ONE MORE BOUQUET OF BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS
January 19, 2014
I’ve experienced both kinds throughout my eighty-plus years of living in this sin-drenched world and I’ve hated each one of them with a passion. Those were the times when I sometimes had doubts of Gods’ love, mercy and compassion. In fact, I even went so far as to wonder if perhaps God was just a figment of my imagination especially during the last six or seven years while I experienced them. For instance, there have been times when I have literally cried like a baby asking Him what I did wrong that caused Him to treat me so despicably. I pleaded with Him to open my eyes so that I could see. I’ve cried out to the Holy Spirit to search my heart and convict me beyond the shadow of a doubt of the sins I was committing that displeased God so much and caused Him to punish me so severely.
It got to the point where I didn’t know what to pray for. I couldn’t think straight. I desperately wanted God to comfort me, and give me lots of encouragement and hope. And so I pleaded with Jesus to pray to our Father on my behalf asking Him to please stop tormenting me so much, and also send a lot of angelic backup support to protect me from reinjuring myself and suffering such excruciating physical pain. I promised that I would give Him all sorts of public praise for once again having given me another desire of my heart. Then the following Scriptures popped into my mind and I made them my own personal prayer.
Psalm 119:18 (TLB)
18 Open my eyes to see wonderful things in your Word.
Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Psalm 86:12 (NIV)
12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 90:14-17 (MSG)
14 Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
15 Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
16 Let your servants see what you’re best at— the ways you rule and bless your children.
17 And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!
Colossians 1:10-29 (TLB)
10 and asking that the way you live will always please the Lord and honor him, so that you will always be doing good, kind things for others, while all the time you are learning to know God better and better.
11 We are praying, too, that you will be filled with his mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens—always full of the joy of the Lord,
12 and always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the Kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,
14 who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins.
15 Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact,
16 Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory.
17 He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together.
18 He is the Head of the body made up of his people—that is, his Church—which he began; and he is the Leader of all those who arise from the dead, so that he is first in everything;
19 for God wanted all of himself to be in his Son.
20 It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood.
21 This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends.
22 He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you—nothing left that he could even chide you for;
23 the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you. This is the wonderful news that came to each of you and is now spreading all over the world. And I, Paul, have the joy of telling it to others.
24 But part of my work is to suffer for you; and I am glad, for I am helping to finish up the remainder of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the Church.
25 God has sent me to help his Church and to tell his secret plan to you Gentiles.
26 He has kept this secret for centuries and generations past, but now at last it has pleased him to tell it to those who love him and live for him,
27 and the riches and glory of his plan are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ in your hearts is your only hope of glory.
28 So everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen, warning them and teaching them as well as we know how. We want to be able to present each one to God, perfect because of what Christ has done for each of them.
29 This is my work, and I can do it only because Christ’s mighty energy is at work within me.
Romans 8:32-39 (MSG)
32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?
33 And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?
34 Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
35 Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
36 They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
37 None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.
38 I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow,
39 high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Philippians 4:5-9 (TLB)
5 Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.
7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
That’s a lot easier said than done. For instance, how can I think about those kinds of things or anything else for the matter when my pain is so intense? All I wanted was for God to take it away and do it immediately. All of a sudden the following verse popped into my mind.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still and know that I am God.
Here I was crying non-stop plea’s to God because of my pain and He’s telling me to shut up and be patient and that He’s God. Those were the times when I screamed epitaphs at God. Things such as “You’re telling me to shut up? You want me to be patient and trust you? What kind of a loving Father are you anyway? Why aren’t you treating me with mercy? Why do you want me to continue suffering like this? Do you hear me? I’m still begging you! Please, please, take this awful pain away! I can’t stand much more of it!
The same scripture entered my mind again, “Be still and know that I am God.” And then I suddenly realized that, that particular scripture was sent to me by Satan, the one whom Jesus referred as being the father of lies. It was designed by the devil to deceive me into believing that God was punishing just as one of Job’s friends thought that God was punishing godly Job for his sins and that He doesn’t care about me, or my pain.
From that moment on, I was reminded of many instances of the pain and suffering I endured in my lifetime. The fact is that not a single one of them was more than I could endure and they were always tempered with God’s loving mercy and comfort.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Every one of my divinely ordained trials has caused my faith to grow and has drawn me into a more intimate relationship with God. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite scriptures that minister to me whenever I’m experiencing intense physical/emotional pain.
Psalm 119:50 (NIV)
50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
Psalm 119:76-77 (MSG)
76 Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight! just the way you promised.
77 Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
The following is a nice devotional that I want to add to this bouquet of beautiful thoughts.
HIGHS AND LOWS
By, Amy Clarke Ellis
If all the world were broad and flat
How dull the scene would be!
We’d wish instead for hills and vales
With changing views to see.
If all of life were free from care,
Devoid of tears and pain,
There’d be no failure or success-
No summits to attain.
But life is filled with ups and downs,
With happiness and woe.
Our joys are like the mountaintops,
Our sorrows lie below.
The Lord who made the lofty peaks
Designed the valleys too.
And He is there at every turn
To guide our passage through.
Here’s something else to think about. “If God is good, why is there suffering? This is one of the most important questions about our faith. It’s also a difficult question since all of us experience pain and suffering in this life.
To view suffering as something that is evil implies that good and evil have recognizable standards.
Christians say God’s nature is good, and so we can look to who God is to figure out what is evil. We can say that His original creation, which was perfectly good, was not intended for suffering. Suffering and death are corruptions of God’s good gifts of life. They weren’t originally part of this world and are only temporary.
In a universe void of God as the standard of good-a standard that does not change with human preferences or culture-we end up with no objective good or evil. Things that happen are just the way they are.
What if there is no God? Without an objective standard of good, we have no reason to think that these things that happen are good or bad.” Mary Jo Sharp, in the winter 2014 edition of Facts & Trends.
In closing I’ll leave you folks with another fact to think about.
THERE IS A REASON FOR EVERYTHING
By Helen Steiner Rice
Our Father knows what’s best for us,
So why should we complain-
We always want the sunshine,
But He knows there must be rain-
We love the sound of laughter
And the merriment of cheer,
But our hearts would loose their tenderness
If we never shed a tear…
Our Father tests us often
With suffering and with sorrow,
He tests us, not to punish us,
But to help us meet tomorrow…
For growing trees are strengthened
When they withstand the storm,
And the sharp cut of the chisel
Gives the marble grace and form…
God never hurts us needlessly,
And He never wastes our pain,
For every loss He sends to us
Is followed by rich gain…
And when we count the blessings
That God so freely sent,
We will find no cause for murmuring
And no time to lament
For Our Father loves His children,
And to Him all things are plain,
So He never sends us pleasures,
When the soul’s deep need is pain…
So whenever we are troubled,
And when everything goes wrong,
It is just God working in us
To make our spirit strong.
Helen Steiner Rice
And now I have delivered One More Bouquet of Beautiful Thoughts. I’m trusting God that you will find it to be helpful in your pilgrimage through this sin infested world. I’m always grateful to those of you who let me know by posting your thoughts on my blog.
Lord willing, next week….