Tag Archives: truth

life throws punches

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life throws punches

Whether a Mom, businessman, husband, pastor, or child, we can all relate to the punches life throws our way from time to time. Ever think that some people seem to have more than their share? I know people like that! Scrolling through social media brings so many to mind, both complete strangers and friends, who are desperate for God to show up in the punches they’ve been thrown. Life can be yucky, even outright ugly at times, yet the trials we face are inevitable as long as we have breath in our bodies.

As hard as we may try not to, it’s easy to turn inward and wonder, “why me?” I think it’s a valid question, however if we look to God for answers when we’re in a pit of life, we will quickly see that we shouldn’t be surprised when things happen to us that we simply don’t prefer. In fact, a pastor that I often listen to who years ago battled cancer shared in his testimony, “why not me?” A bold statement for sure and a question I certainly would not pose to someone going through cancer, or any other such agony of life. His rather seemingly odd question was provocative nonetheless.

Looking into God’s Word for some wisdom, however, you might stumble across one or more of the following scriptures:

Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The truth is that when we are knocked off our block by an unwelcome punch being thrown our direction, we are (hopefully) driven to our knees in prayer seeking His help. It means in  humility we come to Him knowing that we are in desperate need of His power which supercedes our own. It means we recognize how desperate we are for Jesus. As much as we may think we are strong enough to handle all of life’s difficulty, we simply are not. It’s during these difficult times we recognize our need for a Savior. I believe the Lord uses these times in our lives to drive us to Him and pursue Him like nothing else.

So back to the question from the pastor regarding his cancer struggle of ‘why not me?‘, the fact of the matter is that none of us are immune from life’s difficulties and tragedies. We all will experience the negativity of life from time to time. It is only when we become residents of heaven, as followers of Jesus Christ, that we will not experience sickness, tears, and death. This side of heaven, however, problems and suffering are inevitable. It’s why we need Jesus. It’s why we need a Savior. When life is going great, unfortunately we don’t see our need for a Savior. Conversely, when we are in the depths of despair we are desperate for Him to intervene and illuminate the darkness we find ourselves in. Life brings both good and bad which is why it is essential to fill our minds with God’s truth in  both the good and bad days.

To me, this is the beauty of being a witness to someone else’s trial. A believer who is truly seeking the Lord, combating the lies of the enemy with God’s truth, fixing their eyes on Jesus, we can see how they boldly proclaim the Lord’s goodness and care to them. It is as if they are being carried through their trial by our loving God, because we know that He works in all things and nothing takes Him by surprise. He has the power to stop whatever the trial we’re in, but He allows it to draw us to Himself. His ways are higher and He works all things together for our good. Seeing life through His perspective which we won’t fully comprehend this side of heaven, makes the punches we are thrown a little less scary. We are never alone and this life is not all there is, thankfully. What a perspective!

 

 

 

Not even 9:00

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Not even 9:00

You know how some days just start off on the wrong foot? Like your two feet barely hit the floor from last night’s sleep, when “it” all starts. Next thing you know, you meet yourself coming and going! Exactly, one of THOSE kinds of days! You wish you could just run and crawl back in your nice, warm, cozy bed and pull the covers over your head, escaping to “La La land,” where ignorance is bliss.

“Those days” don’t allow you to have a cup of coffee, much less sip one. A shower may not even be in your day’s future. The pound in your head isn’t someone at your door relentlessly demanding your attention. Non-stop barking from your dog who’s upset for no apparent reason will not subside. Demands weighing on your shoulders, begging for your full attention with no time to process. It’s not more hours in the day you’re after, it’s less hours and more P&Q.

Thankfully, these days don’t happen often. Sadly, however, one of them landed right smack dab in the midst of an already trying week for me. Not being a morning person, it takes me just a few minutes (who am I kidding, an hour!) to operate on all cylinders.  Before I swept sleep from my eye, I was scouring the internet in desperate search for a new smart phone as one of the two of ours was on death’s door. In the midst of  trying to score a deal, faint sounds of my 6 yr old stirring in his room could be heard. Suddenly I remember it’s trash pick-up day, meaning I need to kick it into high gear to empty and scoot the cans out to the curb. Once inside, the thought hits me like a 2X4 that I haven’t made my husband’s lunch and he’s 10 minutes from heading out the door! Whining from our empty-stomached dog reminds me he’s out of dog food. Before I can scribble the words on my To Do list, my son’s squalling that the TV remote is lost. Tearing into the sofa cushions in search of that, only to hear the familiar ring of our only working cell phone. Hanging up from the Dr’s office to make a quick run to the bathroom, I hear the feet of my son hitting the kitchen floor as he’s hurriedly scavenging through the cabinets like a mouse on a mission for food. Once again the barking dog starts up, wind whipped trash cans need to be brought in before the downpour starts, my kid is screaming for his oatmeal, and……..it’s not even 9AM!

All I really wanted to do was get up, splash water on my face, run a comb through my short-cropped hair, sip a hot cup of coffee while reading my Bible. Instead, as my blood pressure is edging up from the morning’s chaos, I take a deep breath and quietly ask the Lord for a do-over. Settling down into the soft cushion of my sofa, I pull out my Bible and began to take in the Lord’s truth. His Words are like honey to my  weary soul (Proverbs 24:14, Psalm 119:28, Proverbs 2:10).  I ask Him to transform and renew my mind (Romans 12:2). I ask Him to redeem my day and to restore peace to my frazzled mind (Philippians 4:7). He reminds me I’m the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8), and that He is rejoicing over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). His Spirit reminds me to dress myself in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Donning each piece, I slowly and steadily find myself ready to take on the day while remembering that it is He who fights for me (Exodus 14:14).

 

 

What steps?

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What steps?

I love time spent with my closest of friends. Whether we shop, have dinner, drink coffee, or talk on the phone together, I am blessed to have a very small gathering of close, godly, prayerful friends in my life. I am confident that I could call on any of these select few and they will be available to help. What a privilege to have a friend! The Lord is so good to place those in our lives to help encourage and pray for each other. He certainly knew what He was doing when He created us for fellowship.

While having dinner together, one of my “besties” and I were sharing our hearts and prayer requests with each other, as we typically do whenever we meet. We both were feeling a little fearful of the future and where it might take us. My friend reminded me of a scripture. It’s a fairly common scripture and one I’ve read dozens of times throughout my life but the Lord must have known it was then that I needed to be reminded of it. It brought me so much comfort and encouraged my soul at a time when I desperately needed this truth planted in my heart.

We make our own plans, but the Lord decides where we will go.              (Proverbs 16:9, CEV)

This scripture reminded me of the truth of God’s Word, which I was desperate to hear. You see, my emotions were starting to take over, threatening to drag a dark cloud over me. Overwhelm was trying to sneak into my mind, causing my already anxious heart to fear the unknown. Once again, the enemy was on the ready to deceive me, cause me to doubt, and throw the spear of fear my way. Reminded of His Word, I was quickly jostled back into God’s economy, where peace overcame me once again.

I needed to be reminded that sure, I can and should ponder, pray, prepare, and make some plans based on how the Lord is leading me. Having a constant awareness of His presence helps me to see His perspective, rather than my distorted, short-sighted one. I need to know that it is He who directs me and orders my steps. Also insightful are the additional references that Matthew Henry’s Commentary provides on this particular scripture:

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14-15, NIV)

Now may our God and Father Himself, and Jesus our Lord guide our steps to you [by removing the obstacles that stand in our way]. (1 Thessalonians 3:11, AMP)

So, as you forge ahead in the new year, remember to ask Him to yield your will to His, and to open and close doors of opportunity according to His perfect plans for your life. His way may look completely different from the plans you’ve desired for yourself; in fact, they may initially look absurd. Rest assured, He knows best, so we can release our desire to control into His very capable hands. As I continue in my daily reading of His Word, I feel more confident of the unknowns in my life for it is He who goes before me.

 

 

don’t be fooled!

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I love some good Bible studies and teaching from God’s Word. I have several favorite teachers, including of course, our church’s pastor. As much as I enjoy taking part in women’s studies whenever possible, I’ve come to realize more and more how crucial it is for believers to check everything against our standard: the Bible.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (2 Peter 2)

One of the best ways to know whether a teacher, author, and even a pastor is sound in his doctrine is to go to God’s Word to determine if what they are saying is in fact accurate. Additionally, ask God for His wisdom and discernment. Anyone worth his salt will say, “don’t take my word for it; go search it out for yourself in God’s Word”. Unfortunately, people will manipulate God’s Word to read or interpret it to fit their agenda. It’s vital to ask the Holy Spirit to help you read the Bible. It’s important to read God’s Word in the context in which it was written.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. (Mark 13:5)

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.    (Mark 13:22-23)

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

My husband, who has the gift of teaching, has cautioned me on more than one occasion that just because a book is stocked and consequently sold within a Christian bookstore doesn’t mean it is sound doctrine. In fact, many years ago, I worked in a Christian bookstore and quite often customers requested a particular & very popular book that the owner would not carry because he believed it to be inaccurate teaching. We have to be careful to remember that there is an enemy who is alive and well who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Our minds have been said to be the battleground. What better place for our enemy to attack us than in our minds. (2 Timothy 1)

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.    (2 Tim. 1:7)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Clearly, it is evident why we need to be familiar with God’s Word so that we can discern the enemy’s lies from God’s truth. My childhood pastor illustrated it this way: ‘if you wanted to create a counterfeit dollar bill, how would you go about it? You would study the real thing‘. I wholeheartedly believe this is our enemy’s tactic. He (the enemy) wants us to be confused, so busy that we can’t take the time to discern for ourselves, distracted, and consequently exchange the truth for a lie.

The takeaway: Don’t allow yourself to be fooled and duped. Seek out the truth by studying God’s Word for yourself, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He loves to give us wisdom and knowledge but we must ask for it.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)

Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, that I may not sin against You.            (Psalm 119:11)