Woe

www.bible.com/1713/rom.8.18.csb

In a shot across the bow against the Health and Wealth Prosperity Gospel, we have this verse that very clearly says suffering is for the present time. Suffering? You mean like pain and sorrow, grief and loss? All the above.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all pain and suffering. There are times of great and surpassing joy that cannot be compared. God is good and He is good to His children. But the promise here isn’t for health and wealth. The promise here is not made dependent on your faith. The promise here is that we can expect suffering in this life because there is incomparable glory waiting for us. We must be tried and tested in order to shine. We must be polished and refined before we can reflect Him. All of our rough edges need to be worn away.

An ordinary piece of gravel is nothing to admire. It’s a rock. It’s common and ordinary. You take that same piece of gravel and put it in a streambed for 30 years, or in a rock tumbler and turn it for a week, what emerges is a smooth stone, a shiny stone that you will want to admire. It’s fine crystalline structure will dazzle your eyes with detail you couldn’t see before. That is the power of trial and suffering.

This present life is filled with such trial and testing. We don’t what we will look like, but it will be amazing. If we balk at God everytime bad things happen, if we complain and resist His change, will we be as stunning? All the beauty we will ever receive in this life or the next comes from God.

Let God work in your life today. Trust Him for the outcome. God bless!

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Ancient Wonders

www.bible.com/1713/psa.77.11-12.csb

What has God done for you lately? The Psalmist is lamenting that God’s attitude toward Israel has changed. He is going through a hard time right now and He feels God has turned away from them.

But then he remembers that God was not always like this. God did great and ancient wonders for the people of Israel. For them, it was the crossing of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army was pursuing them. He remembers fondly the great stories from Israel’s last when God was gracious and faithful. The Psalmist doesn’t satisfy his question though, as if he is still writing in the midst of his sorrow before God at last lifts the burden. No.

So the question he lays before God and the same question that we lay before Him is this: have you forgotten us? His answer to his own question is this: He did not. There were times in Israel’s past when their situation seemed dire. And God redeemed them, saved them from their peril. God has been faithful.

Will you trust Him now? You are in a situation now where it seems you are in peril. If God feels far from you, what miracle can you remember in your life that reminds you that He remembers you? The caption above include a view of an opened tomb, a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead for you. He died for your sins, offered you forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God can’t forget you. He lives in you. God can’t ignore you. He is present with you. Remember what He has done for you and whose you are. God is very jealous for His own. He will not lightly let you walk away or suffer trouble. If you are going through something right now, there is a reason for it. “Now God . . . will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Peter 5:10) did you see that? Suffering is part of our growth. Remember that this world is not our final destination. We have much to do before He calls us home. Our journey will be fraught with peril and difficulty. But to whom will be given the greater crown? The one who called God foul every time they stubbed their toe? Or the one who persevered through many trials, depending on God to help him through?

You say the suffering is greater than I can bear. I empathize. And I’m sorry. But can I tell you that that kind of suffering was not designed for you to bear alone? God sometimes calls us to lay our burdens on Him, trust Him through the suffering, allow Him to bear the burden with you. That requires faith, and is usually what I need to work on when I feel this way. Faith that is isn’t tested isn’t faith at all.

If we trust Him, especially in the great and precious promises He has made, them can we trust Him in the ordinary day to day stuff we labor with?

I know this is long, but this is something that has been on my heart lately. I want to encourage you. If you are going through something right now please comment below so that we can pray together about it. You are not far from my thoughts dear reader.

God bless!

Prayer of Petition

www.bible.com/72/psa.51.1-2.hcsb

Nothing hurts like a broken conscience. It’s when you can’t look a person in the eye anymore, or stand straight before others. When the burden of sin is a constant reminder that you are not a good person. It staggers the walk and stutters the speech. It points to depression and self-harm as the best answers for inner pain. Guilt will force you into decisions that you never thought you would make, and circumstances beyond your control. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! He heals the broken conscience and forgive even the hidden sins. He gives joy for sorrow and love for guilt.

Make today the day He heals your broken and contrite heart. Don’t carry your burdens any longer. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

God bless!

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

www.bible.com/72/psa.23.4.hcsb

“Darkest Valley” may be a better translation, but it will always be “valley of the shadow of death” for us reared on the King James. I’ve seen a few of these valleys in my my life, and counseled many others going through the same thing. It isn’t a pleasant place, but everyone’s road goes through this valley. David spoke to common experience, not just to his own.

Note here that David says we are not alone in this valley. The Shepherd is here. He carries both rod and staff. The rod to keep us on the path, and the staff to show us the way. When Christ is lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.

As sheep, we are apt to go astray and get lost in this valley. We get stuck here in grief and sorrow. We get caught in a niche or a corner and can’t see to get out. But the Shepherd will come, He will find us, and He will pull us away from danger. He is always looking for us, always working to keep us together where we are strong, rather than alone and weak. The Shepherd knows when our place goes missing in the flock.

Are you lost?

Are you alone?

Are you in the valley?

Then maybe it’s time to look for the Shepherd. He’s not hard to find. He’s the one carrying the staff. It looks like a cross sometimes.

✝️ = ❤️

It’s not all Puppies and Rainbows

www.bible.com/72/jas.1.12.hcsb

Sometimes it is trials and suffering. Sometimes it takes a longer perspective than what I am enduring in the moment. Long suffering isn’t just a circumstance, it is a life perspective. Why? Because this world is not our home. The minute we think it is, we’ve been deceived. Oh sure, it’s a nice place to visit. /’c we have many good memories here, but it isn’t home.

Had the conversation yesterday about suicide. Some people will tell you that they have a plan and a means to kill them selves. Those are the folks that need need immediate attention. But then there are the faithful believers who tell you that they don’t mind dying, and that they are ready to go. They are not suicidal, they are simply prepared to die. There is a difference.

As a Christian, you know there is a better place for us, and this world loses its appeal. We look forward to what lay ahead because He is waiting for us. That makes death an unwelcome but necessary transition. And we get that. And that becomes our perspective.

So when you encounter various trials, you don’t like it, but you know the testing of your faith, since you have been found worthy to be tested, will benefit you, and you will see the benefit once the trial is over. Even more, a crown, the sign of victory, waits for you at the finish line. We endure these temporary, light afflictions, light compared to the glory to come. For when we’ve been there a thousand years, the 80 odd years we suffered here will only be a memory.

I grieve with those whose only life here is suffering, and I pray that God will give them glimpses of joy. Help us to know Lord that all of this we endure is worth the price of victory. Help us extend our joy to others. Father this world is so dark, sometimes it is hard to see your purposes, the good that you’ve promised. Help me be light to someone today.

God bless you in your walk with the Lord today. May you shine brightly in this world as a beacon of hope. May others see Him in your eyes.

Devastated but Hopeful

www.bible.com/72/hab.3.17-18.hcsb

My life is in shambles, like a tornado ripped through and left me with debris. In 2012, a powerful tornado whipped through our sister community of West Liberty and many echoed this statement. A church was completely destroyed, along with several downtown businesses. The town was leveled.

Habakkuk reflects upon the devastation that results from agricultural failure. The olive trees, the crops, even the stalls for livestock are all empty. For someone living in sixth century BC Israel, this was a fate akin to death. When the crops don’t come in and there is nothing on the trees, you are done. Habakkuk knew this well and cried out to God. But in the midst of the cry was a note of hope. That despite all of the physical evidence that as a nation, we are finished, God is still a God of salvation.

It’s hard to praise when there is no blessing. It requires a perspective that acknowledges the now, but anticipates eternity. While we suffer in the present, this isn’t all there is. Though the world around us is destroyed, He is not. It is the ability to see past our circumstances.

The people of West Liberty rebuilt their town, but even today you can see the scars. You too can be rebuilt, but there will be scars. If you are suffering today, know that you are not alone. Perhaps God is using this time to draw you closer to Himself. The rich young ruler was told to sell all of his possessions and follow Jesus. Will your faith be in jeopardy if you lose a few things? I would like to say, “Absolutely Not!” But I can’t tell I wouldn’t be shaken either.

We all need a note from Habakkuk today, both to be grateful for the blessings we have (knowing they can be taken away at any moment) and for praying that we don’t follow Jesus for the blessings themselves. God help us.

And may God bless you today. Thanks for reading.

Lead On

www.bible.com/72/psa.143.10.hcsb

A simple plea of the Psalmist today for the Lord to rescue him. The Psalmist says he wishes to learn the ways of God and be led by the Spirit onto easy ground, because he’s been in some tough places. The Psalmist wants to live for the Lord, but life has really gotten in the way and he Psalmist pleads for rescue so that he can live for the Lord. Sound familiar?

I don’t know what you are going through today, but I’m sure you can empathize with the writer here. I could live for the Lord if He would just lighten the burden a little, give me a little breathing room. Some days are like that. I am too busy just trying to get through it that I forget that I have a loving God who is watching out for me. Sometimes it feels like He abandons us altogether. It feels like it. It’s like the parent who lets go of the bike so that his child can ride on his own. He is never far, but He lets you try it for a while. We never get tougher if we are always coddled. We need seasons in the crucible so that the dross can be burned away. We don’t like them, but they are designed to focus our attention on Him. God is seasoning us with stress and conflict, so that we will learn not to depend on our own wisdom, but His leading.

We know we need that. We just don’t like the process it takes to get there. No one does. No one enjoys boot camp, but it is a necessary process to take soft civvies and turn them into soldiers. We need the training if we are going to be effective servants. We know this is true, even though we cry out in the midst of it. But know that God is the way through it. Let Him lead.

God bless you today. Remember the struggle is not forever. You will get through this.