Friday, 25 May 2012
Face the Giants
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
It was one of those weeks where everything seemed to hit all at once. It felt like the perfect storm was washing over me. I sat down and made a list of the things I needed to take care of as soon as possible. These things involved phone calls to banks, insurance companies, medical offices, and repair shops. Any one of these things by itself in a week would have been enough to take on. I was now looking at a list of six or seven places I needed to contact and there was no putting it off. All the things on the list had the potential to cost me financially if it didn’t go my way. Overwhelmed, I did the only thing I knew to do – pray.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
I asked the Lord to give me favor when I called each place. I asked Him to make sure I spoke to someone who would be knowledgeable and professional and would know how to help me. Even though some situations looked impossible, I asked Him to go before me and make a way, because I know that all things are possible with God. Not knowing where to start, I simply started at the top. I took a deep breath and stepped out in faith. I decided to tackle the biggest issue first and made the call. When I spoke to the person, she was extremely understanding and helpful and took care of the problem right away. After hanging up, I did a little shouting and celebrating and then made the next call. Over the course of the next few days, I managed to take care of everything on my list, without incurring any extra costs or penalties or problems. In one case, I even saved money! God is so good!
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
In life, we are going to have troubles, but that doesn’t mean our troubles have to have us. Problems come up like giants, frightening and threatening us. We wring our hands or hide, hoping they will go away. Or we hope that someone will come along to take care of them for us. In 1 Samuel 17, you can read the well-known story of David and Goliath. David, obeying his father’s instructions, had gone to visit his brothers on the battlefield and take them supplies. He learned about the champion, Goliath, a giant who had challenged the Israelites to send out a representative to fight. But when the men of Israel saw him, they ran away frightened.
David, however, was not afraid. Despite his youth, he had successfully killed both bear and lion that had tried to attack his flock. He knew that if God had delivered him from these animals, He would surely deliver him from the hand of this Philistine. Some may call him brave, and that may be so. But more than brave, he was confident. David had confidence not in himself, but in God. Looking at it from a worldly perspective, David should not have won. David was a young, inexperienced boy with nothing more than a sling and a few stones. Goliath was an oversized, strong, and experienced warrior with sword. The game changer was God. Romans 8:31 asks: If God is for us, who can be against us? God was with David and it was by His might and power that Goliath and the Philistines were defeated.
1 John 5:4-5
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
We need to face the giants in our life in the same way that David looked at Goliath. Sure that giant was big. Sure he was scary. Sure he carried a big sword. But David had something bigger – the power of the Lord God Almighty on his side. And remember that David had a great reward coming to him – great riches, the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage and a tax exemption for his father’s house were promised to the man who could defeat Goliath. While I am sure this was a motivating factor, David didn’t fight Goliath only for that reward. “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,” he said to Goliath (1 Samuel 17:46).
David’s victory was a testimony to God – everyone would see what God had done for him. So it is when you face your giants with the confidence and knowledge of God. Think what it would do to our Christian testimony if we ran around scared and defeated all the time. We can face our giants know that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). And, if God is for us, then who can be against us?
Posted on 05/25/2012 5:48 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 18 May 2012
A Place For Us
A mom will do almost anything for her children. I am sure it was no surprise when the mother of James and John came to Jesus and asked Him to give her sons a place at his left and right hands in His kingdom. Most likely, she envisioned an earthly kingdom with her sons in a high and honored position. Like any mother, she wanted the best for her boys. She could see that Jesus was on the rise to power and she wanted her boys to get in positions early in the game.
But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
There is a place for us in the body of Christ, but it is not necessarily the one of our choosing (or our mommy’s). God gives us those gifts and callings that are without repentance. He gives us the ones He wants us to have. It’s funny how some people find themselves running away from their callings, while others are jockeying for that very position, even if it is not their calling. The church is not the place to make a name for yourself or to make a power play. Despite the way the world wants to label and rank positions, all parts of the body are equal. All play an important role.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Jesus said that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I don’t know if you have ever had to be humbled, but I can tell you it isn’t a fun experience. Paul was right on when he advised that we ought not think more highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3). But if we humble ourselves and accept the place that God has given us, then we will know the satisfaction of walking in our calling. We will receive our reward. But the reward can’t be our sole motivation. We must be motivated to serve God in our calling because He is God and we love Him. We also must realize that when He does place or promote us into positions, it isn’t so we can throw our weight around or act self-important. With power comes responsibility. In whatever work we are doing, we are serving others, just as Jesus came to serve.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
As a church body, we should honor and respect all parts. We should encourage and uplift each other. Each of us should be able to plant ourselves and grow spiritually in our callings. And it should be done with all manner of kindness, respect and love for one another and for our Creator. There is no place for jealousy, back-biting, false flattery, self-ambition or gossip within the body. We are connected and interdependent. Truly when one hurts, we all hurt. We may not always like each other, but we always have to love one another. Our flesh will naturally war against us, but our spirit must be supernaturally victorious in order for the body to function properly. That means we have to be humble, forgiving, understanding and gentle, even when we don’t feel like it. There is a place for each of us in the body, and in that place we will find fulfillment and peace, and God will recognize what we have done for Him alone.
Posted on 05/18/2012 7:04 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 11 May 2012
A New Song
As soon as my daughter gets in the car, she changes the radio station to one more her liking. Most of the music drives me crazy, but some of it is not bad. I remember my mom letting me listen to the radio when I was a teenager. A trend in pop music these days is to sample parts of an old song in the new one. I picked up on it right away because I know those old songs from the 70s and 80s that they are sampling. It would surprise my daughter that I knew the words to a “new” song on the radio, and she was even more surprised to find out it wasn’t really new.
What’s funny is that I remember having the same conversation with my mother. A “new song” by a current artist would come on the radio and she would be singing along. I was shocked and wondered how she could possibly know the words. She would explain that it had been a hit when she was a teenager and that this was just an updated remake of that old song. She would always tell me that there is nothing new under the sun.
That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.
I was pondering this earlier in the week when our Praise Team at church was doing a song about all the earth singing a new song. “A new song I’ll sing, Lord I will glorify and bless your Holy Name,” says one line. If there is nothing new under the sun, then how can we sing a new song?
When we think of the word new, we think of the definition meaning “appearing for the first time,” or in other words, never existed before now. But there are other definitions for the word. One is “having but lately or but now come into knowledge.” From time to time, you may hear news reports that a new species of plant or animal has been discovered somewhere and the scientific community is excited and amazed. It is new in the sense that this is the first we have heard of it, but obviously it has existed before that discovery. Another definition says, “unfamiliar or strange (often followed by to).” If we visit another country, we will surely learn ideas or customs that are new to us. So new doesn’t necessarily mean it hasn’t existed, but instead that simply that we haven’t yet experienced it.
We should be able to sing a new song for the Lord every day. Each day we have things that we can be thankful for. We should always be praising and thanking Him for his blessings and mercies, including those that are yet to come. Your praises are music to His ears. And if you are putting your focus on praising Him, then you are no longer looking at your situation or problems. We all know those people that you don’t want to ask how they are doing, because they will tell you. (Laugh if you want, but you know it is true.) Imagine what it would do for those people if they could quit dwelling on their problems and start praising God. I believe it would change their attitude and their situation, because I have seen that work in my own life.
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
You might think that anything you might say to praise God has been said before and wouldn’t be new to Him. That may be true, but it isn’t just what you say, but how and when you say it. Those words of praise have existed, but when you discover them and their meaning for your relationship with Him, they become a new song in your spirit. If you have typically been a worrier or a complainer, and you begin to trust God and cry out to Him, then it is a new song to you. Praising God in your worst situation may seem unfamiliar or strange -- a new concept or idea -- but once you experience it you understand the power it has. It will change your spirit and bring forth other new songs of praise.
God knows how wonderful He is. He knows that He is the Most High and there is no other name above His. He isn’t an egomaniac that has to hear it from His creation to build himself up. He wants you to praise Him with a new song so that you aren’t all about you. We need to be God-centered and not Me-centered. A new song comes from a humbled heart. It comes from a grateful, loving heart, and it feels and believes every word of that song. A new song is spirit, not flesh. A new song can even be an old song that you sing with new meaning and new understanding.
The world is becoming a darker and scarier place every day. Time is running short and there are many lost to reach out to. I believe it is going to take a new song to reach people. By that I mean that people need to see the joy of the Lord in us. They have to hear our spirits sing in the joy of knowing Him. If we walk around down in the dumps or prune-faced, they aren’t going to want that. But they will listen to a song of hope, a song of joy, a song of freedom. So let your spirit sing a new song. Glorify and bless His Holy Name.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.
Posted on 05/11/2012 6:45 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 4 May 2012
A Child's Tender Heart
For the past 3 years or so I have been writing about things and situations in my life that I believe are messages from God to me. I keep them in a 3-ring binder and occasionally go back and read them. What a blessing for me. I want to share one with you from 2010 when my granddaughter Abby was 4 years old. – Pat Kail
"A Child's Tender Heart "
I never would have imagined that the very thing I needed would come from something so small. In my mind I was thinking, I needed a big answer to a big problem.
For the past three weeks, I have been ill with a case of vertigo. I not only have had the dizziness and light headedness from this, but I also slept a lot and have just felt so tired and run down. I have missed a lot of things because of it, including church. I was becoming discouraged and downhearted. My blood sugars have been running too high and still are. I have taken antibiotics, as well as Meclizine. Then I finally went to the doctor and he prescribed Ativan. I am feeling better and have stopped the Meclizine, but have continued taking the Ativan, at least for a few more days. I have become a bit depressed because the house is such a mess and needs a good dusting and mopping. I had been in the process of working in the spare bedroom cleaning out the closet and had a big mess in the room from sorting and trying to organize things a bit when the vertigo hit. So needless to say the work in the bedroom had ceased for three weeks.
Then I got word on Friday that Baylee and Lexi would be coming in for the week to visit. I love my granddaughters very much, but I was beside myself with concerns that I was in no way ready to have visitors. I was still not well and I just didn't know how I was going to have that bedroom in shape for the girls to sleep in, as well as have everything else done that I needed to do. I just could not seem to get my husband, Buzzy, to understand my point of view and my feelings about this. I am always happy to see Baylee and Lexi. But because I was ill, I was not really able to do what I needed to make their visit enjoyable. I was just so disheartened. Buzzy said I was yelling at him when really I was desperate to have him help me find a solution to my dilemma. Now, I know better than to depend on people to solve my problems. I know that I can only depend on God to help me with the answers I need.
On Saturday, we had Abby, my other granddaughter, here while my son, Kevin, went to get a haircut. That day I was feeling so overwhelmed and so sick, I began to cry. I told Buzzy that I did not feel like going out to eat with them and to just go on without me. But he said he didn't want to go without me and that we would just stay in and he would go get us something. Well, Abby saw all of this. She saw me crying and heard what I was saying. I finally ended up going out with them. I was just so miserable and just wanting to be home in bed. But God had other ideas for me. As usual, Abby sat beside me in the booth at IHOP. I know that she was sensing my mood and unhappiness. She was just so loving toward me. She just kept hugging me and kissing me. She would kiss my shoulder or my cheek or my hand, etc. She would pat me on the back or arm. This small child understood the need to show love and compassion to a person who was hurting and needing love. I was reminded of the scripture that says a little child shall lead. Well, this little four-year old led me. She led me back to where I needed to be -- remembering to turn to God first when I have a problem instead of trying to find solutions from people.
I found that after my little girl gave me love and caring, I became calmer about my problems and that I started to feel better physically. I still have some weakness and need to regain my strength, but thank God I have not had any dizziness for the past few days. I have relaxed and not stressed over getting ready for the girls’ visit. Buz and I worked a bit in the spare bedroom Sunday evening, and at least the bed is ready to be slept in. The girls arrived today but are both sleeping at their other grandparents’ house tonight. Buz told me that Alex had asked them if they would mind if both girls slept at their house as needed because I had been sick and needed a break. I am so appreciative of that and I am thankful to God that finally someone understands enough to try to help me out. I am going to try to not get upset about things this week and just try to concentrate on enjoying the girls while they are here and also to try to get stronger and recoup from this illness.
My God is so patient and so faithful. Sometimes I have to have a reality check that makes me realize that God is my source and my friend who sticks closer to me than a brother. He will never leave me nor forsake me or fuss at me because I get upset. He has the answers I need and I just have to let Him know that I need Him. He knows best and that is all I need to know. It took a child to lead me back to that point. Imagine that!
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Posted on 05/04/2012 8:26 AM by Pat Kail