Only Humans

“All of nature continually praises God. Only humans require reminders to do so.”

Sitting at my desk early this morning with the window open, I heard the sandhill cranes raucously lift up their croaking praise with a glorious sunrise. And then I read this quote and smiled: 

“All of nature continually praises God. Only humans require reminders to do so.”i 

Yes, only humans require reminders. And there are many, many reminders. 

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) 

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:19-20 

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 

OK, all us humans, here is our reminder for today. Let’s lift up our heads and hearts out of the dark pits of bitterness, doubt, depression and despair. He has come! He is here with us. He will never leave or abandon us. He has a plan and a Way through and forward.

Let us lift up our croaking praise with the cranes and rejoice. I will say it again: Rejoice! 

All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name. Psalm 66:4 

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. Psalm 113:3 

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD! Psalm 150:6 

iWilliam J. Petersen and Randy Petersen, One Year Book of Hymns 

Photo: Blast Off at Dawn by Mimi https://flic.kr/p/2n6Cfmz  

Fractured

Anxiety, as I’ve experienced lately, can become my default mode. But He cares for you. 

Cast all your anxiety (merimna) on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries (merimna) of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22 

Both of the above verses about worry or anxiety use the Greek word μέριμνα, transliterated merimna. J.D. Walt has this to say about this word: 

“The word is transliterated ‘merimna’ and sounds like it spells. It carries a meaning of dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts. Anxiety, in a very literal sense, pulls us apart. It dis-integrates our very sense of self by attacking our core sense of security. 

So how do we deal with anxiety?  

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Is it as simple as telling God what we are anxious about? It sounds good, but all too often when we are anxious we tend to worry our prayers rather than casting our anxiety on God. Anxiety must actually be displaced within us. The little word, ‘because,’ tells us how this displacement works. It brings us to the four most important words in today’s text: 

He cares for you.  

Did you hear that? 

He cares for you.”

J.D. Walt https://seedbed.com/swing-thought-2/ 

Merimna means care, anxiety, “properly, a part, separated from the whole,” “worry (anxiety), dividing and fracturing a person’s being into parts.” It dawned on me that it is the opposite of the “all” I wrote about recently – loving God with all. When we let our hearts and minds be pulled apart by worry into parts it separates us from God. We need to cast it all unto God and love-worship Him with all. 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-37). 

The Greek word that Jesus used in quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, translated “all” three times in the verse, is holos (ὅλος). It is the root of the English term “whole.” It means whole, complete, entire, “properly, wholly, where all the parts are present and working as a whole – i.e. as the total, which is greater than the mere sum of the parts.” 

Worry, then, is the opposite of this “all.” Worry fractures me into parts separated from the whole. Loving the Lord with all – all the parts present and working as a whole – is the opposite of being fractured into parts by anxiety. Anxiety robs God of my all-love. It means I am reserving some of my love – worship – for that which I worry about. Do I really trust God whole-heartedly? Anxiety, as I’ve experienced lately, can become my default mode. But He cares for you.  

The Greek word translated “cares” above is meló (μέλει) and means to be an object of care. I love that! “To be an object of care.” As Louie Giglio says “you’re on Heaven’s radar.” Even when we can’t feel it or see it or hear it. Even when it seems we have been abandoned and forgotten. 

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care (meló) if we drown?” Mark 4:37-38 

“Don’t you care?”  

How many times have I asked this question, roiling in my anguish and doubt? But he said he cares for me, and has demonstrated that love.  

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares (meló) nothing for the sheep. John 10:11-13 

So not being fractured, but being whole, means following the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for me. As Henry Nouwen wrote, it means trusting in God’s love. 

“It’s a question here of trusting in God’s love. The Greek word for faith is pistis, which means, literally, ‘trust.’ Whenever Jesus says to people he has healed: ‘Your faith has saved you,’ he is saying that they have found new life because they have surrendered in complete trust to the love of God revealed in him.” — Henry J.M. Nouwen 

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. 1 John 4:16 (NLT) 

God wants me to be whole. I become whole following the Good Shepherd – trusting – loving with all, complete, entire, as one. Letting Him lead and guide me, bind up my wounds, rescue me, hold me close. Christ in me and I in Him, making it possible. His all, my all. 

Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11 

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:22-23 (ESV) 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

“Did you hear that? 

He cares for you.” 

Photo, Fractured, by Brett Jordan https://flic.kr/p/8f8EHy  

His Right Hand is Free

If God is holding me by my right hand I can’t use it.

Yet I am always with you; 
you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
 and afterward you will take me into glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
 And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
 but God is the strength of my heart 
 and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 

When I was meditating on these verses I realized that if God is holding me by my right hand I can’t use it. And since I am right-handed anything I tried to do with my left hand would be awkward and malformed.  

The right hand in the Bible is a symbol of strength. Also, “The right side of a man is the side on which God ‘marches’ when assisting him in battle (Isa. 63:12; Ps. 109:31; 110:1, 5) and it is the right hand which God grasps as a symbol of election (Isa. 41:13; 45:1; Ps. 73:23).” i  

Wow, what amazing grace! He has grasped my right hand; He has chosen me! But, if my right hand is in His, I basically can’t do anything in my own strength. I would have to take my hand out of His. That explains my frequent urge to do just that – shake Him off and do it myself. Fearful that things are taking too long, that I’m missing out, afraid He has forgotten me.  

But His word assures us that He will never forget. Yet, I am always with you. He will never leave us or forsake us. And think of this: though His left hand is occupied holding on to me, His right hand is free. And so, “though my flesh and heart may fail” God is my strength and help. He is fighting for me with His mighty right hand. 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Psalm 138:7-8 (ESV) 

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13 

Lord, keep my right hand in yours

iJewish Virtual Library “Right and Left” 

Photo, free download from Piqsels

It Takes Time to Grow

“My times are in your hands.”

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:2 

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever to heal, to change, to mature, to overcome. Sometimes I feel like I will never grow up out of my trauma. I struggle with the same dark thoughts, negative self-talk, unbelief for years. I cry out with David, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” The following verses and quotes have encouraged me in the past weeks. If you are struggling and feel like it is taking way too long, may they bless you too. 

Believe Him in the darkest hours. See His faithfulness emerge rock solid. Now we see His truer essence. Now we know faith in our Savior – from faith to faith. Joy! Things take the time they take. ~G.W. https://collinsgw.wordpress.com/2022/03/21/mystifying-dismay/  

“God still speaks today through dreams, visions, prophecies and we can make the mistake of thinking they are “now” words for this present time or the immediate future. We have to learn to submit the timing to God. The fulfilment may actually be for years in the future. We need to practice patience while we wait … It takes time to grow.” — Eagle Sight https://eaglesight.blog/2022/04/08/joseph-hero-of-the-faith-4/  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4  

The real mystery of grace is that it always arrives in time. — Ann Voskamp 

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand … Psalm 31:14 

“God has absolute control over time and what David realized when he uttered those words [My times are in your hand] is this: that God has absolute control over the times in our lives. He’s never late. He’s never premature. He has a time for every situation, every circumstance. If we will just commit our lives totally into His hands, we’ll find that our times are in His hands. What a relief from pressure, from strain, to know that God has control over the time element in our lives. Our times are in God’s hands.” — Derek Prince 

I have to keep reminding myself that God’s timing is always right and healthy for me, as I keep trusting and walking with Him. Some seeds take a very long time to sprout and grow. And some have to struggle up through a lot of rubble. Sometimes they seem dead, but life is coming – I have to wait for it. In the mean time …  

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73.26 

Wait for the Lord; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; 
Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Image, free download from Pixabay

Not Chicken Hearted

Does the heart empowered by the Presence of God stand and love no matter what?

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5 

According to Barnes Notes on the Bible, the word translated “downcast” means to sink down under the weight of sorrow; to be depressed and sad. The word translated “disturbed” means literally, to growl as a bear, to be agitated, troubled, or anxious in mind, to moan internally. I’ve done a lot of both growling and moaning lately. 

That last part of this verse says in the Hebrew: I will yet praise him for the salvations of his face. 

“For the help of his countenance – literally, ‘the salvations of his face,’ or his presence. The original word rendered help is in the plural number, meaning salvations; and the idea in the use of the plural is, that his deliverance would be completed or entire – as if double or manifold.”i 

It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. Psalm 44: 3-4 

  
The Psalmist, like me, was downcast, depressed, despairing, trying to inspire and encourage his soul to wait, to be patient, to hope expectantly. Ah, that is hard. Charles Spurgeon commented on this verse: 

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? As though he were two men, the psalmist talks to himself. His faith reasons with his fears, his hope argues with his sorrows. These present troubles, are they to last forever? … Why this deep depression, this faithless fainting, this chicken hearted melancholy?” — Charles Spurgeonii 

“Chicken hearted melancholy.” That made me laugh, and reminded me of the 1961 exercise song we were forced to sing as part of President Kennedy’s Youth Fitness Program: “Give that chicken fat back to the chicken and don’t be chicken again!” Maybe what I should be singing now is, “Give that chicken heart back to the chicken and don’t be chicken again!” 

Ruth in a recent blog from Planted by Living Water (https://plantedbylivingwater.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/antithesis-of-love-1-corinthians-13/ ) listed the antithesis of love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:7-8.

This anti-love:  

  • runs from difficulties,
  • is unbelieving, cynical, and suspicious, 
  • feels there is no hope, and 
  • gives up. 

Is the opposite of love to be chicken hearted? Does the heart empowered by the Presence of God stand and love no matter what? Is it like the Ukrainian President refusing to leave the city under siege and reassuring the people after the long, dark, terrifying night, “I am here.” iii 

The psalmist commands his failing soul to hope, which means to wait expectantly for the promised salvation. That is the opposite of despair, isn’t it? As my pastor asked in his sermon this past Sunday: am I walking around in anxiety or anticipation? A lot of times I walk in anxiety, but “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” I think it is time for me to stand on the Rock, grab onto His hope and pray. And that is only possible by the salvations of His Face, the Light of His Face, for He loves us.   

Lord, let it be! Help me to stand and keep loving in the light of your Face. Work in me persevering faith and expectant hope, no matter what is going on around me. 

“A loss of the present sense of God’s love is not a loss of that love itself; the jewel is there, though it gleams not on our breast; hope knows her title good when she cannot read it clear; she expects the promised boon though present providence stands before her with empty hands. For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Salvations come from the propitious face of God, and he will yet lift up his countenance upon us.” — Charles Spurgeon 

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 

I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 

iBarnes Notes on the Whole Bible, by Albert Barnes 

iiTreasury of David, Charles Spurgeon https://archive.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps042.php  

iiiUSA Today on Twitter https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/1497635825860820993  

Image in the Public Domain

They Took Him Along

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:35-41 

Reading this verse, I was stopped, and maybe a little amused, at the phrase “they took him along.” I think it is a curious statement. They brought Jesus along, or so they thought. Jesus had been in the boat all day teaching the crowds. So, they brought him along just as he was already in the boat. They brought him along as the Teacher, but did they bring him along as Lord? When it was time to go, they got in the boat with him and started off – right into a huge storm. While they began fighting for their lives, Jesus slept.  

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 

I think Jesus was sleeping for a couple of reasons. One, I’m sure he was exhausted. But also, he wanted them to discover that he is in control and sees what is happening, even when it seems he is asleep and doesn’t care. And that you don’t just take him along with you. As J.D. Walt wrote, Jesus needs to be at the helm of our boat, not the stern. 

I am with you. I am not distant or far from you. I am in the boat, sleeping. The problem is not that the storm is raging all around you (though that is a problem). It is that the storm has gotten inside of you. These waves may do irreparable damage, but I will redeem it. What the enemy meant for evil I will turn to good. I AM THE PEACE OF GOD, the one who sleeps in the storm, and though I am with you, I will come closer. Welcome me to come within you, from the stern to the helm. — J.D. Walti 

Lord you are my peace. When the storm has gotten inside of me and I am fighting for my life and struggling, seemingly all alone, help me to see that I have put you behind me in the stern. That I have “taken you along.” Help me to put you before me as Lord, to follow you whom the wind and waves obey. To trust you to turn this evil into good. You are the One who cares. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 

This Just In! We Interrupt This Series for a Word from Our Sponsor https://www.seedbed.com/this-just-in-we-interrupt-this-series-for-a-word-from-our-sponsor/?mc_cid=6ff101d8c2&mc_eid=27234cb1e3 

Image, Gandalf’s Gallery, Ludolf Backhuysen – Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee [1695], https://flic.kr/p/22qS8Sx  

Nothing Is Too Hard

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17 

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19i 

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 

Nothing is too hard for God. Not the hard heart of stone you are praying for. Not the hard, seemingly impossible, situation.  

The Hebrew word translated “too hard” is pala (פָלָא). It means “to be surpassing or extraordinary.” It also means “to accomplish, to arise.” It seems like God is saying, “I am the miraculous God. I created you and this whole universe. Can you say that anything is too surpassing, too extraordinary, too marvelous for me to accomplish?”  

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?” declares the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 8:6 

When God says “nothing is too hard for me,” I suddenly don’t hear him saying it defensively, or even trying to argue or persuade. Maybe not even trying to encourage or inspire (though that is what happens). I hear him shouting out in victory that shakes the heavens and makes the earth tremble. I hear him laughing with joy. Joy for us. Joy of marvelous love. 

Is anything too hard for me? 

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37 (ESV) 

iSee also Ezekiel 36:26

Image, Heart of Stone by Norman Scharabatka https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heart_of_stone.jpg  

It is Done!

This is an invitation to participate in creation, the bringing of His Kingdom and perfect, loving will to earth. 

[Jesus] said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6 

What a wonderful proclamation: It is done! How we look forward to hearing it! “It is done” makes me think of Jesus on the cross saying, “It is finished!”  

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30  

That great redemptive work that he came to do, accomplished. The Lamb of God slain for the salvation of the world. But when I looked closer, I found that the two phrases – “it is finished” and “it is done” – mean two different, and very wonderful things.  

When Jesus proclaims, “It is finished,” the Greek word is teleó. It means to bring to an end, complete, fulfill, consummate. Jesus had fulfilled the will of the Father that he had come to do. Only Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, could finish the work on the Cross. 

The root of this word (tel-) means “reaching the end (aim). It is well-illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).”i  It is like the completion of a spiritual journey, the unfolding of a telescope. The coming into focus of God’s perfect will. 

And that is wonderful. That is amazing grace! But, “it is done” means something, at least for me, absolutely astonishing. The Greek word is ginomai. The Strong’s Concordance definition is “to come into being, to happen, to become.” Properly, it means “to emerge, become, transitioning from one point (realm, condition) to another.”ii 

According to Marvin R. Vincent, gínomai “means to come into being/manifestation implying motion, movement, or growth” (at 2 Pet 1:4). Thus it is used for God’s actions as emerging from eternity and becoming (showing themselves) in time (physical space).”iii 

Jesus finished the work he came to do so that the new heaven and new earth could emerge. We could transition from this place of continual warfare and anguish and tears, to that place where all tears will be wiped away. That is breathtaking as it is. But now, if you want your mind completely blown, look at some other times that Jesus used this word. 

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done (ginomai) just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. Matthew 8:13  

Do you see that! Amazing, amazing grace! Jesus says that through faith the centurion participates in this transitioning, this becoming, this emerging from eternity of the works of God into this time/space realm. When we believe. When we pray in faith. 

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done (ginomai) to you”; and their sight was restored. Matthew 9:28-30 

Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done (ginomai) for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:28 (ESV) 

And Jesus taught us to pray this way – for the manifestation of God’s Kingdom and will to emerge from eternity and become in time and physical space. 

Your kingdom come, your will be done (ginomai), on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (ESV) 

This is not just a liturgical prayer to be repeated by rote. This is an invitation to participate in creation, the bringing of His Kingdom and perfect, loving will to earth. 

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done (ginomai) for them by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:19 

Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done (ginomai).” Matthew 21:21 

Does this give you faith to pray? Does this crystalize in your mind the why of praying – the importance of praying? It does for me. 

… if you have faith and do not doubt … it will be done [it will be, it will come into being, it will emerge]. 

… as it is written, “I have made you [Abraham] the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told … Romans 4:17-18 (ESV)  

And God said … and there was … (Genesis 1) 

iHELPS Word-studies, Bible Hub 

iiibid.

iiiVincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament

Image by Linda Tanner, The Butterfly is Gone https://flic.kr/p/piUExS  

Beyond

Things are getting thrown at me over my head, beyond my strength. But there is another “beyond.”

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) 

I know that this seems negative and discouraging, but this is where God has me right now. This is where I am – burdened beyond. Weighed down, depressed, overcome. The word translated “beyond” in the above verse is huperballo and means “throwing beyond.” Things are getting thrown at me beyond, beyond my dunamis – my power, might, strength. When I read the definition of huperballo I envision an outfielder leaping up for a high fly ball but not being able to catch it. How many home runs it seems the enemy of our souls is making!  

And so, like Paul, I have despaired – this life beyond me, no way out, no exit strategy – like the sentence of death. Like trapped in a jail cell awaiting the execution. Utterly without resources, powerless. The only hope God. 

But then, God showed me another verse about another “beyond.” 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

The peace of God also goes beyond our strength, it transcends. The word is huperecho. Again, huper means beyond or over my head, but in this case, echo means to hold. The peace of God holds me beyond my situation, beyond my despair and powerlessness to stop the onslaught. His peace is above, surpasses, rises above, is superior, has authority over beyond everything here on this earth. If I can grab on to this truth I will be “seated with him in heavenly places.” 

Paul said that this beyond-burden we bear is for a reason: to change our reliance, trust and confidence from ourselves to God. God, the way maker. God, our Peace. God who is above and beyond and over and guards our hearts and minds. If we are not anxious, but present our petitions and requests to God we are kept under guard by God’s transcending peace. But for that to happen I have to switch my reliance. I have to roll all my burdens over onto Him and totally trust. Why is that so hard?

“Abide in Me says Jesus. Cling to Me. Stick fast to Me. Live the life of close and intimate communion with Me. Get nearer to Me. Roll every burden on Me. Cast your whole weight on Me. Never let go your hold on Me for a moment. Be, as it were, rooted and planted in Me. Do this and I will never fail you. I will ever abide in you.” — J.C. Ryle 

Paul also said that he felt that he was under the sentence of death. But you know the One who has risen above, who is superior, who has all authority in heaven and earth, over and beyond us? Jesus – he has taken our sentence of death. 

Who is to condemn [pass down judgement against, sentence]? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34 

We can rely on God who raised up Jesus and will raise us up with him – beyond. He is interceding for us even now. Even though we are in despair, utterly burdened beyond; even though it’s twenty to nothing in the last inning; even though we feel the sentence of death in our souls, yet, we can know that he will bear us up. He will always hold us and never fail. We can rely on God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV)

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19 

You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. Psalm 59:17 

Help me Lord to rely on, abide in, stick fast, cling to you always.  

Photo by Minda Haas Kuhlmann  https://flic.kr/p/2mcAUTU  

Not Suitable for Framing

This is where God has me, shaking everything that can be shaken and clearing off the rubble.

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. 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)i 

It has happened again. I received, all at once, a whole lot of blog posts and articles about the same subject. (God has to be real obvious with me.) But this time the subject was not a very popular one – suffering, and how it is necessary in the Christian walk, and how it builds our faith and forms us to be like Jesus.  

This is where God has me, shaking everything that can be shaken and clearing off the rubble. I think suffering “promotes us to the next level,” as J.D. Walt writes below, because it shakes our faith. It shakes off all the doubts about God’s character and topples the papier mâché idols we trust in and gets us down to the bedrock – where the real building can begin. 

“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God …” [Acts 14:22]. Anyone out there seen this one on a bumper sticker lately? It seems to be the opposite of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” doesn’t it? While this may not be “suitable for framing” or cross-stitched pillow covers, it does offer the perfect and perfecting framework for real faith … Why is this? Why must we go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God? Because this is where the kingdom of God breaks in—places of loss, suffering, hardship, brokenness, and pain. For the followers of Jesus, when you are being broken down, it is a sign that the kingdom of God is breaking in. Hardships are a sign Jesus is about to promote you to the next level of entrustment in the kingdom of God. — J.D. Walt, Jesus is Changing My Life   

AW Tozer said this: “Faith is simply the bringing of our minds into accord with the truth. It is adjusting our expectations to the promises of God in complete assurance that the God of the whole earth cannot lie.  As long as we question the wisdom of any of God’s ways our faith is still tentative and uncertain. While we are able to understand, we are not quite believing. Faith enters when there is no supporting evidence to corroborate God’s word of promise and we must put our confidence blindly in the character of the One who made the promise.” — Blogged by One Pursuit, Faith Not Common Sense   

There will be more times in life than you can count that you will need God to do the impossible. Yet miracles of God require faith, and we tend to doubt. So even on the days when our faith is not demanded, we must continually build a foundation of faith through reading and believing God’s word. If we are living and breathing His word, His power is able to work in and through us. His word supernaturally works within us to bring us into His will and helps us walk in it. Don’t wait until you’re faced with the impossible; make all things possible by reading and believing God’s promises to you each and every moment of every day. — Blogged by God’s Glory, Faith Comes By Trusting in His Word   

“There is no university for a Christian, like that of sorrow and trial.” — Charles Spurgeonii 

The broken heart fills the valley, the oppressed soul levels the mountains, desperation smooths the rough passages. Human struggles refine the dross of life, and bitterness yields joy. Good news comes in the desert, because the desert is the only place you can hear it. — Suzanne Guthrie 

If we suffer, we shall also reign with him … 2 Timothy 2:12 (KJV) 

iBlogged by Beholding Him Ministries Hope for Today: After Suffering … 

iiSpurgeon, Charles H., The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 39: Sermons 2289-2341 

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