Tag Archives: trials

Live with a Vision!

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On the surface God’s power is not always visible, but the person of faith knows that God is there, no matter what!1

After all…

 

His glory covered the heavens,

And the earth was full of His praise.

His brightness was like the light;

He had rays flashing from His hand,

And there His power was hidden.

Before Him went pestilence,

And fever followed at His feet.  

(Habakkuk 3:4,5)

One can persevere by living with a vision1. If you had a vision of a savior that could do this: 

He looked and startled the nations.

And the everlasting mountains were scattered,

The perpetual hills bowed….

The mountains saw You and trembled;

The overflowing of the water passed by.

The deep uttered its voice,And lifted its hands on high.

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;

At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

(Habakkuk 3: 6, 10, 11)

But then, when you heard the voice of the almighty this happened:

My body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice;

Rottenness entered my bones;

And I trembled in myself,

That I might rest in the day of trouble.

(Habakkuk 3:16)

“Looking back at how God brought me through”

But I remembered how you have brought me through before so I declared: 

Though the fig tree may not blossom,

Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,

And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,

And there be no herd in the stalls—

 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;

He will make my feet like deer’s feet,

And He will make me walk on my high hills.

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.

Love, Ms. B

1. Goldstein, C.R. Remembering God’s Fame. Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.Pacific Press Publishing Association, Idaho. p.68.2013.

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading on attitude adjustment. It’s all about taking your focus off your circumstances and putting them on God’s grace. It’s about being responsible for and taking control of all your thoughts. It’s about being grateful for every unseen mercy and every blessing God has bestowed on us. And sometimes it’s about removing yourself from a situation that is bringing out the worst in you. As such I share this quote:

“Suffering only has meaning provided that the suffering is unavoidable. If it is avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is to remove its cause for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If on the other hand one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering, he can still choose his attitude”

Victor Frankl, Jew, neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor

Check out a really short old post on this topic: God’s trial or my trial

Angie

Suffering

Psalm 151

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Open Bible

If I could write a Psalm, it would go something like this…

I thank You Lord for the breath of life. I pray for your peace in my waking hours, and your comfort as I sleep; for my rest is in the Lord. 3 You are my light, my joy and my strength. Your Word is truth; You will not forsake me. Though I am raked through this trial, You will not let go of my hand. 6 You will pull me through with abundant blessings. Lord, help me to rejoice in suffering, knowing it is for my benefit, and to fulfill Your good and perfect plan. Help me to surrender my anxiety and fear and acknowledge Your presence. For You are a merciful God, and Your timing is perfect; You have divinely designed this season. 10 Grant me the patience to endure, and the wisdom to accept Your gift of growth. 11 Expand my faith Lord, so I will not lose sight of You. 12 Let me not be deceived by my emotions, for they do not determine the truth. 13 For you will never separate youself from your servant. 14 Your love is everlasting; Your peace is perfect; Your wisdom is truth. 15 Stay close to me Lord; Fill me with Your Word; Help me to believe and obey. 16 You are worthy of praise.
 
 
Angie

Waiting on God

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shadows and reflections

There always comes a time in life where you have to wait on God. Whether it’s waiting for a result, waiting for a directive or waiting through a season. Waiting on God is not easy. It’s hard to let go of the reins, it’s hard to wait for a long time for a sign and it’s hard to resist the temptation to just do it your own way. Here are a few of the thoughts I had about waiting on God.

  1. Joy, patience and prayer I’ve been waiting (very reluctantly I might add) through a challenging season. I was talking to my mum yesterday and she said to me “If you say you are trusting God, then you are flying in his face when you walk around moping. So look on the bright side. Even though the message may hurt sometimes, God is in it and he is allowing it for a reason”. And it’s true. I am not really trusting God if I continue to worry and cry and be miserable just because God wants to teach me something through a painful situation.

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12It’s no coincidence that while I was at church, praying or reading my Bible, I always felt better. I was only using one of the three elements of the above verse. Despite remaining prayerful, I was letting my self be unjoyful and impatient with God. I thank God that my faithless attitude was not making my prayers ineffective, but I’m sure if I continue with this negative mindset my prayers would have become faithless and go unanswered.

  2. Relinquish control In the early days, when Abram was over 75 years old (Gen 12:4), God promised him he would have an heir (Gen 15:4). Years had passed and Abram’s wife Sarai remained barren so she suggested that he sleep with her maidservant Hagar. I believe that Sarai did not doubt God’s promise to Abram, but she didn’t believe she was the one to fulfil it and therefore tried to fulfil God’s plans her own way. Confusion is what came out of this situation: Hagar despised Sarai (v.4), Sarai mistreated Hagar (v.6), Hagar and her son Ishmael were sent away (Gen 21: 8-11) and the whole matter distressed Abra(ha)m. All this could have been avoided if they had just let God work His plan. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33) and would therefore be clear in what part he requires you to play if any.
  3. God’s time is not your time Still on the above example, Abraham and Sarah were over 100 and 90 years old when the true heir Isaac was born (Gen 17:1, Gen 17:17, Gen 21). This is after almost two decades since that promise was made! God may promise you something now and he is faithful, but he will only fulfill the promise when He knows you are ready for it. God also reminds us not to be anxious while we wait, and again to pray and give thanks during our season.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

So these were just a few of the things I want to keep in mind this week and I hope these reminders have helped you out as well. No matter what you are going through trust God, and don’t just have faith, be faithful!

God bless,

Angie

Related articles
Let go and let God – a survivor who found a blessing in cancer
Five Things I Have Learned Waiting on God (reflectionsofgracehome.wordpress.com)
When God Says, “Wait” (theinnersoulofme.wordpress.com)
How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard (ptl2010.com)

Jars of clay

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English: pots made of clay.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you would have noticed that I’ve been writing a lot this past few weeks. The truth is I’ve been going through a very difficult situation with a close friend of mine. It has been a really low point in my life and only by God’s grace can I wake up everyday and still function.

So when I can’t sleep, or am tired of crying, I research and I write. Based on some of the responses I’ve got, people have been blessed by what I have to say, and I thank God for that despite the pain I myself am going through.

Today at church, the speaker discussed 2 Corinthians ch. 4. What particularly touched me was verse 7.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Cor 4:7.

The treasure Paul was referring to was God’s word. What he was saying was that his ministry wasn’t about him but was about God. Paul considered himself just a jar of clay, a servant, carrying the gospel to the world. The symbolism was fantastic. Think of a clay jar: functional yet fragile, possibly cracked, not necessarily a work of art.

I was so attracted to this message from God. These past few weeks I have felt so broken. If I was not working, exercising or praying, I was crying …. or writing. But like a clay jar, through my cracks, the light of God was able to shine to bless others. It’s amazing that God can still use me despite my flaws and despite my constant struggle with keeping faith that my situation will work out in time. I am not a special person, I am a regular person just like you. I have done things I am ashamed of but God’s forgiveness is real and He can use me and you even at the lowest points in our lives…

Keep your head up,

Angie

Why God, why?

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Last week one of my co-workers asked me how my parents were taking the death of my sibling. I told her that they are coping well and their faith in God has really helped deal with the tragedy. She then said to me “But you have to ask, why would God take someone so young?”. My response was a simple smile and a pointed “I do not question God”. She looked at me as if I was foolish and moved along. It probably would sound like foolishness to many people, this “blind faith” that even the death of a loved one is part of God’s master plan. In fact, a defense for unbelief in God is often “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

A Silhouette of Sadness

Humility

When everything is going perfectly in your life, it is tempting to forget those blessings are only by God’s grace. Often we have the best intentions: we work hard and are rewarded with success and we believe it is by our own enterprising that this success is manifest. We forget that the ability to work hard in the first place is facilitated by God. We become blinded by pride in our own efforts.

God’s chosen people  were allowed to wander in the desert for 40 years because God needed them to be humble when they received their blessing. He did not do this out of spite:

17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deut 8:17-18

The Apostle Paul also spoke of the thorn given to him to keep him humble. Paul was a well-educated man, his ministry was very successful, and he had many supporters:

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:6-9

Tests and rewards

Sometimes God chooses to test our faith. Take the story of Job. Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). He was also blessed with many possessions and a large family. Job had nothing to be upset at God for and every reason to praise him. God allowed Satan to test Job, to see if he was just a fair-weather believer.

10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job 1:10

After losing his 10 children and all his livestock and receiving sores all over his body, Job says to his wife. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). This attitude is one we must strive to keep in the bad times. Job kept his faith through his suffering and God rewarded him:

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part… Job 42:12

We must take the good with the bad, and know that God will not forsake us in the end.

There are no good people

Many references in God’s word confirm that there is no such thing as “good” people.

… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23

We must never think of ourselves as “good” and therefore undeserving of hardships or trials. In fact, since we are not good we should rightly ask God why he allows good things to happen to bad people like us!

Self-inflicted

Now that we’ve established that there are no “good” people, it’s simpler to see that sometimes bad things are a judgement for sin. Take the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They knowlingly tried to steal from God and lied about it when questioned. As a result, they were struck down dead for their sin.

Often our bad decisions (i.e. disobedience to God) gets us in places of suffering. We need to be honest with ourselves sometimes about why we are going through some rough times. Is it God’s trial or our consequences?

Display God’s power

It’s not always the case that one suffers because of some sin. For example, take the occasion of the man blind from birth that Jesus healed:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3

This was truly a miracle, for the man never saw anything in his life, so it was not a simple reversal of some sickness but an entire new creation of sight in the man. God could be using your hardship as a testimony of his love.

In conclusion, it is unthinkable that God could do wrong; And we could never know all of God’s ways and intentions unless he specifically reveals them to us. It’s therefore left for us to trust God, and have unwavering faith in times of depravity and suffering.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.

Finally, Christians must remember that faith in Jesus Christ may not guarantee a “good life” and definitely does not guarantee a life with no suffering. However, we are certain in the hope of a perfect eternity.

God bless,

Angie

More on this: Questioning God

Surviving hurt in relationships

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A friend of mine recently found out her fiancé had an affair and decided to call off the wedding. One thing I admired was how strong and faithful she remained. I remember, when one of my exes cheated on me, how much I blamed myself. Ugly thoughts inundated my mind. She’s so slim and beautiful and fun. You’re so blah – boring, unattractive and fat. No wonder he wanted to be with her… Honestly, there were times I wanted to go further than emotional self-hurt. I wanted to physically hurt myself. It was a low point in my life and out of shame, I did not talk to anyone for a long time. Eventually, after many nights of secret tears, I turned to the Word. I wanted the reassurance that no (hu)man should make me feel this way when my perfect God has my back.

Human: “God please protect me”
*Stone hits him*
Human: “Why God, why?”
*Turns around to see Jesus protecting him from a storm of stones*
Jesus: “I’m sorry, did I miss one? Are you alright?”

You are not worthless

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Cor 16:19-20

I had to remind myself that thought I didn’t deserve it, God allowed the death of His Son so that I could have eternal life. No one is worthless to God because this gift is for everyone who will receive it.

God cares for you, the individual you

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Matt 10:29

There are countless sparrows on the Earth yet God has ensured us that every single one of them is cared for. We are more than sparrows. Not one of us will fall without God knowing. He knows your hurt. He knows your entire history. Sometimes it’s tempting to think God isn”t compassionate about our human problems:

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

You may not know the answer, but God does.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

We are not  privy to the knowledge of our future or how the situation will turn out. We don’t know what worse hurt God is saving us when we do hurt. But God assures us that he already knows and he has promised us that his plans are not for us to eternally suffer. This does not mean Christians are promised lives with no suffering. Even the Apostle Paul suffered so that he will not become self-sufficient and forget that God is the source of his strength and wisdom.

… in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Cor 12:7

Sometimes these trials are necessary for the growth of our character. How do we learn if we are never tested. How do we remind ourselves of God’s Word if we are never asked to use it.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Do not be foolish

A deeper meaning to the following verse was revealed to me:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”… Psalm 53:1

I always thought this was directed at atheists/agnostics. But this message is for Christians too. When you disobey God, doubt God, curse God, you are essentially proclaiming in your heart that there is no God. Though in your mind you know God exists, you do not proclaim this in your actions when you say or do things that are outside God’s message about us.

Anyway, these are just a sampling of the messages from God helping us to realize that these times will pass, we will heal, we must keep the faith when the going gets rough!

God bless,

Angie

P.S. I’ve touched on different aspects of this topic in God’s trial or my trial? and Confessions Part II

The invitation

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Beep… Beep…. Beep…

It was so regular, that beeping that meant he was still alive. It wasn’t supposed to end like this, she thought. No, not “end”. Don’t think like that!

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It wasn’t a typical Friday night. She wasn’t at home eating alone. He asked her to come with him.

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“You’ll like it, it’s a surprise!”

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She hadn’t had anyone care enough to surprise her, at least not a good surprise. They put lard in her locker at school. They put discounts for camping stores in her bag with accusing yellow post-its: “Tent is the only size you wear”. They nicknamed her Shibo. It was a pretty creative insult, she thought. Probably someone into anime coined it.

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He picked her up. He didn’t comment when the car dipped as she got in. Instead he said “You look nice”. He drove for what seemed like 30 minutes and then he stopped in front of a small chapel. The lights were on. She could hear singing.

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He said “We’re a little late, but better late than never”.

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He opened the door, they walked up the aisle to the front. People from school – there’s Shannon, the paraplegic, and Brent the geekiest guy ever, and Catherine. What is Catherine doing here? She sells herself to guys. She doesn’t belong here. What is this?

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The singing stopped and the leader started to speak.

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“I asked my youth group to be fishers of men. I said to them, invite someone, anyone that they probably never even said more than “hi” to. Just walk up to them and ask them to join us tonight for Bible study…”

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Her mind wandered… The Bible? There is nothing in there for me. I’m fat and ugly and unforgivable… look at him, he’s so handsome… intelligent… perfect.

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The leader continued “Most of you believe God exists, but don’t think he has anything for you…”

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Does he exist? What God would give me this life…

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“But God sent his Son Jesus to die for anyone that will accept him as their Saviour and Lord…”

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Anyone? Even me…

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“Let us sing…”

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He leaned over and whispered to her “Surprise!”

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He’s so close to me. Is this a trick. Why would anyone care for me?

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On the way home he asked her what she thought. She didn’t make a commitment but she was willing to come back next week. She had a tract clutched in her thick fingers.

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“That was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Thank you.”

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Beep… beep… beep

How did this happen she thought to herself. It was four weeks since that Friday night. Tonight was the night she accepted Jesus Christ as her saviour. She had just stepped out his car, before not even thirty seconds passed when she heard the crash.

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She prayed simply : Lord, I…  I don’t know what this means. You said not one sparrow will fall unless it’s Your will…. Lord, he is so much more than a sparrow to me… please … help…

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Beep… beep… beep

-~-:-~-

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Hey everyone, 

This is my first try at some fiction. I hope you liked the story. Thanks for reading.

Angie

Negative vibes

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Last week, while I was working out, my mind wandered  (as it often does these days) about my status at graduate school…

My supervisor is very challenging to work with, I am not excited about my research, I have been rejected for every academic award I have ever applied for in the past 4 years, and there have been days where I have considered quitting my Ph.D. program altogether.

As I  refocussed  on my  bench press set, I surprised myself with how much more than usual that I could lift. My self-proclaimed superhuman feat made sense when I remembered that I did a set of negatives the week before.

In Amp up your workout! I touched briefly on the idea, but as a reminder, negatives are reps where you focus on the lowering part of a muscle contraction (e.g. the lowering movement in a push up or pull up).

Typically, negatives:

  1. require a spotter to help on the positive movement,
  2. are done with more weight than a regular repetition, and
  3. take discipline and focus as you perform the negative movement slowly and carefully.
Suddenly I had an epiphany…

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God is my spotter, these trials are more negatives than I’m used to, and  with discipline and focus I can handle more in the future!

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I felt like God spoke to me that day. And it’s not as if He didn’t tell me before…
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2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

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…and furthermore it’s not as if I didn’t write on the topic of trials recently (God’s trial or my trial?).
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I was so thankful God got me thinking again about how I am handling my “negatives” outside of the gym. In fact, I’m pleased to announce that this week I found out I was awarded an academic fellowship for my next academic year!
How great is our God and His impecable timing! He is definitely my #1 spotter!
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Blessings and negative vibes,

Angie