Sunday, June 7, 2015
Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith (in God) produces endurance, patience and steadfastness. Let endurance, patience and steadfastness have its full effect that you may be people perfectly and fully developed, lacking nothing.
In the spring, it is time to visit the greenhouse after the long, bitterly cold winter. The colors and aromas of plants and flowers fill me with joy. I adopt a few and take them home. If I am wise, however, I will 'harden' them to get them used to living outside in the real world. Otherwise, when a cold night comes along, the plants will die. I make sure they get just the right amount of rain - not enough to drown them. I place them in the correct amount of sunlight, monitoring to make sure it is properly balanced for that particular plant. I am 'hardening' them so they can survive in the real world.
Do you notice that God does the same with us? He uses unique and individually chosen circumstances to 'harden' us for our lives in this world.
'Hardening' can come in the form of God allowing recurring infections or illnesses that just won't go away. Sometimes the washing machine, dryer, car, and the roof on the house all seem to break down at the same time, one after another. Sometimes 'hardening' can be relentless, discouraging and painful. We begin to fuss and fume.
Let's consider the truth - that nothing can come against us that hasn't passed through God's loving hands first. Yet, in His love, He must allow these things to 'harden' us so that, at the first sign of trouble, we aren't destroyed. His desire is for us to learn to live in this world to bring Him glory, even in our suffering, as we persevere and endure by His mercy.
What does He want us to do during a 'hardening' chapter of our lives? He wants us to turn to Him, to cry out to Him in our distress and to trust Him to send help in His perfect timing.
How are you doing with God's 'hardening' of you in your life? Are you fussing and fuming? Or are you looking to God for His help, trusting Him no matter how long it takes?
Heavenly Father, thank You that You love me so much that You gently 'harden' me as I walk through this world toward Home.
'Reflections of God's Glory' copyright 2014 Dawn Ulmer firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Have you heard the groans lately? On every side, I hear them and those include the ones I utter.
The long winter in the midwest drew groans with every snowstorm.
Trees groan under the weight of ice or wind damage.
Flowers groan that they had to remain in the dark to keep warm.
People groan over medical tests, job difficulties, treatment options, surgery, family.
Animals groan as they age.
What is the definition of a groan?
* to make a deep sound because of pain or some strong emotion (such as grief or disappointment)
* to say something that expresses annoyance or unhappiness
* to complain about something
Does this sound familiar? Have you been groaning over something lately?
There is no need to be ashamed of groaning (except the complaining part of it - that has to go). We are human. We can groan in our dismay.
Listen to what scripture says:
'All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been GROANING…right up to the present time. And we…also GROAN to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as His children including the new bodies He has promised us."
So, feel free to groan - you have good company - all of creation. In the process, let's not forget:
'…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. '
'Reflection of God's Glory' copyright 2014 by Dawn Ulmer, email@example.com
Sunday, April 5, 2015
"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." Galatians 5:22-23
I was speaking to my 'little' brother the other day and he stated, "Long ago, I gave my life to God." I was thrilled to hear that.
Later, when I got off the phone from talking with him, I began to think….
Yes, we may have given our lives to God, but have we allowed God to give HIS LIFE to us?
Think about it a minute….
Have our lives changed over the years since we gave our lives to Him? Have we allowed Him to indwell our spirits by His Holy Spirit and infuse us with His characteristics? (See the scripture above.)
Whereas we once worried, were anxious and troubled about so much, have we allowed Him to flood us with His peace as we learn to trust in His goodness and sovereignty?
Instead of a lack of forgiveness and a blazing bitterness toward others, have we allowed Him to instill a heart of forgiveness and mercy in us?
Are we hungering to get to better know the God to whom we have given our lives? Do we read His instructions, encouragement, praise and love toward us in His Word?
Instead of going our own way, do we seek God and the way He wants us to go?
Do we love houses, and possessions more than we love and place Him first in our lives?
Giving our lives to God only becomes lip service unless we welcome God, by His Holy Spirit, to become part of us, all of us.
May we give heart service instead of only lip service to God if we truly intend on being and becoming more of His.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Why art thou cast down, O my soul and why are you disquieted within me?
Think about it - sometimes we do get discouraged. Sometimes with good reasons:
You didn't get the job you wanted….or the promotion….or the pay raise.
Your pregnancy test comes back negative….again.
The cancer has returned and decisions must be made as to treatment options.
Old age is creeping in and you feel it in your joints. You are in pain.
The car, washing machine and computer all decided to quit at the same time.
No matter what the reason for your discouragement, it is real. We are human…
For He knows our frame, He remembers we are dust. Psalm 103:14
What we should NOT do: We should not be giving a stern lecture to ourselves, condemning ourselves for FEELING like we do. We are human. We WILL feel various emotions, including discouragement.
What CAN we do to cope with discouragement ?
1. Admit that you feel discouraged by what has been happening.
2. Trust God and His goodness - He will only allow circumstances to come to you which first pass through His loving hand. Even though difficult, He wants you to depend on Him while He changes the circumstances or carries you through.
"It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you or
forsake you; do not fear or be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
By God's grace as we learn to view things from God's perspective, our eyesight becomes clearer and we find discouragement lifting.
Then we will be able to say with the Psalmist:
Why art thou cast down, O my soul and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God. Psalm 42:5
'Reflections of God's Glory' copyright 2014 Dawn Ulmer firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sunday, February 1, 2015
I cry to You for help for my heart is overwhelmed. Psalm 61:2
O God, be not far from me;
Oh my God, make haste to help me. Psalm 71:12
Have you ever struggled, kicked, screamed and struggled some more? Maybe it was a physical problem, an emotional problem, a family problem, an on-the-job problem that you were tackling with all your might. Yet, the problem did not get better, all it did was wear you out.
Recently I suffered from a gum infection. I know that my body is designed by the Creator to call the white blood cells to fight infections and to heal. I waited, rested, ate well, kept hydrated, kept going to work, doing my daily tasks. This particular infection, however, would NOT go away. The battle was wearing me out. My entire body could feel the toxins spreading. Finally, I gave up. A call to the dentist resulted in some help in the form of an antibiotic (which I never like to take unless nothing else works). Within hours, my body felt at rest. Help was finally here. I didn't have to exert so much energy just to move and breathe. A power greater than myself was fighting the battle.
God - a very present help in time of need. That is who He loves to be. When we call upon Him, He answers as only He can in His unique, mighty way.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.
I don't know about you, but I'm so thankful that I can cry out to the Lord and help is always readily available.
Heavenly Father, when I cry out to You for help, thank You that I can hear you saying, " When you call to Me, I will answer you, I will be with you in trouble, I will rescue you. Psalm 91:15. Thank You for Your help! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on
toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever felt stuck between the past and the future? The past can be full of good memories but it also can include regrets, sorrow and grief…. To get stuck in the past is dangerous….the JOY of today is gone.
Are you afraid of what the future holds? Those fears, also, sap the energy and the joy of NOW and what God has for us.
I was young and now am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken…
Isn't it time to trust the God we know and put aside the fears?
What does God want us to do TODAY? He told us!
SEE YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
AND ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU.
Yes, we have read these scriptures (above) and believe them in our hearts and head but are we DOING the Word? Are we forgetting what lies behind? Are we taking no thought for tomorrow, trusting Him to care for us? Are we seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness NOW, today?
Heavenly Father, please teach us to DO those things you instruct us to do…. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
…thirst for God, the living God. Psalm 42:2
Do you know what it is like to be really thirsty, parched, in desperate need of water? Our experiences seem nothing compared to those who live in lands with little or no available drinking water. Yet, sometimes we can truly thirst and we know how that feels.
Recently I had a medical emergency and was not allowed to have water until a certain test was performed the next day. I was so thirsty, finding myself to be so desperate that I was actually begging for a swab to just wet my lips. The nurse felt so sorry for me - wanting to give me what I craved - water - but was unable to because of the doctor's strict orders.
I will always remember that night, in torment, tossing and turning, trying to accept the thirst, patiently (or not so patiently) waiting.
I wonder if I thirst for God in the same way? Is there a craving for Him? A sense of desperation? A desire for Him above all else?
The entire experience has opened my eyes to understand a bit more about what thirsting for God means. It also opens my eyes to realize what Jesus must have felt when, on the cross, He cried out, "I thirst".
May we say with the psalmist, "As the deer pants for streams of water so I long for You, O God." Psalm 42:1