Tag: Heartache

Week 3: Five Friday (1 Thessalonians 3)

Originally, I was turned onto this mode of carrying out the “Five Minute Friday,” by a dear friend. Marie faithfully carries out this Friday series, on her own blog. The idea is to offer five bold points, that you may read within five minutes.

Five Truths On. . . 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

(1) Because of their aching hearts, Paul sent someone to go and check on the Thessalonians. Even if they had social media back then, I don’t think it could ever do the heartfelt thing that they set out to do. Physically, they sent Timothy to be with their friends to see how they were doing. Timothy went on the motive of love and risked everything. They didn’t just “like” their status, but went to them and had honest conversations which could have involved confession, glory stories of God’s work, and much encouragement.

(2) Suffering are a part of every Christian’s life. In 3:3-4, we learn how the missionaries prepared the Thessalonians for what they would face. They were well prepared for the expected suffering. God used the brethren to help prepare them as well as encouraging them to endure. Their new life meant they wouldn’t undergo suffering without the support of the body of Christ.

… But of course you know that such troubles are a part of God’s plan for us Christians.  Even while we were still with you we warned you ahead of time that suffering would soon come—and it did (TLB).

(3) The ministers proved themselves, as they showed concern for the Thessalonians. We live in a time, where it is easy to forget about others. Even in their suffering, these ministers reached out to see how their beloved friends were doing in their faith and in their new lives founded by Christ Jesus. This shows the depth of their love for Jesus and others.

(4) Knowing the truth about their friends’ faith brought joy and comfort to the imprisoned missionaries. Once we finally know how others are, it makes room for comfort and an abundance of joy that moves our hearts nearer to God. Their faith will encourage ours, even if we seem like these great people of faith on the outside. God only knows the measure of our need to hear how God is working in others’ lives. It offers us courage and hope to see how He will move in ours!

(5) Hearing about others’ faith in Christ ought to drive us to worship our Savior that much more. The unknown of a friend’s belief in Christ will drive us to our knees, to pray desperately on their behalf. If desperation precedes joy, the worship is all the more lively and intimate.  It’s a much needed time of remembering God’s goodness and that this is the God who walks with us.

How can we thank God enough for you and for the joy and delight you have given us in our praying for you? For night and day we pray on and on for you, asking God to let us see you again, to fill up any little cracks there may yet be in your faith (9-10).

Week 3: 1 Thessalonians 3:7

Welcome, my friends, to week 3 of our study! I am so glad you are here. Thank you for taking a few moments out of your day to read today’s blog entry in your email or possibly on the website. You will not regret taking this time to invest in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all hope and comfort.

The Scripture –

While I am limited in sharing at this moment due to circumstances, I want to be able to share with you our new weekly memory verse.

In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you’re doing keeps us going. Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive (1 Thess. 3:7, MSG).

The Truth Revealed –

As I face my own troubles, I can relate a bit with Paul. Honestly, the great “longing exchange” (where the longing for a close friend is mutual) is a tremendous comfort in hard times. When you are in desperate need and alone, quality companionship is one of the top desires one troubled friend could have.

When we are going through hard times, we just need someone to be there for us. . . someone who will lead us straight to Jesus Christ. It’s the exact medicine we need.

We learn a few things about Paul and the Thessalonians –

  • Paul’s Heart: Longed for the Thessalonians, and bombarded with troubles.
  • The Thessalonians’ Heart: Longed for Paul, and continually sought Christ. . . resulting in much spiritual growth even during persecution.
  • Resulting in much comfort, especially for Paul in his time of need.

Hearing others’ stories of faith in Christ makes everything much better. While the circumstances may not change, our heart are uplifted versus drowning. Our perspective changes – because we receive comfort from friends. . . friends who treat our friendship in a godly way. Encouraging us to keep pressing into Jesus, praying over our circumstances, and helping us to hold onto our faith in Jesus and His Good News.

Biblical Friendship

While we may not choose our times of suffering, God can use this time to be encouraged (or encourage others) by others’ faith and show us the kind of friends we have (or are).

The Thessalonians and Paul had biblical friendships. They sought the Lord Jesus to be honored in their lives. They wanted to help encourage one another, pray together, and continue to live out their faith in Christ.

Biblical friendships are hard to find, but are what makes the lasting change in our spiritual lives.

Jonathan and David are a classic example of biblical friendship (see 1 Samuel 23:15-18). They loved each other in a godly friendship; Jonathan made sure to be there when David needed him the most (click here to listen to a sermon on the topic). Likewise, the Thessalonians would have send word back conveying how much they care for Paul and miss him.

Biblical friendships make the difference in our Christian walk, and an important tool in our transformation.

“[Thessalonians’] steadfastness was a great source of comfort to [Paul] in his trials. . . In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this (Albert Barnes Commentary).”

God Cares {Truth in Trials}

Each of us face a diverse set of circumstances.

There are times, where we can feel like we are all alone.

There are days, when we aren’t sure how much strength we have left.

There are even honest days, where we feel disappointment and misplace the true reason for our hope.

We may all have days where we find ourselves in these very places, but there is a key truth we need to grasp. God is deeply concerned for each of us.

The Often Forgotten Truth

In the lives that each of us lead, it is so easy to miss this truth. It is easy to forget or misplace this spiritual truth, especially so when it seems like there is a lack of concern for our well-being.

Even when we find ourselves there, God profoundly cares for you and me. And, He never stops caring for us either!

Scripture reminds us that God is compassionate and caring for us. Throughout the Gospels, we are given a specific picture of how God acts on that concern.

Before the Gospels even really get started, we are taught about the depth of God’s compassion and concern for us in John 1:14 where God decided to dwell with humanity by coming to earth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son (Jesus Christ), who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Remembering God’s Concern

Even when it seems like we are walking through our ever-present storm alone, let us remember that God is deeply concerned for us. We are not stranded on our own, but He loves us and His heart aches for us. He longs to be with us, and help us with whatever it is we are going through.

I am not talking about some low level or humanistic concern that has limits, but the world-turning-and-going-to-the-cross (and God powered) kind of concern. This is what God has for us. This intense longing and concern about whatever it is we are going through.

This is what God feels for each of us, and He is beckoning us to come to Him and allow Him to be our shoulder to cry on. He wants to help us carry our burdens, even when we feel like it is us against the world.

The Scriptures

I want to share a few Scriptures today, that highlight this truth.

Exodus 3:7-8a
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them…”

Matthew 9:35-36
 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Also, consider the truths we find in Psalms 91 and Psalm 23. He wonderfully cares for us, enabling our place of safety to be found in Him. God is concerned, and promises to be our resting place. Even, inviting those of us who are weary to find rest in Him (as we are taught in Matthew 11:28-30).

I ran across two articles that help us to continue digesting this special, spiritual truth. He Cares and A God Who Cares seem like both may be helpful reads to us, as we learn that God honestly does care for us.

Not only does He care for us, it is not limited to a short amount of time. God cares infinitely more for us, than we could ever imagine. God is on our side, and His heart aches for us. We can continue running to Him, especially as we face troublesome days. All because He cares for you and me. His concern for us is of great depth and unmeasurable. That is how much God cares for us.

Until next time,

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A Struggling Woman’s Great Faith

Today has been a “roughed up” health day, but I am finding much comfort through one woman’s story. She was a woman who didn’t grow up exposed to God’s law (but likely worshiped many other gods),  but she was coming to know Him – in faith. Her daughter’s suffering would be the one thing leading her to Jesus and His beloved Kingdom. She would experience God’s power in her life.


Read Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite woman is an pioneer and example for us all. In the book of Matthew, we find her heart stirring story. We might even find parts of ourselves there, too.

In specific times of our lives, we face devastating circumstances. And, we need to instruct ourselves to run into the arms of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what others say/do or how we have responded to circumstances in the past.

We have Jesus, who stands by our side and waits for us to invite Him to become our ever-present help. He is our Hope and possesses every ounce of strength we need to overcome whatever it is that we are facing!

All that matters is running to Jesus and being wrapped up in trusting Him and knowing He is capable of handling all of the messy circumstances of our lives.

This woman, she kept asking.

Her background didn’t matter, but her persistent faith is her legacy. She was a woman (and mom) who went to Jesus and resolved to not stop trusting Him. She knew beyond a shadow of doubt, that God (through His Son Jesus) was able to heal her daughter once and for all. While doctors couldn’t help her or solve this big circumstance in her family’s life, she knew God definitely was up to the challenge.

I read this passage of Scripture, while I was waiting in a doctor’s office. Her story can be described as “beyond encouraging”. I mean, her heart is shattered. This hard circumstance is like a punch in the gut, yet she chose to keep trusting.

… And, He healed her daughter!

It didn’t matter that the disciples wanted to shoo her away (which is enough to cause me personally to step back, but she didn’t… she stood strong in her faith!). In the light of eternity, all that will be remembered about this encounter with Jesus is – He listened, she trusted Him and kept asking, her focus was on God’s power, and that He would work in her life.

Jesus would touch her life in such a way that she would realize just how loved she was by her heavenly Father. She was blessed beyond measure as she knew Jesus’ power and ran after her opportunity to have her daughter healed.

What would happen if we would have this kind of persistent faith that caused us to continually ask Jesus and go to Him? What if we reached out for the healings no one else is willingly asking for?

He is willing, able, and has the power to heal many things in our lives. We have to reach a place of asking, like she did. I know, I need to grow in my own asking. I love the companionship I can have with my Savior Jesus, and our relationship can be defined by honesty and His grace.

I want to have this kind of faith like this gentile mother did. She crossed over cultural barriers, and displayed bravery in her faith toward Jesus Christ. She knew who He was, and she didn’t miss a beat. God is able to help us become more bold in our asking and seeking out His abundant life!

See Hebrews 4:16; John 10:10; Matthew 7:7

Heart-Breaking Forgiveness {{Week 7

Welcome to today’s blog and  our Gleaning From the Heart of Jesus study!

And we have made it to week 4!! Welcome to week 7, my friend.. I am excited to have you joining me today, as I share a real experience of learning about forgiveness the hard way!

Today, we will be discussing the necessity of forgiveness. Not only have we been forgiven of much, we are also commanded to forgive others. If we want God’s forgiveness, then, we need to be willing to extend the same kind of forgiveness to others.

Take a moment to bring out your journal and Bible. If you don’t have either nearby, join us anyway!

The Scriptures – Matthew 6:14-15, 18:33-35

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Mt. 6:14-15, NIV).

From the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

‘Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.’ ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart (Mt. 18:33-35).’

Devotion

Forgiveness is an intensely deliberate act. Not one of us can claim that we have forgiven someone by happenstance, when we have been offended by another. Others have badly hurt us, yet because of the tender mercy of God – we can forgive them no matter what they have done. Others hurt us, and this is what leads us to this place of needing to forgive. Whether accidental or deliberate in their offending, we are commanded to forgive them. This is an absolute heartfelt action, which requires faith, time, effort.

Forgiveness takes time and effort. And, a whole lot of time with Jesus – our beloved Savior! Forgiveness will not “just happen,” because it takes a lot of God’s strength and our own will – to forgive others.

When I think of forgiveness, I am reminded of a specific encounter where I had to learn my “toughest” (although, this year has beat that encounter using several relationships…) lesson on forgiving others. May you be encouraged, as I share that experience.

When I think of a certain older gentleman (I served alongside him in ministry), I am filled with great joy. But, it was such a painful road of forgiveness. We were constantly bumping heads, or so it seemed. It was such an intense situation to be placed in, and I wasn’t sure how I would survive it, yet God showed both of us His grace and how God can mend a broken friendship (or thriving enemy-ship) – if we will join God and be willing to pursue reconciliation.

After forgiveness, the friendship grew to almost what I would call a mentorship. I mean, we reached a place of definite closeness in serving well together and in terms of godly leadership influence. I can vividly remember finding out that he was “let go” in his volunteering position, I was just heartbroken. Had that occurred during our frequent conflicts, I would have been glad. But, God worked so much during this difficult season. He taught me so much about trusting God, the Christian life, serving, and living with sickness. All of which was exactly what I needed at the time.

Needless to say, I can testify that God grows deeper relationships, when we allow Him to plant forgiveness in our hearts for others – which is the outflow of the way God has forgiven us.

To this day, the struggle and need to forgive still exists. As I stated, this year has been one filled with roughed up relationships (friendships with people I care for). Yet, the lesson of forgiveness remains. These situations are devastatingly hard, and can come one after another. The process doesn’t get easier with experience, but our faith in God and the good work He will do – does get stronger with each new experience. In each of these situations, it has shown me humility and to absolutely trust God (hyperventilating and all). God is molding me in these situations, to make me the person He wants me to be. He is giving me opportunities to know Him more, too.

Lord God, I pray You will teach us to forgive. We are Your beloved children who have been forgiven of much. Grow us in Your tender grace and show us how to truly forgive and love others. This is how people will know You, by the way Your forgiveness is poured out in our most difficult relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.