Strengthen Your Faith: Trust God’s Heart- Conclusion

Read the Bible and Pray

Sometimes, we encounter great hardships in our faith walk so much that we don’t understand what’s going on. While we strive to live by faith and not by sight yet a situation would strike us down and we feel so weak and worn out. The message of Jeremiah teaches us to accept the things that are beyond our control. Persevere in a life of faith in our daily lives and always look for hope in God.

No matter what you are going through right now, bear in mind that God is working something out. Whatever it is, you can trust him that He will do what is best for you. Remember, His plan is to prosper you and not to harm you. Let your faith be strengthened.

 

END OF SERIES

 

Image from:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5417236/6_ways_to_strengthen_your_faith.html?cat=34

Strengthen Your Faith-II: Do you know Thomas Dorsey?

Thomas Dorsey

I believe his life had a series of hard-hitting situations that normally, we could never grasp. Yet he embodied a strong faith that overcomes all pain.

He was a singer and a pianist; son of a Baptist preacher; and his mother was a church organist. Throughout his early years, he felt torn between the sacred and the secular. At eleven, he left school to take a job at a local vaudeville theater. After six years, he went to Chicago. In Chicago, Dorsey found success almost immediately.

At twenty-one, he got sick so he went back to Atlanta. There, his mother admonished him to stop playing the blues and “serve the Lord.” However, He ignored her and returned to Chicago perhaps because of his inclination to perform. He married his sweetheart, Nettie Harper. In 1925, he got very sick again that he could no longer play the piano.

It could have had been a cruel moment in his life.

He recovered three years later and committed himself to composing sacred music. However, mainstream churches rejected his songs. Maybe because of his musical style, which is blues.

However, it was in 1932 that Dorsey experienced the biggest crisis in his life. One night in August that year, he had an engagement. At first, he was reluctant to go because his wife was pregnant and sick but he had already committed previously so he had to go. He checked his wife in their room before he left the house and he found her calmly sleeping.

The engagement was successful requests come one after another. Until, he received a call with heart breaking news: his wife was rushed to the hospital. By the time he arrived at the hospital, both his wife and child had died already during delivery.

It filled him so much with grief that he wanted to drop singing and music altogether. He was asking why. Then one day, in the middle of terrible pain and sorrow, he turned to the piano. He started playing a tune on the piano and a new gospel song was born: “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”.

 

“Take My Hand, Precious Lord”

by Thomas A. Dorsey

 

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

 

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near

When my life is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

 

When the darkness appears and the night draws near

And the day is past and gone

At the river I stand

Guide my feet, hold my hand

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

 

We cannot understand why things like that happen. Perhaps, its just a normal cycle of life, birth and death. However, we can use such experiences as a spring board to reach higher ground. After that terrible tragedy in his life, Dorsey bounced up and co-founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1933. Six years later, he teamed with Mahalia Jackson, and the team ushered in what was known as the “Golden Age of Gospel Music” in America. Dorsey himself became known as the father of gospel music.

God is good all the time!

to be continued

Strengthen Your Faith

While I’m writing this, I remember the chorus part of a song that I used to sing before. The title is Trust His Heart by Babbie Mason. The chorus part says:

image from: kazaa.com

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart

If there are sufferings, they don’t happen by mistake. We can always trust God’s love for us and the time will come that it will cease. From this same chapter that we are reflecting on. comes one of the best biblical quotes that we know:

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

If we will analyze the plight of the Israelites, we can see that by the end of the seventy years, God wants Israel to remain a strong and powerful nation that is why he wants them to continue to grow in terms population. God wants to keep Israel’s human resource that would enable them to rebuild their nation that lie in desolation. He wants them to live normal lives by getting married and working precisely that they may not suffer much. By becoming peaceful people, they may become a source of God’s blessing and mirrors of His goodness even in a foreign land.

Indeed, after seventy years, God has brought the Israelites back to Jerusalem. In the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, we can read the accounts of the return of the exiles to Jerusalem just as God has promised.

God promises to prosper His people. It is the same with us today. Perhaps, with a different application but clearly, it is not His intention to harm or hurt us. His plan is to prosper us and give us a bright future. After all the pain, God’s reward awaits those who will remain faithful.

to be continued

Living by Faith and Not by Sight

speaking before LUMC-UMYF Student Reception Activity 2009

Let us not go far; I have been on a wheel chair for twenty-four years. On the surface, it may look as though destiny has robbed me of what could have been a beautiful future: failing to pursue a professional career like my peers; missing the opportunity to give my parents the honor of having a college degree and a high-paying job, and losing the chance to build a family of my own. Sometimes, it all seems unfair. Life seems easier for some and harder for another.

However, these are life-changing experiences that teach us lessons that no private school can offer. We do not have control over the things that could happen to our lives. In as much as we would like to avoid them, there are things that catch us unaware. We may hate these situations but we cannot change them anymore. We need to live with them. As a familiar maxim says, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

I don’t claim full understanding of everything that’s happening in my life. I’ve just realized that God will not allow to hit me anything that would kill me: the man and the person that he has purposed in me. All I need is to trust Him fully.

I admit that there have been moments in my life that I’ve crossed the valley of death. Doubts cloud my vision and darken my path. However, we cannot live in resentment and rebellion because that would push us to make wrong decisions. We need to trust the Lord fully because He never fails.

We only need to open the window of our spirits and look toward our Heavenly Father and pray, and trust His unending love.

to be continued

Daniel: Living by Faith; Not by Sight

Daniel in the Lions' Den

Daniel was about 14 years old when king Nebuchadnezzar’s army dragged him along with his fellow Jews as captives to Babylon in 597 BC. The Babylonians must have had noticed his potential so they had put him on a Civil Service Training program, which would allow him to work in the Babylonian king’s court. It must have had been a very difficult situation for Daniel because he would serve the Babylonian king who continued to wage war against his fellow Jews.

Yet he remained faithful to God and he never compromised his faith. He never even let the food of the Babylonian king defile his body. The king’s diet must have had food, which God forbade Israel to eat.

When Jeremiah’s letter had reached the Jews in Babylon, he was already there for more than ten years. It would have had been heart breaking for him to learn that they would have to stay there for 70 years! It would mean that by the time the Jews could return home, he would be very old. In fact, scholars said that by the time his enemies threw him into the lions’ den, he must have been already in his 80’s.

However, Daniel never waned in faith. In the book of Daniel, we could read that every time he arrived home, he would open his window and would look toward the direction of Jerusalem and would pray to God three times a day. Obviously, he longed for Jerusalem but he never stopped believing that God would save them from captivity and would bring them home, and he patiently and diligently waited. He trusted God very deeply. He lived not for what he was seeing but on how he knew his God.

Through him, God revealed his power and glory before great conquerors. With his prophetic gift, God moved mightily at the heart of the oppressing empire and conquered it by his Spirit for even Nebuchadnezzar worshiped the God of Israel.

May we all learn from Daniel and like him focus on Christ. He who called us is faithful so we ought to be faithful to Him too and it starts with a faith that never wanes.

Right now, we may be suffering but while we are, we need to live by faith and not by sight. By doing so, we can become a light to those who too are lurking in the darkness of their own situations; that in spite of difficulty, the peace of God reigns in our hearts.

to be continued

Photo above:

A photographic reproduction from Wiki Commons of English: Daniel’s Answer to the King by Briton Rivière, R.A.

Date: 1890 Source: Manchester City Art Gallery by: Briton Rivière (1840-1920)

Source Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daniellion.jpg

Living by faith and not by sight- Jeremiah 29.4-7

"photo edited from photobucket"

2. Living by faith and not by sight

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Apostle Paul says, “We live by faith, not by sight”. The Israelites have to live in a foreign land, holding on to their faith that the God of Israel will rescue them from their plight even though that they do not know what will happen to them there. They have to trust God’s word through the prophet of God, Jeremiah.

If we will analyze the plight of the Israelites, we can see that by the end of the seventy years, God wants Israel to remain a strong and powerful nation that is why he wants them to continue to grow in terms population. God wants to keep Israel’s human resource that would enable them to rebuild their nation that lie in desolation. He wants them to live normal lives by getting married and working precisely that they may not suffer much. By becoming peaceful people, they may become a source of God’s blessing and mirrors of His goodness even in a foreign land.

However, while you’re in that situation, it’s difficult to see that. In the most perplexing situation; when we can’t see what lies ahead, we need to trust God and fix our eyes on Him.

Meanwhile, He has brought up a strong man of faith from among those exiles, Daniel…

to be continued

Trusting God’s Heart for it- Jeremiah 29.4-7

Trust God's Heart

Have you experienced being into a similar situation? Let me describe the situation again: You are in a situation that causes a lot of pain and hardship, it is so difficult to bear and in the bottom of your heart you know that it is impossible to be God’s will yet you are stucked in it. You pray to God to fix it miraculously and you expect it come immediately but it is taking too long as it seems. How are you going to cope?

The literal meaning of these verses from the Jeremiah 29 of course is for the Israelites who are in captivity at that particular point in Israel’s history but we can derive a parallel spiritual insight from those verses.

1. Submission to the will of God

Often God wants us accomplish something but we don’t see it right away. Instead, we want God to take us out of our situation and bless us the way we want Him to bless us. We expect God to answer our prayers in a manner that we want Him to answer them. However, just as Isaiah has written, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (Isa.55:8).

Sometimes, God allows us to experience a good measure of difficulty because He wants to grow us and teach us. He wants to take us to a level of spiritual maturity where faith is not measured by the blessings that we receive but by the knowledge of God’s person or of who He is; a faith that is pure and thrives by God’s grace in each day. By those experiences, we become what God wants us to be.

2. Living by faith and not by sight

to be continued

 

Image Courtesy of: http://www.bereanbaskets.com/

Facing a Situation, You Don’t Understand- Jeremiah 29.4-7

A painting by James Tissot, "Flight of the Prisoners" (watercolor circa 1896-1902)

A Brief Backgrounder:

The text is an excerpt from a letter of prophet Jeremiah to the Jewish exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon has taken as captives from Jerusalem in 587BC.

King Josiah has been affecting reforms in the kingdom of Judah until his unexpected demise in 609BC. The kings that have followed him have done evil in God’s eyes. Prophet Jeremiah has preached against their evil ways and has prophesied about Judah’s eventual fall into the hands of the king of Babylon. Instead of repenting and turning to God in submission, they have even threatened the prophet with death. In fact, King Jehoiakim himself killed prophet Uriah (Jer 26:20), who has prophesied in the name of God, bearing the same message as Jeremiah.

Eventually as Jeremiah has prophesied, Nebuchadnezzar has destroyed Judah in 597BC. God has allowed the Babylonians to conquer Judah and capture the best and the brightest off to Babylon and among those are Prophet Daniel and Ezekiel. Nebuchadnezzar has appointed a puppet king, Zedekiah but later, he has rebelled against Babylon and has entered into an alliance with the Pharoah of Egypt against Babylon in a futile war. The Babylonians have returned to destroy Jerusalem and take all of Judah back to Babylon.

False prophets have preached to the exiles that God would destroy their enemy and would bring them home very soon. Their message is good to hear but apparently, it is not from God.

The text here comes from Jeremiah’s letter to the Jewish captives in Babylon to dispel all false prophesies. This letter bears the true message from the God of Israel.

However, the message is something the captives must have had a hard time understanding. First (in v.1), God has caused their exile, second (in v.4-6), God wants them to live normal lives in that foreign land while in captivity; get married and have a family, and work for a living. In the succeeding verses, the letter says that they will stay in that land for seventy years. If you have been one of those captives, you would want a quick release. Then thirdly (in v.7), and the most difficult, God wants them to seek the peace or welfare of the city where they have been taken to as captives.

They have encountered a situation that hit them so hard and they cannot understand why God is allowing it to happen. They are facing a situation that is way beyond their ability to change. They are stuck in that situation for seventy years. No appeal and they need to accept it. No matter how much they want to free themselves, God has something else in mind and they must submit to the will of God if they want to survive.

to be continued…

Strengthen your Faith: Trust God’s Heart- Jeremiah 29.1,4-7

a painting by michelangelo- "The Prophet Jeremiah"

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7 (NKJV)

v.1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.

v.4 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

v.5Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit.

v.6Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

v.7And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

Allow me to give you a scenario: Suppose you are in a situation that causes a lot of pain and hardship, it is so difficult to bear and in the bottom of your heart you know that it is impossible to be God’s will yet you are stucked in it. You pray to God to fix it miraculously and you expect it come immediately but it is taking too long as it seems. How are you going to cope?

I would like to point out three (3) things in this series:

  1. Facing a situation you don’t understand
  2. Trusting God’s heart for it
  3. Strengthening your faith

Please follow my observations…

Image above from: http://www.artinthepicture.com