Difficult People

Run, run far away! Isn’t that what we want to do?  When we are dealing with difficult people, and situations, let’s just say, we’d rather not, but we can run, hide and avoid every time, and in a minute we are faced with another one. 

First, we are all fallible humans, with personality quirks, difficult pasts, stories and hurts. We also can be pretty selfish. We instinctively think of our selves first, our feelings, our hurts, our loves, and when one or all of these things gets infringed upon or we are put in an uncomfortable situation, we want to flee, do we not? Or we want to fight, but neither of these are the best answer.

Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself.” 

He didn’t say, love only the neighbors that are easy to get along with.

“Jesus, you can’t really mean I need to love that person that is difficult?”

Yes he said, “love your neighbor as yourself”, and he said, “love your enemy.” Jesus must have got that one wrong, right? He must have meant, fight your enemy!

It’s a tall order, and no one does this instinctively, so how in the world are we able to?

He gives us the power to do it through His spirit. He is helping us in our weakness. The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The key words are, “through Christ”

Try and do it on your own power, it’s too much! We can’t carry that. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”

He will carry it and give us the grace to follow through. 

Try it! 

The next time you are approached by a difficult person, and it will be soon, pray, Lord help me in my weakness, give me grace to handle this person with love and care. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. You may not get a fuzzy feeling; most likely you won’t. Love is not a feeling it’s an action. Go against your own feelings, and act in the way you know is right.

God will bless it and work in it and through it. This is how walls of hostility are torn down. 

Second, I have been the “difficult person” in someone’s life, I can actually think of a several right now. Most likely we have all had a time in our lives, when we were the difficult person.

When I am pointing the finger, I try to remember to look at myself first. That’s not easy though.

How are we difficult sometimes? It’s good to look at our own flaws and short comings. 

The good news is, God loves us in our messy difficulties. He loves us in our moaning and complaining. He loves us in our grumpiness. He is patient with us. God knows we are not capable of living this out perfectly, but if we will come to Him and let Him work in us, He will help us and give us the grace we need, but we must call upon Him. He won’t force His way. 

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Knock! Knock!

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There is a knock at the door, you hear it, now what do you do? You may be like me, sneaking to the window to get a glimpse of who it is. “Oh no! It’s a salesman. Be quiet!” You wait. They knock again. “Shhh……..not a peep.” They finally go away. You hear another knock at the door…oh its your friend who happened to be in the neighborhood. You gladly open the door, “please come in!” You are so excited to see your friend.

Why do we hide from the stranger/salesperson, but welcome the friend? Don’t you think it might have a little something to do with trust? We don’t know that salesperson, we don’t know what they are selling, and we don’t want to get hung up in a long ordeal, in short we know they aren’t knocking because they care about us, they just want to sell us on something. We know our friends, we trust them, we know they love us, and we love them. We know they decided to knock because they care about us.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20 NLT

Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts. In the morning he knocks, “Good Morning Johanna, let’s have a morning talk.” In the middle of the day, He knocks, “walk with me.” In the evening, He knocks, “lets dine tougher.” When I am sick, He knocks, “I am your healer.” When I am restless, angry, or sad, He knocks, “I am your shepherd, I am your strength.” When I am discouraged, disappointed, and burned out, He knocks, “I am your comforter.” He knocks again and again, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25 N:LT

Will we open the door when he knocks. Do you trust Him? Is He your friend.? Are you hiding from Him? Open the door. He is waiting and He will continue to knock. He is patient, He wants your heart. You wouldn’t turn down your friend who happened to be in your neighborhood to come pay you a visit, so how much more should we not turn down the knocking on our hearts door, from the One who is Life.

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching
Watching for you and for meCome home, come home
Ye who are weary come home”

Prayer

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When we pray according to what we think is possible or impossible, we most certainly will determine what is worth praying about and our prayers end up being not much of a prayer, but our own proclamation. We have made a decision for God, when that was none of our business. I am writing this, because I experience this. I am guilty of this.

In O. Hallesby’s book titled “Prayer” he says, “….whether the fulfillment of our prayer is hard or easy for God. What we think or do not think about this has no bearing on the hearing and answering of prayer. Not only that, it has a blighting and destructive effect upon our prayer life, because we waste our strength which is not our concern, and which our Lord never asked us to be concerned about.”

When we get busy already determining the answers to our prayers, we won’t get very far in our prayer life. If we have decided the answers to our prayers, how can we have faith? It seems more like a conversation with ourselves than a prayer.

So it got me thinking….our prayer life will not deepen, if we don’t know who God is and keep reminding ourselves of who He is. I mean really know who he is, not our idea of him. We can have an idea about God, and then there is the truth about who God is. How do we know and determine who God is? Well we don’t come to know him from just looking on the inside and whatever feels right and sounds good. No cherry picking. Some say God can’t be known, but this is false. Romans 1:19 says, “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.”

He can be known. He has made himself known to us, in two ways, through creation, and through His Word( the revealed Word, the Bible)

Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” So it’s impossible to have a rich prayer life if we don’t know who He is. When we come to Him acknowledging the truth of who He is, then we trust that he will answer according to His will and good timing.

Have you ever held back bringing up a difficult conversation with someone, because you already had decided how that person will answer? How foolish! It’s never our business to project how someone will answer. Let them do the answering. The difference with God is he gave us promises to stand on, we may not get all the details on how He answers our prayers, but we can trust that how and when He answers, it will be good. We can trust that He always hears and will answer according to his perfect will and for our good.

Prayer is not a chess game; I will make my move, but I have anticipated your moves, so I won’t go over here or over there because I know what you will do

We need faith. Why, because anyone who comes, must believe. What does he do when we come to him in faith? He rewards those who seek him in this faith; that means he answers. He will answer in His good and perfect will and timing. We can trust this. He will not fail.

Do you know the truth about who God is? God is not just some cosmic being out there somewhere that has no relational bearing on our every day life or one that we only come to a few times a year for things we think are prayer worthy.

How is your prayer life? What have you given up praying about, because you predetermined it was too hard for God. What have you not offered up in prayer because you thought it too petty and could just deal with it yourself?

I am working on this in my own life. When I pray, I first and foremost give praise and thanks for who God is, and for his grace in my life. We would do good to spend a lot of time in this area of prayer, it will strengthen our faith when we make our requests known to Him. When we praise Him for making the sunset and the sunrise, and praise Him for the very breath that he gave me this morning, we begin to see the power of God and how BIG he really is. Get your microscope out and start praising God for every little thing, and then with boldness of faith make your requests known to God and leave the answering to God.

Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will always be on my lips.”

BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!

We have every reason to praise God and wait for Him. He has shown His great love and faithfulness! How do you deal with your sufferings? You endure them for a time, but it is not the last word!  All through scripture we see God working out good in the midst of suffering. So, when you are experiencing a trial or hardship, press on….because JOY comes in the morning, but it is only through Jesus that this is available; no other way. All other roads lead to death. There is only one way that leads to life. 

Yes we endure suffering for a time, BUT JOY comes in the morning! 

Jesus was despised…BUT JOY! 

Jesus was rejected….BUT JOY! 

Jesus was beaten…..BUT JOY! 

Jesus was mocked….BUT JOY! 

Jesus hung on a cross….BUT JOY! 

Jesus died……BUT JOY! 

He conquered sin and death! 

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to JESUS the founder and perfected of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of God. Hebrews 12:1b-2

What are you going through? 

Have you been rejected? …….BUT JOY!

Have you been beaten down, burned out, worn out?……BUT JOY!

Have you lost your job?……BUT JOY!

Have you gotten a cancer diagnosis?……….BUT JOY! 

Have you been treated unfairly?…….BUT JOY!

Are you experiencing broken relationships?………BUT JOY! 

Do you endure physical pain and exhaustion?………BUT JOY! 

We don’t know how long we have to endure, but the promise is, it isn’t the last word. We must run the race….and look to Jesus who endured the suffering for us so that we can say in the midst of our trials…...BUT JOY COMES IN THE MORNING! 

Weeping may tarry for a night, but JOY comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5b

I hope this is an encouragement to you, because I found it a great encouragement. 

The JOY of the LORD is your strength! 

Is He Enough?


What if you lost your job? Your money, your family, your health, your friends, your reputation? If one or all were lost, would God still be enough?
This really got me thinking, about what we really believe to be true. It all comes to the surface when we are put in the fire. When the pressure comes down on us, our beliefs are exposed. I think we have to get the understanding of “more than enough”; what it means and what it does not mean.

What do we normally associate the word “enough” with? You hear things like, “I’ve had enough.” This could mean I am finished with this, or I am putting an end to this. It could mean I am full, I’ve reached my max capacity or I don’t have room for more. If we put these meanings, with the meaning of God being enough, it doesn’t seem to fit. “Enough” is not synonymous with lacking in need. “Enough” does not mean we never hunger and thirst. “Enough” can’t mean that I am so full, I can’t have anymore.

So what does it mean? We are a needy people. We are a people that are created to worship. The apostle Paul says, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” God supplied the Israelites with manna every morning to supply their daily needs during the 40 year period in the desert. God provided. They couldn’t store it up for a month, they were only given what they needed right then and it sustained them, but you also know the story that they began to moan and groan about the manna not being satisfactory. They had set up idols in their hearts. They were focused on their circumstances and the present moment. They were looking at what was seen instead of what is not seen, the eternal things. When we take our eyes off of God we fall prey to looking to other things to meet the need, and we want more, more, and more of this thing, and it doesn’t really meet the need,. We need Him every moment of every day. The need is always there. The longing is always there. If you don’t fill up on Him, you can guarantee you will attempt to fill it up some other way, except you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. We were created for Him and Him alone, and only that will fit. It will be enough. “Enough” covers the whole picture, past present, and future. All the fullness of life, meaning, and destiny are wrapped up in Him. So is He enough, the God who causes the sun to rise and set, the God who calms the storm, the God who gives us breath? He is enough! He is more than enough. Not only is He the completion, he also never runs out! We can never tire of filling up on Him.

So whatever trial, suffering, or hardship that you may be walking in, God is more than enough to carry you through it. He will supply all your needs. He doesn’t lie. Look not to things that are seen, but look to the things that are unseen. He is preparing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Going back to “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We were created to worship and enjoy God forever. He is eternally rich, rich in love, rich in power, rich in wisdom, rich in grace, rich in goodness, rich in patience, rich in joy, rich in peace, rich in kindness, rich in mercy, rich in faithfulness. God is rich in righteousness and holiness. Nothing can compare, How do we have access to this? Through Jesus.. Jesus is our mana. He is enough. He will sustain us. We need to keep our eyes looking to Him.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

The Choice

A person is guilty, locked up in a prison cell on death row, no hope. The judge out of His mercy and grace unlocks the prison cell. This cell door is wide open, “You are free.” Now the man has a choice, he can decide to stay inside the cell; he might have gotten used to the cell, or he can walk out of the prison cell and accept this gift of exoneration. If he chooses to stay in the cell, that is of his own doing. If he walks out, it is of his own doing.  If he chooses to walk out, wouldn’t he give all the praise and thanks to the judge that set him free? He didn’t save himself. There was no hope for him if the Judge had not unlocked that door and opened it. The act of him walking outside the prison cell by no means gives himself glory, after all he is still guilty, the Judge has only declared him free by His grace and mercy. He is the only one with the power to do that. 

Now, there are many men/women locked up in that prison…the Judge walks down the hallway…does he choose which doors to unlock and open or does he unlock and open them all? Does he decide only a certain few get the mercy and how would he determine who gets the mercy? If this would be true it would be easy to suspect some are more special than the other, and the prisoner who was chosen might say, “he chose me and not you, I’m pretty special.” It would be easy to boast in this. But, if God opened all the prison door cells, extended the mercy to one and all; isn’t it  a gift to all regardless of anyone’s deeds circumstances, and status, etc. Would we not have any reason to boast but in the Judge that has set us free!

The question is what will  we do; take the gift through the mercy and grace that his been given, or pull the prison cell door shut and stay inside? There is a choice and each one is without excuse. Will you choose freedom or bondage? Will you choose life or death?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Kings and Kingdoms Will All Pass Away

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We are all waking up daily confronted with the crisis of our current global state, and if that weren’t enough, we have relatives fighting cancer and other illness and trials. It’s a rough state we are all in, people are losing their jobs and the stable life they knew. In short, people are walking around in fear and worry.

We get used to the idea that we’ve got it ALL under control. I work hard to make a living. I try to plan appropriately. I exercise and eat well, so I can remain healthy, Yesterday morning I walked a whopping 7 miles. One of the reasons I walk is to keep my back in shape because I have a herniated disc, that tends to go out now and again and produces excruciating pain. I was feeling confident after my 7 mile trek and then a few hours later at the grocery store, I picked up a heavy case of water the wrong way and was thrown to my knees in pain. Here I am debilitated again. For the last 24 hours I have been in complete surrender. I can do very little without help.

I am reminded of our frailty. Our health will eventually fail us. The bank account is not a sure thing. We can see how the world has been turned on its head in a blink of an eye. Yes, kings and kingdoms indeed will all pass away, but there is one King who reigns eternal, this Kingdom will not pass away. Jesus is my King. He is the only One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not fail us. I believe that all that we are going through is a wake up call to our idols and dependency on the kingdoms of this world. The apostle Paul said “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” CS Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

I confess my aim gets off, and when I wander off, God in His loving grace and mercy takes his staff and gently, but firmly pulls me back into the fold.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a sober and frank bit of wisdom, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” ” Nothing is new under the sun.” I am so glad the story doesn’t end there. At the end of the book, the wise Solomon points us to where the meaning is, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth.”

A poem by CT Studd says it very clearly and put it into perspective:

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”

I want my life to point to Jesus. The only Kingdom that stands is the Kingdom of God, and as a believer, I am part of that kingdom. My hope is built on Jesus! What are you putting your faith and trust in? If our trust is in Him, we have nothing to fear.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

Put your trust in Him!

The Cactus

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This desert living plant is a symbol of endurance and perseverance amid all circumstances. The cactus is not moved by any extreme and it even blooms despite the harsh elements.

Since the fall of man, sin and suffering entered in, causing this desert we live. The elements we are exposed to are harsh and painful. A desert lacks sufficient water and has extreme pressures of heat, many living things can’t endure under these extremes

We cry out to our creator, “How do we endure this?”

He says, “This was not the original design. You weren’t made for the desert, but fear not, because I have a master plan of rescue so that you can endure through it all. At the cross I set it right. The debt was paid. I took your debt upon myself so that you would lack nothing. You no longer have to try to endure on your own power. I conquered sin and death and you have my power to sustain you.
They meant it for evil, but I meant it all for good.

The cactus stores up water. The water you need, is found in the Living Water. This Living Water will never leave you thirsty.” You have a well that will never go empty no matter how dry or neglected the circumstances may become.

You will persevere. Just like the cacti, you will bloom in due time. Nothing will prevent this. I will protect you because you know my name and have tasted this Living Water.”

When you look at this cactus, may it be a reminder of the strength that you have through Jesus who endured and conquered the dry and painful desert. You are not alone. He is helping you. He is preserving you. He is upholding you.

For we do not have a high priest who is not unable to empathize with our weaknesses. Hebrews 4:15

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

In due time you will reap a harvest. Galatians 6:9

God is with you!

Childlike Faith

I have this sweet, 6 year old student. She has been taking piano from me for only a few months. We were about to start our lesson; she was getting her books out of her bag, and then she just came right out and said, “Do you believe in Jesus?” My heart just melted! I said, “I sure do.” She smiled great big! She then said sadly, “Do you know, only a couple of people in my class believe in Jesus?”

I have since thought about that short exchange.

Here is this little girl, with simple faith. She certainly believed and she wanted others to as well; that gave her joy. She displayed loving the Lord and loving others very simply. She had no hidden agendas, ulterior motives, or puffed up ego, just simple faith.

I realized, we DO need to grow and learn, but It doesn’t matter if we are 6 or 60, our need for God never changes and that simple faith that we had as a child or even a new believer, need not be traded in. Every day, it would do us good to return to our child like faith and say as one preacher said, “give me Jesus! You can have all the rest, but give me Jesus!”

Jesus had this to say about children,

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

There is a difference between childish and childlike. When I think of childish behavior, I think of letting emotions rule and acting out on them impulsively without restraint.

We should not remain childish, but remaining childlike is a whole other matter.

My observation of childlike behavior includes:

• Simplicity

• No cynicism

• No hidden agendas

• No hidden motives

• Vulnerability

• Trusting

• Simple joy

• Being present

My grandmother had this childlike faith. It was remarkable, and so winsome. She was no theologian, nor did she care to be, but she knew her Bible and she loved Jesus and she loved others. Isn’t this what is required of us?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God

Micah 6:8

My grandmother said at the end of her life, “Be happy with yourself.” Was this one of the keys to her child like faith?

When we are negative, comparing ourselves, being unforgiving, abusing ourselves, being hypocritical, complaining, criticizing and worrying we are killing our joy.

When we make a habit of engaging in joy killers, it’s safe to say we aren’t too happy with ourselves, and if we aren’t happy with ourselves, how are we going to love the way Jesus commanded us to love?

This is a reminder to me, more than anyone, to simply and faithfully come to the feet of Jesus. It all starts with Him! The Lord is my Shepherd. Help me to be content. Help me to love You more, Lord, and love others. I can’t do any of this without the help of the Holy Spirit. We have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us along the way, moment by moment in every stage of our lives.

If you haven’t known this simple faith, the invitation is yours. Come! Jesus will take it from there.

What Are You Living For?

We watched the new movie Tōgō about a musher, Leonhard Seppala and his 12 year old sled dog and team, who go through extreme odds to get an antitoxin serum for an outbreak of Diphtheria in Nome Alaska. It is a well known story, that has been given its own name, “The Great Race of Mercy.”

There were several times I was moved to tears in this movie. After we watched the movie, I laid in bed thinking about the loyalty of that dog, the endurance, sheer spirit and enthusiasm. Towards the end of the movie Seppala said, “I always thought he lived for the sled. What he lived for was me.”

Before I turned out the light to go to sleep, I read a couple of devotionals, one talked about perseverance and although trying times may come in life, you can still emerge from them triumphant. God promises to never leave us. His authority and power are leading and sustaining us through all the storms in this life. In another devotional, at the end it asked, “do you intend to obey God, to obey His Word? Do you really want to do His will? Or have you already decided to follow your own way despite what God’s Spirit will say?” The challenge in this devotion was, are you willing to lay down your own ambitions, elevating His will, not your own?

I prayed, Lord, I want this and yet I fail miserably. I want spirit and enthusiasm for you Lord. I cried to the Lord about the longings of my heart and the trials. I then fell asleep.

The next morning I opened my eyes and I thought about Tōgō and the scenes in the movie of him just wanting to be with his master, he had no fear. He was willing to face the treacherous storm and all the obstacles because he loved his master and wanted to be with him. He trusted him above all else. Nothing else mattered. Upon waking with these scenes in my mind and tears in my eyes, my Lord whispered comfort in my ear and showed me a picture of Himself through that story. He showed me, I am living for Him. He is leading this race and it is a race of mercy. He won’t let us fail. In our weakness he will strengthen us, all we need to do is run to Him, live for Him, obey Him, because we love Him and this is what we are made for. He gave us dominion over this earth, we have been crowned with honor in His name.

My heart broke and my eyes filled with tears as this picture of my Heavenly Father and me became so vivid and clear!

What is the greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

The more we submit and grow in our love for Him, the more we understand who we are and our purpose in this life.

Below is a picture from 1925 of Tōgō and Leonhard Seppala.

I want to be in the loving arms of my Father at all times. There, is love, there, is safety, there, is where I’m meant to be.