Category Archives: God’s glory

God answers prayer…

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I got an email from a friend of mine today.  We’ve been praying for years for her grandma’s salvation…  and this is what she had to say today about that…  I was so excited that I had to share it with you all too…  :)  Praise God that He draws hearts to him… even when we lack faith in trusting Him to save…

 

… Just wanted to let you know that God is so good! That through Him all things are possible, that He indeed does answer prayer. I learned a lesson last night about God’s faithfulness, that there is no hopeless situation. God does hear our prayer, He does love us. I also learned last night how faithless my prayers are and how faithless I can be. But despite all that He does hear them. I know I’m babbling and caring on and repeating myself, but I can’t help myself. I’m so excited and so happy. I keep getting teary eyed. I bawled last night.

My Grandma called me last night with the best news! She had been to visit Dr. Davis (He’s the pastor of First Baptist Durham) a wonderful man of God. My whole family highly respects this guy. Anyway he took her through Romans 9 and God reached down and touched my Grandma’s heart and saved her!!!!! I need to stop thinking about this; people won’t understand why I’m crying. :)  But I can’t stop thinking about it and praising God! It’s surreal in a way… it’s wonderful!

how to suffer

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“If Christ calls me to suffer, he will strengthen me to suffer in such a way that God is glorified.”  J. Burroughs.

 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  All the works of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.  In faithfulness you have afflicted me… that Christ may be glorified in my body, whether by life or by death. We are pressed on every side but not crushed, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed.  For I am convinced that nothing can separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  I am poor and needy—yet the Lord thinks upon me!  He only is my Rock, my Fortress.  I shall not be shaken.

  Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their sorrow.  They will be radiant because of the many gifts the Lord has given them—the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!  Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone. 

I will never leave you or forsake you.  I will not leave you as orphans.  I, even I, am the one who comforts you.  Cast all your cares upon Me, for I care for you.  I will provide for your needs according to my riches and glory. 

 

“Beloved, it is well. It is good to be afflicted. Our days of suffering here we call days of darkness; hereafter they will seem our brightest and fairest. In eternity we shall praise Jehovah, most of all for our sorrows and tears. So blessed shall they then seem to us, that we shall wonder how we could ever have wept and sighed.” (Horatius Bonar)

through many dangers, toils, and snares

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lately it seems i’ve been connected with and talked in detail to many other folks who suffer with severe, chronic physical pain.  this has had a two-fold effect on my soul.  first, it has encouraged me.   its helpful at times like this, when just getting out of bed is a challenge, to be reminded that I’m not alone.  i’m not the only one with undiagnosed issues and with the fears, pains and sorrow that accompanies these pains.  the thoughts and fears swarming my mind are not unique to me. 

I really do find much comfort in knowing this, for one thing that chronic pain does is make you feel isolated.  Its easy to think that no one understands my pain.  No one understands what I’m going through, etc…  How grateful I am to God for the reminder that these thoughts simply are not true.  He has placed me in a body where there are many others who not only understand, but who pray for me as I pray for them… who encourage me in my weakness and who point me to Jesus. 

My friends are much like the friends of the paralyzed man in the New Testament.  He couldn’t walk to Jesus, so they carried him.  My friends have carried me lately through car rides when I was too weak or dizzy to drive, through meals when I have been too tired to cook and through prayers when all I  seemed to have the energy to do was cry.  Thank you.

But on the other hand, the more i talk with other folks who suffer with chronic pain, the more my heart breaks.  I hate to see the rampant effects of sin.  I hate to see the sorrow and trials and fears that are simply part of day to day life.  the more i see suffering here, the more i long for the day when my Jesus will come back to judge evil and wipe all tears away… not just my countless tears, but the tears of my sweet friends as well… the tears of Jess C, Charissa, Jenn S, Missy, Wendy, Jess B, Sarah and so many others. 

And then to add on to the physical pain, I could list so many who have suffered in other awful ways as well…miscarriages, death, abuse, persecution, broken hearts, divided families… this world is a violent place.  But we have the promise that Jesus will wipe all tears away … what sweet hope and comfort I find in those words.

oh come Lord Jesus.  Come and rescue your Bride from this fallen world of suffering and shame.  Come in mercy to give eternal hope to your children who eagerly await their inheritance.  Come and rescue those like Gao Zhisheng who are imprisoned and beaten for your sake.  Come and give comfort to the fatherless, hope to the barren, comfort the widow with your presence, and come and give trust and peace to those like me who often live in fear of the unknown (or in regret and shame to the past).

but until that day, I will hold on to you.  Until the day you answer that prayer (could it please be today?), I will continue to cling with my feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace.  I will hold fast to the One who will never let me go.  I will follow the example of the one who suffered in my place.  Give me grace to not grow weary as I seek to follow you.  Keep my eyes riveted on your grace when my sins begin to overwhelm me.  Grant hope … as you’ve promised is the result for enduring trials with a steadfast heart.

Oh God, my heart is steadfast on you.  You are the only hope for my life.  I am looking to you to satisfy, not to what makes sense to me.  Please, won’t you give my weary heart some hope?  You have consistently shown me hope and you have faithfully given me comfort and steadfast love.  Be faithful to once again answer my prayer.  Let my weariness find rest in you.  And care for my friends… remind them also of your unending love and care.

promises

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Psalm 28:7-8: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

1 Peter 4:12,13:  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

Romans 5:3-4:  “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance: and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

1 Peter 1:7-8: “These [all kinds of trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, 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.”

Psalm 119:49-50: “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Psalm 32:7: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Psalms 57: 1-2: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”

Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

James 1:17: “Every good things bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with who there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”

Psalms 68:19: “Blessed by the Lord, who daily bears our burden. The God who is our salvation.”

Philippians 4: 6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your heats and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalms 31:7: “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.”

John 16:22-23: “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

bless the Lord

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Emily, you are commanded to bless the Lord.  Use every ounce of strength within you to give praise to his holy name.  Even when your soul is tempted to despair and give up hope, bless the Lord.  Do not forget what He has done for you. 

He forgave all your countless sins on the cross.  Every single one.  Even the ones that your conscience still condemns you of.  To show he has power to heal your soul, He has also in mercy healed your physical diseases many times in the past.  Remember when he healed your hip that Sunday on the steps of the church?  Remember when your pastors prayed for you and your migraines started to get better?  Remember the bus ride when you were so afraid?  Look back!  Remember what He has done!  Do not give up hope – He has the power to do it again now.  He pulled your life up from the pit that you had dug for yourself.  Instead of leaving you in rags, He gave you His righteousness. 

Though it was your head that deserved to be crushed and wounded for your sin, He gave love that never changes and he showed you great mercy.  Though you deserve punishment and his wrath, He instead looks on you in favor, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

Not only did He forgive you but He satisfies your soul with countless good things.  Remember your church?  Have you forgotten what a gift those people are to you?  Remember your home?  Remember the little things you prayed for and He graciously gave you?  Do not grow weary… He provides the strength in your weakness.  He gives you renewal and power, like an eagle flying gracefully above the storms, he will renew your weary soul too. 

When it seems that others get away with evil, rest in knowing that God is just.  He will punish those who oppress you unjustly. 

This is the same God that led Moses and showed his power to the nation of Israel.  He did not give up on them when they sinned and failed to trust him.  Find comfort in looking back and seeing how merciful He was to them.  He is just as merciful and gracious to you.  He is not angry at you when you fail, rather He overflows in unchanging love towards you.  Remember he does not just work by “teaching you a lesson” and He is not angry with you. 

God is merciful… He does not give you what you deserve.  What you deserve is death yet he graciously forgives your sins.  Through Christ, God displayed his steadfast love for his children, by removing your sins far from you… as far as east from the west and heavens from the earth.  

Like a loving father, God shows compassion to you.  He does not expect perfection from you, He knows that you are very weak.  You are weak like grass or like a flower.  Even just a little wind can knock you off your feet and completely throw your world upside down.  But through every change in life, the steadfast love of the Lord will never end.  It will continue to your children, and to their children. 

The Lord rules over the earth. His kingdom is supreme over everything. 

Bless the Lord, you angels, those created to do His will.   Bless the Lord, the hosts of heaven, you who have gone before me and are an example to me of suffering in patience and trust.  Even creation blesses the Lord, the One who rules over them and provides for their every need. 

Oh my soul, my weary soul that is so prone to discouragement, bless the Lord.  He has done so many great things.  He is worthy of my praise.  Bless the Lord.

Psalm 103 (in the words of me)

grace… and your deepest darkest secret…

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so last night at care group i was freshly reminded of grace… God’s grace to me, an undeserving sinner.

During worship, it seemed each song was a reminder of how faithful God is in the midst of our failures.  I had talked with my care group leader, Matt, a while ago about sharing a specific area of my life where God had been at work.  But its an area that has been well hidden.  its an area that is combined with much shame and fear on my part.  Yet, somehow, its an area of my life that God is working to redeem.  And though my own sinful desires would rather not share it, I knew last night that God was calling me to.  He was calling me to open up and share things I didn’t know how it would be received.  And He was calling me to do this and trust in Him to deliver me of fear and shame.

I’m honestly not sure what all I said.  What I remember is that after I shared, one of my friends asked if they could pray for me.  So, everyone gathered around and prayed that God would work as a result.  I was so encouraged, I can’t even begin to put it into words.  I am so grateful for the gift that God has given me through my friends at my church.  I pray that God would be at work in our group, in allowing us to grow together on a deep level, so that we know no matter what, that God is our hope.

After care group, I can’t tell you the number of people that came and thanked me.  So, God is already at work.  Somehow through my sin and lack of trust and failure over and over again, HE is receiving much glory.  And comforting my heart too.

I was reminded of an amazing passage yesterday… Psalm 78.  It talks about the Children of Israel, and just how many times they turned away.  But the focus isn’t just there…According to verses 1-7, the story is meant to be told so that people would set their hope in God, not forget His works and so that they would keep His commandments.  Its not a story of the Israelite’s failure as much as its a story of God’s faithfulness.

“They forgot His works and the wonders that he has shown them… He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.  He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.  Yet they sinned still more against Him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.  They tested God in their hearts by demanding food they craved.  They spoke against God saying “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?  He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed.  Can He also give bread or provide meat for His people?”  Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath… because they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.  Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven… he sent them food in abundance…and they ate and were well filled… but while the food was still in their mouths…despite the wonders, they did not believe…

their heart was not steadfast toward him, they were not faithful to his covenant.  YET HE, being compassionate atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.  He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert.  They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel.  They did not remember his power or the day when He redeemed them from the foe…but He led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.  He led them in safety so that they were not afraid…Yet they tested and rebelled against the most High God and did not keep his testimonies…but He chose the tribe of Judah… which He loves.  He chose David his servant and took Him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people… With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with His skillful hand.”

I’m so glad my God is faithful.  I’m so glad my growth to become more like Him is not dependent on my effort alone. I fail every day. But I’m so glad that my God leads and guides me gently, provides for me in my need and comforts me in my weakness and despair.

the last 18 months… and a very faithful God

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I just want to take a second and look back to remember what God has done, specifically over the last 15 months of my life. All too often, I get discouraged by an apparent lack of growth or what I perceive as changing too slowly. But God in His faithfulness is training me and keeping me at this marathon pace, though my heart would rather be zooming along at a sprinters pace.

February ‘08 – on Sunday, February 24th, during worship rehearsal, Katie Britt came up to me with a little piece of paper. On the paper were these words… “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” Little did I know how those words would define the next season of my life. I woke up the next day with a splitting pain in my head. Imagine a migraine. Then make it exponentially worse. That day was the start of many long and painful months ahead… months of confusion, months of crying out to God, and months of things just seeming to only get worse. This month also was when I began writing poems.

March ’08 – On March 7th, I had my first MRI of my brain. I was terrified and in so much pain that I didn’t know how I would stay still throughout the procedure. And since the doctors were running ahead of schedule there was no time for sedation. God brought to mind the passage of 1st Peter 1 that I had just memorized. He reminded me that He was working… that He had a plan for me (an inheritance that is sure) and that even in my current trial, that His goal is that my faith and hope would rest in God… my loving Father. It was a sweet time, yet I was overwhelmed and confused as to what God was doing.

April ’08 – I had to stop teaching German. The migraines continued. I lost count of the doctors I visited and the tests that were run. There seemed to be no answers.  And though my body was exhausted, sleep wouldn’t come.  Matt preached a sermon that when God brings us into the waves, He is always behind us, holding us secure. He won’t let us drown. He is doing this because He cares for us and wants us to know the freedom found in trusting Him.

May ’08 – May was a month of answered prayers.     I got a new position at work, which was an answer to several years of praying.  I was diagnosed with and treated for a bacterial infection in my brain (similar to meningitis), which had been one cause of the migraines.  I think God was just reminding me here of His faithfulness… and that He hadn’t forgotten me.  However, May was also a month of new trials.  I became very sick with what I thought was the stomach flu.  New Attitude (singles conference) was a struggle.  I had gone expecting great things from God.  I left disappointed that there was no “thunder and lightning” simply a “I’m faithful… trust Me.”

June ’08 – I found out in June, shortly after my 27th birthday that I am allergic to dairy, wheat, oats, food dye and several other things.  Unfortunately I found this out the hard way, after weeks of not being able to keep food down.  On June 26th, my good friends Dave and Melissa lost their baby.  Melissa was 6 ½ months pregnant and went into labor.  I will never forget singing “blessed be your name” while standing in front of a casket not more than 1’x2’.  Their steadfast faith through that unthinkable trial encouraged me to keep looking to our loving Father, no matter what.

July ’08 – on Sunday July 13th, I was baptized.  July was a month of trying to figure out what I could eat and what makes me sick.  My grandparents celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.  Doctors visits continued.  Migraines started coming back as I was testing food options.  July was a month of learning that blessing and suffering go hand in hand.

August ’08 – August was the month of diagnoses.  The doctors found out that what I thought was a stomach flu back in May, was actually salmonella food poisoning from a puffed wheat cereal.  This was a mixed blessing because though it threw my body into overload, the doctors were able to also diagnose that I have Celiacs disease, something that has gone undiagnosed for about 10 years.  This month was another month of physical weakness.  I had no energy and constant migraines.  The Worship God conference was encouraging and this month began my study of the Psalms.  The Psalms CD quickly became one of my favorites.  At the worship conference, I was able to see God miraculously heal my friend Dave Johnson, after suffering for many years with kidney stones.  Still to this day, he has not had one!

September ’08 – Migraines began getting worse.  Due to the fact that you can’t take migraine medicine every day, the doctor put me on an anti-seizure med that is effective for treating migraines.  After a few increases in the doseage, the migraines began subsiding.  This was a month of ups and downs, along with very little sleep.  September was also the month I decided to move from living with a family in the church to getting an apartment with two friends.  Emotionally, there were many struggles, as I was working through where God was leading me to.

October ’08 – I started having some severe reactions to the medicine and the doctors had to quickly take me off, depsite the risk of seizures.  This was one of the scariest times I have ever faced, not sure what was happening, if I was dying or what to do.  Thankfully, my pastors were extremely helpful in reminding me of my hope in God, the God who knows all, is in control of all and who loves me.  The doctors changed my medicine and I only got worse.  I met with my pastors one afternoon and they prayed that God would heal me.  Sleep was unknown at this point now.  Oh, and on top of that there was the physical and emotional stress of moving, yet again…for the 7th time in 5 years.

November ’08 – November was a hard month with relationships.  And with dealing through issues from my past.  I found a new doctor who diagnosed me with sleep apnea, and a severe vitamin B deficiency.  We were able to take me off all the migraine meds, except to treat the occasional migraine.  I am grateful to have found this new doctor.  I am grateful because slowly, it seems that God began healing my weak and dying body.  I didn’t know He was just beginning to work on the heart and emotions.

December ’08 – if i had to summarize December it would be “face your fears.”  December was a difficult month as I continued working through some pains from my past, thanks to the help of Matt and Julie.  My body continued to improve.  I started having more energy, but still wasn’t sleeping.  In December, the doctor did a second sleep test. Oh, and during my Christmas break from work, I almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning and an allergic reaction to wheat.  Both in the same week.  It was a draining week.

January ’09 – As the new year began, I was continually reminded of the word “peace.”  I was reminded that God is the One who brings peace and that this was His goal for me in the coming months… to learn peace, not because there are no storms, but because I am held by the God who controls those storms.  “the flame shall not hurt you I only design your dross to consume and your gold to refine.”  God seemed to be saying that the coming months would be a clear picture of God’s care and a refining of my dross.

February ’09 – in February I took a trip to Charlotte NC to visit a friend.  I was encouraged to realize that some of my sin struggles are the same things she struggles with.  I felt God say that this weekend would be pivotal in freeing me from certain sins and strongholds in my life.  I returned home, only to fail.  As I saw those waves of condemnation crashing down, I again became very discouraged with my lack of trust and faith in God.  And the emotional scars continued and in some ways only seemed to increase.

March ’09 – God continued to remind me that He brings beauty from pain.  And that my life, which has involved a good deal of pain, is meant to bring Him glory.  Each step I’ve taken and each tear I’ve cried was not lost to His care and love.  As my hours kept getting cut at work due to the economy, I found trusting in that love a struggle.  But I remembered where I was a year ago, in the tube for the MRI, and was refreshed to remember that my God is providing for me.  Since I still wasn’t sleeping, the doctor put me on a sleep med, for the next 3 months to try to train my body to sleep again.

April ’09 – Migraines are more an occasional occurance now instead of a daily trial.  Physically the changes in my body have been phenomenal since last October when my pastors prayed for God’s merciful healing hand to touch me.  I’m even training for a half marathon at the end of this summer!  Lord willing, I’ll have the physical strength to make that goal a reality.  The struggles to trust God to provide financially became greater as I saw to greater depths the mess I’ve created.  I was confronted about a relationship issue that I had left unresolved.  God used that to show me grace in a new and special way.  I was surprised to see such grace to me… a clearly undeserving sinner.  God overwhelmed me with that grace.

May ’09 – Again, God has overwhelmed me with His grace.  I’ve had many nights of restful sleep.  He has provided for me financially in some spectacular ways and has again and again proven Himself to be my faithful Provider.  I’m also amazed at what a gift my friends are and how God has used them to show me His care.  They have sacrificed so much just to simply show me God’s love.  I’m grateful… and overwhelmed.

So, that’s the last 18 months.  I don’t know what the next ones will contain.  But I know that the faithful God who has carried me through many physical, emotional and financial pains time after time, will continue to carry me through every storm He has ordained for me.  I continue to struggle with fear… fear of the unknown, fear of future pain.  But God is faithful in comforting me with the truth that no matter what trials come, He is with me.