Today we have a guest post from Grace.
She writes about how the Lord is our comforter in the midst of suffering. She also lists four ways He comforts us and how we can use them to comfort others.
This post was a great encouragement to me, and I hope it will be an encouragement to you as well!
I’m realizing now more than ever how much heartache people endure. Lately, I’ve discovered that the people around me are constantly hurting. Everyone struggles to survive in this crazy life, and the only way they can thrive is if they lean on God’s strength.
The Lord needs to be our Comforter in the midst of suffering. But He also wants us to comfort others. We can do that by following His example.
Here are four ways He comforts us and how we can use them to comfort others:
1. His words
The Bible has incredibly uplifting passages and verses through which God speaks to us. We can share these Bible verses and passages with those who are hurting to encourage them and lift them up when they’re in need. There are so many ways we can do this! We can send them a text with an encouraging verse, mail them a card with a chapter of Psalms, or simply have a conversation with them that points to the gospel. God uses His Word to speak life to us, and we can use it to speak life to others.
2. His listening
When we’re stressed, worried, angry, frustrated, or lonely, we can call out to Jesus. He doesn’t ignore us when we pray to Him with genuine and pure hearts. When someone you know is experiencing heartache, he or she may need a listening ear. Maybe the person needs someone to talk to but isn’t sure who will listen. You can be that listening ear and that shoulder to cry on.
3. His provision
Even during the hardest trials, God still provides for us. In our worst moments, He still gives us good gifts—even simple things we take for granted, like a hot shower or a pink sunset. When we know people who are suffering, we can try to meet one of their needs. This could mean buying them a gift card to the grocery store, baking them a plate of homemade brownies, or saying a prayer for strength for them. Any gifts you can give them will lessen their load and remind them that you care.
4. His endurance
Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, the Lord is with us. He never leaves us. He always stays, and there’s nothing we can do to push Him away because He is constant. We need to be constant, too! Even when the people we love ignore us or try to push us away, we need to persist like God does. Though people do need time to be alone, they also may need a loyal friend to uplift them.
Obviously, we all suffer; and obviously, suffering hurts. But God comforts us in the pain, and we need to comfort others in their pain by sharing God’s Word with them, listening to them, providing for them, and enduring with them. Though we can’t be their ultimate comforter, we can point them to the
One who is.
Grace M. is a college student, a piano-player, and a writer. She enjoys spending time with her family, playing volleyball, and eating sour gummy worms. She blogs about following Christ in everyday life at TIZZIE'S TIDBITS.
Included in Christ
"Going through this study book has taught me many things. One thing is certain though, I have completely underestimated the book of Ephesians! I recommend this book to anyone looking to grow closer in their walk with the Lord. Holleman does a splendid job in laying out the basics like you've never seen before. She makes it SO easy to understand and grow. This is definitely a book to add to your collection. You won't be disappointed!!"
~Aleigha C. Israel
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Natural Anxiety Medication
Chances are, you’ve heard of the scripture above and like me, you’ve tried your hardest to obey it and you might even use it when dealing with anxiety.
But, what if you don’t exactly understand the meaning of this scripture? What if you don’t have a clear understanding of what this verse is saying? Maybe you’re doing what I did and asking yourself, “What is lovely? What is pure? What is noble? How can we dwell on these things if we don’t even know what they are?
I tend to fret about the future, and because of that, I give myself a lot of undue stress. When dealing with my anxiety, I came across this scripture and saw it in a way that I never have before. And it was then that I began to understand the lesson Paul was giving to the Philippians. And with joy, I now get to share my “learnings” with you.
(But keep in mind as you read this post; these tips will only help if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Apart from Him, this post (and the scriptures quoted) would be nothing, nor could it do anything to change out lives and perspective on this topic.)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9)
Paul, in a way, is giving us his version of natural anxiety medication. Think of it as a substitute for Xanax, Biblical style.
Let’s start by taking apart Philippians 4:8 and diving into the definitions of the words spoken there:
True: In accordance with fact or reality.
Noble: Righteous, good, honorable.
Right: Morally good, justified, or acceptable.
Pure: Not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material, not tainted.
Lovely: Exquisitely beautiful.
Admirable: Arousing or deserving respect and approval.
Excellent: Extremely good; outstanding.
Praiseworthy: Deserving approval and admiration.
Let’s try this, let’s list a few of the definitions we’ve recorded above and see what we come up with!
“Whatever is…” In accordance with reality, honorable, acceptable, not tainted, exquisitely beautiful, respectful, outstanding, admirable. “…think about such things.”
I love what Spurgeon says about this verse. He says:
“If there is any really good movement in the world, help it, you Christian people. If it is not purely and absolutely religious, yet if it tends to the benefit of your fellow-men, if it promotes honesty, justice, purity, take care that you are on that side, and do all you can to help it forward.”
And Calvin really lays it out in an eye opening way:
“In the first place, Paul commends truth, which is nothing else than the integrity of a good conscience, with the fruits of it.
Secondly, gravity, or sanctity is an excellence which consists in this, that we walk in a manner worthy of our vocation, (Ephesians 4:1), keeping at a distance from all profane filthiness…
…Fourthly, purity, which denotes chastity in every department of life. Paul, however, does not reckon all these things to be sufficient, if we do not at the same time endeavor to make ourselves agreeable to all, in so far as we may lawfully do so in the Lord, and have regard also to our good name. For it is in this way that I understand the words “lovely” and “commendable.”
If any praise, that is, anything praiseworthy, for amidst such a corruption of manners there is so great a perversity in men’s judgments that praise is often bestowed upon what is blameworthy, and it is not allowable for Christians to be desirous even of true praise among men, inasmuch as they are elsewhere forbidden to glory, except in God alone. (1 Corinthians 1:31)
“Think about these things” means to meditate. Now meditation comes first, afterwards follows action.”
Based on the commentaries above, what are some ways that we can obey this scripture? What are a few ways that we can be sure to “think on these things?”
I’m going to use what Calvin said here when listing the things below. He says that meditation comes first and action follows meditation. So a few of these things aren’t going to be primarily ways to “meditate” on these things, but also ways to take action.
1. Stay away from filthiness
That means anything that isn’t pure and acceptable in God’s sight.
2. Put yourself last
One of my favorite acrostics, reminds us that to obtain true JOY, we must put: Jesus first, other’s second, and ourselves last. Different ways we can do this is, giving up an argument and letting the other person win. (even when you know you’re right.) Choosing not to give into the temptation of impatience, bitterness, and self-desire. Sacrificing to yourself daily and lifting up the other person.
One of the most effective ways to keep your mind on heavenly things is to serve others. When we’re serving others with a genuine heart, we find it hard to think about ourselves. If we are thinking about ourselves, we need to examine our hearts and make sure that our motives are pure. What are a few ways that we can serve others? What’s a task that you see your mother do every day? A task that you know, without doubt, needs to be done? For me, that might mean washing the dishes after dinner. For you, that might mean taking out the trash, or walking the dog. Maybe you could make lunch for your family or fold the laundry. How about making your bed without being told? There are countless ways to serve if we get ourselves in the right frame of mind.
4. Count your blessings
This last one is my favorite because when dealing with anxiety, it seems to work the quickest. If you find yourself becoming anxious about something, first take it to the Lord as directed in the verse we read above. Next, list ten things you have to be thankful about. Feeling better already? I know I do! Keep listing things until you can’t list anymore, (I hope we would all be here for a while if we actually did that!) By doing this, we’re taking the focus off ourselves and thinking about; lovely, pure and godly things.
Do you have anything to add to this list? What are some ways that you “think on these things?” Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them!
May the Lord bless you all and continue to shine through you as you work to serve Him.
Until next week! =)
No Fear in Death
There’s a certain assisted living home we go to regularly. We love visiting with them, and playing gospel bluegrass music for the residents.
Our purpose is to glorify God and bless the residents there, but what ends up happening more often than naught, is that we are the ones feeling blessed.
We’re blessed by the smiles and faces of pure delight by the dear ladies and gentlemen.
We’re blessed by the way their eyes sparkle when they tell us, “you made my day special,” “this is my favorite day every month!” and “God has really blessed your family, hasn’t He?”
We’re blessed, because we see how God has taken our music, and miraculously turned it into something that could bless another’s heart.
Each resident has their own unique personality.
Everyone has their own smile, their own way of enjoying the music, and their own way of participating in the program.
But one certain resident seems to have been born with a double dose.
This dear lady never forgets to playfully remind us that we are all her grandchildren (or children, it changes periodically) and that she loves us all very much.
She smiles during every song. She sings along (as do most of the residents) faithfully. And she can almost always be seen with her camera, taking pictures.
She’s even been known to get them developed and brings us copies from time to time!
Her memory is astounding, and she even asks about our grandparents, (who have visited only once, and live ten hours away!)
I had the pleasure of speaking with her during one of our visits a couple of days ago.
It was then I began to fully understand the hand of cards life had dealt her, and how faithfully she had played each one.
She had a daughter who grew sick when she was about fifteen years old.
They knew something was very wrong, but all the doctors would ever say was, “she’s fine.”
They knew that wasn’t the truth, and they told the doctors so, but they wouldn’t admit her to the hospital, and since they didn’t know what else to do, they took their daughter home.
Through a series of phone calls, and prayers later, they were finally about to bring their daughter back to the hospital, in hopes that this time they would be given an answer concerning the state of her health.
But it was too late.
It was early one morning when the fifteen-year-old girl stared out the hospital window into the darkness of the morning and asked her mother, “Mama, what time is it?”
Her mother told her, but then asked, “Why do you want to know what time it is?”
Her daughter answered, “Because I’m going to die. And I don’t want to die in the darkness, but when it’s light I’ll be ready to go.”
And when the sun rose above the mountain and peeked into the window of that tiny hospital room, her daughter went to be with the Lord.
This young girl didn’t fear death. She didn’t grow anxious about dying and leaving her earthly home.
I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting this young girl, but according to her mother she was a devoted Christian.
She didn’t fear dying. Her only desire was that she die in the light.
We’ve already covered the topic of being lights in the midst of darkness.
We’ve discussed what it means to be a light for Christ, and we’ve dwelt on what it looks like when we are being true lights.
But once our time on this earth has expired, once our purpose in this life is complete, once we’ve lived our lives according to Christ’s will…then what?
Death is not something many of us like to dwell on.
As I’ve heard various people say, “It’s not being dead that troubles me, it’s the dying part.”
Have you felt the same way before? Do you feel that way now?
Fearing death is a fear that many of us have. It’s a fear that I myself have had to confront before.
During my searching, I’ve found things that have blessed and encouraged me greatly.
This is what I discovered: For starters, (as we’ve already covered) fear is most often times wrong, and sinful. Very few fears are good fears to have.
We are told in the scriptures over and over again to, fear not. And why? Because Christ is with us.
C.H. Spurgeon says: “The fear of death is natural to man as a sinner.”
But he also says: “While the fear of death is natural to the sinner, it is not necessary to the saint.”
Though fearing death isn’t a necessary fear for Christians, and by the grace of God some of us have been delivered from it. It is still a very real fear in many of our lives.
C.H. Spurgeon says in his sermon, The Fear of Death, that death can be our best friend! “Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, there is no need that you should be afraid to die! It is even possible for you to look upon death as your best friend! You may yet come to be familiar with the shroud, the mattock, the grave — and find the cemetery to be no place of gloom and may even rejoice in the prospect of death.”
Even though we think we may have a reason to fear death, all our reasons can be contradicted with God’s Word.
Here are just a few of the scriptures that deal with fearing death:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” JOHN 14:1-4
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” HEBREWS 2:14-15
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” PSALM 23:4 KJV
“Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-8
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” PHILIPPIANS 1:21
C.H Spurgeon says at the closing of his sermon: “It may not be long before some of us will have our faith tested in our dying hour. The preacher may be called away or you may receive the summons first. It would be well if we were all so familiar with death that we could say as one old saint did, “Dying? Why, I have died daily for the last 20 years, so I am not afraid to die, now!” Or, as another said, “I dip my foot in Jordan’s stream every morning before I take my breakfast, so I shall not be afraid to go down into the stream whenever my Lord bids me enter it.” May that be your experience and mine, Beloved, and then we shall have no fear of death!”
Let us endeavor to fear nothing! Not even death itself.
As you’ve just read, when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord.
And how precious it is to be reminded that when we pass on, we will live with Christ in Heaven for eternity!
Do you have the blessed assurance and peace that your name is written in the Book of Life? Do you know without a doubt that when you die, you will be in Heaven with the Lord?
If not, take the time to search the depths of your heart and confront the lingering doubt in your mind.
As the scripture says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Pray to the Lord and ask Him to free you from the bondage of sin. Ask Him to forgive you of all your transgressions. Endeavor to live your life according to His will.
I once heard a missionary friend say: “We will either be on fire for Christ in this world, or in the lake of fire in torment for eternity.”
Strive to please the Lord and follow His example.
We, as Christians don’t have to fear death. There’s nothing to fear! Why? Because as one of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon puts it:
The Roller Coaster of Life
Our Lives are like roller coasters; with the sudden ups and downs of our journey. One moment you’re up, the next you’re down. Unless you know the roller coaster well, you might not even know what the next turn might bring.
Can you imagine how much faith we have in the mechanics of a roller coaster to take us safely to the end?
You’ve probably guessed by now that we recently visited an amusement park. But I knew long before we arrived there that I wanted to write a blog post about this, it just happened to fit perfectly in place!
Have you been on a roller coaster recently?
We put all our trust into the mechanics of the roller coaster, maybe without even thinking about it!
When was the last time we trusted God so easily?
Life might be going along well, just like the smooth ride of the coaster, but then it takes a sudden dip, causing your trust to be shaken.
How do we make sure our trust stays in God? How do we make certain that every step of the way, every inch bringing us closer to the finish line, is made while fully trusting Him, giving Him all our concerns and frustrations?
Well, here a few ways that might help:
Look at trials with the right perspective
I recently read a quote that went something along the lines of, “if we truly believe the Lord and are trusting Him fully, we will begin to see conflicts not as accidents, but as assignments.”
Because of that, if we’re having the right perspective every trial and tribulation that comes our way will be viewed as the next big project and test we must pass.
We can tackle the load of dirty dishes with a resolve to “pass the test” and not give in to a complaining attitude.
When someone hurts our feelings, or a harsh word is sent our way, we’ll see it as another test to pass, and not give into the temptation to build walls of bitterness and self-hurt.
Rejoice amid tribulation
James tells us in James 1:2-3, that we must, “…count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
James reminds us that joy can even be found during trials, during the “ups and downs of life.”
Hold to His promises and never let go
In my devotional, Hidden Treasures, I delve deeper into the process of “holding to His promises.” But for now, I’ll just remind you that there are approximately 5,000 (according to one man’s count) promises that the Lord has made to us. And guess what? He’s kept every single one.
Here are a few promises to dwell upon during trials and temptations:
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
“Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
So what do we do when we find ourselves on another hectic roller coaster of life?
Are you holding to His promises?
Let’s endeavor to do something this week; let’s take each trial one step at a time. Let’s remember to take His promises and hold on to them tightly.
And remember this, out of the many thousands of promises He’s made…He’s kept every single one.