Tag Archives: God is faithful

Joy in Trials

“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.” James 1:2-4 (ESV) 

 

 I find so much comfort in this verse. Earlier this week I took a brake from my normal devotions to just take a look at the great promises that the Bible has about suffering, giving thanks and praise to God through everything, and the like. I found such encouragement from the words of the Bible, it is my very strength. As I write this I am pressing on through my current trial of pain in my joints. But I am reminded to count it ALL joy, not just a little bit of joy, not just taking it for what it is or just accepting it. No, it goes far beyond that. It’s taking joy in the fact that the trials God puts in our lives are merely tools for our holiness.

 The tough things are only momentary, even though everyone can tell you they don’t seem that way at the time. They seem hard. We ask God with raised fists, “Are you a fool? I can serve you better with this, I thought it was a gift that was good!” When we should be having the spirit of the author of Laminations, who when faced with the destruction of his beloved city, the death of his people as well as their rebellion, and his own health in a sorry state along with other horrible things, yet he rejoiced in the Lord! He uttered the words, “Therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””(Lamentations 3:21b-24)

 I am in amazement over what God has already done with the trial of my joint pain. He is teaching me so much through it and I have this deep, deep peace that I am not sure I have ever experienced before. Though my body is falling apart right now my soul is being gently comforted and clothed by the grace and mercy of my King! It’s just wonderful! The joy that you receive when you let go of those trials is so much better than having the trials go away. I am not specifically praying for healing anymore, I am praying that God will do HIS will, not mine and that my will shall be conformed to His perfect one.

 I know that God is using this for my good, to conform me to His holiness, and to make me lacking in nothing. I can’t say too much how great this is. This is true joy, knowing that God is faithful even when it doesn’t look that way, truly knowing that “in faithfulness He afflicted me”. (Psalms 119:75) Words don’t even begin to describe this, I believe that’s because the language of joy is a foreign tongue that is learned as instructed and it’s truly belonging to heaven. Perfect, complete joy will only be found when we are in the wonderful arms of our Savior. He is good and He is faithful!

“Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did
not recycle to bring me gain. I can’t
remember one single regret in serving
God only and trusting his hand”

(Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful)

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Lessons From Life: My Everything

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
  Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
  My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73: 23-28 )

 These verses have been ones that God has been putting on my heart lately so heavily that they are not ignorable. He keeps asking me the question, “Olivia, am I the strength of your heart? Am I your portion forever? Am I your all?” I wince as I respond to Him, “Lord, I love you, you know I do.” He gently yet sternly asks again, “How much do you love me?” I wince again. “God, I’ve given you my life, what more do you want?” He is persistent. “Are you willing to give me those little parts of your heart that you’ve kept back? Those places in your life that you want to hold on to?” I start to panic… He knows about those things?! “God, what do you mean? I’ve given you my dreams, I’ve given you my heart and life.” He shakes His head. “Not all of your dreams. Not all of your heart and life. There are still those things that you want to be in control of. Give them to me. I wont let you down.” We continue on. Me in my hesitation to surrender these parts of me and Him in His gentle and yet strong pursuit of me and my everything. Until finally I came to my breaking point.

 A few nights ago God got through. I’ve been having some daily joint pain in my hands and fingers that has been concerning me because it’s been going on for about three weeks. The things that seem to make it worse are typing (though only sometimes) and playing piano and violin (again this is only sometimes) which really worried me. The use of my hands and fingers are pretty much my life. I’ve always said that I could never live without my hands. The very idea that the pain in my hands could be an actual reason for concern (and not just my wild imagination) scared me. The thought of not being able to use my hands as easily as I would like made me scared. God gently yet firmly kept telling me to surrender it to Him. I complained, I protested, I objected, but in the end I had no choice but to let go. I had to put my hands into God’s hands.

 Earlier this week He had me weeping over the above passage. In more areas than just my hands, He has been showing me that I need to surrender, that HE needs to be my everything. He needs to be my strength, my beauty, my portion, my all, my desire, my life, my everything. I have been begging God for months to show me that. To let my heart truly know the words of this Psalmist and be able to sing the words of “Enough” by Chris Tomlin or Barlowgirl’s song based on Psalms 73 and know that I mean them with my entire being. Though in my brain I might of realized it would mean me coming to a breaking point first, it really didn’t set in until it was happening.

 In the last two weeks God has just been blasting me with the message of faith, surrender, and His wondrous sovereignty everywhere. From a theological note in my study Bible, to the Jerry Bridges video we watched for Sunday school, it’s been everywhere. God has really been trying to get His point across… that just shows you how thick sculled I am most of the time. I am so glad He finally got through to me. Wrestling with God isn’t enjoyable, and you don’t win, so it’s time to wave the white flag. I will leave my ramblings over what God is showing to me with the words of the song “Let Go” by Barlowgirl. These words mirror my heart so perfectly that it almost scares me.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down
But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own
And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

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History in the Making

 Tomorrow marks a day in history for our nation. Someday we will be able to tell our children and grandchildren that we remember the day that America got it’s first African American president. The inauguration is a huge deal and I congratulate President Obama for being the first black president, even if I do not agree with his policies. He is now my president and my leader and I am making a promise today that I will do my best to treat him with the respect he deserves.

 I have been deeply grieved by the response of many Christians over Obama’s election. Though I was hoping for John McCain to win the election and was horribly disapointed when Obama won, I still think that we need to respect him no matter what we think of him. When I say “respect” I am not saying that we condone his position on many things, one of the biggest being abortion, not at all! I don’t respect or look up to him morally or as a general person, and I sure don’t “admire” him,  but he is my president and because he has been put there by God and the people, I know I need to pray for him and that he deserves honor because of his position.

 When Bush was president the “Bush-bashing” was horrible from the media and democrats. I live in a very blue state and I have constantly seen bumper stickers and such full of hate towards him. Now that Obama has been elected I am seeing that Christian Republicans aren’t any different. From comparing Obama to Hitler to refuse to acknowledge him as our president, it is constant disrespect and almost hatred.

 We have all been forgetting that God is in control. Obama being elected to presidency is part of God’s perfect plan and He is going to use it for His glory in some way, shape, or form. My dad had as his facebook status the night after the election that he “is going to sleep like a Calvinist, because he is one”. We need to remember that it wasn’t just the American people that put him into office but it was also the most sovereign Lord of the entire universe! God is all-powerful and He has history scripted… that’s why it’s called “His story”. There is a reason that Barack is our president even though we ourselves can not see it clearly because we do not see things as God does.

 Christians have also forgot the multiple verses in the Bible about respecting those in authority over us, especially the Emperor, and during the time Paul and Peter wrote that the Emperor was Nero! He was a madman that persecuted Christians with a passion and used them as torches in his gardens, and we are called to respect even THAT. (And no matter what you think, Obama is not that bad.) Take a look at what 1 Peter 2: 13-17 says,

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people …. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

 And again in Romans 13:1,2,5-7:

” Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment… Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience…  Pay to all what is owed to them:… revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed”

 I have been guilty of not giving respect to Obama before and forgetting that God is in control so don’t think I am trying to beat you over the head with anything. I am simply asking those of you out there that call themselves Christians (including myself) to make sure that you treat Obama the same way Jesus would. Obama needs Jesus just as much as we do and we need to pray that he would come to know the saving power of the blood of Christ. But the biggest things we need to do is to just trust God. On election night I read these verses from Psalms 20 and they really convicted me. (vs. 7 & 8 ) “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall,  but we rise and stand upright.”

 Let’s not just have this election be historic because of the fact that it’s our first black president, let it also be historic because of the way Christians handled it: with respect for Obama and with trust in God. Then it will truly be a day to celebrate.

 With that I will leave you to your thoughts and comments on this touchy subject. As always, I love to hear from you and find out what you think. God bless you all and may you be a light to others by the way you treat all people!

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Great is His Faithfulness

 This fall and even the last year has been full of things that I just don’t understand. I have spent much time saying, “God? What’s your plan in this? I can’t see it. Please show me it!” Yet often time God gently whispers to my heart saying, “Just trust me. I know you and I love you. This is for your good and my glory. I have a plan, but it’s not time for you to see it yet. Lean on me until you can.” It can often be hard to just have simple childlike faith in God.

 We have temptations and struggles all around us and Satan in forever whispering lies in our ears. He is constantly saying, “God doesn’t know what He’s doing. You are crazy to trust Him at His word. He didn’t really mean that you have to trust Him with EVERYTHING, I mean, this is just way too big for God.” It’s the same lie he has been saying since the very beginning (Genesis 3).

 The Bible is so clear though, that God is faithful. He never forgets His people and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. One of the themes of the Bible is God’s faithfulness. From Genesis to Revelation, God is faithful. Especially in the Psalms and the books of prophesy where it looks like God has forgotten His people. These are some of the verses that reflect that in the Psalms: 25:10, 57:10, 86:15, 89:2, 14, 33, 100:5, 111:7, 117:2, 119:90.

I love these words from Lamentations. After the author describes the horrors of the fallen Israel and the pain and strife of himself and the others around him, this is what he says; (Chapter 3)

 “21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him;  26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

 God is still there and He is always faithful, even when we can’t see His purpose or understand His plans… He remains faithful. He is unchanging and always good. He always has a plan that is for our good and his glory. We need to rest in God and in the fact that He knows what He is doing. I pray that we will both do so and surrender our every single problem and need to Him. God bless.

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