Afflicted, But NOT Broken

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NASB

Listen to Hillsong UNITED Good Grace:

Don’t let your heart be troubled

Hold your head up high

Don’t fear no evil

Fix your eyes on this one truth

God is madly in love with you

Take courage

Hold on

Be strong

Remember where our help comes from

Jesus

Our redemption

Our salvation

Is in His blood

Jesus

Light of heaven

Friend forever

His kingdom come

We are never alone. No matter what we are are currently struggling with. Who we are struggling to get along with. Circumstance, people, things, any outside influence – there will always be something working against us. That’s just the way of this broken world. Every day we make choices, and one of those choices is how deeply we will allow the enemy to afflict us. We don’t get to choose the type of affliction, or even how much effect it will have on us physically. Our choice is much deeper, soul deep. On the outside, I may be broken, afflicted by a physical illness or other limitation; I might be homesick, or homeless, broke, financially ruined, separated from loved ones. Inside, in my soul, that’s what counts.

Anything we face, everything we endure in this life is truly “momentary, light affliction“. As Paul says,

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, …..” 2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬9‭, ‬17 NASB

I’m not making light of any affliction or anyone’s struggles. God alone knows what you (and I) are dealing with. The one thing we need to focus on is this: no matter what it is we face now on this earth, the eternity we face as believers in the LORD Jesus Christ will more than make up for it. I can’t even imagine the agony awaiting those who reject Him. That is our choice, people. The single biggest choice that anyone, anywhere, anytime will face. Either you are for Him, or you are against Him.

Where do you stand?

Advertisements

We Are Insufficient

“Blessed be the LORD, Who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. May the LORD our GOD be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His Commandments and His Statutes and His Ordinances, which He commanded our fathers. And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our GOD day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is GOD; there is no one else. Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our GOD, to walk in His Statutes and to keep His Commandments, as at this day.”

In 1 Kings 8 we learn about the temple Solomon builds for the LORD GOD. To build today, it would cost $200 billion dollars, or $60 million dollars per square foot* for Solomon’s temple; just the building itself. For reference, the average square foot price in the Oklahoma City Metro area is $117*, according to Zillow Real Estate Marketplace.

[See 2 Samuel 6:13 for the story of moving the Ark containing the tablets of Moses with the Ten Commandments to Jerusalem. We learn in that passage that Aaron’s rod and the pot of manna are no longer in the ark.]

Consider the scope of this day:

“And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled to him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen they could not be counted or numbered.” 1 Kings 8:5 NASB

Nothing we can do is sufficient; and these passages highlight just how insufficient we are. 1 Kings 8:1-64 describes the temple Solomon built to house the Ark of the LORD; to glorify the Most High God. In spite of being the most beautiful, expensive building (v27) ever built, it is insufficient for God. The countless sacrificial animals are insufficient. The priests are insufficient. The altars are insufficient. The immense sacrifice of all of the animals was insufficient. God’s PRESENCE was there, but He doesn’t LIVE there. Anything we can do is insufficient, because GOD ALONE is sufficient for us, for every area of life. It took the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 9:26) to be sufficient to cover our sins.

The significance of this passage is to highlight the insufficiency of man, and the sufficiency of God. It talks of God’s Presence (v.57,59), God’s Power (v58), God’s Passion (v.60), and God’s Pardon (v.62-63). Seven times in the chapter Solomon highlights the listening of God.

Now the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifice before the LORD. Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the sons of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. On the same day the king consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, because there he offered the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings; for the bronze altar that was before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat of the peace offerings.” 1 Kings 8:56‭-‬64 NASB

Where is your significance? Does it it lie in Jesus Christ alone, or are you still trying to prove your own sufficiency to the LORD GOD of the Universe?

Love Someone

“Jesus replied, ‘My Light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the Light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going.’ ” John 12:35

Where is the Light? How do we find it?

There is ONE source for the Truth; one source for Light. That source is made available to anyone – ANYONE – who wants it.That source, the Handbook for life, is called the Bible. God-breathed, God inspired, God given.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9

It’s all about Love, Light, and freedom from an eternity in hell – and yes, Virginia, there IS a hell, an actual physical place that bleeds over into the world. I have seen glimpses, and it almost destroyed me. “HATE what is wrong.”

The one thing that God is adamant about is the LOVE Him. To accept Jesus Christ as the One Way to true contentment in this world. If we love Him, and give HIM the priority in our lives, we are more likely to recognize evil. If we read His Instruction Manual, we are more likely to recognize the “wrongs” in our life.

Are you willing to turn your back on the things the world deems acceptable? Are you ready to have friends and family tell you that what they are doing is all in fun, and not at all sinful, in order to justify their actions?

Loving God and following His Word is often difficult because of people around us, but the joy and contentment He provides is well worth it!

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 NASB

Self Love

This is worth repeating! Who do you love? Do you love your self?

What is the greatest commandment?

Jesus said, ” ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Law and all the demands of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NLT

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering that Jesus’ entire ministry is built around loving God and putting Him first. In fact, verse 37 is probably one of the most well-known verses in the entire Bible. I know that as a Christian, my heart and soul and mind belong to Jesus Christ; that He should be the Rock I base my life on. We’ve got that part down pat.

But what about verse 39? How are we doing with this one? You’re probably wondering about my title “Self Love,” and what it has to do with loving God. Over the years, I’ve struggled with self worth. I still do. Who am I, what am I, and what have I accomplished with my life; does anyone even care? I turned to outside sources – self help books, non-Christian counseling, meditation, astrology, exploring “past lives”, séances and other secular avenues. You know, not a single thing I did improved my so called self worth. I was still the same insecure, searching soul as I was when I started that journey, and the beginning of that journey was very inocculous. At a slumber party, one of the girls had a ouija board, and we didn’t see any harm in playing with it.

I knew Jesus. I grew up with Him being a strong presence in our home, but something inside me was missing. I loved Jesus, and I wanted to follow Him, but I didn’t give my entire being to Him. I doubted my self worth, and I believed the lies the enemy was whispering inmy ear. I opened the door to my heart and let Satan in. There is nothing innocent or innocuous about a ouija board! The door had been cracked open the night we “played” with that board, giving the enemy an easy way into my mind. If it was so easy for him to get into the mind of someone who loved Jesus, imagine how easy it must be for him to get into a mind who doesn’t know Jesus. Scary thought.

We know the first and greatest commandment. You must “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Pay attention to the second in verse 39 “…love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Your “neighbor” is not just the person or family who lives next door. Our neighbors extend beyond our dwellings, and encompasses every person on the planet earth. Every. Person. Our physical neighbors; our family, friends, coworkers; the staff at the coffee place or resturant or convenient store, even to – maybe especially to – the smelly, homeless person on the street.

You have to love yourself before you are even capable of loving another person, but we have to keep in mind that loving ourself doesn’t mean what the world wants it to mean. It isn’t selfish, “me me me” love. Self love doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have (i.e. credit card debt) to compete with others. It doesn’t mean spending hours at the spa being pampered, and it doesn’t mean that dream car/job/wardrobe, unless you have the income to enjoy those things after taking care of your responsibilities. I can’t condemn anyone for wanting to better their quality of life, because I do it, too. I really believe the lesson is treat each individual you come in contact with as a fellow human being. How we treat others is how we want to be treated, or it should be. Jesus also said And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 ESV (Read verses 27-36) “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 NASB

We don’t know their circumstances or how they came to be where they are. Our cab driver might have a PHD, and be unable (for whatever reason) to find work in his field. Our barista could be a person trying to make ends meet on a limited retirement income. We shouldn’t judge unless we are planning on living a perfect, mistake-free life. Minimum wage clerks should be treated with the same respect we give to sports figures, the CEO/CFO of our company, or anyone else. It’s difficult when dealing with certain situations to remember this. The next time a clerk is rude, tell them you’re sorry they are having a bad day, but Jesus loves them. When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of cursing or flipping them off, think of the time you cut someone off. When we treat others rudely or with disdain, we aren’t loving ourselves or them. But for the Grace of God, we could be in their situation.

Seems like we all have something to work on.

Addendum: I first posted this a couple of years ago, and when I read it, I knew I needed to make some adjustments (so I did). I also have to admit to spending too much of my time lately feeling sorry for myself because I don’t have the thing I yearn for, a partner to share my life with. I count my blessings of friends and family, and even with the struggles I face daily, I am blessed. I still want that partnership, and although I am exploring a friendship (long distance for now) and praying it (he!) is the one I’ve been waiting on, I am also working on praying and resting in my LORD, and trusting in His timing. Pray with me on that!

“WAIT” He says……

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not Your Face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You Who have been my Help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O GOD of my Salvation! Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalms 27:1‭, ‬7‭-‬9‭, ‬11‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

That may be my least favorite word in the English language. “Wait.” I’ve been waiting. I’m tired of waiting, so very tired of waiting. “Wait,” He says. If it were a clear “No,” maybe it would be easier to accept. I’m tired of being strong, and my courage fails me.

I’m not strong. I’m weak. I’m not courageous. I’m afraid. My heart is on the ground. My prayers fall with my tears. Why me, LORD? And He answers me, Why not you? I surrender, LORD.

Delight Yourself

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalms 37:4‭-‬5‭, ‬7‭-‬8 NASB

Delight.

Commit.

Trust.

Rest.

Cease anger, forsake wrath, do not fret.

Words. So easy to write; so difficult to put into action! But go back to the first verse. IF we choose to “delight ….. in the LORD” ……. “He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Wow. Do you believe scripture? Do you know it to be the inspired Word of the Living GOD? I don’t trust easily. (Thank you _____ , you know who are.) It’s not easy for me to “rest” when what I desire is out there, and not with me. I want to do something to make it happen and I often take out my frustration in anger and wrath; I fret about not having my desire.

Delight.

Commit.

Trust.

Rest.

Opening up my Bible and searching the scriptures for God’s promises, His fulfilled promises, helps me to delight in Him. He doesn’t do as man does, and make promises only to break them. As far back as Genesis 3:14-19, we are living God’s promise to Adam and Eve today. The thing that strikes me, though, is that His promises are in His time, not ours. One promise that has always stood out to me was the promise to Abraham. He was to became the father of the nation of Israel, but he didn’t even have a child until he over 100 years old. That’s a long time to wait! Mary and Martha delighted in Jesus, and he restored their brother Lazarus to them – but first they had to trust Him, and rest in Him before the desire of their hearts was fulfilled. He doesn’t make everyone wait until they are 100 years old, or until a loved ones dies, although he might. His timing; His will.

The greatest desire of Jesus’ heart is to have each of us spend eternity with Him. To achieve it, because of our propensity to make wrong choices and spend our lives in sin, He made the ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t want to be tortured and killed in a most gruesome manner; He chose to, because that was what GOD, His Father and ours, required. Read Matthew 26, focusing on verses 39 and 42. “Not My will, but YOURS

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. [ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” ]” Mark 11:24‭-‬26 NASB

Delight. Be content in your circumstances. Give thanks for everything.

Commit. It all belongs to the LORD. Decide to follow Him, and stick to the path.

Trust. GOD is in control. He knows what He is doing. Remember, He can see the big picture. All we have is one little snapshot out of eternity.

Rest. Quit fighting Him. Let Him lead you, and carry you, through any difficulties.

Top Rule of Living

For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” Matthew 7:2 NLT

That’s a lesson that we need to be reminded of, over and over, from the youngest age and on throughout life. We hear the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) Do we apply it in our lives? It takes on a little more importance when they are learned together. Not only does how we treat others determine how we are treated, but we will be judged by how we treat them. As critical as it is to treat others with fairness and respect, keep this in mind also.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” Matthew 7:6 NLT

That is not to say that we should treat those people with disrespect or with loathing. I believe that we – Christ followers – need to be especially circumspect in our treatment of those whom we view as unholy. There’s a fine line between loving the person and hating the sin, and losing the love altogether to hate both. It’s easy to lose ourselves and fall in with them, and get our hearts trampled in the process. This is why it is so important to stay in fellowship with other believers.

“….. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24‭-‬25 NASB

Love one another, but don’t focus so hard on the person that you can’t see what surrounds them. Do you see positive people and things, or are they surrounded by chaos and insanity?

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Do you feel the need to “win” by beating everyone around you? (This is so me…..) Our “fruit” doesn’t have a chance to grow or mature when we are busy trying to “one-up” each other, or “keep up” with others. My actions need to reflect my beliefs, and not be dependent on anyone else’s behaviour. How I treat others needs to based on GOD’s Word, not man’s, and how I view myself needs to be from the Father’s focus, not mine. If – when – I view myself properly as a child of the King, a Princess in the Kingdom of the Almighty God, it is far easier to view others with a benevolent spirit.

It’s a much nicer view than the alternative!