The Blazing Center https://theblazingcenter.com Thu, 21 May 2020 13:42:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 What Incredible Hope We Have! https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/05/what-incredible-hope-we-have.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-incredible-hope-we-have https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/05/what-incredible-hope-we-have.html#comments Thu, 21 May 2020 13:42:51 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31966 Of all the people on earth, believers in Jesus Christ have hope. Incredible hope. God gives us many promises that he ...

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Of all the people on earth, believers in Jesus Christ have hope. Incredible hope.

God gives us many promises that he will bless us in this life. He promises to meet our needs. He promises to protect us and deliver us from evil. He promises to lead and guide us. He promises to give us his joy and peace. He promises to care for us when we go through hard times and comfort us in sadness. Jesus promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He promises to “make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters” (Psalm 23). God gives us many reasons to hope in him in this life.

But our hope in Jesus is not primarily for this life. As Paul says in Colossians:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven…CO 1:3-5

As much as God gives us hope for things in this life, our ULTIMATE HOPE is laid up for us in heaven.

It is “laid up.” God is keeping it there safe and sound. It won’t disappear. We won’t get to heaven, full of hope, and hear God say, “I’m sorry, your hope is no longer here. I gave it to someone else.” NO! Our hope is “laid up” in heaven. It is waiting for us. And we won’t be disappointed. Our hope is more amazing and wonderful and beautiful than we can ever imagine.

What is the hope laid up for believers in heaven?

Although we can’t possibly fathom how wonderful it will be, God tells us a few wonderful things to look forward to in his word. Here are a few aspects of the hope laid up for believers in heaven:

We will gaze upon the infinite beauty and glory of Jesus for all eternity.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

We shall see him “as he is.” In all his infinite glory. Remember what Isaiah saw when God gave him a glimpse of heaven?

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isaiah 6:1-3

Isaiah saw seraphim, the highest angels in heaven, glorious beings who had never sinned. Yet they could not look upon God’s glory directly, but had to cover their faces with their wings.

Yet we who Jesus saved and washed by his blood will gaze directly upon his face. “We shall see him as he is.”

When Jesus was physically on earth he prayed: 

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

We will gaze upon Jesus’ glory. His INFINITE glory. His glory that has no bounds. We will never tire of gazing upon his glory. There will always be new, unimaginable, awesomely beautiful, breathtaking aspects of his glory to amaze us.

What a hope laid up for us in heaven!

But wait, there’s more!

We will be like Jesus

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

We shall be like him in his glory. I can’t even imagine that. We will not be gods, we will not have his infinite glory, but somehow we shall be like him. We shall reflect his glory and beauty and character. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Even now, as we behold Jesus’ glory in his word and prayer and worship and our thoughts, God is transforming us into “the same image, from one degree of glory to another.” 

We will be like him. If these two things – seeing Jesus’ glory and being like him – were our only hope that is laid up in heaven that would be incredible. But wait, there’s more!

Jesus will pour out his infinite comfort and joy upon us

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

We will have NO MORE TEARS in heaven. No more sadness. No more mourning. No more grieving because loved ones have died. No more sickness. No more tragedies. No more grieving over our children or grandchildren. No more worries. No more dread.

NO MORE PAIN! No more cancer, disease, depression, anxiety, birth defects. No more aging, Alzheimers, corona, flu. 

No more sadness. No more hard times, affliction, disappointments. “For the former things have passed away.”

We will have eternal joy

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

In heaven we will be in God’s presence forever. We will have “fullness of joy.” God will pour out upon us “pleasures forevermore.” I can’t even imagine what that will be like. Jesus said to his disciples,

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

When we believe in Jesus, he puts his joy in us, but that is only the beginning. In heaven our joy will be “full.” And our joy in heaven will be Jesus’ own joy. The very joy of God himself. The very joy of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But wait, there’s more!

In heaven God will reward us for obeying and serving him

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:27

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34-40

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

God has eternal, everlasting rewards laid up for us for every tiny act of kindness and mercy we’ve ever done to “the least” of Christ’s brothers and sisters, because we did it to him.

Not only will we see Jesus’ glory, be like him in his glory, have every tear wiped away, be filled with Jesus’ joy and be rewarded, but we will have new imperishable bodies. Heavenly bodies. We will be with our loved ones at the marriage supper of the Lamb. We will sing heavenly praises with the saints and angels in heaven.

We can’t even begin to imagine all the joys and pleasures God has laid up for us in heaven. So as much as we hope in this life, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and our future joy with him in heaven.

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What In The World Could God Be Doing In This Time? https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/what-in-the-world-could-god-be-doing-in-this-time.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=what-in-the-world-could-god-be-doing-in-this-time https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/what-in-the-world-could-god-be-doing-in-this-time.html#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2020 13:09:48 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31955 These are times of tragedy, sadness, fear, anxiety, wearing masks, sheltering in, social distancing, Zoom meetings, wanting to go back ...

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These are times of tragedy, sadness, fear, anxiety, wearing masks, sheltering in, social distancing, Zoom meetings, wanting to go back to work or school, boredom and just plain tiredness of it all like we have never seen before.

But we who believe in Jesus know that He is always at work in all things, and causing all things to work together for good for those He redeemed. But what “good” could God be bringing about through this pandemic? As John Piper said: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of three of them.” We cannot possibly fathom all He is doing. But here are a few things I am sure he is doing…

First, God is showing us how much we need him.

We need God for every breath, and every heartbeat. We need God to protect us, to provide for us, to sustain us, to give us hope, to give us joy, to give us…EVERYTHING. We don’t sustain our own lives. Anything and everything we have is a gift from him. This time is a good reminder of how much we need God. Recently the news said we will probably have meat shortages. This has never happened in my life. What a reminder of our need for God. He is the one who must put food on our tables.

Another thing God is doing is humbling us and humbling our nation

The United States is not in control of its own destiny. This nation can’t make itself great again, and it never made itself great. The only reason our nation has so much is because God in his kindness and mercy has poured out thousands of blessings upon a people didn’t deserve a single blessing. The United States cannot control this virus. If we come up with a vaccine to prevent this disease or medicine to treat it, that is a gift from God. All medical knowledge is a gift from God. 

For believers this is a good and humbling reminder. We know that we are not in control, that we are not great, but it is a good reminder for us, as Peter says:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

It is humbling to pray. Humbling to cast all our anxieties upon God. Humbling to admit that we can’t solve our own problems.

A third thing God is doing is building patience into us

Most of us hate to wait. We want this to be over now. We want to get back to work now. To get together with our families and friends now. But waiting is good. And God makes us wait throughout our lives. As it says in the Psalms…

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…Psalm 130:5

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

God is building patience in us through this virus. And he will continue to build patience in us for the rest of our lives.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12.12

Next, God is using this pandemic to move us to pray

In this time, churches are having more prayer meetings than ever before. Yes, they are zoom or other virtual meetings, but many believers are crying out to God together now. More and more churches are gathering (albeit virtually) to fulfill Matthew 18:

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:18-20

Another thing God is doing through this virus is building contentment in us

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

I bet most of us have never thanked God for toilet paper before. I don’t think I ever thanked Him for toilet paper. Many of us probably never or rarely thanked God that we could push our shopping carts through stores overflowing with whole aisles devoted to snacks and chips and aisles devoted to pet supplies and twenty kinds of coffee makers.

If we only have food and clothing, will we be content? I hope I would be. I know there are nations where they are so poor it is a struggle to get food. I pray the Lord would use this time to help me grow in contentment.

Also, God is using this time to teach us to trust him

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

We must trust God to provide for us, to protect us, to get us through this. We must trust God’s word that he is good and loving when we don’t understand how he could allow tragic and sad things to happen. We must trust that God is sovereign. We must trust that God is infinitely wise. God is using this time, and he uses every affliction and trial to build our trust in him.

Another thing God is doing now is using this time to move us to care for others

Just this morning a woman in our church contacted us and said she had been baking cinnamon rolls and asked us how many she and her husband could drop off at our house. I know others who have made meals for friends that are sick. Many are calling others to see how they are doing in this time. This is wonderful. Rather than being consumed with how tired or bored or miserable we are, let’s look to the interests of others.

The most important thing God is doing now is making believers more and more like Christ

This is the good work God began in us when he saved us. He didn’t simply save us from our sins and the punishment we deserved, but he adopted us as his own children. And he began a work of transformation, making us more and more into the image of his Son.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

God uses every situation to make us more and more like Jesus. Just as Jesus trusted his Father when he was in the desert for 40 days being tempted by Satan, so must we trust our Father now, and become more like Jesus. Just as Jesus trusted his Father when arrested, scourged, mocked and nailed to the cross, so must we trust our Father as we go through this time. Hopefully it will end soon, but if it doesn’t, we can trust that our heavenly Father is working in our lives, conforming us more and more to the likeness of Jesus.

God is doing more than we can imagine through this time. Someday in heaven, we’ll look back and see all he did in and for us as he took us through this valley. We will see how he was with us. We will see his wisdom and love and power. And we will see how he transformed us into the likeness of his Son.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

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How to Combat Our Corona Complaining https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/how-to-combat-our-corona-complaining.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-combat-our-corona-complaining https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/how-to-combat-our-corona-complaining.html#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2020 13:57:42 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31947 Today is “quarantine” day 40 for me. 40 days of going nowhere, except for an occasional walk in the neighborhood ...

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Today is “quarantine” day 40 for me.

40 days of going nowhere, except for an occasional walk in the neighborhood with my wife. On day 30 I thought about singing the old song “30 Days in the Hole.” Didn’t sing it – not the best lyrics. Yesterday in a “Zoom” prayer meeting, a friend of mine mentioned that after God brought Israel out of Egypt they wandered through the desert for 40 years. 40 years! And they didn’t even have TV or Facebook or Zoom. And I have been tempted to be unhappy about 40 days. I guess it could always be worse.

Which got me thinking afresh about grumbling and complaining.

Most of the time, we do this without giving it much thought. I mean, it feels kind of natural. Grumbling doesn’t seem like a sin. Complaining feels like the natural thing to do when you have to wait 3 days to get your groceries delivered. Is it that wrong? 

First of all, this is a horrible time and so many have died and suffered horribly with this sickness. So many have lost loved ones. I cannot even begin to fathom how painful and sad and horrific this has been for so many. Maybe it is not even a good time to bring up this topic. I am not talking about sharing our struggles, pain, sadness, and misery. The complaining I am talking about is the kind I am tempted to do. To be grumpy about not being able to leave my house or be bored or have to wear gloves at the gas pump or a mask in the store. 

It is not wrong to bring our suffering, sadness, discouragements or frustrations to the Lord to ask for his help. Neither is it wrong to share our struggles or pain with others, that they might pray for us or encourage us. But sometimes we grumble and complain because we don’t get what we want, or because we do not trust that the Lord is sovereign, good, and loving. There is appropriate sharing of our suffering. For example, I have friends who are suffering severely with sickness. When I ask them how they are doing I want them to tell me honestly. When they do, that is not sinful complaining and grumbling.

In this article I want to talk about grumbling and complaining in any situation, RATHER than turning to the Lord for help.

First of all God’s commands us not to grumble:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing Philippians 2:14

So when we grumble and murmur in any situation, we disobey God. Complaining is a sin. It is disobeying God’s command to rejoice always and in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). So if for no other reason than to complain is to sin, we should not do that.

Why is complaining a sin?

Complaining is a sin because it is an act of unbelief.

When we grumble about anything, we are saying that God is not good. We are saying that He is not sovereign, that he is not wise or loving to allow us to go through whatever we are going through. A good question to ask ourselves when we are tempted to mutter is “What am I believing about God right now?” Do I believe He is loving? Do I believe he is in complete control of all things? Do I believe He causes all things to work together for my good?

Complaining is a sin because when we do we are not living by faith, but by our feelings.

We are focusing on our circumstances, not God. We are trusting ourselves more than God.

Complaining is a sin because when we grumble we think only of ourselves.

Hey, it is MY will that matters. MY happiness. MY plans. I’m not getting what I want. Hey, I know what is best for me. 

Complaining is a sin because it is a bad witness.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:14-15

When we grouse and whine, we are not “blameless and innocent” – we are not acting like “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” We are failing to “shine as lights in the world.”

People are watching us, especially when we go through hard times. Unbelieving friends and relatives are watching us. Our children are watching us. When Paul and Barnabas were arrested unjustly and beaten and thrown into prison, the other prisoners watched them…

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them… Acts 16:25

Paul and Barnabas were probably bloody and bruised. They were in some kind of “bonds” (v26), probably some kind of stocks or chains. If anyone had reason to complain it would have been them. But instead, they were praying and singing hymns to God. They were shining like lights in that black prison. And when God sent an earthquake and all the prisoners’ bonds fell off and the prison doors were opened, none of the other prisoners tried to escape. They watched Paul and Barnabas to see what they would do. And when the jailer, thinking that everyone had escaped was about to kill himself, Paul stopped him and told him that everyone was still there. So the jailer fell down trembling and cried out “What must I do to be saved?” And Paul and Barnabas were able to lead him and his whole family to the Lord.

People are watching us. Are we shining like lights in this dark world? Or do we act just like everyone else?

Complaining is a sin because when we complain we influence others to do the same.

Again, what kind of example are we setting for our friends and children and co-workers?

And complaining is a sin because when we do, we are thinking only of ourselves.

We are certainly not thinking about Jesus and what we can do to glorify him. We aren’t thinking about those we are influencing. It’s all about ME. What I want. My time. My pleasure. My finances. What I am not getting. What I have to go through. ME, ME, ME.

In addition to all these things, grousing and grumbling DOESN’T CHANGE A THING!

It doesn’t make anything better. It certainly won’t move the Lord to bless us. It won’t kill the corona virus. It won’t make this time of quarantine the least bit more pleasant or short. Whining just makes us feel worse. Makes us more miserable. More negative. It robs us of joy. 

Well, you might ask…

WHAT SHOULD WE DO INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING?

First, we can do nothing in our own strength. We need the Lord’s help and grace to keep all his commands. So first we should:

PRAY!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

It’s humbling to admit we need God’s help. It’s humbling to admit we aren’t in control. That we are weak and needy. But when we humble ourselves before God he “exalts us” – that is he lifts us up. And God wants us to cast all our anxieties on him, because amazingly, he cares for us. The God who created the universe deeply cares for you and me.

So rather than grumble, let’s pray. Let’s ask God to give us strength and patience and joy in this time. And let us ask God to help us obey his command to rejoice and give thanks:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We don’t rejoice and give thanks because people are sick and dying, or because we are out of work or stuck in our homes, but we rejoice in God. We rejoice and give thanks that God is sovereign, and that he is working all things together for our good. We rejoice that he loves us, and that he sent his Son to die for our sins and save us from God’s wrath and adopt us as his children. We rejoice that someday we will be with him, gazing upon his infinite beauty, and there will be no more tears and sadness. And another thing we can do…

We should try to get our minds off ourselves – to think about how we can serve others, take an interest in others, encourage others.

Even as I was working on this blog post I got a text from a man in our church that said, “Good morning Mark thinking and praying for you and your family.” That is how to overcome the temptation to complain and grumble – to think and pray for others. 

How can we pray for those we know who are sick, or working on the front lines in hospitals, personal care homes or in missions? How can we help those in need? How can we serve our families and friends in this time? The more we can focus on the Lord and others, the less we will be tempted to complain about what we don’t have or can’t do.

I’m sure there are many more things we can do to combat our corona complaining. How about you? What have you found that helps you?

Lord Jesus, help us. Help us remember to cast our cares on you. Help us to shine like lights in this dark world. We need you Lord. We want to glorify you in everything we do and say and think. Thank you that you care for us so much, and thank you that you will help us in this time and always.

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4 Ways To Endure Through The Hardships Of Life https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/4-ways-to-endure-through-the-hardships-of-life.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=4-ways-to-endure-through-the-hardships-of-life https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/4-ways-to-endure-through-the-hardships-of-life.html#respond Tue, 14 Apr 2020 16:07:56 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31931 I never imagined I would be so tired of being in my house.  Why, I haven’t been to Walmart in ...

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I never imagined I would be so tired of being in my house. 

Why, I haven’t been to Walmart in over a month. Haven’t gotten together with my children or grandchildren in person. Haven’t gotten together with our friends. I sit on my couch and watch our church services on YouTube. This is a crazy time.

I can’t imagine how horrible this time is for so many. People who have lost loved ones. People who have been horrifically afflicted by this virus. Hospital and personal care home workers. People in poor nations who can’t get food. Unimaginable. My pathetic “shut in season” is nothing compared to what multitudes have to endure.

Actually, for every believer, much of the Christian life is about enduring.

When I first became a believer, I pretty much believed that all my troubles were over. And my biggest trouble was truly over. Jesus had borne the wrath that I deserved in my place on the cross. But my troubles weren’t all over. Little did I realize as a new believer, that the Bible is full of verses about the need for believers in Jesus to persevere and endure many troubles in this life.

Believers will suffer. It’s not all health and wealth, folks. We will suffer. But in our suffering, we also have hope that unbelievers don’t have. Here are a few verses that say Christians will suffer:

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:17-19

There are times we will be brokenhearted. Times we will be crushed in spirit. We won’t go through just a few afflictions, but “many.” But in all these, we can call on the Lord and he promises to be near us, save and deliver us.

So how do we endure? How can we persevere?

First of all, we endure in God’s strength, which he promises to supply:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus… 2 Timothy 2:1

Paul didn’t encourage believers to live the Christian life in their own strength, but in God’s strength. Supernatural strength. The very strength provided by the maker of the universe.

Second, we endure by “looking to Jesus” to see how he endured. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus endured more than we can ever imagine. He endured the hatred, unbelief and rejection by the religious leaders of His day. He endured the weakness of his disciples, and their abandonment when He was arrested. He endured the beating, scourging and mocking by Roman soldiers, then endured being nailed to the cross, and hanging there in unbelievable pain for 6 hours, while the Jewish leaders continued to mock and insult Him. And the most unimaginable thing He endured was when His Father credited all our sins to Jesus as if he had committed them, then poured out his wrath upon Him and punished him for all of our sins. In essence, Jesus experienced hell on the cross. Yet He endured this for the glory of His Father and our salvation.

How did Jesus endure all he did? When we look to Jesus’ endurance what do we see?

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter 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 the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Jesus endured the cross by keeping his eyes on “the joy that was set before him.” He kept his eyes on the throne of God, where he would reign. He kept his eyes on the glory he would enjoy in heaven. 

Even in this life, we endure many things by keeping our eyes fixed on an eventual reward.

Athletes endure training and exercise and practice by looking forward to finishing a marathon, or winning a victory or simply getting in shape and feeling better. Students go to class, sit through lectures, write papers and study for exams because they look forward to getting a job.

How much more may we endure in this life by looking forward to the day we will be with Jesus, face to face.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

Someday we will not have to endure any more. Jesus will wipe all our tears away. There will be no more affliction, sadness, heartbreak, disappointment. No more sickness, pain, fear, anxiety, depression. Nothing to worry about.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

We are God’s children. He loves us. As our Heavenly Father, he will protect and help and pour out his steadfast love upon his children. But wonderful things are coming – in heaven we will be like Christ. “We know that when he appears we shall be like him.” We shall be sinless. We shall be perfectly conformed to Jesus. We shall reflect his glory.

C.S. Lewis said:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”

Of course we will not be “gods and goddesses,” but we will be “like” Christ. We will be filled with his beauty and glory. We will be sinless. We will be transformed into his likeness. 

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

This is what God is doing in us in this life. Everything God brings into our lives or allows to come into our lives is to make us more and more like Jesus. Whatever we go through is designed by God to conform us more and more into the likeness of Christ. 

That is how we endure. By continually looking to Jesus, and by fixing our gaze on him and what he fixed his gaze on – heaven and its joys and rewards and glory.

Third, we endure by crying out to God, and asking him to help us.

God tells us to bring all our cares and worries and needs to him.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

We endure by running to our “refuge and strength,” our “very present help in trouble.” By crying out to him.

Fourth, we endure by regularly taking in God’s word:

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

My soul melts away for sorrow;

strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28

God’s word strengthens us. As we regularly meditate on God’s word, we will be like trees planted by streams that refresh us. And despite suffering we will bear good fruit in season. Our “leaf does not wither” – we keep going. We keep enduring. We keep producing fruit.

We endure by fixing our eyes on Jesus, by keeping our eyes on the goal: seeing him face to face and being with him and like him in heaven. We endure by regularly meditating on his word and crying out to him in prayer.

There are many other ways we endure: by fellowshipping with the saints, by seeking to serve others, by rejoicing in all things, by praising and thanking God constantly. 

Let us make our goal to bring God as much glory as we can while going through the trials of this life, both large and small, knowing that someday he will reward us.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels

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In Times Like These, Let’s Lift Up Our Eyes https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/in-times-like-these-lets-lift-up-our-eyes.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=in-times-like-these-lets-lift-up-our-eyes https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/04/in-times-like-these-lets-lift-up-our-eyes.html#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2020 14:30:42 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31928 During this pandemic, I have been checking the numbers every day. How many cases in the United States; how many ...

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During this pandemic, I have been checking the numbers every day. How many cases in the United States; how many deaths.

I check the stats for the cities where my children and grandchildren live, and the numbers where my wife and I live. I haven’t been with my children or grandchildren in person for almost 4 weeks now. The coronavirus is always on the news. When my wife and I go for a walk in our neighborhood, we cross the street every time someone is approaching us on our side.

But in times like these, I want to remember to lift up my eyes above the cares and worries of this life, to see the One who is in charge of it all.

The One who is greater than it all. We all need to do what Isaiah 40:26 tells us:

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26

We need to lift up our eyes and focus on the One who created the stars and the galaxies. First, Isaiah says that God calls every star in the universe by name.

According to physics of the universe.com, “There are an estimated one hundred billion (100,000,000,000) stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, although some estimates range up to four times that many, much depending on the number of brown dwarfs and other very dim stars. A typical galaxy may contain anywhere between about ten million and one trillion stars.”

Did you catch that? In our galaxy, the Milky Way, there are 100 to 400 BILLION stars. No one knows exactly. That’s a pretty loose estimate – 100 to 400 billion. And that is just in ONE galaxy! Wikipedia says there are TWO TRILLION GALAXIES! How anyone can even begin to estimate that?  And where do scientists say the edge of the universe is?

Paul Sutter, an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University and the chief scientist at COSI (Center of Science and Industry ) Science Center, says we can’t observe any “edges” of the universe, but he says,

“And what’s outside our observable limit? That one’s easy: It’s just more stuff, like galaxies and black holes and new, fantastic varieties of cheese. It’s forever unreachable by us, sure — but it’s still over there.”

Wow, that’s a lot of great cheese! Sutter also says the universe is 13.77 billion years old. How in the world do scientists even guess that? Why not 13.76 billion years old?

But here’s the thing: God tells us in his word that he created EVERY SINGLE STAR, and he calls EACH ONE BY NAME, and because of his infinite power, NOT ONE IS MISSING. 

God knows the name of every single star in the universe. If we could soar past the view of any telescope, and pick a star, and ask God, what is this one named, He would immediately tell us. He knows the name of every star in the universe. And it is by His mighty power that not a single star ever goes missing.

In the book of Hebrews God says this about Jesus: 

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…Hebrews 1:3

Jesus upholds the whole universe by “the word of his power.” By a WORD! He doesn’t strain. He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t need to take a break. 

Compared to the infinite greatness of God, the whole universe is but a tiny speck. Less than a speck. The universe, as big as it seems to us, is finite. God is infinite. 

Now, Isaiah wasn’t trying to give us a science lesson. His point was this: If God created every single star, and named each one, and never forgets a single star’s name, and upholds and sustains every single star, HOW MUCH MORE will He care for His children! If He remembers the names of every star HOW MUCH MORE does He know your name and He will never forget you!

In another passage in Isaiah, God says:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49:15

God says that it would be extremely rare for a mother to forget her nursing child or fail to have compassion on her baby, although in this fallen world, it could happen. But God says, even though a loving mother might accidentally forget her child, He will NEVER forget His children.

Our mighty God, who upholds every single star in the universe, who called them all by name, and never forgets a single one, will never forget you or me.

Our God is infinitely great and sovereign over the whole universe, and this God knows every single one of us. And for every one of us who have believed in Jesus, He called us by name and He loves us with an everlasting love. If He poured out the blood of His Son to pay for our sins, will He not protect us during this pandemic? And even if He allows us to get sick and die, He will take us to himself in glory and wipe away every tear from our eyes and fill us with His infinite joy as we behold His unimaginable glory and beauty forever.

It is right for us to be concerned about this virus, and it is fine to follow the news and the numbers. But let us continue to lift up our eyes to the One who will never leave us or forsake us. Let us have compassion and pray for those who have suffered and lost loved ones in this horrible affliction. And let us ask Him to protect us and ours, and to have mercy on this world, and use this to turn multitudes to Him and save them. 

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HOW TO FIGHT THE TEMPTATION TO FEAR IN TIMES OF CRISIS https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/how-to-fight-the-temptation-to-fear-in-times-of-crisis.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-fight-the-temptation-to-fear-in-times-of-crisis https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/how-to-fight-the-temptation-to-fear-in-times-of-crisis.html#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:40:40 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31922 I can’t remember anything like this corona pandemic in my entire life. I can’t imagine what it would be like ...

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I can’t remember anything like this corona pandemic in my entire life.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to contract the virus or to have a loved one sick or die from it. So far, I haven’t had to endure anything other than staying in my house for a few days. I don’t know how long this will go on or how much it will spread. I hope it touches no one I know.

But even if the corona virus doesn’t touch me, I know this. I should not be surprised when I have to walk through fire in this life.

When I was a young Christian, I attended a Bible study where the pastor leading it taught that it was not God’s will that believers should ever be sick. That if you were sick it was because of your lack of faith. He said that we needed to “confess” we were healed. So one week when I got the flu, I began to confess over and over again, “I am healed. In Jesus’ name, I am healed.” I kept saying it over and over all day long, as I felt worse and worse. Finally, around 4 in the afternoon, I felt so bad I finally said, “I’m not healed. I am….SICK! Jesus, please help me!”

Christians get sick. Christians go through every kind of affliction. They suffer from depression and anxiety. They get cancer. Loved ones die. Children walk away from the Lord. If you have been a believer for any length of time, then you know what I am talking about.

Hey, what a cheerful blog post. But wait, there’s more! God promises that in every single hardship we go through, he will be with us and uphold and protect us.

In Isaiah 43, he says:

But now thus says the LORD,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43.1-2

God tells us that we will walk through hard times. But we should not fear, for He created us, redeemed us, and will always be with us. 

GOD TELLS US WE WILL PASS THROUGH TRIALS

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

I would not be telling you the truth if I said you will never suffer if you follow Jesus. The opposite is true. The Bible promises that disciples of Jesus will go through many and various trials.

Note, God said WHEN you pass through the waters, WHEN you walk through fire, not IF you pass through the waters, or IF you walk through fire.

The New Testament tells us we will all suffer in various ways.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. JA 1.:2-3

We will meet trials of VARIOUS KINDS – our faith will be tested in order to produce steadfastness or perseverance.

 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 PE 1.6-7

Peter says that even gold, which doesn’t last, is tested by fire. How much more precious than gold is our faith. If gold is tested by fire then the genuineness of our faith will be tested as well. And that will result in God being glorified when Jesus returns. Gold is tested by fire; our faith is tested when we are “grieved by various trials.”

It’s easy to believe that God is good and loving and faithful and in control when everything is going our way and his blessings are easy to see.

But it glorifies God so much when we trust and continue to believe in him in the midst of trials, when his love and power are not as obvious. We who trust and hope in Jesus will not have carefree, trouble-free lives. But we believe 2 CO 4.17:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

When we get to heaven, our grievous afflictions will seem light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory they have produced. This glory will be so great it is “beyond all comparison.”

Even though we know this, when we suffering, we can still be tempted to fear. So God tells us “fear not”

THOUGH WE WILL ALL PASS THROUGH TRIALS, WE NEED NOT FEAR 

But now thus says the LORD,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, (1)

Isaiah wrote these words to the nation of Israel, who because of their sins, had been taken into captivity in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, who was powerful, brutal and cruel. He was the kind of king who would throw you into a furnace if you didn’t bow to his image or throw you into a lion’s den if you prayed. He was not a nice guy. Can you imagine the fears Israel had to deal with? They were in a strange land under a cruel king. Yet God tells them “Fear not…”

It would be like if ISIS conquered our nation and deported us to Syria and God said to us “Fear not.” I can imagine people who heard Isaiah might have said, “Fear not? Isaiah, look around. We’ve been ripped from our homes and deported to Babylon. We’re slaves to this horrific king Nebuchadnezzar. Who knows what’s going to happen to us?

We aren’t facing what Israel faced but we are always tempted to fear. It is part of our human condition. Fear involves the future. We are tempted to fear suffering in the future, for ourselves or our loved ones. During this current pandemic we can be tempted to fear for our children and grandchildren, and for ourselves. 

We may wonder where the money will come from to provide for our family. We are tempted to fear for their health and safety. I have said to my wife a few times over the years, “I used to think that when our children were grown and out of the house, everything would be easy.” Wrong. In some ways it’s harder now because we carry burdens and hopes and concerns for our kids, and now we have grandchildren to be concerned about. 

None of us  know what the future holds, so we can be tempted to fear.

But God gives us powerful reasons to trust him.

WE HAVE POWERFUL REASONS NOT TO FEAR, BUT TO TRUST GOD

First, we should trust God because he created us

But now thus says the LORD,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

God says to Israel: I created you. I formed you. You belong to me. You are my possession. In Deuteronomy God had said:

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7.6

Israel was God’s “treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Would he not care for his treasured possession?

A friend of mine built some beautiful handcrafted tables in a local coffeeshop. Do you think that after all the thought and work he had put into creating these beautiful tables that he would thoughtlessly wreck them?

God says to Israel, “I created you! I formed you! You’re my treasured possession.” Do you think I won’t protect and deliver and help you?” He says the same to us: “I made you a new creation in Christ my Son. Do you think I won’t protect you and care for you?”

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 CO 5.17

Secondly, we should trust God because he redeemed us

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine. (1)

To redeem in the Bible means to pay a price. To pay a ransom in exchange for someone, to pay a price to buy someone back. 

Isaiah’s words looked forward to what God would do to redeem us: God would pay the ultimate price to pay for our sins and save us  – the infinitely precious life of His Son. That’s how much God loves us. Jesus never sinned. He always perfectly obeyed his Father. But He paid the redemption price. He paid for our sins on the cross so the Father could forgive and adopt us. 

THIS is why we should “Fear not” – for God has redeemed us, called us by name. We are His, precious in His eyes. and He loves us. He has called us by name – individually. And we are His. 

The more we pay for something, the more precious it is to us. God could not have paid a higher price to redeem us. If He had sacrificed all the angels in heaven, it would not be equal to one drop of His Son’s infinitely precious blood.

So when we pass through the waters, when we go through rivers, when we walk through fire, we can be absolutely confident that God loves us. He is not punishing us. He has redeemed us with the blood of his Son. He has called us by name. We are his. Anything that he takes us through is because he loves us intensely. We may not understand it, and we can cry out to him, but let us never forget, He loves us so much He crushed his Son to redeem us. He will only do good to us.

Third, we should trust God because He is personally with us

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

God is not far off from us when we are going through hard times. When I first got saved, I thought God was probably so busy running the universe, He didn’t care about my little problems. But that is simply not true. God promises “I will be with you.” This is where faith comes in – we don’t always feel like God is with us. We can feel like God has abandoned us. But He has promised to be with us.

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah PS 46.1-3

God is A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE – he is very present – right here – not far away.

So how do we “Fear not”? How do we combat fear when we must walk through floods and fire? By remembering that God created us anew in Christ – we are His treasured possession. God redeemed us – paid the highest price to rescue us from our sins – the blood of His Son – that is how valuable we are to him. And has promised to be with us – he will never leave us nor fosake us, not even for 5 minutes. He will never let us go. That’s how we fight our temptation to fear.

Photo by Emiliano Arano from Pexels

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10 Powerful Truths To Remember About God During The Coronavirus https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/10-powerful-truths-to-remember-about-god-during-the-coronavirus.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-powerful-truths-to-remember-about-god-during-the-coronavirus https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/10-powerful-truths-to-remember-about-god-during-the-coronavirus.html#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2020 14:12:11 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31914 During a crisis it is so easy for us to focus on everything that is happening in the world, and ...

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During a crisis it is so easy for us to focus on everything that is happening in the world, and all around us, and to take our eyes off the Lord. Almost every day we can be consumed with how many new cases have moved into our area or what steps the government is taking during this time.

And there is nothing wrong with being concerned for our health and safety and that of our family and nation, and friends and the world. But we must not forget to keep our eyes on the Lord. To make God our main focus. Here are 10 critical and powerful truths about God to remember and regularly call to mind during these times.

Truth About God #1: God is sovereign

…for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose Isaiah 46:9-10

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3

God is on his throne. He is in complete control of every single thing that happens on this earth. Nothing can happen unless he allows it. He is not taken by surprise by this virus. It cannot spread a single iota beyond what he allows. Our God is in complete control of every single atom in the universe. He knows the beginning from the end. He knew when this would begin and he knows when he will bring it to an end.

Satan may possibly be behind this virus but remember that in the book of Job Satan had to ask God’s permission for every single thing he did to Job and when God allowed Satan to afflict Job he set boundaries. He said, “You may do this and this but you may not do this.” God is in complete control.

Truth About God #2: God is infinitely greater than this virus

He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure. Psalm 147:4-5

God is infinitely greater than Satan and all the demons of hell. He is infinitely greater than all of the angels in heaven. The whole universe is but a speck compared to him. He can bring this epidemic to an end whenever he desires because he is all powerful. It cannot last 1 second longer than he allows.

Truth About God #3: God has a purpose for anything and everything he allows

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Proverbs 16:4

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Psalm 33:11

God has a plan. This wasn’t by accident. And God‘s plans for his people are always good plans. For I know the plans I have for you etc. because so many of us have had our “plans“ disrupted – perhaps plans to travel, our daily plan to go to work etc. we may feel I’m happy about it but God has plans to use this for our good and his glory.

We can’t possibly fathom why God would allow such a horrific plague, but  he has a purpose for allowing it, and he is completely wise. This isn’t some random event happening in the world. “The Lord has made everything for its purpose…” Someday in heaven we will see how this pandemic fulfilled God’s purposes.

Truth About God #4: God causes all things to work together for good for his children

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

We may not be able to see how a worldwide disease can be working for good for us but God‘s word tells us it is.

What are some ways God could be working this for our good? He is causing us to look to him and trust him in ways we have never had to before. He is building patience into us as we hunker down and do our social distancing. He is reminding us of our total dependence on him. He is stirring us to cling to his Word and his promises. He is causing us to appreciate how blessed we have been for so many years to never experience anything like this before. And a thousand other things he is doing.

Truth About God #5: God is infinitely good

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:9

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Because God sometimes allows evil does not mean that he is not good. God allowed Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery and affliction in Egypt but down the road Joseph saw that God had a loud it for good, for the salvation of multitudes during the famine, Including his brothers who had sinned against him and their families.

God is always perfectly and infinitely good. We may wonder how could a good God allow us to suffer like this? We don’t always see how God can be good in this life. But we must trust his word. He is always good and never wavers from being good.

Truth About God #6: God desires to save multitudes

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9

God is so patient and forbearing. He could have destroyed the human race with plagues centuries ago. But he has withheld so much evil, because he is patient with us, not desiring for any human to perish, but that all should reach repentance. Perhaps one of his reasons for allowing this is to cause many to turn to him for salvation. Let us pray to that end – that this virus will cause multitudes to turn to God and be saved.

Truth About God #7: God hears every single prayer we pray

We may feel like our prayers are puny and weak compared to this massive, worldwide sickness. We may feel like we are standing in front of a Tsunami, and trying to blow it back with a paper hand fan.

But the God tells us our prayers are powerful.

…The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. James 5:16-18

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Truth About God #8: God delivers us from evil, including sickness and disease

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:1-3

Jesus demonstrated what God is like. He healed every disease. He healed thousands. He opened blind eyes and deaf ears. He healed lepers and cripples. He hasn’t changed. He is still a healer. He still delivers from evil. This does not mean that believers will never suffer or die. But God tells us to cast our cares upon him, to pray, to ask him to help us and deliver us. And many times he does rescue us from evil. But even if he doesn’t in this life, he will ultimately deliver us from all evil when he takes us to be with himself in heaven.

Truth About God #9: God is always with us and will never forsake us

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

Just as God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were in the fiery furnace, so he will always be with us, no matter what we have to go through. Whether we’re locked down in our homes, or in a hospital, or anywhere else, God will be with us. He will never leave us. And he will eventually take us home to be with us forever in heaven.

Truth About God #10: Someday God will wipe away every tear from our eyes

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Someday we will have no more sickness. No more pain. No more sadness. No more tears. No more fears. We will be at the marriage feast of the Lamb, gazing upon the infinite beauty of the One who saved us from our sins, sustained us through every affliction, and brought us to himself in heaven. The coronavirus will only be a faint memory if we remember it at all.

Let us try our best to keep our focus on God in the midst of all the news and struggles we are going through. He is our delight, our protector, and our deliverer.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli from Pexels

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14 THINGS THE CORONAVIRUS CAN REMIND US OF https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/14-things-the-coronavirus-can-remind-us-of.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=14-things-the-coronavirus-can-remind-us-of https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/14-things-the-coronavirus-can-remind-us-of.html#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2020 15:58:33 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31908 I have never seen such widespread fear in our nation, except perhaps after 9/11. The coronavirus is causing people to ...

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I have never seen such widespread fear in our nation, except perhaps after 9/11.

The coronavirus is causing people to be constantly checking the news, to practice “social distancing,” to be washing their hands more than ever, to wear face masks, and to be running to stores to stock up on toilet paper and food and everything else they will need in case we’re “locked down” for several weeks.

There is nothing wrong with doing these things. But for believers in Jesus, the coronavirus can be a good reminder to focus on the Lord and his word. We can be tempted to focus on fear. But Jesus doesn’t want us to do that. Here are some things I have been reminded of by the coronavirus. I hope they will encourage you…

The coronavirus can remind us that we are frail and fragile

This is humbling. We like to feel like we are strong and invincible. But we are mere flesh and blood. Any one of us could be in the hospital later today. It is good to be reminded of how much we need the Lord to protect us and help and sustain us. If you have physical strength and good health it is a blessing from the Lord. Along these lines…

The coronavirus can remind us that we are powerless

Our government is powerless. Our army is powerless. We can’t stop this virus. We can take precautions, but there’s nothing we can really do but wait it out. We must wait for God, the One who is all-powerful, the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power, to stop this. And speaking of power…

The coronavirus can remind us that God is the only one in absolute control

God could stop this pandemic in one second if he wanted to. He can protect us. God is more powerful than all the diseases in the world put together. God is infinite in his power. Nothing is too hard for him. He can stop wars. He can hurl Satan and his demons into hell. We aren’t in control of a single thing in our lives. But God is, and he invites us to come to him for help and protection and peace.

The coronavirus can remind us that God is all-knowing

God knew when and where this outbreak would start, and how far it will spread. He wasn’t taken by surprise by this. He knows when it will end. God knows the beginning and the end of history. He knows every single person, and every single thought, word and deed they have done and will ever do. He knows you and me and everything we need. He knows how to protect us and help us and provide for us.

The coronavirus can remind us that we are all going to die someday

I’m not being morose or downcast. I’m not an Eeyore. But it is really helpful to remember that this life is temporary. This world is temporary. Every single day of our lives is a gift from God. Every beat of our heart, every breath we breathe are gifts from God. God’s word tells us…

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Many writers say that one thing to consider as you set goals or plan your life is to think “What would I like people to say about me at my funeral?” Remembering that our life is temporary and our days are numbered can give us a “heart of wisdom.”

The coronavirus can remind us that we should look to our God for help

To keep our eyes on him. We should pray to him and ask him to protect us and provide for us. We should put our trust in him and look to him to give us peace. Our loving Father invites us time and time again to run to him for help and to bring him all our concerns.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

The coronavirus can remind us that we should look to our God for joy

This world is fading away. Someday there will be no cities, no highways, no stores, no theaters, no golf courses or restaurants. All the wonders and beauties and joys of this world are gifts from God, but they should point us to the giver of every good gift. We should make God our treasure.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

The Lord is our “chosen portion” and our “cup.” He is our treasure. He is our “beautiful inheritance.” Only the Lord can satisfy us. This current crisis is a good reminder that this world can never permanently satisfy us.

The coronavirus can remind us to look forward to heaven

We should be looking forward to the day when Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes. When we will no longer be tempted to fear. To the time we will never have to be concerned again about our needs, our health, our loved ones. To the day we will gaze upon the infinitely beautiful face of our Savior.

The coronavirus can remind us that we must wait for the Lord

It’s hard to wait. I don’t like waiting in traffic, or in long lines in the grocery store. And if I have to basically stay in my home for the next 2 months, it is going to be hard for me. I want it all, I want it all, l want it all, and I want it now, to quote Queen. But this can be an opportunity for me to wait on the Lord. To grow in patience. To pray. To trust him for his perfect timing to end this thing.

The coronavirus can remind us of what is really important

Our eternal salvation. Our relationship with the Lord. Our relationships with our loved ones. Bearing fruit for God. Fearing him and loving him and living for him.

The coronavirus can remind us of how blessed we are and have been

All the years of health we have enjoyed. All the years we have not had to face things like this. All the days we have walked out into the sunshine or swung by the store for a snack. All the times we went to sporting events to watch our kids. And a thousand other blessings God has showered upon us in our lives.

The coronavirus can remind us that we should be thankful for God‘s protection and mercy

That we should be thankful for God‘s protection and mercy. We should be thankful for every day keeps us safe from this danger. I so often take God’s protection for granted. Every time I drive somewhere. Every night I go to sleep. Every day I enjoy life and safety is a gift from God.

The coronavirus can remind us to be grateful we have roofs over our heads and places to live

That those of us who have homes or apartments should be grateful we have places to stay even though we may feel we are in a kind of lockdown for the next few weeks. There are millions of homeless people in the world who would be thankful if they even had a tent to live in. And we are tempted to grumble because we have to stay in our homes for a couple weeks with our TVs and microwaves and internet and running water and light and heat.

The coronavirus can remind us to pray that God will bring his kingdom on earth

To ask him to save multitudes in all the nations. Think of the thousands who have died from this virus who never called upon the Lord. Or who never even heard the gospel. Let us pray that the Lord will send out laborers and ask the Lord to give us opportunities to share the gospel too.

Let’s pray that the Lord will end this virus, that he will heal and protect multitudes and protect our nation and others, and that he will give us grace to trust him and rejoice always, to not grumble and complain, but to be thankful for all the ways he has blessed and kept us in our lives.

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Fighting For God’s Peace In Fearful Times https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/fighting-for-gods-peace-in-fearful-times.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fighting-for-gods-peace-in-fearful-times https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/03/fighting-for-gods-peace-in-fearful-times.html#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2020 13:06:50 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31898 I can’t remember anything quite like the Corona virus ever happening in my lifetime. Our local university just cancelled a ...

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I can’t remember anything quite like the Corona virus ever happening in my lifetime.

Our local university just cancelled a basketball tournament. Schools all over the nation are shutting down. A couple and their daughter who recently came home to our small Western PA town from China, had to be quarantined for 2 weeks in their house. Local supermarkets are out of toilet paper and hand sanitizers. The Corona virus seems to come up in every conversation. 

We who believe in Jesus can certainly be tempted to fear.

And even when this trial is over, life is always full of temptations for us to be anxious. Anxious for our children and grandchildren. Anxious about finances. And all kinds of other things. So how can we who believe in Jesus fight to have God’s peace both now and in the future?

We must fight to keep our eyes on the Lord

Remember that no matter what we go through our Lord and God promises to be with us and protect us.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The Bible promises that believers will pass through trials of many kinds. God says, “When you pass through the waters,” and “When you walk through the fire,” not IF you experience these things. But God says that when we go through hard times, he will personally be with us. And he promises that rivers will not overwhelm us nor fires burn and consume us. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer physically, but nothing on this earth can touch our spirit. Nothing can separate us from our Savior.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Our good Shepherd will never leave our sides, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Death is only a shadow to us who believe. In this life, shadows may pass over us. But shadows cannot harm us. And neither can the thing that casts the shadow. Even when believers die, death can only cast its shadow over us. It cannot ultimately kill us, for our Savior gives us eternal life. And he will be with us, even when we are on our death beds.

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:3

We certainly want to be helped by health agencies and our government, and the medical profession, but none of them holds our right hand. None of them can tell us to fear not. But our God does. The God of the universe, the God who created and upholds the galaxies tells us he holds our right hand. He is intimately with us. He doesn’t say we hold his hand, but he holds our hand. He tells us to fear not because HE is the one who helps us. The God who is sovereign over all things holds our hand.

We must remember to take refuge in the Lord

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3

In these times of temptation to fear it is so good to know that GOD is our refuge and strength, not our government, or anything else. And our God is a VERY PRESENT help in trouble. He is not far off. He is not uncaring and uninvolved. He is present with us. Knowing this helps us not to fear even in cataclysmic times…when the earth gives way; when mighty mountains – things that seem immovable and unshakable – slip into the foaming, swelling oceans of the uncertainties of this life.

We must pray, and cast our cares upon the Lord

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah Psalm 62:8

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Our God tells us that when we are tempted to be anxious, about anything – sickness, finances, our future, our children – we should cast those cares, no matter how large or small, upon him. He tells us to do this because he cares about us. Isn’t this incredible? Almighty, infinite, glorious God cares about us! He cares about us because we are his children. He cares more about us than we care about ourselves. Nothing is too large or too small for us to cast upon him.

We must remember that our God will never forget us or let us go

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49:15

God will not forget you for a single second. He has more love for you and me than a mother has for her nursing child. God is watching over us when we are awake and when we are asleep. 

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

We must fight to trust the Lord

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112:6-7

When we trust in the Lord, we will not be afraid of bad news. Our hearts will be firm and we will not be shaken. Obviously, there is much more we could say about this topic, and many more encouraging Scriptures. What Scriptures have encouraged you?

O Lord God, help us to keep our eyes fixed on you. Help us to remember to cast our cares upon you. Help us to remember that you are with us when we pass through the floodwaters. Please deliver us from evil. Please give us your peace. Please help those who are suffering and afflicted. Please comfort loved ones of those who have died. Please bring an end to the Corona virus. Please cause even this to bring multitudes to you. Oh Lord, help us to trust in you and hope in you as we pass through the shadows in this life.

I have found that memorizing God’s promises gives me peace, hope and strength, so I have set a number to music. In these simple “Scripture songs” I sing the verses and their references 3 times. Nothing fancy, no complex arrangements. Just me and my guitar. If you listen to them a few times pretty soon you’ll know them by heart. Here are links to a few of these Scripture songs. I hope they encourage you.

http://bit.ly/2U7CmUe
http://bit.ly/2TLoS1y
http://bit.ly/2vhPsG8
http://bit.ly/3aMjXmG
http://bit.ly/2wPBeNk

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

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The Most Important Question To Ask Ourselves In Hard Times https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/02/the-most-important-question-to-ask-ourselves-in-hard-times.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-most-important-question-to-ask-ourselves-in-hard-times https://theblazingcenter.com/2020/02/the-most-important-question-to-ask-ourselves-in-hard-times.html#respond Tue, 18 Feb 2020 15:02:11 +0000 https://theblazingcenter.com/?p=31894 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways ...

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

All of us who believe in Jesus will go through hard and challenging times. We live in a fallen world. We suffer ourselves at times. At times we suffer because our children or grandchildren are suffering or not walking with the Lord. I recently talked with a couple whose daughter is living with her boyfriend, not following Jesus and seems to want little to do with her parents. Another parent I know grieves on a regular basis because her son has chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle. I know another believer whose business is struggling. And I know several believers who are going through serious health problems. In all these kinds of struggles we can be tempted to fear or wonder if the Lord will help us.

The big question in every one of these painful and challenging situations is this: Who am I going to trust?

Am I going to trust God and his Word or my own heart and assessment of the situation. Am I going to trust God’s promises or my own understanding?

God tells us we have 2 options: To trust in the Lord with all our heart and to acknowledge him in all our ways or to lean on our own understanding and be wise in our own eyes. 

First of all, we should trust in the Lord with all our heart.

This means we should trust God’s word wholeheartedly. Without doubt. Not partially. We must not think, “Well, maybe God’s word doesn’t apply to this situation. Maybe it applies to most situations, but not this one.”

We must believe that if God has made a promise he will fulfill it somehow. Some way. In his timing. I think this is especially hard with his promises for our children. He has made numerous promises to save them and to answer our prayers for them. I know many parents who did all they could to teach their kids about the Lord and bring them up in the knowledge of him. They took their children to church every week. Sent them to youth camps, etc. And now their children are not following the Lord. It is grieving to the parents. It is so hard to understand. After all God’s word promises that he will “establish” our children (Psalm 102:28), fill them with his Word and Spirit (Isaiah 59:21), and personally teach all our children (Isaiah 54:19). Yet they aren’t following as adults. So hard to understand.

So who will we trust? God and his promises or our feeble, limited understanding?

We need to trust the Lord and not lean on our own understanding in all kinds of other situations. When we are tempted to lust. Tempted to get involved in sexual sin. Satan will lie to us, just like he lied to Eve in the garden. “You will not surely die. Nothing is going to happen to you. No one will ever know.”

We need to trust God with our finances. “I tithe, I give to the poor, yet why am I so tight? I thought God promised to bless me. Yet here we are. Financially tight. Why should I keep giving to the Lord?”

God tells us: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. He also tells us: Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

That’s the big question: who will we trust? The Lord or ourselves? The Lord, who is all-powerful, all-wise, all-knowing, and completely good and loving, or our own understanding? Our own “eyes” or our own limited view of things, our own limited assessment of things.

We must cling to God’s promises and trust his word, even when we don’t see the answers. When we trust his word, we are really trusting his character.

When we trust a friend, or any human, we are trusting their character. Trust is always necessary when someone makes a promise. And trust is always necessary when we are waiting for something. If it’s in our hands we don’t need to trust that someone will give it to us.

We trust God as we wait for him to fulfill his promises. Psalm 27 tells us:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:13-14

In this Psalm David is trusting the Lord for things in the future – in the land of the living. He “believes” or trusts, that he shall look upon the goodness of the LORD. But he hasn’t gotten it yet. He tells us we need to “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the LORD.”

That’s not easy. It’s not easy to be strong. It’s not easy to let our heart take courage. But God will help us. Cling to this promise. Memorize it. I have, and I remind myself often that God has promised that I will see his goodness. In this life! In the land of the living. But especially in heaven. I know I will see how he has answered all my prayers.

When I was a young Christian, an older believer would say, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” I have never forgotten that. I remind myself of that as I fight to believe God’s word and not my own assessment of things.

God said it. And God is not a liar. God always tells the truth. We can trust his character. Another verse I use to fight my doubts is Numbers 23:19:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

God never lies nor changes his mind. He will fulfill his every promise. Keep believing his Word. Keep trusting him.

I have written a few simple Scripture memory songs and made YouTube videos of them to help me memorize his promises. Here are a few if you’d like to check them out.

‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32.17  http://bit.ly/2HDy2WU

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13 bit.ly/323FwMm

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14 http://bit.ly/37ETt4K

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