The Most Difficult Trial

While reading my devotional this morning, it asked this question: “What is the most difficult trial you’ve gone through? How can you use your pain to impact someone else?” My first thought was that I’ve had so many, how could I choose a “most” difficult? If you’re familiar with my story, you’ll understand why I say that. I know I’m not unique in having had a difficult life, and for many of us choosing one “most difficult” is, well, difficult.

Reflecting back, though, it would be losing my husband, Ron. Our life together wasn’t easy, but we had much to be thankful for. We were in our “forever” home, we had a thriving business, we were active in the local church, and we were content. When he lost his health, and began losing the battle with addiction, our life together became difficult at best and untenable at worst. The day I left him was one of the worst days of my life. I was a failure as a wife, and a failure at marriage – I hurt, bone deep. He was in unimaginable physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, and I couldn’t fix it. His rage at life became all consuming, until nothing (especially me) was safe from him.

I was active in the church before it all fell apart, and I thought I had a strong faith. Friends from the church took me in and protected me until I could live the area. My family rescued me. All of these wonderful Christians came together for me, and they reached out to try to help him, too. How did I react? I got back on my feet, new job and apartment, new church, and new friends added to my life, I thought I was good. I was angry, though, and began to blame God for Ron’s behavior and the destruction of my good life with him. My behavior over the next few years was full of denial, and I was determined to “fix” the world. Needless to say, it didn’t end well, but it did get me back to church and connected with strong Christians who showed me the path back to God.

Through those people and the program, I worked through a lot of my issues, and was able to assist other women going through difficult trials. No one’s life is the same, and we cannot judge anyone by what they are going through. I know this: if we can help someone find the courage to open themselves to Jesus Christ, we are blessed right along side them. He is the Comforter, full of Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness like we can’t even imagine.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/2co.1.3-4.NASB1995

Listen to the song Scars by Casting Crowns. https://youtu.be/qCdevloDE6E

My Power?

My power? What power? I don’t have any. I used to think that I could make things happen, and change my world to suit the way I wanted things. Do you think that you have gotten to where you are through your own effort and power?

“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
Deuteronomy 8:17‭-‬18 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/deu.8.17-18.NASB1995

I was very busy making my circumstances conform to what I wanted, so much so that I alienated my family. Does your family support you in your power? We weren’t at the point of feuding, but my actions were enough to create a gulf between us. I wasn’t concerned about God’s will, only mine. In my journey through life, I’ve come across several families separated like mine, but there were a few who were feuding, and it tore them apart. I didn’t want that for my family.

He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. …. Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.”
Luke 11:17‭, ‬23 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.11.17-23.NLT

Finally, I came across a church with people who could see me, and who helped me to see how my destructive behavior was harmful to me, and to my family. Did my younger sisters and brother see me, and use my behavior as a reason for their own rebellion? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that my behavior harmed our relationships. I wasn’t working for the LORD. I was working for me, for my heart, and it didn’t work out too well for me.

How is your heart? Are you in control of your life? Is the power in your hands, or have you relinquished it to God? He loves us, and He only wants the best for us. So why are so many people in bad situations? There are consequences for our actions. Sometimes they are immediate, but sometimes they are delayed. I am dealing with the consequences of my actions from years ago, and they will stay with me until I die. Often, we get to deal with the consequences of our parents, grandparents, and so on. All of humanity has to live with the decision, the exercise of their free will, of Adam and Eve. Sin was introduced in the Garden, and runs rampant throughout the world today.

God gave us the solution when Jesus, His only Son, came to earth to have His Blood cover us and cleanse us. I need that cleansing, and I have received it. Does that mean I’m now perfect and my life will be filled with rainbows and butterflies from now on? No, I am forgiven, but I still have those consequences for my actions.

Are you forgiven?

Shielded by GOD

“Finally, be strong in the LORD and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with Truth, and having put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the Shield of Faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of GOD.”
Ephesians 6:10‭-‬17 NASB1995

Who’s in Charge?

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Matthew 16:21‭-‬23 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.16.21-23.NLT

Are you looking at life like Peter was? I know that for the majority of my life, that’s how I’ve seen and done things. Strictly a human view, and not waiting for God’s view. Too impatient. I still find it difficult to slow down enough in my thoughts to consider what God would think or want. Who’s in charge of your life? If you consider yourself a Christian, like I do, a follower of Jesus Christ, should we be saying “Get away from me, satan!”?

What are you facing today that you need to pray about and wait for God’s leading? Where are you looking at things from the human view, from our human feelings, instead of leaning on the LORD? When do you need to say, “Get away from me, satan!”?

Love God, then yourself. It’s the only way.

My Shelter

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” … For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.”
Psalms 91:1‭-‬2‭, ‬11‭-‬12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-12.NASB1995

Who do you rely on? Who do you trust? I mean really trust? There are a few people in my life whom I trust, but there is a caveat. As much as I love them and trust them, I recognize that in spite of that love and trust, they will put their wellbeing over mine. That’s okay, too. They are human. Their immediate families should be their focus. I don’t expect them to put themselves into harm’s ways to protect me. I love them in spite of that, and I don’t judge them for it. There is one upon whom I know I can always trust, always lean on, and always depend on. His name is Jesus. Name above all names.

Do you know Him?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.8.NASB1995

He doesn’t require anything from us. He offers us a gift. A gift that is without obligation, at no cost to us. We use our own free will to either accept it or reject it. There is no in between; no place for indecision. He is reaching out to you. Will you take His hand and accept Him?

Death or LIFE

“We have much to thank God for – everything that isn’t hell in our lives is grace.”

Andy Mason, Colossians Alive in Christ

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NASB1995

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56‭-‬57 NASB1995

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NASB1995

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” John 13:13‭-‬17 NASB1995

“I will vindicate the Holiness of My Great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the LORD GOD, “when I prove Myself Holy among you in their sight.” Ezekiel 36:23 NASB1995

“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:3‭-‬11 NASB1995

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Revelation 5:12‭-‬13 NASB199

The Scriptures say it all.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NASB1995

“And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:14 NASB1995

Continue reading “Death or LIFE”

It’s Not About ME…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3‭-‬9 NASB1995

If Jesus is Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. If Jesus isn’t Risen from the grave, nothing else matters. ME

Remember the hymn In Christ Alone? Verse 3 says Up from the grave He arose! Read John 20 “They saw the linen wrappings…” when wrapping a body, they would use 75# of spices in the linen cloths, which would solidify, causing a cocoon like effect. This “cocoon” was empty, and the head wrap was folded up at the place where Jesus’ head was laid!

Christ is the Living Hope. He is the cause of our faith: “Blessed* [Praise, thank] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a Living Hope …” (John chapter 3) Born again is the only kind of Christian there is. Saved by Grace. Receiving a new life through God is receiving your spiritual life. Born once die twice, born twice die once! The Core of our faith: “… through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” The angel said “He is not here; He is Risen!”

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ Love and Righteousness! He did not end at the grave!Jesus arose, Jesus lives, and Jesus is coming again. Our inheritance is death proof and fire proof.

JESUS – Who is He, and What is He?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1‭-‬5 NASB1995

Like Peter, my desire is to “….. grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 NASB1995

Some people say that Jesus was a good man. He was not good. He IS GOODNESS. Some say He was created by God. He was not created. JESUS IS CREATOR. He cannot be customized, and He is not Who you want Him to be. JESUS IS. Listen to what C.S. Lewis, an atheist who started reading the Bible in order to prove it false (he was radically changed by his experience), has to say about Jesus:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis

Jesus has the Honor of God, and the Name of God.

“And when [GOD] again brings the firstborn [God’s Son, Jesus] into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6 NASB1995

No Jew would ever agree that a man was divine, because that would be blasphemy, yet eight Jewish men who met Jesus wrote first-hand accounts of Jesus as God. His Deity is the Touchstone of Christianity. Jesus didn’t just come to preach the Gospel; He lived the Gospel because He was and IS the Gospel! He says things only God should say, “I AM”. As Thomas said “my LORD and THE God!”

“In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3 NASB1995

“And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” Revelation 21:5-7 NASB1995

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:15‭-‬20 NASB1995

“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:9‭-‬14 NASB1995

Jesus is God. He is human and divine. He cannot be dismissed or ignored. You are either for Him, or you are against Him. There is no middle ground. This is the single biggest decision you will ever make in your life. It is an eternal decision.

” …… have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:29 NASB1995

ZOMBIES!

“It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the Voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has Life in Himself, He has conferred on the Son Life in Himself. And He has given Him the authority, simply because He is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment. “Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear His Voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.
John 5:25‭-‬29 MSG

I was absolutely struck when I read this today. We are surrounded by zombies! So many people are obsessed with zombies, and the coming zombie apocalypse. You can even get Zombie Apocalypse signs for your vehicle. They don’t even realize that they are the zombies! Instead of being afraid of the coming Zombie Apocalypse, we all need to be concerned with the coming Jesus Apocalypse! Listen to the words of Jesus, as they come alive in the Message:

“I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?
John 5:41‭-‬44 MSG

This is exactly what we do. We dismiss or avoid Jesus, and embrace the self-important, expansive, all-knowing politicians and so-called leaders of today. Oh, but they are in authority and control. HA! Those people in Washington (I almost said clowns) are not even close to being in control. Our so-called leaders are rife with false prophets, trying to lead the masses away from Jesus. In many instances they are succeeding, sadly. The enemy wants us to think that he and his zombie army are winning, but I promise you, they are not.

God is, has been, and will be in control. Always.

We may have to endure these crazy times for a while longer. Christians, we are charged with sharing the Good News and the Truth of Jesus Christ before He returns. We will survive this “Zombie Apocalypse”! Hallelujah!!