Thorns and Strength

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us he had visions and revelations from the Lord. He doesn’t say what the visions and revelations were only that they were so astounding they cannot be expressed in words and no human is allowed to tell.(1-4) Then he tells us he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming proud. (7b) He begged the Lord to take it away but the Lord said,”My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul then tells us he is glad to boast of his weakness so the power of Christ can work through him.(8-9)) Paul learned when he was weak, then he was strong.(10b)

I am nothing like Paul. I have never been given visions or revelations, there is nothing about the Lord I am not allowed to talk about, but I have a thorn in the flesh that keeps me thorny-dragon-387217_640from becoming proud.  It’s not a disease, it won’t kill me. It is just a physical anomaly that can be painful but usually just bothersome and sometimes embarrassing. No one can tell anything is different about me by looking at me but there are times it is obvious I feel unwell. And unlike Paul, I continually ask to have this “thorn” taken from me, not just three times but over and over. I know I am weak and during a bad spell, I don’t feel the power of Christ resting on me. Oh, how I want to be like Paul!

There are times that I stand strong and weather the storm but there are as many times I am weak and I just go home, lock the door, and feel sorry for myself. I am blessed to know Jesus and He doesn’t leave me alone in my self-pity. He reminds me;

A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Prov 17:22 nas

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
Ps 103:2-3

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isa 26:3

I don’t write this for sympathy or to make myself sound like I am so good and holy.  I write it to encourage you.  I think we all have a thorn of some sort. It may be physical, mental, emotional; caused by disease, an accident, trauma, circumstances, financial or family problems, whatever is chronic or continuous. My hope is that you will know that you are not alone. There are many who are hurting and none need be alone. Call on Jesus, He is never too busy to take your call, there is never a busy signal, you will never be put on hold, and never disconnected. Talk to Jesus and all will be well with your soul.

Blessings this day of grace,
patricia

All scripture unless otherwise noted
from New Living Translation
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When You Hear His Voice

There are times when I don’t know where I am going or what I am doing. Times when I feel I don’t have a thing to offer. Times when I feel like I cannot take another step. This can happen when I am not taking care of my body; not eating right, not getting any exercise, not enough sleep or too much sleep. I know what to do to change these things and with some discipline get things back to where they need to be. It’s not easy but I can do it all by myself.

However, there is another reason for my loss of focus and my weariness. When I make “me” the center of my world. When “me” becomes the only one I listen to. When “me” is most important and nudges Jesus to second place “me” gets lost in simple everyday life. I know what I need to do to get back on track and with discipline, I can do it. It’s not easy and I cannot to it all by myself.  I need direction, refreshment, and restoration. I don’t need to go far to find it.

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The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
Isa 58:11

When I rely only on myself there is confusion and disquiet within me, when this happens on the inside anger and melancholy show on the outside. Not pretty and definitely not reflecting the image of Jesus to others.

I need to be reminded who is in control.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Ro 8:6b

I need to be reminded of the promise that Jesus does speak to us.
That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice,
Heb 3:7a
All we have to do is listen.

Blessings this day of grace,
patricia

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Learning To Pray

When I first started talking to Jesus I didn’t know Him and like it is with any new acquaintance I was careful what I talked about and how I talked. I wasn’t sure what we should talk about, what was acceptable and what was off limits. After all, I didn’t want to shock Him or anger Him or for Him to think I was stupid or silly. I wanted Him to like me. Just shows you how little I knew about Jesus, doesn’t it?

At first, I was shy and timid trying to say and do the right thing and not to offend this new person in my life. How was I to pray? Should I kneel or sit? Should I talk out loud, whisper or be silent? How was He to be addressed, how to begin the prayer and how to end it?  Howbaby-1606572_640 long should I pray and was there some order or formula? What if I couldn’t think of anything to say or what if I talked too much? All these questions I worried over thinking I had to pray in a certain prescribed way.  I didn’t know that Jesus wanted to hear my prayers, (Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Phil 4:6) that He wanted me to sit with Him, that there were no special rules or conditions to follow. All I had to do was…be with Him.

Ever so slowly I grew to be comfortable with Jesus.  He is my Lord and Savior and He is my friend and wants to talk with me. (Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Ja 4:8). I can talk to Him about anything and everything, important and trivial, good and bad, happy and sad, in anger and with laughter. My words don’t have to be eloquent or beautiful or grammatically correct. Sometimes there are no words at all. Doesn’t matter the time or place I simply have to call out, whisper or think, Jesus, and I know without a doubt that He is listening. Not only does He listen, if I am quiet He usually has something to add to the conversation.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I remember my first steps of faith and I remember all the times I faltered and stumbled. Because I still have times of uncertainty and questions, times when I am afraid, times when I fall. Sin is always a part of my life. Perfection is a work in progress and as with all work, there are good days and days I should have stayed in bed. I am telling you this because I want you to know that Jesus isn’t around just on the days when everything is good and only for those who never weaken. Jesus never leaves those He knows and loves. (God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”Heb 13:5b) No matter who you are, where you are or where you’ve been, what you are doing or what you have or haven’t done, Jesus is with you and wants to talk with you.

There are no long distance or roaming charges and you won’t get cut off or disconnected. Just say, “Hello Jesus.”

Blessings this day of grace,
patricia

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First Prayers

I knew from the time I was a little girl that there is a God and I knew about Jesus. The way I thought about them then was that God was the boss and Jesus was the nice guy I could talk to. Yes, I could talk to Jesus but He didn’t talk to me. He just took care of things without giving me the details and that was fine with me.

As a teenager, I pretty much ignored them both.  Oh,  occasionally there was the rushed prayer request that I doubted would be answered the way I wanted and that made me angry. My prayers were all about me and I felt like I was just talking to myself.

Life went on and I knew something was missing. One morning while sitting in my living room depressed and lonely I prayed. A real prayer. It was sort of “Hey, God, it’s me and I am miserable and I don’t know what to do. All I do know is that what I am doing isn’t working so I am going to try your way, but I don’t what that way is or what to do. So, please help me.” There was no bolt of lightening or angel’s singing or a voice like in the movies with music in the background. The day just went on like any other day.

The thing is that was probably the first real prayer I ever uttered. It felt different…I felt different. I wasn’t instantaneously changed I was still sinking in my sin, but it seemed likedoor-1590024_640 maybe I wasn’t going to drown. Maybe I was going to get out of the muck and start walking. Walk where I didn’t know but it felt good to have some solid ground under my feet. I also didn’t know how long the walk would be or how rocky and sometimes slippery the path would be which is a good thing. My spiritual muscles were weak!

That morning in my living room was the beginning of my talking with Jesus and I haven’t stopped for forty years. We have a good and gracious God who hears the prayers of all who are afraid, lonely and lost. He not only hears, He talks in whatever language or vernacular needed to communicate with the one praying.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Ro 8:26

What was the first “real” prayer you remember praying?

Blessings this day of grace,
patricia

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Wait Quietly

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. (Ps 62:1-2)

How I want to say this is true of me! I know my victory comes from Him but I struggle with waiting. Outwardly I am quiet, I am a quiet person, but inwardly I scream and yell and rage. I know He is my rock and salvation and fortress, but I am not strong, I tremble and shake.

Lately, when I talk to Jesus and I tell Him of my weakness and my fears He tells me to be quiet and wait. But for how long? I have been waiting a long time for victory in this peace-of-mind-349815_640struggle. Why is the end of this not in sight? Why do the attacks continue? I am not given an answer to those questions. However, He does remind me that He will give me rest, to put on His yoke and to let Him teach me and I will find rest for my soul. (Matt 11:28-29).

If you are struggling with something that seems endless listen to what Jesus says. Be encouraged. He has promised to never leave or abandon us (Jos 1:5) Sometimes it seems that we are left alone in the wilderness of our sufferings but that is a lie that satan wants us to believe. The Spirit dwells within us and will guide us to the fortress of the Lord.

This is my prayer:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. Ps 62:5-6)

Blessings this day of grace,
patricia