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“Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:43

Last night I wrote about Luke 22:41-42 where Jesus prayed regarding His upcoming crucifixion, asking God to take away the cup from Him if it was His will, but surrendering to God’s will, instead of His own. Jesus was about to face the most crucial time in His life and He was struggling with what He had to do. We are probably all pretty familiar with this portion of the story, but something new struck me as I read those Scriptures last night. In the very next verse, verse 43, Scripture says that an angel appeared to Jesus from heaven to strengthen Him. I don’t know about you, but the fact that an angel came to strengthen Jesus as He was wrestling with what He was facing, gives me immense hope for two reasons. First, it is a direct glimpse into the very humanness of Jesus. He was fully God, but  still fully human. He was struggling with what God’s will for Him was. He knew what He had to do, but He was asking God if it was possible that His plan may be different. I can totally relate to this! I struggle so often with what God’s plan is. I may know deep in my heart what has to happen, but I’m still beggging for a different way. God was looking down at His Son struggling like He had never struggled before. And, no, He didn’t change the plan, but He did send an angel to give His Son strength to do what needed to be done. Second, it is a direct glimpse at what God is willing to do for us. He knows we are weak. He knows we struggle sometimes. He knows that we are only human and that renders us limited. He knows we are terrified at times of what the future holds. And, no, He may not change the plans, but He gives us strength to endure. He sends angels in the form of other people to encourage us and strengthen us along the way. He has provided us His Holy Spirit to comfort us and help us face our fears. Just as God saw Jesus struggling, He sees us. He doesn’t turn His head away and just ignore our distress. He sends us help so we can keep going. He loves us too much to turn away when we are in agony. And to me, that gives me such hope!

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Posted on: 7-15-112018

“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:41-42

Yesterday, my four year old grandson and I were hunting frogs in the ditches along our road, which we do pretty much every day. It was starting to get dusky dark, and we were having a hard time seeing the frogs. I told him we needed to go inside and wait to hunt frogs until today when we could see better. He replied, “Nana, just appease me,” and continued hunting frogs. I couldn’t do anything except laugh and continue hunting frogs until after dark. What choice did I have? What kind of Nana would I be if I didn’t “appease” my little pride and joy? I was replaying the scene in my head today and it occurred to me that I do the very same thing to God. I’m doing what it is I want to do when He tells me to do something different. And I just continue on doing what I’m doing and basically tell God to just appease me and let me do what I want. I thought of Jesus when He prayed in the garden in preparation for His crucifixion. Instead of asking God to appease Him and what He wanted, He asked for God’s will to be done. The fact that He asked God to remove the cup from  Him if it was His will lets us know He was struggling with what He faced. We can probably safely assume that He would’ve liked a different plan to be in place. But, He didn’t ask God to appease Him and His will. He asked Him to remove the cup IF it was His will, but ultimately for God’s will to be done, not His own. I wish I could say that I pray that way, but intend to get stuck on the “appease me” part and skip over the “Your will be done” part. I’m working on it, but it’s not easy. It’s not easy, but every time I’ve done it, God has come through for me in a mighty way. Very rarely has it been my way, but it has always been the best way!

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of faith is the end of anxiety.” George Mueller

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarded of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

When I came across the quote by George Mueller above, I wondered how many of us have some sort of anxiety weighing us down? How many of us are walking that fine line between anxiety and faith? Personally speaking, I feel like I’m teetering on the fence  between the two a lot lately. Then I remembered Hebrews 11:6 and it clearly doesn’t say that anxiety pleases God…it is only our faith that pleases Him. So, if I want to please God, I need to get off  the fence and get on the side of faith permanently. Sounds easy enough, but we know that it’s not. Faith is blind trust and that is not something that comes easily to most of us. We would much rather worry and fret than to trust. But, if we are going to please God, we have to lay down our worries and have faith in God and in His ability. Let’s put an end to anxiety by holding onto our faith.

 

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

“I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand, but even if You don’t, my hope is in You alone…” lyrics from MercyMe’s “Even If”

Trials, tragedies, disaster, and sheer heartbreak are a part of each and every one of our lives. Sometimes the hurt is so deep we don’t even know how we will take our next breath. We pray, begging God to deliver us from the despair, the pain, and the desperation, until we cannot pray anymore. We hold on to our faith with every ounce of strength we have, but sometimes, that faith can run thin. We all get to a place where we have to decide if getting rid of the pain is more important than remaining faithful to God. Sometimes God does not deliver us from the fire…sometimes we have to walk through it. It’s often hard to understand why we have to walk through the hurt when we know that God is able to deliver us from it, but we have to trust Him no matter what. That trust has to remind us that if He chooses for us to walk through the suffering, then it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, He would have spared us. God doesn’t delight in our shattered hearts, but He does delight in what is best for us. He knows it’s almost too much to bear some days, and He understands that our faith grows weak. He knows that we cannot walk these roads alone. He knows our strength will not be enough to carry us. However, He still won’t deliver us from something that He knows we need to walk through. He loves us too much to give us the easy way out. He will, however, remain by our side, walking with us and carrying us when we can’t go on any longer. He will provide strength when we need it. He will grant us  wisdom and discernment to help us. He will give us encouragement. And He will make sure that we make it through the fire better than we were before. We just have to keep our eyes on Him and let Him lead us. Trust Him…even if it’s hard…even if it hurts…even when everything in you screams not to. He is worthy of that trust!

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

For the last few days where I live there has been an incredibly high pollen count in the air. I heard on the news that due to the high pollen count, sinus and allergy sufferers were being encouraged to stay indoors as much as possible. Unfortunately for me, it was too late! I was already experiencing a flare up. It started off with just a runny nose, watery eyes, and a little bit of drainage in my throat, but by the next day, it had progressed to a whole lot of drainage and no voice whatsoever. On the bright side, I wasn’t feeling poorly…just having some symptoms as a result of what was in the air. Thinking about the air quality started me thinking about the Scripture above. What is the air like when I leave a room? Am I leaving the pleasing aroma of Christ wherever I go? Are people’s lives changed because of His aroma? Pollen comes and pollen goes and with it, the allergy symptoms it brings. The aroma of Christ, however, affects lives for eternity.

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else…” Galatians 6:4

My soon to be 2 year old grandson loves to wear other people’s shoes. Ever since he started walking, no unattended shoes have been safe. Tonight, he donned a pair of my husband’s tennis shoes and trampled around the house in them for a good while. Obviously, the shoes are much too large for him, but he did his best to maneuver around in them. I had to laugh at him a few times because he would get so frustrated if he couldn’t make the shoes do what he wanted them to do. For example, he was trying his best to get in his little car, and he just could not fit those shoes inside. He was so aggravated at one point that he finally jerked the shoes off of his feet and said, “These are Pop’s shoes…not my shoes.” And he’s absolutely right! He was trying to wear someone else’s shoes, but he just couldn’t. They didn’t fit! It made me wonder how many times one of us has tried to “wear someone else’s shoes” only to get frustrated when it doesn’t work. God has uniquely and divinely designed each and every one of us to be exactly who we are. He has prepared specific purposes and plans for us that coincide with our gifts, talents, resources, and opportunities that no one else can fulfill. He calls us to do things that only we can do. Yet, we often look at someone else and think what they have is so much better. We try to do what they’ve been called to do and we end up aggravated and ready to throw in the towel. We can get mad at ourselves and think we have nothing to offer the world around us, but that’s simply not true. We are just struggling because we are “wearing someone else’s shoes” and they just don’t fit us. Save yourself some frustration and just be yourself. Do what you are called to do…not what someone else is called to do.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Recently when I spilt something, I was reminded of something I saw a good while back. The article said to imagine you were holding a cup of coffee when someone accidentally bumped into you. What would happen? You would spill your coffee, right? You would spill coffee because there was coffee in the cup that could be spilled. If you had tea in your cup, you couldn’t very well spill coffee, now could you? Of course not…if you had tea in your cup and were bumped, you would spill tea. The same is true of us. When life “bumps” us, whatever is in our heart is what we will spill out. If our heart is full of bitterness, rage, anger, and hatred, the bumps of life will cause those things to spill out from us. On the other hand, if our heart is full of kindness, gentleness, compassion, and love, then when life bumps us, we will spill those things out. Whatever we are putting into our heart matters because bumps in life are inevitable, and whatever spills out as a result is either going to point people to Christ or away from Him. Ask yourself today what would spill out from your heart today if life bumped you? If it is anything that would point the world away from Christ, it needs to be dealt with immediately!


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