Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

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Your Life, God’s Way

God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies Hudson Taylor

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Years ago, my church – Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida – rented a billboard near a busy highway. We were looking to attract people to what God was doing in our world. The ad featured an image of me (which made sense because the invitation was coming from the church, and well, I’m the pastor) with these words emblazoned across the ad:

Your Life, God’s Way

Despite the blinding vibrancy of my lime green golf shirt, we got a great response to that billboard. Lots of people visited Celebration for the first time and made it their home. Why? I seriously doubt it was due to my friendly-yet-penetrating gaze as drivers made their daily commute to work each day. No.

What drew people in was that the ad offered a different approach to the one thing everyone is concerned about and probably mulling over on their way to work: my life. Imagine the thoughts of those drivers. It’s not hard because we’ve all had them at one time or another, maybe at this very moment:

  • My life is a mess.
  • My life is going great.
  • My life doesn’t matter.
  • My life is about to change.
  • My life is falling apart.
  • My life has no purpose.
  • My life is too busy.
  • My life is depressing.
  • My life is over-the-top amazing.

The billboard reached all these people behind the wheel – all with different plans, experiences, hopes, disappointments, and so on – and offered them one more lens through which to view their life: God’s way.

Adding these two words has a way of changing our perspective. It forces us to pause and consider that there may be a completely different way of doing life than we are currently doing it, one we may never have considered. I’m sure more than one person drove by that billboard and thought, “God’s way,” huh? What does that look like? It’s gotta be better than the way I’m doing it.

When I first started thinking about my life in terms of God’s way, three life-altering, game-changing realizations came to mind. And speaking now as a pastor, let me add that these apply to anyone.

God has a “way” for our lives. Most people think God is not at all interested in the details of our lives. But he is.

He doesn’t sit in heaven simply watching our lives from the nosebleeds. God wants to be fully involved in your life, and He has a game plan, a path, a way for your life that is designed specifically for you (Psalm 37:23). As you make Him the first priority in your life, you’ll witness firsthand just how much God wants to be present and active in your life. You will experience His presence on a whole new level.

We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone. Life is challenging, and the cares of life are heavy, but God doesn’t want you to carry the burden alone. Jesus invites you to keep step with Him while He does the heavy lifting (Matthew 11:28). When you put God first, you begin to live in response to Him as He shapes your life. Rather than striving to manipulate and control every outcome under your own strength, you will find that God is standing close, ready to help lighten the load.

God’s way is better than ours.

The Bible says that God’s way is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, right, and enlightening (Psalm 19:7-8). I don’t know about you, but my way usually isn’t any of those things. Amazingly, God’s way is not only all those things, but it also meets us wherever we are.

When you feel like your life…

  • is a mess, God works all things out for your good (Romans 8:28).
  • is going great, God has greater things in store for you (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • doesn’t matter, God ascribes incredible value to you (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • is about to change, he will be with you every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5).
  • is falling apart, God is your strength and deliverer (Psalm 18:1-2).
  • has no purpose, God’s purpose for you will prevail (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • is too busy, God’s peace guards your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
  • is depressing, he is the giver of joy (Romans 15:13).
  • is over-the-top amazing, there is a place to direct your gratitude (James 5:13).

God’s way for your life is the best possible way you can live. This is the God-first life. It’s the life God intends you to live.

Today’s article was written by Stovall Weems and is shared from the following website: https://www.faithgateway.com/your-life-gods-way/#.W3Q_gy-ZNmA

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The Greatest Gift is Love

Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more Tony RobbinsA woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them.

She said, “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.”

“Is the man of the house home?”, they asked.

“No”, she said. “He’s out.”

“Then we cannot come in”, they replied. In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.

“Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a House together,” they replied.

“Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home.”

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!”, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!”

His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success?”

Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!”

“Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice,” said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest.”

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?”

The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!”

Author Unknown

Today’s story was shared from the following website: https://academictips.org/blogs/the-greatest-gift-is-love/

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Use Your Gifts and Talents!

Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge. Matthew ArnoldDo you recognize that you have gifts? Do you feel in your heart that there are special things you should be doing with those gifts? If so, I hope you will not ignore those feelings in your heart.

If you honestly don’t feel that you have any gifts and/or talents, I hope that you will go to the Lord and ask Him to reveal them to you.

One of the most memorable parts of my near-death experience was seeing how all of us who would be born to this earth had been blessed with a multitude of gifts and talents.

Although we were not given the same talents and gifts and some were given more than others, the most important aspect of those gifts, that I witnessed, was that we honor and use them.

For me, it makes the parable of the talents that is shared in the New Testament even more meaningful. What I saw in heaven supports what is taught in that parable. It doesn’t matter what talents we receive. It matters that we use them and when we do, not only will those talents increase, we will also be provided with additional talents.

It is my witness that the Lord loves us and wants us to use what He has given us. We have all been given talents and gifts that are meant to be developed and used here in mortality.

With the Lord, our gifts do not have to be complicated. They can be as simple as having the gift of listening or as far-reaching as the gift of of inspiring millions. The important thing about gifts is that they are meant to be shared.

If you haven’t already, I hope you will commit to share your gifts with the world!

In that light, I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

Two Intelligent Boys

Once upon a time there were two incredibly intelligent and capable boys. Their wonderful talents were obvious from an early age, and they easily outdid everyone around. They had always known they were special, and they harbored inside them a desire that, in the future, everyone would come to admit how exceptional they were.

Each of them developed in a different way. The first used all his talent and intelligence to have a successful career and show everyone his superiority. He took part in all kinds of competitions, visited all the most important people and places, and was great at making friends in high places. Even when still very young, no one doubted that some day he would be the wisest and most important person in the land.
The second boy, equally aware of his own capabilities, never stopped feeling a heavy responsibility. He would do almost any task better than those around him, and he would feel obliged to help them. This didn’t leave him enough time to follow his own dreams of greatness. He was always busy looking for ways to more effectively help others. As a result, he was a much-loved and well-known person, but only in his own small circle.

Destiny was such that a great disaster struck that land, spreading problems and misery far and wide. The first of those brilliant young men had never come across anything like this, but his brilliant ideas worked successfully throughout the land, and they managed to slightly improve the situation. But the second young man was so used to solving all kinds of problems, and had such useful know-how in certain subjects, that the disaster hardly affected the people in his region at all. His admirable methods were then adopted across the land, and the fame of this good and wise man spread even more than had that of the first young man. Indeed, he was soon elected governor of the whole nation.

The first young man then understood that the greatest fame and wisdom is that which is born from the very things we do in life, from the impact they have on others, and from the need to improve ourselves every day. He never again took part in competitions or vain shows, and from then on, whenever he traveled, he took his books along with him, so he would be ready always to offer a helping hand to all.

Story Written by Pedro Pablo Sacristan

Story shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/two-intelligent-boys

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How to Get Closer to God & to Know God Personally

We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness Francis Chan

Are you looking for deep spiritual meaning in your life and to learn how to get closer to God?

The good news is that God loves you (yes, you!) and He wants to get to know you too! He wants to show you how to have a peaceful, joyful life… right where you’re at.

Growing closer to God can include a Bible study for women (I’ll show you my simple Bible study method), but at its core, learning how to be closer to God starts with an open heart ready to welcome in God’s loving spirit.

Let’s learn about how to become closer to God, including the #1 spiritual growth skill that will help you better understand the Bible and apply God’s truth to your life.

DO YOU KNOW GOD PERSONALLY?

Do you know God? I don’t mean do you know “of” God. I mean, do you have an authentic personal relationship with the One who created you?

I’m not asking if you go to church every week or if you grew up in a home where God was talked about frequently. Honestly, that doesn’t guarantee that you actually know God at all.

I’m talking about “knowing God” in the sense of a friendship. A relationship founded on grace (not a religion based on rules and regulations).

I’m asking if you’ve had an opportunity to be forgiven for the bad things you’ve done (and yes, according to Romans 3:23, we’ve all done bad things) and made new through the power of Christ’s forgiveness on the cross.

I’m asking if you’ve experienced (even a taste) of God’s great love for you (Ephesians 3:19) and chosen to surrender your life to His plans and His ways.

Perhaps it seems strange to ask you this (since we’ve probably never met in person and choosing to enter into a relationship with God is a very personal decision) but…

Would you like to have a relationship with God?

Would you like to know how to discover that vibrant, full life that only He can show you (John 10:10) when you choose to surrender your heart to Him?

Let me show you how to start that relationship right now.

HOW TO KNOW GOD PERSONALLY

  1. Understand that God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16, John 10:10).
  2. Know that all of us sin and that our sin has separated us from God (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23).
  3. Understand that Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin (Romans 5:8, John 14:6).
  4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as our savior so that we can experience God’s love and know His plans for us (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Revelation 3:20).

If you believe these truths about God and would like to have a life that is led by Christ (instead of your own plans), you can start that personal relationship with God right now!

Simply pray something like this:

“God, I recognize that I’m not perfect. I know I’ve made mistakes, and I’d like to ask your forgiveness for them. I realize now that your death on the cross is the only way that I can be made right with God and to atone for the wrongs I’ve done.

I want my life to be led by you. I want to learn more about you and to discover your good plans for my life.

I want you to show me how to have that abundant, full life that I’m craving. Please come into my life and take control. Please shape me into the person that you want me to be.”

If these words are the desire of your heart and your prayed something similar to this, then you can be assured that you are now in a personal relationship with Christ!

Today’s post is shared from the following website: https://yourvibrantfamily.com/get-closer-to-god/. I love this article and believe in what it shares. However, a portion of the post has been excluded. That portion infers that only faith is needed and not works. I have omitted it because my near-death experience clearly taught and showed me that our works are a vital part of our relationship with God and to success in our lives – from an eternal perspective. I love sharing the inspirational words that others share but I also feel a responsibility to make sure what I share is complete truth!

Have a great day!

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