Friday, 12 December 2014

Trust In The Lord, Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

Hi all,

Over the years I have found Proverbs 3:5-6 so reassuring when facing trials:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

I love this Jaci Velasquez song version of this passage. :) Praying that these words are with you whatever you face over the Christmas season and into the New Year. He is with you every step of the way!


God bless!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Testing of Our Faith Produces Steadfastness

From Pinterest

So blessed by the Lord to have read this today, right when I needed it! He certianly knows how to prepare us through His word for what we're going to face in the day!
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing... Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." ~ James 1:2-4,  12 ~
God can use even bad circumstances to test our faith and help us to cling in greater dependence and trust upon Him, thus becoming more steadfast in our faith. It's amazing how quickly a trial can bring us back to our knees relying totally and utterly upon the Lord to help us trust in Him and His goodness and to look forward to the day when He will come again and we will see His glory and goodness in all its fulness! I will leave it there and let scripture speak for itself. :)

Here is also a music video by Holly Starr with wonderful words (even though it's not so much my style of music)! Love the chorus:

But God is, God is, 
Greater than the fear your facing
Greater than the storm that's raging
God is, God is,
With you when you cry, so cry out His name
‘Cause God is greater than the pain

 

God bless!


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Sing in the Rain because of All the Ways He Loves Us!

I'll admit: I felt rather clever combining two song titles into one like that! :) Sorry that I haven't been posting as often as I'd like, things feel quite crazy for me at the moment: God has a way of complicating our lives suddenly and often uses trials of one kind or another to do just that and to draw us ever closer and nearer to Him.

I've been listening exhaustively to these two songs by Moriah Peters, and while it's not really my style, there are some good thoughts in the words here that I thought I'd share. We need to be actively "singing in the rain" a.k.a. praising God and cultivating an attitude of thankfulness when trials come our way. As I read just a few days ago in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."God always has us in His loving, soverign arms no matter how crazy and complicated life may seem to get. I need to remember this as much as the next person! And oh: how He love us, not for anything we have done but for what His Son has done for us! Look upon Christ and all He has done, as the second song also reminds us, when you face trials!

Sing in the Rain


 If I could fly like a bird
Singing songs to the world then I would
But here I am on the ground
With troubles that I wish that I understood

But in the dark, in the sun
I believe that Your love is still good
God, You're so good

I wish that life could be
Carefree, sunny, never cloudy
But You said that I would be
In Your arms when things get crazy
So when the storm doesn't go away
I have decided to sing in the rain


We all want the easy way
No one ever prays for pain
We'd rather live the charmed life

But like a seed in the earth
If I'm gonna grow, it's gonna hurt
But after, You'll bring sunlight

But I have seen beauty come
When my world has come undone
You came through at the right time

Chorus

I'm, I'm not gonna sit here doing nothing
No, I'm gonna sing Your name
Jesus, Jesus, You give me, give me something
That makes me wanna sing in the rain

Jesus, You give me something
You make me wanna sing
Doesn't matter what's gonna happen to me
Jesus, Jesus, You give me, give me something

I'm, I'm not gonna sit here doing nothing
No, I'm gonna sing in the rain

I've also been finding the words in this song by Moriah Peters also good. I especially love the bit at the end where "He loves" is repeated. Doesn't it just make you want to worship the Lord for all He has done and is doing? :D

All The Ways He Loves Us


He takes darkness and turns it into light
He takes sorrow and makes it alright
He holds our hearts not just when their broken, no
We're in His arms and He will never let us go
He's our Father, we're His children

From the sun coming up to the sun going down
Every breath we breathe in and breathe out
Blessings are given as we are living for Jesus
He's the beginning and He is the end
He will be faithful again and again
We give Him praise for all the ways He loves us


Who would come down from a heavenly throne
To be humbled and to make our world His home?
What redemption, oh, He chose a cross to save
What affection, He died in our place
His grace is always reaching

Chorus

He gave His life away
We worship unashamed

Chorus

For all the ways He loves us
For all the ways He loves us

He loves, he loves, he loves, he loves
He loves, he loves, he loves, he loves us
He loves, he loves, he loves, he loves
He loves, he loves, he loves, he loves us 

A final note, I saw this quote on another blog and I thought I'd share it too. :)
“I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can’t worship without giving thanks. It just isn’t possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others.” ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss
 Let's choose to worship God today, no matter what we are facing!

God bless!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Wilderness, Depression, & Stars in the Night

Hi all,

I watched this today and thought it was a good challenge. Sometimes we need the night in order to see the stars! God is always in control. :)



God bless!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Is There Any Purpose to Our Sufferings?

I was tidying my room up the other day and I came across a collection of sermons. My grandfather was a pastor for a number of years and when he moved into a retirement village, he gave me a bundle of some of his sermons. In amongst them I found this one, appropriately titled "Is There Any Purpose to Our Sufferings", which I thought might enocourage some of you just as it did me today. :) (I have ommited some sections for confidentiality but other than that, this is pretty much exactly as the original sermon).

Is There Any Purpose to Our Sufferings? 

Text: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." ~ Romans 5:3-5

Reading: Romans 4:18-5:11 

There are those who see trials and suffering in the life of the one who believes in Jesus Christ as the exact opposite of the blessedness expected in Christian life and experience. There are those who busy themselves and even parade themselves as the removers of trail and suffering through so-called faith healing. Then there are those like Job's friends. When they at last found their voices they accused Job of sin. Surely he must have sinned greatly to have attracted so much trouble. So such people have reasoned if there is sickness or adversity or trial or suffering it must be due to personal sin.

But I want to suggest that God, in His great wisdom, can employ the tribulations of life, the troubles, the sickness, the sufferings of life to refine and polish these lives of ours as believers. Indeed when the divine Potter takes our lives, He takes the most unpromising and unlikely materials to produce beautiful vessels for His own honour. 

The modern western mind usually equates what is comfortable and pleasurable and settled with what is good and qualitative. Trials and suffering on the other hand are disturbing and make one uncomfortable so therefore they are undesirable and bad. As God's children I would urge us to relook at our attitudes to suffering and trial and ask; can it not, in the hand and the providence of God, be employed for our good? To be certian, God made a world that was good, a world that was unblemished, without decay, without death, without suffering. Man's own rebellion has introduced to our world the rougue element of sin with its attendent pain, suffering and death. But then the Divine Potter takes the blemished material to fashion something beautiful from it, to shape from it a trophy of His grace....

We are so slow to learn from the beautiful and appealing events and circumstances of life! It often takes the severe and the adverse event s to thrust home to us a truth. It even seems that we learn more effectively and more certianly from personal suffering and personal tribulation. 

1. Suffering is not an end in itself but produces patience, character, hope. 


The Apostle indicates that suffering/tribulation does not stand by itself/alone/as an island. There are products that flow from it. Perserverance/patience, character, hope.

The translation provided here in the word "suffering" is too soft, for it does not reflect the idea of pressure and even afflictionthat is in the original. The adversities of life for the believer are wide-ranging and certianly involve sufferings.

As with all the experiences of life including trial or oppression or suffering or adversity, it is not so much the nature of the experience that matters most but the response that we make to it that counts. Two people may have an almost identical experience and yet react in entirely different ways and therefore benefit from it in different ways and measures. We see that demonstrated in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. His message excited some to faith while the same word in others brought determined opposition.

In every day life even apart from faith we see this principle at work. A deceased's will may leave some members of a family without an inheritance. One family member may accpet the reality with bitterness and rancour and evern seek to overturn the terms of the will, while another member accepts it philosophically. Those who are in Christ carry the nature of their Father in heaven and know that He is providentally dealing with them and that nothing is gifted to them for their impoverishment. When I think of this  I think of one special person in my acquantince of the past, a person who more than most was so accepting of the events of life. It seemed that each day and each hour she walked with her God and was so deeply aware of His control of all events and was happily resigned to them. She, with her husband, had been a pioneer missionary. together they had given an aggregate of 90 years to the Church's mission enterprise. Over the years she had learned that God had all things in His hand, that nothing escaped His control and that in big things and little things He was working things out for good.

2. God employs suffering to turn our hearts to Himself.


God employs these adversities, the tribulations, the trials and the sufferings to turn our hearts to Himself.

The metalurgist working with his material uses the furnace not only to melt and render the metal malleable but also to refine it and purfiy it by the extraction of rubbish, to seperate the dross. Tribulation and suffering can be the searing furnace in our experience, the fire that refines us and enables us to live closer to God.

From Pinterest
The shared adversties of life serve to bond us, to bond us more tightly together. And the adversities of life can bond us more firmly with our God when we recieve those trials from Him as instruments in His hand to refine us and cause us to cast ourselves upon Him.

[Someone] was sharing with me about a time in her life when she was greatly troubled (I don't know the nature of the trouble). She found strength in the constant awareness of the Psalmist's words in Psalm 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills ... My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth. The Lord watches over you."

There are no accidents with God - only incidents. Incidents that He employs to draw us into a closer relationship with Himself.

3. God employs suffering to prove to us that His fulness is more than enough to meet our greatest and our every need.


There is another outcome of our trials and sufferings in life not divorced from what has already been said.

God shows us something of Himself through them. the apostle Peter writes (in 1 Peter 5:6) "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." God demonstrates to us that He is the Caring One, the All-sufficent One. He is the one who can provide the help that we most certianly need. He can meet those special needs, the needs encountered in our trials and tribulations. He can supply to the full and most perfectly. Of course we should be able to learn this (in an academic way) simply by looking at history or the experiences of others but alas we seldom do learn this lesson thoroughly. We can learn much about this by reading the biographies of believers and how God used adversity in their lives. There are the stories of Bible characters and missionary biographies.

I think of Abraham taking his son to make a sacrifice at Mt Moriah in obedience to God's instruction. He went believing that in spite of that sacrifice God could still fulfill all His own promises that appeared to be bound up with this one son Isaac who was to be sacrificed. Indeed God did provide. This resulted in Abraham naming the place "The Lord Will Provide". How true that is and yet we often have to rediscover this for ourselves within our own personal experience. Our extreme needs in suffering, of whatever sort, become God's opportunity to once again sho that He is The Provider. The life of Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Israel, is one where we see adveristy and difficulty. Hated in his own family, sold into slavery, years of wasting in a miserable prison. But all of that was experience that God used to create a humble leader and man of authority.

4. Suffering for the believer is a means in God's hand for our sanctification.


So does suffering have a place in God's providence?

I'm sure that many have suffered gratly and whould have wished to be without those painful experiences, yet of these there are some who have found God in that suffering and have found Him to be very real and very close precisely in the midst of their sufferings. So much so that afterwards they see the sufferings as blessed sufferings, experiences through which God has shown Himself, and drawn very close to them, and used their circumstances, and their need, to refine thier life and their faith.  I think of Xions in Europe during the second World War. Those in accompanying countries saw how that in this trial they were more alive in their faith. Their obvious need of God brought them closer to God. In God's hand our sufferings/tribulations/trials are for our sanctification, are for the fashioning and the shaping of us more after the likeness of Jesus Christ our Saviour who Himself suffered for our sakes to bring us to God and to make us perfect.


While our text is applied to the believer I think we may have already seen how that God cna also use the the trials and adversities in the lives of those not yet believers to alter the direction of their lives and turn them back to Himself.

Amen.



Saturday, 8 November 2014

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Today I was thinking a lot about the whole concept of "let go and let God". Funnily enough, I was thinking about it all week and then it popped up again in an email from a friend! :) While I might not agree with all the theological implications of this statement, I think there is a lot of truth to it. 


I don't know about you, but I find it so easy to constantly take matters into my own hands, rather than prayerfully bringing requests to the Lord in prayer and earnestly searching His word for wisdom. Quite frankly, sometimes there are idols in my life that I don't really want to get rid of or ways I want my day to turn out and when it doesn't I try desperately to take matters into my own hands and follow my own selfish inclinations, ignoring the fact that the Lord may be using my circumstances to teach me more about Him and make me more like Him. Sometimes your day may not go how you wish it to, and seem like a series of failed plans or mishaps, but when that is the case do you grumble and complain (as I tend to!) or prayerfully look to the Lord to teach you through it? He can use every single day to make us more like Him and bring Him glory - even the bad ones!

Today I was very much feeling angry and upset that my day wasn't going how I'd planned, when I was reminded of this hymn (no doubt at the prompting of the Holy Spirit!) Amidst my tears of frustration I was able to sing the first verse quietly to myself as a way of both praying to the Father and praising Him, and afterwards I felt so much more relaxed and able to trust Him with my day. It's my prayer that as you listen to the beautiful words of this hymn, you too will be able to entrust your day and your circumstances to the Lord's tender loving care. :) I'm praying for you!

Have Thine Own Way, Lord


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.


Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.


God bless!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sunshine Behind the Storm #5: God's Glory

It's been a while since I've posted for the Sunshine Behind the Storm series, so I am happy to share this book excerpt of  Jonathan Edwards that Kerry Benge finds really encouraging when going through hard times: to look at the Lord's attributes and character, and rejoicing in His glory, no matter what the trials are. Kerry Benge blogs over at Studies in the Scriptures  which has some really great articles such as this one, so go check it out. :) Thanks heaps for sharing, Kerry! :)


"God glorifies himself to the creatures in two ways:

(1) By appearing to their understanding,
(2) and in communicating himself to their hearts,

and in their rejoicing and delighting and enjoying the manifestations he makes of himself. God is glorified not only in his glory being seen but in its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul both by the understanding and the heart. He that testifies of this idea, that is his seeing of God's glory, doesn't glorify God so much as he that testifies of his approbation, that is in his approval of it and delight in it." ~ Jonathan Edwards, "Miscellanies," in the Works of Jonathan Edwards

God bless!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Bring The Rain

Okay, so here is another song: again, it is not so much my style, but does have wonderful words and should hopefully encourage all of you who enjoy more contemporary music. :) It's so true that it's when we encounter trial, God can use it to strengthen our faith! :D Also, Rejoice in the Lord is now on various social media (Tumblr, Twitter, Ask.fm and of course we are still on Facebook and Pinterest), so feel free to follow for ongoing encouragement and post updates! :)


Bring the Rain - Mercy Me



I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on You, Oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray

Chorus
Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty
And I forever singing
Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty etc...

God bless!


Monday, 11 August 2014

Look to the Ultimate Counselor



This is what I said to a friend today and I thought I'd share it with you. This is really my aim with Rejoice in the Lord always! More than likely, the trials the Lord has called me to walk through are not the same as the ones He has placed in your life: who am I, therefore, to presume I can tell you much about suffering? I have so many things to be thankful for, so many trials the Lord has in His mercy spared me from (or at least He has for the time being)! :P There will, undoubtedly, be trials in your life that I cannot and never will be able to personally identify with.

BUT ... I know the One who does and is able to help you through each and every trial, our ultimate Counselor, the Prince of Peace, and I believe this is what makes blogging on this subject so worthwhile, regardless of how underqualified I may feel to do so. No matter what you are going through or have gone through, the Lord is the One who can ultimately bring you peace and comfort as you trust in Him and His soverignty over everything - even the negative circumstances in your life. I may not be going through what you are, but we are all the same in our need for the Lord in times of trial and temptation: and there is always someone out there who is hurting and needs Him. This is as true for me as it is for you!
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (emphasis mine)

Recently, the Lord has had me mulling over how He can use me and this blog more effectively to bring Him glory. Much as I love blogging and believe He can and does use it, it is so easy for it to turn into a one-person kind of ministry with a focus on my own thoughts and limited experience rather than what the Lord teaches in His Word and what a multitude of people have found to be true in the very different life experiences the Lord has brought them through. I personally do not feel that trying to do things entirely on my own (though relying on the Lord of course!) is the most effective way of ministering though undoubtedly the Lord still uses it! :D I want to encourage you all to be praying for this blog as I truly believe that prayer is one way a seemingly one-person ministry can be used mightily for the Lord, and become a ministry that is no longer based on that one person. It is incredible already what a change I have noticed in trying to remember to pray each time I blog or post something (please pray also that I would persist in this!): it appears that automatically God answered that by several people indicating that this blog or a post on it had challenged or encouraged them in some way! :D Praise the Lord for that and may He recieve all the glory!

Also, the Lord has convicted me very strongly lately over the self-focussed way I live my life. I constantly have a yearning to do more for the Lord and really make a difference in people' s lives rather than going through life serving myself. I've been thinking lately that I'm in the very privileged position of having few commitments compared to many people and lately I've been realising that I should be making the most of this time and opportunity that many do not have to really be imersing myself in serving the Lord. I have been blessed with many friends who are committed Christians and who are actively involved in serving Him in many different capacities using their various gifts. While I, on the other hand, feel I do so many things that benefit me but very few things for the Lord. Even this blog, arguably, requires very little personal self-sacrifice as it can be done from the comfort of a cosy chair, computer screen, Facebook and (within reason) as frequently or infrequently as life and time allows.

The Lord has been making it clearer and clearer to me that where my passion and gifting lies is really encouraging people, especially people who may be hurting/going through trials by pointing them to the Lord (though, as said above, encouraging, NOT couselling, which I think is another cup of tea altogether!). However, I am finding that this is something which does not naturally have an obvious outlet or means of serving except to be noticing and avaliable for those who are hurting - with a hug, a listening ear, words of wisdom/comfort, tissues, scripture, prayer etc. Or maybe a little gift or email/text/letter of encouragement or simply to say "how are you doing? I'm praying for you!". However, like all gifts given to us by the Lord, we need to be proactive in using them and developing them, disciplining ourselves, and that's where I find blogging comes in. I may not be part of your life and able to give you a hug or time to talk over a cup of coffee but I CAN point you through this blog to the One who can do more than I ever could! In fact, He already has in sending His Son to die for you!

I have been particularly surpised when I have been in the midst of a trial at the lack of resources focussed solely on this aspect of the Christian life. There have been countless blog posts written on the subject, or blogs devoted to one type of trial you might encounter (such as singleness, marriage issues, a medical condition etc.) but I have come across very few resources online devoted to addressing trials and suffering from a Biblical perspective more generally with a collection of recommendations of other websites/posts/books/resources etc. that is regularly updated (if you have come across resources like this blog, please let me know about it so I can add a link to it here)! I believe that there is a need for resources like this, which is another reason why I persist in blogging here. :)

This has turned into a waffly, unstructured post, but I do feel it reflects accurately my thoughts at the present moment. I hope that has enlightened you all as to why I believe it is right for me to blog regardless of whether my suffering is "greater" or "lesser" than yours (which, I believe in light of what Christ has suffered on your behalf and mine, is irrelevant and far from the point anyway). I hope that it has also encouraged you to be praying both for me and this blog, that the Lord would use it for His glory. And finally, if anyone out there would like to be involved at a more practical level in this blog (such as by writing posts) please prayerfully take it to the Lord and then get in touch! :) 

To God be all the glory - soli Deo gloria!

God bless!




Sunday, 10 August 2014

God is Not Dead!

I read this in my personal quiet time the other day, and I so needed to hear it (amazing how the Lord always provides exactly what you need to hear)! I thought I would share it with you all. :) This is taken from Daily Bread (1959) by M.R. De Haan and Henry G. Bosch.
 

God is Not Dead!

(Read Psalm 46 - this is an amazing Psalm to read in hard times!)


"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." ~ Psalm 46:1-2

"At one time," said Martin Luther, "I was sorely vexed and tried by my own sinfulness, by the wickedness of the world, and by the dangers which beset the church. One morning I saw my wife dressed in mourning. Suprised, I asked her who had died. She replied: 'Don't you know . . . God in heaven is dead.' . .  . I said to her: 'How can you talk such nonsense, Katie? How can God die? He is immortal, and will live through all eternity.' . . . 'Is that really true?' she asked. 'Of course,' I said, still not perceiving what she was aiming at, 'How can you doubt it? As sure as there is a God in heaven, so sure it is that He can never die.' 'And yet,' she said, 'Though you do not doubt that, you are still so hopeless and discouraged?' . . . Then I observed what a wise woman my wife was, and mastered my sadness."

It is ludicrous to presume that God is dead, and yet from a practical point of view, have not all of us at times acted as if He were? His ear is ever open to the cry of His child, and He is fully able to meet our every need. Nothing goes by Him unnoticed, nothing is out of His control. He who guides the immense universe in its hurried flight through space, also marks the sparrow's fall and decrees even the exact instant when a minute hair shall fall from our head. Nothing is left to chance, all is conceived in His providence. If God then be for us, 'who can be against us?' "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). He loves; He cares; He controls. God is not dead; stop acting as if He were!

Oh God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come, 
Be Thou our guide while life shall last
And our eternal home. ~ Isaac Watts

"To look around is to be distressed. To look within is to be depressed. To look up is to be blessed." ~ R. Becker.

***

Also, at the moment I'm really finding the book Where is God in All of This? by Deborah Howard that I am reading really good and challenging! She addresses the subject of suffering from a Biblical perspective in a really clear way and I highly recommend it. Watch this space on the blog for a review and favourite quotes sometime, Lord willing! :) In the meantime, here are some quotes from it:
"Everything that is brought into our lives is there because God either caused it, or allowed it to be there. And whatever is brought into our lives is designed by God for our best good and for His glory." (p.27).
This second quote I found particularly challenging:
"But thinking through the theology of suffering, and resolving in advance how you will respond, however praiseworthy the excercise, cannot prepare you for the shock of suffering itself. It is like jumping into a bitterly cold lake: you can brace yourself for the experience all day, but when you actually jump in the shock to your system will snatch your breath away." (p.23, quoted from 'How Long, O Lord?' by D. A. Carson)
This is something not many authors have picked up on, and something I've been realising only lately. Especially when you are spending a lot of time thinking about a God-houring response to suffering (as I do through this blog), you can so easily become prideful and think that you can "handle" trials when they come. But the Lord doesn't want us relying on our own strength and so oftentimes He brings along the very trials that will humble us and bring us to utter dependence upon Him. At least that's what I've been finding! :P

Anyhow... that's probably enough for now!

God bless!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Some of My Testimony

Hello dear readers! 

I've always been a bit nervous of sharing my testimony with you all. After all, it is very personal to me! There are many things that I do not feel comfortable sharing with you here, and so please bear in mind as you read that this is only some of my testimony, focussed especially on the time I came to know the Lord as my saviour. I have already shared this through the other blog I write at, Violets and Daisies. However, I felt it was time I at least shared with you all here what I have already put out publically. :) God bless, and my prayer is that this would encourage you in your faith, and maybe challenge anyone out there who does not yet know the Lord as their saviour!

My Testimony ~ by Violet

I grew up in a Christian home where I learned about the Bible and went to church. But for ages I was just going along being a “good” child by doing what my parents wanted without really caring about God. I had the mentality that “I don't know enough about God, I'll think about Him later”. Then we moved from one city to another and I went through a really depressive phase where I felt I had no friends and so began making up imaginary book character friends and talked to them in my head as a substitute. I also suffered from nightmares that upset me, and only fuelled my depression. At this stage, God was something I all but ignored completely.

Then I went through another phase where I became angry and easily lost my temper completely. I would slam doors, shout at others, and then go off in a huff to cry but not so much tears of remorse as a “sorry-for-myself” feeling. My way of dealing with my sinful attitudes was to rely on myself rather than God. I read my Bible, but more to make me feel good about myself, and I prayed occasionally, but superficial prayers that meant nothing to me.

However, God soon stopped me in my tracks!!! Over hot drinks and biscuits, as the elders of my church visited our home, I was convicted of my sin, through a passage in the Bible which I can't remember now (I think it was in Hebrews?) but I still stubbornly persisted in following my own way and ignoring God. However, over the next few weeks, the Holy Spirit continued to prod my conscience. We were on holiday, and I was reading some books that were certainly not what my parents would approve of. I hid those books from my parents and read them, satisfying my sinful appetite but again and again the Holy Spirit would minister to my soul reminding me that these books were not pleasing to God. I was in tears for a good part of this holiday, as the realisation of my sinfulness before a holy God continually hit me and yet my inability to stop sinning kept overwhelming me. I began reading my Bible, and searching the scriptures like never before.

Shortly after that holiday, I woke up early before anyone else on a sunny Sunday morning, and I just knew that I had to get right with God. Looking back now, I think God had already been working on my heart in such a way that I was a Christian before then, but that was the first time I fully realized and prayed to God about it.

It would be nice to think that everything went well from there. And it kind of did outwardly, for a time. I even got baptised, which remains a really special time for me. But you see, I was very much a “doubting Christian” - even though I had been baptised I was uncertain as to whether I was truly a Christian. Everyone outside thought me to be one, and looking back now I know that I was saved, but I still doubted in God's saving grace. One day, filled with shame and sorrow at my own doubts and the fa├žade I felt I was putting on, I cried out to the Lord “Oh Lord, if I really am a Christian, please help me not to doubt You!” Around this time I did a speech at school about suffering from a Christian perspective – now I know that the Lord was preparing my heart for the hard times ahead. And you know what? Very soon after I prayed that prayer the Lord answered it! I faced the hardest times yet, and the Lord had to put me through just about the hardest trials I would ever have imagined, but when I went through it all, I was left with such a feeling of peace and assurance that yes, I was saved!

When I went through difficult times, it was so tempting to blame God, to want to give in and to believe that “if there's a God, this shouldn't be happening to me.” But I have learned so much through suffering that I wouldn't know otherwise, such as that this attitude of mine was completely wrong: instead of blaming God, I should be rejoicing for all that He had given me, that in reality I deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth right now and subjected to eternal punishment. Even as I wrote this, I was hit again with wonder at the way the Lord has worked in my life, and all the ugly sin that still remains, yet encouragement that He has never abandoned me!

Times will be hard – the Christian walk is not easy: in fact it is the hardest and narrowest! But I have learned now that the Lord is faithful and hears our prayers, and if we call upon Him, He will not leave us to our own devices. My prayer is that you, also, will come to know the Lord as I have come to know Him.
 
God bless!
 
 

Monday, 4 August 2014

You will never walk alone : the Lord is always with you!

Hi all!

Now this is definitely not my style of music at all, but the lyrics were too good not to share this with you all! I don't know any other songs by this artist, but the words here really helped to remind me that God is always with us and we never walk alone through the trials of this life. God bless and this is my prayer for you today! <3


Along life's road there will be sunshine and rain
Roses and thorns, laughter and pain
And 'cross the miles, you will face mountains so steep
Deserts so long and valleys so deep

Sometimes the journey's gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember, I want you to know

You will never walk alone as long as you have faith
Jesus will be right beside you all the way
And you may feel you're far from home but home is where He is
And He'll be there down every road, you will never walk alone
Never, no, never

The path will wind, you will find wonders and fears
Labors of love and a few falling tears
Across the years there will be some twists and turns
Mistakes to make and lessons to learn

Sometimes the journey's gentle
Sometimes the cold winds blow
But I want you to remember wherever you may go

Chorus

Jesus knows your joy, Jesus knows your need
He will go the distance with you faithfully

You will never walk alone
He will be right beside you all the way
And you may feel you're far from home
He'll be there down every road

Chorus


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Beware of the Calm AFTER the Storm!

Here are the thoughts of someone, let's call her Margaret. :)  Does this sound familiar to any of you who have been through trials?
"Over the last half a year/year I have really struggled spiritually. The Lord's just bringing me out of it all now, and helping me to see why my relationship with Him was not as it should be. It's not that I wasn't praying or reading my Bible etc. but my enthusiasm for the Lord, my love of Him and desire to serve Him with all of my heart and life sort of felt zapped and gone. It was the worst feeling ever. Church stopped being the best part of my week and started being something I felt I did out of obligation and I hadn't felt like that since before I got saved. :( Usually it's the highlight of my week.

From Pinterest
It is when you are most passionate about serving Christ that the devil most wants to drag you down. And I don't say that to exaggerate but it's seriously what I think has been going on. I came out of trials having grown so much in my faith and so wanting to share what I was learning with others. In fact, the trials had refined me so much that I was completely different. :D Before I might have wanted to hide my light to some extent but after all that I just wanted to always be showing how the Lord had worked in my life. But then suddenly I just completley lost all that passion for serving the Lord, and felt completely distanced from Him. :( I now look back and I am sure that it was partly me struggling with new sin issues but also I think it was a spiritual attack as well. I'm so glad He's helping me get back on track again!  :D

It's so good that salvation is not reliant upon ourselves! If anything, I've learned now that a relationship with the Lord, or any relationship with anyone for that matter - friends or family - must not be dependent on emotions but rather founded upon what God says in His word. I was way too reliant on whether I "felt" like the Lord was with me rather than simply trusting that He was! And of course He has been with me all along... It was me who wasn't trusting Him. As in, I was a believer (no doubt about that!) but when you go through trials, you are made to have a complete and utter reliance upon the Lord that draws you to Him in a really close and intimate way, so that when the trials stop and life returns to normal, your relationship with Him can start to feel hum-drum too, and you have to deal with your own subtle sins that have crept in in the meantime."
 It is so true that when we come out of a trial or trials, we have to be especially on our guard as the devil wants nothing more than to stop us witnessing about God's faithfulness towards us even in the darkest periods of our lives. As it says in 1 Peter 5:6-10: 
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
This is as true as much towards the end of trials as it is during them. At the end of a trial, God has often shaped us and taught us a lot that we wouldn't have learned as quickly any other way (one of many reasons why He may allow trials in our lives!). When we come out of the trial, it is all to easy to let down our guard with the thought that "Phewf, the worst is over now!" Instead, we can end up disregarding the exhortation in Ephesians 4:27 and allow the devil to get a foothold in our lives. Don't be like this, dear readers! Keep trusting Him in the bad times AND the good! 

The calm after a storm can be deceptive: we still need to be proactive in serving God, no matter the circumstances. Furthermore, as said in Margaret's narration above, there is a very real danger that we can become far too reliant on "feelings" and whether or not we "feel" God's presence with us. God can use trials to draw us nearer to Him in a very special way, and to foster an intimate relationship with Him. Personally, I've found that the Lord feels very close to me during the hardest days where life seems to be falling apart and I am made to rely wholly upon Him. But when we are not in the midst of a trial and all is well with the world, it is far too easy to slip into feeling despondent and like God is far from us, and even easier to neglect spending adequate time with Him. Reader, if you are saved by the grace of God and feel this way or like Margaret, PAY NO HEED TO THOSE FEELINGS. Our feelings may wax and wane, but God's love towards you never does: indeed, He sent His very Son to die in your place so how much more would He continue to watch over you? Just check out Romans 5! How can you doubt Him when He has just proved Himself faithful through the most trying of circumstances? If you are not saved, why not begin reading God's word. Having Him as your heavenly Father is the best possible relationship you could ever have!

God bless! Hopefully this challenges and encourages you all! You are all in my prayers! <3



Sunday, 27 July 2014

Book Review: Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story

Joni & Ken: An Untold Love StoryJoni & Ken: An Untold Love Story by Ken Tada
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

This is the true love story of Joni and her husband of 30 years, Ken Tada. A love story showing what it truly means for a man and a woman to live in love ... in sickness and in health. Even the honeymoon wasn't easy. Did Ken realize what he was getting into when he proposed to Joni, a quadriplegic woman? As their marriage years moved on, Ken became increasingly overwhelmed by the never-ceasing demands of caring for Joni, who begins to experience chronic, extreme, nightmarish pain. Ken sinks into depression, and the couple finds themselves on parallel tracks in life, married and living under the same roof but drifting apart emotionally. But as they fight for their marriage and find their way through the mazes of depression and pain, they wrap their two lives around their rock---Jesus. During Ken's denial of Joni's diagnosis, and Joni's thoughts of how wonderful a quick exit to heaven would be, they experience a personal visitation with the savior you will never forget.

My Review:

This book was a really good reminder to trust in the Lord through all the trials that come in a marriage relationship: in both the big and the small things. It was a very convicting read and showed the importance of allowing the Lord to change our attitudes in our relationships with other people. While not my favourite book about/by Joni (this one was co-authored by her husband, Ken) as I found the third-person narration, while necessary due to the two-person authorship, not as readable. Still, this book is more than worth a read! :)


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Elisabeth Elliot on Loneliness

Some good and godly wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot's book Passion and Purity on how to respond to loneliness. Loneliness is something that the Lord calls many of us to go through at some stage in our lives, and my prayer is that if anyone out there is suffering from loneliness, this would help you look to the Lord. :)
"Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste to your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. 'The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Bestrong and of good courage.' (Deut. 31:8) Jesus promised His disciples, 'Lo, I am with you always.' (Matt. 28:20) Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Pinterest
Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18, 'For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal wait of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.' This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last. 

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others.

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy."
God bless!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Book Review: 'Power in Praise' by Merlin Carothers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Power in Praise brings together some of the miracles wrought by the simple application of Bibical truth: all things work together for good. Power in Praise is a simple clear explanation of how and why the principles introduced in Prison to Praise work in every-day life.

My Review:

I may not have agreed with all of the theology in this book (some of chapter two and bits about recieving the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues etc. comes to mind) but despite that, this is a book that I feel every Christian ought to read. In it Merlin Carothers urges us to praise God in EVERYTHING, including every trial. At the end of this book, the Lord had really used it to convict me a lot about my complaining and grumbling attitude when it comes to trials. Praying that if you ever have a chance to read this book, you will and it will help you in your walk with the Lord as much as it helped me!

Quotes I loved from it:

"Our understanding gets us into trouble when we try to figure out why and how God brings certain circumstances into our lives. We can never understand why and how God does something, but He wants us to accept with our understanding that He does it. This is the basis for our praise. God wants us to understand that He loves us and that He has a plan for us." (p.3).

"Praise is based on a total and joyful acceptance of the present as part of God's loving, perfect will for us. Praise is not based on what we think or hope will happen in the future...We praise God, not for what we expect will happen in or around us, but we praise Him for what He is and where and how we are right now!" (p.6).

"Our skepticism and disappointment in God's plan is rooted in a distrust of God. We're not convinced that He has our best interest in mind... The only way out of our dilemma is to accept God's Word on faith. Faith, in spite of what we think, feel, or see. His Word is that He loves, and that the death of an innocent child does fit into God's loving plan for each of the lives affected. God's love for us can be accepted only on faith, just as we accept every other promise in the Bible. We must decide to believe in the nature of His love, because He says it is so, regardless of whether we feel loved or not...God wants to shower us with blessings. He wants to take care of us in every way, down to every little detail of our daily lives. Yet we insist on looking at all the circumstances, the outward workings of His plan, and speculate on what they mean and how they all fit in, while His command to us is that we look to Him and trust Him. We make our understanding into a wall between us and God as long as we insist on figuring out and approving His plan before we dare trust ourselves to Him... acceptence of His will and plan must come before understanding. We must deliberately set aside our own desire for knowledge and comprehension of what God is doing, and through the weight of our will into a decision to trust His word. His plan for us is good. Can we trust His Word for that?" (pp.87-89)

"Have you ever stepped outside your door on a beautiful, clear, sunny day, taken a deep breath of fresh air, and thanked God for His wonderful creation? But what if the next morning is gray and rainy? Does it automatically make you feel a little depressed as you look out the window? Maybe you odn't say it out loud, but how do you feel? Are you in the habit of thanking God only for what you want? And are you in the habit of grumbling just a little when things don't go the way you like?...Grumbling is the very opposite of thanksgiving; a complaint is the opposite of trust...By complaining and grumbling you are actually accusing God of mismanaging the details of you day." (pp.99-100)

"Joy is certianly something we are meant to feel...But joy does not depend on feeling. We are not to rejoice because we feel joyful, rather we can expect to eventually feel joyful as a result of our rejoicing."(p.125).

"God permits every circumstance of our life for a good reason. Through it, He intends to bring about His perfect and loving plan for us. God permitted that lady to be born without a hand because He loves her. God permitted Satan to harass Job because He loved Job. God permitted Christ to hang on the cross because He loved His Son, and He loved us. God allowed the darkness and evil forces of this world to gain an apparent victory - apparent to our senses - yet all the while God's perfect plan for the salvation of the world was being worked out." (p.136). 

God bless, and definitely read this book if you get the chance!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Trials - love letters from heaven?

From Pinterest
Some musings I wrote a while back that I thought I would post here...  

Either I can let the trials in my life define me, and become bitter and twisted about everything I see wrong in my life, or I can see these selfsame trials as God's love to me! Each time He sends a trial, it is His way (incredible as this sounds!) of saying "I love you!"; a little bit like a love letter straight from heaven. You see, He loves me too much to see me living comfortably with sin. He sees pride in me, so begins a process of humbling me, driving me back to Him and His grace. End result? I am more weary yes, but so alive, so awake to the sin in my life and striving to live in a way that honours Him more. It is my belief now that a new life in Christ is wrought in suffering and is the only life that can truly bring Him glory. It is the self-sacrifical life, the kind of life that demands us to "deny [ourselves] and take up His cross and follow [Him]". "For whoever would save His life will lose it, but whoever loses His life for My sake will find it." ~ Matthew 16:24-25. And "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down His life for His friends." Self-sacrifice does not come easily or naturally to us!

What do you think? Do you see trials as like 'love letters' from heaven, sent to strengthen and test you in your faith? A way that the Lord can waken you to sin in your life? Food for thought!

God bless!


Sunday, 25 May 2014

A Remedy of Tea for the Cup of Suffering

Don't worry, I am not about to put up balms and recipes to ease pain here! :P I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for that! :) Instead, I have been reading In God's Underground by Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs (I hope to write a review of this book here at a later date). He was imprisioned for many years under Communism, and for now I thought I'd share an excerpt from it that really challenged me, as there is so much in it that shows us how we ought to respond to trials. Here Richard Wurmbrand is speaking to a group of students at a university following his experiences.

***

From Pinterest
"I told them the story of a doctor of early Christian times who was unjustly imprisoned by the emperor. After some weeks his family were allowed to see him, and at first they wept. His clothes were rags, his norishment a slice of bread with a cup of water every day. His wife wondered and asked, 'How is it you look so well? You have the air of one who has just come from a wedding!' The doctor smilingly replied that he had found remedy for all troubles, and his family asked him what it was. The doctor told them, 'I have discovered a tea which is good against all suffering and sorrow. It contains seven herbs, and I shall number them for you.

1. The first herb is called contentedness: be satisfied with what you have. I may shiver in my rags as I gnaw on a crust, but how much worse off I should be if the emperor had thrown me into a dungeon with nothing at all to eat!

2. The second herb is common sense. Whether I rejoice or worry, I shall still be in prison so why repine?

3. The third is remembrance of past sins: count them, and on the supposition that every sin deserves a day in prison, reckon how many lives you would spend behind bars - you have been let off lightly!

4. The fourth is the thought of the sorrows which Christ bore gladly for us. If the only man who ever could choose his fate on earth chose pain, what great value He must have seen in it! So we observe that, borne with serenity and joy, suffering redeems.

5. The fifth herb is the knowledge that suffering has been given to us by God as from a father, not to harm us, but to cleanse and sanctify us. The suffering through which we pass has the purpose of purifying us, and preparing us for heaven.

6. The sixth is the knowledge that no suffering can harm a Christian life. If the pleasures of the flesh are all, then pain and prison bring an end to a man's aim in living; but if the core of life is truth, that is something which no prison cell can change. In prison or out of it two and two make four. Prison cannot stop me from loving; iron bars cannot exclude faith. If these ideals make up my life, I can be serene anywhere.

7. The last herb in the recipe is hope. The wheel of life may put the emperor's physician in prison, but it goes on turning. It may put me back in the palace, and even put me on the throne.'

"... I have drunk barrels of this tea since then," I said, "and I can recommend it to you all. It has proved good."

***

What a challenge this was to me! I pray that it challenges you too to look to the Lord in the hard times and trust Him.

God bless!





Wednesday, 21 May 2014

An Encouraging Story: Ian and Larissa

Hello everyone!

I saw this short video today and thought it was such a good example of how we can trust in the Lord in the hard times, and how He can use our trials for good! :) 


God bless!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Book Review: 'Green Leaf in Drought' by Isobel Kuhn

Green Leaf In DroughtGreen Leaf In Drought by Isobel Kuhn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
This is the story of the reluctant exodus, when the last China Inland Mission members were forced from Communist China. The experiences of Arthur and Wilda Mathews answer the question: Can a Christian grow in the direst circumstances?

My Review:

This book by Isobel Kuhn provided a powerful insight into what it would have been like to be a missionary like Arthur and Wilda Matthews in Communist China during the 1950s, and how the Lord used trials of various kinds during that period to strengthen them in their faith. Throughout that time they clung to Jeremiah 17:8: "He shall be as a tree planted by hte waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."

While I definitely would not consider this Isobel Kuhn's best book (I personally found her autobiography much better written) it did encourage me as a Christian to look to the Lord in all trials of life, from the big to the small and to trust Him in everything. This is why I would highly recommend it, despite the fact that at times I felt it focussed a lot on the suffering the missionaries had to endure by staying in China and not so much on the suffering local Chinese went through. However, this is a slim critcism when compared to how much I learned from it, and how much it made me appreciate the many freedoms I experience.

Some favourite quotes from it were as follows:

"These trials of faith are to give us patience, for patience can only be worked as faith goes into the Pressure Chamber. To pull out because the pressure is laid on, and to start fretting would be to lose all the good He has in this for us." ~ p.44.

"The Lord sometimes has to show us, not only the power of the one against us, but also the weakness of our own hearts. His battles are not won through strength and prowess, but through weakness throughly weakend, that refuses to do anything at all for itself but trust in His faithfulness - even when to trust seems folly." ~ Arthur Matthews (p.66).

"through Thy fire would I learn/ 'Thou'rt God', when I can't understand." (p.52).

If this book comes your way, definitely give it a read! :)