Saturday, November 26, 2022

Joy

 


In the early morning I love to spend time in God's Word.  As I am having my devotions I enjoy watching the darkness outside turn to light.  Morning is one of my favorite times of the day.  Sometimes the morning awakens with a brilliant sunrise.  More often, it is a more gentle awakening with light becoming more and more evident in the lower sky.

The psalmist said in Psalm 143:8-9, "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.  Show me the way that I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You."  David, the Psalmist, was looking to the Lord for light and guidance in His life struggles. 

Even though I enjoy the beauty of early morning, I also sometimes I struggle to wake up to a new day with its issues and problems.  Currently I have a sister with a terminal illness.  This illness with its prognosis that she is facing breaks my heart. I was able to visit her and other family members about a week ago.  My family members live about 500 miles away.  I can testify that my sister's faith remains strong and is fixed on the Lord.  Our time together was one of sharing burdens and grief, but also joy and gratitude.  As my pastor recently said lament often comes before gratitude, and they often comingle together.    

I have other struggles and laments in my life as well.  Yet spending time in God's Word and watching the new day unfold always reminds me of the joy the Lord wants me to experience in spite of life's struggles and sometimes because of them.  

The night before Jesus went on the cross He spoke to His disciples of the joy He wanted them to experience.  That joy is found only in the Lord and not in the things, circumstances, or even people of this world.  Jesus said to His disciples that they would find joy in Him alone.  This is true of His disciples today, as well.  Jesus also said that no one will be able to take away our joy (John 16:22b).  He further said, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).  Jesus said that He promised the things He did before He died, "that they may have the full measure of My joy within them." (John 17:13b)  Jesus wants us to have overflowing abundant joy in Him even in the face of obstacles and deep trials. 

With His joy we can live with courage and with inner confidence.  We can't produce this confidence in ourselves.  It can only come by abiding in Him and by the Holy Spirit in us.  Jesus called Himself the Vine and called us His branches.  He said, "I am the true vine---Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." (John 15:1-4).

Joy can be found in Him in spite of circumstances!  Joy can be found only in abiding in Him!  Joy can be found only in seeking His glory and living for Him.  Joy can be found in Him in the deepest night of trials and by rejoicing in His light!



Sunday, November 13, 2022

Grace That Will Keep Us


I had not intended to post this week, because of some events happening in our extended family which has greatly saddened my heart.  Yet this morning in church our choir, of which I am a part, sang a song which greatly encouraged me.  Perhaps it will encourage your heart as well, if you are going through some extra difficult times.

The name of the song is "Grace" by Carolyn Hamlin.  Here are the words for that song:  "Lord, as I seek Your guidance for the day, I find my thoughts unyielding, confusion crowds my way; but then when I  bow to You, the challenges You guide me through.  Your promises are ever new. I claim them for today.  Your will cannot lead me where Your grace will not keep me, Your hand will protect me.  I rest in Your care.  Your eyes will watch over me, Your love will forgive me; and when I am faltering, I still will find You there.  Each new day's design is charted by Your hand and graciously revealed, as I seek your master plan.

Keep my steps faithful when from You I go.  Return me to the joy that Your blessings can bestow.  Your will cannot lead me where Your grace will not keep me, Your hand will protect me.  I rest in Your care.  Your eyes will watch over me, Your love will forgive me; and when I am faltering, I still will find Your there.  Your eyes will watch over me, Your love will forgive me; and when I am faltering, I will still find You there."

If you are hurting today, as I am, may this song bless your heart.  God is always there to comfort and to guide.  His grace to us is a wonderful blessing.  His will does not lead you where His grace cannot keep you.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Beyond the Weariness

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with or weary from a situation or circumstance in your life?  Perhaps you are the caregiver for a loved one which requires much of your time or energy.  Perhaps you have a serious illness yourself.  Perhaps you have a situation at work which is overwhelming.  Perhaps you have a family member who is requiring much encouraging and counseling, and you find this emotionally draining.  Perhaps you have yet another very difficult situation in your life, and you feel weary with it all.  

Yet you can know that God has placed you exactly where He wants you to be at this moment.  He wants you to be a tool in His hands for the benefit of someone else.  So you and I must stay the course and persevere in what God had called us to do.  This task that God has called us to do may only be something we can fulfill through God's strength and will.  We can also pray for each other, as we persevere in the tasks God has given us.  I ask for such prayers from you.




Friday, October 28, 2022

Trusting God When It Is Difficult

 


This week with her permission, I am going to use the words of a Facebook friend of mine.  She recently posted the words below on her Facebook status.  I got to "know" Rachel in a widow's group online of which I was a member a few years ago.  When Rachel became a widow she and her first husband were missionaries in Mexico.  Rachel too has remarried.  I have much respect for Rachel Chatham and share her words with you below:


For all of my life I've read about the story in the gospels where Jesus calms the storm and rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith.
The complex aspect of this is: Why did Jesus consider it a "lack of faith" for the disciples to be concerned and afraid of the storm?
Commentators say that it is because they weren't trusting in Jesus to take care of them. But the situation is much more complex that that easy answer.
Only two chapters prior to this storm, John the Baptist was thrown in prison for proclaiming the gospel and then later he was killed. Nowhere in scripture is there a guarantee that if we follow Jesus we will have happy and safe boat rides in a turbulent sea.
And yet, Jesus corrected the disciples for their lack of faith.
We all know that I watched my husband die on the mission field all the while his only desire in life was to serve Jesus and to preach the gospel. Isn't that what the disciples were doing in the boat? Weren't they proclaiming the name of Jesus?
When the storm raged It doesn't seem unreasonable for them to be afraid because they all eventually were martyred for their faith.
How did they know that they wouldn't die serving Jesus on a boat as they died later on in proclaiming the gospel? Paul was later shipwrecked, possibly on this very sea, and experienced much suffering because of the cause of Christ.
I think where the problem lies in our thinking is that "God would never..." God would never let our baby die. or God would never allow us to walk through poverty or the loss of a career. and finally, God would never allow my husband die on the mission field........"
Often times, when we approach the encouragement from scripture to "do not fear" it can seem to be based on an assumption that painful tragic things do not happen to God's people.
The encouragement we typically believe is that we are to trust God to calm the storm. Yet, tragic things very much do happen to God's people. The storms aren't always calmed and godly people do literally die in them.
Fear can almost seem reasonable and a normal healthy response, even while trusting God because we don't see in scripture a guarantee of safe travels and protection from tragic events.
What God has shown me in these years of widowhood and painful times, is to trust him, like Daniel, whether we live or die. We trust him whether we are in poverty or blessing, whether we watch our husband die or celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary, whether our baby dies of a life threatening disorder or whether God spares his life.
What God has shown me in the various suffering of my life, is that no matter what happens God is in control and he is good and loving.
I have found the answer to be a whole hearted yielding and surrendering to Jesus no matter what the outcome and having faith in his character that God is good and he's got my back.
II Corinthians 11
"Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked."
II Corinthians 4:17
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Goodness of God



It has been said that we have either just passed through a trial, are currently in the midst of a trial, or about to enter a trial.  Life is always a mixture of deep trials and also joyful moments.  Some of you are going through deep trials now.  Perhaps you are caring for a loved one who is sick.  Perhaps you are ill yourself and are fighting a serious illness.   Perhaps God has placed you in some other deep trial.  

Yet even through the trials there can be joy.  It is also through the trials ironically, that we learn of the faithfulness and goodness of God.  Through trials we learn that His mercy never fails, and that we are held in His hands.  God is good all the time and in all situations and circumstances.  His goodness and love is always running after us.  This should make us want to break out in song and praise to Him.  

Below is a link to a song about the goodness of God.  Click on the link below, and let the words of the song wash over your heart and soul.  God bless you.  



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f4MUUMWMV4

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Things Too Wonderful to Understand


The book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible is a book I have read more than once.  There are many profound insights in the book of Job especially in the last chapter, Job 42.

Job says to God in verse one of chapter 42, "I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours is thwarted."  Accepting God's plan in all things is sometimes difficult when going through difficult circumstances.  I found this to be true when I watched my first husband, Wayne, deteriorate step by step in his physical abilities.  I found this to be true also when I loss him to death nearly twelve years ago.  It is further true when the Lord provides both daily blessings and also allows difficult trials and stressful and sad moments in my life today.

Job did not know what God was doing in his life when he sent a whole series of very difficult trials.  Yet in the last chapter of the book of Job, Job comes to the realization that it is not his place to question God.  He says in Job 42:3, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me."  God does not owe us explanations for what He allows in our lives.  All we need to know is that God knows what He is doing and that He is a God who is always good.

Later on in the last chapter on Job, Job comes to realize that he has developed greater intimacy with God because of his trials.  Job says in Job 42:5, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you."  In effect, Job is saying this, " In the past I knew things in my head about You, but now my heart knows You in an intimate way that I never experienced before.  This came about because of the trials You allowed in my life."

The same experience that Job had of growing in intimacy with God through trials can be our experience as well.  We can trust God, because He always provides for us even in times of trial, and He is a God who is always there for us through both our joys and our trials.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Nursing Homes


There are many wonderful nursing homes which provide excellent and loving care.  In some situations this is the best choice for loved ones which can no longer be cared for properly at home or even in  a transitional setting.  My husband just retired after a 6 year term as a board member from such a wonderful nursing home in our area.

Having said that, we all know that nursing home abuse does exist in some facilities and settings.   I was recently made aware of a website/organization which is making people aware of this.  So today I am giving you as readers a link to their page on the web.  Hopefully, you will find their information insightful and helpful in your search for help with your loved ones for whom you are caring.

Here is the link to their page:  https://nursinghomesabuse.org/nursing-home-abuse/