Monday, June 23, 2014

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Living Out the Word in Your Life

          To gain a full understanding of the impact of this story, I ask you to first read two of my previous stories: “The Journey Is Important” and “The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength” (written just yesterday).  All three, including this present story, are based on my personal life experience.  Together, they could be viewed as a part of a daily spiritual journal, rather like a daily diary, except the focus is meant to be on God and not on self.  Come join with me once again and let us experience together the reality of the scripture, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”

          I’m sure that all of us would agree that God is so good all the time.  Yet, sometimes I know I get so boggled down in the daily routine of just living life that it seems as though I am much more aware of “me” than I am of the greatness of “Him” in my life.  I can’t express the utter wonder, excitement, and amazement that stirs within my soul when moments occur which seem as though He has just walked in the door of my heart for a personal one on one visit.   He softly shuts the door behind Him, closing the two of us off from the distractions of the world outside.  It’s not as though He wasn’t there all along, but somehow I am more aware of His presence.  He pulls up a chair right in front of me making it comfortable for us to look into each others eyes.  He’s so close that our knees are almost touching, and from time to time He reaches out to hold my hand and speak even more intently to my heart.  He’s so real and near that nothing else exists.  It’s as if He’s saying, “Come on Honey, let’s sit over here together and just you and I have a little time together.”

          I’m sure you too have experienced such moments.  In a past story, I spoke of a time when I was sitting on the bedside of my oldest son when he was only about eight years old.  We held hands as we joined in prayer together.  Just moments into our prayer, my son had a smile on his face and he began to giggle.  I stopped praying for a moment to ask him what was funny.  He said, “You’re talking like He’s really standing right there.”  It was one of those precious moments when I actually did ‘feel’ His presence so near, and the way I spoke had conveyed that feeling to the tender heart of my young son.  

          This morning was another one of those precious moments, except that I wasn’t aware of it until our conversation was practically ended, and then it happened.  I had intended to do more studying to prepare for continuing a paper I had previously started on the subject of “What Manner of Man Am I.”  As I delved into II Corinthians, a scripture seemed to leap out of the page and into my heart, as if it just burst into life. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t read it before.  In fact, it had already been highlighted in some previous time.  I’m sure it must have spoken a message to my heart more than once before.  This time however, it was used to give to me a more personal message, for He was using it to show me how His word had been used once again in my own stories, and I had not even realized it until the day after I had written the story.  I don’t know, maybe it won’t seem like such a big thing to others.  Maybe it’s just one of those personal moments meant only to have significance between the Lord and me.  Yet, knowing the reality of the phrase, “what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you,” I take the opportunity to share this story with you.

          I now digress to tell you of how this had already happened at least once before.  My brother was used of the Lord to reveal this to me.  This past Feb. my brothers and sisters came down for our annual gathering.  My older brother and his wife were housed in our youngest son’s camper or the castle as they call it, which is parked in our back yard.  Most every morning, my brother would sit on the back porch with my husband, and they would have a glorious time searching and ‘arguing’ the scriptures together.  This kind of arguing is not the kind ordinarily thought of, but rather is an exercise in rooting out the meaning and understanding of the deeper morsels, intricacies, and tidbits of knowledge found in the scriptures.  For some this might have been perceived to be too tedious or maybe even a bit contentious at times, but for them it is a search for greater enlightenment, not just for head knowledge but for the joy of learning from the Lord.  I’ve seen that excited look on each of their faces, as each has come to me with a smile on their face and a little giggle on their lips saying, “Look what I have found!”  It’s so neat to see what it does to others when they too have been sitting alongside Jesus to “spend a little time with Him.” 

          My brother was presently involved in the study of the book of Hebrews for the purpose of preparing lessons to teach to his Sunday school class.   During such times, he often finds it useful to bounce his findings off the ears of others.  Knowing how we all look forward to being recipients of his teaching, he held a daily Sunday school class, inviting all interested persons to come and take part.  Under his tutelage, we were not just to be vessels to receive, but were expected to be contributors during the lesson, submitting our own questions and thoughts as we may have personally gleaned from the scriptures. Oh that we all lived closer together so we could indulge in such glorious times more often.  Through this group study, Jimmy imparted to us the overview of Hebrews as a book which teaches about the growth of each believer as we seek to become more mature in the Lord.  The maturation process doesn’t take place by accident, but takes place over a lifetime as we learn to submit our will and spirit to the will of God, through the transforming power of the word by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, it’s the communing of our spirit with the Spirit of God as He works within us to continue to complete the good work that He began in us when we were born again.    As a result of one of our study times together, for some reason, I shared with them one of my previous writings, “The Journey Is Important.”  After reading it, my brother said, “Ginger, this is your own personal life story exemplifying the process of maturing in the Lord as taught in the book of Hebrews.”  He added that  this process is not completed on earth, but rather when we are with the Lord when He gives unto us a glorified body.  This insight that he shared about my writing, and its relationship to the working out of the word in my life, was like a special gift from the Lord.  It wasn’t a thing that I perceived to be as flattery to me, but rather as a ray of sunlight meant to glorify God and His wondrous work.  It is one of those times in which He shows His mighty love towards each and every one of us. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we serve such a great and mighty God, and yet He takes the time to show His care and concern for each and every one of His children, as if you or I were His only child?  His love is so great that it can not be taken in and understood all at once.  Sometimes, due to the limits of my own humanity, I catch a little glimpse of His all consuming love.  Then there are other moments, like this insight from my brother and then again today, His love seems to come gushing into my life with the power of the rushing water of a mighty waterfall, overwhelming my heart with joy unspeakable.  My excitement is so great, I feel like his joy is going to start pouring out of every pore of my body, creating its own minute waterfall.   In my excitement, I want to shout, “Look everyone, did you see what God just did?”  You don’t want to hide this wonderful Lord.  It makes you feel just like a little kid who rushes up to anyone and everyone, expressing what he thinks is the greatest news ever, assuming that all are going to be just as excited as he is when they too hear such fantastic news. It reminds of the song that repeats over and over again, “I Gotta Tell Somebody” referring to the good news of Jesus Christ and His wonderful love.

          Okay, what happened this morning?  Well, for you to fully understand, I do hope you were able to read the other two stories I referred to previously.  However, if not, perhaps the Holy Spirit will tie it all together for you.  The story I wrote yesterday, reflected on how I have come to understand through personal experience that God is greater than any affliction or suffering than either you or I could ever experience. Our focus, when we do endure such times, should be on God and how He provides for us here and now, and the even greater future that He has stored up for us in eternity.  My story yesterday extended over the space of about seven or eight pages.  Yet today, in referring to the afflictions and sufferings of this world in comparison to all that He has in store for us in eternity, He showed me a scripture that summed up the whole meaning of that previous story in one brief paragraph:

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4: 16 – 18)

          We are to hold fast to our faith in the Lord and trust that what He is doing within us is giving us strength for today and greater hope for tomorrow.  In not allowing the intensity of whatever pain, suffering, disability, affliction, or trials and tribulation to take total rule and dominion over us in this temporal life, we learn to live each day that we are given to the glory of God that we may not be robbed of the greater joy of the Lord.   I don’t mean that we try to deny the existence of such things in our life, for that would be an exercise in futility and dishonesty.  However, when we look at the lives of such people as Joni Erickson Tada,  how can we deny the power of God as we see His strength shining out so brightly and unmistakably even in the midst of her weakness and daily suffering?  She has been a quadriplegic since about the age of eighteen.  One might look at her and be tempted to say, “Oh poor thing.  How could a loving God allow such a thing to happen to her?”  Sure, she has said that there are plenty of times in her life that she would have yearned for God to heal her.  That is only human.  Yet, she has endured where others have given up.  She has overcome the temptation to wallow in bitterness, self pity, and hopelessness with the greater determination and commitment through the power of the Holy Spirit to put her trust in God.  She has touched more lives than many able bodied persons have; to God be the glory.  Where others have used disabilities and afflictions as an excuse to get angry with God and turn their back on Him, she has determined to live out her life day by day with a purpose to glorify God in the strength of the Lord in spite of her situation and condition.  She has made the Lord her daily companion, and He is faithful to carry her through all the afflictions in her life, teaching her to value eternal things that she may not be consumed by the temporal afflictions of this present life.  You can imagine there may have been many a day when she might wake up and tell Him, “God, I just can’t do this; it’s just too much.” He comes to her side to tell her, “Honey, you don’t have to do it; Here, take my hand and we’ll do it together.”  God has ingenious ways to help us when we think we have reached the end of our rope.  Remember, in our weakness He is strong.

          Let not the sufferings, trials, or afflictions of this life rob you of the joy of the Lord.  Instead, let us learn to be content in the Lord, whether we have little or much, whether we are blessed with good health or endure sufferings. With God’s help we can make the most of what we are given and live out life day by day, doing all that we do as unto the Lord.  Be determined to learn not to live a life based on “feelings.”  Happiness is fickle and only lasts for the moment as it is created or disappears with every happenstance, or change of conditions and situations in your life.  What a shallow life we lead when we base everything we do, feel, or believe upon whether it seems to make us happy or not!  Don’t give up your rewards in eternity(that which is not seen) for the sake of running after the fickle things that seem to represent success, happiness, and prosperity in the present (that which can be seen), but will definitely fade and will surely come to a final and lasting end one day.

          “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”(Matt. 6:33)  I’m not asserting that we can overcome the trials of life by assuming that any of us can float along in life, always on the mountain top and never experiencing the valleys of life.  Some would have us believe that everything in life can be controlled or changed just by thinking ‘good thoughts’, or ‘sending out good thoughts to others.’  This false teaching of mind over matter is a deception that only causes people to loose faith.  Try that and you will quickly find yourself lost in a boat, not only up a creek without a paddle, but headed down a route that is full of nothing but rapids.  Mind over matter presupposes that one can make it through life without God, depending entirely on one’s self.  Neither is it my assertion that trusting in the Lord means that one then goes through life as if wearing rose colored glasses, experiencing only happy days with no bumps and pitfalls along the way.  What I do hope to convey to your heart and mine is that there is one with whom we can always be honest, no matter what our feelings, situations, or conditions may be.  There is no one who knows, even more than we ourselves, what we are going through.  There is only one who knows where we’ve been and where we are headed.  Trusting in the Lord means that our lives do not have to be defined or confined by what we may feel, think, or experience at any given time.  What we perceive to be the worst thing that could ever happen to us could turn out to be the pathway to the very best thing that could happen to us in our future.  The story of the life of Joseph is a classical example of the truth of that statement.  Being sold into slavery by his brothers, and all the horrible things that happened thereafter, looked as though his doom was at hand.  However, it finally resulted in his placement in the highest position of authority in Egypt just under that of the Pharaoh, which enabled him to provide for and save the lives of all of his family when they most assuredly would have died as a result of the famine.  Trust in the Lord; He alone knows the beginning, the end, and all that lies in between.

          With God nothing is impossible.  Nick Vujicic is a young Christian man who was born with no arms and no legs.  Yet he has become one of the most powerful speakers in the world, being used of God to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you haven’t seen or heard this man speak, I recommend that you Google him.  I look at what God has done in Him and it humbles me to my very core. 

          I’m reminded once again of the words God spoke to my heart years ago in a time of my life which seemed to be flowing along in a rather peaceful manner.  He told me then, “If you lose your home and everything in it, God will still be God.”  I didn’t know what He meant then; I simply acknowledged that I realized that it was Him speaking to me.  Over the years, He has revealed to me little by little the truth of the words that He had spoken to my heart.  I am still learning what He means:  In the pain, am I still not God; In the valley of depression, am I still not God; In the midst of losing a child, am I still not God; In the midst of loosing a job, am I still not God; In the midst of a heart attack, am I still not God?  There is nothing that we could ever experience in life that God is not more than able to carry us through it, not even death?  There is nothing in this life that God can not or will not help you and I through IF we will always hold on to our faith in Him; trust and believe that He is always in control and will never leave us nor forsake us.  His word is always and forever at work in our life, even when we are not aware of it.  Draw near to Him and He will meet your every need.  Let Him pull up a chair next to you, and begin to pore out your heart to Him.  Don’t presume that He is always going to tell you what you want to hear; trust that He will always tell you what you need to hear.  As we seek and trust Him, He will reveal that He doesn’t give up on us, but is faithful to continue to do that good work in us until we reach our eternal home to then be housed in our new and glorified bodies.  Let us not depend on fickle happiness, but rather on the joy of the Lord to be our strength even when we are weak.  As we do, we can all join in unison in the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord and shout with every ounce of our being: “I can’t explain it, but I can say, Glory Hallelujah, Great Things He Has Done!”       

          We are taught of the Lord by the power of His word even in and through the trials and tribulations of our life.  Take every challenge in life as an opportunity to learn and be taught of the Lord that we might become better equipped to stand even in the face of adversity.  Trust in the Lord and wait patiently upon Him as you ask; “Okay Lord, what would you have me do and learn even in and through this?”

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5: 1-5)

            Sit with the Lord, and listen to His sweet voice as He tenderly teaches you and me from His word.  Let us sing this refrain unto Him: ** “Open our eyes Lord.  We want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch Him and say that we love Him.”  “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34: 8) “And His word is sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 119: 103)


**Hymn: “Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus” Author; Robert Cull


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