Category Archives: Suffering

I Love Thee

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I saw Dad’s restlessness when I arrived for my night’s stay in the hospital. He had a look of fear and bewilderment in his eyes.  The look that always broke my heart.

After the nurses finished their rounds and things began to quiet down, I changed the channel on the TV to one of those meditative stations the hospitals make available. As the beautiful photography and soft instrumentals drew him in, he began to relax. He watched for over an hour. I’d look at him from time to time and he’d catch my eye… giggle a little… then cry.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved before,” he said. “I keep praying the same words over and over, ‘Forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord.'”

Some might wonder at his confession, but I think I understood his meaning…

When we are weary, bone-tired, dazed, and confused, wondering if the dark night of the soul will ever end; then, suddenly, we catch a glimpse of His beauty — the wonder of His creation, the soothing sounds of His music — the truth of knowing He is in control hits us.

We are awestruck.

We turn. We refocus. We repent.

He is greater than all our fears.  We know He loves us…more.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

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Good Enough for God?

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Are we good enough for God?

No.
We are not.

No one is good, but God. ~Jesus

A man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, alone.

We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping
but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know?
We tried it–and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen!
Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement,
we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God 
by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.  ~Galatians 2:16 (MSG)

No one will ever get it right.

No one will ever be “good enough” for God.

It’s impossible to please God without faith, and trying to “be good” is not faith.
It is trusting in self.

Believe me, please.  For, you see, I tried it.
For years and years and years which turned into decades upon decades.

I was even given the name “Goody-goody” throughout my school years. Yes, I thought I could keep myself saved through good works. It doesn’t matter if you believe your good works will save you before, or after, you come to know Christ. Either way, you’re still only trusting in self.

It wasn’t until my late forties that I realized I can do nothing to save me.
I either have faith in Christ, alone, or it’s all a sham.

And guess what?

On the other side of self-abuse, wretched sinfulness, and family-shattering betrayal…

Finally, I understood the GRACE of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

He looked upon my sinfulness
And bestowed upon me His forgiveness.

I saw my sin,
And I knew He saw it.

Yet, I felt His grace.

His love.
His mercy.
His redemption.

I found it is only through Christ, my Lord, that I am able to stand before God, the Father.
Jesus took the punishment I well-deserved.  He endured the suffering for my sins — all of them — before I was even born. Yes, and even before the foundation of the earth, the Lamb of God was crucified for us all.

As a child I learned Jesus loved me.  But I was also taught I must keep myself “good” for Him. And if I didn’t, He would not accept me.  My standing before Him was based upon my good works, not His sacrifice, alone.

So…
Why all of the clarification now???

Because, I spent so many years teaching it wrong. And so many people heard me. Eventually, I did learn the right teaching, but without the experiential knowledge, it wasn’t completely understood within my soul. I kept being “good” for I knew it was wisdom to live well.

But, God…
He turned up the fire of trials in my life.
He tested my knowledge and let me go down a path that would solidify my faith.

It wasn’t pretty.
Seeing our own sinfulness is never pretty.
But, necessary.

And now I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW

I am the LORD’s and He is mine.
And nothing can separate me from His love.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear LORD.

Please, hear me, it is still wise to live well, BUT, never ever believe your good works will save you, or keep you saved…

In Christ, alone, is our salvation.

For by GRACE you are saved
through FAITH,
and this is not from yourselves,
It is the gift of God.
~Ephesians 2:8

Faith in Jesus

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“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God
whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

– Oswald Chamber

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“No one is good but God”

“Let not your heart be troubled;
Trust in God.  Trust also in Me.”

“I and the Father are One.”

-Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God

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Heavenly Father, I thank You that even when I do not understand what You are doing, or how You are working Your plan in this world, I do know YOU.  I do know You have revealed who You are in Your word and through The Word.   I can read all that You have revealed through the Law and the Prophets, for the Jewish people have kept it intact, throughout the ages, so that the world may know.  I can read about Your Son, The Word of God sent to save a sinful world.  I can understand the path of salvation, for I know He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  I praise Your Name for making the way clear, for speaking the truth through Your servants, and for making eternal life available to all who believe, in the Name of Jesus…

At this time, when all the world seems to be falling into more and more chaos, with each passing day the devastation caused by hatred and greed is further revealed; help us, O Lord, to rest in Your plan.  Remind us of Your goodness and mercy and wisdom.  Let us remember Your lovingkindness and Your faithfulness toward us who believe.  Help us see that we serve a good God who holds all of the world in His loving hands.

Please, Father, lift the veil of unbelief.  I know You do not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to You.  You have chosen to save the world from our sins.  Bring us to our knees before You, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and in His bodily resurrection, through Your awesome and mighty power.   Find us to be loving servants, and empower us through Your Holy Spirit so that we may overcome in these difficult days…

Keep us faithful, Lord.  Bring us before You restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established in Him on that glorious day.

I ask all these things in Your Son’s precious Name, Jesus the Christ,

Amen.

Never Give Up!

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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the conviction of things not seen.
~Hebrews 11:1

We are hoping for and convinced of things we can’t see…that is faith.

Jesus said to Thomas when he doubted, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”

Our faith is in the promise of new life, eternal life, Jesus life.
Our faith is placed in His work, His words, His sacrifice.

We do not put our faith in one another.
That is not where we are to place our trust.

Our faith is in Christ, alone.

We will hurt one another, again and again and again…and again.   I like the way Max Lucado puts it:

If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies. Even the smooth-skinned beauties of the magazine covers, the composed pastors in the pulpit, the sweet little old lady who lives next door. All of them. All of us. Furry, hairy beasts we’d become. If hurts were hairs, we’d be lost behind the thick of them.

That’s not an excuse to hurt people, but it is the reality of living in this sinful world among sinful people.

If we look to one another as the determining factor in Christ being real, we will miss the beauty of Him.

None of us.  No, not one, is without sin.
We all struggle in the flesh.
That is our battle, until this mortal puts on immortality.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t changing.
We grow.  We stumble.  We get up.  We learn.
We grow some more and we stumble again and we get up … and we learn … … …

It’s in the learning that we change from glory to glory, if we don’t give up.

Each test, each trial, each tribulation is a chance for growth.
We’re either getting softer, or harder.
He chose to give us hearts of flesh instead of stone.

It’s in the cooperating with Him that we grow.

We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  ~2Corinthians 4:16 (MSG)

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

The Suffering Servant

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He became sin for us…so that we might become the righteousness of God.

“The gospel tells us that the Creator has become our Redeemer.  It announces that the Son of God has become man “for us men and for our salvation” and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment.  The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight.  God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice.  But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.

By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders.  Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be “just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”

Do you understand this?  If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel…”  ~J.I. Packer, Knowing God

 

The Prophecy concerning Jesus as found in Isaiah 52-53:

“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;

His form was so marred he no longer looked human
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.

Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?

He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.

He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.

All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.

He was led away after an unjust trial
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.

They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.

Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.

“My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”


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…just as many were horrified by the sight of you…

He was so disfigured He no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred He no longer looked human
so now He will startle many nations.

 

The revelation of His Story might be right around the corner —
The Suffering Servant will come to earth as The Exalted King!

Will you be found in Christ, alone?

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My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought —
My sin — not in part but the whole —
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!

Praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD,
Oh, my soul!!!

Miserably Failing People

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey.

Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength?

When I am weak I am strong.

Not, “When I am cured,”
or “When I am successful,”
or “When I am a good Christian,”
but when I am weak.

Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son.

When broken people,
miserably failing people,
continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus,

God is happy.

~The Internet Monk
Read the whole article…it just might change your life…
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