“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8 NIV
When we go through trials and difficulties we need to run to the Lord. We need his strength and wisdom. Jesus was living a life that was hard and he went through so much. He can understand our struggles. He can relate. He, more than anyone had faith, and trust in his father. Over the last few weeks I have had challenges but through them God has shown me so much. Trials are tests and God may not remove them but he will help you through them. I have an electric wheelchair and have had for 12+ years. My chair is comfortable and allows me independence. My chair will recline to relax. Over a week ago it just shut off and wouldn’t come back on. They put me in a manual chair but it is uncomfortable and I can not move an inch on my own. I can take it only so long. I hate to be so dependent on others. I also have been fervently praying for several others who are knocking at deaths door. People who are young and have so much to live for. I found myself crying out to the Lord. We have been promised that if we have faith we can move mountains. When you really want those mountains to move you will cry out. Jesus really had faith. He was perfect. He commanded storms to calm, the blind to see, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise. When he spoke things happened. As he knew his death was near I know he did not fear death. The chance of being back home with his father was a welcomed thought. But like all of us the suffering coming was unwelcome and unwanted. He cried out to God to take this pain away. Not once, not twice, but three times. When God does something three times it is significant. Jesus was doing something we do instinctively. Help, Enough, I can’t do this. God doesn’t expect us to do more than we can but sometimes he does know more than we do. I was praying for a young guy that was in a tragic auto accident that killed his grandma instantly and by all intent he should have died instantly too. But he held on and everyone was praying for a miracle. After a couple weeks the Lord took him home to be with him. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Why didn’t God answer the fervent prayers of Jesus? Why did Jesus even pray them if it was not Gods will? We have to trust that God sees the big picture. Everyone and everything involved has needs, and God is working in the best interests of everyone involved. That one trial may have far reaching causes. Just think what would have happened if Jesus had not died for our sins? We were lost and needed a savior. It had to be somebody perfect like the father’s son. He is the only one who could do it. Might God have found a different way? Maybe. But the impact of that sacrifice has changed so many lives. It was not easy but it was God’s will to save the world. Jesus did it gladly and looked forward to the day he would see each of us in heaven with him. God helped him endure the suffering and he will be our strength too. Trials do help us grow. The more we go through the stronger we become. Physical, mental, and spiritual strength.
Can you trust that God does know what is best?
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 NIV
Praying is very important. Jesus knew this and spent so much time building himself up in prayer. If Jesus who was perfect needed that, how much more do we need it. It says he withdrew to lonely places. It was important that praying to God was in a quiet place. With nobody around for distractions. When we are alone with God in prayer we are far from lonely. But God deserves our complete and full attention. Praying is not something difficult or exact, but just coming to God and talking. Tell God you’re every need, desire, and what’s important to you, and don’t forget thanksgiving for all he has already done for you. It is easy to focus on needs and what you don’t have. It’s more important to be thankful for all you do have. God takes such good care of me and supplies all that I need. He wants to bless me abundantly and he does as soon as I get my mind off of me and back on what I can be doing for his kingdom and others. He wants us to bear much fruit. If we are praying and desiring to bear fruit he can bless us. He will give us more fruit. It is simple sowing and reaping. If you want to be loved and cared for, then be loving and caring. If you want respect, then be respectful of others. This is not complicated, but very simple. Spending time talking to God and doing things to become closer to him will make you a better, happier person. The more you let him solve your problems and shoulder your burdens, the more you will seek to do the same for others. This will only make your life better, and also for those around you. God’s principles are good. He desires to give us a good and abundant life. But it is not just about what he’s doing. We have to believe in what he asks us to do. To do it all because God knows best. He only tells us because he knows it works. We may not understand everything he does know, but I know him and I know he loves me. He would never steer me wrong. I have sixty years experience following him and I have done things my way and I have done things his way. And guess what? His ways are so much better.
Do you have a relationship with him?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV
This week was my yearly vacation to Special Touch Camp. Each year people with disabilities, whether cognitive or physical get to go to a Christ centered camp where for five days we get to do great things that we don’t normally get to do. If you have any handicaps and want to go where you are loved unconditionally and get to do many exciting and different things, I highly recommend it. My favorite is soaking in the hot tub and just relaxing. It is not easy getting me in or out, but whatever you want they make it happen. One year I rode a zip line through the trees and landing in the lake. This year a friend of mine went on the screaming swing, where they pull you way up in the air and let you go screaming all the way. We play games, do crafts, sing, hear great messages and eat great food. Everyone there loves God and loves to serve others. This week we talked about how we are made so perfectly and uniquely. God never makes anything poorly and we are perfect. No two people are alike and we are so loved. At one of the services the pastor gave out beautiful flowers, all different and unique. It made me remember one morning as I sat in the patio praying I had a vision, because I was awake but I saw a beautiful field of millions of different flowers . God told me that is how he sees the people he has made. It doesn’t matter if we have handicaps, addictions, or problems. No matter your color, nationality, or difference God sees you just how he made you. Whatever potential he sees in us makes him smile. Of everything he ever created we are his best work. Created just like him to think, reason and to do great things. He knows the beginning from the end. Though I once made big mistakes he saw just what I would become and do for him. We are all a messed up bunch having our own needs and wants. When we stop worrying about ourselves and start worrying about others and their needs, that’s when God can start meeting our needs beyond our expectations. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God put in my DNA everything I would ever need to fulfill his purposes for me. I may be in a wheelchair, unable to walk or stand,and to even care for myself. I can’t speak clearly but he has enabled me to do great things for him. Right where he has placed me he has given me many assignments and let me change lives.
Do you know how perfect and wonderful you are?
“I am the vine; and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit ; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NIV
This verse has so much to say about our walk with God. Who God is and how he sees his awesome plan for us. God is the one who made us and he is apart of us. We were never meant to be apart from God. Our need of him is so very important in every aspect of our lives. If we want to be all that we can be then we need to cooperate with him. He does know what is best. He has great plans for us. To be a people for himself that will bear much fruit, this fruit is the characteristics and traits that will further his kingdom. We will be loving, joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, gentle, good, meek, temperate, and faithful. These are the fruits he desires to see in us. He uses the example of a grape vine for good reasons. If God is a grape vine then we are connected to him and will produce fruit like his. Grape vines produce grapes. We can not on our own decide to produce some other fruit such as tomatoes. We are to be more like him each day. He decides what we need to be and what is best for all. We also need to stay connected to him. He is our power source. When we do what we want and not what he has asked us to do we will be week, and ineffective . We need to spend time with him. A relationship with him is very important. Anyone you have ever had a relationship with is first, important to you. You spend time together, sharing, the good and the bad together, and grow closer to each other. Another thing about a vine is being connected, always, every day. If you are not connected to him, his vine, you are disconnected. If you are disconnected you will die. It may be a slow, miserable death, but with no nutrients you will die. When a vine dies it is cast off and burnt up. You don’t want to be cast off or dead do you? You will not be very productive if you are dead. As I was reading my Bible today I was in Deuteronomy. The Israelites had just spent forty years wandering in the wilderness and the whole time God provided for them. They were brought out of Egypt in such a mighty way. Even when they faced their first struggles God was strong. Splitting the Red Sea so they walked right through, in the mud, no! The walked on solid, dry ground. He provided water when they needed it, food for thousands of men, women and children. They demanded meat and God sent them quail. Their clothes and shoes held up for forty years and did not wear out. During this time they married and raised families. He kept them safe and strong. Because there were more people after forty years and all the original ones died in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb remained from the original bunch. When they came into the promised land God fought for them. No matter how big or how strong their enemies were, they did not stand a chance. But he warned them to leave certain people alone. Because he had already blessed them, such as Esau’s family and Lot’s family. Those who God has blessed shall remain blessed.
Do you want to be one of God’s blessed people?
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I am awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18 NIV
God delights in us, his love for us will never fail. He made us for greatness on purpose and he thinks about us continually. When you have something like that on your side you have hope. This is a difficult life we live. We need someone who loves us unconditionally that will always be there for us. Even though we won’t always be there for ourselves. We are not perfect like God. We can get mad at ourselves , put ourselves down, and even lie to ourselves. God will not. You can not be happy until you have this unconditional love God gives. I see so much complaining and anger from people. People can be very selfish, thinking first and foremost of themselves. They even expect others to fulfill them and make them happy. Of course they can’t and it only angers people. There is something inside us from the time we are born that is searching for that unconditional love. Even if we find that for a time with a loved one, there will come a day when they will let us down and prove to be imperfect. Someone can love you but it is not their job to make you happy. Only a perfect God can do that. He wants to do that. But we do have to come to him first. Until you are finally loved unconditionally by God and following him. Doing his will, his way, you can not be truly happy. Until you are it is going to be difficult to get along with others, who are like yourself, imperfect. I am a very happy person and care very much about the people I come in contact with and try to be pleasant and helpful. But I wasn’t always that way. Things could easily bother me and upset me. I knew God all of my life but I didn’t really know him. I made it very personal in 2013 when I began to search for the Lord with my whole heart. The more I read my Bible and prayed the better I got to know him and how much he loved me. For the last year I have been reading a daily devotional called, ‘Letters From God’ by Ivan Tait. I love this book because it tells me some of the many thoughts God has for me and it is so empowering. Knowing how God sees you and all he has for you can fill you. The more love I get from God, the more love I have to give others. When you love God and yourself you can’t help but love others. God says to love others as yourself. But what if you cant love yourself? Until you know how unconditionally you are loved you can’t. You will try to earn that love and no one but God can give it.
Do you know just how much God loves you?