The Known God

The Known God

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)  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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

I have a friend who is experiencing a difficult season in life. He has family issues. He is experiencing health issues. He is an optimist at heart but the last message bringing bad news threatens to take him out at the knees. He writes editorials for the local paper. Articles from a personal perspective offered as encouragement. He came to me asking if I would read his latest commentary. His concern was that his perspective was too raw and might be detrimental to his readers. He is part of the Unitarian church which believes that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues such as the existence, nature and meaning of life, deities, creation and afterlife. The mission is “inspiring to seek freely, live ethically, and nurture each other and the Earth.” He is one of the kindest people who I know that lives this very thing in his life. However, knowing the adversity that he is facing and reading the words pouring from his heart, it is clear that in the midst of this overwhelming trial – he is struggling to keep his optimism. Without faith there is an end to optimism.

Paul talked about the “Unknown God” standing before the council in the midst of Areopagus…“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…”(Acts 17) When everything is going right and all is well in life, it is easy to praise and worship an “unknown” God but when everything is falling apart and nothing is as it should be – this person is not enough. Without His Constant, Abiding and Sovereignty, there is no anchor of hope to hold on to and no one to put our faith in. So it is through our suffering that God is truly revealed to us. Our desire to know Him deepens trying to make sense of the unthinkable when it comes. He is the one who we carry the pieces of our broken heart and life to in an effort to be made whole again. It is hard to make sense of suffering sometimes but thank you that God doesn’t have to be foreign and unknown to us anymore. Greater is He who lives in us than He that is in the world. (I John 4)

Proverbs 14:10 (NKJV) The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Suffering is defined as enduring pain, disability, or death patiently or willingly. To tolerate or allow. To undergo, be subjected to, or endure. You know the very thing that is causing your heart sorrow or even bitterness today. The very thing that challenges your heart and mind to believe beyond the impossible boundaries of the earth into the heavenly realms of possibility just to survive. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those with crush spirits. (Psalm 34) The sufficiency of God’s Grace that releases His Power in our life is when weakness takes over and we cannot in our own strength do anything at all but rely on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12) God knows what we need, when we need and how to give it to us. We must only have faith in God to receive it. The decision to make the Living Hope a known reality in our life is essential.

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Faith is illogical apart from God’s Word. Without a knowledge base to build our faith in Christ upon, there is no possible way to convince our mind of anything else. To attempt to believe in Jesus without knowing Him including His Sacrifice, His Character, and His Identity will only lead to frustration and failure. Jesus is the Word of God. He came wrapped in flesh to be our living love story. (John 1:14) The Cross is unpleasant. His Death violent. His Blood shed quite messy. It is all relevant to the story and without it – God remains unknown to us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can know who God is by name but become His Child or know Him. God loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for every single human being on the earth. It is totally up to us in accordance to freedom to choose to know Jesus or not. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God to grow and mature into confident hope. This is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen reality of the Living God at work in us and through us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. When God becomes known to us, His Comfort surrounds us. He doesn’t make our life comfortable but gives us love, joy and peace from the inside out.

Acts 9:25 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

God has given us a Comforter. He is the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christ released when He died on the cross and made available to all of mankind through His Sacrifice. The veil or curtain in the manmade temple which separated God and His People was destroyed in that moment. Free access to God in His Presence offered to all who come by way of Christ. We need God’s Word to know Him and His Spirit to be known by Him.

Those who walk in reverence to God (fear) and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit where multiplied even in the heavy persecution of the early church. The word “comfort” used in this passage comes from the word “paraklesis” which means calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces the inner peace that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight as instructed. (2 Corinthians 5) “Paraklete” means strengthening presence or the one who upholds those appealing for assistance. The Presence of God is essential for our successful navigation of trials, troubles and trauma in life. It doesn’t make sense. Jesus warned that as sin grew rampant and love would grow cold. There would be wars and rumors of war. There would be hard times. Those who endure to the end will be saved. This means that no one is exempt from such adversity in life but that we all can overcome through the Word of God and His Spirit. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) The humanistic statement quoted by many is simply not true. What doesn’t kill us can make us bitter and broken. It can destroy our soul with vacant barrenness as the last shred of hope is consumed by fiery trial. The treasure I have is the Known God who loves me. He is constant. He is in control. He is good. He is always working for my good and His Glory in the worst of all possible situations. Faith in God is my comfort zone. I must leave the earthly comfort of complacency, compromise, and conventional thinking to know Him. I must accept the terms and conditions of salvation which require a Savior and Old Rugged Cross. I know it makes you uncomfortable to owe someone something. The flipside of the coin is certain death. To live a life that ends in torment forever. Thanks be to God that though there is suffering and sorrow in life – my hope is secure. Faith in God makes all things possible. He comes close to us in our brokenness to be our comfort. He is the Resurrection and Life but to experience these qualities something must die.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I am praying for my friend today. His heart is heavy. Hope is waning. He is struggling to maintain happiness and hope without substance. His Faith is in an Unknown God defined by his mind. The Unknown God will never be enough. We must know God to enter His Presence and live in it. You know your own suffering today. Your heart can well define its sorrow. Bad news may have come calling. It has visited me recently too. It is only by faith and trust which gives way to confident hope that I am still here. God knows what I need and how to deliver. His Spirit comforts me, encourages me and restores me when emptiness threatens to overtake me. Christ is enough. He must be our portion. We must live in Christ to know God and experience His Glory and Goodness in our life. His Way is always better which means I must yield my way to Him. Even when that way is dark and foreboding, I must go where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says, and becoming who He has called me to be. I must decrease so Christ increases in my life. (John 3:30) It is only then that we do not fear the messenger but fully embrace the Word. Only then can I take my eyes off the giant and turn to my Champion. I have hope that is eternal and cannot be stripped away. Living hope. He is the Known God to all who seek Him. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

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Welcoming Sorrow

Welcoming Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NLT) For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

“Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.” – Harriett Beecher Stowe. Have you experienced sorrow in your life? Are there things that just don’t make sense that cause you to live in a state of continual grieving and sadness? Sorrow is distress that can be caused by many conditions and circumstances in our life. Trials produces it quite readily. The emotions caused by loss, affliction, and even disappointments that linger in our heart and mind well past the event that precipitated such thought. I know people who live in this state of transition. It is a place somewhere between death and life. Afraid to step out of the past, but in need of the future and forever, we struggle to understand why God who loves us so much would allow such things to happen to His Beloved Children.

There is purpose in your sorrow today. Sorrow leads us from sin and results in salvation…at least the kind of sorrow that the Lord allows in life. Godly sorrow will always turn us from sin. Sin is the point in time when God’s Will is abandoned for lesser things. It is not the Lord who takes it from us but our own behavior that keeps us from the greater things that He promised. We blame God for our freedom rather than embracing it to have all that is ours as sons and daughters of God. Today we must learn to welcome sorrow especially the kind that leads us to repentance for as we turn from sin and all the less things, we can fully apprehend by faith what belonged to us from the beginning.

John 16:32-33 (NLT) But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Trials and sorrows should come as no surprise to a believer. Jesus told us that they would be part of life on the earth. You will have seems pretty clear and apparent that there will be hard times associated with life on earth. But those things aren’t going to happen to me, right? Wrong. You will have trials no matter how saved you are. You will experience sorrow even if you heart and mind are set on Jesus. Those who serve in churches faithfully still go through hard times. The good do die young. The wicked will prosper all around you. There will be a good fight for faith. Please understand this is not the Lord punishing us or ignoring His Promise. In each of these instances, it is an opportunity for sorrow to become joy. Mourning to become dancing. Dead places to be resurrected to life. Your disappointment becomes hope when it is attached to one’s faith. See God is using those sorrows to bless you and complete you. You must be empty to be filled. Thought painful in process, it will always prosper you.

“The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich. He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) This is the promise verse for my life right now. I am learning that my wealth in the Lord does not have any sorrow attached to it if I am willing to wait on the Lord to complete every good work. The Lord promised me when our son was sick that He would cause everything to work together for my good because I love Him and am called according to His Purpose. This is kind of hard to visualize cleaning up vomit and watching your child suffer helpless to relieve his pain and suffering. It doesn’t always make sense what the Lord is doing or how He will do it. This is why faith is important. We must trust Him enough to stick it out no matter what. It is then and then that we overcome the world and step into His Promise.

Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT) He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Jesus was “a man of many sorrows”. It was our weaknesses that He carried and it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. Jesus carried every single one of our sorrows to the Cross with Him. We find relief from our sorrows at the Cross when we lay them at the Feet of Jesus. He did not place the sorrows on our back. Sin is the cause of our sorrow as it leads us away from the Lord to partake of lesser things. We feel regret because the eternity hidden in our heart knows the potential of our life when purpose is fulfilled. We are disappointed because the measure of faith in us knows hope offers so much more. The Holy Spirit is given to help us in our weakness. As we surrender our sorrow to the Lord, the Holy Spirit works in its place to prosper us.

“Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it.” – Victor Hugo. In the midst of suffering, please do not tell the person that God only gives the toughest battles to the strongest warriors. The person fighting does not feel strong, they are being completely undone in weakness. No one knows God’s Purpose and Plan in each trial and trouble. Only the Lord knows what He is doing, the outcome and the promise. When I read this quote by Victor Hugo, I wanted to punch him. No seriously. Just haul back and pop him one, sorry Mr. Hugo. But as I let the words sink in, it makes sense. The Lord knows the potential of our life. He allows things to happen to us so He can work through us. Sorrow presses us into His Presence. Let’s face it when things are good we tend to say, “God, I got this” and keep on trucking along. God loves us to much to allow us to stray too far from His Divine Plan for those who love Him and strive to live for Him.

In I Samuel 1:10-20, we see Hannah crying out in anguish to the Lord. So grieved by her barrenness, she desperately pleads with the Lord. Her devastation leads her to a place at the altar. Her performance convinces Eli that she just may be drunk. However, after speaking with her, he knows that this is complete desperation for God. Pregnancy is often used to explain the birth of promise. Jesus says in John 16:21, it will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. He is talking about his death and resurrection, but could the Lord also be cluing us in to the process of promise which is the birthplace of purpose. It is in our sorrow that we turn to the Lord like Hannah. She promised to return to the Lord the child she was given. She would bring Samuel back to the Temple to serve for his life. She would not share life with him but watch from afar. Would this not produce more sorrow? Life is a process of redemption offered to us by Jesus when He bore the sorrow of our sin. Our decision to love and serve Him does not end sorrow but makes it productive.

Jeremiah 31:12-13 (NLT) They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

It says in the Word of God that He tracks our sorrows even keeping our tears. (Psalm 56:8) It also tells us that those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126:5) Sin causes pain and suffering to be a part of life. Whether you serve the Lord or not, you will go through many things in life that are difficult if not completely devastating. The difference between doing it with the Lord or on our own is evidenced in the harvest. The outcome can be life or death depending on what we believe. God wants to prosper us with all the promises that He preordained for our life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can get to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6) If we want God’s Plan and His Promise for our life, we must take our sorrow to the Lord. We have to go through Jesus to get there. Jesus has already paid for our sin so that we can make the exchange of sorrow for joy and mourning for dancing. We must only strive to live in His Presence to experience such productivity. Are you willing to plant your tears and trust the Lord to make something beautiful out of them? You must take your sorrow, regret and disappointments to the Lord and leave them there.

James 4:8-10 (NLT) Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole source of all our adversity.” – Sophocles. No, don’t pick up the big bat you use to beat yourself up over and over again. Sin is the reason that there is sorrow, regret, shame, disappointment and devastation in this world. If people could avoid sin or be rid of it on their own, Jesus’s death would have been unnecessary. Sin is unavoidable. God’s Plan is inevitable. As we give up our sin, the sorrow it produces in our life is changed to purpose. We begin to prosper as the Holy Spirit uses the fertile soil of a broken heart to plant seeds from the Word of God in it. He uses our tears to water our soul and make good things grow out of the dead things in our life. Nothing is wasted when surrendered to the Lord. He will use every broken detail to bring good to us, in us and through us. Let go of your sorrow today. Let the Lord turn it into joy. That was always His Intent to turn our mourning into dancing. Sorrow is the birthplace of promise but will abort if not birthed properly. Let go of the pain and suffering when the season is over so the harvest will come. Jesus is asking you to closer. Just a little closer, let go of anything that keeps you from Him and run into His Waiting Arms. He bore every sorrow for you so that you could have joy and peace. Honor Him by taking it.

Psalm 34:18 (NLT) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Am I Looking Back?

Am I Looking Back

Luke 9:61-62 (NLT)

Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Have you ever been driving on the Interstate and encounter an accident? Ever notice that right before the unfortunate event and immediately following – there are fender benders? This usually causes a complete standstill along the way. First the primary crash occurs, those approaching do not notice that traffic is slowing or even stopped because they are looking behind them or distracted by something in their vehicle and now they are in a bind. Those who go past the accident are still looking at the carnage and not at the road ahead which is filled with merging and moving traffic – so now they run into someone else. In the South, we call this rubbernecking. But in the Bible, it calls us “not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Oh I know this sounds harsh, but please hear me out. I heard a testimony of a sweet woman who just so happens to be a family member after attending a church camp with her youth group that she oversees. This camp was not for adults but let’s face it God does not discriminate and will bless anyone who will come into His Presence and speak to anyone who dares to listen for His Voice. As family, I know the last year of her life as she does mine. The Lord told her that her time of mourning was over. In a very short time, she lost her mother and her father. She cared for her father relentlessly and tirelessly until the very end. His illness continued for months requiring round-the-clock care. If you have ever been the caregiver of a loved one, then you know the toll that this takes. It has been a year since his passing but what she never realized was the depth of her mourning. That is, until the Lord revealed it to her and took it from her filling her with more of His Love in that moment. I can totally relate to her. I have heard the Lord speak this to my own heart very recently and her sharing gave me perspective.

When we are fighting for our faith in this battle called life – we can get turned around. We approach it and go through it. On the other side, it is human nature to keep our eyes on it. The enemy wants us to keep looking back. He was to lock us in the fear, pain and hurt of our past because if he can trick us into staying in such a position – we will miss the purpose and potential of our life even though it is not intentional. Grief and mourning are a part of life whether we actually lose someone we love or it is when life just doesn’t turn out like we expected. There is purpose in every situation of our life but we must strive never to remain in that moment but move on with His Glory.

Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

 

What got you turned around? Three years of fighting cancer with our son and then a year of holding my breath to see if remission was real changed my perspective. My faith was intact but my focus somehow got turned around. The Lord has ever so lovingly and gently but oh so firmly placed His Hands on my face and turned me back to Him. God knows our hurts. He wants to heal them. He catches our tears in a bottle carefully recording our sorrows. (Psalm 56:8) The Lord promises in Revelation 21:4 that when He returns that there will be no more suffering, pain, sorrow or tears. He gives us beauty for the ashes of sacrifice. He gives us a joyous blessing in the midst of our pain. He produces praise from within us when we have no words to speak. In all of it, God is securing our righteousness with each bit of faith we muster to say, “I trust you!” There is purpose and meaning in our journey through life even in the darkest valleys – God is producing a “refreshing spring” and in the midst of the storm, the rain carries “joyous blessings” as He makes us stronger and stronger along the way. (Psalm 84:6-7) Sin causes suffering, sickness and disease. But God has promised that He will make good of every detail in our life. (Romans 8:28) He promises to turn our mourning into dancing and clothe us in joy! (Psalm 30:11) There is purpose in what you are going through today. There is meaning in this process of exchanging all that we are to have all that He is. These troubles and trials are momentary. We must remember that.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

This life is temporary. What you are going through is momentary! It won’t last forever. Faith, hope and love are the only things that are eternal. (I Corinthians 13:13) The things that we go through they seem so enormous and everlasting are not. They will end. Those who remain faithful will experience the Glory of God as He pours more of His Goodness into their life. Those who endure to the end (faith intact) will be saved. Each trouble is nothing more than a tug-o-war match with the enemy for every blessing that God has in store for us. The Lord would not have allowed him to test you in such a way if you were not up to the fight. We must fix our eyes on what cannot be seen and hold tight to the reality that is confident hope. It was this about this time a few years back that the doctors “decided” we had entered the “Realm of Hope”. I laughed when she said it, so glad that we had finally made it. The place where the impossible becomes possible as there is no reasonable explanation other than miraculous. I know they think I had lost my mind and maybe in that moment I had a little. I was so wrapped up in the Lord that I could not see the veiled threat of death in her discussion only the possibility of life. So I wonder how I got turned around in the midst of such resounding faith in God, it can happen to anyone. When life doesn’t turn out how we expected and we are thrust from our comfort zone to the great unknown.

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

 

God is always doing something new in our life to move us from the present into the full potential of faith fulfilled in the future. We must keep moving and stop looking at that which is to the left or right. As we keep moving, if we do not look ahead to the new things that the Lord is doing we will get caught up in the past. The Lord is reminding us to forget the past and step into the future today. Let go of mourning, regret, and sadness to take hold of the Goodness and Glory in that lies ahead. If you planted seeds of righteousness along the way and watered them with tears, the harvest is in the future.

Isaiah 48:6-8 (NLT)

You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it. Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’ “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new, things you never heard of before. For I know so well what traitors you are. You have been rebels from birth.”

 

God has secret things that He wants to share with you. There are new things that He desires to do in you and through you. This is not a message for those who have not made a commitment to Christ or have a desire to serve Him. This is a shout out to all the wounded warriors who are still looking back at what just happened. Those who are trying to make sense of it all. Those who are trying to find that “normal” life that is lost in the wreckage. Those who don’t know if they have the strength for the next battle. Those who want to see the enemy coming this time trying to eliminate the element of surprise. God is telling “us” to just turnaround. I am doing this new thing. I am making good on all my promises and fulfilling your heart’s desire. You won the good fight of faith making it over the mountain and through the valley. Not by might or power but by My Spirit. God is telling us today that there is more to life than this if you will just focus on ME today instead for the carnage and collateral damage of yesterday’s fight. I am making all things new says the Lord. I am doing new things that are too extraordinary for you to even think to ask for! Will you just forget the past and look at ME, again!

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

 

It’s a brand new day. A step in the right direction. When I woke up this morning, new mercy was at my disposal. I have utilized it asking the Lord to forgive me for getting turned around. Thank you Lord for righting my way…again. As believers, we will never reach perfection. It is impossible. We were tainted from the start. What we reach for is Jesus as we look to God to show us what He has in store for us. The world is full of distractions and the enemy will use every single one that he can to steal, kill or destroy us. But those who strive to keep their eyes on Jesus will have a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Don’t beat yourself up if you just realized you are all turned around. I say, “Welcome to the club!” What you do from this point on is what counts? Can you, will you, or how will you turn yourself around? We do so by “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us!”

Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)

Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

 

Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

 

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Waterproof Mascara – A Devotion

Waterproof Macara

Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT)
Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

 

Rolling out of bed about an hour later than usual, I begin the checklist in my head for the day. It’s Sunday. Time to worship the Lord together. But it is no ordinary day in church for us, it’s the day that we send off our oldest daughter and her brand new husband to serve God 21 hours north of us (said with a giant gulp). I have fought off tears since my feet hit the ground. I was at Wal-Mart twice yesterday both times forgetting waterproof mascara. For a split second I consider heading up there in my pajamas since it is only about five minutes away but quickly realize to do so would eliminate the time I get to spend alone with God. Today, I need Him more than ever before. I am a proud mommy. I am a heart broken mommy all in the same skin. Although I have tried to hide my emotions at this natural life transition into a supernatural opportunity for those two to serve the Kingdom of God, they have been just beneath my skin as the tears glisten right behind my eyes. For a week, I cry at the dumbest things as my body tries to release the reservoir that has been building. My crockpot died last night and I began to cry. I just cannot even fathom surviving this day and not looking like a complete mess. While others watch closely our reaction, I do not want them to be confused. Our faith is in God. Our hope is still alive. It’s just our humanity that is being exposed.

“They week as they go to plant their seed” and this my friend is one of those times. There will be seasons in our life when we plant out of obedience and not because we want to. These are the times that our faith is required because we are not sure the benefit is better than the risk. As we invest our life in Jesus Christ fully surrendering to His Will and Way, there will be days that we water the seeds that we plant with our tears. God knows. He understands. He is not mad at us because we are human but loves us all just the same. When we choose to plant in these times of hurting with willingness, our faith blesses God’s Heart. I have to believe that this will boost the potential of each seed. When I think about these two kids moving so far to see others come to Christ, I know it will be worth it. But when I think about them being so far from their earthly home here with us, I am devastated.

“But they sing as they return with the harvest” is the promise that I hold on to. They will come back in prosperity. Not just seeing the lost come to know Jesus, but God will prosper their heart, soul and marriage in this step of independence. God always will give us a promise if we ask. This is mine for this day and however long it takes for us all to be together again. I know that God has a lot of awesome things ahead for our family because we have been sowing some serious seed over the last few years. My prayer is that my faith will last until the harvest and my hope renewed day by day especially on days like today when the planting is so hard.

Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

 

With vivid recollection, I remember standing in the darkness before dawn as dew began to fall with three busloads of young soldiers leaving on deployment. The tears did not begin until he was safely aboard. I did not want to put the burden of my devastation on top of the call on his life. I wanted him to be ready and equipped to fulfill this mission but I was already ready for his return. God was faithful and returned him safely. Not a hair on his head was harmed despite being in a country where he was hated surrounded by the enemy. I remember the night they diagnosed our son with cancer. I can feel my heart quake in the thought. It would happen and again and again over the course of three long years. God was faithful and our son is cancer-free today. As I prepare to send forth our daughter on her mission in life, again the tears are coming and ready to overflow. But I can say with confidence that God is faithful. He has been all this time so I cannot believe that He will not be in this. I can remember all of this as my children sit with me in church today to support one another. But beyond my recognition of these sorrows that I have faced as a mom, more importantly God is keeping track of every tear and sorrow that produced it. I cannot believe that my God would waste His Time on something that is not meaningful and worthwhile. I think that this is part of the culmination that He considers when making Romans 8:28 come together in our life as all things begin to work together for our good!

Luke 7:37-38 (NLT)
When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.
 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

 

Jesus knew the price of the expensive perfume in the woman’s alabaster box that day. He understood the wealth of the tears that she used to wash her feet. This woman was desperate in her worship of the Lord and she didn’t care who knew it or saw her. Most of the time, I am comfortable to live for Christ out in the open and tell others of His Goodness and Grace. But there are sometimes when it is uncomfortable to share our tears, hurts, pain and sorrow with others by faith. Will I be misunderstood? Will I be judged? Will they get where I am coming from? Will they know that I am weak? Will they know that I mess up? What will my tears say to others? Hence, my need for waterproof mascara today. Maybe the Lord is telling me not to worry so much about what others think and just let my tears flow. Perhaps He is telling me that it is okay to be human as I haul myself to the altar. The message is clear it’s not about me – it is all about Jesus. He knows me inside and out yet Jesus still decided to die for me. He is fully aware of every shortcoming and the sin that I hold on to, yet every single morning He sends me knew mercy. He doesn’t stop working His Plan for a future and hope in my life even when I consider giving up or throwing in the towel on this thing called faith. He lifts me back up, dusts me off and sets me back on track walking with me every single step.

Psalm 116:7-9 (NLT)

Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

 

For those of you poor souls who will join us in service today, my apologies in advance. I will not be wearing waterproof mascara and there will be many tears. Please just hand me a tissue and understand that things are not as ugly as they may appear with black streaks running down my face. I will get it together for next week I promise. This is real life. The people are not actors but those who have been given a wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. We will survive this experience and one day reap a harvest because I refuse to give up. Lord, I ask you today to please let my soul be at rest again. The whirlwind of the past couple of weeks have left me exhausted in my soul and weak in my heart. Lord, I know and acknowledge to everyone who reads this that You are always good. This has been my constant experience in my pursuit of You, Lord, and Your Kingdom. You have saved me. I ask you today to save me from my tears. Keep my feet from stumbling as I try to get a grip with tired hands and weak knees. I know that You will be my Comforter just like You have so many times before. It seems that season after season it has become a requirement that I walk in Your Presence just to survive but my intent now is to thrive just as You have promised. Thank you Lord for keeping each tear and tracking my sorrows for they will be a great harvest in my life!

Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

I Cried – A Devotion

I Cried

Psalm 33:18-22 (NLT)

But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

What will it be like? When death comes calling with a harsh swift knock on the door snatching someone from us in an instant? Death is tragic. The grave is a cold ominous place no matter who strays close to its edge. I knew this day would come. Although heavily anticipated, I did not expect it to come just over a week before our daughter’s wedding or just a few days after our son’s latest PET scan. Work has been filled with long audits, a program review and coming accreditation and that has nothing to do with the grind of daily operations. Looking for some semblance of routine and order in the chaos we call life, I was wiping the counters of the kitchen getting ready to head to the gym for some much needed therapy. A message popped up on my phone, “Hey, I just heard the news. I am so sorry. Let me know if you need anything.” I scanned previous messages and nothing going back to my task. But my heart pounded wildly in my chest as my throat began to close, something must have happened. Picking up our house phone which is barely used other than being a favorite of telemarketers, I had several messages each from my aunts asking me to please call them. When I finally got one of them on the phone she said, “Sweetie, I am so sorry to tell you this but your mother has passed away.”

For many long years, I have wondered what it would be like when I finally got the news. My mother and I have been estranged for over a decade with only brief contact here and there separated by a stream of addiction too wide for me to pass. She could not overcome the waves and wind of this storm. Her body ravaged by abuse from this horrible partner. It finally gave in just find some peace. She passed from what appears to be years of alcoholism that has taken a horrible toll on her body. I am not mad at my mom. I forgave her for all the times that I needed her but she could not be there. I always wondered if we could overcome this barrier one day. We talked almost a year ago about my son and his fight. I envisioned taking the news responsibly and nonchalantly. I imagined sadness, but not like this. Now that it has come I have cried more tears than I thought possible as I grieve the loss of my mother who did the best she could to love us. I am filled with sorrow for the life she was robbed of including the plethora of grandchildren who know her only by name. The Lord watches over those who fear them. Those who rely on His Unfailing Love. He rescues them from death, and keeps them alive during times of famine. Now that the moment has come and gone, I find comfort and peace in these words as I know that I am never alone.

Psalm 103:2-4 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

The Lord redeems us from death. Whether it is our own physical death, loss of a loved one or close friend and even those dead dreams and worn out wants, the Lord is quick to deliver us from the pain and sorrow of that moment when we take hold of confident hope and faith. When life turns out to be a tragedy, the Lord promises to make us triumphant. This is what it means when He says, “Death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55-56) For many years, there has been a tremendous void in my life. My dad married a wonderful woman decades who go who has become my “mother” in every other sense of the world other than birth. She has loved me as her own. Cared for me as if she bore me herself. God gave me a precious grandmother who also stepped in before my dad remarried to aid in the care of two little kids caught in the crossfire of divorce swallowed up in separation. The Lord knew my mom and all of her weaknesses. He made sure that my brother and I were well-cared for in the pages of the story of our life. We both have thriving families with children who know and love Jesus. The Lord promises to redeem us from death. The finality of the ending makes us evaluate our life from the beginning. Regret seeps in where human weakness would not allow us to do differently. There is no going back. There is nothing to do but move on. The Lord crowns us with tender His Love and His Tender Mercies concerning all those things that sin has damaged in our life. Redemption is not a ticket for the future but a pass to live our life among the imperfect people and tragic situations so we can keep moving toward the Light of His Love in spite of broken hearts, torn up lives in the midst of devastation.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT)

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. they cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!

 

God chose my mother before I was born. I did not have a say in the matter. The Lord was not surprised at her shortcomings or the events that eventually led to our separation. When He formed me in utter seclusion, God knew that we struggle in our relationship. It was not His Desire for it to be like that for the Work called my life and the Word given to it are good ones with a future and hope. He wanted us to overcome. He empowered us to break the bondage of sin. In that moment before I was born, “Every day of my life was recorded in Your Book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” If this is true, which I believe that it is, then how does that impact “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8) God knows the tears that fall in our life. They are recorded in His Book but not in the order that this verse is written. They were all dully noted before a single one fell according to Psalm 139:16. There is no need for regret or sorrow in this moment as I grieve the loss of my mom. I have a right to do so even though we did not share the last several years. I loved her and still do. She loved me and still does. Grace allows me to step over all her faults, failures and weaknesses as a human being to embrace the love designed by God so long ago. Mercy allows me to overcome the guilt that tries to keep my heart from weeping and mourning this sweet, fragile person who fell victim to addiction. I went to sleep last night hoping that I would wake up and this would be a bad dream. But it’s not. It’s called life. We all experience tragedy in our life because of that stupid thing called sin. It is not consequential as punishment from God because Jesus satisfied our debt marking it paid in full but rather the result of human weakness that does not always win the good fight of faith. When I woke up this morning, I was not alone. My Father in Heaven met me in that moment and carried me into His Presence. He is the only One who understands the complexity of my mother and I’s relationship and the intentions of each heart. He is the One who promises to capture my tears and store them in a bottle marked “Redeemable”. He is keeping track of my sorrow because He knows they will soon become unspeakable joy in my life. I cannot believe that my life and the people in it will be a tragic tale ending in death but I must believe that because of the Power of God living inside of me that it is about to become triumphant for His Glory.

John 16:21-23 (NLT)

It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.

 

In the last few years, we have faced our greatest fear fighting illness with our son. It has been a harrowing experience so when death did dare to come and take someone I am appalled. I grieve the loss of mother but more so the fact that we were robbed in this life of so much time and memories. I know that there are many of you experiencing the same strained relationships that should have been different. The only way that you could survive was to take back your expectations from that person and put them all in Jesus Christ. The Lord tells us that there will be sorrow in our life. He captures every tear in a bottle which means He is prepared even when we become immersed in sadness. God is working to turn our sorrow into joy.

It says, “At that time you won’t need to ask for anything…” This comes right after it says that you will have sorrow now. I do not think sorrow ended on the earth when Jesus rose again. In fact, I know for a fact that it did not. Sorrow and suffering ends when Jesus comes again. The dead in Christ will rise and everything will be transformed and changed in that instant. There will be discomfort and pain in this life. Each time I gave birth to a child, there was terrible pain associated with it. Yes, it hurt but the pain became enveloped in joy the moment I heard them cry, looked in their face and touched their skin. My love was instantaneous and completely consuming. God in His Perfection felt the same way about us when He created us but that moment never passes because God does not ever change. My mother felt the same way the moment that I was laid in her arms. When I looked in my first son’s face, I was devastated by the thought of making mistakes that would impact his life and totally distraught that they were unavoidable. I am sure my own mother felt the same way. I share all this to say that God knew before we ever took in our first breath the limitations of our humanity and considered them in the construction of our life. Jesus provided access to enough grace and mercy so that every insufficiency would be completely covered so we could move on even when our hearts are broken, relationships ended and death comes to call. We were made to love one another beginning when we were born. Sometimes our loved ones cannot meet our expectations but God didn’t make them for that just to love us in their own way for their designated time. Each relationship that we encounter should be about love and not what can you do for me. Christ alone must be the relationship of love and trust that we depend on. This gives us the freedom to love without human expectation or earthly desires. My mother passed away. Now I know what I will do. I cried. I am grieving her loss because she is my mother complete with every fault, weakness and failure. I don’t have to depend on her to be perfect. My Lord is that to me. I am free to love people expecting nothing in return. It has taken me a long time to get to this place and I have so far to go. My mother is now free from the pain of addiction and all the sickness it brought in her life. She is healed and whole body, mind and spirit. She is at peace and so am I.

John 16:33 (NLT)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Forget Me Not – A Devotion

myosotis

Psalm 103:1-4 (NLT)

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

 

To be totally honest, I just want to forget the sorrow, hardship and grieve the last three years of our life. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Most days I try desperately to push it to the farthest recesses of my mind. But the moment I see his picture sitting across my desk or on my dresser, it all comes flooding back. When I try to remember something I should know, only to realize I wasn’t here when it happened it is clear. Dates on the calendar like a wave building in the sea, I stand on the shore watching and waiting for it to crash over me. I know how to swim. I have figured out how to float to the surface when the current is too strong. It is not a matter of survival. Why is this anniversary proving to be so difficult? The only thing that I can think of is that it is the first one passing that our son is not in active treatment. It will be the first time since he was diagnosed with cancer that I will not be Christmas shopping with the infusion nurses while he gets chemo. Praise God! But it does not change the fact that as each day moves closer to the three-year mark, I feel such a heaviness in my heart. Why can’t I forget Lord and just move on? Why does it have to continuously play in my mind or minimally distracted by life? I don’t want to be in this place any longer. We survived this ordeal. Can we please just move on?

Lamentations 3:19-23 (NLT)

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.

 

Each day as I reflect on the status updates posted on Facebook, I cannot help but remembering the suffering. Our son was so sick, but never ever did I think or imagine that it would turn out to be something as horrible as cancer. This is not what God meant when He promised to do more than I could ever think or imagine, and the enemy was quick to question my beliefs in that moment. Believing has not been the issue. Though quite small, my trust had potential that God knew that was there. The thought of suffering is bitter for sure. I will never forget this awful time but I want to desperately. When I was young, my parents divorced. They were just children themselves. My brother and I endured some very difficult thing while in the care of others that have all been erased from my memory. Some surfaced later in my life, but for the most part I only remember bits and pieces of my elementary years. The fog clears giving way to clarity somewhere around junior high and high school when things began to settle down and change for the better. I believe it was the Holy Spirit and a buffer that God put around me so I would survive those years with my faith intact. So many situations that could have turned out terribly, when God delivered us. I know that He saved us but I cannot remember the details vividly just abstractly. The trauma of our son having cancer seems to have left an indelible mark on my heart, mind and spirit. I have asked the Lord to use His Grace to remove it, but it still remains vivid and quite clear. I still grieve the loss of my so-called normal life. YET! I kind of like that conjunction. It is my constant reminder. Yet means at the present time. It also means up to that time AND in the time still remaining. Before this happened, while it was happening and long after it is over…yet (though, still and nevertheless) I still have hope…when I remember this… There is purpose in my remembrance and a reason that the Lord will not let me forget. His Faithful Love remains forever. His Faithfulness is forever. His Mercies never cease. I must remember so that I will not forget.

Isaiah 43:18-20 (NLT)

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

 

When I read this verse, it begins by saying forget all that. Doesn’t that mean to move on, get over, go past it, and press on because that is exactly what I am trying to do Lord. I want to survive this situation and just get on with my life. There are no hard feelings. I am not upset. I give glory, praise and admiration for you have indeed heal and delivered our son. I am thankful that you provided everything that we needed along the way to make it. You are a good God. You are faithful, loving and true. Surely these are not words from a hard heart or devastated soul, just a thankful servant. But the Lord did not create me, call me or save me to just survive. I was made to prosper and succeed. Is there something that I am missing in my hurry to get through? Something so impressive that only God can do but I must still pick up on.

The Children of Israel are reminded frequently not to forget all that happened in the wilderness. God led them through the wilderness with all its poisonous snakes and scorpions yet they were not harmed. He provided manna (a food they had never eaten also called angel food) that just fell from the sky all around them as God began to change their hunger so they would crave a relationship with the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:15-16) How could they forget the Lord their God in all His Goodness? Oh don’t worry they did. God was showing them His Mercy. He wanted them to see that He would never abandon them even in the wilderness. (Deuteronomy 4:31) The purpose – so that each generation would set their hope anew in God. (Psalm 78:1-4) I get it. I do have faith that has born confident hope. I do believe. I know that God is good and His Faithfulness is forever … but Lord can I please just forget this awful time.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NLT)

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

 

God’s Mercy has allowed me to enter a covenant of blessing with Him. In that covenant, He has promised to make good out of every detail of my life. (Romans 8:28) Rushing out of this season or erasing if from my memory could prevent me from having all that God has purposed to give me after the storm. We survived. That is enough for my soul who knows all of its faults and imperfections that humbly accepts what the Lord has done because I know me. But the Lord says, “Forget the past…all that mess that was washed into the Sea of Forgetfulness and focus on me today.” I am not finished yet. My Mercy is not done. The Covenant of Blessing not satisfied. My son died for you to have it…

Mercy is God’s Kindness, Compassion and Favor. Not just any favor, but Divine Favor that can only be imparted by our Creator. It means Divine Blessing. His Compassionate and kind forbearance of all my sin allows me to be satisfied according to the Covenant of Blessing. While I focus on surviving the Lord presses for me to thrive. Though I long to forget the past, as I want to press toward the mark of the High Calling of God. The Lord is reminding me today that I must finish the race to receive the prize. (Philippians 3:12-14) I want to be all that He purposed and planned for me to be and that includes accepting His Mercy, Kindness and Favor. I am a Child of God who chooses to serve Him. Not a child forced into servitude. I know me and have a hard time accepting more when He has done so very much. I want to forget and just move on but God wants to bless me. Rather than moving away from the mirror and forgetting, He invites me to step a little closer and see what He is doing in me so I can reflect His Love to all. (James 1:24-25) I may never forget all that has transpired as much as I think it would be a relief. There is purpose and meaning here yet to be discovered as painful as it may be.

Psalm 116:4-9 (NLT)
Then I called on the name of the
 Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

As I continue to reflect all that has happened in the last three years, it still is difficult. I know now there is a reason why I cannot make myself forget. Rather than struggling to do so, I must strive to know Him more and be receptive to all that He is showing me through this painful process. My life will never be the same. I have come through the wilderness and now live on the other side. I must learn to prosper in this place although it seems unnatural and a bit foreign at times. God is changing me each day to live in His Presence forever. It may be uncomfortable. Some days it even produces tears. But it will be worth it to live and never forget all that He has done for me and accepting all that He wants to do because of it. I will never deserve all that God has done for me. But I am so very thankful that His New Mercy meets me in each morning. It was there before trouble came. It stayed with us in the darkness. Now it gives way to new light! God is good all that time and all the time He is good. Today He is whispering – “Forget Me Not!”

Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Psalm 123:1-2 (NLT)

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.

Pain-Free Living – A Devotion

 

Ecclesiastes 2:22-24 (NLT)

So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless. So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.

 

Life is pain full. I wish that I could be optimistic that pain will end, but it will not end as long as the earth continues to rotate on its axis. Pain without purpose produces bitterness. Like working without satisfaction, it gnaws away at the inside of us. As days of “labor” drag on, we become so filled with pain and grief that our night are spent tossing and turning because our mind refuses to rest. It all seems meaningless. Even to Christians who have answered the call to Christ are sidetracked by the painful problems of this life. Where is the new life we are promised? Everything seems the same. The Lord wants to produce promises from your pain. He want to satisfy you in everything you do. It is all part of a process called the disciplined life.

 

When I was pregnant with our fourth child, she decided to take her time arriving. Her due date came and went uneventfully. We were ready for her arrival. We did everything we could think of to make labor begin. Frustrated, my husband commented, “I am beginning to think there is no baby in there.” Completely joking as he knew just as well as I did that she was in there, the next day labor began. The beginning of labor may take your breath away but because you are ready to meet your new baby it is manageable. But by the time you are in transition, usually moments before delivery, most moms are ready to give up and quit. It hurts. It is uncomfortable. You are over it. We had our fourth child at home. I remember going in the bathroom at this particular stage and having a frank conversation with myself in the mirror. What was I thinking? With three other children, I knew that I needed drugs to get through this. Why would I put myself through this? I don’t want to do this anymore. Forget it, I quit. Then it dawned on me. An aha-moment if you will, I was about to meet my precious daughter for the very first time. If I could just “push” through the pain, I would fall in love all over again. Suddenly, new energy came over me and I was ready to go!

 

Romans 8:20-23 (NLT)

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,including the new bodies he has promised us.

 

It is painful to bring a new life into this world. I have not met a woman yet who will say that labor and delivery are not painful processes. I also haven’t encountered the mother of a newborn who remember how painful it was compared to the love they have for that new baby. I know it was painful but childbirth is so fulfilling we process it differently because of its worth. We are called to be new creations in Christ. He has promised to make all things new but we refuse to allow the process of change in our life. Until we take the time to discover the Promises of God for our life, we will never invest the energy or effort into getting them here. I am not exactly sure how God creates another human being inside my belly. I know the science of it. But as He molds and shapes a tiny person in me, my body knows how to nurture this Creation until it is time to come forth. God made my body to do so. When it is time to give birth, my hormones are instinctually released to begin the process and at just the right time I feel the urge to push that baby out. When you became a believer, every purpose of God came alive inside of you. Now it is up to you to labor and birth those things into existence. There is pain in giving birth and the sooner you develop confident hope the sooner the pain will become worth it. Pain in childbirth is worth every second when you feel that baby in your arms. Pain in your process as you embrace the Glory of God in your life.

 

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT)

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

 

It appears that Paul coined the phrase “sorry not sorry” used by young people today. His first letter to the Corinthians really ticked some people off. However, in their frustration, anger and offense many began to bear fruit in their lives once again. So Paul says, “I am sorry that the letter hurt your feelings, but I am not sorry because it produced change in you.” Pain leads to repentance. We rethink and revisit our steps leading to the trauma we are experiencing. Our first inclination is to find our own fault in the matter. Second, we look for someone else to blame. This a pivotal point in the process of redemption. This is the climax of our salvation. What we do in the midst of repentance means everything! To be sorry for our sin, but do nothing about it leads to spiritual death. To begin the labor process and not finish it leads to natural death. God does not want your dream to die inside of your. He does not want your purpose to end before it begins. He will do whatever it takes to turn this thing around even if it causes pain and trouble in our lives. Resistance produces pain. Trouble is produced in conflict. When we repent, it means to turn around. We align our life with God so there is no longer resistance and sorrow will turn to joy. Leaving sin behind, there is no longer a conflict to be resolved so we walk in His Grace and Unfailing Love. Even in the midst of trials in this life, we can live in the peace and joy of His Spirit if we choose to repent in the midst of our pain.

 

Hebrews 12:11-14 (NLT)

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

 

To be teachable require humility. Repentance is to humble ourselves before the Lord. Now before you get all mad or your knickers in a twist, I am in no way implying that God is punishing us with pain. He does not have a reason to punish the righteous. But God is our Father and will discipline us. Discipline is teaching. It is training for improvement. Pain is produced in resistance. For example, when a family member get sick and then does not recover naturally it produces pain. What we do with that pain determines the outcome. Pain that is allowed to fester in our heart without producing anything become bitterness. If you have pain it is to be surrendered to Jesus Christ. Why? Isn’t He the One who allowed me to be hurt? Really? “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsthat weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) Jesus Christ made the way for our pain to become joy and our trouble to turn to triumph. Sorrows will last only for the night, but when we scoop up His New Mercy the next morning it turns to joy!

 

John 16:20-24 (NLT)

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

 

John 16:33 (NLT)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

What are you doing with your pain today? Are you harboring it like a fugitive from justice? The Lord wants to change our sorrow into joy. However, if remain offended by the trials and troubles in our life we will never release the pain to become prosperous. Look at Jabez in I Chronicles 4:9-10, the details of his birth so horrific that his mother called him a pain. Now I am not going to say that I would not have done the same thing if we named our kids when they became teenagers, but we don’t. Jabez decided that his life would not be marked as pain so he asked the Lord to bless him, expand his territory, remain with him, and keep me from all trouble and pain. Though you will have trials in this life, God will turn that pain into promises and you will triumph over your troubles by faith that puts confident hope in God’s Plan and not your current set of circumstances. While you are planting seeds of faith, the enemy is sowing seeds of discontentment and bitterness. We must be the ones who decide if our life will be marked by pain or hope. We have a taste of His Glory as His Spirit lives inside of us. It is up to us to decide whether we will allow pain to mark our life or faith to produce victory to God’s Glory. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalemsinging, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” (Isaiah 35:10) We have been on a painful journey with our son for the last three years. In the hospital last week, I watched him sleeping and my heart was becoming bitter. I could feel the cold creeping in. How much longer until your Word comes to pass God? You said, “He will live and not die.” Then it occurred to me, I am quite certain that it was the Holy Spirit that said to me, “Well, he is alive.” Cancer is an temporary in our son’s life. The faith and confident hope that the Lord is producing through this pain is priceless and forever. I do not believe that God gave him cancer to teach us a lesson or punish us for something any of us has done or not done for that matter. But I believe what we are witnessing is God using our problem to produce His Promises in our life. He promises to make good of every detail in our life including this nasty interruption called cancer. My job in this fight is for the faith to leave bitterness behind and embrace confident hope. His Grace does not exempt us from the pain and suffering of this world but rather allows us to triumph over every single one. (I Peter 4:1-2)

 

Psalm 73:13-14 (NLT)

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.

 

Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)

Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.

 

In Psalm 73, David is lamenting to the Lord about the wicked prospering while his life seemed to be falling apart. He realized that he was bitter. Bitterness is produced when we harbor our pain rather than allowing God to make something useful of it. When we give up the insult and injury of being inconvenienced by such things and take hold of hope, we will prosper in every situation even the most painful ones. When the promise comes, pain is validated as worth it and filed away under experience. Grace becomes totally sufficient in our complete weakness. Surrendering our pain to Jesus Christ for satisfaction and fulfillment allows us to triumph over our pain and prosper in life. There is no need to worry that your suffering went unnoticed and tears disregarded. Nothing is further from the truth. God gathered every tear in a bottle and wrote every sorrow in His Book. (Psalm 56:8) He will make good on His Promise to make it right. We have the profound privilege to rise above the pain and suffering of this life to experience the Glory of God both now and forever. Don’t let pain and bitterness keep you from His Blessing, enlarged territories (His Prosperity/Favor), His Presence, and His Deliverance. The joy and peace that the Lord has reserved for you can never be taken from you. It is worth having. Faith will produce the confident hope necessary to see past these light and momentary troubles even traumas to triumph through them all! Let go of pain and hold on to His Promises!

 

Revelation 21:3-7 (NLT)

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

 

Out of the Frying Pan – A Devotion

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2 Timothy 1:5-7 (AMP)

I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), [a faith] that first lived permanently in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, [dwells] in you also. That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

 

There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” I used to throw coins in fountains to make a wish. Looking at the fountain that used to be in our local mall, all I could think of were all those unanswered thoughts and desires shining at the bottom of a dirty fountain. The shiny coins were tossed with little certainty but looking over the shiny contents it was clear that many people thought it worth a penny, nickel, dime or quarter to wish for something. You can laugh and think it is children’s fancy all that you want but go to the local convenience store on any Saturday night and watch how many lottery tickets are sold as you wait in line to buy milk.

 

For many months now, we have asked for, prayed for and fought for approval to have further treatment to end our son’s battle with cancer. I have told his story until every single detail and date are etched on my mind. I have piles of notes and a folder full of emails on my quest for his care. I have been enlighten to the value of a dollar that exceeds the worth of human life and am completely appalled that men and women die every single day because although there is a cure to their disease if they do not have the cold hard cash to get it then they are allowed to die. Not on my watch. Finally after months of watching and waiting for the Lord to open the door to the next step, He has. But as this door opens, I feel the familiar heat on my face only to realize the fire is coming and it is hotter than ever before. I have little time to remove those things between my Father and I so that He can come closer, wrap us in His Love and carry us through the fire to His Promise on the other side. So I guess this experience is best called out of the frying pan into the fire. I did not wish for these circumstances or create these conditions but I prayed for the Lord to come and heal our son, deliver Him from this stupid disease and restore his broken body. What is my response as He approaches? I am supposed to have unqualified faith fully leaning all of my entire personality on God in Christ with absolute trust and confidence in His Power, Wisdom and Goodness. I must stir up, rekindle embers, fan the flam and keep burning with passionate love, trust and devotion to Christ even though the fire is getting hotter by the minute. God did not give me the Spirit of Fear and I refuse to take it. But oh Lord, I do not want to get burned the price is too high. God, You gave Your One and Only Son that I might survive this fiery trial and be set free to prosper and live out your purpose receiving every single promise that You have made me, but God I am not willing to give up my boy for anything. He belongs to you. You have given him to us. Please Lord, help us make it out of the frying pan into the fire to receive all that You have prepared for us!

 

Daniel 3:14-20 (AMP)

[Then] Nebuchadnezzar said to them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, dulcimer or bagpipe, and every kind of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, very good. But if you do not worship, you shall be cast at once into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who is that god who can deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, it is not necessary for us to answer you on this point. If our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up! Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury and his facial expression was changed [to antagonism] against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Therefore he commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was usually heated. And he commanded the strongest men in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

 

There are many Christians today who live by the motto, “If you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.” They come to church on Sunday and live for the world Monday through Saturday. These people seem to have it made and many believers cannot figure out why brother this-and-that and sister so-and-so just sail through this life untouched and unscathed by the tests and trials of life. God is not going to set up anyone to fail. Those without valid faith or substantial hope will not survive the “heat” of fire let along the lick of its flame. Of course, who better to read about than the three Hebrew men, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” when talking about the fiery trials of life. (Daniel 3) To summarize, King Nebuchadnezzar (a very mean, ruthless and volatile man) had built a golden image of himself (add ego maniac to the list). He made it a law that at the sound of a horn everyone was to bow down and worship his likeness. Well, obviously this was listed in the top ten no-no’s for the Jewish men. Their commitment to God would not allow for such behavior. So they refused to bow the graven image. Now these men did not make a scene about it or argue their point, but simply made a stand based on their faith in God. It was not about them but their relationship to the Lord that caused them to jump out of the frying pan (because let’s face it they had already lost their freedom) and move them straight into the fire. Needless to say that the king was furious with their insubordination and unwillingness to comply with his directive, so not only did he tell his assistants to throw them in the fire but to increase the heat seven times. It was so hot that when the men opened the door and threw them in – they died from exposure.

 

The three Hebrew men along with their friend and fellow Jew, Daniel are four of my favorite characters as I get to know them more. They did not constantly rise to the forefront with profound speeches or magnificent miracles but rather faithfully served the Lord day in and day our refusing to give in, give up or bow down. It doesn’t seem like a very exciting existence, but it was definitely a prosperous one. There are other characters like Joseph who went from the pit to prison to the palace.  Faith is marked by a consistency in one’s confident hope that does not run from a challenge but simple takes a stand. Believers who truly stand up on their foundation of faith will find that they are faced with the fire sometimes. Faith allows us to boldly step out for the frying pan and not fear the fire. Jesus meets us on the other side. Our faith is secure in a foundation that will never let us down. His Presence is like fire consuming anything that might come between us.

 

Daniel 3:24-26 (AMP)

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king [saw and] was astounded, and he jumped up and said to his counselors, Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered, True, O king. He answered, Behold, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods! Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the midst of the fire.

 

When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, his heart melted in that moment. He forgot about the law and these men’s disobedience. All he could see was the miracle before him. He put three guys in but now there were four. The forth one looked like the Son of God. The Lord was waiting for them in the fire. He delivered them from the fire – fully. The fire had no power over their bodies. The fire did not singe a single hair on their head. It did not touch their garments every thread intact. The fire did not even leave a smell of smoke on them. The king and his advisors were in shock. This is not just some Old Testament tale but God’s Promise for your life. If you will just let go of your comfort zone labeled self-control to learn to trust Him enough to go through the fire, you will discover the true potential, purpose, power and promise for your life. What happened to these men will be your destiny? God was exalted. The men were promoted! (Verse 30)

 

Matthew 3:11-13 (AMP)

I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.

 

Fast forward to John the Baptist in the wilderness. As he baptized new converts, he told them of the One who would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Hold your place for just a minute as we stroll down memory lane. God is an all-consuming fire. (Deuteronomy 4:24) It is tough to figure out how this all works with finite human minds but hopefully His Spirit will help us to discern how one can survive in the passionate flame of the Love of God. He is passionately jealous for your love and wants nothing to come between you as you give your heart to the Lord. The Presence of God is like fire. (Exodus 40:36-38) Throughout all time, people have feared the Presence of God unsure what will happen in His Midst. The Children of Israel stood on the verge of it and pushed Moses in. God speaks to us through the fire. (Deuteronomy 4:10-12) Fear of fire keeps most people too far back to hear the still small voice. See the truth of the matter is to have all of God means giving up all of our “self” as He consumes us with His Love. You cannot love Him from afar, you must decide that you want to be where He is. So you see, mankind had a problem. We feared the fire power of God. So Jesus came to free us from fear of the fire. Sin is the very thing that causes our destruction in the Presence of God. So Jesus Christ covered our sins with His Blood so we can step back into right standing with God the Father once more. Now perfect love has cast out all fear because we are consumed by God’s Passion and not His Judgment. Death to life occurs in this moment. The enemy wants to keep us from the Lord and all He has for us by giving us fear. We must refuse to take it and stay strongly attached to confident hope by faith in Jesus Christ. What better way to end our fear of fire than to put His Holy Spirit in us? (Acts 2:2-3) Now what is our excuse for fearing the fire? God’s Love has come to live inside the human heart so that we can withstand any fiery trial we face by faith in God that produces confident hope so that we can stand. Why would He do it? Well first of all, He chose to do it. His Love for us is so amazing and unfailing that even when we chose to give our love to other things less worthy – God still chose to send all His Love to us. He didn’t stop there. When we feared His Presence in our guilty condition, He wiped us clean and filled us with His Spirit so that we could be one with the Father again. How great is the Father’s Love? We cry out to the Lord and He answered. (Isaiah 64:1-8) We asked Him to rend the Heavens and come to us here. Now with one foot over the edge ready to jump in the fire, I ask the Lord to stir the embers of my heart so that I can trust Him more, to fan the flames of passionate love so that my pursuit of Him will never be in vain, and to keep the Light in me burning so that others will not fear the fire, too.

 

I Corinthians 3:13-15 (AMP)

The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.

 

When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water by faith in Christ, the storm made him sink because his faith was not enough to keep him up. Why jump into the fire? Why does God allow us to be tested in such a fierce manner? I know why. There is coming a day that few speak of anymore. The pulpits of our churches are too busy stroking their congregation about a get-rich-quick God rather than equipping strong and worthwhile builders who have structurally sound lives. When the last day finally gets here, the foundation of our life will be tested unless it is Jesus Christ we will be consumed in judgment. He is our only hope. We must let go of everything else we hold precious and dear that is flammable to embrace with confident hope the One who has overcome. Welcome the test because it will reveal the truth. The Truth will set you free – if His Name is Jesus Christ. God wants to seal your life with His Love today. He wants to consume you with His Love so there will be no question who you belong to when that day comes. Live for forever not just today. When the next door to a fiery trial comes, just step in. You are not alone. You are never alone. God lives in you. His Son is for you. His Spirit empowers you. God is sealing your heart with fire. You are being consumed by His Great Love.

 

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (AMP)

Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead). Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame [the very flame of the Lord]! Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man would offer all the goods of his house for love, he would be utterly scorned and despised.

To Sorrow – A Devotion

 Psalm 126:4-6 (NLT)

Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

 

There is no question that sorrow fills the world in which we live today. People are constantly tempted with the things of this world and readily fall for the lie of their enemy as he works diligently to create a people who live in the bondage of pain and sorrow. Unending tears fill the pillows of countless people who walk through each day with a fake smile and frolicking façade. Pride will not allow for their true despair and disappointment to show through not until everything in their “little” world falls apart and then what. Will God give you joy and laughter for the sorrow and tears sown? Probably not, it is only when sorrow is investing in repentance that it is turned into joy. The situations that people encounter each day have one purpose. It is that you will know and recognize God, the Lover of your soul. He is working every single detail of your existence into a magnificent love story but has no use for the tears shed in the midst of rebellion or remorse based on bad choices beckoning for a new life plan. God is waiting for you to plant your tears so they will produce a harvest in your life. Too often God becomes a servant who is mistaken as one who follows behind gathering the pieces and hiding all the unsightly things from our life. God is following. Yes, He is gathering the pieces of your broken heart and life. But until, we plant those tears in His Kingdom through repentance and return to the Lord each one is cried without reward. As God moves closer in proximity to our life, all the parts of life that produce regret, remorse, disappointment and despair are revealed. They are a necessary part of the Great Plan that He has and are useful when rendered to God and left there to produce a harvest.

 

John 16:33 (NLT)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

 

You will face many trials in your life. Some are passed with flying colors while others are epic failures leaving us crawling back to the Feet of Jesus Christ. These are no surprise to the Lord who told us on earth that these things would happen. But as Christians and believers in Jesus Christ who have surrendered our allegiance to His Kingdom, we share in His Victory. Jesus overcame the world. It holds no threat. However, it comes at people from all directions implying some power that is really not there. We fail in faith and sorrow is produced. The trial does not cause the sorrow, but it is our inability to walk in victory that has filled our heart with tears. As an overcomer in Jesus Christ, the harvest of our sorrow is joy as we continually return to the Lord in the midst of failure and He plants our tears in the Kingdom of God where joy is sown. We win. We win. We win. In every situation, we win. There is nothing not even death that can steal our victory so why all the sorrow and sadness? Believers are stilling trying to convince their fickle heart and warring mind of the confident hope found in Jesus Christ by faith. Faith takes time and experience. It is not an overnight sensation but a night of sorrow can certainly reveal a morning of rejoicing when faith is harvested in the midst of your greatest sorrow.

 

John 16:21-23 (NLT)

It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.

 

Having five natural children, I have experienced the pains of labor. The overwhelming joy that replaces any memory of the anguish that was experienced during the birth process is supernatural. We live in a state of sorrow due to sin. God wants to replace the regret and remorse in your life with overwhelming joy that washes away the guilt and shame from your old life and broadens it to receive more of the Love of God. When we come back to Jesus Christ from our rebellion and commitment to sin, He wants to remove our sins as far as the East is from the West making it impossible to compare our old life to the New Creation that we are becoming. I have seen it in the life of others and experienced it in my own life. Now it is your turn? The tears you have cried are not in vain but only become powerful under the Redemptive Power of Jesus Christ. Don’t worry all those tears that were not planted in righteousness have been saved by your Father for the moment that you did return to Him. He is not going to remind you of past sorrow that accompanied a life of sin and separation from God. He caught every single one. You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Why would God collect your tears and record each one if they were not precious to Him? He longs to restore EVERYTHING that the enemy has taken from you even your tears! What kind of God would keep tears vainly displayed due to human weakness, corruption and sin? A God who loves you unconditionally and WORKS EVERYTHING for your Good!

 

Isaiah 29:15-16 (NLT)

What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The Lord can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?

 

Many people are crying out to the Lord to turn their mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy, yet they remain in the darkness floundering in faith. You cannot live a double life without living in the midst of overwhelming sorrow as your heart, mind and soul are deeply conflicted. If you feel pummeled by despair and disappointment today despite being in church every time the doors are open, then maybe it is time to take a long hard look at your life. Where do you reside? Which side of the fence do you call home? Faith is produced by the church that lives inside of you not the building where you go looking for the Love of God. He lives in you. He is with you always. Everywhere you go, everything you do and every word you say is subject to the Holy Spirit who tends your heart, mind and soul to keep them in agreement with God’s Word and Purpose for your life. A life lived in duplicity will never be in agreement with God. God’s Blessing brings no sorrow with it! (Proverbs 10:22) If you live in a constant state of sorrow, then it is highly unlikely you are experiencing the blessings of God. In fact, it could be that the Holy Spirit is sorrowed by your current state of affairs and is desperately trying to get your attention so you will turn back to the Lord once more so your tears will be effective and trails will produce a harvest in your life. (Ephesians 4:29-31) We are overcomers according to Jesus Christ. Why would a winner be a whiner? Why would the victorious be vicious? Why would they have to? They have nothing to gain for through Christ our victory is secure. By faith, we can see every sorrow in our life turned to rejoicing. Every situation will result in a win rather than despair, disappointment and distress. Look closely at your life and determine those areas that need to turn back to the finish line and win the race of faith by simply trusting Jesus and investing your tears in His Kingdom.

 

Psalm 119:27-30 (NLT)

Help me understand the meaning of your commandments and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.

 

When sorrow overtakes us, His Word will guide us in faithfulness until His Love shines through. God’s Word is encouraging. However, it cannot encourage the ignorant. If you do not know the Word of God or study the Word of God, you will never understand the Processes of Repentance, Refinement and Reformation that you are undergoing. It will remain a great mystery until the Spirit is given TRUTH to reveal in your life. If you must keep crying to keep crawling back to God, guess what your Father is going to do? God loves you! The Lord is desperate for you! He will stop at nothing to have your whole heart! But don’t worry, not one situation will be senseless and not a single tear will be lost. Every sorrow will reap a harvest of blessing to a heart committed by faith to the Greatest Love Story of all time.

 

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

 

The only purpose of sorrow in your life is to lead you to repentance. It is designed to keep turning you back to God. For those who remain devoted to the Father in a constant passionate love affair, it really doesn’t matter what they face for sorrow is not added to it. You will weep with understanding as His Word is cultivated in your life and joy grows in its midst. Worthwhile sorrow keeps turning people back to the Lord. He longs to redeem your tears today. Will you keep turning back to Him?

 

James 4:8-10 (NLT)

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

 

The process is simple – come close to God, He will close to you and He will lift you up. Wallowing in sorrow will serve no purpose as God’s Plan all along has been to lift you up. Your sin and shame have been washed away by the Blood of Jesus. Your tears of repentance are about to yield a resounding harvest of joy. Submit to the process of sowing tears of repentance and stop wasting them on the things of this world. The only useful sorrow is repentance after that joy will fill your life making any situation a song of victory and every circumstance a cause to win! You are an overcomer! Live like one!

 

Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT)

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

 

The only thing God has turned away from today is sin! You are His Primary focus. How long will sorrow last? Until it is washed away by the Blood of Jesus Christ, then your tears will be those of victory and not defeat! There is a day coming when your tears will be no more.

 

Revelation 21:3-5 (NLT)

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”  And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

It is time to focus on the rest of the story. Looking past the death, sorrow, crying and pain of this world into Eternity, hope is found in this place and everything is new. The things of this world are gone forever. This is only a temporary situation. Your circumstances feel overwhelming but you overcome in Jesus Christ. Victory is yours! Joy is yours! Peace is yours! Just claim it along with all those bitter tears that God wants to make good in your life! Let God turn your sorrow into gladness today! It all begins by turning back to the Lord and He will do the rest!