WHEN YOU HAVE COVID19 AND OTHER SEVERE TRIALS

Let me preface this by saying, I do not and have not had COVID19, and pray that I that I never do. The agonies of this disease of those I know that have gone through it are real and can be very severe. But beyond COVID19, there are many trials and situations in life that are equally, if not even more so real and severe. 

James 1:2 says 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

These are easy words to read and understand when the trial is a lack of funds and “How am I going to pay all my bills this month?” or “Why does my boss have to put so much pressure on me for something that is really seams so trivial?” James goes on to say in verses 3-5 to say 

“because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

These verses help deal with these kinds of trials easier when we give ourselves over to God and believe and trust these words.

But when the seriousness of the situation approaches something like COVID19, where there does not seem to be a real medical solution yet, no manmade light at the end of the tunnel, our confidence wanes, trust withers, nervousness rises, and hope fades. 

To keep from falling into greater depths of despair, we must consciencelessly, without fail, turn our minds and hearts to Christ, who is in all things, God the creator and savior of our souls. To all who believe, He is the Great Healer. Romans 8:28 says, 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

We also know he wants us to totally depend on Him and not to worry. Matthew 25:26-27, Jesus tells us directly,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Therefore, regardless of your trial or burden, be it financial, relational, job oriented, COVID19, or something else, trust, or begin to learn to trust in Him. One way to do this is to ask Him for peace and find a “GO-TO” verse or scripture passage that you can read over and over. Write this verse in every corner of your mind and to the deep reaches of your heart so it permeates your spirit. For me, this GO-TO verse is The 23rd Psalm. For me, the verse are almost magical. Reading them creates peace in my heart and in my spirit, and I can literally feel the stress leave my physical body as the Holy Spirit works through these scriptures. There is no other scripture like it for me. It has helped me through the darkest, most stressful times of my life.

So be encouraged. Be hopeful. Be strong. Put your hope in Christ, no matter the situation. His will WILL be done and your strength in Him will be a testimony to Him for others to see, and that alone may change someone else’s life, which may be His purpose in allowing your trial to begin with. He knows you can endure. He knows your salvation is secure. Your trust in Him in those things is all that matters. Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross, knowing He had his life in eternity and that He was serving the Father’s purpose by dieing on the cross. He knew His crucifixion and eventual resurrection would change countless lives. He knew all of that was the Father’s will, even when in one human moment when he asked if it could be taken from him, he still said, but let Your will be done. And it was. How can we ask or expect less? Our pain and suffering, whether through stress or affliction, is nothing compared to Jesus’. 

So consider it pure consider it pure joy, ask for wisdom, and pray for peace. God bless you as you endure!

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A Look At Ourselves

When was the last time you saw someone do something wrong, or possibly even a wrong against you? How did you feel towards them? How did you answer?

Our usual reaction is often a negative one out of emotion. This is a result of us being human in a fallen world. As Christians striving to become more like Christ, we have read Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV), which says,

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We also read John 8:7 (ESV)

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…”

Both of these require us to look at ourselves first before we can point fingers at others. We should learn to always look at ourselves before reacting in a negative situation. If we react according to the laws of physics and Newton’s Third Law, which says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” then conflict just escalates, and relationships deteriorate and fail.

Merriam-Webster defines introspection as “a reflective looking inward: an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.” As Christians, this should be part of who we are. Before reacting, before pointing fingers, we should ask if we ourselves are innocent of the charge we are putting on someone else. This is just another way the Luke 6:31 (NIV) applies.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

In 1 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV), Paul lists a few of the qualifications for leadership as:

Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

Shouldn’t these be qualities to which we all aspire? The keywords “above reproach” help us in becoming closer to having that log removed from our own eye as well as being closer to the One who is without sin, and who does not throw stones, but forgives.

So, in our journey to become more like Christ, who lives inside us because we asked Him to come into our heart, we should always have a mindset of introspection, looking at ourselves instead of judging others.

Putting it another way…

We should always look inward to know our heart first.
It is there we will see Jesus and know His love, forgiveness and mercy!

© 2018 Marty Hill – Administered By Quaddot Productions – All Rights Reserved
Author of Professional’s Guide to Technical Ministry, available on Amazon.com.


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Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Trophies

Trophies are usually deemed precious. If not, why would they be considered special? How many trophies have you received through your life? Perhaps you’ve won a chess tournament, a writing contest, or been a part of a team that won your league title or won a tournament. This day and age, trophies are also given out as participation awards.

Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Photo by Ariel Besagar on Unsplash

Trophies come in all shapes and sizes: a cup, on a stand, or a person on the top, or possibly a plaque. Even printed certificates are a type of trophy to be considered. Engraved or printed, they usually display your accomplishment and the year. Others that have more planning will even have your name on them for an added degree of personalization.

As we go through life, we accumulate other things we consider the exact opposite of trophies. Our bodies age and wrinkles set in and joints begin to ache. We experience a lot in our lives and how we deal with those dictates how we grow in our faith and wisdom. These also affect our levels of joy and peace.

 

James 1:1-5,12
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you… Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

 

When my daughter was getting married, I remember telling her that not everything in her wedding would be perfect. She could decide beforehand if everything didn’t go according to the plan that she could turn into Bridezilla. Then her wedding would be ruined for everyone and she would have bad memories of it for the rest of her life. OR she could accept the fact this is how God wanted it to be and roll with it, have fun with it. Make it a happy fun time, and you will create memories for everyone for the rest of their lives. And essentially, she would be turning a negative into a positive.

This is the concept of turning something into a trophy:

TAKING SOMETHING WHICH IS A NEGATIVE
AND TURN IT INTO A POSITIVE. 

Just as yours are to you, my children are unique and very precious and special to me. Why? Because they are my children. No one else in the world or throughout time other than my wife can make this statement. While growing up, children can be mischievous. This was proved the time when mine were little, and they painted my toenails, not knowing I had an appointment at a podiatrist in just a few days. Even if they knew, they would probably assume I would take it off. However, it was special to me, even though I played with them about being upset, I was really smiling greatly inside, and they saw it in the occasional slip of a grin. Their show of affection touched my heart, and I realized these painted toenails were trophies I would not hesitate to keep. I kept the paint on until it naturally wore off. Many chuckles were offered in the doctor’s office when I took my sock off, but upon explaining why they were painted, and trying to convince them it just wasn’t strange, the attendant smiled and seemed to approve. The toenails to me were opportunities to say without saying, “See how much my kids love me… and how much I love them?” I am not totally sure they believed me, but I really didn’t care. My love and pride for my kids was more important than how my toes appeared to make me look to anyone else.

As people get older, other things also become apparent. Gray hair is cursed by many as a sign of old age and looked down

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

upon by many. I look at this differently. To me each gray hair is a trophy. It is representative of hard work and a life of accomplishments and successes. Even Proverbs maintains it is a great thing.

Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)
Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.

I have had conversations about my gray hair and some said I should color it. I say no way! Every gray hair is a trophy. I am proud of it and I want to wear it proudly.

The biggest trophy we have is the one waiting for us a child of the king, our name being in the Book of Life and Jesus standing beside us on the Day of Judgement, telling the Lord God we are His and we are forgiven and therefore to be ushered into the Eternal Kingdom of God!

But by realizing He is part of us now, everything is, by faith, in His hands. We can handle anything that comes our way and we trust anything outside of our control that He does control. Everything we have now and become is according to His perfect plan and we praise His name for it and consider it a trophy.

What do you have in your life that has been a sore spot for you? Things that are relatively minor should not be bringing us down. By working and praying to turn a negative into a positive, you can change a sadness into a joy, and into the newest and brightest addition to your trophy case!

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve
what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

© 2018 Marty Hill – Administered By Quaddot Productions – All Rights Reserved


 

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The Preciousness of Life
Part 2

Because we each are unique, our lives our precious.

I was behind a city bus recently and noticed a bumper sticker displayed on its back. While they are seeking to avoid accidents and lawsuits, they show they value your uniqueness. The sticker said:

“DON’T CHASE THE BUS. THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER BUS.
THERE’S ONLY ONE YOU.”

Made in the image of God, He created us unique. Every single one of us. Modern genetic research has proven that even identical twins are not identical. We are each special, we are more valuable than the rarest of gems. We are irreplaceable. The thoughts and ideas we have belong solely to us. Our voice is ours and ours alone. Our appearance in its entirety is like no other. And while some the above may similar to others elsewhere, nowhere is there someone who mirrors everything we are. The craftmanship of the creator is beyond the understanding of any man that has or ever will live, except for Jesus Christ, who was God Himself! And his creation is a miracle! His skill for creativity is beyond imagination. Even things that are not living are unique. Not even two snowflakes are identical! Our God is an Amazing God!

Realizing all of this, how can we NOT love and appreciate all life He has created? Every life is one-of-a-kind and once it is gone, it is gone forever. You couldn’t help but love Louis Armstrong because of the happy expressions on his face, his scratchy voice and his great jazz trumpet playing. He shined and brought out his soul when he sang the song, “What A Wonderful World.” The song by George Douglas, George David Weiss & Bob Thiele begins with

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The song continues on to paint pictures that portray the beauty of the world shining in people’s faces and saying I love you. This song personifies God’s creation in such a wonderful way, and love of life warms the soul!

But as we cherish life, we find the Paradox of Christianity.

Matthew 10:39 (NIV)
Whoever finds their life will lose it,
and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Yes, we cherish life. And this is the paradox. We must lose something we love in order to truly find it. But the life Jesus was talking about here is a greater life, eternal life. Lose your life here as you know it for eternal life with Him.

John 3:16 (NIV) 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  

Having given our lives to Him, we then strive to become more like him.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

As we become more like Jesus, we will see so clearly how Jesus’ life is so precious, and He gave it up for us! As we grow in our faith in Him, and our wisdom grows with the help of the Holy Spirit, we understand this paradox more completely. We give up our lives in many ways and we should give Him ALL of our life!

What in your life were or are you holding onto? Anything that comes between you and Jesus is what needs to be sacrificed. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, or maybe something even simpler, such as not honoring your spouse as Paul laid out in Ephesians 5.

Ephesians 5: 21-33 (NIV)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Work to give up your WHOLE LIFE to Jesus! Your WHOLE LIFE is precious to Him!

We know that our life is precious. We know ours is especially precious because we are His!

Thank you, Lord, for this gift of life!

© 2018 Marty Hill – Administered By Quaddot Productions – All Rights Reserved

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The Master Artist

Public Domain Image

Francois-Auguste Rodin, a french sculpturer, once said, “I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.” That is the art of sculpture in a very simple, but astutely wise observation. Anything that does not represent itself as part of the final picture is deemed unnecessary and removed. However, common sense would also dictate that once a chip is removed from the block, it is impossible to replace it. The deed is done. In the case of sculpture, one bad chop and the whole piece can be ruined.

We deal day to day with different stresses in our lives, and not all things go perfect. As we work to navigate the rivers of a successes and trials in our lives, we, as Christians, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us through this. We hope that with the master artist above that our lives will be carved with the beauty that blesses the Lord and the bad, ugly chips are minimal.

However, because we are human, we naturally worry too much about things and the events of the day. Trusting in the Lord in this area of our lives is often one of the most difficult things for Christians to learn, much less put into practice. Moreover, while some people base their level of joy in the lack of catastrophic events in their lives, therefore concluding they must be living right, others base their joy in their possessions. The downside is their lack of joy is stimulated by what they do not have. If they cannot “keep up with the Jones,” they feel inadequate and so their joy wanes.

Joy is an ongoing condition of the soul that does not change with circumstance. It is the sense of contentment in that we have what we need, both in possessions, attitude and spirit, and that if new possessions are deemed necessary by life’s constant changes, then there is peace in the knowledge and acceptance that God will provide, and then not fretting about it. Again, more simply, it is a peace that one can make do with what is at hand, or that God will offer an alternative. It’s this kind of joy that makes James 1:2 truly possible:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

James recognized that people in general learn from not only their mistakes but also from the trials they endure. As we learn, we grow. So, James says to be glad when you encounter these testing moments, for even in failure, you win because as you trust in the Lord through these trials, you will grow stronger in Him. It brings you closer to a true sense of joy and peace. Momentary gladness is not true joy. True joy is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your being that brings about the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Romans 15:13 says,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Finding complete joy is one of the great secrets of life. Only through seeking Christ can this be accomplished.

With the analogy of the artist chipping away at the marble block, and the realization that once a chip is chopped off, how can we ever be restored? The given fact that the chip can never be returned to the carving block is not true for believers and is documented in the scriptures. God can restore joy in our lives, long after it has been carved away. Sure, a man can superglue the piece back into place, but the crack of imperfection remains, and many times the piece will fall off again later. God alone is the master artist. Only He can fully undo what has been done, perfectly and permanently. Only He can restore the chipped-off pieces in your life with absolutely no cracks or scars, making new what is old or damaged. Paul presents this in 1st Corinthians 5:17,

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creature;
the old things passed away;
behold, new things have come.”

Through this spiritual renewal in Christ Jesus, we live each and every day with hope, which generates peace, which generates joy. May the Master Artist continue to bless you as He carves you into His perfect sculpture!

© 2018 Marty Hill – Administered By Quaddot Productions – All Rights Reserved


 

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