Affliction, Hunger, Promises, Scripture, Self-control, Submission, Suffering

NEVER SATISFIED 

MICAH 6:14 

“‘You will eat, but you will not be satisfied, and your filth will be in your midst. You will try to remove valuables for safekeeping, but you will not save it all, and what you do save I will turn over to the sword. 

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and gotten a meal that just did not satisfy you? It may have been too expensive or tasted poor. Perhaps, you had bad service. Whatever the reason, stop and think about how important that meal really is. 

God did not mean the same thing I just mentioned. Their dissatisfaction was God-inflicted. He meant for them to get no pleasure from their food. Maybe He caused them to lose their sense of taste. I did that when I had covid. Maybe they did not have enough to eat. That was probably more likely. 

APPLICATION 

Have you ever been really hungry? I do not mean you just missed a meal, and your tummy is growling. I am talking about real, severe, haven’t eaten for days hungry. I cannot say I have ever really been hungry. I am getting hungry just writing this though, lol. 

Most of us are so spoiled. I know many Westerners are overweight (myself included) and are never satisfied. We think we should have whatever we want. I want to ask you to consider fasting a few days and see what the Lord shows you about hunger.  

This is not intended to be a guilt trip kind of thing. I know from experience how that works. If you are physically able, give it a shot. When those hunger pains hit you, begin to pray. Pray for the hungry all around you. Ask the Lord to speak to you through all that stomach growling. You may just be surprised. 

Father, thank You for providing all my needs. Help me to be more sensitive to those who have legitimate needs and may be hungry. 

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Abiding, Affliction, Allegiance, Battles, Belief, Bible, Encouragement, Sickness, Suffering, Trust

DOES THE LORD MAKE YOU SICK? 

MICAH 6:13 

“‘So also I will make you sick, striking you down, making  you desolate because of your sins. 

What a title for today’s blog! But the verse called for it. So, let me tell you from personal experience, God does not “make” you sick. He “allows” sickness to come into our lives for various reasons. We will talk about that more in just a minute. I needed to express this thought first, before we went any further. 

God, however, was giving out judgment to a rebellious people. He allowed all kinds of maladies to come on them. They were all for the same purpose. He was trying to draw them back to Him. This verse isn’t very encouraging, is it? But we are going verse by verse, not just seeking out the good verses. 

APPLICATION 

Now, back to this discussion about sickness. Most of you who read my blog regularly have read about my two stem cell transplants (SCT). They were about ten years apart (Nov 2010 and Feb 2020). But you need to know God used those two episodes and everything that followed differently. 

The first SCT was to test my faith to prove me faithful. It was intended to drive me and my family to trust Him more. The second SCT was not about me. He used me to show others how to be faithful. I did not necessarily like being used as an example, but He used me any way. 

Suffering and sickness is never fun. But we have to know as believers that if we are going through it, God has allowed it. He would never allow something to touch you to drive you away. It is always to bring you closer. Believe me, those two SCTs brought me to a sweeter intimacy with Him. I can say now, looking back, that I am grateful He allowed me to be used. Can you say that today? It may be hard at first but just trust Him. 

Lord, You are always there, no matter what I am going through. Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death…” 

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Accountability, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Holiness, Judgment, Modeling, Sanctification, Scripture, Suffering, Surrender, Trials

RISE UP

AMOS 6:14

“‘For behold, I am going to raise up a nation against you, House of Israel,’ declares the LORD God of armies, ‘and they will torment you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah.’”

I have learned from personal experience how God can raise up things in my life to teach me a lesson(s) that I need to learn. Now, hear me clearly. This is how He has worked in my life. I can only speak to that. But I know for a fact that He allowed my health issues to grow me more like Him.

That is always His purpose behind our trials. Amos speaks forth God’s words declaring the coming of a nation that He is sending to bring God’s judgment on Israel. It would a full judgment stretching from the northern most point to the southern most point of the country. God’s judgments are always complete.

APPLICATION

If you are in the middle of a trial right now, thank God. Yes, I said thank Him. Why in the world would you want to do that? Because every trial sent our way is meant to make us more like Jesus. God doesn’t allow trials in our life to toy with us or to just cause havoc. Every single aspect of that trial is orchestrated by Him to make us holy.

You may be ready for the trial to be over. Can God see Himself in you yet? Are you surrendering your all to Him? Do others see God portrayed in your life through this trial? That’s what God is doing. Rest assured – this trial won’t be over until God says so. He doesn’t leave it half done. He will complete it.

So, come on God. Enough already. I’m good enough. Obviously not. Every trial has a beginning and an end. God will bring you to fulfillment. And oh, when He is finished, you will look so much more like Him. You will see later what He was doing in that trial. You may not see it until you get to heaven, but you will. Rest in Him. Trust the process and give Him glory.

You’re still working on me to make me what I ought to be. I know that and am willing to be molded into whatever You want me to be.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Rescue, Suffering, Surrender

NO ESCAPE

AMOS 5:19

“As when a man flees from a lion and a bear confronts him, or he goes home, leans with his hand against the wall, and a snake bites him.”

Have you ever had a dream in which you were trying to get away from something and you couldn’t? You wake up in a sweat and terrified. It seemed so real. Aren’t you glad it was only a dream? But what if it wasn’t? What if it was real?

Amos puts out a hopeless situation with no escape here in 5:19. A man who is lucky enough to escape a lion and a bear only to be bitten by a snake on a wall. Talking about bad luck! But Amos is telling the Israelites that there is no escape from the wrath of Jehovah. Their sins will be paid for.

APPLICATION

Do you think you can hide from God? You can’t. There is no escape. You may think you can live as if He doesn’t exist, but He does. He is so real! Once you realize that and surrender to Him, your life actually begins. Any life before Christ is artificial, not real, irrelevant.

Coming to Christ sets you on the path that leads to life. His Spirit indwelling you gives you power that you cannot imagine. It’s not magical, but it is powerful. Life in Christ needs no escape. Nothing can hurt you as long as you dwell in Him.

You may be thinking that you know plenty of Christians who have suffered. You must understand something about suffering. As believers, suffering is a gift. We are privileged to suffer. Suffering makes us more like Him. So, we perceive suffering very differently than the world. We don’t try to escape from it. We embrace it. Stop trying to escape and come to Him.

Jesus, You are the reason for my existence. I will embrace whatever You send my way.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Enemies, Hope, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Scripture, Suffering

IN HIS CROSSHAIRS

AMOS 1:3

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because they threshed Gilead with iron sledges.’”

For you non-hunters reading my blog, the phrase “in His crosshairs” is a hunting term. It means you have your target in your sight. You are focused completely on the target you are aiming at. You may have other targets around, but at the moment, only this target is of importance. You have it right where you want it.

Damascus is the first of many targets the Lord had in His crosshairs. Of course, the audience that is hearing this from Amos is delighted he is talking about Damascus. They were an enemy of Israel. The Lord does judge our enemies in His perfect timing. Because of the way they had treated Gilead, they would be punished.

APPLICATION

Are there people in your life who are “threshing” you? Their treatment of you is harsh and unrelenting. They seem to get joy in seeing you hurt and suffering. Take courage, my brother. Have hope, my sister. The Lord is not blind to this. Remember that everything that touches us as believers has to go through His hands first. He is completely aware of what is happening.

We have to trust that if He is allowing these things in our lives, He is using them to make us more like His Son. He is allowing the “threshing” to knock off the chaff and reveal the pure grain underneath. The chaff has to be removed. It will be blown away revealing the grain underneath. Whatever is happening right now in your life, remember that God is aware.

I want my enemies zapped right now, don’t you? I want to see them pay for what they have done to me. That’s only human. Ah, therein lies the problem. We need to be concerned with the spiritual, not the flesh. As children of God, we trust Him to execute His judgment perfectly in His time. And He will. Trust Him.

As I see the “Damascus” in my life, I want relief. But Lord I trust You to teach me with whatever instrument You choose.

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Agreement, Bible, Brokenness, Discipline, Fasting, Hearing, Humility, Intimacy, Modeling, Offering, Prayer, Purity, Sacrifice, Scripture, Suffering

FASTING

JOEL 1:14

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.”

Hey, I like to eat. I don’t enjoy fasting. I’m just being honest. The times I have done a fast, my stomach reminded me constantly that it was being neglected. Breaking that fast was awesome. I missed chewing stuff. But I know the benefits of a fast far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

Joel is calling on the priests to proclaim a fast for the people. Why? To humble themselves before the Lord and beseech Him to intercede on their behalf. He was asking them to cry out to the Lord. The Hebrew word for “cry out” could mean “to shriek.” This was meant to be heard. Combined with their fasting, it was a sorrowful action.

APPLICATION

Fasting isn’t meant to be enjoyable. We should feel something physically. Our hunger pains should remind us to pray. Suffering isn’t tolerated well in the West. We are way too spoiled. If we don’t get three meals a day plus a snack, we think we have been deprived. We forget that many people in the world get by with one meal a day.

But you can fast from things other than just food. You can fast from electronics. Wouldn’t that be tough for us? My wife says I couldn’t handle that. I have to agree that I am tied to my computer way too much. Ask the Lord what He would have you fast from. If you ask, be prepared to fast. It may be food. It could be television or the internet. Whatever it is, when you decide to fast from it, use that time to hear from Him in a fresh new way.

The Lord has been calling me lately to fast, and I have been avoiding it. It is time for me to submit. I know whenever He calls me to fast, He has something to tell me. Would you pray for me as I listen to Him? I’ll let you know what He says.

Father, I am listening. I want to hear Your voice.

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Promises, Relationships, Suffering, Widows

WIDOWED

JOEL 1:8

“Wail like a virgin clothed with sackcloth for the groom of her youth.”

My brother died recently, leaving behind his wife of 35 years. She has been grieving over this loss. They were very close and spent most of their time together. I have been watching her these past few weeks as she processes this loss and reimagines her life without my brother. It’s hard. Losses are difficult. But I know through the Lord’s strength, she will endure.

Joel is comparing the loss of the Lord to Judah to a wife losing her husband. The Hebrew word here for “virgin” is better translated “young woman.” Joel is picturing her being robbed of her husband through death, perhaps having been killed in battle. Sudden, unexplained death is hard. Judah had lost its first love, Jehovah, and was now mourning that loss.

APPLICATION

As followers of Christ, we will never suffer that loss. We will never lose our Savior. He is ours forever. We may drift away or fail to walk as closely as we should, but we will never lose Him. That’s the beauty of the Christian walk. We have been sealed with the promise. The Holy Spirit seals us until we are delivered to glory.

Some don’t believe that. Some believe we can lose that seal. I am not going to debate theology here. I simply choose to believe what the Word tells me. Knowing I am sealed forever does not give me license to do as I please. In fact, knowing that gives me joy inexpressible and the joy to please Him in all I do. I am eternally thankful.

We will all suffer losses in our life. We will lose loved ones to the grave. But, if they are one with us in Christ, we will be reunited one day. My sister-in-law and brother will see each other again one day. It will be a glorious reunion. We will see Jesus one day also. Can you imagine? Hallelujah, praise His name!

I am eternally thankful for the promises You give, Lord. I rest secure in those promises.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Caregiver, Direction, Following, Obedience, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 2:10

“So now I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hand.”

Have you ever been in a place where you were trapped and couldn’t get out? It’s not a very comfortable feeling. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I was in a serious car wreck. After the car finally stopped, after flipping on its top and slamming the top down on the front seat, I was trapped. I couldn’t get out my door. Fortunately, the driver of the car was able to crawl out his window and help us out. We needed to be rescued.

If God withdraws His rescue, you are truly in a bad place. God has placed Israel (and Gomer) in a place where no one can rescue them. He has placed them where only He could. It is during these times that we realize He is the only source. We can sit in this place of uncomfortableness, or we can turn to the only one who can rescue us.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid the need to be rescued is to not get in a place where it is necessary. How do you do that? By abiding in Him daily. There really is no other way. Most of the time when we are needing to be rescued, we have sought our own way. We have ignored the leading of the Lord. When we follow Him we are safe.

Now, we may face some hard times. God may lead us there. That’s okay. Because wherever He leads us, He will lead us through it. Don’t you believe that? I do. I have experienced that. I have had the privilege, yes, the privilege, to suffer for Him. But in every suffering circumstance, He has brought me through. He will do the same for you.

So, avoid those self-induced needs for rescue by remaining in Him. He will keep you close. And there is no better place to be. Read John 15:1-11 today. Take it to heart. Memorize it. Abide in Him.

Lord, I know You are there when I need to be rescued. Help me avoid those situations and remain close to You.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Evil, Faith, Following, Holiness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Suffering, Testimony

SNATCHED AWAY

2 PETER 2:7

“7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” 

Peter continues the example of verse 6 into verse 7 by naming Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had chosen to live in this area long ago. And now he finds himself surrounded by lewd men, men who had no restraints on their conduct. This conduct went against the laws of God and there was nothing Lot could do about it.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Our world has become tolerant of any and all behaviors, no matter the effect it may have on others. We, who hold to God’s principles, are supposed to smile and just go along with it. If we speak up, we are labeled as intolerant and cruel. But God rescued (snatched away) Lot from this immoral situation. He will rescue you, as well.

APPLICATION

Part of our roles as parents is to snatch away our children from situations which we know are immoral and against God’s principles. As long as your children are with you, you have to do that. We can’t allow our children to wallow with the pigs (I use this analogy loosely) and not get dirty. Evil influences will eventually affect them.

So, how do you do that? Prayerfully. There may be sports teams they can’t play on because of an immoral coach. There may be schools they can’t attend due to the philosophy of the administration or teachers. I know this is a hard decision to make, but you are not making it just for now. This is an eternal decision.

Lot could have stayed right where he was and compromised his beliefs. After all, he was living there, right? He could have fit in. But God heard his cries for deliverance and sent two angels to bring him and his family out. God still delivers today. Cry out to Him for the deliverance of your family. He will answer.

O God, rescue me from the evil which surrounds me. Protect my thoughts and actions as I dwell here. I will shine here as long as You have me here.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Foundation, Inspirational, Parenting, Promises, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

FOUR WAYS

1 PETER 5:10

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

We are going to have periods of suffering. Peter says, “for a little while.” Believe me, when you are going through that time of suffering, it doesn’t feel like a little while. But look what awaits you. Peter mentions four things the God of grace will do in you.

He will perfect you, which means to make you exactly fit so you will be in good working order. He will confirm you which means He will set fast or givesupport to secure or firmly establish. He will also strengthen you. This Greek word is only used right here and means to make strong in order to be able to move in a way that achieves something in the most effective way. And finally, He will establish you or ground and settle you as a foundation.

APPLICATION

When your children are struggling, remind them what God is up to. He hasn’t forgotten them. He is still with them, even though they can’t feel Him. He is about to do those four great things, if they will just wait and watch.

Who doesn’t want to be perfected? I want to fit wherever God puts me. Ask your children that. Ask them if they want to fit exactly where God puts them. I especially like that word “strengthen.” Ask your children if they want the strength to move in the most effective way. It’s kind of like learning those basic skills of a sport so they can move in the best way during a game. God will prepare them for future struggles.

Are you willing to go through the suffering to receive these gifts? When God says He will do something, He will do it. Just remember, He is making you more like Him through every period of suffering. In the depths of suffering, look heavenward and tell the Lord you are waiting for these gifts. He will bring them.

Thank You Lord, for the promises of perfection, confirmation, strength and establishing. I look to You for these gifts as I suffer for You.

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