Finding Strength in God Alone

The Man Who Found Strength in His Weakness

I love to see horses galloping across a mountain ridge, muscles bulging, nostrils exhaling steam in the crisp air. What a picture of strength and power to anyone who views such a sight.

Mankind has depended upon the strength of the horse to defeat his enemy in battle, but it is a strength upon which we are commanded not to depend. The strength that we must depend upon can only come from the Source of All Strength who desires to bestow us with power that confounds the unbelieving onlooker and draws their attention to Almighty God.

The horse is a symbol of strength.
The horse is a symbol of strength. (Photo from Pixabay.)

We each have leaned upon our horses of money, family, friends, and societal status. Our experiences have taught us, however, that these horses will not sustain us.

The Bible tells us about a man named Paul who leaned upon his horse of religious pride. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and considered himself blameless concerning the law. Some might say he was a bully who used the law to hide his own weaknesses.

Paul’s intention was to destroy the followers of Jesus. Yet he was brought to his face in the dirt on a road to Damascus. The brilliance of God’s presence stripped him to the foundation of his religious beliefs. The walls of his resistance were broken down by a voice from heaven, “[I]t is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5). Left blinded, Paul’s companions led him by the hand into Damascus where he was left on Straight Street. When the dust settled, three days had passed before he finally regained any sight.

It was there on Straight Street where the Master Architect in Heaven began to reveal His plans for Paul’s life. Through the disciple, Ananias, God began laying a new foundation that would enable Paul to truly know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

Following God’s instructions, Ananias lay his hands upon Paul speaking words that opened the windows of Paul’s understanding. His life’s calling was revealed to him. He would be God’s witness to all men, experiencing great things “for Christ’s sake” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Paul’s experiences “for Christ’s sake” soon revealed a path that would take him through mental, physical, and emotional suffering. Having a weak body and contemptible speech, his horse of self-sufficiency toppled. Seeking deliverance from his weaknesses, God’s words of wisdom came to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Humbled to submission, Paul realized that he could do nothing without the indwelling power of Christ. He became thankful for his weaknesses because those weaknesses revealed Christ’s strength at work through him.  In fact, his weaknesses became the tools that God used to make his ministry powerful.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

(Photo from Pixabay.)
(Photo from Pixabay.)

What transformation must take place before we can truly become strong? With Paul, this transformation began with prayer, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

God gave Paul a simple instruction, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”  Paul obeyed and was led to the city of Damascus, and there the cracks in his foundation were replaced with the solid foundation that enabled him to truly stand for Christ.

As Paul yielded to God’s plan, his life was transformed. He found that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. The horses that he had previously depended upon were laid aside.

                “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3–5).

Many are the stories that one could tell of those who “out of weakness were made strong” (Hebrews 11:34).  Weakness is the catapult that drives us to God’s presence. It is the horse that bucks us into the arms of God’s abounding grace that is given to us as we submit to its transforming power to conform us to the image of Christ. We learn to embrace this misunderstood friend as we lay ourselves prostrate before a holy God and wait for His empowerment from on high.

Circumstances of life may have left us in difficult places. Yet as we yield to God’s transforming power, we will discover that He can make our lives fruitful regardless of any handicaps or weaknesses that hinder us.  Emptied of our own strength, we must acknowledge that the horses of this world cannot empower us. We must then choose to embrace the Source of All Strength, our Almighty God, who enables us to do all things through Christ.

My prayer for you today is that you will focus not upon your weaknesses but upon the One who can accomplish great feats through you that will confound unbelievers and draw them into the arms of the true Source of All Strength. When you feel weak and defeated may the following verse be an encouragement to you. It has helped me tremendously when my weaknesses have tried to overwhelm me.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward [me]; that [I], always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Prayer

Dear Father in Heaven, I realize I have no strength of my own. I confess that I have depended upon the horses of this world and they have failed me. I now lay them aside and embrace You as the Source of All Strength. I yield to Your transforming power. Enable me to fulfill Your purpose and follow Your plan for my life. Thank you for Your indwelling presence that will make my life fruitful and will empower me to do Your will through Christ my Saviour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions

  1. In what ways do we allow our weaknesses/handicaps to hinder us from doing God’s will?
  2. How is God’s strength perfected in us?
  3. What horses have I personally leaned upon to strengthen me instead of leaning upon the strength that only God can give me?

All Scripture quotations above are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

©2017 by Peggy Clark

Ephesians 6:15

Are Your Feet Shod Properly?

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15

When I reminisce on the word shod I picture a rancher shoeing a horse. He carefully shapes each shoe and attaches each one to fit the horse’s hooves.  They must be a perfect fit or they won’t protect properly.

The rancher knows that his horses need shoes to protect their hooves or they will not be able to do the work that he needs them to do.  A limping horse is of no value to the rancher.

Recently my husband and I stopped at a shoe store. My husband wanted me to have a new pair of sandals. Thankfully, I found a pair that was comfortable.

The sales clerk placed them in a box and kept them safe at the counter while we continued to look. There were several pairs that we liked, but they did not fit the bottom of my feet properly.  Not finding another pair we made our purchase and left.

Arriving home, the package was placed in the bedroom to be opened later. I will probably not open the package until I need the shoes inside.

These sandals can be adjusted to one’s feet.

We are to prepare ourselves by shodding our feet.

I’m afraid that’s also what we do with our Bibles. We bring them home and place them on the end table or some other location to be opened later.

It’s not that we think the Bible is of no importance. It certainly is. But just as the rancher prepares his horse for the work he has to do, we are to prepare ourselves for the work God has us to do.

To shod myself I must put forth the effort to put on my shoes.

For the sandals that I purchased to be of any value to me, I must take them out of the package and put them on my feet. I must shod myself with my shoes to protect my feet from stones and other debris that would cause harm. I do not wish to endure the pain of a stumped toe or jagged cut.

As my physical feet are shod with sandals so my spiritual feet are shod with God’s Word.

Just as the rancher prepares his horse’s hooves to be fitted with shoes, I must prepare myself to be fitted with the gospel of peace.

To shod myself with the gospel of peace I must open the Bible and absorb its words. As I shod myself with God’s Word, I am being provided with the protection that I need to walk through the debris of life.

A turn onto the wrong path can leave me limping through life. Instead, I want to walk through God’s fields with a healthy and Christ-honoring stride.

Preparing ourselves with the gospel of peace will keep us from limping in God’s fields.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Ephesians 6:13-16

 

 

Purpose in Life

 Purpose Gives Life Meaning

Abandoned Fawn Finds a New Friend Photo
An abandoned fawn finds a much-needed friend.

 

 

Life is short.

Not that anyone notices.

However, a quick trip through any graveyard will reveal the various ages when people die.

Young or old, death is no respecter of persons.

My family realized this when my five-year-old daughter’s best friend died in a freak accident.

Yes, even five-year-olds die.

I realized it as a young person when several friends of mine died needlessly.

I also realized it as an adult when my father died in his fifties. Since then I have realized it when my grandmothers and grandfather died. (My other grandfather died before I was born.)

Since life is so short, of what should it consist?

What makes life truly worth living?

And if life has any value, what value should we give it?

Purpose gives meaning to life.

It is our purpose on this earth that gives us value.  A man or woman without purpose has little life for which to live.

What is it that gives us the desire to live?

Waterwheels remain to remind us of days gone by when their purpose was to turn gears for machinery.
Waterwheels remain to remind us of days gone by when their purpose was to turn gears for machinery.

I remember my father’s words.

My father had said that he would never have heart surgery again. This was before all the modern advances that reduced the surgical procedure’s invasiveness.

However, the time came when he spoke of heart surgery again. I told him I thought he would never have surgery again.

He replied, “When it comes to dying, a man will do anything to live.”

Those words stuck in my mind.

People tell me they wouldn’t want to be in such and such a condition and would want to die instead.

It is then that I remember the words of my father and realize that people do not know what they will desire until they face death themselves. It is then that life takes on added meaning.

Once upon a time this building owner's purpose was to entertain people. The building itself now needs a renewed purpose.
Once upon a time this building owner’s purpose was to entertain people. The building itself now needs a renewed purpose.

The desire to live gives purpose to life.

It is the desire to live that gives new purpose to life even though the focus changes when we must face death ourselves.

Then the time has come to heal old wounds, make the apologies we should have made long ago, tell our loved ones how much we love them, and reach out to others with the compassion we never had before.

Yes, life has value down to the end of our last breath.

Every word has purpose.

Even our last words have purpose. They set a pattern for the future of our families.

Our last words can leave our loved ones with a blessing or a curse.

Jacob blessed his children before he climbed back into bed and gave up the ghost (Genesis 49).

David blessed Solomon and gave him wise counsel that directed the future of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 2).

Jesus blessed the disciple John and gave him the responsibility of caring for Jesus’ earthly mother (John 19:26-27).

Our lives affect the future.

Our lives affect the future of others.

Soldiers are willing to die on the battlefield because they want their families to have a future.

The men at the Alamo gave their lives so Texas would one day be free from Mexican rule.

Shammah stood in the middle of a bean patch and fought against the enemy so his people would have food (2 Samuel 23:11-12).

Jesus gave His life on a cross so that all people could have a future and a hope. His last words as recorded in Luke 24:46-49 gave his disciples understanding and future direction for their lives.

Markers are placed to remember a grave even though the name of the remains may have been long forgotten.
Markers are placed to remember a grave even though the name of the remains may have been long forgotten.

Our life’s purpose gives meaning to life.

Whether we understand our value or not, others need us to fulfill our purpose.

Fulfilling our purpose will give meaning to our lives.

An orphaned opossum is cared for by a concerned caregiver.
An orphaned opossum is cared for by a concerned caregiver.

Copyright 2017 by authorpeggyclark.com


 

 

 

Mother Seeking Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 Woman

A Mother’s Lesson Plan

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

King Lemuel’s mother gave her son valuable lessons concerning the pitfalls into which any son can fall prey.  She was highly concerned that he be guided properly, so she bore this role personally.

A virtuous woman is a source of strength for her husband.
A virtuous woman is a source of strength for her husband.

 Two important areas she discussed in her lesson plans were women and strong drink.

This mother knew that if her son did not conduct himself properly in these two areas, his authority over his kingdom would be damaged and his judgment thwarted.

To protect his future kingship, she wisely advised him:

“Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” Proverbs 31:3-4

Her plans included two important words.

The list of attributes describing the virtuous woman that this mother desired for her son may seem challenging to today’s woman but are basically contained in two words which this mother used to teach an important lesson to her son.

The first is ‘ruby’ and the second is ‘heart’.

Lemuel’s mother wanted to instill in Lemuel the value of a good woman. To do this, she placed the image of a ruby in his mind.

As a man in training for kingship, young Lemuel would be taught the value of gems and their use in commerce.

Precious stones were given by visiting royalty as presents unto kings. Lemuel had to be able to distinguish quality between the various stones presented.

Why did this mother choose the ruby to educate her son in these matters?
What qualities does a ruby possess that would describe a virtuous woman?

Large transparent rubies are rarer than diamonds. Thus, the value of a natural, transparent ruby is more than that of a diamond.

Obviously, this mother realized that a virtuous woman would be someone for whom Lemuel would have to diligently seek. A virtuous woman was not a common commodity.

The more transparent a ruby is the greater the value. Although all rubies have some flaws, the less imperfections a ruby has, the more it is desired.

When a woman is transparent, she has nothing to hide. She allows her husband to see her as she is. She does not try to put a veil over his eyes as to her character.

A ruby can be heat treated to remove some internal flaws.

Trials and afflictions are the fires that God uses to purify man. A virtuous woman can endure those trials and afflictions and remain true.

It takes an expert to distinguish between a natural and a man-made ruby.

God is the expert that can discern a woman’s heart and her motives. A wise man will seek God’s will when contemplating courtship. His eyes cannot see into a woman’s heart, but God’s eyes can.

“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

The second word that King Lemuel’s mother focused upon was heart.

Men consider trust a major factor in describing a healthy marriage.

If a man feels he cannot confide in his wife, if he feels she has betrayed his confidences, he will stop entrusting her with his words. This may lead him to seek spoil or an unscriptural relationship with another.

Many marriages end because another woman chose to listen to a married man’s words and keep them in confidence, thus drawing the man away from his wife.

The advice that King Lemuel’s mother gave was directed in such a way that King Lemuel would be able to understand the consequences of unwise choices.  She turned his focus upon his own heart and how it would be affected by those choices.

The choice that he would make as to a wife would do him good or do him evil all the days of his life.

He could choose that which was more valuable than rubies in which he could safely invest his heart and profit, or he could choose that which was of less value and loose his investment and suffer loss.

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband." Proverbs 12:4
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” Proverbs 12:4

“Who can find a virtuous woman?”

She is described as transparent and trustworthy.

She reflects what is inside of her, the character of Christ. She is a haven for her husband and keeps his words close to herself.

Her motives are pure, showing her intent to protect her husband’s heart.  Therefore, she is given the liberty to accomplish all that the Proverbs 31 woman had liberty to accomplish.

The virtuous Proverbs 31 woman could involve herself in such activities as described in Proverbs 31:13-24 because she could be trusted to do those things without bringing shame to her husband or her household.

The Proverbs 31 woman was portrayed, not by her performance, but by the transparency of her true nature.

King Lemuel was taught to ask himself two important questions as he sought for a wife.

Does this woman’s transparency or lack thereof reveal Christlike character or a flawed character?
Does this woman’s transparency or lack thereof reveal a trustworthy heart or a questionable one?

King Lemuel’s adopted course of action hopefully brought him a Proverbs 31 woman that he safely trusted in all his days.

©2016 authorpeggyclark.com


Join in the conversation. Leave your comment below.
  • The Proverbs 31 woman is usually described by what she does.
  • Do you define the Proverbs 31 woman by her performance?
  • If measuring performance, how do you measure up?
  • According to Proverbs 31:30, what woman is to be praised?
  • Did the Proverbs 31 woman’s performance define her relationship with God or did her relationship with God define her performance?
  • How does your above answer correspond with Ephesians 2:8-10?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potter’s ‘Brand’

Every Potter’s Work Is Unique

I met a new potter this weekend while taking pictures at an event I attended. Since I love pottery, we struck up a conversation and “friended” each other. Her work was beautiful, especially the various mugs and trays that she had on display.

Although there are several potters who work in my area, each potter’s work is unique.

Potters brand their pieces with special markings.
Potters brand their pieces with special markings.

Every Potter Eventually Establishes a ‘Brand’

Not only are their individual items uniquely made, but the colors used and patterns applied are unique to each potter.

You might say they each have their ‘brand’.  That brand is established by their unique styles.

That style is brought out by hands that carefully mold and form from the potter’s viewpoint and vision.

Sometimes the clay wishes to cooperate with the potter. Sometimes it does not. The potter patiently places the clay back on the wheel until finally the clay submits to the potter’s wishes.

Potters use a variety of colors and markings.
Potters use a variety of colors and markings.

The Potter Knows the Potential of the Clay

It’s not that the potter doesn’t consider the clay’s texture or color or strength. The potter knows those things. But the potter also knows what the clay can become when it yields itself to his or her touch.

The potter has the end piece in view.

He or she sees it in all its beautiful form as finished and sitting on a customer’s table. He or she knows its usefulness and the blessing it will be as it pours out its contents to those who sit at the table.

Different sizes of pitchers for a variety of uses.
Potters make pitchers in a variety of sizes for different uses.

Our Master in Heaven Is

the Great Potter

It’s the same way with our Master in Heaven. He is the Great Potter who forms us and molds us to be the vessels that will bless those for whom we are poured out in service for Him.

Our Great Potter knows our frame, but He sees what we can be. He sees us as what we will be in His kingdom.

He is the author and finisher of our faith. One day our faith will end in sight.

One day soon we will see our Great Potter face to face. May He say of us in that day, “Well done!”

Copyright©2017 by Peggy Clark

Photos © by Peggy Clark

Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. Check out her blog at http://sowhatsthelatestnews.info.

 

Devotional: Empty Vessels Have Potential

The Potential of an Empty Vessel

An Empty Vessel Can Collect Dust

What is the potential in having a lot of empty vessels?

A case of canning jars sitting on the back porch collecting dust may not seem to be of much value to a passerby.

Dusty canning jars waiting to be used.
Dusty jars waiting to be used.

An Empty Vessel Has Potential

However, a person with knowledge and insight can see past the emptiness of the jars to the potential they hold.

Yes, those empty jars may have little value. But once they are filled with green beans or tomatoes or pickles, suddenly they have great value.

An Empty Vessel Can Be Filled

Those once empty jars now have the potential to feed starving souls.  They have the potential to sustain and maintain others’ needs. They can also be reused again and again.

Empty jars waiting to be filled.
Empty vessels waiting to be filled.

An Empty Vessel Can Be Limited

Are we like those empty vessels sitting on the porch collecting dust?

Have we limited our potential by remaining empty?

An Empty Vessel Can Be Used to Bless Others

“[B]ut be filled with the Spirit.”  Ephesians 5:18

As we allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit of Christ, we overflow into the lives of others.

Our fullness sustains others with our encouraging thoughts, words, and prayers. Our fullness flows into the lives of others as we share our blessings. Those blessings meet others’ needs as well as our own.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

Empty vessels need to be filled.
Empty vessels need to be filled.

As the contents of a jar is replaced with another substance (invisible air is replaced with visible blessing), so our ‘self’ is replaced by the fullness of Christ.

“that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19

Filled Vessels Can Serve Christ to Others

As Christ lives in the vessels He fills, Christ is served to others.

Others enjoy our fullness in Christ and receive added blessing.  Their vessels receive hope and are filled with potential. Their souls can then receive the valuableness of having Christ, the only One who can truly give sustenance and meaning to life.

The jar is valued by its contents. Garden vegetables are saved for a wintry day.
The jar is valued by its contents. Garden vegetables are saved for a wintry day.

He came to give us life and that “more abundantly.”  John 10:10

May Your Empty Vessels Be Filled to Their Full Potential

You may wish to pull out those empty jars and fill them with blessings that can be shared with others. Whether it be vegetables, plants, flower arrangements, or spare change, empty vessels were created to be used. They provide a means of storing our precious items for a later time.

And May You Be Filled with the Potential Christ Desires for You

You were created with potential. Christ’s desire is for you to be filled with Him.  His grace and mercy is offered to you.  May you be all that Christ has created you to be.

Join in the conversation:

 

When Duty Becomes Love

I wonder what happened to Martha’s ministry after she saw Lazarus raised from the dead.

How did her ministry change as she walked away from that tomb of death with her brother?

Martha’s Ministry After Lazarus’ Death

John 11 – 12

I wonder what happened to Martha’s ministry after she saw Lazarus raised from the dead. 

How did her ministry change as she walked away from that tomb of death with her brother?


Martha was known for her hospitality. Her home was an anchor for Jesus and His disciples.

Jesus frequently stayed at her house as He traveled in and out of nearby Jerusalem.

Her home was a haven from the weariness of the dusty roads that threaded the countryside.

How many times did Jesus wash His feet there? How many times did a warm meal fill His empty stomach? How many times did He lay His head down to rest there?

I wonder what the pillows would say if they could talk. I wonder what the dogs under the table would repeat if only we could understand their barkings.

Martha’s gift

Martha had a gift. She loved to cook and to serve. She opened her home not only to Jesus but to His followers also.

I wonder if she looked forward in anticipation of Jesus’s next return from His wanderings about Galilee. Did she realize how important her ministry was to Him during His 3 ½ years of evangelization?

So, what happened that dreadful day that her brother died? Did she lose all hope and sink in despair? Did her faith in Christ falter?

Her thoughts must have troubled her. Where was He? Where was the Christ that she so loved? Where was the Christ that so loved her brother?

Lazarus was dead. That was a fact. She had to face it. Jesus did not come.

But Christ knew. The messengers told Him Lazarus was sick, but they had returned without Him.

Her heart sank as she looked desperately down the long road that she had seen Jesus travel so many times before, but He was not there.

Today she and Mary would prepare Lazarus for the grave. His body would be thoroughly cleaned. Spices would be placed upon his body to temporarily preserve and prevent the soon-coming stench of death.  His body would be wound tightly in linens. Then would begin the procession to the burial site where his body would be placed among the skeletal remains of other loved ones gone on before.


Today was now yesterday. Lazarus was buried. What was in Martha’s thoughts as she looked down the road and saw no Jesus? Oh, how her heart must have yearned to talk to Him. If only He would have come, her brother had not died.


But he did die. Three days have passed. Now it is the fourth day. There is no hope.

The mourners are beginning to leave.

Family members are packing their bags in hopes of returning to their homes safely. There is nothing left for them to do but finish the day with Martha and start their trip early in the morning.

It’s been four days. Even the superstitious believe that Lazarus’s spirit has left his body to never return.

Martha’s lack of understanding

Four days of preparing meals and preparing beds and serving drinks. Martha’s body must have cried out for relief. Yet she’s sitting with her guests when a messenger arrives.

Jesus has returned! Yes, He’s on His way!

But as Martha looked out the window she did not see Jesus. He was not there; but, she would go to Him. Yes, she would go to where He was.

“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

Martha regretted that Jesus had not been there. Maybe she thought that she should have sent for Him sooner. Maybe she thought that she and Lazarus were not as important as some others in His life. The ‘maybe’s’ occupied her thought life. The ‘maybe’s’ clouded her ability to hear Jesus’s words as He spoke to her:

“Thy brother shall rise again.”

Martha acknowledged that she knew that Lazarus would rise again at the last day. But her ‘maybe’s’ kept her from hearing the most precious words she could hear on that fateful day:

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

If only she could have placed Lazarus’s name in that verse at that tearful moment. Jesus was telling her that He is the resurrection, that He is the life. He (Lazarus) that believes in me (Jesus), though Lazarus is dead, yet shall Lazarus live!

Though Martha acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ, she did not understand His resurrection power. Without fully understanding Jesus’ words to her, she left to find her sister Mary and tell her of His return.

The conversation that passed between Martha and Mary, as Martha led Mary to where Jesus was waiting, must have been filled with a mixture of emotions. Painful because Lazarus is dead, yet joyful because Jesus is near. A chorus of loud wailing followed them as they made their way to where Jesus was waiting.

Jesus’ painful request

Upon seeing Jesus His request to them was the simple response, “Where have ye laid him?”

As Martha and Mary led Jesus to the tomb, they felt Jesus’ pain over the death of Lazarus. As they heard Jesus weeping, it must have comforted them.

Yes, He did love Lazarus. Maybe His tears helped to heal their hurting hearts. Even those that followed behind acknowledged how Jesus must have loved Lazarus.

Then came the shocking words:

“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.”

Take away the stone? How could Jesus want to see Lazarus’ body now?

“Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

How could Martha see Lazarus again in his present state? She could not fathom how she would feel seeing him after being dead four days. She did not wish to see his swollen body, nor smell the stench nor see the maggots at work consuming his flesh.

Lord, he stinketh. He’s been dead four days. You don’t want to see him now. Why did you not come sooner? You could have seen him then. Not now, Lord.

“Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

Oh, if only she had heard and understood His precious words.

Suddenly, a booming voice was heard.

“Lazarus, come forth.”

Could it be? Could Jesus really raise Lazarus back from the dead? Is He truly the resurrection and the life?

Martha’s mind must have been racing. If I will “believe”; yes, Lord, I will believe.

“And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”

A change of ministry

Martha walked home with her brother that day. Later, (John 12:2) we find Martha serving Jesus at her table.

Her table was where she ministered to Jesus. He and His disciples were always welcome at her table.

Martha was a servant. Her gift of hospitality became a gift of love.

No longer did she serve out of duty. Her life was changed when she realized Who it was that she was serving.

No matter who was in her home, she was now serving the Resurrection and the Life.  She was serving Jesus. She was not just serving in love but she was serving love.

Copyright ©2017 by Peggy Clark

Above Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version.

Peggy Clark is also the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. This title is available from Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Are Not Alone”

Words That Attract Attention

You are not alone.

It has been said that those four words attract the most attention from email subscribers.

You are not alone…

What is it about those words that gets people’s attention?  that compels people to open their email and read the enclosed words?

In the busyness of this modern world, you would think that it would be impossible to be lonely. Yet, many people are.

Fences protect animals from harm.
 Environmental factors can make us feel alone.

Reasons People Are Lonely

Some are lonely because they have lost their spouse. Some are lonely because they have never married. Some are lonely because they have never found a friend whom they consider trustworthy.

Whatever the reason, people can feel lonely even in the midst of a roomful of people. It isn’t the presence of human bodies that keeps one from feeling lonely. It is the lack of connection.

Lack of Connection

People just aren’t connected as they once were.

In the past, women connected by joining in quilting groups or by get-togethers to cook for mourning or suffering community members.

It wasn’t the quilting or the cooking that connected them. Although that was what brought them together. It was the communication between attendees that joined their hearts together. Women looked forward to such times with great eagerness.

quilted jacket
Quilting bees bring people together.

Words of Comfort

You are not alone…

Those words bring comfort to anyone who senses separation.

But how does one keep from feeling alone even if no person is present?

In Christ, we are never alone. He has said in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. It is our relationship with Christ that keeps us from being alone at any given time.

Having a personal relationship with Christ means that we can communicate with Him at any given moment. We can allow Him to speak to us through His Word (Scripture).

We can trust that He is present in our circumstances whether we feel His presence or not.

How to Never Be Alone

Being “in Christ” will keep us from being alone because “In Christ” you truly are not alone.

“[F]or he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest…for I will not leave thee.”  Genesis 28:15

“[A]nd, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20

You can be physically alone, and yet, not be lonely.


Join in the conversation:

Have you ever felt ‘alone’ even though you were in a room full of people?

What suggestions do you have to help someone who feels lonely?

What do you do when you feel lonely?

 

It’s a Psalm 31 Day, A Prayer of Encouragement

May your heart be blessed by God's Word.
May your heart be blessed by God’s Word.

It’s a Psalm 31 Day.

That’s what I felt spoken to my mind today as I started to pray.

So, I opened my Bible to view the day through Scripture. I read the words over and over.

Yes, the Scripture spoke to my heart because a friend of mine is going through a difficult time.

I read the words over and over.

Then I turned the words into a prayer. Maybe some of those words will speak to your heart. Yes, it is a Psalm 31 Day!

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed:  deliver me in thy righteousness.

Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

Pull me out of the net that [those who wish to do me harm] have laid privily for me:  for thou art my strength.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

I have hated [the lying vanities that people speak]: but I trust in [You] Lord.

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou has considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbors, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind:  I am like a broken vessel.

For I have heard the slander of many:  fear was on every side:  while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

Make thy face to shine upon [me]: save me for thy mercies’ sake.

Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.

Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man:  thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the LORD:  for he hath shewed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city.

For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:  nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

O love the LORD, all ye his saints:  for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:1-24 (Insertions mine)

Scripture taken from Psalm 31, King James Bible

Join the conversation:

Have you been through a difficult time? What verses of Scripture have encouraged you the most?

What encouraging reading material would you suggest to a person who is going through a difficult time?

Are you involved in a helps ministry?

The Creators’ Fence Gives Protection

The Safety within the Fence

I love to see horses galloping across the pasture, manes tossing in the breeze.

It gives me a sense of freedom, a feeling inside that makes me feel as if I am running with them.

The power that horses display as they race each other, back and forth, can be somewhat intimidating. The scene makes me appreciate the stature of such amazing creatures of God.

Horses show their curiosity.
Horses show their curiosity.

Although we have thoughts of freedom when we see horses displaying their playful antics, it is the fence surrounding the pasture that keeps them within the realm of safety.

The fence is as much a force to safely protect the horses inside its structure as it is a force meant to keep dangerous intruders without. It isn’t as if the horses aren’t able to jump the fence. They have the power to do so. But, they know and respect their boundaries.

The ranch owner inspects the fences he has installed on a regular basis. Any breakdown in the stockade must be repaired immediately.

A breach in the enclosure may cause an unsuspecting animal to run loose into the pathway of an oncoming vehicle or into a field with depressions that may cause a broken ankle or leg.

The rancher also inspects the pasture regularly to make sure that there is nothing to harm his animals. He looks for dangerous weeds and shrubs and destroys them in the proper manner.  Animal holes or dens are closed and the inhabitants removed to other locations. The growth and abundance of grass is checked and areas closed off if necessary. His tasks are never-ending.

Fences protect animals from harm.
Fences protect animals from harm.

Just as a rancher strives to protect his beautiful horses, God wishes to protect His most precious creation, mankind.

God has given the Ten Commandments or Decalogue as a fence of protection.  Its instructions are given to protect mankind from the heartaches and pains that are found outside His fence.

Some who do not understand the purpose of the rancher’s fence may see it as a restriction. In other words, they may see it as a detriment to the exercise of freedom. However, the horses are free to roam anywhere within the confines of the fence. Due to those confines, the horses experience security, freedom from fear, and freedom from painful experiences.

The world outside the fence is not constructed to protect the best interests of the horses.  The roadside does not extend mercy to the horse, nor does the landscape provide a way of safety.

Wild animals may see the horse as an appetizing meal. Fresh water is not readily supplied, and a healthy meal is not always granted. Thorns and thistles, as well as, stones and pebbles abound. These can do great harm to the horses’ feet.

In the same way, those who do not understand the purpose of God’s laws may see them as restrictive or as a detriment to the exercise of freedom. However, God has given mankind the choice of remaining within His fence or roaming outside its protective borders.

The world outside God’s fence does not operate in the best interests of mankind. The snares of Satan lie in wait to entrap unsuspecting visitors. His deathtraps shed no mercy on those who stumble upon them.

Because the refreshing water of God’s Word is neglected, thorns and thistles grow around one’s heart leaving guilt and painful scars. The bondage of sin grows deeper and its vines entwine the mind and heart of those who enter its pathway.

In contrast, God’s fence brings freedom from guilt, insecurity, and bondage. It gives liberty to live happily and joyfully within its confines. Its inhabitants enjoy the blessings of God and receive His promises of fruitfulness. His laws also give value and meaning to life.

Ten Commandments from the Holy Bible
Ten Commandments from the Holy Bible

When the horse stays within the confines of the fence, he is protected by his master. But when he leaves the confines of the fence, he is open to the forces of destruction.

When we live within the confines of God’s fence, we are protected by our Heavenly Master. But when we leave the confines of His fence, we open ourselves to the forces of destruction.

God has given us His laws “for our good” that we may lead peaceable and happy lives. It is always in our best interests to live inside God’s protective fence.

And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. Deuteronomy 6:24


Share in the conversation:
What feeling do you experience when you see horses galloping across a field?
How do fences protect the horse?
How is God’s Word like a fence of protection for you?

 

Copyright©2017 by Peggy Clark