Sweetarts in Life (2 Samuel 19:4-6)


Do you remember your childhood favorite candies. One of mine was Sweetarts. I remember when they came out. They were a two inch disk that packed the best of both worlds in candy: sweetness and tartness. This candy reminds me much about life: it is filled with sweet events and also events that are tart. Things have changed since then: both my tastes and also the size of the candy, but life is still the same.

For the believer, blessing and sorrow come in the same package, it is in times of deepest hurt and sorrow when God will be present to strengthen and comfort you. The problem for many is that because their focus is so much on the hurt and sorrow, they fail to recognize God’s presence or working in their lives. David experienced just such an event.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 2 Samuel 19:4-6

He sorrowed so greatly over the loss of his son that he failed to see his victory blessing and the goodness of the Lord in the people that supported him.

As you face difficulties in your life such as financial strain, an unwanted diagnosis or any type of loss, remember that the event–as a two sided coin–has more that one aspect to it. Trials and struggles will come, but the Lord has promised always to be present with you even in the midst of the struggle and he promises to see that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

What you can do as you face trials is to stop and pray to the Lord. Acknowledge that you know he allowed this event to occur and you believe that he wants to work and manifest his presence in the trial. Pray for him to guide you and to help you recognize his workings. Rest assured: although it may take time, he will answer your prayer.

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Be All That You Should Be


Have you ever lived in the shadow of a parent or an elder sibling? If so, you constantly strove to either be like them or to overcome their accomplishments. As you may have discovered, it is a very frustrating way to live. What you or those people need is to be yourselves. This problem happens with so many people in the world, but it also happens in the spiritual lives of many.

You are what you are because it is what God is making you to be. If You follow him and allow him to work his will, he will continue to work in your life to make you exactly as he planned. You should not allow others to force upon you what they think you should be, what they want you to be or even what they may need you to be. Your goal should be to dwell in Christ and allow God by grace to work in your life and produces fruit as he sees fit.

As always, sin can destroy you and God’s plan. You can escape it’s clutch by heeding to God’s word. (Psalm 119:9). You cannot do this in your own power, but as you recognize your weakness and look to God for strength, he will deliver you from the temptation.

Trials and difficulties will come, but you must recognize them as God’s instruments for pruning and cultivating you so as to grow and produce more fruit. Each day, you should grow more in his likeness and whatever that may be, it will make you be what you are and that will be according to his plan.

Praise Can Be Difficult (Psalm 34:1)

Some people today have received the heart breaking news that a loved one has passed away. Others may be under the heavy burden of finances or the obligations of work. Children may be a blessing from the Lord, but as you raise them, they may make decisions that absolutely devastate your life. With life as difficult as it is, is it outlandish to think that God wants us to continually praise him?

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalms 34:1)

In order for praise to continually be in your mouth, you must have a biblical perspective of life. You must recognize that God wants to use situations in your life to either develop or display your faith. When you have this perspective on life, trials and blessings are recognized as instruments for God’s glory. Remember, how you see life determines how you respond to it.

To praise is to boast. True praise boasts on the goodness of God and it has two purposes: to magnify the Lord and to encourage others to do the same. It is intended to be public so that others will hear. When you praise the Lord, you not only magnify him, but you solicited others to do the same.

My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. (Psalms 34:2)

Praise is not an attitude that you can just conjure up. It results from acts of trust. Throughout the Psalm, David declares the works that the Lord has done for him. Occasions of deliverance, hearing of prayers and encouragements all resulted from him trusting the Lord and because of them, praise flowed from his lips.

As you face difficult trials in your life, turn your heart to the Lord. Yield yourself to whatever he wants to accomplish and as you do, his spirit will guide your heart to the treasures that he has in store and enable you to praise him.

Loving the God We Cannot See (1 Peter 1:8)

Love: a word used so freely today, but what does it mean? True love is the desire that a person has to meet the needs of another without expecting to receive anything in return. With that, a great question arises. Can you love someone with whom you have never met face-to-face? 

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:8)

The answer is simple. You can love someone that you have never seen, but only if you have had the opportunity to interact with them.

In the early 20th century, a man in America, named Charles, began to correspond with the young woman, named Minnie, who lived on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Their many letters shared the events of their lives: their likes, dislikes, problems and struggles. The letters also contained hopes, dreams and passions. All the time as the letters were shared something began to happen. Each began to be concerned for the other and desired to be with them so that they may experience life together: to share, help, care and love. They fell in love and one day, decided to marry. They never met face-to-face until the day that she came off of the ship on America’s shore. To them, it didn’t matter what the other person looked like: they knew each other and recognized the beauty that each possessed within. Several decades later, I met them and marveled at their story of love.

We too can love someone that we have never met face-to-face. Through our interactions with the Lord, we can experience him in times of trials and testing. The words that he has recorded for us speak to our hearts and encourage us in the deepest of struggles. When sorrow comes, only his words bring comfort. When others have rejected and cast us out, his words of love and the promise to always be with us draw our hearts close to him. When nobody understands or cares, he does and he tells us to cast our cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). When we are confused and searching for direction, he sheds light on our path to brighten the way. Each of these interactions bring us into a greater understanding of the person who saved us and through it all we begin to love him. 

One day, we will embark off of the ship on eternities shore and will take part in the marriage between Jesus and his church. But until then, our hearts rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory all because we know and love this person that we have never seen.  

Our Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

In 1993, my father passed away. There were a few items that he owned, which were special to me. One item was a jewelry box. I can remember it as far back as my memory can recall. In it, he kept his cufflinks and some small change. When you open the lid, a song played an a figurine popped up and spun around. Not long after his passing, it was given to me. Occasionally, I lift the lid and listen to the music. When I do this, my heart stirs as it remembers him. To me the inheritance is of great value. 

I have another inheritance that I received for my other father, the Lord God. This inheritance is so special and it isn’t anything like the jewelry box, which has painted that is faded and flaking away. This inheritance will not decay, fade, or change from its purest state. I am assured of this because God said that this inheritance is reserved or guarded for me in heaven. I father has big plans and he isn’t going to allow anything to change or defile my inheritance.

Times may change and the world may continue to slip away into greater corruption as they embrace every low form of morality and living. It may appear as if everything right is wrong and the wrong of this world is right. Times may be troublesome on the Earth, but not in Heaven. Remember, God has a plan for you and your inheritance in Heaven is guarded and remains the same. One day, we will experience all that he has for us and only then can we fully recognize that what we endured for him was worth it all.

Guaranteed! So instead of focusing on what is happening around you, focus on him and set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Fainted and Scattered (Matthew 9:36)

It is not difficult for anyone to see that the lives of so many people today are just a mess. How did they get this way? Why don’t they just get it together and do whatever needs to be done?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

From this passage, it appears that people become weak in life’s struggle and instead of continuing to fight on, they relax their resistance and faint. When this occurs, the person’s life then becomes subject to the problems and trials of life. Their lives get tossed about from side to side being cast about and cast down. This does not occur as a result of the weakness of the individual, because none of us have the ability to stand against the enemy. This occurs because of the absence of a shepherd in the person’s life. Sometimes there is not a shepherd because salvation has not yet been experienced, but other times it is because the person becomes estranged from their shepherd savior. Whether it be by confusion of doctrine, ill treatment from those in the body of Christ, person hurts and losses or sin: the separation occurs.

Today there are countless believers tossed about. They are away from their shepherd and the way to bring them back into the fold is to love them back. Bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2) is the act of you bringing your strength to those who are weak until they can once again gain the strength for living that can only come from their shepherd.

Refuge for the Oppressed (Psalm 9:9-11)


Events in your life can be difficult. There are times when these events make you feel crushed, injured or afflicted. Maybe it was the notice you receive in the mail. The phone call reporting the auto accident or the talk that you had with your doctor. Each of these challenges that you may face has you crushed in on all sides. Each thought of the event is as if a whip was afflicting its cruel punishment upon your injured soul. There appears to be no way out.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalm 9:9-10)

But God…think of it. Where else could a person go? The Psalmist says that God is our refuge. He is that cleft high up on the rocky cliff. Nothing can reach us there because it is too high to scale. In that cleft of the rock, we are safe. In the midst of our trials, we take refuge in Christ. Physically we are in the same place, but God lifts our hearts above the turmoil that is oppressing and afflicting us.  

During the troublesome times, it is difficult to recognize God’s presence. He is there and ever present to help us in times of need, but in order for him to work, we must reach out with our souls and cling to him and him alone for help. Trusting is difficult: a war takes place in the soul between faith and fear. Fear will always be present, but we trust God when we exercise our faith over our fear. 

All would agree that the best part of a trial is when it is over. The money problem is solved. The wayward child returns. The medical treatment was a success. The relationship was restored. But It isn’t so great because the event has ended. It is great because we can use our experience with God to encourage and guide others.

Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. (Psalm 9:11)
Trials in life will come, but God wants to bring you through those trials and when they are over, work his aid to others through you.  

With God, you can do this.