buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “pain and suffering”

Payment Needed

Last night, I listened to a preacher who spoke about North Korea. It was a random video I ran across, but it stayed with me. He spoke of the people of North Korea. He spoke specifically about the brothers and sisters in Christ there who wonder if anyone sees their plight. They look up and wonder if God hears their cries.

I can’t imagine what my brothers and sisters in Christ are experiencing today. I can’t imagine their hardships; the persecution they face. Theirs will be a greater reward for what they have endured while here on this earth. I am sure they would love to see God’s glory in the land of the living though. I am sure they would love to see Jesus high and lifted up in this time and in that place. Ultimately, suffering is a temporary thing; but it could take forever to be relieved.

The time is coming when all evil will be vanquished to hell, but we still have to live with it for a while longer. Many are saying the end is near. Many think Jesus will return in the next few years, if not sooner. The evilness that is exhibited in North Korea will be destroyed as well as every area where evil rules. The brothers and sisters in Christ will be avenged. Jesus is coming back as a lion, not a lamb. The Lion of Judah will roar. This is not good news for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Matter of fact, the majority on this earth will perish when Jesus returns.

There are consequences of sin that will have to be paid in full. Scripture tells us in Romans 6:23 the wages for sin is death. No one can be good enough to get to heaven. I was told that good people don’t go to heaven – forgiven people do. The people who recognize their sin and recognize the holiness of Jesus and realize they can’t meet Jesus’ standards; these people humble themselves before Jesus and ask Him to forgive them, ask Him to take away their sins and seek His righteousness and holiness. These people will be in heaven. Thanks to Jesus, He paid the price of our sin. He received our death. Jesus said at His last breath – it is finished or it could be translated as paid in full.

When Jesus comes back, He is looking for payment. When He comes back, He will look for those who are His. He will gather them together and give them entry into heaven. There will be some who come to Him, but He will tell them He does not know them. They thought they had done everything right – they had been good enough. However, they never gave their hearts to Jesus; they never sought His forgiveness; they never humbled themselves before Him. I can’t imagine the pain they will experience in that moment when they realize they have missed their chance of eternal life and will receive an eternal death. The rest of Romans 6:23 states the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can’t earn it – it’s a gift.

I listen to several speakers concerning many things, especially on health topics. The other day, I listened to a secular speaker who normally speaks about health, but this time he spoke on a topic concerning end time events. Someone had given him a movie or documentary to watch on events occurring right now and how it aligns with Bible prophecy. He marveled that what we are experiencing today was prophesied (my word, not his) in the Bible. He spoke of Israel becoming a nation and how it was foretold in ancient times.

It was sad to hear him say that his great-grandfather was a minister. His grandfather actually instructed him to read the Bible, but his grandfather died early in this man’s life and the influence was broken. He said that as a child he had been baptized as a Christian. It just makes me sad to think that there are many like him. They may believe they are Christian because their parents sprinkled them when they were infants or may have been baptized as a child. As my pastor said many times, all this did was make them wet.

It’s a conscious decision to follow Jesus that makes a person a Christian. It’s a heart change. It is recognizing sin as sin, turning away from it and turning toward Jesus. That’s what makes us Christian. That’s what makes us followers of Jesus. We’ll never be good enough, but just turning to Jesus, putting faith in what He did for us on the cross, believing that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of mankind – my sin and your sin, that’s the payment that will get us into heaven.

Thank you, Jesus for your sacrifice as the Lamb of God for dying for us in our place and paying the price for our sin. May all come to know you as Lord and Savior before you return. Amen.

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:19-21 (MSG)

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What Could Have Been

On Tuesday I heard two messages with the same theme. Pain and suffering with the right perspective. One story was shared with Andy Andrews on his latest podcast. The other story was shared with Louie Giglio at Passion City Church. This woman had a stroke with complications. Her and her husband shared the difficulties as they found a new normal. Their story was inspiring and hopeful. Her attitude was one of pure joy. The first lady was looking for a new perspective in the midst of her pain and suffering from her past. She couldn’t get past the hurt of her past. She wanted “what could have been” instead of what she got.

Sometimes it’s hard to move past the past. We play the “what if” game thinking that the other choice would have been better than the one that was made. We don’t know what the “other” decision would have led to; we assume everything would have been better if the other path had been chosen. But we will never know “what could have been” if the choice was different. God allows our struggles. He chose us for this unique opportunity to do the hard thing. He even equips us to endure it.

In the book of James, we are told to count our pain and suffering as pure joy. He wrote that it is a test of our faith. This is where we get honest with God. We admit our part of the problem. We give ourselves over to God for healing and restoration. We are supposed to draw nearer to Him in these hard places. He has seen to it that we need this hard place for our growth and development. We have been counted worthy of this time to learn endurance for God’s glory through it all.

There were a couple of crossroads in my life that were pretty significant. One was made for me; the other was a bad decision on my part. But God allowed both. The first choice was made by my parents to move a few hours away from my sisters at a critical time in my life at the age of thirteen. I had a hard time dealing with and took me a great deal to overcome.

It was a joke in my family for many years that I would never forgive my parents for making the move. Many years after the fact, I asked my Mom if they had prayed about the decision to move. The answer was yes. At that point, I knew I had to be okay with the past because this was the will of God. I don’t know why we had to move – whether it was for my good or for someone else’s good. But God brought good out of it for me.

“What could have been” if I hadn’t moved seems to be a long list of opportunities I would not have had. I would have never experienced everything that I experienced, traveled where I traveled, met the people I met; things would have been totally different. I would have never gone to college where I went or experienced one of the highlights of my life – winning a national championship in women’s basketball at that college.

Mom asked me before she died if I had forgiven them, the answer was yes. The joke was not really a joke for her. She wanted to know before she left this earth that we were truly okay. It was all good.

The other decision that I made was at a bad time in my life. I made a lot of stupid decisions that led to a lot of heartache for me and my parents. It was not one of my stellar moments. I was in a relationship that was not a good one for me. The one I was seeing had a bit of a control problem. I realized one morning that I needed to get out of the relationship when I woke up with a shotgun close to the bed.

I don’t know if it was a scare tactic or what was explained as safety precaution for hearing something outside that night. The scare worked if that’s what it was. I knew in my heart that I needed to get out but I was deceived into thinking this was a good relationship. But God set me up; my parents were made aware of what was going on. To make a long story short, with the help of my parents I moved on to a new place.

We all face difficulties and have to face the hard times. But God will help us through it. He promises He will never leave us alone. Our part is to lean upon Him. He will give us the endurance to sustain us in those hard times. Pain and suffering is the way we become more like Jesus. God gets the glory win we shine the light on His working through it. Others get the benefit from the wisdom we gained in it. We get the blessing of helping others through their pain and suffering as only we can do as ones who have experienced what we’ve experienced. Yes, we can count it as joy because we have endured the worst and made better for it. It just takes the right perspective to see God at work in it. Lean on Him and watch Him work through it!

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 (NLT)

Chasing It!

The start of a new year brings a fresh perspective. After taking stock of what happened last year, I am deeply concerned with my state of affairs. I cannot recall any growth opportunities that caused me to stretch my faith muscles. That’s not good. I never want to be the same at the end of a year as I was at the beginning. For this year, I want opportunities for growth. But do I really understand what I am asking?

The Passion Conference happened over the last few days. Levi Lesko was the closing speaker this year. His message for the young ones gathered at the Georgia Dome was to chase their destinies. He said that we are all destined for impact; we are to shake the gates of hell! He talked about endurance and fragrance. Endurance means to stay under. Fragrance only happens when something is pressed down. The only way to destiny is through pain and struggle.

Pastor Levi reminded the group that the apostle Paul thought it was an honor to be trusted with pain. God used Paul’s pain to bring a greater message. God never wastes painful trials. He is always glorified when we come through the trial. However, Satan also uses pain to turn us away from God. He will start to suggest that God doesn’t see our pain; that God has forgotten us. He will lie to us and tell us all kinds of things to destroy our faith. It’s our choice who we believe.

John Piper started Tuesday morning with the message on the essence of evil. He said that the only way to understand the glory of God; understand the price Jesus paid and the glory of our lives is to understand the essence of evil. We have to see the total picture of who God is and who we are without Him. Thanks to Adam and Eve, we are born with this sin nature. But it wasn’t the eating of the fruit that caused the sin, but they desired something more than God. Dr. Piper took us to Jeremiah 2:10-13 to show us how we exchange God for worthless things (idols). Israel had forsaken God to run after other gods and we do the same thing.

We desire things that are good and pleasing to the eye; we will not be denied even if it denies God. I was reminded in a teaching by Randy Frazee that God is a jealous God. He doesn’t like to share. I believe we have brought God down to our level. We no longer have a reverent fear of God. We casually toss out His name as “Oh, my God” or “Jesus Christ” as ways of expressing surprise or a curse depending on the circumstances. But do we realize what we are actually saying? The Israelites trembled at the sound of His thunderous voice. They knew that God could strike them dead because of their great sins, and they wanted all communication to go through Moses.

At Passion, Francis Chan began his message with an opening prayer, which found him on his knees in great wonder about coming into the presence of the God of the universe. We should not take His presence lightly. He should not bring God down to our level. I know God is full of love, grace and mercy. But He also has the right to judge us; His wrath is saved for the day of total destruction. He deserves our reverence. He is the One who spoke everything into existence. He is the One who formed us in our mother’s womb and breathed life into us. He knows us intimately. Our desire should be to know Him as well.

What delights God is our desire for Him. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37) – your total being should desire God above all things. Faith in Him pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Satan’s number one goal is to go after our faith. Dr. Piper reminded us that the ultimate triumph of the cross was to bring us back to God. Because of Adam, the relationship with God was broken. But Jesus restored the relationship by the way of the cross.

As I contemplate these messages and my desire for this year ahead, I am reminded that I need to embrace the cross. Jesus paid for my sins so that I can have a deeper relationship with the God of the universe; the great I AM. If it takes pain and suffering to know God intimately then I need to embrace whatever cross I need to bear in order to deepen my love for Him. If I want to grow, reading books isn’t going to do the trick. It’s living out of faith. It’s taking the next step wherever it leads. It’s trusting God’s Word over what I think. Although I am no longer 25, there is still a destiny I need to chase. It’s still out there waiting on me to discover and pursue with abandon. If you are still breathing, yours is out there too. Let’s make this the best year ever – chasing God’s desires – no matter what!

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)

Suffering Through

I sprained my ankle last week. It was the same ankle that I broke eighteen years ago this month. When I had my injury back then I didn’t go to the emergency room when it happened. I thought everything would be better the next day. I was wrong. I suffered greatly through the night. Last week, I revisited my previous injury. I thought about what I had suffered back then and the agony of waiting until the next morning. Through that night, I couldn’t do anything but crawl around my apartment to get from one point to another. When I made it to my bedroom, I stayed there the rest of the night. The ice didn’t last long; the pain medication wasn’t available yet, so there I laid there suffering on my bed until my parents arrived at lunchtime the next day. This time it wasn’t that bad.

I have had a few occasions in my life where I have dealt with major pain. When I was in my mid twenties I suffered from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I thought I was going to die. The pain was intense and affected every single bone and joint. I had a hysterectomy ten years ago this month (July is a bad month for me!). I thought that pain was going to kill me as well. The morphine I was given didn’t touch the pain. After the first day, I didn’t even press the magical button because I knew the medication wouldn’t give me any relief. It’s been a long time since I have dealt with the throbbing pain of a hurt body. My ankle last week was not nearly as extreme as the RMSF or the hysterectomy or the first ankle injury. This was a reminder for me that I am very fortunate that I don’t live with pain and suffering on a constant basis. And also Jesus suffered so much more than I could ever imagine.

I don’t know why we have to suffer as we do except we live in a broken world. There will always be pain and suffering until Jesus comes back. When Jesus came to earth, He came to heal the sick; to heal the brokenhearted. I had a few days of minor suffering in comparison to the pain Jesus experienced – there is no comparison. I endured my pain for my body to heal physically. But Jesus endured the pain for the entire world to be healed physically, mentally and spiritually. Sin broke the world. Sin brought sickness and death. When sin broke us, God had to send a way to repair the brokenness in us. God loved us so much that He didn’t want to leave us in this broken state. Jesus was the only one who could endure the pain and suffering for us to fix us.

When we are in the middle of pain and suffering, we can come confidently to our Lord and Savior who endured the cross for us. He knows what we are enduring. If we draw near to Him, He will always draw near to us. We can ask Him to take it from us. His answer may come as “yes, not now or no.” We ask with faith in that He hears and will answer in His way. We endure with patience and let the work be finished in us for His glory. We can come to Jesus in faith and believe He answers when we call on Him. Believe that He hears but also believe He loves us with such love that He will not leave us alone in the pain. He longs to hear our voice crying out to Him and will dry our tears with His tender touch. Believe in His love even if the answer is no. There is a purpose that needs to be served in our present sufferings. If you are ready to be healed, in every regard (physically, mentally and spiritually) ask.

My ankle is better with prayer and ice! But my soul is content in His tender embrace.

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6:2-4

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