Running Behind

running-substance-more-than-form

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 4:8

“For physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and the life to come.”

Being the new year and all, it seems “fit”ting to write some about health. So forgive me for hopping on the typical new year’s resolution binge. (There I go again with corny word plays, my apologies).

Running on the treadmill this week I could not help but notice my bee-hind was behind, if you know what I mean. Seems the winter months have already not been too kind. Ugh. And so, like a hamster, I hop on my “wheel” and try to counter the effect that gravity is having on my *ahem* lower extremities.

Fellas, my apologies for being so transparent, but we sisters have a little harder time keeping in shape, I think.

Why bother, you may ask? Physical training is of some value. What does that even mean? What is “some” value?

I am writing today’s post to spur myself on, too, for in everything I do, I want to give God my best and bring Him glory. Does He care if I am a little more fluffy?

God looks on the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made. What our mind reflects on, our heart desires – these matter much more than trying to have a perfect physique.

Yet the words, “some value” haunt me. Rats. God does care about the stewardship of our bodies – not the perfect size or shape – but the care of His temple.

Ironically, a lot of the reason for lack of good health is because of being too busy and “running behind” on all my to do’s. Taking care of self seems to be low on my list of priorities.

Here comes that “some value” phrase again in my brain. Commentaries render this phrase as actually meaning “of little value”, but there is still some worth in this statement.

In the end, if my heart longs for food that harms me, I have to ask myself if this honors God. Then ultimately, I need to die to self when my craving is getting in the way of being healthy.

Like the Israelites who were asked to choose between life and death – righteousness and sin, the food and exercise choices we make are essentially choosing life or death, too.

Being healthy (as much as depends upon us) matters because it means we are better able to serve God. These fleshly tents we dwell in will all fade away. The physical training we do here is temporary and serves our earthly ministry, but both physical and spiritual training yield eternal rewards. Physical ailments can also have a negative affect on our spiritual growth from discouragement.

So, the end of the matter is perhaps where we began. Physical training does matter and can impact how much we are able to serve God, but it does not matter as much as our souls being right with our living God. Physical training can also become an idol if not kept in proper perspective. More than our outer shell which ultimately will fail, is the building up of our inner Spirit which lasts forever.

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Holy Week: The Wealthy King Who Became Poor

life-of-jesus-and-poor-in-spirit

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“He became poor to show us what true wealth really was.”

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 8:9

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.”

Matthew 8:20

“Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.””

Luke 18:22

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””

It is easy to get lost in the mentality of this world system – money and belongings are necessary to make it in this world.  Modern day rulers and politicians try to solve the problem of poverty by many means.  Distributing wealth from the privileged to those less fortunate, welfare, etc.  These approaches are flawed in many ways; the wealthy did not choose to share, the poor do not necessarily appreciate it, and providing merely for physical needs does not change the condition of our hearts before a Holy God.

We flee financial problems like the plague.  It is not comfortable to be in want nor to be so dependent on anyone else for basic human needs.  Being poor is not a coveted position, yet our God Who owned it all chose to surrender His position of prominence to give all He had to those who receive it.

Sometimes when we have all we need, we do not see that we have nothing apart from Christ.  He did not have any trappings to hold Him back from His mission and gave all He had to accomplish the purpose to which God the Father had given Him.  How humbling to consider that all he gave us we will be accountable to Him for how we spent it – all for His glory.  Like Schindler, the German business owner who wept at the end of WWII over how many more precious lives he could have saved with the belongings he owned, may God help us to examine the wealth He has given us now and help us spend it for eternal purposes.  More than that, may we be open and ready to see the spiritual poverty all around us and feed God’s people with His Word.

To those who followed him, He announced he had no home.  To those who were hungry, He fed.  To those who were poor in spirit, He made the richest of all.  We typically want to hide our need.  The shame of exposure of being or owning less than we had hoped is seemingly unbearable, but recognizing our spiritual poverty opens our eyes to see our need of a Savior Who is rich in grace and mercy.

Lord, You own everything.  Thank You for leaving it all to ransom our souls so we could be with You forever.  Forgive us for being so focused on temporal provisions and concerns and not trusting Your provision and seeing our greatest need of all – You.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: My Healer

Psalm 30:2

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.”

I am overcome today with praise for my Jehovah Rapha, the LORD Who heals me.  This morning when I awoke I realized I did not have the normal pain that has been my close companion for years. Actually, the pain has been dissipating the past couple of weeks and I wondered if God could be removing the physical burdens I bear daily.

Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have learned to live within the confines of the illnesses that hold me captive.  When I go outside of those boundaries, I hurt.  My sweet son sees when I am in pain and we have a routine where he tries to help me get going in the morning.  Daily living has been difficult, but I press on.  In moments when I have felt I could not bear the burden any longer, God’s strength carried me.

The LORD has healed me many times over the years and with each affliction I only drew nearer to my God.  While my flesh was beaten, my inner man clung to God and His promises.  Physical suffering is discouraging and greatly affects our ability to be effective.  Like walking in mud, progress seems insurmountable.  The lessons learned in each struggle, however, produce a treasure of a closer walk with God, even if they leave us with a lasting wound like Jacob when He wrestled with God.

I confess that I was afraid to even hope that He might be healing me.  I often did not see that He had already been healing me spiritually.  The thought of being delivered from the prison of pain I have lived through seemed to be too good to be true.  Surrendering my life to His hands, I rested in the truth that whatever God allowed into my life would serve to bring Him glory and fulfill His purposes through me.  Whether He wants to heal me for a day or for years, I thank Him and trust His decision.

It is a humbling experience to be physically afflicted and we can feel forgotten.  But if we had never experienced the pain, we would not have the gratitude for God’s deliverance.  We tend to take things for granted until what we assume is ours is taken away.  God in His wisdom knows what we need – both blessings and burdens.  Perhaps the most beautiful lesson learned through my health ordeals has been to be surrendered to whatever the LORD’s will is.  Whether sick or healthy, it is all about His glory in every circumstance.  Either way, He is our Healer – healing us inwardly or outwardly through it all.

Lord, I am overcome by Your faithfulness.  Who are we, that You should notice us at all?  And yet You want to heal us and draw us nearer to You to help others be healed, too.  Thank You, God!

The Strength of Weakness

Photo credits www.prweb.com

Photo credits http://www.prweb.com

Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me.”

Weakness.  Despised by our culture and not something to be proud of.  Yet it was physical infirmity that first propelled Paul to share the Gospel with the Galatians.  Paul’s weakness is not known – perhaps the recent stoning he was subjected to, or a sickness of some sort.  Either way, it was an uncomfortable distraction that God used.  God had chosen to use weak vessels before.  He even came as an infant Himself – the most fragile state of humanity, in a crude rustic dwelling.  Why?  It does not make sense to our sophisticated culture or ways that God, Who is Almighty God and Creator, would allow Himself to be taken care of by weak humans.

But the wisdom of God confounds our supposed insight and ways.  It seems to me that Paul could have done even more for the kingdom of God if he were physically well, but then sometimes when we operate in our own strength we do not see our need of God and take for granted the health we do have.  Sickness humbles you and that is a gift in disguise.  Oh, I know, I sound so pious saying it is a gift – surely I cannot mean it.  But it is, in fact, in the midst of some of the most humbling health challenges that I have felt the closest to God.  Now that makes it all worth it.  Add to that being able to help another soul struggling along because you have been there – incomparable to having a perfect pain-free life. 

Oh, sure, it hurts, and sometimes I wonder why.  But the struggle is part of living – the highs and lows, the joys, triumphs and sorrows.  Where would I know the comfort of God if it were not for those precious moments of deep pain?   Oh, I could wish that I would not have to feel the throbbing sting of impertinent diseases, but I trust my Savior’s hand, and I know that I know He will never let a trial or a pain go unused for my good and His glory.  I find myself in a similar situation as Paul. God still births songs and devotions in my heart to share with people, and simultaneously I am battling physical battles, as well.  I am not sure if autoimmune diseases were around in Paul’s time, but whatever affliction Paul had, it was significant and it affected him.  His illness made sharing the Gospel harder, but it was also a catalyst for his mission and the growth of the church in Galatia.

Why does God allow in sickness, hardship, things which are a stigma in our culture?  The rain falls on the good and the bad.  Now, I am not calling myself good – God calls righteous those who are covered by the blood of His Son.  If unbelievers see the rain falling on Christians, who turn around and praise God while it is raining, doesn’t that provide a beautiful display of God’s grace in the fire?  So it’s raining right now, and I am choosing to sing in the rain.  My body hurts and it makes it harder to do normal things, but I will praise His Name and look for His deliverance!  If you feel like you cannot keep going on, lean harder on Jesus and know that He is able to grant you strength beyond what you could ever imagine.  You never know, you might even find yourself doing something crazy like thanking Him for the very thing you despised.

Jehovah Rapha, I thank You that You are my Healer.  You have healed me before and I look to You again as my Healer – spiritually and physically.  I thank you for this thorn in my flesh and pray that You are honored and glorified in it.  Please help those who are hurting and doubting Your goodness when life is challenging.  Give them Your hope and joy.