Birthday thoughts

Today, I am blessed to be able to celebrate my birthday. I guess that most women my age might not be so thrilled about the fact that they have turned another year older. Isn’t it funny how, when we are very young, we feel that time is moving so slowly and we can’t wait to be “grown up”. But when we reach “a certain age”, we feel that time is rushing by much too quickly.

I can honestly say that I am more or less comfortable with my age. In fact, I celebrate the fact that I have even reached my age, because there have been a number of times in my life where, “but for the grace of God”, I wouldn’t even be here. You see, I have experienced a lot of loss in my life: the loss of a father and a family unit, the loss of a husband and a marriage, the loss of my home, the loss of my dignity and self-respect, not to mention the loss of several internal organs.

Through some of those darkest times, I suffered the most dangerous loss, that being, the loss of hope. Without hope, there is no point in continuing in the struggle – why prolong the pain? Yes, even as a Christian, I have been in that darkest of places.

Yet, even in the darkest of places, in our weakest of moments, God can and will reach out to us. I know, because He reached out to me. I had reached a point where I just couldn’t bear the suffering anymore. In the midst of the darkest moment of that dark night, God spoke to me, He said, “the enemy is trying to destroy you and your family”. Can you believe that I actually said, “What???” So God repeated the message, “the enemy is trying to destroy you and your family”.

Maybe you think that it was a strange thing for God to say, but God knew my personality. He knew that I was a fighter, if not for myself, then for my children. He knew just the right thing to say that would make me sit up and listen. More importantly, He knew that it would give me a reason and the strength to begin to fight back.

I started to wonder if maybe there was a reason that the enemy wanted me out of the way. Was he afraid that I might be a good worker for the Kingdom of God? What would the absence of my spiritual guidance to my children mean to them in their future?

I decided then and there that I was NOT going to give the enemy the victory! So I “Shook off the dust of my feet” (Luk 9:5) in his face and began the work of climbing out of that dark place. I would like to say that it was quick and easy, but it wasn’t. I would like to say that the enemy has given up, but he hasn’t. The one sure thing is that God has been, and always will be, with me to give me hope, strength, comfort and encouragement.

I pray that you have no dark nights, but if you do, I pray that you sense God’s loving presence holding you and leading you from the dark into the light.

Heb 13:5  … He has said, “Not at all will I leave you, not at all will I forsake you, never!”

Rom 8:37  But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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The Big “WHY”? part 3

In the previous two blog posts, I have tried to  share my understanding of why there is evil in the world and why bad things happen to good people. In this post, I will try to explain, what is perhaps the most difficult area of the topic, which is, “Why God allows bad things to happen”.

Perhaps you have asked the same thing; I know that I sure have. I have also been asked that question by people who don’t believe in God or who believe in God but not a loving, merciful God. They ask, “If God is loving and all-powerful, then why doesn’t He do something to stop the evil, suffering, pain and death?”

The truth is that God has done and is doing something; the difficult part is that we must wait for His work to be completed. The Bible tells us the story of what God has done, is doing and will do. The outcome of the story is known and has already been told, but the working out of that story has yet to reach it’s completion.

At it’s most basic, the story is about God’s way vs. the devil’s way, good vs. evil. You see, once upon a time, God made everything, including angels. Neh 9:6  “You, even You, are Jehovah alone. You have made the heavens, heaven of the heavens, with all their host…”

Then an angel of light (Lucifer) decided that he wanted to be “numero uno”:

Isa 14:12  How you are fallen from the heavens, O shining star, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
Isa 14:13  For you have said in your heart, I will go up to the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.
Isa 14:14  I will go up above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.

and he started a heavenly rebellion against God:

Rev 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going out to the fight with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels made war

So he and the other mutinous angels were cast out of Heaven:

Rev 12:8  And they were overcome, and there was no more place for them in heaven.
Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was forced down, the old snake, who is named the Evil One and Satan, by whom all the earth is turned from the right way; he was forced down to the earth, and his angels were forced down with him.

This really ticked off the devil so he began to attack God’s special creation – mankind, God’s people:

Rev 12:17  And the dragon was enraged over the woman, and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Rev. 12:12 But there is trouble for the earth and the sea: because the Evil One has come down to you, being very angry, having the knowledge that he has but a short time. (BBE)

This is a battle of epic proportions – a battle that encompasses all of creation. It is a battle over whose way is best – God’s or Satan’s? It is a battle over who mankind chooses to worship, serve and obey – God or the devil? There are only two choices; and yes, even if we choose not to choose – that is still a choice. God created humans with free will and so He has given mankind the right to choose whom to serve:

Jos 24:15  And if it seems evil to you to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you will serve…

I suppose that you could compare this conflict with a court case of cosmic proportions wherein it is God vs. Satan and we, and all Creation, are the jury. God has presented His case; through His written word and the example of the life of Christ, we see who God is and what He stands for. Since God is righteous and just, “Deu 32:4  He is the Rock; His work is perfect. For all His ways are just, a God of faithfulness, and without evil; just and upright is He“,  then He must allow us to witness for ourselves, the evidence that the devil’s way is the wrong way. Then He gives us the right to choose.

Because God, The Creator, knows the beginning from the end:

Rev 21:6  And He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

then God knows how long the court case must last before all the evidence has been given and we (Creation), the jury, have weighed that evidence and come up with a verdict.

In the meantime, “Rom 8:22  And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now”

Things may be difficult during this time, but for those who have faith in Jesus Christ, there is a hope of a better world to come.

Rom 8:21  that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

So when life gets tough, remember these promises:

Joh 16:33  I (Jesus) have said all these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take heart! I have overcome the world. (BBE)

Rev 21:4  And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

Amen!

P.S.: My husband just read this post and he said that although I may have answered the question, he does not think that the answer would give comfort to someone who is suffering. I must confess to having felt that way myself at times, especially when I have been very ill or someone I love is suffering. However, as much as I may want Jesus to come soon, so that my suffering would end, I do not want him to come before every last possible person has been saved. I may pray “come, Jesus, come” but I also pray “thy will be done”.

 

 

 

 

The Big “WHY” part 2

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible for putting off dealing with difficult things. My poor brain has enough trouble trying to get itself wrapped around average “stuff”, never mind sorting out difficult issues. Perhaps that is one reason that I have taken this long to try to write something regarding the question as to why God allows bad things to happen.

Firstly, I would like to deal with another big question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, we are in a war; a spiritual war:  Eph 6:12  For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against authorities and powers, against the world-rulers of this dark night, against the spirits of evil in the heavens.  (BBE)

We have enemies in spiritual places who operate in the earthly realm. The leader of these enemies is Satan, the devil, and he has been leading a rebellion since Creation. 1Jn 3:8  He who practices sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sins from the beginning.

Rev 12:7  And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going out to the fight with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels made war,
Rev 12:8  And they were overcome, and there was no more place for them in heaven.
Rev 12:9  And the great dragon was forced down, the old snake, who is named the Evil One and Satan, by whom all the earth is turned from the right way; he was forced down to the earth, and his angels were forced down with him.

This war manifests itself on the earth, and as in all wars, there are casualties. Our enemy is constantly on the move against humanity.

Job 1:7  And Jehovah said to Satan, From where do you come? Then Satan answered Jehovah and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

1Pe 5:8  Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;

It is through our enemy that death entered into the world.

Joh 8:44  You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning,…

Heb 2:14  Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same; that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death (that is, the Devil),…

I think that wars are generally started because of selfish desires and goals. The devil thought that he should be regarded as God:

Mat 4:8  Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
Mat 4:9  And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.

The devil is against all the God is and all that He has done,  so he started a rebellion against God. The devil is out to destroy all that God holds dear, especially God’s children. Christians are the object of the devil’s hatred of, and war against, God.

1Pe 5:8  … your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;

Joh 10:10  The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy.

The devil is called “the ruler of this world” (Joh. 12:31, 14:30), and that is why there is evil in the world. He is  an enemy of God, of God’s people and all that is good, and that is why bad things happen to good people.

BUT (and a big BUT it is too!) – thank God that He has given us a great hope, and I will share that with you in a following post. ( so keep reading)

Blessings

 

 

The Big “WHY”? part 1

Once again our news is filled with yet another incident of horrific violence – the bombings at the Boston Marathon. As far as I know, as I write this, no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings. It doesn’t really matter as there is no possible excuse, no cause worthy enough, for the killing and maiming of innocent people.

Rom 3:8  Let us not do evil so that good may come… (BBE)

In times like these, we are all left to wonder “WHY?”. I am sure that most of us have asked God that question at some point in our lives. Perhaps you have asked, Why am I sick?”, or “Why did my loved one have to die?”, or “Why did my marriage fail?” or “Why did I lose my job?” or “Why do my children keep making such bad mistakes (or ourselves for that matter)?”. As a Christian, I have often been asked, “Where does evil come from”  and “WHY, if God is so good, does He allow evil things to happen?” The first question, “Where does evil come from?”, is easier for me to answer and understand than the second one ,”Why does God allow it?” Today, I will try to deal with the first question.

It seems that, more and more, we live in a society where people refuse to take responsibility for themselves and for their actions. This attitude is nothing new to mankind; we see it happening way back in the Garden of Eden when God asked Adam to account for his actions. Adam’s response to the question was to point the finger of blame at Eve – Gen 3:12  And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. Mankind has been refusing to take responsibility for it’s actions ever since and has been trying to pass the blame onto God.

Even, supposedly “well-meaning” Christians have dumped the mess in God’s lap. How many times have you heard the phrase,  “it must be the will of God!” Really?? You’re telling me that my chronic pain is God’s will for me or that my beautiful niece had to suffer lymphoma because that was God’s will for her, or that somebody’s loved one who was killed by a drunk driver was God’s will for them?? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it for a minute! If that is true, then I don’t want to have anything to do with that kind of God! The God that I know is a God of love (1Joh. 4:8), and true love does not seek to wound a person but rather, seeks to bless a person (1Cor.13:4).

Rom 12:9  Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good;

So then, the question remains, “Where does evil come from”? God answers that question very clearly in His Word.

Gen 6:5  And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Mat 12:35 … an evil man out of the evil treasure  (of his heart) brings out evil things.

Mat 15:19  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…

Eph 5:16 … because the days are evil.

1Jn 5:19   all the world lies in evil.

So why is there evil in the world? It’s because there are evil people in it.

Why are there evil people? It’s because God gave mankind free will, which means that man has been given the ability and the right to choose whom they will serve, to choose between what is right and what is wrong.

Jos 24:15  And if it seems evil to you to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served Beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live.

Rom 1:20  …men have no reason for wrongdoing:
Rom 1:21  Because, having the knowledge of God, they did not give glory to God as God,

Man chose to not choose God, so…

Rom 1:28  And because they had not the mind to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an evil mind, to do those things which are not right;
Rom 1:29  Being full of all wrongdoing, evil, desire for the goods of others, hate, envy, putting to death, fighting, deceit, cruel ways, evil talk, and false statements about others;
Rom 1:30  Hated by God, full of pride, without respect, full of loud talk, given to evil inventions, not honouring father or mother,
Rom 1:31  Without knowledge, not true to their undertakings, unkind, having no mercy

In Rom. 1:28 we see that man chose and God allowed, not only the choice, but the consequences of that choice. Free will comes with a cost, there is a price to pay for the choices that are made, there are consequences for every decision and action made. The problem arises when man’s choices come out of selfish desires, when man is led away by the “desires of the flesh” rather than by being led by God.

Unfortunately, many of the choices that mankind has made and continues to make, have negative effects upon others. So how can we protect ourselves and our loved ones?

Most importantly, when you choose “whom you will serve”, choose God. Then, every day, make sure you get dressed properly for battle:

Eph 6:11  Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Eph 6:13  Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Why? Because: Eph 6:12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Also: 2Th 3:2  And pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men…

And remember: 2Th 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and guard you from the evil

I pray, for you and your loved ones, that 2Ti 4:18  … the Lord shall deliver you from every evil work and will preserve you to His heavenly kingdom, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

It’s A Hard Thing

My Mom is a great gal and I dearly love her. Unfortunately, we live 8 hours away from each other so I only get to see her once or twice a year. I thank God for the internet so that we can keep in touch on a regular basis. However, emailing just doesn’t cut it when a loved one is suffering. I am a “hands on” kind of person, so when she is going through a rough time, I feel so helpless and useless because I can’t be there to give her a gentle hug, make her a cup of tea, take her out for a drive and lunch or even just sit beside her and chat with her.

Recently, I was feeling guilty about the situation but my Mom sent me an encouraging message which she entitled “An Ever Present Help”. In the message, she told me that I do, in fact, help her by listening to her, encouraging her, sharing my day to day activities with her, and by the certain knowledge of my love for her.

There may be times that we are unable to physically help loved ones, but we must never underestimate the power of expressed love to help them through the difficult times. (Remember the old song “Love Lifted Me”?) Love needs to be “lived out” in order to be effective. The “living out” of love can take many forms – a phone call, an email, a card or letter.

Also important is giving hope, encouragement and comfort by sharing how God has worked in our own lives to bring us through difficult times.

2Co 1:3  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,
2Co 1:4  He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

1Th 5:11  Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

And let us never forget the power of prayer!   Jas 5:16  …, and say prayers for one another so that you may be made well. The prayer of a good man is full of power in its working.

PS: Have you told your loved ones today that you love them?  Have you prayed for them?  “Get ‘er done!”

Blessings

The Real Thing

On Saturday, I spent a lovely day with four “sistas” in Christ at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. On the drive down, our fearless leader, Liisa, (a gal with incredible gifts for organization and hospitality) read us a devotional she had found that actually used the topic of maple syrup as it’s basis.  http://yhhs.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/real-syrup/

The devotional compared the taste and qualities of real maple syrup to that of the artificial “other stuff”. Then it went on to discuss the difference between a “real” and an “artificial” Christian.

I have eaten both the real and the fake maple syrups and have met both real and phoney Christians. I can tell you that I much prefer the “real thing” in both cases.

There are products which advertize themselves as having a “real maple syrup flavour”. On the surface, they may look, smell and taste like real maple syrup. However,when you take the time to read the label, you will find words like “simulated” and “artificial” along with a long list of unpronounceable names of chemicals that have no nutritional value whatsoever, and which may, in fact, be hazardous to your physical health.

The same can be said about people; they may look and sound like Christians, but if you were to scratch the surface a little deeper, you may find that they are, unfortunately,  “Christians” in name only, lacking any spiritual value, and who may, in fact, be detrimental to your spiritual health.

Since people don’t come with labels that you can read, how can you tell if a person is a “real” or an “imitation” Christian? Well,  real Christians won’t just “talk the talk” , you know the type – they spout scripture left, right and centre and tell you that they know the Bible frontwards and backwards but don’t practice what they preach.

Mat 23:27  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Real Christians won’t just “walk the walk” – they don’t put on a “holier than thou” attitude just because they follow a set of rules and regulations.

Luk 18:11  The Pharisee, taking up his position, said to himself these words: God, I give you praise because I am not like other men, who take more than their right, who are evil-doers, who are untrue to their wives, or even like this tax-farmer. vs. 12  Twice in the week I go without food; I give a tenth of all I have.

A real Christian “talks the walk AND walks the talk”. Their words line up with their actions and vice versa. A real Christian doesn’t just speak the words they profess to believe in, they actively live out those words because “faith without works is dead”.  And the words that a real Christian needs to live out can be summed up in this scripture: Luk 10:27  … You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

1Jn 3:10  In this way it is clear who are the children of God and who are the children of the Evil One; anyone who does not do righteousness or who has no love for his brother, is not a child of God.

Dear God, help me to be “the real thing”.

Blessings

April Showers

I volunteer at an adult day centre. Every morning we gather together for coffee and tea and discuss different topics; today’s topic was “April Showers”. I “tried” to “sing” a song made famous by Al Jolson in the 1920’s, called “April Showers”. One of the verses is as follows, “though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May. So if it’s raining, have no regrets, because it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets”.

Basically, the song is telling us to be positive and look on the bright side of things, even if our present situation is not enjoyable. I needed that reminder today because my “foggy doldrums” have progressed to lightening in my joints, thunder rumbling inside my head and heaving seas in my stomach.

I don’t know about you, but when I am unwell or “life” is being difficult, I just want to curl up on the couch wrapped in a soft blanket and have somebody bring me cups of tea, hold my hand and listen to me moan and whimper. After all, a pity party is no fun all by yourself!

Yesterday, I was feeling somewhat sorry for myself and I knew that I had to do something to rise above it, so I put on a Christian music CD and sang praise and worship unto God. Pretty soon, I was even dancing before God. While my singing and dancing might not have impressed the neighbours, I think that God was pleased and pretty soon I was feeling great – no pain, fatigue or depression. Body, soul and spirit were energized; I was given “wings” and I didn’t even have to drink Red Bull!

Eph 5:18  … be filled with the Spirit, vs.:19  speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; vs. 20  always giving thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,…

There is a chorus, based on Isaiah 61:3, which says, “put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, lift up your voice to God…”. I have found it to be true that singing praises to God does actually “lift the spirit of heaviness”.

There is another song that goes “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done”. I try to do this on a regular basis, but I especially find it helpful when I am going through a difficult time. Sometimes, on my really bad days, I just thank God for helping me to get through another day. But most of the time, purposely listing all the blessings that I enjoy each and every day, helps me to realize how much God has blessed me and how much I have to be thankful for.

I would like to encourage you to remember that, just as April showers lead to beautiful May flowers, God has beautiful things in store for us if we can just hold on through “the grey and rainy days” that occur in our lives.

Jas 1:2  Let it be all joy to you, my brothers, when you undergo tests of every sort;
Jas 1:3  Because you have the knowledge that the testing of your faith gives you the power of going on in hope;

1Pe 4:12  Dear brothers, do not be surprised, as if it was something strange, if your faith is tested as by fire:
1Pe 4:13  But be glad that you are given a part in the pains of Christ; so that at the revelation of his glory you may have great joy.

So keep looking for that rainbow after the storm!

Blessings