Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Song

For those who feel like God has called you to a difficult path, who are weary and discouraged, who are tempted to walk or run away...may you hear your Shepherd's tender voice today. May you listen to His loving words. May you receive from Him more grace, grace to stay. To stay the course, to stay in faith, to stay in hope, to stay surrendered. To stay, and one day see the victory and the harvest.

God bless you.

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." -John 10:14, 27

Don’t Run Away

Lord, you’ve called me by name, told me who I am,
Promised me that you have good plans,
You’ve given me blessings true,
Amazed me, as I’ve seen more of you!
Yet at times the path you choose for me
Is so different than what I hoped it’d be.
It’s so hard, so filled with sweat and tears,
With every challenge, I lift up continual prayers.
By faith I move forward, one tiny step by step,
Til the moment when I feel I can’t take another breath,
When my strength is gone, and my eyes can’t see,
When weary and overwhelmed, I fall to my knees,
When I look to other paths, where life seems easy,
And cry out, questioning why you chose this one for me.

How many times have I been here,
At the crossroad of faith and fear?

How many times have I heard you say,
“My child, don’t run away.”
Gently, you take my hand, you draw my gaze,
Til I listen to your thoughts, your ways.
“Child, you don’t see now where this painful path leads,
But trust my heart, let your tears be the seeds.
There is purpose in the process, growth through the pain,
What looks easy has little value, lacking eternal gain.
Keep believing my promises, know I want your best,
Stay on your path, and you will reap the harvest.”

Lord, it’s only your grace that has carried me this far,
It’s only your love that has comforted my heart
Each time I’ve cried out in despair or agony,
You’ve never failed or forsaken me.
Still at times I’m so weak,
I need more of your power, your strength.
You’ve called me to an impossible task,
Help me remember my willingness is all you ask.
You alone can raise the dead,
Or move my feet one more step ahead.
Where does this path lead? Only you know.
No matter how hard, or when I want to go,
Don’t let me turn aside, or ever say, “I’m through,”
Because you know deep inside, I want to follow you.

When I hear you speak,
“Beloved, don’t run away,”
Please pour more grace over me,
Help me listen, help me stay.

by Joanna K. Harris ©2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Play Your Song

I love good music. I enjoy listening for the various instruments in an orchestra, trying to identify each one adding its unique voice to the unified whole. There’s something inspiring about all the different instruments working together in harmony to create a beautiful sound. It delights my soul.

It also makes me wonder if God feels the same about us. Does He look at His children and delight to hear each of us playing our special part in His symphony? I think He does.

Ephesians 4:16 says it this way:
"From him (Jesus) the whole body (the church), joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

In this metaphor of the church as a body, it's clear that each of us has a special role to play. As we live that out in love, the whole body grows and is blessed.

Here on earth we understand about physical bodies. We live in them, are limited by them, and experience good and bad with them. From our earthly view, the body is a good metaphor for us to consider.

From a heavenly perspective, where there aren't physical limitations like here on earth, perhaps a better metaphor for us is an orchestra. As the heavenly host is observing our lives, what do they see? What do they hear?

Do they see us working together in harmony? Do they hear each of us playing the special melody God has written...just for you, just for me?

Do you know what your song is?

Are you learning how to play it?

Is anything holding you back from sounding those beautiful notes with your life?

For me, I think I spent a lot of years quietly chiming in with a random note here or there. When it seemed like there was other music playing loudly and it felt safe to contribute without anyone noticing, I'd play a few notes. I didn't fully understand or embrace my role in the orchestra.

Lately it seems like God isn't letting me stay quiet as much. It's like I see the Conductor pointing His baton at me and calling me to sound out my notes loud and clear.

It's not that my song is better or worse than anyone else's. It's just my song. And God wants to hear it. He wrote it just for me. He doesn't want me to leave it on the music sheet. He wants it to be heard.

Because the orchestra needs my song, just like it needs yours.

God has a special song He's written just for you. He created you uniquely. He blessed you with gifts and talents. He allowed you to go through the hardship and pain that He has used to sharpen your ability to play the song that only you have been given.

Where are you? Are you hiding behind the music stand? Or are your eyes on the Conductor, ready to play your song with all your heart?

Heaven is watching.
The world is waiting.
The orchestra is playing.

So play your song, dear friend. 

Play your song.

Toca tu canción

Me encanta la buena música. Disfruto escuchando los diferentes instrumentos en una orquesta, tratando de identificar cada uno agregando su voz única con el todo unificado. Hay algo inspirador en el hecho de que  todos los instrumentos trabajen juntos en armonía para crear un hermoso sonido. Eso deleita mi alma.

También me hace preguntarme si Dios siente lo mismo acerca de nosotros. ¿Mira Él a Sus hijos y se deleita escuchándonos a cada uno tocando nuestra parte especial de Su sinfonía? Creo que sí.

Efesios 4:16 lo dice de  esta manera:
En esta metáfora de la iglesia como cuerpo, es claro que cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel especial que jugar. Al vivirlo en amor, todo el cuerpo crece y es bendecido.

Aquí en la tierra entendemos de cuerpos físicos. Vivimos en ellos, estamos limitados por ellos y experimentamos lo bueno y lo malo con ellos. Desde nuestra visión terrenal, el cuerpo es una buena metáfora a considerar.

Desde una perspectiva celestial, donde no hay limitaciones como aquí en la tierra, quizá una metáfora mejor para nosotros sea una orquesta. A medida que el ejército celestial está observando nuestras vidas, ¿qué ven? ¿Qué oyen?

¿Nos ven trabajando juntos en armonía? ¿Nos oyen a cada uno tocando la melodía especial que Dios ha escrito… justo para ti y para mí?

¿Sabes cuál es tu canción?

¿Estás aprendiendo cómo tocarla?

¿Hay algo que te impide reproducir esas hermosas notas con tu vida?

De mi parte, creo que pasé muchos años en silencio tocando notas al azar aquí o allá. Cuando parecía que había otra música sonando más duro y parecía seguro contribuir sin que nadie notara, tocaba unas pocas notas. No entendía totalmente ni tomaba mi papel en la orquesta.

Últimamente parece que Dios no me está permitiendo estar tan silenciosa. Es como si viera al director señalándome con su batuta y llamándome a tocar mis notas fuerte y claro.

No es que mi canción sea mejor o peor que la de otras personas. Es sencillamente mi canción. Y Dios quiere escucharla. La escribió sólo para mí. No quiere que la deje en la partitura. Quiere que se escuche.

Porque la orquesta necesita mi canción, igual que necesita la tuya.

Dios tiene una canción especial que escribió sólo para ti. Te creó único. Te bendijo con dones y talentos. Te permite atravesar las dificultades y el dolor que Él usa para agudizar tu habilidad de tocar la canción que sólo a ti se te ha dado.

¿Dónde estás? ¿Te estás escondiendo detrás del atril? O ¿están tus ojos en el director, listo para tocar tu canción con todo tu corazón?

El cielo está mirando.
El mundo está esperando.
La orquesta está tocando.

Así que toca tu canción, querido amigo.

Toca tu canción.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unseen Reality (Realidad Invisible)

I enjoyed a wonderful visit in Scotland this summer! In that part of the world, the weather is very different from Florida in the summer. It's cooler there and rains a lot, and it's more often cloudy than sunny. We did have some nice sunny days, but other days it was so cloudy we didn't see the sun at all.

While I was there, God also worked it out for me to go to Northern Ireland for a week, which was a sweet blessing! I took a short flight from Scotland to Northern Ireland. As the plane climbed into the sky, we flew through a thick cloud bank. Suddenly we came out on top of the clouds, and the sun was blazing brilliantly in the sky!

It was like I suddenly remembered that the sun did still exist, even though I hadn't seen it in a while. There it was shining brightly over the top of that cloud bank. The sun had never left or wavered or faltered. I just hadn't been able to see it through the clouds.

The fact is that the sun doesn't move or change. The earth moves, and clouds can come and block our view, but the sun is always shining its light.

I think we often forget this truth because we say things like, "I wish the sun would come out" or "The sun disappeared behind a cloud." In reality, the sun didn't hide or move. But we often speak words based on the perception of what we see or feel, not on the greater unseen reality.

We can do the same with God, can't we? He is always there, unchanging. Jesus is always present, shining His light in our lives. But sometimes we can't see Him because of stormy circumstances or a dark night of the soul. We may say things like, "Where is God now?" or "I wish God would show up in my life." But the unseen reality is that He is ever-present, always glorious.

Maybe sometimes we just need a little flight of faith to lift us above the cloud banks, where we can see His light blazing so brightly that we pause in awe. Where we remember that He is present. He is beautiful. And He is active in our lives.

Maybe we need to speak words that reflect the unseen reality of who Jesus is, instead of how we feel in the moment.

He has never left us.
His love for us endures through every storm.
His faithfulness never fails.
His mercies are new every morning. 
He is eternally good.

I'm thankful God has given us His Word, our source of truth and the fuel of our faith. And I'm thankful God speaks to us through His creation, reminding us of eternal realities that are sure and steady, even though unseen. 

"Though you have not seen Him (Jesus), you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." -1 Peter 1:8-9

Realidad Invisible

¡Disfruté una maravillosa visita en Escocia este verano! En esa parte del mundo el clima es muy diferente al de Florida en el verano. Es más fresco allá y llueve mucho, y es nublado con más frecuencia que soleado.

Mientras estaba allí, Dios obró para que fuera también a Irlanda del norte por una semana, ¡lo que fue una dulce bendición! Tomé un corto vuelo de Escocia a Irlanda del norte. A medida que el avión subía al cielo, volamos a través de un banco espeso de nubes. Repentinamente salimos sobre las nubes ¡y el sol estaba brillando ardientemente en el cielo!

Fue como si repentinamente recordara que el sol sí existe, aunque no lo había visto por un rato. Estaba allí brillando sobre ese banco de nubes. El sol nunca se fue, vaciló o flaqueó. Sencillamente yo no podía verlo a través de las nubes.

El hecho es que el sol no se mueve o cambia. La tierra se mueve y las nubes pueden venir y bloquear nuestra vista, pero el sol siempre está mostrando su luz.

Creo que con frecuencia olvidamos esta verdad porque decimos cosas como: “Desearía que el sol saliera” o “El sol desapareció detrás de una nube.” En realidad, el sol no se escondió ni se movió. Pero con frecuencia decimos palabras basados en la percepción de lo que vemos o sentimos, no en la realidad invisible más grande.

Podemos hacer lo mismo con Dios, ¿no es cierto? Él siempre está ahí, invariable. Jesús siempre está presente, alumbrando nuestras vidas con Su luz. Pero a veces no lo podemos ver debido a circunstancias tempestuosas o una negra noche del alma. Podemos decir cosas como: “¿dónde está Dios ahora?” o “me gustaría que Dios se apareciera en mi vida.” Pero la realidad invisible es que Él siempre está presente, siempre glorioso.

Tal vez a veces sencillamente necesitamos un pequeño vuelo de fe para levantarnos sobre los bancos de nubes, donde podemos ver Su luz tan resplandeciente que nos detenemos maravillados, donde recordamos que Él está presente. Es hermoso. Y está activo en nuestras vidas.

Quizá necesitamos decir palabras que reflejen la realidad invisible de quién es Jesús, en lugar de cómo nos sentimos en el momento.

Él nunca nos ha dejado.
Su amor por nosotros perdura en cada tormenta.
Su fidelidad nunca falla.
Sus misericordias son nuevas cada mañana.
Él es eternamente bueno.

Estoy agradecida que Dios nos ha dado Su Palabra, nuestra fuente de verdad y el combustible de nuestra fe. Y estoy agradecida que Dios nos habla a través de Su creación, recordándonos realidades eternas que son seguras y firmes, aunque invisibles.

“a quien amáis sin haberle visto (Jesús), en quien creyendo, aunque ahora no lo veáis, os alegráis con gozo inefable y glorioso; obteniendo el fin de vuestra fe, que es la salvación de vuestras almas.” -1P. 1:8-9

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Qualified - Guest Post ( Competentes – Publicación de invitado)

Today I'm delighted to share a guest post from one of my dear friends and a faithful prayer warrior. I know you'll be blessed by his encouraging words.

Qualified - by Jason Arias

I believe that everyone who is following Christ has been called to things that are bigger than what they are capable of. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (NKJV) This can easily become a cliché statement for believers. We have probably all heard it so many times, but have you ever considered what this means for you personally? God has placed dreams and purposes in each of our hearts, things that we know are impossible to do on our own. Some of them are smaller, such as speaking a kind word to someone who is having a bad day, offering to help someone who needs a hand, or joining a prayer team. But some of them are much larger, perhaps serving in a leadership role at your church, or even starting a whole new ministry.

We need to be aware that no matter where we are serving, there is an enemy that wants us to believe that we are disqualified. It happens everywhere - from the person walking down the street telling people that God loves them, to the church nursery worker, Sunday school teachers, prayer warriors, ministry team leaders, and even pastors and evangelists. There is no exception to this. Satan, our enemy, does not want us to spread God's love, and he certainly doesn't want us to share the gospel. He will do anything in his (limited) power to stop us. One of his favorite tactics is to remind us of our own limitations, bringing up those times that we have failed and disappointed God, running through the list of our shortcomings. He will try to tell us, "You can't do this!" The list of reasons that he brings to disqualify us is seemingly endless.

But there is a weapon that is more powerful than all of those lies. We can use the Word of God to combat the enemy. Satan's lies are no match for God's Word. It's not as if there is a power struggle, where two super heroes are pushing each other back and forth, with a winner finally emerging. Satan's lies are instantly broken by the power of God's Word - no contest! The Bible has labeled him as "the accuser of the brethren." Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is constantly accusing us in front of God day and night. However in that same verse it also tells of his defeat! Speak the Word of God to silence the lies of the enemy.

Thank you God for the blood of Jesus! It has washed away all of my sins and made me righteous in God's sight! It is not because of anything that I have done. It is a free gift! My qualifications are based on His power and His strength. I don't have to be good enough, because I never can be. I only need to trust in Jesus and rely on Him.

See what God's word says:
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, "It has come at last--salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth--the one who accuses them before our God day and night." -Revelation 12:10 NLT

Qualifying verses:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit--fruit that will last--and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. -John 15:16 NIV

"If you can?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for one who believes." -Mark 9:23 NIV

He has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time" -2 Timothy 1:9 NIV

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory. -Romans 5:2 NLT

We can rest in the fact that the power to do God's work doesn't come from us, it comes from Him. On our own, we wouldn't be able to do anything. But because His Spirit is alive in us, we are able to do greater things than we ever imagined possible. We can follow the dreams that He has given us, not because of our talents or intellect, but because we know that He will equip us at the right time. As we prepare to do God's work, the most important preparation is in our heart. When we stand in humility, and recognize that we really are not able to do this on our own, we are in the perfect place to be used by God to impact the world.

So whether God is leading you to start a small group, teach a class, help a stranger, or start a new ministry, take that next step in faith. It is because of the blood of Jesus that we are qualified.

Competentes – Publicación de invitado

Hoy me gozo en compartir una publicación de invitado de uno de mis queridos amigos y un fiel guerrero de oración. Sé que serán bendecidos por estas alentadoras palabras.

Competente –por Jason Arias

Creo que todo aquel que está siguiendo a Cristo ha sido llamado a cosas que son más grandes que lo que es capaz de hacer. Ef. 2:10 dice: “Porque somos hechura suya, creados en Cristo Jesús para buenas obras, las cuales Dios preparó de antemano para que anduviésemos en ellas.” Ésta puede convertirse fácilmente en una declaración cliché para los creyentes. Probablemente todos la hemos escuchado muchas veces pero, ¿alguna vez has considerado lo que significa para ti personalmente? Dios ha puesto sueños y propósitos en cada uno de nuestros corazones, cosas que sabemos que nos es imposible hacerlas por nosotros mismos. Algunas son pequeñas, como decir una palabra amable a alguien que tiene un mal día, ofrecer ayuda a alguien que necesita una mano o unirse a un grupo de oración. Pero algunas son mucho más grandes, quizá servir en  un papel de liderazgo en tu iglesia o aun comenzar un nuevo ministerio.

Necesitamos ser conscientes que no importa donde estemos sirviendo, hay un enemigo que quiere que creamos que somos incompetentes. Sucede en todas partes – desde la persona que camina por la calle diciéndole a la gente que Dios los ama, hasta el trabajador de la salacuna en la iglesia, los profesores de la escuela dominical, guerreros de oración, líderes del equipo de ministerio e incluso los pastores y evangelistas. No hay excepción para esto. Satanás, nuestro enemigo, no quiere que propaguemos el amor de Dios y ciertamente no quiere que compartamos el evangelio. Él hará cualquier cosa en su (limitado) poder para detenernos. Una de sus tácticas favoritas es recordarnos nuestras propias limitaciones, sacando a relucir aquellas veces en que le hemos  fallado a Dios y lo hemos decepcionado, revisando la lista de nuestras deficiencias. Tratará de decirnos: “¡No puedes hacerlo!” La lista de razones que trae para descalificarnos es casi interminable.

Pero hay un arma que es más poderosa que todas esas mentiras. Podemos usar la Palabra de Dios para combatir al enemigo. Las mentiras de Satanás no son rivales para la Palabra de Dios. No es como si hubiese una lucha por el poder, donde dos súper héroes se empujan mutuamente, hasta que finalmente emerge un ganador. Las mentiras de Satanás son rotas instantáneamente por el poder de la Palabra de Dios - ¡no hay competencia! La Biblia lo ha rotulado como “el acusador de los hermanos.” Apocalipsis 12:10 nos dice que Satanás está constantemente acusándonos frente a Dios día y noche. Sin embargo, ¡en ese mismo versículo también nos habla de su derrota! Habla la Palabra de Dios para silenciar las mentiras del enemigo.

¡Gracias Dios por la sangre de Jesús! ¡Ha lavado todos mis pecados y me ha hecho justo a la vista de Dios! No es por nada que yo haya hecho. ¡Es un regalo! Mis calificaciones están basadas en Su poder y Su fortaleza. No tengo que ser suficientemente buena porque nunca podré serlo. Solamente necesito confiar en Jesús y descansar en Él.

Mira lo que dice la Palabra de Dios:
“Entonces oí una gran voz en el cielo, que decía: Ahora ha venido la salvación, el poder, y el reino de nuestro Dios, y la autoridad de su Cristo; porque ha sido lanzado fuera el acusador de nuestros hermanos,(J) el que los acusaba delante de nuestro Dios día y noche.” –Apocalipsis 12:10

Versículos capacitadores:

“No me escogieron ustedes a mí,  sino que yo los escogí a ustedes y los comisioné para que vayan y den fruto,  un fruto que perdure.  Así el Padre les dará todo lo que le pidan en mi nombre. .” –Jn. 15:16 NVI

“Jesús le dijo: Si puedes creer, al que cree todo le es posible.” –Mr. 9:23

“quien nos salvó y llamó con llamamiento santo, no conforme a nuestras obras, sino según el propósito suyo y la gracia que nos fue dada en Cristo Jesús antes de los tiempos de los siglos,” –2 Ti. 1:9

“por quien también tenemos entrada por la fe a esta gracia en la cual estamos firmes, y nos gloriamos en la esperanza de la gloria de Dios.” -Ro. 5:2

Podemos descansar en el hecho de que el poder para hacer la obra de Dios no viene de nosotros sino de Él. Por nosotros mismos no podemos hacer nada. Pero porque Su Espíritu está vivo en nosotros, podemos hacer cosas más grandes de las que nunca hemos imaginado posible, Podemos seguir los sueños que Él nos ha dado, no por nuestros talentos o nuestro intelecto, sino porque sabemos que Él nos capacitará en el momento oportuno. Mientras nos preparamos para hacer la obra de Dios, la preparación más importante es en nuestro corazón. Cuando estamos en humildad y reconocemos que realmente no podemos hacerlo por nosotros mismos, estamos en el lugar perfecto para ser usados por Dios para impactar al mundo.

Así que sea que Dios te está guiando a comenzar un grupo pequeño, enseñar una clase, ayudar a un extranjero o comenzar un ministerio nuevo, da el próximo paso en fe. Es por la sangre de Jesús que somos competentes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Strange Gift

I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the summer! I’m having a wonderful visit in Scotland and this week in Northern Ireland! I’m so thankful for God’s many gifts to me in this new season. =)

However, I still remember what it was like living in the season of suffering. This week I want to share something I wrote almost ten years ago. While I am so very thankful to no longer be in a season of suffering, I am also thankful for God’s wisdom in taking me through that season. He gives us gifts in every season of our lives. It’s just that some of them seem more strange than others.

Jesus is the greatest gift of all! And whatever brings us closer to Him can be considered one of His gifts to us.

I hope this post will encourage you today.

The Gift Of Suffering

Have you seen the movie The Ultimate Gift? It’s about a wealthy man who dies and leaves his grandson a series of strange gifts. The grandson just wants to know how much money he inherits, but he can’t find out until he receives all the unusual gifts - such as work, problems, giving, etc. Too often I’m like the grandson, waiting for God to give me the “good stuff” while being frustrated with His “strange” gifts. Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.” It’s taken a long time, but I’m finally learning to see suffering as one of God’s gifts.

God’s Word says a lot about suffering. Once I started paying attention, I found it in almost every book of the Bible. Suffering isn’t just part of living on earth; it’s also part of God’s plan. He uses it for our good.

I know it doesn’t feel that way. Suffering feels painful, depressing, hopeless, devastating…. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to live with broken health, waiting for years for answers and healing. I’ve felt the agony of losing people I love. I’ve been misunderstood and mistreated by others. I’ve experienced all these things and more. Suffering hurts. Yet, Jesus promised His followers they would suffer. He knew that ultimately it would be for our good, and He filled His Word with encouragement for those who are suffering.

Suffering produces character, maturity, and hope (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-4).
Those who suffer for what is right are blessed (1 Peter 3:14a).
Suffering allows us to receive God’s comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
God uses hardship and suffering to train us for holiness (Hebrews 12:7-11).

Even with these verses, sometimes it’s still hard to accept suffering as a gift. There are three specific benefits of suffering I’ve experienced that have enabled me to receive this strange gift with gratitude.

1) Suffering has given me a desperate dependence on God’s Word.

When my life was mostly problem free, it was easy to think I was pretty spiritual and had all the answers. Once suffering hit, nothing made sense, and I realized how desperately I needed truth. Psalm 119:92 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Only God’s Word can give me the understanding about God and life that I need to endure trials and hardship.

There were days when, desperate for answers, I opened my Bible and read, and read, and read…until finally I found the answers or encouragement I needed. The Psalmist wrote, “My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life” (Psalm 119:50). God’s Word holds precious promises that bring great comfort. Through suffering I’ve discovered the riches of God’s Word, sufficient for every day and every need.

2) Suffering has produced deeper fellowship with Jesus.

In Philippians 3:10, Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings….” Through suffering I’ve learned more about who Jesus is, what He’s like, and how He works. I’ve wrestled with questions, doubts, and fears. Before I went through painful trials, I believed God was good, loving, faithful, sovereign, etc. Now, I know He is.  I’ve experienced God’s grace in every situation and found that He is enough. Beyond that, when every source of happiness this world offers was stripped away, I discovered the “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8) that comes from simply knowing my Lord. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s only through pain that Jesus can open our eyes to the pleasure He alone offers.

3) Suffering has taught me to keep an eternal perspective.

It’s easy to be comfortable and at home in this world, until we experience suffering. Then everything changes. For me suffering has been a needed reality check. It’s made me ask questions like: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I living for? I understand now that God created me and put me on this earth for Himself and His glory, not for my comfort or happiness. 1 Peter 4:1-2 says that the one who has suffered doesn’t live for himself or herself anymore, “but rather for the will of God.”

I only get one life. I’m thankful for the gift of suffering that changes my perspective and keeps me from wasting my life on selfish pursuits, when eternity is what really matters. Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Life now contains suffering and sacrifice; eternity contains rewards and glory. Understanding this has changed the way I think, what I desire, and how I live. Suffering helps keep my eyes on heaven, my true home.

I don’t like it, I often complain about it, but I don’t doubt that suffering is a gift from our loving heavenly Father.

In the end of the movie, The Ultimate Gift, we see the purpose of all the gifts that were so hard for the grandson to accept. They prepared him to receive his inheritance. God has a purpose too. He knows what we need. Sometimes suffering is the most precious gift we could receive. In the end, we too will understand how God used it to prepare us for our inheritance.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Friday, June 9, 2017

Unexpected Ways - Guest Post (Maneras inesperadas – Mensaje de invitado)

I apologize that this post is a little late. I've been traveling and lost track of what day it was. =)

Anyway, this week I have a special treat for you - a guest post from my mom! Enjoy! =)

Unexpected Ways - by Jan Harris

In 1971 my husband Jim and I bought our first house in Kansas. It had real hardwood floors, a huge, fenced back yard, and we could walk to church. We enjoyed our small church. We made good friends there. The Bible teaching was solid and helpful.

Yet I felt there was something missing in our lives.

Every Sunday we would be inspired by the sermon and walk home determined to live better Christian lives that week. But by Tuesday, or sometimes Monday, or sometimes even Sunday night, we had broken all our resolutions and found ourselves back in the clutches of selfishness or pride or….

Finally, I cried out to God in desperation, “Lord, increase our faith!”

God is faithful.

In a direct answer to that prayer, when Jim’s contract came up for renewal, the committee turned him down. We had two small children, house payments, and no job. I wanted to panic.

As God had planned, that very week our church was involved in a Billy Graham crusade. One of the leaders spent the weekend with us, and we unloaded our doubts and fears on him.

“What’s God trying to do?” we asked. “Jim really liked this job. Why did God give it to him last year, if He was just going to take it away this year?”

What a kind, patient man he was. He took us into God’s Word:
to Matthew 6:34a, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself…” (NASB)
to Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” (NASB)
and to many more promises.

It wasn’t that we’d never heard these verses. It was just that in our worry, we had forgotten to claim them.

“Don’t you think God has a plan?” he asked us.
Well, when you put it like that….

At last we stopped pacing the floor (Jim), and cleaning everything in the house (me), and prayed to God for wisdom, for guidance, and for faith to trust Him.

A couple of days later Jim said, “Maybe this is a good time to move back to Missouri, so the kids can be closer to their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. What do you think about that?”

So it came about that God opened a job for Jim in Missouri, where we lived just thirty minutes from our parents. Where we reconnected with friends. Where we met some veteran missionaries with New Tribes Mission. Where God got our attention and showed us that we could be missionaries, too.

But that’s another story. The point of this story is that sometimes God answers our prayers in most unexpected ways.

Don’t be afraid of that. Trust His love. Trust His wisdom. Trust His faithfulness.

Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the Lord! -Psalm 117 (ESV)

Maneras inesperadas – Mensaje de invitado

Esta semana tengo un regalo especial para ustedes - ¡un mensaje de invitado de mi mamá! ¡Disfrútenlo! =)

Maneras inesperadas – por Jan Harris

En 1971 mi esposo y yo compramos nuestra primera casa en Kansas. Tenía pisos de verdadera madera, un enorme patio cercado y podíamos caminar a la iglesia. Disfrutamos nuestra pequeña iglesia. Hicimos buenos amigos allá. La enseñanza bíblica era sólida y de ayuda.

Sin embargo, sentía que algo faltaba en nuestras vidas.

Cada domingo éramos inspirados por el sermón y volvíamos a casa decididos a vivir mejores vidas cristianas esa semana. Pero, para el martes o a veces el lunes u otras veces incluso el domingo en la noche, habíamos roto todas nuestras resoluciones y nos habíamos vuelto a encontrar en las garras del egoísmo, el orgullo o…

Finalmente, exclamé a Dios con desesperación: “¡Señor, aumenta nuestra fe!”

Dios el fiel.

En respuesta directa a esa oración, cuando llegó el momento de la renovación del contrato de Jim, el comité lo rechazó. Teníamos dos hijos pequeños, pagos de la casa y ningún trabajo. Quería entrar en pánico.

Como Dios había planeado, esa misma semana nuestra iglesia estuvo envuelta en una cruzada de Billy Graham. Uno de los líderes pasó el fin de semana con nosotros y descargamos nuestras dudas y temores sobre él.

“¿Qué está tratando de hacer Dios?” preguntamos. “A Jim realmente le gustaba este trabajo. ¿Por qué Dios se lo dio el año pasado, si sencillamente se lo iba a quitar este año?

Qué hombre tan amable, paciente era. Nos llevó a la Palabra de Dios:
a Mateo 6:34a: “Por tanto, no os preocupéis por el día de mañana; porque el día de mañana se cuidará de sí mismo… ” (LBLA)

a Romanos 8:28: “Y sabemos que para los que aman a Dios, todas las cosas cooperan para bien, …” (LBLA)

y a muchas otras promesas.

No era que nunca hubiéramos escuchado estos versículos. Era solamente que en nuestra preocupación habíamos olvidado apropiárnoslos.

“¿No crees que Dios tiene un plan?” Él nos preguntó. Bueno, ya que lo pones así…

Finalmente dejamos de dar vueltas por la habitación (Jim) y de limpiar todo en la casa (yo) y oramos a Dios por sabiduría, por guía y por fe para confiar en Él.

Un par de días después Jim dijo: “Quizá éste sea un buen tiempo para irnos de regreso a Missouri, así los niños pueden estar más cerca de sus abuelos, tíos y primos. ¿Qué piensas de eso?”

Así que sucedió que Dios proveyó un trabajo para Jim en Missouri, donde vivimos a solo treinta minutos de nuestros padres. Donde nos reconectamos con amigos. Donde nos encontramos con algunos misioneros veteranos. Donde Dios llamó nuestra atención y nos mostró que nosotros también podíamos ser misioneros.

Pero esa es otra historia. El punto de esta historia es que a veces Dios responde nuestras oraciones de las maneras más inesperadas.

No te asustes por eso. Confía en Su amor, en Su sabiduría, en Su fidelidad.

“Alabad al SEÑOR, naciones todas; alabadle, pueblos todos. Porque grande es su misericordia para con nosotros, y la fidelidad del SEÑOR es eterna. ¡Aleluya!” Salmo 117 (LBLA)