Wednesday, September 12, 2018

God's Position In Your Life

Today I want to share a post from a dear friend. With his love for Jesus, love for people, and godly wisdom, he is a great blessing to me and many others. I hope you'll be encouraged by what he has to share. =)

What is God’s position in your life? by Dave Lundquist

Several years ago, I attended a retreat called, "Faith Matters." Here’s a question: is this title an adjective and a noun – meaning "matters of faith"? Or is it a noun and a verb – meaning "faith is important"? It turns out that both are true.

The facilitator of the retreat asked us to find a quiet place and describe our spiritual journey using a method that was unfamiliar to us. If we were "word" people (as I obviously am), then we should use art materials, which she generously provided.

My pastel drawing of my journey showed the peaks and valleys – the ups and downs of my spiritual life. I then drew the hand of God over the entire path, knowing that God was always present with me in good times and bad.

I discovered this drawing again months later. I thought to myself that if I did it again, I would probably draw God’s hand under my path – for two reasons. First, He is beneath me to support me and catch me if I fall. Second, on deep reflection, I realized that I was closer to God at the low points of my journey.

One day I was having a conversation with a friend about where God is. The natural response seems to be, "God is above us." Or, "God is up there" (pointing heavenward). After a bit of conversation about that, we began thinking of other “locations” for God, like beneath, or around, or within.

Do you remember the game Mad Libs? It provided a story with blanks to be filled in by the players, and the blanks had to be a specific part of speech, like  NOUN ,  VERB , etc. Our God-conversation soon evolved into a Mad Libs exercise following this format:

"God is  PREPOSITION  us to  VERB  us."

For example, "God is above us to watch over us." We began to go back and forth using this approach. Here are some more examples:

·      God is beneath us to support us.
·      God is between us to keep us together.
·      God is before us to lead us.
·      God is around us to protect us.
·      God is within us to fill us.
·      God is beside us to attend us.

Try it yourself.

As I reflect on all of this, I’ve come to realize that these approaches are flawed. Though there is value and wisdom in them, they limit a limitless God!

I am reminded of a book I read many years ago called, "Your God is Too small" by J. B. Phillips, and another book, which I read more recently called, "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A. W. Tozer. Both books admonish us not to make God in our image, but rather to realize that God is everywhere, everything, and majestic beyond words – yet He still loves each of us immeasurably.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

God's Story (La Historia de Dios)

I've been doing some research on stories in history lately, which has been fun for me. I've enjoyed learning about history since the 4th grade when I was captivated by the stories in my American History book.

I think it can easy for us to forget about history...especially today when the world is moving so fast and it seems like things change weekly or daily. Companies are always "upgrading" or "improving" their products. And there's more news for each new day than we can take in, let alone think about something that happened 50 or 100 years ago.

At the same time, wise people in every generation have understood the value of remembering and learning from history. In the Bible God told His people many times to remember or not to forget what He had done for them.

"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me" (Isaiah 46:9).

The Israelites had specific holidays throughout the year to commemorate historical events, such as the Passover when they left Egypt. They took time each year to remember.

This week God gave me a different perspective about history. I realized that in my life, it's not my history I'm looking at - it's God's history with me. Yes, God has a history with me - and He has a history with you too.

Pause for a moment, and remember a time when God did something significant in your life.

Can you see how God was writing "His story" in your life through that? He was establishing history in your relationship with Him.

When I took just a few minutes to remember, I was amazed all over again at God's work in my life - in so many specific ways, and different things at different times.... What a rich history He has given me with Him!

When I'm feeling "stuck" or down or confused in the moment, it helps to look back and see God's history in my life. He has always been at work in my life. He has been continuously developing my relationship with Him. He has been faithfully writing His story - a story of His love, His grace, His faithfulness, His beauty, His me personally.

And He has been doing the same for you.

I encourage you to take some time this week to remember God's history with you. What has He done? How has He shown Himself in your life? And how does that encourage you where you are today?

Perhaps in heaven we'll get to share our stories with each other of God's specific history with each of us. That sounds like a great way to spend eternity. =)

For now, let's take time to remember. Then hopefully we'll be ready when God gives us opportunities to share His history with us to those who need to hear.

Awesome God, we thank you that you are the God who is, who was, and who is to come. Hallelujah!

P.S. I wanted to say a big "Thank you!" to all of you who prayed for my friend Martha earlier this year. She is doing much better and continues to recover. All glory to God! We are so thankful for His healing in her life and for giving her more time to be a blessing on this earth. =)

Praise God that Martha is able to translate these blog posts once again, so we will start including the Spanish translations from here forward.

Thanks again for your prayers!

La Historia de Dios

Últimamente he estado investigando algunas crónicas en historia, lo que me ha agradado mucho. He disfrutado aprender sobre historia desde el cuarto grado cuando fui cautivada por las crónicas en mi libro de Historia Americana.

Creo que puede ser fácil para nosotros olvidar sobre la historia…especialmente ahora que el mundo se está moviendo tan rápido y parece que las cosas cambian semanal o diariamente. Las compañías están siempre "actualizando" o "mejorando" sus productos. Y hay más noticias para cada nuevo día de las que podemos tomar, ni hablar de pensar en algo que sucedió hace 50 o 100 años.

Al mismo tiempo, las personas sabias en cada generación han entendido el valor de recordar y aprender de la historia. En la Biblia Dios dijo a Su pueblo muchas veces que recordara o no olvidara lo que Él había hecho por ellos.

"Acordaos de las cosas pasadas desde los tiempos antiguos; porque yo soy Dios, y no hay otro Dios, y nada hay semejante a mí" (Is. 46:9).

Los israelitas tenían festivos específicos a lo largo del año para conmemorar eventos históricos, como la Pascua cuando dejaron Egipto. Tomaban tiempo para recordarlo cada año.

Esta semana Dios me dio una perspectiva diferente acerca de la historia. Me di cuenta que, en mi vida, no es a mi historia a la que estoy mirando - es a la historia de Dios conmigo. Sí, Dios tiene una historia conmigo - y Él tiene una historia contigo también.

Toma un momento y recuerda una ocasión en la que Dios hizo algo significativo en tu vida.

¿Puedes ver como Dios estaba escribiendo "Su historia" en tu vida a través de eso? Estaba estableciendo una historia en tu relación con Él.

Cuando tomé sólo unos minutos para recordar, me maravillé grandemente otra vez ante la obra de Dios en mi vida – en tantas maneras específicas y cosas diferentes en diferentes momentos…. ¡Que rica historia me ha dado con Él!

Cuando me siento "atascada," deprimida o confundida en el momento, me ayuda mirar atrás y ver la historia de Dios en mi vida. Siempre ha estado obrando en ella. Continuamente ha estado desarrollando mi relación con Él. Fielmente ha estado escribiendo Su historia – una historia de Su amor, Su gracia, Su fidelidad, Su belleza, Su bondad…hacia mí personalmente.

Y Él ha estado haciendo lo mismo por ti.

Te animo a tomar un tiempo esta semana para recordar la historia de Dios contigo. ¿Qué ha hecho Él? ¿Cómo se ha mostrado a Sí mismo en tu vida? Y ¿cómo te anima eso donde estás hoy?

Tal vez en el cielo podremos compartir unos con otros cada historia específica de Dios con cada uno de nosotros. Eso parece una gran manera de pasar la eternidad. =)

Por ahora tomemos tiempo para recordar. Así tendremos la esperanza de estar listos cuando Dios nos dé oportunidades de compartir Su historia con nosotros a aquellos que necesiten escuchar.

Maravilloso Dios, te damos gracias porque tú eres el Dios que eres, que eras y que vendrás. ¡Aleluya!

P.D. Quiero expresar un gran "¡Gracias!" A todos los que oraron por mi amiga Martha a comienzos de este año. Está mucho mejor y continúa recuperándose. ¡Toda la gloria para Dios! Estamos muy agradecidos por Su curación en su vida y por darle más tiempo para ser de bendición en esta tierra.=)

Gracias a Dios que Martha puede traducir mis entradas en el blog una vez más, así que estaremos incluyendo las traducciones en español de ahora en adelante. 

¡Gracias otra vez por sus oraciones!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Unexpected Expected Blessings (Inesperadas Esperadas Bendiciones)

Christine Caine has a new book out called "Unexpected," and I hope I'll get to read it soon. The quotes and excerpts I've read so far have been helpful and encouraging. It's a topic we all can relate to.

Each of us face unexpected situations, trials, and challenges in life. And the reality is that we are not in control. But when unexpected things do happen, we know the One who is in control. And the amazing thing about God is that so many times He works through those unexpected challenges to give us unexpected blessings.

I was reading in Romans 15 recently, and I paused after reading this verse:
"I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ." (v.29)

Paul was writing a letter to the Christians in Rome. He wanted to visit them and this was his expectation - that he would visit them "in the full measure of the blessing of Christ."

When I read his words, I thought, "That's not what happened!" Paul was arrested in Jerusalem by his own people who accused him of many things. The Jews plotted to kill him, and he finally appealed to Caesar, so he was shipped to Rome as a prisoner. And then he endured a horrible storm and shipwreck on the way to Rome...that doesn't sound like the "full measure of the blessing of Christ." Does it?

Well, the Holy Spirit didn't let me stop there.

Paul's expectation was to go to Rome in the blessing of Christ. The way he got to Rome certainly was not what he expected. It was a painful and perilous journey.

But then I turned to Acts 28 to read the rest of the story. Here's what it says:
"When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. ... For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ--with all boldness and without hindrance!" -Acts 28:16, 30-31

Wow! The apostle who faced persecution in almost every place he'd ever been was given an unexpected blessing of two years of peace and unhindered ministry! Two years of being "under guard" also meant he was guarded from those who might otherwise have persecuted him. In a sense, he had built in protection. He was able to preach and teach and evangelize to everyone who came to see him.

I think that might be considered "the full measure of the blessing of Christ." Don't you?

So, yes his journey was unexpected. But the result was an unexpected gift. And the expected full measure of the blessing of Christ was probably even better than what he had originally imagined.

Right now you may still be in the middle of your painful or perilous journey. You may be wondering what happened to the full measure of the blessing of Christ in your life. I've felt that way lately. But I'm so thankful that Jesus opened my eyes to see this unexpected part of Paul's story.

As God's children we can always have an expectation of His blessing. Jesus died on the cross in order to take all of our failure, sin, and guilt. And instead Jesus gave us the gift of His righteousness and favor with God. God is blessing us because of Jesus. That's God's character - faithful, righteous, just, gracious, loving, good.

However, the way God's blessings come in our lives are often not the way we expect. I don't know about you, but I want to live expecting God's blessing in my life. But I also want to have faith to trust Him to bring His blessing in whatever unexpected way He chooses. This is not easy. Yet I believe there is a moment of awe-filled wonder ahead for us when we see how God used the unexpected journey to bring blessing beyond what we ever expected!

Hallelujah! All praise to our God.

Inesperadas Esperadas Bendiciones
Christine Caine ha publicado un nuevo libro llamado “Inesperado” y espero terminar de leerlo pronto. Las citas y extractos que he leído hasta ahora han sido de ayuda y de ánimo. Es un tema con el que todos podemos relacionarnos.
Cada uno de nosotros enfrenta situaciones, pruebas y desafíos inesperados en la vida. Y la verdad es que no estamos en control. Pero cuando cosas inesperadas suceden, conocemos al Único que está en  control. Y lo asombroso acerca de Dios es que muchas veces Él obra a través de esos desafíos inesperados para darnos bendiciones inesperadas.
Recientemente estuve leyendo en Romanos 15 e hice una pausa después de leer este versículo: “Y sé que cuando vaya a vosotros, llegaré con abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo” (v. 29)
Pablo estaba escribiendo una carta a los cristianos en Roma. Quería visitarlos “con abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo.”
Cuando leí estas palabras pensé “¡Eso no fue lo que pasó!” Pablo fue arrestado en Jerusalén por su propia gente que lo acusaba de muchas cosas. Los judíos conspiraron para matarlo y él, finalmente, apeló a César así que lo embarcaron a Roma como prisionero. Y luego soportó una terrible tormenta y un naufragio yendo hacia allá… eso no suena como “la abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo.” ¿Verdad?
Bueno, el Espíritu Santo no me permitió detenerme allí.
La expectativa de Pablo era ir a Roma con la bendición del evangelio de Cristo. La forma como llegó allí ciertamente no fue como esperaba. Fue un viaje doloroso y peligroso.
Pero luego fui a Hechos 28 a leer el resto de la historia. Aquí está lo que dice:
“Cuando llegamos a Roma, el centurión entregó los presos al prefecto militar, pero a Pablo se le permitió vivir aparte, con un soldado que le custodiase… Y Pablo permaneció dos años enteros en una casa alquilada, y recibía a todos los que a él venían, predicando el reino de Dios y enseñando acerca del Señor Jesucristo, abiertamente y sin impedimento” –Hch. 28:16, 30-31
¡Guau! Al apóstol que enfrentó persecución en casi todos los lugares en los que alguna vez estuvo le dieron una bendición inesperada de ¡dos años de paz y ministerio sin impedimento! Dos años de estar “custodiado” también significaba que estaba custodiado por aquellos que en otras circunstancias lo habrían perseguido. En algún sentido había encontrado protección. Pudo predicar, enseñar y evangelizar a todos los que llegaron a visitarlo.
Pienso que eso puede considerarse “la abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo.” ¿Verdad?
Entonces sí, su viaje fue inesperado. Pero el resultado fue un regalo inesperado. Y la esperada abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo probablemente fue aún mejor de lo que él había pensado originalmente.
Puede ser que ahora mismo estés en medio de tu doloroso o peligroso viaje. Puedes estar preguntándote qué pasó con la abundancia de la bendición del evangelio de Cristo en tu vida. Yo me he sentido así últimamente. Pero estoy muy agradecida porque Jesús abrió mis ojos para ver esta inesperada parte de la historia de Pablo.
Como hijos de Dios podemos tener siempre una expectativa de Su bendición. Jesús murió en la cruz para llevar todos nuestros fracasos, pecados y culpas. Y en su lugar nos dio el regalo de Su justicia y favor con Dios. Dios nos está bendiciendo gracias a Jesús. Ése es el carácter de Dios – fiel, único, justo, lleno de gracia, amoroso, bondadoso.
Sin embargo, la manera en que llegan las bendiciones de  Dios a nuestras vidas usualmente no son como las esperamos. No sé de ti, pero yo quiero vivir esperando la bendición de Dios en mi vida. Pero también quiero tener fe para confiar en que Él enviará Su bendición en cualquiera que sea la manera que Él escoja. Esto no es fácil. Con todo, yo creo que hay un momento de indescriptible maravilla delante de nosotros cuando vemos como Dios usó el inesperado viaje para traer bendición ¡más allá de lo que nunca imaginamos!
¡Aleluya! Toda alabanza sea dada a nuestro Dios.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

He's Still There

I apologize that this post is a day late. I was in Idaho for a week seeing my doctor there and just got back to FL and am still recovering. So today I thought I'd repost something I wrote last year. I needed the same encouragement again today. Funny how God can use something He gave you in the past to meet a need in the present. He's faithful like that.

Anyway, here it is. A reminder that whatever you're going through, even if you feel like you can't "see" Him, God is still with you. He's still there.

Unseen Reality (from 2017)

I enjoyed a wonderful visit in Scotland this summer! In that part of the world, the weather is very different from Florida in the summer. It's cooler there and rains a lot, and it's more often cloudy than sunny. We did have some nice sunny days, but other days it was so cloudy we didn't see the sun at all. 

While I was there, God also worked it out for me to go to Northern Ireland for a week, which was a sweet blessing! I took a short flight from Scotland to Northern Ireland. As the plane climbed into the sky, we flew through a thick cloud bank. Suddenly we came out on top of the clouds, and the sun was blazing brilliantly in the sky!
It was like I suddenly remembered that the sun did still exist, even though I hadn't seen it in a while. There it was shining brightly over the top of that cloud bank. The sun had never left or wavered or faltered. I just hadn't been able to see it through the clouds. 

The fact is that the sun doesn't move or change. The earth moves, and clouds can come and block our view, but the sun is always shining its light. 

I think we often forget this truth because we say things like, "I wish the sun would come out" or "The sun disappeared behind a cloud." In reality, the sun didn't hide or move. But we often speak words based on the perception of what we see or feel, not on the greater unseen reality. 

We can do the same with God, can't we? He is always there, unchanging. Jesus is always present, shining His light in our lives. But sometimes we can't see Him because of stormy circumstances or a dark night of the soul. We may say things like, "Where is God now?" or "I wish God would show up in my life." But the unseen reality is that He is ever-present, always glorious.

Maybe sometimes we just need a little flight of faith to lift us above the cloud banks, where we can see His light blazing so brightly that we pause in awe. Where we remember that He is present. He is beautiful. And He is active in our lives. 

Maybe we need to speak words that reflect the unseen reality of who Jesus is, instead of how we feel in the moment.

He has never left us. 
His love for us endures through every storm. 
His faithfulness never fails. 
His mercies are new every morning.  
He is eternally good.

I'm thankful God has given us His Word, our source of truth and the fuel of our faith. And I'm thankful God speaks to us through His creation, reminding us of eternal realities that are sure and steady, even though unseen.  

"Though you have not seen Him (Jesus), you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." -1 Peter 1:8-9

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Where Jesus Is...

"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God...." -Isaiah 43:2b-3a

In the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar saw 4 men, not 3. Jesus met Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. And the flames did not burn them...because where Jesus is there is LIFE. 

I hope this song encourages you today, whether life is good or you're feeling the heat of a fiery trial. Jesus is with you. 

Blessings to you my friends.

Where Jesus Is

Wherever Jesus is, there is Peace,
Guarding, keeping, blessing.
Wherever Jesus is, there is Joy,
Cheering, lifting, strengthening.
Wherever Jesus is, there is Love,
Overflowing, renewing, embracing.

Jesus, where you are is where I want to be.
Hold my hand, draw me close to You.
Give me eyes to see you, ears to hear you,
You are everything to me,
Where you are is Life.

Wherever Jesus is, there is Light,
Glowing, illuminating, overcoming.
Wherever Jesus is, there is Truth,
Redeeming, healing, freeing.
Wherever Jesus is, there is Grace,
Cleansing, restoring, transforming.

Jesus, where you are is where I want to be. 
Hold my hand, draw me close to You.
Give me eyes to see you, ears to hear you,
You are everything to me, 
Where you are is Life.

Jesus - Beautiful One, Good Shepherd, Faithful Friend,
Show me more of the wonder of who you are. 
And live your life through me!

(by Joanna K. Harris 2016)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Holy Boldness

The last few weeks have been an intense battle for me - physically and spiritually. When I re-read this post from 2013 today, I felt like it was a good reminder for me again. May God strengthen us with His supernatural strength for each battle, no matter how small or how big.

I'd sure appreciate your prayers too - for protection, healing, and victories! Thank you!

Audacious Prayers 

On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel! -Joshua 10:12-14
As I read this passage recently, I was astounded by Joshua's audacious prayer! What made him even consider uttering such a request? It certainly never would have occurred to me to ask God to hold the sun still. I mean, who thinks like that? 

I believe Joshua's prayer was prompted by the Holy Spirit who was guiding and empowering Joshua. Still, what an amazing display of holy boldness! 

To me it is even more amazing that Joshua's prayer is in the context of a battle. Joshua prayed the sun would stand still so that Israel could keep fighting their enemies and finish the battle. 

I admit that most often my prayers are more related to getting out of the battle - prayers for my own relief, comfort, healing, etc. Occasionally I pray bold prayers for someone else. But when was the last time I prayed boldly for something that would keep me in the battle, keep me taking ground from the enemy?

Can we learn to pray with holy boldness - not just about personal concerns (because yes, God cares about all our needs) - but also about our role in the spiritual war around us?
Can we ask for impossible things that will enable us to fight more effectively and stay in the battle?
And what does that look like for me right now? 

I really don't know. But I'm asking God to show me. I believe He wants us to pray audacious prayers. I believe He's wiling and waiting to answer. 

Perhaps our first prayer must be, 
"Lord, give me holy boldness. Fill me with your courage and power. Teach me how to offer audacious prayers that will harm the enemy. Use my life in this spiritual battle to display your victory wherever I go!" 

Yes Lord, we ask it in Your powerful name! Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Blessings In The Pain

My mom has a saying, "God multiplies the blessings in the pain."

None of us want to go through pain. Yet all of us do. It's an inescapable reality of life on earth.

At the same time, we have a heavenly Father who loves us and who is with us in the painful times. Thus my mom's saying - that God doesn't just get us through the painful times. He also has blessings for us in the pain.

The last few weeks have been very painful for me - because of difficult circumstances, trouble breathing from very bad air quality in TX, lack of sleep, spiritual attacks, etc. I've felt like I'm in survival mode, which is something I hoped I'd never experience again. But here I am.

In this awful place, God is still giving blessings. He is still good. He is still worthy of my praise.

I praise God that I am still breathing (not great, but enough).
I praise God that I got to attend the Pink Impact conference (my church's women's conference, which was sold out, but God provided a ticket for me). The conference was such a huge blessing!!!
I praise God for my church and how He blesses me every time I'm there.
I praise God for friends who pray with me in the midst of the pain.
I praise God for my mom, who came to see me in TX! 
I praise God for visits with friends who help me laugh and encourage me.
I praise God that He WILL keep His promise to work all the pain for good somehow.

I'd really appreciate your prayers right now - that I'll be able to breathe better, for direction about what to do, for deliverance from spiritual attacks, and for God to bring good from this for His glory! Thank you!

I hope your circumstances are better than mine right now. But if not, I pray God will continue to multiply His blessings for you in the midst of the pain.

The Pink Impact theme was "Fearless"...very appropriate right now. 
 Making a new friend.

                                                                   My mom and I got to visit with dear friends in TX! =)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We All Need Encouragement

Life is tough. In The Princess Bride, Wesley said, "Life is pain...Anyone who says differently is selling something." Movie quotes aside, I think we can all agree that life on earth isn't easy, and it's far from perfect. At the same time, God is good. Always. 

Life is hard. God is good. 

I think this is why we all need encouragement. 

Encouragement reminds us about God's goodness in specific ways.

Encouragement helps us focus not on the hardships, but on the grace that always exceeds the hardships.
Encouragement extends my vision beyond this moment to the eternal reality that is my hope. 
Encouragement strengthens me to trust God for the beautiful tapestry He is weaving with every thread - happy or painful.
Encouragement helps me hold on to joy in the journey.

Jesus knows our needs, and He is faithful to encourage us in so many ways.

I have a collection of encouraging things I've read or that people have sent to me. Sometimes I just  sit and read through them. It's like deep breathing for my soul. 

Yes, we all need encouragement. We are even commanded in the Bible to "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’…." -Hebrews 13:13

So, today I want to share something encouraging with you. It's a poem you've probably never read (the English is old style). But the truth in it is timeless. I pray God will use it to encourage you today. 

God bless you my friends!

"God Meant It Unto Good" (Genesis 50:20)

"God meant it unto good"--O blest assurance,

Falling like sunshine all across life's way,
Touching with Heaven's gold earth's darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.

'Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brethren

Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance which, after years of suffering, 
Brought him before the monarch's throne to stand.

One Eye all-seeing saw the need of thousands,

And planned to meet it through that one lone soul; 
And through the weary days of prison bondage 
Was working towards the great and glorious goal.

As yet the end was hidden from the captive, 

The iron entered even to his soul; 
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow, 
Not yet his gaze might rest upon the whole.

Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting, 

His trust in God was recompensed at last, 
The moment came when God led forth his servant 
To succor many, all his sufferings past.

"It was not you but God, that sent me hither," 

Witnessed triumphant faith in after days; 
"God meant it unto good," no "second causes" 
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.

"God means it unto good" for thee, beloved, 

The God of Joseph is the same today; 
His love permits afflictions strange and bitter, 
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.

Thy Lord, who sees the end from the beginning, 

Hath purposes for thee of love untold. 
Then place thy hand in His and follow fearless, 
Till thou the riches of His grace behold.

There, when thou standest in the Home of Glory, 

And all life's path lies open to thy gaze, 
Thine eyes shall see the hand which now thou trustiest, 
And magnify His love through endless days.

-Freda Hanbury Allen

How has God encouraged you lately? 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Believe The Best

You’ve probably heard it said, “Don’t assume the worst about people, but instead believe the best.” This is something that I hope people do for me. It can be a little harder to do it for others though.

I remember many times as a teenager that I would come home and complain about something a friend had said to me. Once I finished venting my frustration, my mom always tried to help me see the situation from my friend’s point of view. Maybe she’d had an awful day and without thinking took her bad attitude out on me. Or maybe she had no idea how her words would sound and she didn’t mean to offend or upset me. Perhaps I’d misunderstood what she said. It was also possible that I was the one who’d had a bad day, and I was just being overly sensitive to her comment.

Usually, my mom was right. Once I calmed down, I saw the situation more clearly. But even if I wasn’t sure if my friend deserved it, my mom always encouraged me to give her the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about her.

Those who love us don’t purposefully set out to hurt our feelings. They want to bless us, not offend us. Yet we often do feel hurt or get upset by things that are said or done. In those moments, it’s vital for us to practice giving others the benefit of the doubt. That means that instead of assuming the person meant to hurt us, we assume that they didn’t. We believe the best about them – that they didn’t intend to wound us, and that of course they care about us. 

This doesn’t mean that we excuse wrong behavior. And it doesn’t mean that certain words or actions won’t still hurt. We need to practice forgiveness every time we are wounded, whether it was consciously or unconsciously done. But when we believe the best, that the other person didn’t realize and unintentionally hurt us, then we can approach them gently and respectfully. Instead of accusing them, we can inquire about what happened, converse graciously, and work toward better communication. 

This perspective of believing the best has helped me overcome many miscommunications with people. This attitude also helps us not to become bitter and assume the worst of people. 

Proverbs 11:27 says, He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.

Think about the times you hurt someone else’s feelings without meaning to. Didn’t you wish they would have given you the benefit of the doubt? Didn’t you want them to believe the best about you, instead of assuming the worst?  

Let’s ask God to help us see other people as He sees them, to believe the best about them, and to grow in our relationships. I believe this practice will be life-giving for all of us.