The Purifying Fires of Suffering in Your Story

I am fortunate to be digging into a thorough study of the book of Revelation with some incredibly amazing women.

We’re examining the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 right now, and one of the commentaries I’m referencing is by John F. Walvoord.

Walvoord’s quote about the suffering church of Smyrna really got me thinking about the challenges I’ve gone through.

What about your own sufferings? What about your own choices, words, actions and deeds in your agony? What about the story being written about your next steps?

We all have a story.
We all have sufferings. 
We all have an opportunity to have our story be used for a greater purpose.

In time and when you are ready, be encouraged to let your story burn brilliantly like a lamp on a stand.

Someone out there needs to see the Light.


Advertisements

Making Choices of Value


Our choices, our words, our actions and our deeds have the ability to impact others for the positive or for the negative. What is done in the world WILL be of the world, but what is done in the Spirit WILL have everlasting value.


I wrote the words above in 2012, during a period of time when there was a lot of darkness surrounding me in the challenges I was experiencing in life. I wasn’t alone, yet I was. I had a lot of uncertainty in my next steps, yet certainty filled me. Life was falling apart, yet pieces were being moved into place.

I’ve written about the ideas of choices/words/actions/deeds on this site, too, and if you’d like to read further, you can do so by searching choices in the search bar on the home page of Hope Surrendered, or you can click here, here, here or even here. [There are other writings, but if you’re still clicking on those re-direct links, you’ll find them.]

So today…six years later, as I read the words I wrote during that dark time, I can see how much has changed in me. 

A lot.
But not much.

Weird, I know, but if you’ve been through your own “stuff” (and who hasn’t?), you understand how a lot can change, yet still find yourself dealing with much of the same.


None of us is perfect—we all fall short, yet our imperfections, our real-ness, our challenges and our choices can be worked for so much good…the kind of in-the-Spirit goodness that truly does have everlasting value.

Looking back over the last six years since penning those words, I can ponder and pray about the women I’ve met, the stories I’ve listened to, the insights I’ve shared, and the treasures which have been tucked away as the result of wise choices, words, actions and deeds done and made in the Spirit. Many of these memories make me smile because of the relationships that have resulted, yet they also serve as a reminder of how broken we all are. It’s brokenness that has often been the result of un-wise choices…choices which are of the world.

Let me encourage you to keep making wise choices, and when you aren’t sure what the wise choice is, pause and pray. Then wait, standing ready to choose when wisdom comes.

The choices you make,
the words you use,
the actions you take,
and the deeds you do
can have an everlasting value.


I welcome your thoughts about this subject and the difficulties we face in making wise choices and ones which have everlasting value … especially when the world around us isn’t or doesn’t see the need. Please feel free to share below!


 

Seeing Broken Bits Multiplied into Blessings

CT.3-3
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Andrew spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small
barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
There was plenty of grass in that place, and they
sat down (about five thousand men were there).
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed to those who were seated
as much as they wanted.
He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat,
he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are
left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets
with the pieces of the five barley loaves
left over by those who had eaten.
~ John 6:8-13

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Three… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

For me, this is one of the most powerful devotions in the Comparison Trap study, so far.

I’ve been going through some things in my life… things that are uncomfortable, and circumstances which have pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had. I find hope in the Scripture above, even though the expectant hope and personal application I’ve found in it is somewhat outside the context of the verses.

Here are the three things which stand out the most to me:

  1. “Here is a boy…”  He’s a boy. Not a pastor, teacher, business man, or anyone who might stand out to others. He’s a boy.
  2. “Let nothing be wasted…,” said Jesus. I’ve always known He told the disciples to gather what remained, but I’ve never consciously read those words to the point that they’d stand out, even though my study Bible is an older New International Version (the same as the Scripture above).
  3. God provides, and He turns what we have to offer Him into blessings.

So here are my main takeaways from the three aspects which stand out to me:

  1. I am the boy. You are the boy. Whatever we have to offer Him, he can use. Am I willing to recognize that even a small offering can be a blessing? That He can use it for the good of others? That my faith can grow when I am willing to share the gifts He’s given me?
  2. God wastes nothing.  I’ve said this so many times to myself, and I’ve written about it, too. Yesterday, in a weepy breakdown, I just kept repeating this over and over to myself, and here it is in the Scripture today. He’s going to create a way for the broken bits and pieces of my life to be multiplied, shared, and gathered, because He is the One who commands that nothing be wasted.
  3. He’s ready to multiply my faith and turn it into blessings for me and for others. We don’t know the attitude of the boy who offered up his lunch, but we do know what was done with it. I need to keep reminding myself that this life isn’t just about me and my weepy circumstances; it’s about how He can and will use those circumstances for His good if I’m willing to lay them at His feet.

Sandra Stanley asks, “What did it do to the boy’s faith to watch Jesus turn his small offering into a blessing for so many others? What could it do to your faith to watch God do the same with what you can offer?”

She goes on to encourage us to fight the feelings that our little bits could never go far enough, and to instead, trust God to make our bits astoundingly more—immeasurably more, even.

In my weepy moments and in my joyous ones, it’s important for me to remember that He commands nothing be wasted, and that what I have IS less important than what I do with what I have. The impact is made when I’m willing to offer up what I have for Him to use.


 

Whatever Should We Think About?

12742101_1281262245224516_6237041842433861416_n
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8

The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Two… My reminders and my takeaways for today include:

Oh, yes! I agree with you, Sandra Stanley! Sandra starts off Day Two by saying she’d like to anchor this verse deeply in her heart. Wouldn’t that change so many things if this were an anchor in our hearts?

Maybe.
Maybe, yes.
Maybe, no.
We’re human, you know.
The object on the opposite end of an anchor can break loose and be lost on the water, or it can be held firm and in place by an unmovable and unshakeable strength.

I don’t want to be lost on the water, and I do want to be anchored in the Word.

Sandra goes on to say that “what we allow to linger in our minds will influence our words and actions. This is true for the good stuff and for the bad stuff.”  

Yes, I agree with her. I need to be conscientious of where I’m lingering.

My choices,
words,
actions,
deeds and
thoughts…

They influence me and will determine what I choose to do with the free will I’ve been given. I’ve written about this before.

When I compare my circumstances and my life to others, I do find discontentment. I find it in myself, and I find it in the others around me. And, yes, the discontentment that is tossed on the waters of life will leak out to others, and it will also leak into the ship of Self. I’m responsible for that ship.

I can choose what I think about, and I can choose to think about the excellent and praiseworthy things in my life. They are there. All the time. No matter how rough the waters get, things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable exist all around me and within me. And those same things exist all around you and within you, too.

So whatever should we think about? We should think on these things.


 

 

 

 

Finding Hope in Knowing God Wastes Nothing

DSCF9869 - Copy

I wish you could experience the richness, perfection of timing and incredible way in which the Lord pours out His love very personally to each of us. If you aren’t experiencing this in your life, please… get to know Him, as He desires to know you and walk with you in this way.

This past week marked the start of a “new” study for me. It’s a new study with a group of 23 women, but I did this study over a decade ago, shortly after I entered into a personal walk with Christ. I don’t remember much from it, except that it left me with a few incredible impressions about how God’s Word was completely woven together, and that His love and His message to us is poured out very intentionally in Scripture.

This morning, as I was working on Day 3 of the study, this sentence was on the page about Saul (who was later known as Paul):  “NOTHING in Saul’s life would be a waste unless he refused to let God use it.” …and, yes, that word is in all caps in the workbook.

Those in my closest circles have heard me say, “God wastes nothing.” They’ve also heard me say something along the lines of “…anything He allows, He intends to use for our good and for His glory, IF we will only let Him.”

I SAY this a lot, but I needed to HEAR it this morning.

Once again, the Lord showed up to give me a loving encouragement. He did it by using Beth Moore’s words on a page, right after I read Paul’s words from His Word in Galatians.

What she said in this sentence… this concept… these words… somehow, has infiltrated my life (maybe it started when I did this study years ago…I don’t know…), and it is now a part of who I am. But it doesn’t stop there… Because of His amazing presence in my life, I’ve incorporated those words and woven them into His words and His promises for all of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Lord truly does waste nothing. Every single thing we experience in life is something He has the capability to use for our good and for His glory, if we will only submit to Him and allow Him to do so.

There’s an action step here. I see it. Do you?