Love in Adversity

Love. Not your typical romantic St. Valentine’s Day type of love but the love that should be shown to everyone. Proverbs 17:17 states “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Both terms of a friend and a brother are referring to a fellow Christian, someone who has already committed themselves to follow Christ’s example. Our command is to love. This verse tells us to love AT ALL TIMES, not just when it feels good. It’s telling us we are born for those tough times.

I was struck by the simplicity and complexity of this verse. Who would ever think that there is a time when a friend would not show love? Well, it’s in those times of adversity when people fall short. It’s very apparent that people all over the world struggle with this type of love. The news is drenched with anger, hatred, and evil. For the average person in every day relationships, I don’t think it’s generally done with an intent to harm. It’s more likely that the person doesn’t know how to show love in that moment. Uncomfortable situations are just that–uncomfortable. Unless you are a nurturing person by trait this does not come easy. You have to think about it. You have to make a conscious effort to show you care about the other person.

I am convicted to be more aware of when I am falling down in this area. I want to be looking for those times when someone is struggling. I want to be the person that steps in and fills the need that they may not even realize they have. Maybe it’s providing a meal for someone who’s been ill or recovering from surgery. Maybe it’s watching the children of a single parent so they can have a much needed break. Or maybe it’s a handwritten note of encouragement.

Will you join me? I pray; Lord, I praise you for giving us the Holy Spirit to show us where we need to be. I pray for each person reading this prayer, that our hearts are softened to hear your still small voice. Please bring people into our paths that you want us to lavish with your love. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17

Let us hear from you: Share ideas on how to show love during difficult times.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Don’t Tell God No

He did everything God told him to do. Followed all the rules. Then, God told him to follow Him in something he didn’t want to do. “No. Just NO, Lord. I am not going!” Can’t you just hear yourself, oops, I mean Jonah saying that?

Sound familiar? Sure sounds familiar to me. Over the years I have told God no many times. No, I won’t go over and talk to them. No, I am never getting braces. No, I don’t like working with kids. I would be so passionate that these things would never happen, but (sigh) God loves to make you do the things you don’t want to do or the things that scare you. Not because God is mean, but because He wants to see you rely on Him and not your own understanding.

Jonah tried so hard not to do what God was telling him to, but eventually he gave in. From the inside of the fish, Jonah decided His way of living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

A couple years ago I got braces even though I didn’t want them because I thought God wanted me to. Last summer I felt lead to talk to a lady. When I did, I found out that she was a Christian and was struggling with some choices. She was very grateful when I prayed with her. Over the years I have gotten pulled into some of the children’s events at church because they were short on helpers, and I discovered I really enjoy working with grade school children.

“There I did it are you happy,” He thought, “Now, you’ll see how pointless that was”

Now there is one part of Jonah’s story I hope you don’t ever repeat.  After doing what God told him to do, he left and waited for his efforts to fail. Can you believe that? He was so convinced it wouldn’t work that he actually wanted his work to fail! Sometimes we can give in to what God is leading us to do because life is miserable where we are. We think Ok, God, I’ll do it. I will show you it won’t work. Doesn’t this remind you of a child being told to do math? “Aargh, yes, Mom,” with a little eye roll. Then they proceed to do math and to their chagrin get an A.

Through every one of the areas in my life where I have told God no, I have discovered those things really aren’t that scary, and in most cases I really enjoyed them.

Are there any areas in your life where you have told God no?

Why have you told God no? (fear, hatred, comfort)

How can you make your first step in the direction God is leading you?

(To learn more about Jonah, read the book of Jonah.)

Finding Conviction, Comfort, and Clarity in Discouragement

Do you ever find yourself discouraged and at a loss for what to do next? I found myself there a few weeks ago. The stress built up on all sides of me; work, family, marriage, and my health. As I tried to find answers to problems, solutions to puzzles, and the way out of troubles, I only came up with dead ends and more frustration. I was discouraged. I was losing hope and the courage to stand on my convictions. I was on the edge of giving into defeat.

I shared my feelings with a dear friend of mine. She brought a great perspective to my situation. She challenged me to ponder the thought that I was discouraged because I had the wrong focus. Was I looking through the wrong lens? As we discussed my hardships, dead ends, and frustrations, it became quite evident that I was out of focus! I was completely caught up in what I wanted, what I needed, and what I thought I didn’t have. What was the common thread there? It was I.

My friend encouraged me to focus on God our Father instead. I was brought to Psalm 73:21-28 (ESV), 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Colossians 3:1-17 and Hebrews 12:1-3. I meditated on these for days; Praying, Reading, Listening. I became refreshed, renewed, and reassured that I just needed to switch my view from internal to eternal. Psalm 73 mentions the eternity that gave me the conviction to stand strong on the promise of God’s faithfulness. I found comfort in knowing He is my refuge. And I found clarity in what I first thought was unanswered problems. The struggles dissipated as I loosened the grip on my impatient and foolish desire to be in control. God knows what we need before we even think a thought. Why should we not trust his lead? He created the world, He created us with his own hands and breath, and He wants to bring us joy through his glory. Our hearts can keep the faith that all will be for the best when God is in control.

In the verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 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.”, God calls us to share such experiences. I encourage you to read the rest of the passages in 2 Corinthians to learn more of God’s comfort and how when we share our comforts we are strengthened to continue through the trials. I hope you find encouragement though my journey. May God bless your path as you follow his lead.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

This Time
I Will Praise the LORD

This time of year, our thoughts turn toward what the year may hold. We make plans and think about the previous years with all their disappointments and regrets.

Leah (Genesis 29:31-35) was doing this year after year. She thought children were the answer to not being loved. Having children was very important in biblical times, especially sons for they would carry on the family name. Leah believed that if she had sons her husband would be pleased, see her worth, and love her. The Lord gave her what she thought she wanted. Leah had three sons. Sadly, Isaac still didn’t love her.

Finally, Leah looked elsewhere and found love where it had always been waiting for her–in God’s arms. So when she had a fourth son, she praised God with that son’s very name, Judah which means praise. Pleasing her husband to make him love her was no longer the thing that defined Leah. Rather she decided to please God. After all, he had always loved her.

Have you ever done this? So caught up in what you think will make you happy, you miss how God can make you happy right where you are, nothing else needed.

Sometimes God gives us what we think we need to show us what we really need.

God is there for you whatever you feel you are missing in your life. God can satisfy it.

Is there anything in your life that you keep looking to for happiness other than to God?

Active Patience

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow–that is patience. ∼Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes our journey with God is hard. Sometimes it seems as though we’ve struggled forever only to look around and discover we’ve barely moved. We need to look up ahead and focus on our future hope, and look beside us at the One who is there to help us. Then, we will be able to take the next step. And the next. And the next. Until we find ourselves at our destination.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
∼2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

Retucking My Foundation

Stone and brick home foundations develop cracks, loosen and crumble if not maintained. They need regular inspections, testing, analyzing and sometimes retucking. If there are cracks or deteriation in a foundation it allows rain & pests to get in and cause damage. If this damage is not taken care of in time, the damage can be irreversible. Retucking is a construction process that stabilizes a damaged foundation. The old, cracked and crumbling mortar must be scrapped out and replaced. This reinforces and stabilizes the foundation. It will now be able to withstand bad weather, pests and time.

So, why am I telling you about construction techniques? I believe there is a great correlation with our lives. If we allow our foundation to weather, deteriorate and crack, the enemy will be able to get in and destroy. At first, it may not be visible to the naked eye. We can mask over the damage to hide our imperfections. Over time the cracks get bigger and our ability to stand against the storms of life decreases.

My 2017 seemed like it was a year and a half long. My year had so many troubles, hardships, and tragedies most would have run as far as they could in the opposite direction. Why didn’t I? What kept me from doing what so many told me I had the right to do? It was my Lord, my Father, my God. He was my rock. My solid foundation.

I must confess it has not always been solid. There was definite damage. The cracks had been there a long time. I was hiding behind serving in the church, facilitating bible studies, and attending small group studies and prayer meetings. I’m not saying that these things are bad and only mask your real life or even that I knew that is what I was doing. I only want to point out that if we are not careful, we only allow God in on the surface of our life.

Just like a stone or brick foundation of a house that has damage, My life needed to be retucked. I didn’t even know it! But last February, God took a hold of my heart and breathed new life into it. I, for the first time, TRULY believed He loves me. All of me.

“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: ‘He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11

This verse is about the Levites, God’s chosen people. After a better part of a century of hopes and desperation, anguish and resentment their hope was restored. The Levites were overjoyed, singing praises to the Lord. Like the Levites, I sing praises knowing God’s mercies fail not. Is God your foundation or is he a cover up? Make time for reflection and inspect your life. Look for areas where the enemy is getting in and creating havoc. I am so glad I did and allowed God to stabalize my footing. I was able to withstand the storms and see the rainbow on the other side. I pray the same for you in 2018.

Blessings.

 

Bev Pomering has been married to her husband, Terry, for over 20 years. Their family includes two teenage boys and two dogs. Bev describes her home as anything but quiet. She works as an administrative assistant in the medical field. In addition to being an avid crafter and gardener, Bev is also active in her church where she focuses her talents on Women’s Ministries.

 

 

credit to
http://www.biblegateway.com NIV Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Ezra 3:11”. “Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament”. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ezra-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t keep them. That does not mean I don’t need to make changes. I am not perfect. Although I have not set official New Year’s resolutions for several years, I am always setting goals for myself. Maybe this year I should turn those goals into resolutions and invite you to join me. Our goals (a.k.a. New Year’s Resolutions) for 2017 will look something like this:

  • I resolve to thank God often for making me a new creation through Jesus.
    (2 Corinthians 5:17)
    Christ came so that we could become new and improved.
  • I resolve to put off my old ways and to put on my new self—to act like the new creation I am.
    (Ephesians 4:22-24)
    This is not something that is forced upon us. We must resolve to put off our old selves and to put on a new self created in the likeness of God’s righteousness and holiness—the new and improved self. We must choose—resolve—to become new. This is the most important resolution we will ever make. I might want to lose weight, but until I choose to do it the weight won’t come off. I have to resolve to do it.
  • I resolve to embrace the new heart and new spirit God gave me.
    (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
    Our new God-given heart and spirit will help us to desire, recognize, and follow His Spirit. Just as a personal trainer helps me stay focused on my fitness goals, the Spirit of God within us will help us keep our resolution to put on a new self.
  • I resolve to follow God’s new command to love others.
    (John 13:34-35)
    Under this new covenant the commandments are thrown into a hat and stirred around; then, God puts in his hand and draws out a single word to summarize their essence—LOVE. We are commanded to have a deeper level of love in our lives as new creations. A love that will cause people to recognize the influence of Christ.
  • I resolve to keep my eyes focused on the new heaven and new earth where Righteousness Himself dwells.
    (2 Peter 3:13)
    Whenever we become frustrated or feel hope slipping away, we are to turn our eyes to eternity and refocus on what will be—a new heaven and a new earth where Righteousness lives.
  • I resolve to seek daily renewal in knowledge so that my life may reflect my Creator, in strength so that I may soar even during difficult times, and in mind so that I may discern God’s will.
    (2 Corinthians 4:16)
    Just as silver will tarnish if it is not polished every day, our newness can become dulled by life if we do not renew ourselves daily. This daily renewal can take several forms. First, our knowledge of the Creator is being continually renewed as we study and meditate on His word. (Colossians 3:9-10) And this knowledge reflects to others the image of the Creator. We need to daily grow in our knowledge of God in order to accurately reflect His image. Second, when we are waiting on (serving) the Lord, our strength for each day will also be renewed. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Finally, another area where we experience renewal is our minds. (Romans 12:2) As we put off our old selves and put on the new, we are transformed—our minds are renewed. We can think clearly—looking at God’s will with new eyes.
  • I resolve to testify to what God has done by singing the new song He placed in my heart.
    (Psalm 40:2-3)
    When we leave our old selves behind, we have a lot to sing about! You had better believe that if I reach my fitness goals, I will be singing the praises of my trainer. How much more should we sing the praises of Him who helps us become new creations? When we sing praises to God, others will see what He has done—our new song is a witness or testimony to God. God gives us a reason to sing. We need to sing our new song so others can see Him.

These resolutions are great, but they are only attainable because of Jesus. Something new has a price tag attached. The price of our newness was the blood of Christ. We prefer new over used in every other area of our lives. Why settle for anything less than the newness purchased as a gift by Christ? Why not join me in reaching for these 2017 New Year’s Resolutions?

 

Father,
Thank you for making us new creations through Jesus. Help us, Lord, in our resolve to put on our new selves—to act like the new creations you have made us. Thank you for the new heart and spirit you have placed within us. Father, when life wears us down, help us focus our eyes on the promise of a new heaven and a new earth where Your Righteousness lives. Renew us in knowledge as we daily meditate upon your word so that our lives reflect Your image. During difficult times, renew our strength so that we may soar above our circumstances. Renew our minds each day to recognize You and Your will. And, Lord, as we go through our days, may we each love others deeply, and may we each sing our new songs so that others will see You. Lord, thank You for making us new in Christ Jesus.
Amen.

Cobwebs and Conversations

I was down in the basement the other day, getting out my Christmas decorations. For some unexplainable reason I had this surge of energy and thought to myself; “I think I’ll clean up the basement then next year it will be easier to find what I need at Christmas.” Brilliant!

I get that urge ONE day every year, and it usually results in a partially clean office, or closet, or spare room. This year, the basement was about to become the recipient of my good intentions.

I had no idea at the time; God was going to turn my burst of energy into a teaching opportunity.

While I was rooting around in the dust and cobwebs through the bowels of my house, In the back of a closet, I found some old clothes. You have them too, that favorite dress, or  a coat from a time and “size” long gone by.

Now, I try to follow that rule that says, “If you haven’t worn it in a year, then get it out of your house”. Still, when I had the dress folded up and about to go into my donate box, I just couldn’t put it in.  A voice inside was saying “Just because I can’t fit into it now, doesn’t mean I won’t someday”.

It occurred to me that I’d had that conversation with myself before, many times in fact. And since these old favorites were old enough to almost be back in style again, it looked like I had that conversation with myself LOTS of times. So with a sigh, I let go and into the box everything went.

Moses had his God encounter on the top of the mountain and the disciples were in a garden. Me? Well I was climbing the stairs out of the basement with a box of old clothes in my arms.  That’s when I heard that small voice of the Spirit whisper to me.

“There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

I’ve walked with God for a long time, now, so I like to think I recognize his voice. It’s not some bright light. He doesn’t break apart mountains or burn up bushes.  It’s just this firm idea that once I think about it, it won’t go away.  It’s like when your kids “Mom” you over and over and over.

So God and I have been having a conversation for a week now about that box of old clothes. It’s gone something like this:

God: There are some things you find very hard to give up on, aren’t’ there?”

Me: Well, it’s hard to accept you will never be a size six again

God: Six?

Me: Alright, Nine. Are you happy?

God: The real question is, ‘Are YOU happy?’ You hold on so ferociously to something that matters so little, while you let go of important things so easily.

Me: I don’t know what do you mean?

God: Yes, you do.  Why do you miss a couple days reading your Bible and praying, call yourself a failure, and give up all together?

Why do you stumble in a sin, one more time, and then throw in the towel, convinced you are not worthy?

Why do you have a few arguments, and surrender your relationships?

Why do you give up so quickly on becoming who I know you can be?

Aren’t these things much more important than old clothes?

Me: Um…Yes, Sir

God: Don’t give up on us.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9; 16-18 : We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light an momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on what is unseen, not on what is seen.  For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Birthday of The King

It’s Jesus’ birthday!!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘’God with us.” (Matthew 1:23 – NASB) “And she gave birth to her firstborn Son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7 – NASB)

His birth was foretold throughout the entire Old Testament. It was announced in Matthew and Luke. It has been celebrated ever since. That little bitty baby, born in a manger was the Holy Son of God. He was to be called Immanuel which means God with us. Isn’t that an amazing concept. Jesus, left His heavenly home to be with us. To be with imperfect, sinful humans. Not only that but to also die for us. He paid the price for our salvation. He could’ve told His Father, God, I don’t really want to do this. I like it here in Heaven. Have you seen those humans? Do you really think we want them here for all of eternity? And, um, you want me to go there, be born in a stable and then have them reject me and then after all of that, die for them? Um, are you sure?

Had Jesus questioned God’s plan for Him it would’ve been a much different result. No, Jesus willingly came to the earth to fulfill God’s will for Him and to fulfill all the prophecies written about Him. Jesus is God come to earth for you dear friend. He did this for you.

As you celebrate His earthly birth, reflect on the thought that God did this for you! That night long ago there was absolutely no room in the Inn for the Savior of the world. Do you have room in your heart for Him?

If you’ve never made room for Jesus in your heart but would like to, or have questions, please contact one of us at biblestudyjourney.com. We would love to help you make that room.

Wishing you a wonderfully blessed Christmas. May God pour out His blessings on you in extraordinary ways.