When Trials Are Difficult {Trials Tuesday}

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. – 1 Peter 1:6, NLT

Last week, I began to unwrap this idea of grieving. Some might ask, “grieving what?” It might be chronic illness, or more than a diagnosis or list of symptoms. There is a lot to process and grieve in my case.

Seven years ago, I was finishing up a bachelor’s degree and receiving an acceptance letter that would cause me to pick up my things and move to a new city. And today, I am somewhat content in my role as a “stay at home aunt and daughter”. But the reality is harsh. Chronic illness has, in fact, changed my life in a very big way.


Every so often, I am reminded that chronic illness, or trials in general, bring that luscious spiritual fruit. I love the spiritual fruit {even though I despise the trial itself}. An example of the spiritual fruit in play:

With our family, we have the opportunity to remain calm – even when our senses are overloaded with noise. A family’s house gets loud. But when we allow the Lord our God to work in our hearts, things will change.

For me: The greatest blessing is – the ability to remain loving and self-controlled when my niece comes over on the weekends. Today my house felt enormously loud, but by God’s grace I could remain calm, redirect, and begin my Bible study time. My sinful self didn’t get angry and begin yelling at these little people I am leading by example. This is a direct result of Jesus Christ!

I have days when I am “off” so to speak, and my niece will ask what happened. This is my reminder that I need to re-evaluate what’s going on in my heart and walk with Jesus. Honestly, it could be due to debilitating symptoms, not enough Jesus time, or something else. The bottom line is: Spiritual fruit is a blessing in my life, and it can be in yours too!


Fruit Means Pain –

It has taken much work to reach this place in my life. Seven years’ worth of working with the Lord has shown me that trials are painful, but God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is going to be the One to get me through it. Things won’t always go my way, but He will get me through it.

It won’t be painless. There will be many tears, but He will get us through this one baby step at a time.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” – Isaiah 55:8

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:20

This week, I desperately need to consult my Bible on a daily basis. I need to stay in step with the Spirit, so I will stay close to Jesus and not give into my sinful desires (Galatians 5:16).

Feature image by Rye Jessen.

Until next time,

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FMF – Rush to Ask Our Friends {4 Questions}

: : Rush : :
A Sudden Movement

** While this post is designed for reaching our chronic illness friends, I believe these are questions to ask any one of our friends. All can benefit!**

Lately, I have been aware of my life and how isolating it can become. As I look at my life, I can’t help but think. . . Would I want to be my friend? Not particularly.

I honestly think it might be scary or intimidating to have a friend to someone like me. Chronic illness is scary. And it is so easy to be concerned that we might say something wrong to someone who is already in great pain – physically and emotionally.

But, what if we rushed to our friends’ aid anyway (obviously listening more than speaking)?

Our friends need us to rush toward them, so they aren’t alone!


What To Say

I want to share some things we can ask our friends who are hurting. These are questions I mentioned elsewhere, but they can help us meet our friends right where they are. These things can truly deepen our friendships.

How is God speaking to you right now?

This can open up many doors for our conversations with friends. Our Lord Jesus Christ can speak to us through so many things! Let’s begin asking this big question and grow – as we learn from one another!

How can I pray for you?

Ohhh, how our friends need us to ask this question. In all honesty? They probably aren’t asked this question, enough.

What are you watching on Netflix or YouTube? Or reading?

Chronic illness or not, many of us use one of these sources of entertainment. Even if we are not a TV watcher, we can share what we are reading.

If someone asked me this question, my answer would change depending on the day. While one day I may be a Gilmore Girls observer, the next I might be fully wrapped up in the book of Isaiah.

This is a very basic question that we can ask, even to a brand new friend. And, it opens doors to new shared interests.

What is on your mind?

This one, can open so many doors.
Our minds can wander to many places. Even if we may not feel well, our hearts might be focused on the Middle East or the homeless.

This question allows us to really meet our friends, and see what is on their hearts and maybe even breaking their hearts.

How is your mental health holding up, in spite of your trials?

This is such an important question. We need to check on our friends, so they aren’t fighting suicidal thoughts on their own. It is so easy to find ourselves in our own war. We need to join our friends, and help them however we can.

Featured image by Tim Foster (of Unsplash).

Blessings to you, my friends!

In Christ,

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Job 29-31; Psalm 26-27

jan-11

Assigned Reading for January 11: Psalm 26-27; Job 29-31

Psalms –

Chapter 26 – What is a different way of putting what David is saying?

Lord God, I need You to free me.

Essentially, this is what he is saying. He is showing all of us that these are the kind of prayers worth praying. The result of such honest prayers is watching God show up like never before.

How are we intentionally seeking God through His Son Jesus Christ?

His heart cry was to lead a blameless life and to be mindful of God’s unfailing love. This serves as an important example for me, because I need to be mindful of God and His kind of love. I need to move out things, so I can be focused on Him and the things He is leading me to do.

Chapter 27 – God is greater than anything that could try to cling to our lives. We don’t have to be afraid anymore, because we have Jesus and God is on our side! My heart is safely kept by God, and He will protect it. He will guide me, and give me the confidence to trust Him increasingly more.

Job –

In chapters 29-31, Job makes his final defense. During the reading of Job, I have had some mixed emotions about this man of God who held to integrity and ran from evil. He spoke as a man. A very desperate man. He spoke bluntly to God, which is difficult to read as God is holy. Unlike us, God is holy. Yet, God saw fit to allow Job to speak such words. Job was holding onto his faith, but it was also being stretched – extended beyond its previous capacity.

As I began reading, these first few verses bring some heartfelt questions to mind.

How are we realizing God is watching over us? And, how are we enjoying an intimate friendship with God?

Job is recounting his former deeds, and how he was a man of integrity. He was spoken well of, offered counsel, and helped anyone he could. As he spoke, you can tell he was speaking genuinely. However, those days are long gone. During his testing, he was not respected – rather he was shamed by his community.

Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me (Job 30:24-27).

This is where Job stood. As he stood here, he wondered what was going on. It seemed like God was attacking him, but Job had an enemy he did not know. Job continued to show himself as a person who feared God and ran from evil.  As Job recounted his deeds, his heart was being searched. And soon, God would answer him.

The Wandering Heart {{Week 5}}

Hi, my friends,

Today’s blog post is a bit late. I apologize for that, but it’s here! For anyone who is curious about what I have been up to, feel free to catch a glimpse over at Chronically Overcoming. I actually, just wrote up a new blog post on what I am going through.

Without further adieu, here is today’s blog post on what we can Glean From the Heart of Jesus (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link for the accompanying journal). You can find all of our “Gleaning From the Heart of Jesus” posts over here (putting them all in orderly form, is quite possibly one of the best ideas – ever. Especially for when I need to redo this study at a later date. . . Might even be time to go through Ephesians again.).


 The Scriptures – Matthew 5:27-28; Exodus 20:17

Do not want to have anything your neighbor owns. Do not want to have your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey (Exodus 20:17, NIRV).

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ (Exodus 20:14) But here is what I tell you. Do not even look at a woman in the wrong way. Anyone who does has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

Devotion

Lusting is to have an intense desire for someone that is not your spouse.

Jesus reminds His followers that there is such a thing as “heart adultery”. This is not a light-hearted thing. Jesus is showing us the seriousness of our thought life, too. We are held responsible. Point blank. Lusting after another who does not “belong” to you (in the context of Ephesians 5) is destruction. In Ephesians 5:3-7, we are reminded that the adulterer is not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. Lust is still sin. It is breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Which means – it is, in fact, going against the Most High and Holy God of the Universe.

When we sin we are choosing to say with our thoughts and actions, that we think our ways are far better than God’s prescribed ways.

Lust actually points to a deeper problem. If we are lusting (or coveting), it reveals that we have an unrestrained thought life. This is an area of temptation for many of us, but through Christ we can overcome it. In James, I am reminded that I am the only one who can make that choice to sin. It isn’t the Devil. It definitely isn’t God causing me to make that choice. But, it is me. It is all me and I am accountable for the choices I make.

We all are, responsible for the choices we make.

Today, let’s resolve to give this area to God. Take some time to repent of the ways you have lusted after (or had a desire for) another.

Christ is our great Redeemer, who is still mighty to save!

  • Acknowledge your offending a holy God. Confess your sin to God. “God, I am coming before You right now. I know I have sinned against you, by the way I have ____________.”
  • Seek His forgiveness. and help.
  • Remember His cleansing power.
  • Begin to put a plan in motion, to help you not fall into any tempting traps. 1 Peter 5:6-11 teaches us the importance of this step. While my list may look different from yours, my “plan of action” includes: Bible study. Keep Praying, Praising, and Serving God. Set Boundaries. Guard my heart and eyes. Hold onto and live out Philippians 4:8

Lord Jesus, lusting after another is serious. I know I am guilty of this, and cannot hide it. Not from You. I come before You to ask for Your forgiveness and for You to help me turn from my sin. Help me to not just turn from my sin, but to fully turn toward you. Help me to run toward You. I need to allow You to be the One to soothe my heart and be my portion. Thank You for all You are. Amen.

The Change Within {{Week 3}}

Welcome, friends!

I invite you to get out your study journal and Bible, if you have it nearby. If you haven’t had the privilege of ordering your study journal yet, you can do so here (Please Note: It’s an affiliate link).

The Scriptures – Matthew 5:8 and Psalm 24:3-4, 6

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8 – NLT).

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob (Psalm 24:3-4, 6 – ESV).

Devotion

There is no doubt or hesitation. Those who position themselves to be purified in their deeds and heart by the blood of Jesus Christ, are the ones who will see and experience God.

Often times, we just worry about behavior motivation. In today’s world, that seems like what we pursue often times. I actually took a class on it, when I was younger. It becomes about finding “reinforcements” that cause us to change the way we do things. When we do this, we completely miss solving our heart problem.

Genuine purity points us to worship, which means we will see and experience God. (Click-to-Tweet)

Jesus cuts to the chase right here – True purity points us to worship, which means we will see and experience God. We can’t settle for the counterfeit things. He knows the difference. If we don’t put our hearts in our relationship with Jesus, He will notice. Not only does He notice, it actually holds us back. It locks us to a chain, preventing us from going further. Purity must begin in our hearts, for that’s God looks at.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 – ESV).”

While we may think “if I just do the right things,” we get messed up in our focus. While man looks at doing the right things, God looks at having the right kind of heart. Let’s just seek Him, giving Him our hearts today – friends!

God looks at having the right kind of heart, that leads us to Him! (Click-to-Tweet)

Scripture shares something with us – In order to see and experience God, we need to worry about our heart. What do we have going on in our spirit? To meet with God, we need to be far more concerned about he internal – for it matters more than the outward appearance and good deeds.

Lord, I want to see You. Help me to concern myself with my inward appearance. There is no fooling You. I need to allow the transformation to start with my thought life. Thank You, Lord! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.