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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Trusting God In Difficult Times

Can you trust God when everything seems to be falling apart in your life? You are trying your best to
serve Him and yet sickness comes, your spouse divorces you, your child rebels, your dog runs away. No, I'm not making light of suffering. Some people really seem to go through some horrendous difficulties in their lives that make us wonder how that person keeps on going.

Joyce Meyer, popular evangelist, author and speaker, tells about being diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she had surgery and it was successful so she didn't have to go through chemo and radiation. Some years ago, I was diagnosed with cervical precancerous cells. My doctor advised me to have surgery, and I agreed. The strange thing about that whole situation was that I never felt a tinge of fear or worry. Looking back, I still marvel at that, because I am a worrier by nature. I remember my daughter accompanying me to the hospital and all I felt was calm. I knew God was with me.

I think that's the secret to trusting God  in difficult times - knowing that He is with you. Psalm 23: 4 says, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." 

But trusting God does not come easily. You have to build a relationship with Him and observe how He operates in your life. We all know the story of Job. He had such a strong relationship with God that when the devil approached God for permission to test Job, God said, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job 1: 8)

God knew that Job was capable of passing the test. And he did! When, through his suffering, Job's wife told him to curse God and die ( Job 2: 9), Job responded, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh . What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil" (v 10)?

We may not curse God when trouble comes, but many of us may be tempted to turn our backs on Him. We may think He has abandoned us, but nothing is further from the truth. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5) and He is faithful to His promises. See my blog post Footprints In The Sand

So, if you are going through difficult times and you don't know Jesus as your Savior, why not invite Him into your life today? Then build a relationship with Him through prayer, Bible reading and fellowship with other Christians, and He will take you through the valley of the shadow of death. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Leave Your Children Alone

Man thinking on a train journey.
Many times when I write a post, I'm talking to myself as much as to my audience. I am the mother of four grown children, and I still worry about them at times. Whether I'm with them or not, I worry if they are out late, I worry about their safety, who they are with, are they getting enough rest, and all sorts of things. Sometimes I call them just to assure myself they are all right.

This week I found myself thinking more than usual about one of my sons. You might translate thinking into worrying, and as I thought about calling him, I came across a devotional that talked about letting go of our children. The article stated that when we know we have done the best we could for our children, all we can do is just let go. Only God can protect them. If they are making wrong choices, only the Holy Spirit can speak to them and bring them back on the right path.

Recently, I saw a mother on one of the talk shows who was probably more of a worrier than I am. Her daughter had just started college and this mother was having a difficult time adjusting to her daughter being away from home. She called her several times a day, called all her professors, inquired about her schedules, and was even thinking of moving to be near her daughter. This lady is not alone. I've heard of mothers who not only call their married children to check up on them, but visit them frequently to see if everything is okay.

Parents, there comes a time when we must let our children have their wings. Give them a chance to practice the values that you have instilled in them. They may make mistakes, some of them costly, but if you trained them properly, they will learn from their mistakes and turn themselves around. The father of the prodigal son did not stop his son when he wanted to leave home. He allowed him to go. Later, the boy experienced regret and disillusionment, and decided to return home. And his father was right there waiting to receive him.

That father is God. We, his children, went astray, but God pardoned us and took us back. The Bible says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22: 6). So, parents, once your children reach the age to leave home, entrust them to God's care, pray for them every day, and leave them alone! 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

You Can Be A Blessing

One of the most frequent requests we make in our prayers is, "Lord, bless me." We pray God's blessing over our homes, our families, our job, or something important that we are working on. And that's fine. We need to ask God for His blessing, otherwise it may be impossible for us to accomplish anything. But how often do we pray for God to make us a blessing? Do we want to bless others the way God has blessed us?

A very common Christian response when someone cries to us for help is, "I will pray for you." Prayer is always good, but sometimes a person's immediate need might not be prayer, but for some tangible help. Notice the number of times Jesus fed the people and healed them before teaching them about the kingdom. We don't have to be rich to be a blessing. In fact, the Bible gives many examples of people who blessed others when they themselves had no material wealth to speak of.

Peter said to the crippled beggar, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (Acts 3: 6). What Peter gave that man was ultimately worth more than silver or gold.

Ruth, the Moabitess, had no material goods to give to Naomi, her mother-in-law. Naomi had lost her husband and her two sons, and she was understandably bitter. In those days a widow who had no sons was truly destitute. Naomi had no choice but to return to her hometown, Bethlehem, in the hope of finding the help that she needed. 

Against Naomi's advice, Ruth decides to go with her. As soon as they settle in in their new home, Ruth goes out to look for work. Not only does she find work, but she also finds favor in the eyes of Boaz, the owner of the field, who later marries her. Ruth and Boaz have a son who is the ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ. Naomi, who was a bitter old woman, now has the pleasure of caring for this baby and is comfortably settled in life. Ruth's faithfulness has turned out to be a blessing to Naomi.

When you pray today, why not ask God to make you a blessing to others? Maybe all you need to do is visit someone in the hospital, hold the hand of someone who is going through a difficult time, prepare a dish and take it to someone, help in the nursery at church, volunteer your time somewhere. The list is endless. Jesus said,  'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'(Matthew 25: 40).

You can learn more about Ruth by downloading a copy here.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, America declared its independence from Great Britain.  The move
came as a result of grievances over the Empire's taxation and trade policies. The colonies felt they were being unfairly treated and so they rebelled. America now stands proud as a sovereign nation. Over the years, many countries have followed America's example, and today there are close to 200 independent countries.

As I think about this powerful nation, my thoughts go back to the book of Judges. This book  deals with a period in Israel's history when there was no king. Under Joshua's leadership, the people had finally entered the promised land, and they served the Lord well. But then Joshua and his generation died, and  "The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs" (Judges 3 : 7). 

We know the consequences of their actions. Israel went through a terrible time of  defeat and captivity at the hands of its enemies. Eventually, they cried out to God and He took pity on them. He appointed judges over them and they did well, but each time the judge died, they returned to their sinful ways. Then they would cry out to God again, He would appoint another judge, and the process would be repeated.

There's a line in the book of Judges that is repeated over and over:  "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17: 6).

Today in America, we have leaders over us, but we are doing what is right in our own eyes. The will of the people has usurped the will of God. Church attendance hovers around 40% while an average 60% of Americans support same-sex marriage. An overall "anything goes" is the pervading lifestyle in America. Policemen kill unarmed civilians and go free. "Every man does that which is right in his own eyes." 

But God is a good God. He is not like man. He does not punish us as our sins deserve. Isaiah 55: 7 says,     "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Happy Independence!

Here are two of my older posts on Independence:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Footprints In The Sand

Sometimes when I go to the gym or go walking I have to push myself to stay the course and not cut my
workout short. One day last week I was really tempted to turn around and go back home. The weather was humid and my legs felt unwilling to cooperate, but I persevered and eventually my muscles loosened up and I completed my exercise comfortably.

There will be other days like that one, just as in life there are days when we just feel like giving up. Our job, marriage, ministry, life in general may seem frustrating or even difficult at times, and we may think, why bother? But know this: wherever you are now it's God's will for your life. He has given you that husband/wife, those children, that position, and He has equipped you to carry out that task. So, don't give up! Persevere, fight the good fight of faith. You know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side. It only appears to be greener.

The apostle Paul knew what it was to become discouraged. He'd been beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and suffered all kinds of hardship for the sake of the gospel, but yet he persisted and left a wonderful legacy for the church. He wrote,  "And let us not be weary in well doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6: 9). 

Sometimes I'm tempted to give up this blog. It takes time, even though I only post weekly, and I don't earn a penny from it. Working on my novel devours even more time. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be worth the trouble, but when I consider that the apostle Paul did most of his writing in a jail cell - dark, cold, wet and crawling with all kinds of unwelcome visitors - I have no reason to complain, or to give up. Besides, I know that  "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14 : 12).

Are you weary, feel like giving up? God never gives up on us. Ever read the poem Footprints In The Sand? If you haven't, you can read it here.

And here's a video to bless you further.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Satan Just Fired An Imp

As I looked at the extensive coverage of the massacre at the AME church in Charleston, SC a few days
ago, I couldn't help thinking that Satan must be furious. Not that the gunman was so easily caught - Satan couldn't care less - but about what ensued after the killing.

The Bible tells us that Satan uses people to carry out his plans, so the way I see it, he assigned an imp to influence the twenty-one-year-old white man to carry out the massacre. He did it, but failed miserably in what he hoped to achieve. According to Dylann Roof, his goal was to see the races separated. He wanted us to return to the days of segregation. And that's Satan's goal. He is all for division. He hates to see people, especially Christians, united. He divides families, friends, relatives, even nations. But instead of division, we saw on television people of all races and backgrounds hugging each other and mourning the senseless murder of the saints. This tragedy has brought unity in a way that has even crossed political lines.

But unity is not all that has been achieved. Every television reporter commented on the incredible display of Christian love and forgiveness expressed by the victims' families. One lady said, "Jesus forgives you, and I forgive you." Another one held up a sign that read, "Your evil doing did not break our community. You made us stronger,"  and one pastor said that this tragedy should strengthen our faith and bring us closer to God. Even businesses are showing their solidarity and pouring money into the city of Charleston. 

People are asking the question, "Why didn't someone take the gunman down?" Why was he given time to reload and kill nine people? One day we may know the answer, but I believe those people were martyred, not just because they were black, but also for their faith. They have joined the distinguished ranks of  early Christians who willingly surrendered their lives for their love of Jesus.

So now Satan is scratching his head, wondering how he could have underestimated the strength and resilience of God's people. I believe that scoffers and mockers will see Christians in a different light after this, and even though they may not know the words, they will realize that "the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (the church) (Matthew 16: 18).

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Those Lazy Hazy Days Of Summer

Portrait of Nat King Cole, New York, N.Y.
Portrait of Nat King Cole, New York, N.Y. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Those of you who are old enough may recall a song by Nat Cole that went something like this: Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer ... For many of us, our summer may be anything but lazy. Even though the kids are out of school, we may pack so many activities into our schedule that we have very little time to rest.

Occasionally, on Sundays after church, I stop off at the supermarket to pick up something I'd forgotten. Today was one of those days. I was surprised at how crowded the place was. When I was growing up, Saturday was shopping day. Oh, I know things have changed. People work on Saturdays and even on Sundays, in some cases. Which brings me to the topic of rest. 

Seventh Day Adventists observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and they do nothing except go to church on that day. This is according to the third commandment which God gave to Moses in which He said, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" (Exodus 20: 8).We Christians who worship on Sunday very rarely observe a day of rest. No wonder we are so tired. No wonder we contract so many colds and other illnesses. Our immune system has difficulty keeping up with the burden we place on it. Even our children are tired.

We need to make physical rest a priority. Rest has several benefits, not just to our bodies but to our minds.  Our muscles and organs get a chance to recover from the stress we place on them, our minds are refreshed and can process thoughts better. But there is an added benefit. As Christians, rest can give us a chance to commune with God. When was the last time you sat somewhere in your backyard, gazed up at the heavens and wondered at the magnificence of the One who created them? I believe David did that a lot. Here's what he says in Psalm 19:1 -  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Make time for rest this summer. Lie on the grass in your backyard and contemplate the glory and majesty and splendor of our God. Your physical, mental and spiritual health will thank you for it.