Tag Archives: pain

Leviticus 26-27; Numbers 1; Acts 13

In the beginning of Leviticus 26, God encouraged the people of Israel to obey Him by expressing the great rewards they would receive from their obedience. And then He said this:

Leviticus 26:13 (ESV)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

He then shifted gears, and spent far more words warning of the consequences – the pain – they would experience if they disobeyed. The pain of acting in pride. The pain of acting in their own strength, in their own understanding, and in their own power.

The pain of forgetting God.

I think that’s why the transition between the promises of blessing to the promises of pain was a reminder of what God had done for the people to deliver them from bondage.

The single biggest factor in our obedience is remembering what God has done for us. If I could just remember how God has delivered me before, I’d have no trouble believing Him for this time. If I could remember how God answered my prayers before, I’d have no trouble asking Him for what I need now. If I remembered God’s faithfulness in the last trial, I’d find it easier to be faithful to Him in the current one.

But I forget. My fear takes over. Insecurity, pride, frustration, and the temptation to take matters into my own hands causes me to act like more like the Israelites than I’d like to admit. And it lasts longer than I’d like to admit, too. Because, while God offers so many promises and incentives for obedience, I find that I tend to respond far more to painful consequences than positive incentives.

I don’t think I’m alone in that. In fact, I think that’s why God spent more time talking about the painful consequences than the pleasurable ones. Because we tend to change only when the pain of staying the way we are becomes greater than the pain of change. That’s why pain is God’s biggest tool in our lives. He gets us out of the mess by pain.  And then, when we repent, as He promises in last section of the chapter, He can restore us and lavish on us the blessings of obedience that He’d promised in the first place.

If only I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

If only I could be faithful in seeking Him
before I find myself stressed out and overwhelmed.

If only I could decide to be kind
before my mouth gets me into trouble.

If only I could give forgiveness
before bitterness affects my other relationships.

If only I could learn to eat right
before I outgrow all my clothes.

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. What’s the key? Remembering God.

Father, forgive me for trusting in myself and what makes sense to me instead of obeying your directions for my life. Help me to remember what You’ve done for me, how You’ve proven Yourself to me, and how You’ve proven your ways are better than mine. I want to be faithful to you just as you’ve been faithful to me. I want to be motivated by Your promises, not the by the pain of ignoring you. Help me to live in Your presence and in the light of Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

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Genesis 32-34; Psalm 145; Mark 13

Imagine a young lady who is loved by a man and that same man rapes her.  Love in my family was just as dysfunctional but more so in another family of mine where the sister sexually abused her younger sister. To this day the emotional abuse continues. No wonder the Jacob’s family had other intentions for the rapist other than marriage.

Three days later the men who had been circumcised were still weak from pain. So Simeon and Levi,[h] two of Dinah’s brothers, attacked with their swords and killed every man in town,  including Hamor and Shechem. Then they took Dinah and left. – Genesis 34:25-26

Love is a strange word and I often wonder how I survived my dysfunctional past to have a rather healthy relationship with God. The Holy Spirit must have done some amazing work in my life transforming me and making me new because there is no reason for being the person I am except by grace and His power in my life.  I know one thing for sure, Jesus was the only person, when I was growing up, that I knew loved me and because He did, I loved Him right back.

You take care of everyone
who loves you,
    but you destroy the wicked. – Psalm 145:20

Every day that I follow the reading schedule found on the top of this blog, and every day that I am challenged to love my wife as Christ loved the Church, I understand this task is one that takes place every day.  Jesus loved us so much that He made sure to tell us how hard it will be when we face difficult times, even the end times.  I am challenged every day knowing that no matter if He comes suddenly, or destruction visits the door of my home, or I am tempted to go against Him in some part of my life, the only way I will hang on, the only way I can survive and sustain my walk with Him is to never waver in my love for Him, always bring Him into every area of my life and to walk with Him wherever I go.

But if he comes suddenly, don’t let him find you asleep.  I tell everyone just what I have told you. Be alert! – Mark 13:36-37

Thank you so much for loving me.  Your love reaches to the core of my heart, it is pure, life changing, and it sets me free to be me.  I can even forgive those who have hurt me or the family members that I love very much. Your love alone can change the world, and yet somehow the Church has lost its will to love You and by not loving You, they have lost the sense of Your love for them. Father, revive us, restore us and bring back to us our first love that You gave so freely to us on the day we gave our lives to following Jesus. Thank you.

Erwin (evanlaar)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

Genesis 41; Mark 11; Job 7; Romans 11

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? What happens when we see mountains impossible to climb or when broken legs won’t carry us over the mountain? Our lives crescendo and crash through the years that God has given us to live. Have we met these ups and downs with stoicism and personal effort or have we sunk to our knees in humble, steadfast trust in God? Joseph, Job, and Christ instruct us when we are challenged by difficult circumstances in life.

Joseph’s life story records how circumstances take him from being the favored son with his multi-colored robe to nearly being murdered in a pit, from being the over-seer in Pharaoh’s house to being thrown in a dungeon for a crime he did not commit, and finally from being elevated to the second most powerful man in the king’s court to falling on the neck of his brothers, forgiving and washing them with his tears . In Genesis 41:16, we get a clue on how Joseph could rise time and time again. He told Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph lived what he preached.

Still we question that God should be interested in the lives of ordinary men. Job 7:17-18, asked, “What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him, That You should visit him every morning, And test him every moment?” Sometimes, if we are honest, we may wish that we were not the focus of God’s attention. We may join in Job’s query (7:21), “Why then do You not pardon my transgression, And take away my iniquity?” This intimate picture of Job communing with God alludes to God walking and talking with Adam in the Garden of Eden.  The changed relationship between God and man after the fall has man instinctively fearing God’s gaze. Desperate cries of, “How long?” explode from bodies wrecked with chronic pain, disabling disease, ongoing trauma, or depression, anxiety, and a host of other disorders that interfere with daily functioning. Do we plead as did Job that God would take His eyes off us, forgive us, and end the suffering? Job acknowledged that man can do nothing to save himself and that we depend on God to save us. Can we trust that God understands our physical, spiritual, and emotional vulnerability on this earth?

Unequivocally, the answer is YES! Christ’s saving work on the cross punctuated the truth of His words…words that affirm, comfort, and empower us: Mark 11:22, 24, “Have faith in God. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The cursed, fruitless fig tree that withered from the roots up overnight was meant to be a teachable moment on faith, prayer, and belief. Jesus could just as easily have said to the fig tree, “Feed my followers,” similar to His miracle with feeding the five thousand. How amazing and satisfying it would have been to see the fig tree branches heavy laden with large, ripe, and delicious figs practically popping into the hands and pockets of His apostles.  Yet seeking to more than quiet the noise of their empty bellies, Christ adjured His followers to have faith in God the Father, who will answer when we pray with belief that God is for us. Christ tells us that this is so. What now should we believe?

Faith does move mountains; prayer is a powerful change agent; and belief in the salvation of Christ is how the tough will stay committed to seeing this earthly walk with God all the way through. Romans 11:33 declares, “Oh, the depth of the riches of both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” So when the going gets tough, the tough should really get down on their knees. “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever,” (Romans 11:36).

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Job, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, Old Testament, Romans, Uncategorized

Job 8-11; Revelation 12

Human suffering is wrong. We are not made for it and yet it is a tangible reminder that things are not right with the world and points to something, someone beyond our understanding…God.  The unwelcome twins, Grief and Pain settle in with Job and refuse to leave. It’s a full body-mind assault 24/7 and brings him to the very edge of life. Even his wife begs him to put an end to his suffering, “Curse God and die,” but he can’t. His belief that God hears his pleas and is somehow good and just beyond his meager understanding serves as the thin thread that keeps him hanging on.

Job can not look to his righteousness and intellect to save him, “But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” Job 9:2-4.

 The God who created the universe and continues to provide life and breath withholds healing. Job may feel a million miles away from God, but that doesn’t change the reality of His existence: “When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.” Job 9:11.

 But then Job asks, if not prays, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it is now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:33-35.

Job’s seemingly rhetorical questions prove to be prophetic. The great arbitrator, the Messiah comes and takes on the curse intended for all mankind. I don’t have to suffer the consequences of my sin. Jesus goes to the Cross and his Resurrection breaks the power of sin and death over us. Once a stranger,  I am invited into the very presence of God having been made clean by the righteousness of Jesus.

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10.

 The evil spell is broken. In this world, I will know pain, grief and sorrow, but because I hold on to Jesus, I will never be separated from God. He endured that separation, so I would never have to. I am always invited, always welcomed into God’s presence. Short and sweet, God wins.

Dear Father,  thank you there is so much more to life than what I see and understand. Thank you, Jesus for taking up my sin and shame and making me whole so that I am learning what it means to enjoy the Father’s presence. Let suffering and pain remind me that I am made for your Kingdom. Today Holy Spirit, with my feet firmly planted in this world, show me how to live as a citizen of your country, under your authority and free from the accusations of the enemy. Your word is the last word and stands forever. Amen

 Kathy

 

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Job, Revelation, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 20, Psalm 107, Isaiah 47, & Revelation 17

Think you are in control?  It may be an illusion.  What we see from our viewpoint is only the outline of the picture; the shadings of meaning have yet to be sketched.  Perhaps that is why God is so absolute.  So exact.  He speaks His truth – words that hold this world in space and its beings in time. How can we see His plan? For instance, in war God is not concerned about numbers. It is an illusion to believe that a multitude of enemies outnumber those who call Him Lord.  Most of us cannot see or feel the angelic presence of God’s mighty army that shadows the people whom God protects.  Also, through devastating storms of personal tragedy we are borne and over dried, cracked ground of fearful thoughts our feet are led, often unaware of Him who is coloring in the details of future hope.  

As Psalm 107 declares, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”  If we would only see with a clear eye.

When asking why all this pain, it doesn’t help to look at the canvass of another.  Seeing those green pastures, fine houses, and carefree expressions as you pass by may pick your heart and cause you to say, “What’s fair about that?”  Perhaps, though this is just another illusion, a pretty picture on the outside, static and still.  What have we to do with that?  It’s the difference between buying a framed landscape to hang on the wall and purchasing real estate on which to build a house.  The latter demands our focused attention.

Our daily life is often a battle of good over evil, but we are called chosen and faithful who walk with Christ Jesus.  The illusion of peace for the multitude who do not know God’s plan is the weapon of deception that will blind them to the bright hope of redemption.  Yet, the mind which has wisdom is in the person whose trained eye sees past the drawn images of this fading life and immerses himself in the completed portrait of the body of Christ.

Church, layman, pastor, leader, parishoner, sinner – we are all called to seek meaning in the mysterious images of our times, our own image a colorful impression in God’s art. As the song proclaimes,”I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. “

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Genesis 28; Matthew 27; Esther 4; Acts 27

Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.  Genesis 28:16

Christian or not, there are times in life when it would appear that God is nowhere to be found.  For me, one of those times was during my acute care internship at a large university hospital.  Fresh out of the suburbs,  having just finished the academic portion of my education and newly married,  I found myself working in  various intensive care units of this teaching hospital.  To say it was intimidating is an understatement. Never before had I seen how far a human body could be punished and broken and still maintain a tenuous grip on life. Sometimes it was the result of disease or accident;  other times, the result of violence.  The pain and suffering of patients and their loved ones (if they had someone holding vigil for them) were excruciating.

Type A me was struggling at my internship and my clinical instructor told me that I should have chosen a different field of work.  I was full of selfdoubt and ashamed that perhaps I had just wasted my parents money and the last four years of my life pursuing a path with a dead end.  The peace of God alluded me and in stepped my Esther in the place least expected.

She was a new bride and her husband was a patient of mine in the ICU.  He had sustained a massive head injury and high level spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident.  He had been on life support for a month, was unresponsive and the prognosis was poor. He looked nothing like the beautiful young man she had fallen in love with.  I came in twice a day to treat him and when I did, she and I talked.  This went on for a couple of weeks.

At the end of the long day in which my clinical instructor had  suggested I find a new line of work,  I took a few moments to have a good cry in the privacy of a garden outside the hospital. I felt alone and forgotten by God amongst forsaken, suffering people.  Who should find me, but my patient’s wife. God showed up in the new bride of a dying man to speak words of vision and encouragement. The irony of her consoling me! The internship didn’t become easier, but knowing that God heard my prayers and answered them through this woman dramatically changed my understanding of who He is. It gave me the strength to stay the course.

We are no different from Jacob.  God is always present, but when our eyes are finally open to it, we are changed.  We need to be like the people of Israel and sit around the fire (or computer) and tell one another stories of  how God has opened our eyes to his presence. We can share how He has provided Esthers in our lives. We will be strengthened for the days to come.

Kathy

Addendum:  It’s thirty years later and I have saved a letter from my garden friend.  Here’s her closing line, “And don’t get too busy to remember to live and enjoy that husband, ok!”  I take take that advice to heart.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew

Psalm 123, Psalm 124, Psalm 125, 2 Thessalonians 3

Our soul is exceedingly filled With the scorn of those who are at ease, With the contempt of the proud. Psalm 123:4 

When men rose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us; Psalm 124:2-3

 Even from those “who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.” 2 Thessalonians 3:11

 Read – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ps%20123,124,125;%202Thes3&version=NKJV

             This is the pain I sometimes feel when people, close and far, are being lazy, selfish, wasting time and hard against God’s agenda and the things of the Lord Jesus Christ, “for not all have faith.” 

             At times I wonder, am I working hard enough? Am I keeping on Jesus’ agenda? Am I bringing enough glory to our Lord Jesus Christ? Can I do more for my Master Jesus according to His Word by His Holy Spirit? 1 “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” 2

            Jesus didn’t call me to be lazy or apathetic in my walk with Him, but to follow close after His Heels. Jesus of Nazareth was a mover and shaker for 3 years by being intensely connected in prayer with His Father, Who is my Father. 1 

             “So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He has mercy on us“ and He gives us His Wisdom, Perspective and Power to have His “will be done On earth as it is in heaven”. I need it every moment. 1

             If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…Blessed be the Lord…not given us as prey to their teeth. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  Psalm 124:1, 6, 8

             Using Jesus’ Vision Glasses, I can overlook what is NOT my mission field, I can pray for them all the same, and then move with diligence into the strategic areas my Commander Jesus has laid out for me for His Handiwork to be done.

             By the Lord Jesus’ training me and being aware that “the scepter of wickedness shall not rest” during my lifetime, I know that – “Those who trust in the Lord …cannot be moved, but abides forever.”

            Dear Reader, Would you please pray for me, yourself, and everyone in God’s Army “that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified“? 

            Jesus, I am glad You dwell within me. 3 You knew it would take that much to make me be able to obey You, out of gratitude and love. Without Your Presence, Word and Holy Spirit, I can do nothing. 1

But the Lord is faithful, Who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 

             Jesus, as I “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to” the Word of God, only as You lead I shall lovingly “admonish him as a brother” and trust it really is Your work by Your Holy Spirit to change his/her heart for You and Your Good purposes. Please awaken the Body of Christ so they will feed on Your Word and You will accomplish many good things through them and be Glorified for before You return.  

            Thank You for Your encouragement Jesus of Nazareth. I need it so I will “not grow weary in doing good.”  Lord Jesus, I Love You, I Adore You and I Worship You, Forever!  – For Your purpose and glory alone!!

1- Colossians 3:23-24; Luke 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 14:5; Matthew 6:10; John 15:1-11

2- Luke 12:48

3 – 1 Corinthians 6:19

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 2 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized