Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Grief

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept Your word. It is good that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. Psalms 119:67,71 (NKJV)

The first time I was afflicted was when I was a little girl. I was too young to know what the word “afflicted” meant, I just knew that it hurt.

Although the suffering was not of my own making, it was the beginning of my relationship with God. When my mother and father abandoned me, it was the Lord who took care of me. In addition to providing food, clothing, shelter and education. Most importantly, He gave his word, love, and love of others.

From the very beginning, I learned and still do trust and depend on Him. Through all my experiences, I know and tell others that He will never leave nor forsake us.

My current season of affliction is much like David’s. David made a wrong decision with Bathsheba. It didn’t matter that he caused his own afflictions, God still used it to shape him and make him grow. In the same way, I have wandered from God through poor choices, but my heavenly Father lovingly corrected me. But may the Lord of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)

When I am afflicted, it helps me to remember that God is in control and that He has my best in mind. He will use it to cleanse me and I, in turn can encourage others in their afflictions.

Thank You Father for the blessing of affliction, through it lessons, I have learned your love, faithfulness, mercy and grace.

© 2011 Wanda Currie

Friday, July 22, 2011

Broken Hearts

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3 NIV)

I sat with my twin grandchildren searching for clues in the pages of a book filled with mysterious photographs. On one page, I noticed a small broken heart-shaped locket. I asked my grandchildren, “What does it mean to have a broken heart?” Without hesitation, my four-year old grandson responded, “It’s when somebody doesn’t love you anymore.” I was astonished. This little boy had captured the essence of a broken heart. How could a small child express so profound a truth?

My husband chose to stop loving me and walked away from our marriage. He broke my heart. I struggled with the pain of the loss of my relationship with him and with his rejection of me. But I remembered God’s promise to heal my broken heart, and His assurance that He would be close to me in my despair. As I trusted my Savior, He walked with me through the long process of grieving my loss. Slowly, my life began to change as He released me from sorrow and into freedom with Him. I have prayed, as David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” Psalm 51:10, 12a NIV).

When our hearts have been crushed by the failure of a business, or the loss of a loved one, our hopes and dreams lie at our feet. When we face these devastating losses, we can rest in the loving arms of our Savior who promised to bind up our wounds.

Dear Father, I need Your hand on my heart as it continues to heal. Thank You for Your loving faithfulness as we walk this path together. Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Spirit of the Letter

I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. 3 John 1:13-14a (NKJV)

When I was a little girl I wrote a long letter to my favorite television star. I poured my heart out on those pages, and I wanted to know everything about her, too. The response? A form letter, full of facts and figures.

God wrote us a letter, too. He poured out his heart, writing down everything about Himself, and everything we would need to sustain us in this life. But He knew we would need more, because His ways and His wisdom are not like ours. To our limited understanding, His letter would seem like just a bunch of facts and figures—dos and don’ts. We could never understand the depth of His love, or know how deeply he feels our pain. So He sent the Holy Spirit to impart His message to our hearts.

In a way the Bible is like a form letter in that He only wrote one; however, the similarity ends there. Through the Spirit, God’s words take on new life and meaning for each one of us individually. “Dos” become opportunities, and “don’ts” become protection. His words communicate something new every time we delve into them. They teach us how to love Him, how to love ourselves, and how to love one another. And if we pay attention as we open His letter and begin to read, we may just hear Him say, “I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.”

Father, thank You so much for Your letter. We can’t wait to see You!

© 2011 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spiritual Blemishes

These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14b (NWT)

Distressed to see grease spots still on the front of it, I ironed my blouse. I had sprayed the spots with pre-wash before putting it in the washer, but the spots were still there. As I ironed, it occurred to me that the spots were like my soul, marked by human imperfection and sinfulness. The next time I do laundry, I will try another pre-wash and let the blouse sit for a while.

I used to wear bib-aprons when I cooked. I think it would be wise for me to go back to that practice of protecting the front of my clothing. Like that apron, God protects me from the world of sin around me. Jesus represents the cleansing power that, through His blood, washes the dirt and grease of sin from my soul. With help, my spiritual laundry is guaranteed to be whiter than snow.

Thinking on these things, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:11 which says to put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil. The best way I can do that is to read my Bible daily so I can prepare for whatever soil I have to wash out of my day. And I'll thank God for His Son, who has cleansed me of all unrighteousness.

Dear Father, we children sometimes err and get our spiritual clothing spotted. Open our eyes to our mistakes so we may ask Your forgiveness through the cleansing blood of Jesus, our Savior. Amen

(c) 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, July 1, 2011

Under Whose Control?

Being then made free from sin, you become the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:18 NIV)

On July 4, 1776, members of the Continental Congress representing the thirteen American colonies approved the Declaration of Independence. This document proclaims, “these united Colonies are and of right ought to be Free and Independent States.”

The colonists desired to be free of English control. They desired to be independent and pursue life on their own.

What a blessing to be free from control of others and to make our own decisions personally and as a nation. It is proper that we celebrate this holiday with family gatherings, picnics and fireworks.

Yet many in this country have relinquished their spiritual independence to sin, which robs them of the ability to stand on their own. They have lost their personal freedom and are regulated by external forces.

Jesus came to set us free from sin. He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31 NIV)

I have discovered an irony in accepting Jesus as my savior. His sacrifice freed from sin and spiritual death. However, I willingly give up my independence to rely on Him and gladly seek His control over my life.

I justifiably give thanks to God that I live this life on earth in a free and independent nation. I also exalt my Savior because He has given me a life that is further blessed through His control.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the gift of Your Son that has made my soul and sprit free. And thank You for a country that allows me to declare myself a bond servant to You.

© Christy Struben 2011