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Archive for the tag “God is good all the time”

The Test

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast signal – this is only a test.” Throughout our lifetimes, how many times have we heard this message come across our radios, televisions and now our cell phones? This is only a test. If it was a real emergency, instructions would follow. I think I would freak out a little if the message came through with a real message of danger.

However, we all receive those messages daily – sometimes they are not heeded and destruction comes when we least expect it. But God does warn us before danger happens through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. However, most of the time, we ignore the warning signs. We think all is well because the message isn’t loud enough to get through all the white noise that bombards us on a daily basis.

In the past, I have written many words about God sending tests to help build our character. It’s a matter if we have learned anything through those tests. In the Scripture from James, we are told to consider those trials (or tests) with pure joy (James 1:2) because it produces perseverance. Once we complete the trial or test, we will be made more mature – our faith will lack nothing (my paraphrase of James 1:2-4).

In one of my quiet times this week, I was taken aback when I read Mark 5:13. The Scripture is found in the story of Jesus confronting the man with many demons. When the man approached Jesus, the demons begged Jesus not to destroy them but let them go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission to go into the pigs. Jesus gave them permission. Does that jolt you a bit as it did me? It reminded me of the passage where Jesus told Peter, Satan asked to sift him. It also reminded me of the Book of Job. Satan came to God about Job. God allowed Job and Peter to be sifted. God gave Satan permission. And I think He still does so today.

Nothing comes to us unless it goes through God first. Sometimes our trials are a sifting trial. God has allowed them for a purpose. God is all about building our character. These trials come to remove those things that are harmful to our character or His purpose for us. God never promised to remove trials but to walk with us through those valleys. Sometimes His mercy grants us a quick trial. Sometimes a more lasting one is needed to deepen our faith or weed out the impurities in us. God always has a plan. God always loves us. Even in times when the trials feel like punishment, God’s love is there. No matter what, we can trust God has the best in mind for us. Even in the trials. Count it as joy – God is there with us.

The questions come though “Why Lord? or How long?” We may never get our answers to why or how long the trial will last. However, we can know God is good all the time – even if the trial seems to last forever. Even if God doesn’t deliver us, we can still know God is good and has the best in mind for us. He has a plan. Sometimes we won’t know why we have to go through the trial or why we have the set back. We just have to accept the fact, God has allowed it for our benefit and His purpose. The Scripture verse in James 1:5 said we could ask God for understanding. So if we want to learn from our trials, we can ask for understanding – not necessarily why but what can we learn from it.

Hindsight usually gives us a better view of what we’ve been through. Hindsight usually is a good way to see God’s hand in it. God’s ways are different from ours – thank God! I am glad He knows everything and sees everything. Think about it. If He wasn’t sovereign or didn’t know how things would turn out, wouldn’t that be a hopeless feeling?

We can question where God is in the process, but never forget He is in control and His mercy is great. Trust Him in the process and believe the way will be made clear. If God sends warnings, we have to be able to hear them so that we can change course. This is only a test but it could prove to be the most important one we face for our eternal future. Listen to the voice of wisdom and heed what the voice says. This may be only a test, but what we learn is of great importance.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:1, 13-14

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Time is Short

Have you ever woken up feeling out of sorts? That’s the way I woke up this morning. I woke up after having a strange dream. I actually woke up in a sweat. I was so angry in the dream. And hurt – heart ache not physically. Someone had done me wrong and I didn’t know how to fix it. And I thought my friends were laughing at me too. It’s hard to shake off a dream like that. Usually I don’t remember dreams, but this one happened at the point of my waking up. It felt like it took forever to get out of that dream. So I woke up feeling sweaty and perplexed. Not a good way to start the morning.

Because of the way I felt this morning, it was hard sitting down for my quiet time; especially controlling my wayward thoughts. There’s restlessness in my spirit. Although my dream caused some of these unsettled emotions, most of this is coming because of my Dad’s health. He’s not doing well and I don’t think God is going to fix it this time at least on this side of heaven.

The dream may have been a way for me to express anger I didn’t know I was holding within me. Am I angry? I didn’t think so but anger comes out through times of grieving. Am I grieving? Probably, but I have been grieving for the last two plus years. My Dad hasn’t been right since he had an infection a couple of January’s ago. Since that time, we haven’t had a decent conversation nor has he been able to do anything he would normally do.

I know this is part of the process of growing older. Parents get sick and die. We children have to deal with it the best we can. It’s the order of life and death – the way it’s supposed to be. When the order is reversed, it’s harder. When loved ones die that are not meant to die before their time, that is the hardest. Either way, death is hard to deal with – even when it’s expected.

Time is short. Scripture tells us we are like grass that withers and dies. No one but God knows how long we are given to live out this life. Our days are already numbered at the first breath. God knows the beginning and the end of us. He has seen it all. Scripture also tells us to count our days – make the most of the time we have. We are not to withhold forgiveness or anger or even love. We are to forgive everyone who has wronged us. We are not supposed to go to bed angry. And we are told to love everyone – even our enemies. Life is short. Conflict with anyone needs to be resolved now.

Some of my thoughts this morning have been about my time with my Mom in her last month of her life. There were many meaningful moments in that time. We shared healing conversations. We had those moments of expressing love, seeking forgiveness and thoughts of the future. It was a sweet time. I am a bit sad that I won’t have this kind of time with my Dad. We express things differently between us. Mom and I had that girl thing going on.

However, the time I have spent with my Dad over the last few years has been sweet as well. Dad loves me – he has shown this throughout my life. I don’t need his assurance of that fact. I know it within my heart. My time with my Dad over the last couple of years has been just sitting with him; being close and that’s enough for us. Everything has been said that needs to be said. This is the time of just resting in that love.

When I sat down this morning for my quiet time, I didn’t have the words to express in a coherent way. I didn’t have to express my heart to Him. He already knows what I am feeling. I sat with Him and read His Word. My earthly Dad gave me an understanding of a good heavenly Father who loves me beyond my imagination. There was nothing my Dad won’t do for me. Dad has taught me many things throughout the years, but I will always be grateful for showing me the heavenly Father as a loving Dad.

The same way a loving father feels toward his children—
that’s but a sample of your tender feelings toward us,
your beloved children, who live in awe of you.
You know all about us, inside and out.
You are mindful that we’re made from dust.
Our days are so few, and our momentary beauty

so swiftly fades away!
Then all of a sudden we’re gone,
like grass clippings blown away in a gust of wind,
taken away to our appointment with death,
leaving nothing to show that we were here.
But Lord, your endless love stretches
from one eternity to the other,
unbroken and unrelenting toward those who fear you
and those who bow facedown in awe before you.
Your faithfulness to keep every gracious promise you’ve made
passes from parents, to children, to grandchildren, and beyond.
You are faithful to all those who follow your ways
and keep your word.

Psalm 103:13-18 (TPT)

Happy Father’s Day

A couple of weeks ago, the family had our annual beach trip. I believe this was our twenty-sixth trip. Usually, we all stay in one house. This year, we had to expand to two or at least both sides of a duplex. There were eighteen of us gathered together this year. There could have been more family members but a few couldn’t make it for the full week or at all.

My Dad wasn’t there for the first time. It seemed a bit strange not to have the patriarch of the family there. This will most likely be the norm as my father has become more home bound over this past year. Actually, after last year’s beach trip, I really didn’t think he would have lived another year. This past year has been a bit rough for him. However, he seems to be holding his own right now. He will be turning 91 in a couple of weeks so we have been fortunate to have him with us this long even though he’s home bound.

I mentioned this annual trip for a reason. This annual trip lets me observe my nephews in a different way. My nephews have grown into great fathers. I can see their daily interactions with their children. I can see how much they love them. I mean, I know they love their children. But observing them on a daily basis, I see how they love them. Yes, it’s correcting them when siblings hurt each other. Cousins get involved in mishaps as well. There were injuries from splinters and a smashed finger; sickness is always a concern as well. The Dads always stepped up to help out. They were right there with Mom correcting, comforting and loving on their kids.

My nephews are representing God the Father well. I know this because of my own Dad. He represented God the Father to me as I was growing up. I have a good Dad. I have a loving Dad. Over the last few years when I have called my Dad, he reminds me before he hangs up “to remember my Dad loves me a whole, whole bunch.” He hasn’t voiced that reminder in a few months, but I remember him telling me this for last few years and it still warms my heart. I am loved and I feel it. My nephews are giving that to my grand nieces and nephews. They will know they are loved and they will feel loved.

For the “grands” it will not be a big leap of faith to recognize a loving Father in heaven loves them as well. It wasn’t for me either because of what I experienced through my own Dad. Yes, there were doubts when troubles arose and discipline was hashed out. But actually, that is more loving than letting us run out into the ocean to drown. (Forgive the beach analogies.)

Boundaries are given for our protection. Sometimes we see them as confining instead of liberating. We see a line and we want to cross it because we know what’s on the other side has to be better. But if God put a line in the sand, there is a reason we shouldn’t cross it. God loves us more than we can imagine and wants the best for us. The best is not to cross the line. However, if we cross the line, He doesn’t love us any less. There is nothing we could do that would cause Him to love us less. It’s the same regardless of what we do. But His best is to stay in His boundaries. That’s His protection.

When the line has been crossed, the Father will allow it but there are always consequences to rebellion. However, like the Father in the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15), God is always waiting on our return. His arms are open wide for our return. And He never condemns us – that’s Satan’s job. God the Father loves us unconditionally.

I remember Ruth Graham talking about her Dad (Billy Graham) when she had a failure in life. She rode up to her Dad’s house and her Dad was waiting in the driveway. He didn’t condemn her for her actions, but wrapped her in his arms and said “welcome home.” That’s how our Father in Heaven responds to us when we have stepped outside His boundaries. Remember God the Father is our good, good Father. His love will never change. He will never change.

If you have had a good father here on earth – thank God the Father for blessing you and your family in this way. Your Dad has been a good example of a good and loving Father in Heaven. Remember your Father in Heaven loves you a whole, whole bunch! His arms are open wide. You are loved. Know it and feel it. Happy Father’s Day!

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20b-24

Making a Difference

It’s very encouraging to watch the people in Texas come together and help one another during this disaster. After all the mess we’ve seen on television over the last few months, it’s good to see people banding together – no matter the race, no matter the political preference, no matter the economic status. Everybody was affected by this storm. People were walking away with nothing, but still praising God for saving their lives and their families. One lady looked right at the camera and told everyone “God is good, ya’ll.” Just that small testimony said it all. Even in the midst of the storm, God is still good.

The first part of the month, a family friend died. She was the oldest sister in this family. She was much older than me so I have very few memories of her. I only remember the teenage version of this lady. I never knew her as an adult. However, the son of this family is my age, and he has been the longest sustained friend of my life. We were crib mates in the nursery. There are many good memories of the things we did as children when our families got together. We haven’t been together as a family since we were both teenagers. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected. It’s through Facebook that I heard of the sister’s illness and then passing.

Many things were posted about this woman’s life. I went to the memorial service and came away with the feeling that I wish I had known her as an adult. According to the reflections offered by her family and friends, she loved life and lived it out loud and to the fullest. She was an amazing teacher – it wasn’t about the subject with her – she loved shaping these students into their potential. Students that had no hope to succeed became incredible adults. She was an adventurer; she loved to travel. She spent two years in Turkey, and it was mentioned these may have been the best years of her life.

It was said that she never met a stranger. She went back to Turkey a few years ago with her daughter and son-in-law and someone she knew from her time spent living there, spotted her on the street and called out her name. She was that impressive for people to remember her. She made a difference in people’s lives. Cancer cut her life short. The world has lost a friend. But she planted many seeds throughout her time here that will outlive her. She loved well.

We can all be like my friend. I wish I had known her as an adult. I wish a teacher had been there for me like she had been for her students. Maybe I wouldn’t have made the choices I made back then. And maybe I would have found my calling earlier. But it is God’s timing in all things.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life. We can help out our communities even when there is no disaster. We can love well and plant the seeds of hope around us. Wouldn’t that be a better world to live in? We need to realize this life is really short, ya’ll. And God is good all the time, no matter what is going on around us. God loves us so much more than we could ever imagine. We need to believe that in our heart, mind and soul. We need to drive it deep.

When we grieve, He grieves with us. He is personal with us, knows us and loves us anyway. Each member of the human race is an image bearer of God Himself. We need to respect that and respect each human being on this planet. If there is no respect, all hell breaks loose as its doing today. We need to make a difference. We need to plant seeds and love well. This is my prayer today. For the people of the disaster, my prayer for them is to see God’s glory making good out of something so bad.

Trust Him in the process, ya’ll. He is our good, good Father. He will do amazing things, and He’ll let us be involved where He is involved. It’s possible, ya’ll. The Apostle Paul said it well, all things are possible through Christ’s strength, not ours – no matter what. Let’s make a difference today and love someone well.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Trading Up

I love cars. I always have. Looking at the car I drive now though would tell a different story. It’s not the best ride I’ve ever owned. But I would say it’s also probably not going to be the last one either (unless Jesus comes back in the next few years!). That being said, I have found though that all I really need is a vehicle to get me from one place to another. I once used to look at my vehicles as the extension of my personality. Not really defining me, but sort of like an accessory to my life. The cars had to “match” my definition of who I was. I have always loved sports cars. I always thought one day I’m going to have one! My dream car has always been a Corvette. I didn’t dream of a Porsche or a Ferrari. Maybe I dream with realistic vision. My dreams are not unobtainable. One day, I could have it, if I really wanted it.

My first car was a one-seater. It was white with a red stripe down the side. It had two pedals, and it would go as fast as my little legs would take me. My next car came when I was sixteen years old. When I first started driving, the second family car was a Ford Maverick (a ghastly, bright orange color) with a stick-shift on the steering column. We traded up to a Pontiac Phoenix a few months after I began driving – thank you Lord! When I was finally able to get my own car, I had a choice to make. I got a ‘vette. Oh, not a Corvette, but a new Chevette. The other option was a used Camaro. The reason I chose the Chevette was not because I wanted it, but because I chose to give the option to my Dad. His decision has always been new cars over used. I think he owned a lemon one time and vowed never to buy used again.

My last car before my current one was a sporty Acura CL. It was sweet! It was as close as I could come to a premium sports car. However, seven years ago, God asked me to release my Acura for a more practical car. I did after a few weeks of wrestling with the decision. It was difficult to let it go. However, God knew my future. He was going to place me in a position where I wouldn’t have much money. The Acura was expensive to keep up and costly repairs were coming. God led me to my little Nissan that I currently own. Its been a blessing. I am very content with this car. It’s been very reliable. My dream hasn’t changed. I still have occasion to desire a new ride with a flashier style.

One day not too long ago, I had a flash of my future in twenty years or so. A new Corvette pulled up beside me in a parking lot. I wasn’t lustful, but eyed it for its beauty. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I glanced back and saw an older woman getting out of the car. What struck me was the cane she used to help her out of the driver seat! And I chuckled to myself. Yep, that could be me one day, if I had more money than sense!

God always trades up. My little Nissan may not “look” like a trade up; but spiritually speaking, it was a huge leap forward! It was a major turning point in my life. God asked me to do something I had no desire to do; but I did it after a few weeks of wrestling with the decision. That time took me a few weeks to be obedient. The next time He asked me to be obedient to something, I did not hesitate; the answer was yes. My desires are nothing compared to the spiritual blessing of letting something go to gain something better. In order to move forward, we have to let go of the things that could be keeping us bound to a place or circumstance that is not the best for us. Desires have to be released to His.

God always has the best in mind for us. We can trust Him. Just as I once trusted my earthly Dad to meet my needs, I know I can trust my heavenly Dad. I am trading up. God will never forsake me or leave me to my own devices. He knows the desires of my heart. And if it’s aligned with His heart, I will have more than I ask or imagine because He’s that good!

Be delighted with the Lord. Then he will give you all your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and he will. Psalm 37:4-5 (TLB)

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