Suffer According to the Will of God

In 1 Peter 4:19 it says, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator.”  Here in the United States, so far, we do not know what it is to suffer as our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer in other countries.
The very special truth in this is in the word “commit“. The word here is the same word that Christ used on the cross in Luke 23:46. He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” These are the same word in the Greek.  The word means “to entrust, put in trust with”. Christ entrusted His spirit to the Heavenly Father on the cross, and this is exactly what He asks us to do when we “suffer according to the will of God”.
He asks us to entrust ourselves into the hands of our faithful creator when we suffer according to the will of God. Christ does not ask us to do something that He has not already done.  Do we know what suffering is?  If we suffer, we can commit ourselves into the hands of our Lord the same way Christ did, and know that He is caring for us as He did for Christ.  ( 1 Thes. 5:24 ) “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  It is easy to “commit ourselves” to our Lord who is faithful.

The next thought may be…..what if I am the one who has gotten myself into this mess?  Am I suffering according to the will of God if I made this mess that I am in?

If we know the Lord Jesus Christ as Our Savior, are a child of His, will He ever desert us?  No.  We are loved with and everlasting love (Jere. 31:3).  If a human parent would not desert their child in need, even more so, the Heavenly Father that only knows perfect love…everlasting love, would never desert us in our need.  He knows all about the situation, and is seeking to mature us, and bring glory to Himself through it.

Elizabeth Elliot says that “it is not the trial that determines the character, but our response to the trial”.  She went through many things that were totally not what she expected God to do in her life.  She had waited five and a half years to marry the man she loved.  She gave thanks to God in her singleness, and then was only married 2 years and three months when she became a widow.  She came to thank God for her widowhood also, because she realized that it was all from the hand of a loving gracious God.   Her response to the trial is what brought her closer to the Lord than ever before.  She saw that she had a depth in her spiritual life that she would not have known if the Lord had not allowed that trial in her life.

We must also remember that our Lord Jesus is the sovereign God of the universe that “by Him were all things created…in earth, visible and invisible…..principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him, and by Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church…that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” ( Colos. 1:16-19)

Christ is the head of the body, so that everything comes into our lives, He has the pre-eminence in that matter.  We think…”OK, I got myself into this mess….”  No…Christ has pre-eminence in ALL things and is sovereign in all things.  Nothing surprises Him ,,,He knew what you would decide and is in control.

We can trust Him.  He is faithful (Phil 1:6).  May we respond to all things that our Good God allows in our lives in such a way so as to become a reflection of the Word of God, and Jesus Christ Himself to those around us that need to see Him.

Only by His Grace and power living through us.  Praise be to Him.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…”

The hymn says….”Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.”      (By Helen H. Lemmel, 1864-1961)     Helen was inspired by a gospel tract that  said:

” So then, turn your eyes upon Him, look full in­to His face and you will find that the things of earth will ac­quire a strange new dim­ness.”

She wrote:

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?  No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,  And life more abundant and free.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;  Believe Him, and all will be well:

Then go to a world that is dying,  His perfect salvation to tell!”

She wrote:

I always use this hymn as a foundation for personal worship.  As my “heart and spirit sees” the face of my Savior Jesus, and grasps hold of the truth that He can take any burden, heal any pain, dry any tear….  then the things of this life that weigh heavy on me ….become very dim and loose their “grip” on my being.   It is the face of the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world.  He conquered sin, death, pain, and sorrow.  He is the victory (1 Cor. 15: 50-58).

But I note here that if we have our eyes on Jesus, we will also see the Lost…the ones that do not yet know the Savior.  May this hymn inspire us to “go to the world that is dying” with the message of our Savior.

Note:   One of the hymnals of Helen Lemmel was used by the Evangelist Billy Sunday.  She also was a vocal music teacher at The Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago.

Light and Shadows

If we stand with our back to the light source, and try to chase the shadow, we will never catch up to it.  If we would but turn toward the light, face the source of the light and walk toward the light, the shadow will always follow us. ( From RZIM Ministries )

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world ( John 8:12 ).  If we face Christ, and go toward the Light, we will never have to worry about following “shadows” of truth and light.  Ephesians 5:14 says that “Christ shall give thee light”.  If our eyes are on Jesus, we will have no problem with “shadows”.  Lord, give light to our minds and hearts that we might honor and please You.

Jesus is all the fullnes of God.

Jesus is all the fullness of God the Father (Col.1:19). Think about this for a minute…. in the Old Testament when God’s glory came down into the tabernacle, the people could not even stand before Him. That fullness was in Jesus Christ when He was in the Garden and they had come for Him to crucify Him. When they asked if he was Christ, He said, “I Am”. Do you remember what happened next? They fell backwards at the “Name of God”….the great “I AM”.   And we as His children have all the fullness of God in us….”Christ in you, the hope of glory “. Is there anything that we cannot do for Him and through Him if Christ is in us… in all His fullness?

Your Children

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.”
— Lisa Wingate

Susannah Wesley on Raising Children

Susannah Wesley on Raising Children

  • Susannah lived in the early 1700′s, was the mother of 19 children, and dealt with the loss of ten of those children before the age of 2.
  • She was the mother of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Christian denomination
  • She was also the mother of Charles Wesley who is remembered for writing hundreds of Christian hymns

Clearly Susnnah Wesley, as a mother, had her share of joys as well as profound sorrow during her lifetime.  Someone asked her once what was the secret in raising her children.  Many of her guidelines, now 300 years later,  are still good ones to follow (exluding a few of the more obvious ones).

Some of these have great validity for forming good character in our children.

Each should be considered and prayed over to see if these would be a help for the child given to you by the Lord.

Susannah Wesley’s Guidelines for Raising Children

  1. Allow  no eating between meals.
  2. Put all children to bed by 8:00 PM
  3. Require  children to take their medicine without complaining.
  4. Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his or her soul.
  5. Teach each child to pray as soon as they can speak.
  6. Require all children to be quiet during family worship.
  7. Give a child nothing that they cry for, and only that which they ask for politely.
  8. To prevent lying, punish no fault that is first confessed and repented of.
  9. Never  allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
  10. Never  punish a child twice for a single offense.
  11. Commend  and reward good behavior.
  12. Commend  any attempt to please, even if poorly performed.
  13. Preserve property rights in even the smallest of matters.
  14. Strictly observe all promises.
  15. Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
  16. Teach children to fear the rod.

Susannah Wesley’s Defination of Sin

Each of us may have our own definition of sin, but this one from Susannah Wesley to her preacher son is …really amazing.
….whatever weakens your reasoning,
….what ever impairs your tenderness of conscience,

….whatever obscures your sense of the things of God,
….whatever takes away your desire for spiritual things,
In short  ….whatever increases the power and authority of the flesh over the Spirit,

Then, this thing is sin, no matter how innocent it may be in itself.

Love gives.

Christ is so faithful in this.  He is the perfect example to us.  He gives us the true meaning to what love really is.  The cross shows us in perfection what love looks like.  We need to teach our children that…. love always gives.  Love does not take.   “For God so loved the world that He gave….” (John 3:16)  The world thinks that if they love, it gives them the right to “take” what they want.  This taking is “self centered”,  but Christ’s display of love is totally  “other centered”.  It was a total sacrifice of  himself to another (us).  He did not consider Himself at all, but completely gave everything for us.  May we perceive this deeply in our hearts, that every area of our lives is changed into a “selfless giving” to the Lord first, then others…. our husbands, our children, other brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, and to the unsaved.  Lord, grant us mercy to “be” this  love to give to others.

Depression

Depression is a state of being that is unlike your “normal” state.
You do not feel like yourself, and maybe you are acting in ways that are unlike you normally would act. Sometimes you cannot quite put your finger what is wrong but you clearly know that all is “not right”.
Depression can be caused by many things such as medications, illness, physical conditions, emotional situations, and losses. Many losses are very profound….like the loss of a child, or spouse, or a pet; the loss of a job, financial security, or our home; sometimes an illness causes the loss of health or independence.
Symptoms of depression could be:
1.  ongoing sadness, an empty feeling, or anxiety
2.  tired, easily fatigued, exhaustion, or lack of energy
3.  loss of interest in everyday things, no willing to socialize
4.  difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much
5.  loss of appetite, or overeating
6.  crying too often, or for no reason
7.  aches and pains that do not respond to treatment
8.  difficulty focusing, paying attention, making choices or remembering
9.  feeling helpless, hopeless, or suffering a loss of self-esteem
10.  feeling anxious, being grumpy or irritable
11. feelings of rejection and despair, thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, you may need to see a health care professional, especially if you are on medication.  Depression is a side effect of some medications.
Please do not ignore these symptoms.
Pray and ask the Lord for help.  Ask Him to give wisdom as to the source of the depression.  Many times one is aware of the cause of the depression, and a Pastor or spiritual Biblical counselor may be of great help.  If the source is not known, do seek help in a Godly Pastor.
For those of us who know the Lord, He is the one who can help us the most.  His Word is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” ( Hebr. 4:12 ).  His Word can show us what our need is and, if the cause of the depression is sin in our life, He is able and willing to forgive all sin.
Sometimes selfishness, immorality, pride, arrogance, how we have treated others, and other sins in our life over a long period of time can cause us to walk away from the Lord, and become depressed.
Profound losses that come into our lives are probably the biggest cause of depression.  Depression is “normal” after a profound loss.  It is signifying that a great love was lost.  This depression needs to be shared with someone who can help.  Begin with someone who can be trusted, or a professional that knows what to do.
We may feel our loss is so much greater than anyone  else’s loss and that no one really understands.  But we should not compare our loss to someone else’s situation.  Each situation is so different, and each person responds differently to the loss in their life. Each loss can be significant.  Comparing our situations is unwise.

Please be careful:  Telling someone that they are depressed if they really are not, is not wise.  This person may be grieving very deeply and feeling confused with the changes in their life situation.  It may take them a while to work through the grief, and make some sense of their life.  They need someone to listen to what they are saying, and be a “sounding board” for them.  Do not expect them to make perfect sense, as they usually do.  They are often in a state of numbness/shock after a crisis or loss.  They need someone to listen, but do not keep telling them they are depressed.  They may just be grieving deeply and profoundly.  If they do not come out of it in a reasonable length of time, then stick with them and try to help them to the next step.  This is called the “ministry of presence”.  Be there for them and comfort them as Jesus would do if He was by their side.

But having said that:  we as Christians think that we should be exempt from depression. Why do we think that?  Why should we be exempt?  We Christians love very deeply. We know a very deep love from the Lord and from those around us who love Him. We feel losses very profoundly.  But the Lord deeply loves us and He wants to meet each one of us in our own need. We are each special in His sight.  Each of us can be the recipient of that great love.

If you do not personally know the love of God in your life, I would like to share some verses of scripture with you that show the “heart of God” toward you.

Isaiah 43:1-7

 “Thus saith the Lord who created thee,

 Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name;

thou art mine.

When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee:

and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:

when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned,

neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior;

….thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee….

Fear not; for I am with thee…

Even every one who is called by my name;

for I have created him for my glory;

I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

……”The Lord hath anointed me (referring to Jesus, Luke 4: 16-21)

to preach good tidings unto the meek;

He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted…..

to comfort all that mourn;

….to give unto them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

that they might be called trees of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord,

that He might be glorified.”

Jeremiah 31:3

“….Yea, I have loved the with an everlasting love:

therefore with loving kindness  have I drawn thee.”

Ezekiel 18:4

“As I live, saith the Lord,

….behold all souls are mine.”

(if you do not know Him personally, as your personal Savior, please go to the section that is entitled  “Where will I spend Eternity” for scriptures on how to know Him.)

Acts 20:24

“None of these things move me,

neither count I my life dear unto myself,

that I might finish my course with joy,

and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus,

to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of very thing,

that He which hath begun a good work in you

will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

For those of us who are of “the household of faith”,  and truly believe the scriptures

and the God of the scriptures, when things come into our lives that we do not really

understand, this becomes

 a greater walk of faith than we have ever known before.

We take a step back and say “Ok”……

Where is our Rock and our foundation?

Will we continue in Him?

Is He faithful?

  Will I trust Him really? …even when I do no understand?

The disciples came to this point one day (John 6:66-71) when they were with Jesus.  Some of the disciples heard a “hard saying” and some went away.

But Jesus asked His disciples,  “Will you also go away?”

Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go?

Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

In Psalm 73, the psalmist begins by saying,

“Truly God is good.”

Then the psalmist goes on to look at his own life and becomes very distressed.  He sees that his foot has slipped (verse 2), he becomes envious of the prosperity of others, kind of like a “woe is me” outlook (verses 3-16), and he becomes very disappointed in his own life.

This is probably where depression sets in.  We only see the circumstances around us and cannot make sense of it.  If we choose to only look around and within, we will get discouraged.

Then in verses 17 to 22, he chooses to look at things from God’s perspective.  He sees what this world is like without God, and he sees his own foolishness.  His heart is grieved, and realizes that God is continually with him.

Verses 23-28:  “Thou hast held me by my right hand.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

“Whom have I in Heaven but thee?

And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever.

But it is good for me to draw near to God;

I have put my trust in the Lord God,

that I may declare all thy works.”

So the psalmist came to the same conclusion that the disciples came to….

that it is our God who is our refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1).

Jeremiah 16:19 says:

“O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction…”

Psalm 27:4,8,13,14:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

“When thou saidest, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

“I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

“Wait on the Lord;  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

My encouragement to you when things just do not make sense, seek Him as you have never sought Him before.  He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebr. 13:5).  He chooses to love us unconditionally and always hears our prayers.  Immerse yourself in the  scriptures and get to know the God of the scriptures.  Allow the risen Christ to take over in your heart.  We are saved by His death on the cross, but we are saved by His life….

…”being reconciled we shall be saved by His life,

and not only so, but we also joy in God,

through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom

we have now received the reconciliation.”

We are saved to allow Christ to live out His life in us and through us that our lives can bring glory to Him.  He will do it through us, and we will know joy in God.  That seems like a life worth living.

I have known loss in my life, and suffered with a feeling of deep profound grief that the Lord walked me through.  I was on the verge of depression, but kept looking into the face of the Savior for help.  If I can be of help to you in this, please feel free to contact me through this email:

cajr@ptd.net

 

 

 

 

How To Help Widows

There are so many truly hurting people out there. We desperately need to know how to minister to them. These are hurting, bleeding, wounded sisters in Christ.

My hope is to give some insight in how to minister to widows primarily, but many of these suggestions apply to all different kinds of hurting people.   Some may have a loss of a child, a broken marriage or a loss of a relationship, a loss of a parent.  Some may have lost a job that meant their financial security, their retirement and loss of their home.  Some are grieving the loss of something they never had….. a lady who never had the opportunity to marry and have children, or one who is married that is grieving the children she could never birth.

For some, these losses are so significant that they cannot even think how to go on with life.    I firmly believe that if we cannot show deep compassion to them at this time, we cannot minister to them in their need. There is a broken world out there. The losses that people have are so tremendous….and we need to be there for them.
Here are a few hints of what broken, hurting people need… and maybe what they do not need.

…….Their greatest need is for someone to listen. Sit with them, listen, and scripture says in Romans 12:15….”weep with them that weep”. Christ did this. His dear friend died, and the sisters who were dear friends as well, we heartbroken ( John 11:1-44). Christ felt their pain and sorrow. He wept with them.  He showed the compassion that we need to show for those who grieve, are in deep sorrow, or have a loss in their lives that has caused them to weep.  If we as Christians do not have this compassion, the world surely will not.  This is a wonderful opportunity to allow Christ to minister through us.
Why don’t we weep with them?  I submit to you that we do not have the heart of Christ, if we cannot weep with those who need someone to feel their pain and sorrow.  Many times in the Gospels it says…Jesus had compassion on them.  Isaiah 53 verse 3 says that Christ was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him…”.  This is indicating that we put him out of our mind, as people of that day put lepers out of their presence.  The proud sinful heart of man put Christ out of his presence of mind. We need NOT duplicate that sin if we know Christ and have an opportunity to minister to another hurting person in need.  Many of these are in the body of Christ and “the body” is hurting ( 1 Corin. 12:13,14,18,23-26 ).

…….Time is precious to the hurting.  Sometimes they just need someone to sit with them, and by that show they care and “are there” for them.  Can you spend some time to be with them?  They may feel all alone and the presence of another person may help greatly.

…….Let them talk. They sometimes need someone with whom to talk.  When people are deeply hurting, they do NOT need advise or someone “throwing scripture at them”.  They need a person to sit, listen and maybe weep with them. Deep, deep grief cannot handle “lots of advice” or accusations of what they did wrong or needed to do, or need now to do.  Job had friends like that and God reprimanded them for their actions. They did not help Job when they did that.

…….Pray when you are in the presence of a deeply grieving person.  Ask the Lord to guide you in what to do.  When they are deeply grieving, their need will be different than when they have walked a while in their sorrow and grief.  After the Lord has ministered to them in their soul and spirit, they will be more open and able to think through Biblical council, and even suggestions for help.  Praying with them at this time may be a tremendous help to them.

…….People say, “Give it time”  or  “It just takes time”.  It is not really time that ministers; it is Christ and His Word that makes the difference.  It is the strength and comfort that a loving, caring, omnipotent, sovereign God can give over time, that brings the healing.   It is what those who are grieving do in that time that makes the difference between resolving the grief, or going on for a long period of time with unresolved grief.  Christ is the only one that can fill and fulfill the need of the heart.  He is the only one that can meet the need of the heart, because He is the only one that truly knows the deep wound of the heart and soul that this person is experiencing.  Christ’s compassion shown through us at this time is so crucial.  Seek to be the comforter (“parakletos”….consoler-advocate ) that comes alongside them and walks with them.

……..Someone said to a really grieving person,  “You just need to be thankful for what you had….”  This is not really helpful.  That person may truly be thankful for what they had, but that does not make the grief and sorrow any less.  A statement like this to a severely grieving person only succeeds to heap guilt on an already wounded soul.  It is difficult to be able to rejoice when the heart and soul is so heavy with grief and sorrow.  If this person truly knows the Lord, it will come.  The joy of the Lord is there, and it will bubble forth in due time.

……..Some say,  “You should not be sorrowing as those who have no hope”( I Thes. 4:13).  This statement is not helpful either.  The person may have great hope in the resurrection.   (If the truth is known, they may want to be “raptured” out of here immediately, if nothing else than to escape the pain of heart and soul.)   This only succeeds in heaping more guilt on an already grieving person.  Be careful of your words.  If you have not experienced the exact loss that they have, then you cannot possibly know how they feel.

……..Yes, there may come a time when the person grieving needs wise council, but make sure the Lord has given you the right words of council for them when you seek to help them.

……..Who is to say how long it takes to “be able to go on” after a loss.  Remember each person grieves at a different pace.  They usually do not  “just get over it”  like it was a bad cold!  Give them the time they need, pray with them and for them.  Be the friend they need to walk this journey with them as much as you can.  God in His sovereignty is doing a work and has a purpose for all things that He allows.  Pray for the Lord’s healing for them.