Friday, 23 August 2013

Reminiscing...

The other night, I went through my old journal of the last three years and read and read until I got right up until the present time. It was a real eye-opener and if you don't already keep a journal or a diary, I strongly recommend that you do. As I read through the different struggles of the past, I couldn't help but be amazed at the way the Lord has been working in each and every circumstance of my life, and is changing me constantly to be more like Him. Oh, how much sin remains, and yet how He has been changing me! Thank you heavenly Father! I cannot help but see how the trials have drawn me so much closer to Him, and so my prayer is that you may see that He is in control of all events in your life for your good, whether or not it seems that way.

Now, this is fairly personal, but I read some entries that I wrote on particularly hard days that serve now as a reminder to me that God is so, so faithful, and so I thought I'd share one for any of you who may be going through a trial right now.
Some days you just want to forget. Today was one such day, but I have already seen the Lord working through it, conforming me more to His will. Thank you heavenly Father. I know it's not pleasant but in the future I will look back on this day and be able to thank and praise you for it...Thank you for filling my heart and mind with your Word today, Father! In your precious name, amen.
I share this with you because this entry served as a powerful reminder to me of how God can use our hardest days to draw us closer to Him in a way that we simply can't appreciate on a day when everything seems well with the world. I'm sure the days that I have felt such a depth of fellowship with Him are on the days when I've been struggling through a trial of one kind or another. Because on days like that, you have nothing and no-one else to cling to, except Him and Him alone. And it's amazing how He will bring to your mind verses to encourage you through the day. The day I wrote that entry, I had verses coming out my ears! Every time I felt tempted to fall into despair, another verse would come to mind, and I can't tell you how much that helped me! Maybe what we need to do is to start seeing trials as "blessings in disguise" (Laura Story) and thank the Lord for giving us them in order to draw us closer to Himself. It is such a challenge! May God in His grace help me and you to do this!

Another thing that happened recently is I visited a friend in hospital last week. It was a powerful reminder of the fact that suffering, death, sickness and so on seems so unnatural to us. All of us seem to have an awareness that it ought not to exist ~ and yet it does! I'm rather tired right now, and I feel that this thought deserves a blog post all of it's own, so I might leave that for you to ponder.

God bless!


Monday, 19 August 2013

Life Ain't Easy

I recieve a daily devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada into my email inbox, and today's was a really good one that I thought I'd share with you all! 

Life Ain't Easy ~ Joni Eareckson Tada


"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 14:22

Everyone who takes the Bible seriously, and many who don't, agree that God hates suffering. Jesus spent much of His short life relieving it. Scores of passages tell us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit inmates, and speak up for the helpless. When we feel compassion for people in distress, we know that God felt it first. He shows this by raising sick people from their beds -- sometimes to the wonder of doctors, in answer to prayer. Every day He grants childless women babies, pulls small-business owners out of financial pits, protects Alzheimer's patients crossing the street, and writes happy endings to sad situations. Even when He has to punish sin, He says it gives Him no pleasure (Ezekiel 18:32). In heaven, Eden's curse will be canceled. Sighs and longings will be historical curiosities. Tears will evaporate. Tissue companies will go broke.

But it simply doesn't follow that God's only relationship to suffering is to relieve it. He specifically says that all who follow Him can expect hardship. But didn't Jesus hang on a cross so we wouldn't have to suffer hell? Yes, but not so we wouldn't have to suffer here -- on earth. Listen to the Bible on this:

"I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16).

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ... to suffer for him... " (Philippians 1:29).
____________________________

The Bible goes even further. After calling Christians "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" it adds -- "if indeed we share in his sufferings." In other words, no one goes to Christ's heaven who doesn't first share Christ's sufferings. Do you think you should be exempt from suffering? Listen to this final word from Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..." This week, purpose in your heart to be no greater than your Master. If He suffered, you can expect it too.

May I learn obedience through the hard thing I'm going through right now, God.

***

If you want to recieve Joni's devotionals too, you can go to http://www.joniandfriends.org/daily-devotional/ and sign up to recieve it. :)

God bless!


Trust His Heart

I came across this beautiful hymn today that I'd never heard before. Praying that it blesses you today!

~ Trust His Heart ~


All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don't
See how they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth
Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don't see him,
Remember your never alone

Chorus:
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/babbie-mason-trust-his-heart-lyrics.html ]
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When don't see his plan
When you can't trace his hand
Trust His Heart

He sees the master plan
He holds the future in his hand,
So don't live as those who have no hope,
ALL our hope is found in him.
We see the present clearly
He sees the first and last
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me,
To someday be just like him

(Chorus)

He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you

(Chorus)

When you can't trace his hand
When you don't see his plan
When you don't understand
Trust His Heart
 
Trust His Heart lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. 

 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sunshine Behind the Storm #2: Praising the Lord for Trials

Hello again everyone! 

I am really excited to introduce the second article in the series "Sunshine Behind the Storm". This article is written by a fellow blogger, Micaela, from the US. She blogs over at Everyday Encouragements and has a ministry for young women called Hearts for Purity which I highly recommend you check out. She also contributes articles for the Radiant Girls of God {RGOG} blog. Her writing and ministry has really challenged and encouraged me, so thank you Micaela and may the Lord use your writing for His glory!


When someone asks me about trials, one of the first people I think of is Joseph. His life started out well enough, but then it took a turn for the worse. He had more downs than ups. 

But let me tell you a little about him.

Joseph was the favorite son, hated by his brothers. They plotted to kill Joseph, but instead sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken from Canaan to Egypt, where he was purchased by Potipher, captain of the guard under Pharoh. Joseph was a beloved servant in Potipher's house...until Potipher's wife lied about Joseph. He was thrown in prison, to be forgotten for three years. When he was released, God used Joseph to interpret Pharoh's disturbing dreams. Joseph was promoted to second in command in the land of Egypt. He was put in charge of preparing for the foretold famine. When the famine came, it struck not only Egypt, but Canaan as well. This drove Joseph's brothers to come and buy grain in Egypt. Later on, Joseph revealed to them who he was. The brothers were remorseful for their treatment of Joseph, yet he forgave them.

Joseph could have been angry or bitter toward those who had wronged him, or even toward God. But when he looked back over his life, Joseph wasn't either of those things. When asked, he simply said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” { Gen. 50:20 }

God's plans were perfect, and Joseph realized that. He could see, in retrospect, that God had been in control all along. His life was not wasted, his pain had a purpose. God knew what He was doing.

And the same applies to us.

I went through a time in my life, not too long ago, when I thought I knew what God was doing. I could see His fingerprints all over the place in what had happened thus far. Then, He threw in a twist. Everything I had thought came crashing down around me. I didn't know what to do or think anymore. It was like I'd been on a roller coaster, climbing higher, higher, higher, and then came the huge drop, sudden and totally unexpected. I didn't understand what was going on. I kept asking God, “Why?” 

Then I realized I needed to praise Him. I needed to give Him the honor and glory for whatever it was that He was doing in my life. I still don't know exactly why He did what He did, but I have the same response that Joseph had: one of confidence, thankfulness, and praise for God's perfect plan.

Now, whenever I think of that experience that drew me ever so near to my Savior, and then the disappointment that came with the 'curveball', I choose to praise Him for it all. One of my favorite passages to pray is Psalm 9:1-2 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
 
Praising God for trials isn't easy. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

To finish, I'd like to share with you a song about giving God glory amid trials, and realizing that He has a bigger plan for us, than we have for ourselves.

{ Note: this is from the Dreamworks movie about Joseph's life, “Joseph, King of Dreams” --one of the reasons it fits so well ;) }


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
God Bless!!
~ Micaela 

Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Micaela! Joseph really is a powerful reminder that God works all things together for our good, whether or not we can see that (and I love that song!!!) :D Help us all, Lord, to trust in You and that You have Your hand in each and every situation of our lives, be it good or bad.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

"Why God Allows Suffering" video clip

Hi all!

I saw this a while back and really wanted to share it with you all. I think it is a really good summary of what I have been learning recently ~ surely, we learn so much during the hard times and can be a light in the darkness and witness when others are also going through hard times. Do not despair ~ trust in the Lord!!!



God bless!


Saturday, 3 August 2013

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

This hymn always encourages me so much when I am going through trials of one kind or another. It reminds me that whatever my circumstances, I need not be worried but simply "take it to the Lord in prayer" and know that He hears us.

One thing I find unendingly amazing is the old hymns - I am forever thankful for the hymn writers composing such moving music and words. Often, I may struggle to remember direct truths from God's word, but I find that time and time again a familiar hymn will spring to mind and will point me straight back to the Lord and His word. So I encourage you, no matter how "old-fashioned" you consider the old hymns, to take the time to listen to them. They are so full of deep truths. 

So here it is, What a Friend We Have in Jesus. May it bless you today as much as it blessed me!


What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)

God bless!