Saturday, July 27, 2019

Who Will Help Us?

Photo by Ablakok 2015
When Christians suffer, there is the danger that bitterness may grow in our heart, if we get angry with God for allowing this trouble into our life. Even Job, a man so just that God bragged about him to Satan (Job 1:8), went through unimaginable trials with the loss of his wealth, family, and health. At times he questioned God, yet he remained faithful to Him throughout his ordeal, proclaiming “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

For the unsaved, God may allow trials so that they come to the end of themselves and realize they are sinners in need of a Savior. Once we are saved by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), God may still permit suffering in our lives.

If we are willfully sinning, He may chasten us to bring us back in line with His perfect will (Hebrews 12:6). Even if we are faithfully following Him, He may allow trials in our life to strengthen our dependence on and faith in Him (Psalm 9:9; 27:5; 37:39), to shape us into Christ’s image (Who suffered for us even though He was without sin; Philippians 3:10), or to give us experience, wisdom and compassion to help others going through similar testing (Galatians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 1:4-7).

But as born-again Christians (John 3:3-8), we can find peace and joy through the trouble in knowing that His grace is sufficient, that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and that He will help us! (Psalm 46; Isaiah 41:10). Job’s sons were taken from him, his “friends” criticized him, and his wife told him to curse God and die. But God’s Word assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5).
Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced all the testing we could possibly face, yet He never yielded to sin. He now sits on the throne of grace, freely offering us mercy and grace to help us if we boldly ask Him (Hebrews 4:15-16).

We should realize that He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8,32; Luke 12:30), yet He wants us to pray because it changes us. His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), and His presence strengthens and upholds us so that we have no need to be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The Bible commands us to “Fear not!” 365 times – one for every day of the year!

He urges us to cast all our cares, or anxieties, on His broad, loving shoulders (1 Peter 5:7). We can find peace by keeping our mind, heart and priorities fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3-4), through prayer, studying and mediating on His Word, and praising and worshipping Him in all circumstances, knowing that this is His perfect will (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

We can try to carry our own burdens of sin, guilt, shame, regret, unforgiveness and bitterness ourselves, and grow weary to the point of exhaustion and despair. Or we can lay them down at the foot of His cross, where He paid the complete price for all of these, once and for all, freeing us to find His rest (Matthew 11:28) and to receive all the blessings He longs to give us (Luke 11:13).

He exchanges our burdens for His blessings, and He renews and transforms our mind if we turn from thoughts of evil and the darkness of this world (Romans 12:2) to meditating on His light of truth, beauty and excellence (Philippians 4:8).

The greatest blessing we could have in this life is to be in the center of His perfect will, for He created each of us for a purpose designed long before we were even conceived (Psalm 139:13,16). We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:8-10), created for a specific plan destined for good and not for evil (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

When believers face Jesus Christ at the judgment seat, it will not be to pay for our sins (He has already paid for these in full) or to determine whether we can enter Heaven, for He has given us His perfect righteousness allowing us to spend eternity in the presence of Holy God (Romans 3:25).

Rather, at the judgment seat, believers will be rewarded for service done for Christ with the right motives, or we will suffer loss for not using opportunities He gave us to fulfill His perfect plan for our life (2 Corinthians 5:10). How sad it would be to miss out on these opportunities and rewards because we gave up too soon (Galatians 6:9), losing hope in our own ability (with good reason) yet failing to trust in His unfailing power!

No matter what struggles we face in this life, we can have victory in Christ Who has overcome all the evil in this world (John 16:33). If we have repented of our sins and asked Him into our heart as Lord and Savior, we have the glorious hope – meaning the sure and joyful expectation – of eternal life with Him in Heaven, and the hope of victory in all our earthly woes (Romans 15:13).

Where there is life, there is hope! (Ecclesiastes 9:4) Jesus wants us to enjoy abundant life in Him (John 10:10) here and now, in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13), to choose life over death as commanded in His Word (Deuteronomy 30:19; Proverbs 13:14). His promises preserve our life (Psalm 119:50).

Realizing that our body is His holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19), which we should present to Him daily as a holy, living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2), will help us make the right choices to honor our body as His dwelling place. Not only is this pleasing to Him, but healthful choices in how we nourish and rest our body and protect it from toxins and other harm will help to keep our vessel in optimal working order to serve Him and persevere through trials.

Time on this earth to serve Him is short (James 4:14; John 9:4), so may we utilize it to the greatest extent possible! Praise God that He is always with us, faithful to hear and answer our prayers, to love, protect, guide and comfort us in our earthly journey until we meet Him face to face in glory!

Isaiah 41:10: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Photo by Piotrus 2008

I have always been the type of person who likes to plan ahead, anticipating every contingency, trying to do things in the best order and timing for the optimal result, no matter what the storms of life may bring. Organizing the smallest details helps to give me an illusion of control.

But there are some storms that take us by surprise like a sucker punch in broad daylight, when we’re off guard because the street is well-lit, the weather is sunny and calm, and we’re in a familiar neighborhood in our home town. How could we know that an assailant was waiting behind a building to knock the very wind out of us, to change our world in an instant?

As we struggle to our feet and try to shake ourselves off, that old instinct to take control resurfaces. All will be well if we utilize our intellect, resources and strength to make sense of this attack and to plan the best strategy to recover from it,

But as born-again Christians (John 3:3-8), who have been saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we must resist this urge to take control. We must let go and let God. We must be still and know that He is God, and we are not (Psalm 46:10). We must yield to His perfect will, timing, power, and infinite love.

Under Holy Spirit inspiration, the apostle Paul wrote that we should not yield our body to be an instrument of sin, but instead we should yield ourselves to God, for He has raised us from spiritual death. We should yield our body as an instrument of righteousness to accomplish God’s purpose and mission for us (Romans 6:13-19). We should use our tongue to sing His praise (James 3:8-11), our hands to do His work (Ephesians 4:28), and our feet to carry us to where we can spread His Word (Romans 10:15).

The battles we fight are not against physical enemies and forces, but against spiritual foes. We can withstand these only by putting on the whole armor of God, with which He protects us in this warfare (Ephesians 6:11-18). Just as good soldiers yield to the orders of their commander, we must yield to the will of our perfect Captain and great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). Nothing catches Him by surprise, for He alone knows the ending from the beginning, and He is both (Revelation 1:8).

He loves us infinitely (1 John 4:8), desires only what is best for His children (James 1:17; Philippians 4:19), and He has complete wisdom and power to do what He deems best for us (Romans 11:33; 2 Samuel 22:33; Psalm 62:11).

If we stubbornly refuse to yield, we are attempting to fight the battle in our own flesh (Romans 7:18), which is no match for Satan and his minions and forces of darkness. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Every thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), every storm cloud looming on the horizon or even shaking us with wind, lightning and thunder, is there only because He allows it into our life. No weapon formed against us can prosper (Isaiah 54:17), for He works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

He may allow us to endure hardships to become closer to Him, to strengthen our faith (Romans 5:3-5), to conform us into His image (Philippians 3:10), and to give us wisdom and compassion to help those going through similar trials (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). When we act like rebellious children, He chastens us to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness as we are restored to fellowship with Him (Hebrews 12:11).

Though He slays us, we should trust Him (Job 13:15), for His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Once we have trusted Jesus Christ, our eternal destiny is secure with Him in Heaven (John 10:27-29), so why should we fear anything (Psalm 118:6) that we perceive as a threat to our earthly, temporal existence? 

Indeed, His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), if we only yield in submission to His great plan. We don’t need to understand, only to trust, obey and yield (Isaiah 50:10).

If we are malleable to His shaping, like clay on the Potter’s wheel (Isaiah 64:8), He can mold us into a vessel fit for His use (Romans 9:21; 2 Timothy 2:21). Without yielding to His expert touch, we are not His workmanship, but rebellious and brittle fragments that shatter against the wheel.

Yielding to His will also means we yield to others, placing their needs ahead of our own (Ephesians 5:21).. When we see a “Yield” sign on the road, it means to allow others to pass rather than stubbornly claiming our own right of way.

And if we yield to God’s plan for our life, no matter how dismal the circumstances may seem, He has promised that our yield will increase (Mark 4:8). Allowing the Master Gardener to prune us increases our yield of souls led to Him and fellow believers we have encouraged. Without Him, we can do nothing, but in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). May we trust and hope in the Lord, to be like a tree planted by rivers of living water, never ceasing to yield fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8) even in times of drought, sorrow and trouble!  

© 2019 Laurie Collett