Friday, May 19, 2017

To Know Him

“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.”  Philippians 3:10


I heard it said recently that we read this verse forwards, but we experience it backwards.

    • I am conformed to His death through denying myself and taking up my cross.
      • Through this death I fellowship in His sufferings.
        • Because I know His suffering and His death, I can then find the power of his resurrection.
          • Through these things I come to know my God more.

The word for know is ginosko in the Greek, and it signifies an intimate knowledge and acquaintance.  I want to know my God intimately.  How does this happen?  Through death, suffering, and resurrection.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of when fall inot the ground and die it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  John 12:24

This dying to self brings me into a more intimate fellowship and acquaintance with Him.  As I go through the pain and suffering of crucifying my old nature, I get a sliver of a glimpse of the Savior’s suffering me on Calvary.  But this death also puts me in a place to experience His resurrection power.  The dynamite power which Christ from the dead is mine.  To find resurrection I must first die.  All of these things put me into a closer knowledge and more intimate experience and understanding with my Savior, allowing me to say, “I know Him.”

Would I know His goodness if He were not good to me in the bad times of life?

Would I understand His nearness apart from walking through desperately scary times where I just needed to feel His presence?  (The valley of the shadow of death…”")

Would I be as thankful for His plan were I not put in a situation where my plan availed nothing?

Would I have endurance for this Christian race without being placed into a long-standing trial?

Would I know my God answers prayer without having to wrestle with Him over some hard matter?

That I may know Him.  Death is required. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My God is Good

One of the things I have struggled with most recently is knowing that God is there, hearing my prayer, and working out a good plan.  It seems that my prayers are going unanswered and that nothing is working or happening on our behalf regarding housing on our mission field.  With each delay and difficulty I have questioned “How can this be good?”  When these emotions surge I am learning that I must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  One way I do that is by placing Scripture Verses all over my house, so that I can see them and be reminded of God’s true Word, even when it doesn’t “seem” to match my experience.  This is one set of signs that I have recently placed on the wall I see first when I wake up in the morning.

My God is Near  My God is Good  My God has a Plan

Download printable PDF files here,
My God is Near // My God is Good // My God has a Plan

or JPG files here.
My God is Near // My God is Good // My God has a Plan

Friday, May 5, 2017

For the Sake of His Name

holzfigur-980784_1920I’ve been doing a study recently on suffering and trials and why God allows them into our lives.  Today I came to a Biblical example of these things: the Apostle Paul.  2 Timothy 3:11-12 says that he endured persecutions and afflictions at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.  We know that he battled a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12), and a couple of times he actually enumerated his physical sufferings for Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:9-10 tells us that Paul suffered

  • Hunger and thirst
  • Nakedness
  • Beating (“buffeted”)
  • No home (I can identify with that one!)
  • Hard work
  • Reviling
  • Persecution
  • Defamation
  • Made as “the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things.”

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 gives us an even more in depth look into Paul's sufferings:

  • In Labors
  • Stripes (beatings) above measure
  • Imprisoned frequently
  • Close to death often
  • Beaten five times with 39 stripes
  • Three times beaten with rods
  • Three times shipwrecked
  • One time stoned
  • Spent a day and a night in the sea
  • Frequent journeys (deputation anyone?)
  • In various perils – from water, robbers, his own countrymen, the heathen, in the city, in the wilderness, from false brethren.
  • Weary
  • In Pain
  • Sleeplessness (“watchings”) often
  • Hungry and thirsty
  • Fasting often
  • Cold and nakedness

Yet this same Paul declared that he suffered theses things because he was appointed as a preacher, teacher, and apostle to the the Gentiles, “nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persudaed that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim. 1:11-12). 

This same Paul said that he said that he suffers trouble as an evildoer, but will “endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Jesus Christ with eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:9-10).

This same Paul declared boldly in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 that he will gladly bear these infirmities and trials, even glorying in them, so that the power of Christ can rest upon him.  He uses these words, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

This same Paul referred to his afflictions as “light” in 2 Corinthians 4:17, and taught us that suffering is but for a moment, and is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

This same Paul told the Roman believers that he has added everything up in his account book (“reckon”) and can see that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).

Sometimes I feel crushed under the weight of my trials and tribulations.  It seems as if there is no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel, no break in the pain.  And I have not suffered anything close to what Paul endured, and he called it all “light”. 

If I could see with eternal eyes, I would realize like Paul that what feels bulky, and heavy, and crushing to me now will be like a drop in the bucket compared to the weight of glory that it will be some day.  I would be able to suffer and endure more easily because I would realize that this affliction is just for a moment, and it cannot compare to the glory which is coming.  I would be able to declare truthfully that I rejoice when suffering comes, because I know that the weakness I am enduring is putting the strength of Jesus on display. 

Lord, help me to see with eternal vision today.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Don’t Touch My Pain

wound-106374_1920Spring weather has arrived and with it many afternoons spent playing outdoors. With five children, I always have the Band-Aids close by. There is always a scraped knee or scratched elbow from running, climbing trees, or riding bikes. Recently there have been a plethora of ticks also, so we have to carefully check for them and remove them to prevent disease.

With each scraped knee, splinter, or tick, my kiddos cry out for help and relief from the pain. I reach for the peroxide and the Neosporin, but they pull back away from me. They are afraid of the sting which I know will clean their wound and ensure that infection is kept at bay. The sting is just for a moment, but without it the pain of infection will be worse and longer lasting. But my kids don’t understand that.

Even though I coax and whisper sweetly that it will be alright, sometimes they don’t trust me enough to care for their wound. I know the pain will stop in a moment, but they only know the certainty of the sting and pain of the cleaners and cream.  They want me to fix it, but they don’t want me to touch it.

As I repeat this several times each week, I can’t help but notice the similarity to my own life. I experience a trial or difficulty and I cry out in pain for God to stop it, to heal my wound, to make it all better. I grip my bleeding, painful heart and scream that I can’t handle the pain. I plead with Him to help me, ,to remove the pain, and to wipe away my tears. And yet, when He comes to me with healing hands, I shrink back from what He is doing, afraid of any more sting and unwilling to have Him touch my open wound. The pain has blinded me. I don’t realize that He is working and purifying my life. I don’t feel His touch as tender because I can’t get my mind off the sting. I don’t see that He is preventing the infection of sin and worldliness because I only feel the fresh pain of the open wound or the tweezers removing the splinter.

Pain is purifying. It removes the dross. It cleanses away the weakness. It makes us stronger. It is not pleasant and I hate the feel of it. Sometimes I shrink away from what I know He must do in order to restore wholeness and holiness to my life, because it just hurts so much. But I must let the Great Physician work. He can see the wound with eyes that grasp the whole picture, not just the moment of pain. He knows the best medicine, and His skillful hands perform surgery with the highest success rating.  He is using this pain for my good.

Even in my pain, I must trust Him to touch. He can heal. He can hold me and bear the pain with me. He knows best.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Day in the Life of Jesus

Pacific City, OregonRecently I have been reading through the Gospels, particularly to watch and see the suffering and trials that Jesus endured while on earth in a human body.  The Scripture tells us that He was tempted in all points like we are, but I know sometimes I feel like I am the only one going through _______________.  Sometimes I even wonder if the Lord knows how I feel or what I am struggling with.

In Matthew 14, we get a glimpse into the daily schedule in Jesus’ public ministry.  It makes me weary just thinking of it, and it helps me know that He understands when I feel like life is swirling out of control and I am weary to the bone.

This chapter begins with Jesus learning that His cousin, and His ministry partner, John the Baptist, has been executed in prison.  Jesus immediately departs for a “desert place”.  I can imagine He wanted to be alone.  To mourn.  To process what had just happened.  Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in everything going on around me, and I can’t quite get a grasp on it because more and more keeps flying my way.  I need to take a break and have some silence.

However, Jesus doesn’t get the silence or the quiet time to pray or talk to God.  The multitudes of people follow Him, and He spends the entire day healing them and teaching them.  When evening comes, His disciples implore Him to send the people away so they can buy food.  But Jesus takes His ministry a step further and feeds the people.  He expends yet more energy to perform a miracle, provide the meal, and clean up the leftovers. 

Jesus instructs His disciples to get in a boat and go while He sends the people away.  Have you ever seen a stadium after the crowd has disappeared?  What a mess is left behind!  Or entertained another family for dinner, and after they go you don’t have energy to wash the dishes?  But I don’t imagine Jesus left the hillside a mess.

Finally, Jesus will get His quiet prayer time.  I sometimes get to the end of my days with five little people and realize I didn’t have time to pray or study my Bible that day.  I’ve been trying to make place for it all day long, but it constantly gets crowded out by the needs of others around me.

Jesus gets to His quiet place, and then He sees that the disciples are struggling in the middle of a great storm.  So He goes to their aid.  My Bible says it was the fourth watch of the night, which I understand to be 3-6 a.m.  As a mom, sometimes I cannot wait for bedtime.  I finally close my eyes in exhaustion, and the baby cries in the night.  Even far into the night Jesus hasn’t had much time to Himself or to rest or to “recharge His batteries.” 

The Lord comes to His disciples walking on the water to still their storm, but they scream in terror and assume He is an evil spirit.  No faith to believe Him or to trust that He would come to their aid.  They panic.  Were they even praying for His help?  Were they looking for His rescuing hand?

Peter musters the faith to walk on the water to go to Jesus.  But in his distraction he begins to sink, and Jesus must perform yet another task – rescuing Peter from drowning, and then stilling the storm.

The weary men finally arrive at the other side of the sea.  But the sleepy town is waking up in the wee hours of the morning, and they hear that Jesus has come.  So they bring to Jesus all the diseased people to be healed.  And so begins a new day in the ministry of Jesus.

I am not putting myself on the same level as Jesus, but I am realizing in new ways that He has experienced the same things I am experiencing.  He has walked in my shoes.  And in dependence on the Holy Spirit, He was victorious and had a successful ministry.  In His strength, I can minister to the needs of my family and others around me today, though I be weary, and though I didn’t get much time to pray, and though the demands never seem to cease.  Even though the baby had me up half the night and I never got to prepare mentally for a new day.  Jesus is there.  Am I like the disciples, of little faith,  not really expecting Him to come to my aid at all?  Or do I have faith to walk this road with Him by my side, knowing He has already traveled the road before and knows its final end?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Joy in Answering Right

I haven’t posted anything from my study on joy recently.  It’s a lot to process, and even more to live out.  But I wanted to go back to it (I have moved on to another study now) to refresh and remind myself what I learned.


One thing that I often struggle with is the misuse of my mouth.  I get carried away before I notice…whether it is saying the wrong thing, using the wrong tone, or just talking too much.  I have two daughters, and I have been noticing that sometimes they just talk incessantly, and often it is the same dribble over and over again.  But then I realized…I do that too!  Prov. 10:19 says that in the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.  But Prov. 15:23 teaches us that giving the right answer brings us joy!

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”

The answer that I give and the way that I speak can bring me joy.  Sometimes it is just the timing that is vital.  Recently I was able to encourage a friend as she went through a trail.  I was able to say to her, at the right time, some of the things that God had taught me previously through the same trial.  It was a great feeling to be able to speak what I know God wanted me to say, at the right moment.  He had prepared me for that situation by allowing me to go through the trial already.  He had worked His own words into my heart through the difficulty, and then they were able to come out and be a blessing and encouragement to someone else in the same difficulty.  That was a joyous moment! 

“Many a good word comes short of doing the good it might have done, for want of being well-timed.”  --Mathew Henry

Last November I completed a study on 1 Samuel 25 – the story of Abigail.  Several times in that chapter Abigail illustrated this principle of the joy that comes from the answer that we give.  She was able to humbly address David (who was not yet the king) and speak words to him that helped him to see the error of his way, and stem the tide of his anger, which was bent on wiping out Abigail’s household.  She was able to not speak to her husband and tell him what had happened, because her husband was drunk and she knew it was the wrong timing to bring up the situation.  Later, when God had taken care of the situation (and her evil husband was dead), Abigail was able to rejoice in her part of giving the right answer.

I also thought of Joseph as a Biblical example.  His brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt, but God had promoted him to be the second in command in the entire country.  His brothers came to Egypt seeking food in the famine.  Joseph did not reveal himself to them on the first meeting.  He did not lash out and blame them for his trials.  He waited until the right moment to tell them that he was Joseph, and that God had used him to save many souls alive.  He used his tongue in the right way, and in the right time, and his relationship with his brothers was restored.

Some other examples would include Esther – her timing in approaching the king and waiting to give her request illustrates the need for proper timing in our speech.  Mary responded to the angel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).  She accepted what he wanted her to do, she gave a submissive response, and she had the joy of being the mother of Jesus.

Let’s have joy by the answer we give today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lavish Grace

I came across this quote from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth recently.  It struck me because often I forget that I am the recipient of God’s grace, and I do not deserve it.  When I forget how much I needed God’s grace, I think of myself in lofty terms and often treat others as not-as-good-as-me.  The truth is, we all need God’s grace, and when we get it, it is always undeserved.  I needed a reminder to live in the reality of His grace!

Lavish Undeserved Grace
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