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Will faith carry you?

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We have all faced times of trouble, of sorrow, of events that have tested our faith to the limits. So how do we rise above those down times, those times when God and His Son and Holy Spirit seem to be off somewhere in the distance that we feel we cannot reach?

Scripture says that faith comes through hearing. (Ro. 10:17) To me that doesn’t always mean through a preacher behind the pulpit. It can be through others who have walked similar paths as we have. It can be through reading the scriptures in the Bible, music, or that small still voice that comes from deep within us.

As Christians we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He is with us constantly. There is never a second that we are alone and He will not remain silent as long as we tap into the Source. We build our faith by praying and listening. By crying out to God Almighty and believing that He hears us and cares.

Being in an abusive environment can destroy hope and faith. We hope things will get better and they don’t. At times they only get worse. How is faith to grow when it seems nothing we do has any impact on our circumstances? It’s a tough life and without hope we seem to disappear into a sea of pain and hopelessness. But hope is there because we have a loving and merciful Savior.

We have a Savior that bore our pain when He was nailed unmercifully to a cross. He looked out over humanity and love swelled in His heart as He said, “It is finished.”  (John 19:30) There’s our hope! We have a Savior that took our sins with each dying breath he took.

Somewhere along the line of life we have heard of God. He says no one has an excuse not to believe. (Ro.1:20) His Majesty is all around us. The blue of the sky, the trees that sway in a wind that we can not see yet can feel. The first cry of a new born baby. Every breath we take is ordained by God. His presence is everywhere. We just have to believe and have faith that God is on our side.

We should never allow circumstances, what people have done to hurt us, the hurt we feel, or past sin to stand between us and our loving, compassionate, caring, and merciful God. Our relationship with Him is the most important relationship we will ever have in this life time. Have faith. He loves you.

 

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Blessings to you.

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The Great Sculptor

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As I counsel hurting believers week after week, pain is often the common denominator in their lives. Why does God allow pain and suffering in the life of the believer? In reading, “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada, I found several reasons why we go through suffering. I would like to share some of her thoughts with you.

Hebrews 5:7-9 states, “…although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what he suffered and made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” This is good news for the suffering soul. The Son of God did not exempt Himself from affliction but lived through it and learned from it. Once the process is complete, He became the source of help for all who obey Him.  Should we suffer? “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” (Matt. 10:24-25)

Suffering fashions us into a “holy and blameless” image of Christ. (Eph.1:4) much like a figure sculpted out of marble. An artist in Florence, Italy once asked the great Renaissance sculptor Michaelangelo what he saw when he approached a huge block of marble. “I see a beautiful form trapped inside.” he replied. “and it is simply my responsibility to take my mallet and chisel and chip away until the figure is set free.”

The beautiful form, the visible expression of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is inside Christians like a possibility, a potential. The idea is there, and God uses affliction like the hammer and chisel, chipping and cutting to reveal His image in you. God chooses as His model His Son, Jesus Christ. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (Rom. 8:29)

God continues to chisel, chipping more away. “To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in the flesh.” (2Cor.12:7)  God works deeper, carefully fashioning every hidden crevice, even our temperament: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who…made Himself…nothing He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8)

God uses suffering to purge sin from our lives, strengthen our commitment to Him, force us to depend on grace, bind us together with other believers, produce discernment, foster sensitivity, discipline our minds, spend our time wisely, stretch our hope, cause us to know Christ better, make us long for truth, lead us to repentance of sin, teach us to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase faith, and strengthen character. It’s a beautiful image!

And it’s an image like no other. When Christ is unveiled in me, it’s a unique sculpture. It’s what patience, self-control, endurance, gentleness, kindness, as well as a healthy hatred of sin, looks like on “Joni.” That’s different than the way sensitivity and self-control look on my husband or anyone else. My particular affliction is divinely hand-tailored expressly for me.

Yielding to the chisel is “learning obedience from what we suffer.” Our circumstances don’t change; we change. The “who” of who we are is transformed, like a form unfolding, into His likeness with ever-increasing glory. “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2Cor. 3:16-18)

I cannot afford to focus on the hammer and chisel. I cannot look around me and bemoan what God is chipping away. Turn your focus on Him, trusting that He will never cut or gouge too deeply. God is not a casual or capricious Sculptor. “For I know the plans I have for you, ‘ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

James Eubanks – Grace Ministries

Angels by Grace -June 1998

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Blessings to you.

My Savior meets me there

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When all my strength has faltered

And I’m cast down in defeat

When I can no longer carry

The weight of guilt and self-defeat.

When all the dreams I’ve cherished

Are in a heap of despair

And all the hopes I’ve believed in

Amount only to despair,

My Savior meets me there.

For His strength is perfect

When mine comes to an end

He cleans the ugly wounds of sin

And then my heart He starts to mend.

I can’t always hear His voice

Nor with my vision see

But I know He’s always with me

Because He said He’d be.

So I trust Christ with my brokenness

Kneeling on my knees

And I find that I am lifted there

And the chains are broken free.

Then I can face the enemy

And say “All you have are lies”

And know the lies cannot destroy me

Because the Truth is on my side.

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By R.M.L. Angels by Grace April 1996

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elah501c@bellsouth.net

Blessings to you.