. Do you feel sorry for yourself? Ask why? Assign blame? Accuse God? Panic? Those are normal reactions. I suggest that a Godly response is better. Have a good cry, then seek God for help and wisdom. Look past your pain to find God’s help to recover.

I have learned a practical definition for wisdom: “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” Trouble misdirects your attention and distorts your focus. James described the origin and character of true wisdom in this way, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 NIV.

There is an intriguing story in the early life of David. Already a fugitive sought by King Saul, David and his loyal men returned to their homes only to find that an enemy had raided their village and taken their wives and children as captives. Read 1 Samuel 30:1-20 NIV. What they did can be a pattern for your response when life goes awry.

First, grieving for a loss is normal. Deal with the reality and disappointment. Initially, grief is normal when things happen that you never anticipated. Such moments come into life. Unfair and unanticipated circumstances happen to all, as well as the reality of spiritual attacks calculated to devastate and diminish.

Next, blaming others is unprofitable. Instead of the enemy who caused their pain, they blamed David for their troubles. In your pain it is tempting to blame someone or something, but that only feeds your anger and despair. Avoid the blame game; it is unproductive, isolating you from any help and distracting from your goal, which is hope and recovery.

Redirecting toward recovery is useful. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV. David shifted his focus from what had happened to what could happen. Look past your pain to find God’s help to recover. “David was greatly distressed . . David strengthened himself in the Lord . . David inquired of the Lord . . Pursue: for you will surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” 1 Samuel 30:6-8 NKJV. Note the process for hope and recovery. Read James1:2-8 NIV. Did you notice that trouble is the context for wisdom? I love this definition of Godly wisdom, “Wisdom is the ability to see your situation from God’s perspective.” Oh the difference that makes! That kind of wisdom comes only from God, and is only given to those who ask.

Finally, encouraging yourself in the Lord is essential. The wisest thing is to look to God. God has not and will not disappoint you, and when no one else can, He gives hope and help. “Because God has said, ’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV.

And when you do, God gives clear direction. Ask God, “What now not why.” Understanding why comes later. God said to David, “Go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you.” 1 Samuel 30:8 NLT. There is nothing uncertain in God’s words. Read the rest of the story, 1 Samuel 30:16-20 NKJV.

From my Dad, I learned, “God will not withhold from you, nor allow anyone else to do so, without making room for something better.” There were painful but profitable times, as yours will be, but that helped me become more of what I could and should be. Both Job and Joseph underscore that truth. Read Job 42:1-17 NKJV and Genesis 50:20-23 NIV. I have found that true. I don’t know what difficulty you might be experiencing, but God does, and there is victory ahead. Romans 8:37-39 NKJV. When life goes awry, look upward and move forward.

Today, I pray for you to look past your pain and find God’s help for full recovery.

Christian Communications 2017-9177

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The Power of Praise

January 8th, 2016

“The High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.” Isaiah 57:15 NKJV.

When your faith struggles, bolster it with truth.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the power of praise.”

Feelings of distance need not suggest God’s disinterest. There are times when you feel God is distant, somehow apart from you. That is painful to the soul. You may or may not always feel Him near but He will always be there. When God seems distant, it is more likely that you have moved away from Him than that He has moved further from you. Where can you find God when you do not feel Him near? The answer is simple; “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 NKJV.

Difficult situations are rarely as unsettling as the emotions they produce. Emotions such as pain, fear, or anxiety can suggest God is not near. Even worse, painful emotions produce a false belief that God does not care. If God cared, we inaccurately reason, He would be there. Our fear is that God is purposefully distant from us. There will be times and circumstances when such thoughts conflict with truth, when such feelings seem to negate faith. When your faith struggles, bolster it with truth.

In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself by compound names. Among those is, “Jehovah Shammah, the Lord Who is there.” Ezekiel 48:35. Where you are, God is there. God reminded a nation in captivity because of their disobedience, that He would always be, “The Lord who is there.” Even the Lord’s loving reproof is never abandonment.

Again, let me ask; where will you find God when you do not feel Him near? Isaiah described God as, “The High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.” Isaiah 57:15 NKJV. We live in the confines of time; God fills expansive eternity. That could seem intimidating even foreboding, making God seem unapproachable.

The Bible also tells of another place where the eternal God will always be found. “You are holy, You inhabit the praises of [your people].” Psalm 22:3 KJV. Inhabit describes, “a place of permanence, a place to abide continually.” When you do not feel Him near, praise will bring you into His presence – from where you are to where He always is.

God chooses to dwell amid the joyful praises of those who know and love Him. Praise exalts God and welcomes His presence, redirects your thoughts from self-centeredness, releases your emotions from negative expressions, and reorients your focus on all that is good. See Philippians 4:4-9 NIV. Praise glorifies God as is appropriate in all situations. God seeks the company of grateful hearts.

Praise is the simple act of expressing thanksgiving and gratitude, telling God and others what He has done for you. “You are holy. You are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 NASV. Sincere praise establishes His authority and invites rulership in every circumstance. “Make His praise glorious . . Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise . . I will praise You with my whole heart.” Psalm 66:2/100:4/138:1 NKJV. Read Hebrews 10:22-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know your God is always gracious and ever present.

EDL pix praise keyboard

Christian Communications 2016

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The Problem and Purpose of Pain

March 19th, 2014

“Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 NIV.

God redeems your pain to accomplish His purposes, which are eternal.

My comments and considerations today are about, “the problem and purpose of pain.”

We can all agree; pain is a problem. Pain is inflicted by imposed or opposing circumstances, usually by troubling circumstances or trying people. (See Matthew 13:20-21 NIV) But does pain ever serve a purpose? Pain is too common for it not to have a purpose in some instances. For example, physical pain can be a necessary warning that something in your body is not as it should be. Pain in a relationship signals discord between two or more individuals that cannot be ignored. At such times, pain can be a blessing in disguise, refusing to allow you to disregard its cause and prompting you to resolve its source.

Pain comes in diverse forms. Most frequently, people think first of pain as physical in its origin and expression, but the source can also be mental, emotional, psychic, relational, or spiritual. Sometimes those may seem more difficult than even physical distress. In the Bible, pain is described as “suffering” or “affliction,” both of which appear frequently.

God does not inflict pain to achieve a temporal purpose; if you allow, God will redeem your pain to accomplish His purposes, which are eternal. Jesus bore the pain of your sins and mine. Read Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV. ”We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance [produces] character; and character [produces] hope . . because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 NIV.

The greatest pain you feel is when you can see no good whatsoever in what you are experiencing presently. You are not alone in your pain. Paul describes such a situation, “We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us.” 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 NKJV. When you rightly respond to God in trust and obedience, God transforms suffering from loss to gain, from sorrow to rejoicing. “Now if we are children, then we . . share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18 NIV.

When suffering righteously, an eternal perspective is a choice. Read Hebrews 11:25-26 NKJV. “For our light affliction[in comparison], which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV. Your pain is temporary; His purpose is eternal.

There is a day coming when pain is eradicated forever when, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV. What a glorious promise, no more pain.

My prayer for you today is that your praise will always replace your pain.

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Being Worthy

February 19th, 2014

“God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God.” Matthew 5:10 NKJV.

The magnificence of God’s blessing will outweigh your pain.

My thoughts and comments today are about “being worthy.”

Unfortunately, maltreatment is not uncommon in a hurting and unkind world. Don’t be shocked when it happens. It happens with strangers, friends, or even family, in public places, at work, in your home, or even at church, regrettably. On some occasions, you will feel ignored, slighted, overlooked, misunderstood, ridiculed, blamed, or mistreated. Your tendency will be to cause harm because of your hurt. Momentarily, doing so may feel better but only exacerbates the problem.

In our examination of Jesus teaching in the Beatitudes, we have discussed, “Being real, compassionate, submissive, satisfied, merciful, authentic, and peace-full.” Let’s dig deeper. (8) “Being Worthy.” To those who suffer unfairly, their reward will be magnificent. “God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours . . for a great reward awaits you in Heaven.” Matthew 5:10/12 NKJV. Persecution seems a strong word to use for the slights we experience when people around the globe live in the pain of religious, political, or financial suffering. But unfairness and mistreatment hurts whatever its source or severity.

First, take your pain and tears to Jesus. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 NIV. See 1 Peter 4:12-16 NIV. Talk to Him before you speak to others or about them.

Secondly, respond in grace rather than out of hurt. ”Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 NIV. What was done to you was not right, but what you do in return must be. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14 NIV. See Matthew 5:43-45 NIV.

Thirdly, persevere; the magnificence of God’s blessing will outweigh your pain. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in Heaven.” Matthew 5:10-16 NIV. Jesus spoke of reward for your righteous response when others do awful things to you without cause.

These words of wisdom were found on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in Calcutta, India, “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

My prayer for you today is that you walk worthy of the One whose name you carry.

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Joy and Rejoicing

December 2nd, 2013

“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10 NKJV.

Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “joy and rejoicing.”

For many years, our congregational welcome of the Christmas season has been with exuberant joy, expressing that joy with the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World; the Lord is come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room; and Heaven and nature sing.” It is my conviction that the entrance to all the other good things associated with Christmas rests in your personal discovery of the true joy the celebration of His birth can bring into hearts and lives. In fact, any Godly observance of the season that does not begin with and continue in unrestrained rejoicing is inadequate and unworthy of the One we celebrate. Peter describes such joy as being, “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” See 1 Peter 1:3-9 NIV.

An Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds, saying, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The joy God brings is qualified as excelling; it’s “great joy!” At such news, Heaven joy could not be sparing, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” Read Luke 2:8-14 NKJV.

Christmas as a holiday has become many things that it needs not be but one thing Christmas, as the birth of the Savior, absolutely must be is to be celebrated with joy and rejoicing, both exuberant and unrestrained. Joy is your choice; rejoicing is your personal expression of joy. Joy abides within every redeemed person, sovereignly placed there by God. The Bible is clear; included among the other attributes the Spirit of God imparts is: “The fruit of the Spirit is . . joy.” Galatians 5:22 NKJV.

Rejoicing is an outwardly visible expression of joy which may become impacted by outward circumstances, but joy, God given and resident in one’s heart and spirit, is untouched by circumstance. Paul describes such a moment, “The grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV.

Peter affirms the same truth, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice . . [that] you may be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NKJV. Don’t be deceived by your feelings or current circumstances. The emotions of pain and disappointment may seem to lessen or eliminate joy. If God is in you, His joy is in you as well. “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV.

Here is a truth about joy and rejoicing. Joy is the original initiative of God; rejoicing is always at your initiative. Joy releases rejoicing, and rejoicing increases joy. Rejoicing, like faith or the giving of thanks, is an act of a sanctified will, independent of emotions or situation. This is the way that works. The greater your joy, the greater your rejoicing. Likewise, the greater your rejoicing, the greater your joy becomes. God gave you the power to renew or release joy anew.

My prayer for you today is that your joy is fully evidenced in your rejoicing.

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