Monday, December 16, 2013

Life's Not Fair...Or Is It?

Somebody once told me that when they think something or someone isn't fair, they say just that: it's not fair.  Then she told me that she says to herself, "Life's not fair, and you can't expect it to be, so shut up. They're not perfect and I can't expect them to be. I'm not perfect, or else I wouldn't be so mad right now."  I thought, wow, I wish I thought that when I thought something was unfair.  It would probably calm me down and make me less unhappy.  Sadly, when I get mad about something, I don't really want to calm down right away.  I want to be mad.  So, normally, when something isn't fair, I usually repeat it over and over in my head, making myself more and more upset.

But the last time that I thought something wasn't fair and I tried saying to myself that I can't expect everything to be fair, I thought about the sovereignty of God.  If God is sovereign, and something comes up that we don't like or think is unfair, what does that say about the way God plans things?

Is God Sovereign?  Yes.  Does He do things we don't like?  Yes.  Does He always have a plan or a reason why He does all things?  Yes.  God does what He does for the good of His own children.  Like it or not, He knows better than we do.  So when "life's not fair," "turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full into His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  Don't dwell on your unhappiness - you'll only become angrier.

All things are ordained of God; thus, all things are fair.  This is something I need to remind myself of daily.  When things don't seem to be fair, stop and think that maybe God is sparing you from going through trials, or teaching you a much needed lesson, or saving you from heartache, or preserving your life from a terrible accident, or a number of other things.  When things don't go your way, stop and thank God that things are going His way and that His way is much better than your own.

So, the only thing I would omit from the above quote is the first sentence that says that life isn't fair.  We can still tell ourselves that we're not perfect and nobody else is, save God.  The more we humble ourselves and bring ourselves low to the feet of Jesus, the more He will raise us up and bless us and bless His holy name through us.  And that must be the greatest blessing - for Christ to be glorified through us.

Bless God for the "unfairness" we go through, because He has all things under control and He is always watching us.  He will not allow us to be tried beyond that which we are able.  He will give us the strength we need to make it through anything and everything He puts along our path.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Adjust Your Focus


When life gets blurry
Adjust your focus

Yes, something else I found on Pinterest.  I saw it and it just stuck out at me.  Maybe you can't see real far ahead.  You may not know what the outcome of something will be.  Perhaps you're afraid to take a leap of faith because you did once before, it turned out bad, and you don't want the same result to happen this time.

We seem to have this tendency to look way ahead into the future and try to predict how this little act, or deed, or whatever it is - how this thing will affect that other little thing that we'll come across years down the road.  Sometimes this is a good thing.  Sometimes not.

We don't always have to think real hard about something.  We don't always have to labor over every little thing.  If we do this all the time, we're going to stress out (and believe me, that's not fun).  You won't always know how something will turn out.  You won't always even have an idea of how something will turn out.  So when things turn that blurry, adjust your focus.  Concentrate on the here and now.  Leave the there and then to God.  He will take care of everything in the way that He chooses.  And ultimately, as God is sovereign, whatever we choose to do now will bring about what God wills in the future.

So if Christ is pointing you towards something right here and now, then take that leap of faith.  Don't be afraid, for it is God that goes with you.  Trust Him to take your hand and lead you down the road He has made for you.  Trust Him, even when you can't see past the curve in the road up ahead.  Adjust your focus: don't worry about where the road leads, but keep your eyes on Christ.  Look to Him for all your needs.  You can try to tackle those needs yourself, but you won't get very far.

Adjust your focus so that Christ is front and center, first and foremost.  Everything else will line up behind Him.

As a good friend of mine likes to say, "I'll blow that bridge when I come to it."  I pointed out to him once that he had better cross the bridge before he blows it.  Anyway, he's got a good point.  Most of the bridges we cross, or the little steps we take, we don't need to re-cross back to the other side again.  We've gained all that ground and we certainly don't want to lose it.  My point, I guess is what I've already said, but I liked this analogy.  Keep your focus on Christ.  Follow Him through and in everything.  And once He leads you across a bridge, don't go back to the other side.  Blow that bridge to be sure you won't.  But you definitely want to make sure you've crossed it first. ;)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prayer

What is prayer?  Why do we hear that it's such a good thing to have?  When we tell a fellow brother or sister in Christ our troubles, why do they always tell us to pray about it?  What about prayer is so important?  And then, why is it that so often we don't feel the want or even the need to pray?

Let me answer these questions one at a time.  Prayer is a sword.  Prayer is a shield.  Prayer is a comfort.  Prayer is an escape.  Prayer is all these things.  But above all these, prayer is the entrance through which we find the throne of grace.

The more one prays in sincerity to the Father, the stronger that individual grows in their faith in the Lord Jesus.  The stronger in faith this person becomes, the more able he is to encourage his brother in Christ to keep running the race.  And the more this person lifts up his head to Christ, the more the Lord will bless him with a knowledge of Himself.

When trials come our way (as is sure to happen), and when you tell your best friend what you are going through, that friend would be remiss if they didn't tell you that the best place to take those troubles is to the Lord of grace.  (I'm not saying that you shouldn't tell your best friend when you're going through struggles.  Only simply saying that Christ should be approached with such trials, as well.)  In most cases, your friend will only be able to sympathize with you.  The Lord Jesus is the only one who can truly help you completely through the trials of life.

The importance of prayer is not to be taken lightly.  Prayer is your direct access to the Father of heaven.  Prayer can move the heart of God.  When you're stressed or overwhelmed, it is a comfort to be able to approach the Father about these things, knowing that He won't turn you away.  When the Christian forsakes prayer at any time, they can not be truly happy, for that communion with the Father is what makes them thrive.

All too often, we do leave off of praying.  We do this because we either don't want to or don't feel the need to.  If we don't want to, we've let something else catch hold of our attention, and shamefully, we put it before our God, thus making it an idol.  If we don't feel the need, it's because the devil has come in to the picture and has told us that we are happy where we are right now, so what possible need could there be for prayer?  Let me tell you something.  There is always need for prayer.  In dark days and in days filled with sunshine, there is no true happiness or joy if Christ the Lord is not a part of it.

Another reason we may not want to pray is because we have been praying. Earnestly praying.  And no matter how many times we seek the Father's face, we feel not the slightest bit of His presence.  We don't hear any answers.  And so we give up.  Please don't give up!  I can't stress this enough.  I've been in that situation and believe me when I say that it is much worse than crying out to God night after night with no answer.  Thy prayer will be answered; if not now, then later.  Be patient and wait, as difficult as that may be.  It's likely the Lord wants to teach you a specific lesson while you wait.  But be certain, He will answer thy pleas.  Psalm 102:17 says, "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer."  So take comfort in this and wait patiently on the Lord.

The following is something else I found on Pinterest.  It actually gave me the idea for this post.  The Christian must pray.  It's not a rule, it's a desire, even if that desire wanes sometimes.  It is always rekindled by the need to be near Christ the Savior.

"I pray because I can't help myself.
I pray because I'm helpless.
I pray because the need flows out of me all the time -
waking and sleeping.
It does not change God -
it changes me."
~C. S. Lewis~

The blessing is there.  Christ offers it freely.  It's ours for the taking.  If we will but pray to our heavenly Father, we can claim it as our own.  And we will rest content, knowing that God is in control of any and every circumstance.  So, have faith.  Have faith to believe in Jesus Christ and don't leave off thy prayers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Near to Christ

Oh how I long for Christ to be near;
Oh how I long for blessed sweet peace;
Oh how I long for His coming to be here;
And for the day when mortal life shall cease.

I long, in midst of my trials, for Gilead's balm;
I long for the moment when Jesus shall say,
With His voice, full of love, and sweet calm,
"It is I, do not be not afraid"

Then in a moment as light sheds anew,
I see Christ is never away from His sheep;
I see and I wonder that this must be true,
How for His own glory He always will keep.

I long to be with Him and see His dear face;
Where when final breath greets, I know I'll be sent;
Up in His mansion, in the heavenly place;
Where no evil can taint and no sin can tempt.

But for right now He bids me stay.
So on this earth I make my home,
And try to bring glory to Jesus' dear name,
Till on this earth no longer I'll roam.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jesus Christ is All in All to Me

Jesus Christ is all in all to me.
He's my Redeemer, Friend, and Comforter.
Faithful and true will He always be.
Full of strength and honor, glory and power.

He holds my life in His very hands.
At any time He may call me home.
To where I shall be far above the clouds,
And on this earth I shall no longer roam.

But while I'm here He grants my ev'ry need.
I'll never be in want while He's the Saviour.
And He will ne'er yield His crown for He's decreed
That He will be for ever and ever.

When I am afraid He calms my fears.
When in doubt He tells me He's the answer.
When my tears spill o'er He proves He cares.
When I'm far away He's always near.

Then oh my soul, why dost thou despair,
When Christ is all in all to thee?
Bring at once thy load for Him to bear.
There's no other one to hear thy plea.

Don't lose thy God in the business of this world.
Don't let the stress o'ercome thee like a wave.
Pray to thy God, Who's giv'n thee a sword.
He surely is thy God and will save.

Take the sword He's giv'n and wield it well;
It will be thy strength when thou hast none.
Thou hast the tools you need to dispel
Any gloom upon which thou hast come.

He tells me my cares on Him to roll;
That He'll bestow upon me joy and peace.
Tho I've sinned, He forgives in full,
And for me His love does never decrease.

Jesus Christ is all in all to me.
There is no greater source of power.
He's everything I want ever like to be.
He is the strongest and mightiest of towers.

So let me run to Jesus Christ,
And live my life in His loving arms.
His words are sweeter than honey to my taste.
May He always live and reign in my heart.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When the Road is Hardest - Trust

Why is it easiest to trust in God when we are content and happy with the situation dealt to us?  Why is it, when we receive encouragement in our times of joy, that as soon as dark clouds come our way and trials overtake us that we don’t seem to remember what God was showing us before?  This has happened to me, recently.  I read a book about a woman and the trials she went through and how she finally realized that all she needed was Christ, and it was such an encouragement to me.  But as soon as I was faced with something that I deemed a similar trial, I completely forgot about that book, the strength I had pulled from it, and the comfort I had received from it. 

Why do we do this?  Are we simply programmed that way - to be nothing but happy in good times and to see no ray of joy in our sad times?  No, this, my friend, is the sinfulness of mankind.  When we fall into diverse trials, we ought rather to glory, knowing that the trying of our faith worketh patience.  How can we do this?  It does seem as though it’s a nearly impossible task. 
Christ will not leave us in our hardest and darkest hour.  No, He is always within earshot, waiting for us to call on Him.  Are we such fair-weather friends to Him that we only are grateful for Him when we’re having a good day?  Dear friend, wake up!  Have you never sung the song I Need Thee Every Hour?  Have you never listened to the words?  How true it is!  We need Him in stormy weather just as much as we do in the sunshine.  We need Him in joy, and we need Him in pain.  He is the only one who can make our joy complete, who can comfort us to the fullest extent.
Our God will not leave us armourless.  He will prepare us for our trials ahead.  And if He doesn’t prepare us, we still have our battling weapons in prayer and God’s Word.  If we do not utilize these tools, how sad will be our defeat until we see, understand, and know that we must not give up the fight!  We must keep pressing on, and we must win that crown for Christ!  We were put on this earth to bring glory and honor to the Father’s name, to be lights in a dark world, to point the way to Christ.  How can we, when trials come our way, turn our backs on Him in obstinance?
But that’s just what we do, that’s just what I did.  I had even been prepared for this trial.  God had so graciously given this book to me to read and to relate to.  But when it came down to the final test, there was no thought of that book in my mind, or the lessons that were taught from it.  It’s like I had learned my school-work and when the test day came, I drew a complete and total blank.
In our times of trial, that's when we ought more than ever to look to Christ, to trust that He has put us in the very place He wants us to be.  The easiest thing to do is to turn away and say that God doesn't care, that it doesn't mean anything to Him that we are going through a hard time.  How could He possibly when He's the one Who put us there?  Oh friend, please realize that this is exactly what the devil wants us to think.  Yes, it is true that God puts us where we are and end up, but can't you see that He does it for our own good?  If not at the beginning of the trial, surely when you come through to the other side, you can see at least a part of God's purpose.  If only we would remember that every trial has a purpose, that all things work together for good to them that love God, perhaps we would have a better attitude about these things.  But all too often, we forget, and we run in to that thought that God really doesn't care.

I read the following excerpt from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional this morning and thought that it would go well with this post:

"When a tear is wept by thee, think not that God doth not behold; for, 'Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.'  Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline His ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay His hand; thy faith can move His arm.  Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee.  Remember that however poor and needy thou art, yet the Lord thinketh upon thee.  For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him."

So, don't stay in your dismal state, which is the mistake I made.  Refresh yourself in Christ, your Redeemer.  For, He certainly does care and wants you to put all of your trust in Him so He can comfort you in the richest possible way.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blessings

It happened
for a reason,
either it's 
a blessing
or a lesson.

(I saw this on pinterest, but I didn't see a name to go with it.)

I used to look at things that way - a lesson vs. blessing view.  But why does it have to be one or the other?  I think that sometimes, most times, and maybe even all times the lesson is the blessing.  It took me a hard trial to go through to actually see this, though.  A trial that broke my heart.

I found Laura Story's song, Blessings, about two and a half years ago and loved it and thought it was so true, but I didn't realize just how true until about a month ago.

About two years ago I let my emotions run after something that it seemed evident that the Lord my God didn't want me to have.  However, I wanted this thing so badly that I invented just as many evidences in my own mind that this is really what the Lord had for me.

Two months ago this thing was utterly and completely taken away from me.  I was not happy with God.  How could He possibly just decide to take it away so abruptly when for two years He had allowed me to touch it, feel it, and grow attached to it?  I thought He was cruel and unloving and couldn't possibly care about my feelings.

Well, I was stubborn and stupid enough to throw my own strong will in the face of God and say I would get this thing back.  And I tried.  I did everything I could think of to get it back.  A month ago, I attended a sovereign grace youth camp as a counselor in the hopes that it might help me obtain what I was after.  However, it did the direct opposite.  It confirmed in my mind that I would not be getting what I desperately wanted.

From the first day at this camp the sermons struck me.  And they countered blow after blow after relentless blow.  They didn't let up.  God was telling me to let go of my sin and surrender to the sovereignty of God's will.  I was so convicted.  I was so tired of running from God and being in a place that was so far from Him that I wanted to give in, wanted to run to Him; but at the same time I didn't want to give up what I thought I had.

It wasn't until the week after camp that I became so sick of where I was that I asked the Lord to take the wheel of my life and do with me what He would.  I was clinging to the promise that all things work together for good to them that love God.  My heart was broken and I knew that Christ was the only one who could mend it.

Shortly thereafter I realized that this trial was a blessing as well.  Looking back I can definitely see that if God had allowed this thing that I was holding on to to go on, even just a little longer, I would have been hurt in a much worse way than I already had.  I can see it clear as day.  And even though I still count it as a trial, I also consider it a blessing that the Lord did it when He did.

I've finally come to the point where I honestly don't even want it anymore.  If it came walking up to my doorstep again, I'd turn around and walk the other way.  Now, that doesn't mean that I'm not sad because of the way it all went down.  No, I'm very sad.  But the Lord has given me peace about this whole thing, and He's granted me the faith and grace I need to trust that He has something better for me.  I may not know what it is, but I don't need to as long as He's in control.  And I know that He is in control and that He rules the world.

Isn't that a comforting thought?  If we and our emotions ruled the world, can you imagine where we'd be?  Can you imagine the destruction we would cause?  All because we are sinful creatures and wouldn't take everything to God in prayer.

There are too many times that we let our emotions get  in the way of serving our God.  Some of us who are emotional let those emotions cloud our thinking and we end up in the same position I was when I had invented plenty of reasons why the thing I wanted so bad was God's will for me to have.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't be emotional, just simply stating that we should learn to keep our feelings in check.  And we can do that with God's help.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is blessed be the Lord God who does all things well.  I thank Him for the trial He sent my  way and the blessing (actually blessings, which I haven't named in this post) He sent with it.

Christ knows best - in all circumstances.  Lord, help us to see this and to always submit joyfully to Thy perfect will.