Sunday, January 19, 2014, 8:40 a.m. – Upon rising this morning, the Lord Jesus put the song “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Psalms 58-66 (NIV). Hear My Cry I am not superwoman. ‘Bullets’ do not bounce off my chest and fall to the ground. When I get shot in the heart, I bleed. I hurt. When people say unkind things to me or about me, I do not naturally just shrug them off. When lies are spoken to me or about me, I do not immediately jump up and down with joy. When false accusations are hurled my way, I do not instinctively praise my Lord from whom all blessings flow. I cry. I feel pain. I suffer. I get weary. Yet, I cry out to my Lord in my suffering, I seek his counsel and his direction, and I pray for wisdom and discernment, and for his mercy and his grace to help me in my time of need. I do not do so because I am naturally strong, but because I am weak and I acknowledge that I need help. I cannot bear this burden alone. I don’t have what it takes to take the ‘bullets’ and to keep going. I know that about myself. I know I must rely on the Rock (Jesus Christ) that is higher than I. I know I must take refuge in my Lord Jesus and rely upon his strength, power, love and mercy to get me through these troubled times. Shout For Joy! Once I have taken my burdens to the Lord in prayer, relying upon his grace and mercy to help me, and I cry out my pain to him, resting in his love, then his peace and his joy begin to fill up my heart and to heal my wounds. Where there was once much pain, now there is a song of praise and rejoicing, for God has come to my rescue, has brought comfort and joy to my heart, and has shown me his path once again that I may walk in it. He gives purpose and direction, and for that I praise his name! He gives comfort and peace, and in that I rejoice! He delivers me from fear of my enemies who come against me, and he teaches me to walk in his truth and to trust in his love, and to believe in his many promises to me, even when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. He shows me his faithfulness, his love and compassion, and his mercy and grace to me in my time of need, and for that I will forever praise his name! When I come up against situations that are too hard for me, and for which I see no end in sight, he leads me through the difficulties and he shows me that he is very much in control of my circumstances and that he can handle what I cannot. He Tests Us I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God over all things. I believe he is all powerful, all knowing and that he is everywhere at all times. I believe the Bible teaches that God is in control of all things at all times, and that it teaches this from beginning to end. I believe he brings things or allows things to come into our lives to test us and to refine us, including that he permits people to ride over us, i.e. to mistreat and to persecute us and even to physically imprison and to kill us for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. I believe scripture teaches us that Satan and his hordes cannot touch us but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose in our lives. God does not create evil nor does he promote evil, yet he allows evil to exist, and he sometimes uses evil people to accomplish his purposes in our lives. I believe this is seen and taught in scripture over and over again. In James 1 we learn that we should consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds, because the testing of our faith produces perseverance, ultimately resulting in our maturity in Christ. We are thus blessed when we persevere under trial, because when we stand the test, we receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. In 1 Peter 1 we read that for a little while we may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, yet we should not allow these trials to unsettle us, because they have come to test the proof of our faith by fire, resulting in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. And, in 1 Peter 4 we learn that we should not be surprised when we go through fiery ordeals that come into our lives to test us, thinking that something strange is happening to us. But we should rejoice in that we participate in the sufferings of Christ. And, Christ’s sufferings were not without purpose. God very much had the power to deliver him from them, and he even called upon the Father to deliver him from the cross if it were possible, yet he submitted to the will of God for his life, which was for him to go to the cross to die for our sin. That is why he came. And, because of his submission, we have the hope of salvation and of eternal life with God in glory. Amen! Compare this, then, to Paul’s suffering a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan given to him to keep him from being conceited (to keep him from exalting himself) because of all the revelations given him by God. Satan would not give someone a thorn to keep him from becoming conceited. Only God would do that. Paul pleaded with the Lord to deliver him, believing that God could indeed deliver him. Jesus’ answer to him showed that he had the power to deliver Paul from this thorn, but he chose not to, because he wanted Paul to find his strength in Christ alone. Paul was to suffer in this way to keep him humble so that he could serve the people of God in the manner in which God intended to use him. So, Paul submitted to the will of God and accepted the thorn in his life so that the power of Christ would dwell in him. He thus accepted the insults, persecutions and difficulties in his life which he suffered for the sake of Christ, realizing that his weakness only made room for the strength and power of God Almighty to be revealed through his life. Amen! Although in my flesh I take no pleasure in suffering, and of myself I would not will that anyone should have to suffer as I have, and if it were in my human power to do so I would probably want to alleviate all suffering in the world, because I hurt when I see others hurt, I know and believe that suffering comes into our lives, not arbitrarily or as some cruel trick, but underneath the providence of God, with his permission, under his control, and for a purpose. Jesus knew there was a purpose for his suffering, and that is why he submitted to the cross. He kept his eye on the purpose – the salvation of human lives – and I believe that gave him strength to endure (See Heb. 12:1-3). He is our example to follow. Paul, as well, was able to accept the thorn in his life because he knew the purpose for the thorn. And, I believe very much that the suffering I have gone through, and continue to go through in my life was and is also not without purpose, and that also helps give me the strength needed to endure. I can consider my Lord who endured such opposition from sinful humans as my example to follow so that I do not grow weary and lose heart. Amen! And, in that I rejoice! Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah / William Williams / John Hughes Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but Thou art mighty; Hold me with Thy powerful hand. Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven, Feed me till I want no more; Feed me till I want no more. Open now the crystal fountain, Whence the healing stream doth flow; Let the fire and cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey through. Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, Be Thou still my Strength and Shield; Be Thou still my Strength and Shield. When I tread the verge of Jordan, Bid my anxious fears subside; Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction, Land me safe on Canaan’s side. Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee; I will ever give to Thee. Amen.