trusting God

YOUR MOURNING WILL TURN INTO JOY!

(November 18, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj encourages troubled hearts…

During times of adversity, when we ask friends or doctors for counsel, they may console us by saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right.’  Comforting words… but we can receive even greater comfort from God!

But, when we experience times of sorrow, pain and affliction, and our problems multiply, we can lose hope.

  • We shouldn’t… but it can happen.
  • If we’re not clear about God’s leading in our lives, we can worry much.
  • Contemplating some sorrowful event, we could wrongly think, ‘Has this happened without God’s knowledge?’ 

We must remember that nothing happens in our lives without God knowing! If we trust Him, our present sorrow will surely be turned into joy!

So don’t be afraid!
Jesus spoke about sorrow and weeping in John 16, adding in verse 20, ‘… your sorrow will be turned into joy.’ He also promised in Matthew 5:4, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’

We might think that blessed people are those who enjoy all sorts of material comforts. But the Lord says that even those who mourn are blessed! He who knows everything, knows that He can turn our mourning into joy!

Sorrows may arise due to unemployment, sickness, lack of money, problems at work or in the family, worries about the future, and so on. Whatever our sorrow, the Lord says that all of us who pass through such difficult times are blessed and that we shall be comforted, difficult situations being turn into joyful ones.

Although promised this a long time ago, this is still relevant today! Henceforth be happy and rejoice. ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ declares 1 Peter 5:6.

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NEHEMIAH – GOD’S CALL TO BUILD THE WALL (Part 7)

(September 24, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh, sharing more insights on Nehemiah’s commission from God, now reminds us of A Leader’s Response to Opposition’ (Part 1).

Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. He had the king’s permission and visas to pass through all the territories on the way. He even had a letter from the king that gave him permission to order a supply of the best lumber for the rebuilding – (all paid in full!).

On his way to Jerusalem, two men tried to stop Nehemiah.

Resistance
In Nehemiah 2:9-10NKJV we read, ‘Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.’ 

Verse eleven says that Nehemiah made it to Jerusalem despite the resistance of Sanballat and Tobiah and he stayed three days.

Interestingly, he didn’t tell anyone in Jerusalem why he was there. Imagine being this important in the kingdom and embarking on this amazing prophetic journey and yet not letting everyone know the importance of your mission when you arrive!

Nehemiah was definitely working for heaven, not seeking permission from people. His responses to opposition?

Response 1 – Trusting God
Verse 12NASB tells that ‘… I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding.’

  • Nehemiah didn’t blow a trumpet he wielded a flashlight.
  • He only took a few trusted men with him – and scouted out the land.
  • He went out at night without fanfare – but with the presence of God.

We might wonder why he so casually points out that there was no other animals along with them. Think about it. Sanballat and Tobiah, his opposers, couldn’t have been that far away. Nehemiah was keeping things as quiet as possible that night, avoiding any unwanted noise, until he had seen for himself the damage of the Jerusalem walls, what he was up against.

Well, that’s like you or I writing, ‘I went out to check out an old, abandoned building in the ghettoes of Los Angeles in the middle of the night, but I didn’t bring the police, my wallet, or my cell phone! I don’t have an escape route planned, I just need to get out there and see what God says to me.’ 

Nehemiah was determined not only to be unobserved, but that he would do some observing! And, in seeing what lay ahead of him… hear from heaven regarding his challenge and commission!

‘The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work’ (Nehemiah 2:16).

Response 2 – Choosing the right moment!
We don’t know if Nehemiah reported his mission to the men who were with him that very night or if he waited until morning. But while inspecting the walls that night, he knew what they didn’t know – the king had given him permission to rebuild.

Imagine holding that secret! But there are times we must hold such a secret until the moment that God releases us to explain our purpose and bid others to join us. Finally, that moment came.

Nehemiah records: ‘Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work’ (Nehemiah 2:17-18NASB).

Response 3 Refusing to cower
And so Nehemiah dives in! He and his friends are making mortar, finding new stones and recovering old ones, some of them burned and not usable. Even then, his enemies immediately reproach him!

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem’ (Nehemiah 2:19-20).

When faced with opposition, Nehemiah did not cower. He did not explain that he carried visas, he had the king’s lumber, and he definitely had the king’s favour.

Response 4 – Knowing your authority
In fact, Nehemiah didn’t even mention King Artaxerxes! The first statement he made was that he was there under the authority of God Himself! Boldly he declared, ‘The God of heaven Himself will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build.’

Can you sense the confident tone of his voice here? You too can be confident in building your ‘Jerusalem wall’ if you really know that God Himself is your covering, your source, your authority!

My friend, whatever God has called you to do, go fearlessly and do it under the authority of God. You may have permission from a committee or from a king, and you will have opposition – but ultimately your authority comes from heaven. Hallelujah!

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Hope Flinchbaugh, editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, has written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books. Hope’s love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here.  

I Come to the Garden Alone… Jesus is waiting – come and talk to Him, is Hope’s inspiring daily devotions booklet. Hope’s Amazon Author Page. Link: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
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LEVELLING MOUNTAINS – NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER BUT BY MY SPIRIT! (Part 2)

(September 4, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, concludes his timely challenge on overcoming ‘mountains’ of various kinds…

Last month I shared reflections on Zerubbabel, how God helped this faithful prophet fulfill the challenge He’d been given him. I had mentioned two aspects regarding our accepting of God’s challenges to us, in brief –

1. Inflexible commitment to God’s will… God requires followers like Zerubbabel who are truly committed to Him, Christians whose integrity and commitment will be unshakable, no matter what ‘mountains’ we might encounter!

2. Intimidating pressure of discouragement… God also requires such dedicatedfollowers to bravely face and overcome pressure that comes when we commit to accepting His assignments. Such as the mountains of discouragement that not only come from Satan and outside the church, but sadly from within!

I now reflect on two other aspects, highlighting thatour all-powerful God who has all things already planned goes before us (Isaiah 45:2)!

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PRAYING TO AND TRUSTING GOD BRINGS BLESSINGS

(August 29, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages caring for others, Christain or not…

Dear Dr Robert

This isn’t a question but a thanks to God! I’ve learned that my article – Lost at Sea has blessed readers, including a pastor friend who had a similar experience and has emailed the following: ‘I really related to and enjoyed reading your article realising you had a good outcome like I did back in the early 90’s. God certainly has watched over our lives and we still get to experience His goodness every day.’

So, I thought I’d let you know… and also add the following that I didn’t know about at the time— On the same night (A hundred kms down the coast) sadly another man was not as fortunate as I was and didn’t return to his family but got lost and caught in the severe storm that came through at 1am. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-27/missing-search-fisherman-ian-gray-suspended-wa-police/101275878. You only realise the true danger when actually faced with it. I am so blessed to be alive. This unfortunate man’s family needs our prayers. Andrew.

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LEVELLING MOUNTAINS – NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER BUT BY MY SPIRIT! (Part 1)

(August 28, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares encouragement…

Facing mountains in these dark times?

I’ve been reflecting on a character in the Bible who faced a big mountain and discovered God had gone before him in an amazing way. His name was Zerubbabel – not the easiest name to say, nor would it be likely that you would give your new born child that name.

Most Christians know little about this man, but I find him to be inspirational and also encouraging as we cope with the ‘highs and lows’ in living in these days.

Contemporary scene
We are living in disturbing times. In my lifetime I have never known such worldwide hostility, political instability, social confusion and moral corruption. And according to medical researchers the global rates of anxiety and depression are soaring. News articles and television reports can often be quite troubling as they confront us with a stream of disturbing incidents.

Of course ours is not the only generation that has been confronted by tragedy and emotional stress. Historical records reveal many periods when war, oppression and disease have had a crushing effect on people.

God does not provide a protective wall around His people to prevent their experiencing the pain and struggles of life, but His presence in our lives gives us hope.

In the Bible, living in hope doesn’t mean that we whistle in the dark to keep our spirits up. No, biblical hope means looking to the future with assurance because we know that, regardless of conditions and circumstances, when it seems that everything is spiralling out of control, God has never lost His control! Jeremiah succinctly declared, Our hope is in you’(Jeremiah 14:22).

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‘LOST AT SEA’

(August 27, 2022) Andrew Kennedy shares a harrowing tale and testimony of God’s caring…

A few months ago Maree and I set out from Victoria for our first big holiday, on what we called ‘Half a Mega Trip.’ Half a mega trip! What’s a half mega? I thought at the time.

Well, mega means huge and colossal so half a huge and colossal must just big, I reasoned. Well it certainly was big! For quite a few weeks we were to travel thousands of kilometres across Western Australia and back, visiting well-known towns as well many off-the-beaten-track picturesque places.

We really enjoyed ourselves and saw lots of beautiful scenic spots. Maree took lots of photos, regularly posting quite a few to friends on FaceBook.

Gregory disaster
We were at Gregory, a small town and fishing port located 7 km northwest of the mouth of the Hutt River, in WA’s Mid-West region when it happened. Quite a small port, Gregory only has a population of around 65 people and some 80 dwellings, most of which are holiday houses.

We had decided Maree should fly back for a much-looked-forward-to couple of weeks with family back home and meantime I was to hold the fort as it were.

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YOUR DECISION DETERMINES YOUR DESTINY!

(August 04, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj challenges Christians to determine their destiny…

Everyone has a unique calling from God; He leads each of us in different ways. Our callings may be different – but the decisions we make determine our destination.

Take Elijah and Elisha for example… and Gehazi, Elisha’s helper.

1. Elijah
God called Elijah to serve as His prophet, and to challenge an evil king (1 Kings 17:1). His decision not to hold back determined his destination.

God’s choice is not necessarily based on one’s educational qualifications, financial standing or family background. Elijah’s qualification was that he was always ready to listen to God’s voice and do what He said.

Now Ahab, Israel’s king, was eviler than any king before him. He had God’s people worshipping Baal, a pagan god (I Kings 16:30-32)!

But God dealt with him through Elijah who was –

(i) Dutiful
Someone whose faith on God was very great, Elijah didn’t fear the consequences of presenting the Lord’s word to this evil king.

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YOUR MOURNING WILL TURN INTO JOY!

(July 21, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj shares hope to troubled Christians, indeed everyone…

During times of adversity, when we approach our friends or doctors to get counsel, they may comfort us by saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right.’

Many children of God live in sorrow, pain and affliction. When our problems multiply, we lose hope. When we are not very clear about the leading of God in our lives, we worry much. For instance, people worldwide  have suffered a lot due to the impact of Covid-19… but any sorrow, trouble, punishment of sickness is painful.

Never lose hope!
Contemplating any sorrowful events that have happened to us, we might think, ‘Has this happened without the ‘Lord’s knowledge? Hasn’t He taken note of my problems?’  We must remember that nothing happens in our lives without the Lord’s knowledge!

 As we go through painful experiences trusting God, He turns our sorrows and troubles into joy! So, your present sorrow will surely be turned into joy (John 16:20)! Do not be afraid!

We also find in Matthew 5:4, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ We think that blessed people are those who enjoy all sorts of material comforts in this world. But Jesus says that those who mourn are blessed! Why? He also knows that mourning will be turned into joy!

Jesus promised comfort
It is very difficult for the people to agree with this, even some sad Christians. A silent and depressed state of mind can bind those who are in deep sorrow.

Read more: YOUR MOURNING WILL TURN INTO JOY!

Sorrows may arise due to unemployment, sickness, lack of money, work difficulties, family problems, worries about the future, and so on. Whatever our sorrow, the Lord says that all of us who pass through such difficult times are blessed and will be comforted. Those difficult situations would turn into joyful ones.

And although Jesus promised this long time ago, it is still relevant today. Therefore be happy and rejoiceful. Peter wrote, ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6). ‘Exalt’ is hupsoō… to lift you up.

It is not that God sends sorrows… such happen in life! And if such sorrows come our way, we look to the Lord to encourage us. We can hear His voice and sense His touch.

When we are in deep trouble, we often try  to wriggle out of by our own effort. But, instead of depending on our own strength, if we lean on God, we can surely feel his touch.

King David’s experience
With a grateful heart, David said firmly in Psalm 30:11 that our mourning would be turned in to joy!

When David encountered problems, many of them huge, and be surrounded by evils, he would go into the Lord’s presence and plead before Him (1 Samuel 30:6 is a good example). And God delivered him from all problems, blessed and comforted him  and turned all his sorrows into joy!

Are your problems overwhelming you? Don’t only look for ways outside of God to come out of your problems. You could be led into greater dangers, troubles and failures! Seek the Holy Spirit’s voice that tells you if you fully trust the Lord and have faith in Him, believing that He will fulfill your desires and bring blessing (in whatever way and time God chooses of course).

When one is overwhelmed with troubles…

1. The soul wearies!
David faced numerous problems – through his father-in-law, King Saul, his son, Absalom, many times through the people and kings of other countries. But because he leaned on his Lord who had called him, God turned all his afflictions and troubles into great joy!

No wonder he would pray often to his God! The composer of Psalm 119:28 reflects a David-like prayer: My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word’

Many of us also have to walk through difficult times and rarely can any of us avoid worrying at the times of sufferings. Some are heart-broken and attempt  to commit suicide. If we turn to mere humans to get advice, they may deceive us. Some may mislead us. In the midst of worries and shedding of tears, if we wholly rely on and keep faith in the Lord, He will definitely lead us out from sufferings and surprisingly keep us comforted.

When  troubles multiply, we should spend more time in reading the Bible louder! We should believe and expect a wonderful deliverance from God. Surely He will do greater things than what you expect in your life.

Please know this: I’m speaking from personal experience! When various hardships have hit me, I have wholly depended only on God, reading His word and meditating on it in full faith. I have several verses marked with dates on which I heard God’s voice, and obtained unbelievable great victories!

If you also do the same, victory is sure!

2. Eyes dim with grief!
Although not written by David, I feel verse of nine of Psalm 88 reflects his thoughts many times, ‘My eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.’

‘Dim’ is daab, mournful and sorrowful. The psalmist says that out of afflictions his eyes grew dim from misery (NASB). If one is very sad, one can feel a change in their sight. Sadness makes one faint, reduces the thinking capacity, causes sleeplessness and losing all hope about the future. The help we get from others is also reduced. What can we do to come out of this? Without giving place to discouragements, we can do two things:

(i) Pray about our concerns
Psalm 119:26, ‘I have declared my ways, and You answered me…’ would be David’s solution to concerns. Taking time to talk to God brings great victories.

Unfortunately these days, troubled Christians can spend more time on their themselves, worldly causes, entertainment, even on Christian television programs than talking to God in prayer! Sadly, certain TV preachers have caused many Christians to be lazy and static, no longer prayerful or Bible-reading.

But you could watch genuine Christ-centred presentations and after shutting off, engross in prayer, Bible reading and meditation! Then you can be sure of victory. Your eyes will not ‘waste away.’

(ii) Trust  God!
This means that your attention and trust are on God only. After all, your thoughts and actions should please Him. There is no use praying long prayers and observing many days of fasting, if you don’t believe He is the answer, your comforter!

Regarding your troubles, where is your attention today? From whom do you expect help? Which way do you search? ‘… the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him that follows after righteousness’ comforts Proverbs 15:8-9.

Praying to God in faith and trusting Him, you won’t have eyes dim with misery!

3.  The spirit is broken!
Proverbs 17:22 declares that ‘A merry heart does good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.’

Certain objects can be glued together if broken. But if the spirit hidden in our heart is broken, no expert doctor or psychiatrist can mend it. The failures we face in this world, such as economic confusion, sickness and family problems are but some of the causes of broken hearts.

There is only one way to overcome these setbacks and that is by going to the Lord. ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord”’ wrote David in Psalm 122:1.

It is very important to meet with people, if covid and variation safe, who truly praise and worship the Lord. You can be refreshed with the Holy Spirit as you too worship, clapping hands and lifting them up in praise, even kneeling, in a church where the Lord is being worshipped in spirit and truth. There you’ll be filled with joy and happiness; your broken spirit will be healed as assurance that God is in control comes to your heart.

4.  ‘Big’ trouble hits!
‘Anxiety weighs down the heart. But a good word makes it glad’ (Proverbs 12:25).

David was certainly weighed down in 1 Samuel 30:6! Several Bible versions translate this verse as ‘David was now in great trouble.’ Other translations read distressed. The Hebrew word is yaw-tsar’, meaning to be vexed, narrowed in thinking. In considering David’s problems – and our own – we’d probably think of ‘big troubles’ as depression (a word slightly similar to distress)!

Whichever word you would use, troubles not dealt with actually cause one to function normally,  When people are distressed, they cannot think freely. Changes happen in the mind causing some problems to lead to taking extreme decision. Some try many ways to solve their problems and when they fail, they  go for extreme steps. Sadly, some have committed suicide. Deep distress is very deceptive, very sidetracking!

David always met with his numerous  problems by standing strong  faith in the Lord. He knew his God could give him needed courage. ‘David strengthened (encouraged) himself in the Lord his God’ concludes (1 Samuel  30:6ESB).

5. Trouble can be daily!
Sometimes we lose confidence in ourselves and because of this state of mind we end up with a very dangerous disposition. David, under such situations, even daily (Psalm 56:5NLT) would seek his Lord’s help: ‘Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack’(Psalm 56:1).

Fear and doubts will make even a powerful person like David feel useless. When we walk through difficult times, we shouldn’t think that it is the end! No, we must understand that when upright Christians face troubles, and evils, God will deliver us from every situation and cause us to live happily.

We read in Psalms 34:19NLT, ‘The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.’

But… are you a righteous person? Have you genuinely repented and know that your sins have been forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ? God is powerful enough to compensate all that we have lost and bless us with long life and happiness. And if you suffer of being righteous, fear not!

In these days of adversity, Edward Mote’s great old hymn (1834) is so encouraging…

‘My hope is right built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetness frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Refrain: On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

May David’s encouragement in Psalm 30:11 be yours and you know that ‘your mourning will turn into joy!’

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‘AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS’… BUT IS IT?

(July 19, 2022) Robert McQuillan challenges…

Psychologist Dr Andre Tessier, counselling a friend who is wondering about himself, who he really is, his future, answers honestly… ‘I’m only a doctor. I can’t tell something I don’t know… but let me show you something. See those books over there?’

Tapping several books in the packed bookshelves, he names Carl Jung and other well-known thinkers commenting, ‘Hundreds of books! Sum total of man’s knowledge of his fellowman. Yet in a moment like this, they fail. That’s why when I’m faced with such a moment, I always turn to this book, older than all the others by thousands of years.’  

Taking a black jacketed book, he searches through it. ‘Ah, here we are,’ he smiles, ‘Proverbs, twenty-third chapter, seventh verse,  “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”’

Leaving it with the troubled man to consider the reality of Solomon’s words, Dr Tessier encourages him tobelieve deeply in his heart, his soul, emphasising… ‘And that’s all that matters.’

Believing in one’s very soul
‘Heart’ is an interesting word found throughout that ‘ancient book’, speaking of various hearts troubled by  grief, deceit, discouragement, hatred, hardening (that’s the short list!).

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A MYSTERIOUS DAY I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER

(July 13, 2022) Kenneth Drinkald shares an amazing testimony of God’s caring…

I opened my eyes, not sure where I was. I was hot, sweaty; feeling nauseous, as though I wanted to be sick… and there was pressure in my chest and left arm.

Gently putting a hand to my hurting head, I felt blood dripping down the side of my face. I was laying on cold kitchen tiles, trying to make sense of what had happened.

Day began as normal 
I had promised to paint a lounge room for a friend. Arriving at Judy’s home I had begun by painting the ceiling, but after a while was feeling hot and clammy. Believing exertion from painting and the warm day to be the cause, I opened the windows and went outside to the porch.

After sitting out there for a while and giving the house time to cool down, I went back inside to continue painting. For some reason I left the front door open.

However, as I painted I found myself continually distracted by some pieces of paper in the lounge room. Strange… but I just couldn’t stop looking at them, wondering what they were – and at the same time scolding myself for being so inquisitive!

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