How can truth set us free?

Ephesians 1:3-9 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance to his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ. More

Trials and Joy

Re-posted from InTouch, by Dr. Charles Stanley, September 16, 2014

My pastor is currently preaching from the book of James and Dr. Stanley’s message today is a perfect reminder that through out our lives we all suffer under a variety of difficult trials and hardships. But, if we consider that those times of suffering can be used as a catalyst to help us be mindful that the Lord uses them to mold us into what His desire is for our lives, they’re so much easier to bear.

Trials and Joy

James 1:2-4,12

“Consider it all joy . . . when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2)—what a preposterous statement! How can that make sense when joy and trials don’t fit together? But James is presenting a divine vantage point, not a human one. There are some surprising benefits in suffering, which aren’t easy to discern.

First of all, we need to understand that these verses are not telling us to be happy in our pain, but rather to rejoice in the blessings that accompany suffering. The word consider is an accounting term that means “to evaluate.” When we look at hardships from God’s perspective and place the proper value on them, we can rejoice in the beneficial outcome, even while experiencing pain. Humanly speaking, trials hurt; but from the Lord’s point of view, they help.

The only way to rejoice during trials is to understand what God wants them to accomplish. Regardless of the difficulty’s source, we can know that the Lord wants to use it to test our faith and thereby produce endurance and spiritual maturity. In every trial, He has hidden a precious character gem, but whether we receive it depends upon our response. Those who want to be transformed into the image of Christ can rejoice in the many benefits that accompany suffering.

How about you? Does your hunger to know the Lord and be transformed by Him exceed your dread of suffering? None of us want to experience pain, but since it’s an unavoidable reality in this fallen world, why not respond in a way that produces eternal benefit? Let’s not waste our suffering.

Book Launch Invitation & two reader comments…

 

Made New Book Launch flyer

…I laughed, I cried, my heart and soul ached for all that you went through and I felt boundless joy reading about how your relationship with Christ has evolved and is continuing to grow daily. When you asked questions, you asked the hard questions that require soul searching for answers. Thank you for doing that as I don’t think we ask enough hard questions in this present age. Thank you so much for obeying God and telling your story. This book has the potential to help so many people who are hurting because of choices they have made. ~ Patty

I spent the weekend with you and your friend, Judy!! What a journey – what courage – what a faithful God to bring you to this place!! It has given me such insight into who you are and how God has brought you here – for such a time as this. I found myself in parts of your story – the me I had forgotten even existed. Your journey was a tough one, but look at the victory!! Amazing grace, no doubt about it. ~ Cathy

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

Joan began attending another Baptist church, near Caruthers, and we quickly followed. We were attending this church when our son was born in 1980. I became very involved in the young married couples’ group and made several lifelong friends. Another married couple, Bob and Bernice Pierce, began mentoring me in my spiritual growth. This godly couple proved to be a true blessing throughout the next few years of my life.
Although I don’t recall specifically what I was going through emotionally at the time, one evening I found myself crying near the church parking lot, having my first conversation with Bob. He was such a loving and tender man. His height, thin build, and gentle tone of speech reminded me of Abraham Lincoln. He put one long arm around me and said, “Judy, I don’t know what you’re going through right now. But, I want you to know that we have a promise from the Lord that we can lean on when times are tough. It’s Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
“Okay. Thank you, but I’m not good at remembering verses, but I’ll try to memorize it.” Not trusting in myself.
“If you can memorize it, you’ll always have a verse that you can cling too, when times aren’t so good.”
I’ve never forgotten the impact this verse has had on my spiritual journey through the years. Up to that point in my life no one outside of my family had had such a profound impact on my spiritual life as this couple did. Bernice Pierce was just as precious as her husband was. Shortly after we met, she told me that she was a breast cancer survivor, not once, but twice. I knew that this woman truly knew Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She seemed to have God’s Holy Spirit emanating from deep within her heart and it manifested itself in the way she spoke and in the way she prayed. Any time I had the privilege to be with her was a memorable one. Those times left an imprint in my heart and they were beautiful representations of Christ’s love for me.
My last memory of Bernice centers on a warm and breezy afternoon as I drove my ‘69 Corvette convertible towards Fresno Community Hospital to say my final good-byes to my dear friend. I walked into her hospital room, and as I entered her smile and the precious glow of her face, gave me a peace in knowing that she knew she would be making her journey to heaven soon. Though her skin was pale and she wore a covering over her head because of what the chemotherapy treatments had taken from her.
“Oh, Judy. Come here and let me hug you.”
Crying, I said, “Bernice, I had to come and see you one last time.”
Other close friends were present, as well, and we talked about old times; social get-togethers, swimming parties, Bible studies, Mary Kay parties, and Mexican feasts at Sal’s in Selma, California after church on Sundays.
She said, “Some day, we’ll all be in heaven together having the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, at one long table, big enough for all of us, and Jesus will be at the head of the table!”
I said, “Eating Sal’s Mexican food!”
Everyone laughingly agreed especially Bernice.
Bernice and I hugged and cried together. We knew that we wouldn’t see each other again on this side of heaven, and we both knew that she was ready to meet the Lord. Within a week, she did.

Excerpt from Made New: A Hippie Chick’s Journey From Abuse to Forgiveness

Life in the Lord is part of His Tapestry

Recently, I finished reading Heaven, by famous Christian author Randy Alcorn. Along with the Bible, it made an extremely profound impact on my spiritual journey with the Lord. I became keenly aware that out of all God’s promises we can’t begin to fathom or have any idea of the eternal and unfailing love He has for us.

My eyes, and the doors of my heart opened to receive more of His promises and the glorious eternity He has prepared for us. It’s hard to begin, or comprehend, what life will be like when I step over into eternity.

One important fact that we need to focus on is that our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. I fully believe that there will come a day, when I’ll be able to look back on my life as the Lord lovingly guides me, allowing me to see how both tragedy and joyous events unfolded from an eternal perspective.

We should look forward to the end of our lives, praying daily, seeking God’s will. His desire is for us to serve Him, showing Christ’s love to a hurting world, in the process, continually mending broken relationships through forgiveness.

That takes faith! Yet, remember, Romans 8:28? ‘We know that all things work for the good to those who love the Lord, those who have been called according to his purpose.
Years ago, I read Why do bad things happen to good people?
I don’t recall the name of the author, but he had an intriguing way of describing events that occur throughout our lives.
To paraphrase, our lives are like part of a tapestry, we only see the threads closest to us, each thread woven in alongside and beside us, but God sees the full picture of a beautifully complete tapestry, every thread carefully placed, and sewn in, by our Creator.

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