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Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

A Walk with Purpose | Contemplations in essays, creative prose, and poetry | A Christian's perspective on life, written by someone who happens to be working to health from chronic illness | May your day be brighter and your dreams sweeter | © 2012-2017 Bernadette Saddik, RoomFullOfIdeas.com | All rights reserved. I am not an expert. All photos, writing, and anything else posted is my own unless otherwise stated. Please, if you would like to share, give credit to the author. The content on this site is not professional advice or analysis. Please note that your comments are subject to moderation. Thank you.

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Invitation and Salvation | Seeking God’s Ever-Present Help

Author: Bernadette Saddik

You know those angry days?
Those frustrating days?
Those days you are stuck in a moment, stuck in progress, stuck in the need to be better, have better, stuck in the need for more or for less?

These can be the kinds of days that linger far longer than 24 hours.

Every time we let pain, despair, or anger consume us, we enter into the reason for Christ’s suffering.
We become active participants of His crucifixion.
It is inevitable we will.
We are still growing children who make mistakes.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…

O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 3:10, 23; 7:24 KJV

A Saviour. A Saviour Who brings good news for us,

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.” Romans 3:24-25a KJV

We can also enter into His resurrection.
When we turn to those troubles and tell them, “You don’t define me,”
When we turn to Christ and give Him permission,
we then define ourselves in context of salvation.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:1, 11 KJV

Who I am is not in pain. I experience pain.
Who I am is not in despair. I experience despair.
Who I am is not angry. I experience anger.

Who I am is saved.

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)…For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:4-5, 8 KJV

And each experience, no matter how difficult, is a reminder of who I am.

“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:2, 4 KJV

Each moment of trouble is overcome because it becomes a testimony to Christ’s love.
Because we always want to see an obvious sign that God is in our lives.
What sharper contrast exists than when we at our lowest commune with God most high?

“Though the LORD be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me…

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Psalm 138:6-7a; Romans 10:13 KJV

How simple it can be, as short as the powerful Jesus Prayer.

Save me, Lord.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Lord have mercy.
Have mercy.
Mercy.
Lord!

Sometimes that’s all I know to say in an hour of darkness,
That’s all I can cling to when nothing else seems to make sense.
Still, even one word is all I need to invite God into that tormented moment.

If nothing else, I pray I won’t let pain’s presence take away the victory of that empty tomb in my life.

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:15 KJV

When we admit to ourselves when it is not one of our shining hours,
When we admit to ourselves an overwhelming temptation to succumb to our trials,
When we admit to ourselves that we are not always going to see God in the way we think we are,
Then we allow ourselves to reach out to God’s all-encompassing love in whatever clumsy, broken way we can.

Just as the blind men did as they stumbled after Christ. Matthew 9:27-30
Just as the bleeding woman did for years seeking health. Matthew 9:20-22
Just as the paralyzed man did whenever the water stirred. John 5:1-9
Just as Ruth did in the tragic loss of her husband. Ruth 1:16-17; Ruth 4:13-22
Just as Paul did about that stubborn thorn. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Just as Stephen did in his martyrdom. Acts 7:54-60

I wonder if these people knew what was coming to them.
That holding on to God, even in their suffering, was not for naught.
I wonder if you know that for yourself.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 KJV

We have evidence in the promise of this glory.

“Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 4:14, 17; 5:17 KJV

Those blind men saw.
The bleeding woman healed.
The paralyzed man walked.
Ruth was blessed for generations.
Paul persevered.
Stephen joined Christ in heaven.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 KJV

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Hebrews 4:16 KJV

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Categories: Concepts

Praying for a Dream | God’s Purpose for Your Life

Author: Bernadette Saddik

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish“…For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:14, Luke 19:10 KJV).

Something I have been thinking about lately is knowing what direction God wants us to walk. I am no expert and find myself daily questioning if I am doing the right thing, if God wants me to follow the dreams I am pursuing.

Of course, He wants us to walk toward and with Him.

But what does that mean in application? What am I even looking for?

Because I want so many things that I am often lost. I want to explore a hidden coastline, stand beneath the unpolluted stars on a new moon night, leave a dust trail behind as I sprint to the finish line. I want to build a community of health and happiness and hope. I want to laugh and smile and walk and write without any pain. I want more, more, more.

And you know what? You know what this ugly expression of “I wants” simplifies to in its most satisfying, beautiful way? What we actually want and are created for, not this periphery laundry list?

I want what You want for me, Lord Jesus Christ.

I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” John 17:23 KJV (John’s full account of Christ’s prayer here)

It’s so simple.

And it seems so hard.

But this singular want is our starting point, and it is descriptive of every want worth wanting as we grow into our God-given purpose.

Thus we keep asking about everything: “Is this what you want for me God?”

And He answers. He answers in the discomfort of your direction. In your confidence of it. He redirects challenges to proclaim His plan, or to steer you away from danger. In so many ways, He answers.

And I say unto you: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened…how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” Luke 11:9-10, 13b KJV

In Faith in Our Future | Hope in God’s Plan, I mentioned that our passions, gifts, and pains help reveal God’s plans for us.

What invokes deep love, fulfillment, expression of God-imaged self, and burning desire to fix a wrong — these are what point in the direction of your dreams — these are wanting what God wants.

To follow what is wholesome — that which satisfies our core as the children of our merciful mighty Creator — is to want what God wants.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 KJV

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10 KJV

It is a slow process at first. “Lord, is this what you want for me?” we ask as we linger and wander until we hear the answer.

We miss the mark, especially at the beginning, more times than not.
We throw ourselves to a variety of paths, babies discovering ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

But with practice, you get quicker. “Lord, is this what You want for me?” you ask as you venture forward unhesitatingly because you already hear the answer. We move faster, faster, faster —

our crawls turn into stumbles,
our stumbles into steps,
steps to strides,
and suddenly we find ourselves running the race set before us,
Run, Run, Run with Purpose,
I want what You want, Lord!

That’s everything, that’s it, and that’s more than anyone can ever imagine.
I want what You want.

“So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 KJV

It’s so simple.

And it seems so hard.

But really, His guidance makes it so easy.

And the dreams He inspires in answer to our incessant questions are so worth the effort.

“…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 KJV

Learn from those who are already running to their God-given purpose.
From them, how to persistently ask, “Is this what You want for me, God?”
Learn how to listen to His guidance.
How to humbly accept that guidance.
How to run faster, stronger, and better in Christ.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1 KJV

Learn from them that, as flawed beings, we will still fall.

Because, in this growing process, what we want for ourselves does not always match what God wants for us, even though God’s desires for His beloved are more satisfying than the broken goals we conceive for ourselves.

Our misguided plans may seem more attractive at the time. They make sense to us in the limited context we function. How tempting it is to rationalize that God must want this for us, that we need not ask Him first or listen for His answer!

It is uncomfortable to shed the illusions in which we have invested.

But with practice, we develop an eye for the grace-woven pattern of God’s hand in our lives.

The illusions do not look pretty anymore.

How can they when they pale in light of God’s masterpiece unfolding? When He has given so much reason for Faith in Our Future, Hope in His Plans?

For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17 NIV

In the sorrow, the mess, the nightmare of this passing moment, as we often require, cry out in frustration as we do not get what we think we want. Be lost, confused, uncertain of your true purpose.

But in sweet deep belief of One Who loves us sacrificially, don’t forget to cry out “Lord, I want what You want for me.”

Form my dreams, Lord, reveal them, nourish them and nourish me. Lord, in everything always, let me want what you want!

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:10-14 KJV

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Categories: Concepts

God’s Love in His Gift of Praise | Gratitude, Hope, Faith

Author: Bernadette Saddik

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” Psalm 42:5 KJV

Praise God, even in hardship. Even in hardship.

Now consider what a gift praise is. Expressing thanks to God is no passive activity, nor is it a one-way expression of love from us to God.

The nature of praise (thanksgiving, gratefulness) is His gift to our hope and faith. Especially in hardship.

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because He hath dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:2, 5-6 KJV

When our burdens overwhelm us, turn to God. In praising Him, we are reminded of the joyful future which His salvation promises. Even if you cannot see it now, you are surrounded with blessings. Blessings which, at the very least, add up to God’s wonderful purpose for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

With these, we look forward in hope.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:5-6 KJV

Christ loves us so much that He died for us sinners. He, Who cares for the withering grass and the small sparrows. We walk trusting that what God has done so far is significant for the ones He made in His very own image.

And our lives do unfold into a praiseworthy journey.

Remember the woman who bled for years? No doctor knew what to do for her. She was a lost cause. Yet, God brought her straight to the robes of the Gentle Healer. It took twelve years. Twelve! Were those years meaningless? No!

God planned for her to be healed directly by Christ Himself when He walked among us. He planned for her journey to be an inspiration to you, me, and many others. Because of her faith, Christ healed her — in His own time, according to His grace-filled plan. Matthew 9:20-22

The account of the bleeding woman demonstrates that a hopeful future is indeed fulfilled (not per our flawed timing) if we have faith.

And what is faith without praise?

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” from 1 Peter 1:7 NIV

So, not only is praise a powerful motivator for hope, but it also is an affirmation of faith. It strengthens us in strengthening our knowledge of that special contract with God which faith represents — I trust in You, God, and You will not let me down.

You, Lord, provide abounding reasons for me to have faith in You. Let me list them in my gratitude. And as I list them, You raise my countenance from the depth of sorrows and fill me with the light of hope. How can darkness survive when You manifestly nourish me?

Is this not praise?

Being grateful, praising God, is an instant reminder of the intricate weave that ties our ordinary moments to our extraordinary God.

For blessings, including ‘simple’ blessings — a blink, a heartbeat, a breath, a new song, a friend, another day —  mean that we have One Who loves us.

Thanksgiving is a powerful reminder that we are not alone…
That we have a mighty Shepherd Who fought the worst of wolves for us, and won…
That we have a loving Saviour Who gives life to us then asks for our troubles…
That we are children of a merciful God Who gives us a purpose to live for in this broken world…

Praise is encouraging.
Praise is sustaining.
Praise is rejuvenating.

I pray that my eyes may be open in gratitude to the joy-filled adventures through which God certainly guides me to a hopeful future.

Care to join me?

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:” Romans 5:1-4 KJV

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me...Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Psalm 23:4, 6 KJV

God's Love in His Gift of Praise

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Categories: Concepts

Thy Neighbor | Loving Others through God’s Provisions

Author: Bernadette Saddik

How many times have I looked someone straight in the eye while he cried? And I couldn’t even see the tears because he swallowed them, hiding from the cruel public.

How many times have I listened to someone’s words, but not her voice? And I couldn’t even hear the slight tremor she so tightly controlled, hiding from the cruel public.

How many times have I looked in the faces of people who silently scream their pain, their anger, their grief? How many times have I ignored the habits that hide the evidence?

There are many hurting people in this world. And it is so easy to look past them. I know. We all have our own burdens, and we often don’t seem to have the bandwidth to do anything about it.

But I have to remind myself of when Christ explains to the woman at the well that “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14 KJV)

God is love, and we are commanded to love our neighbor with some sort of action. (1 John 4:7-21, Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 10:25-37)

So, if we drink the Living Water, we fill ourselves with God’s love, because love is enduring, and love (God) leads to eternal life (1 Corinthians 13).

If it is God’s love that drives our actions, then by His power and His resources we can get the bandwidth to love our neighbor. To illustrate:

Remember the woman who Elijah approached for something to eat? She was a widow who had only enough food for a scant last meal for her and her son during a terrible drought.
The Lord provided her with enough flour and oil for Elijah, herself, and her son for as long as they needed. In her own shortage, God gave her enough to provide for another. (1 Kings 17:7-16)

Remember how many times Paul was imprisoned? Often chained, he still sang praise and ministered to those around him.
The Lord gave him strength to provide encouragement and guidance for others even in his own hardship. (Acts 16:22-34, Acts 22, Philippians 1:12-28, Colossians 4:7-18, and many other references)

In short: God provides for the paths through which He leads us (1 Peter 4:10-11).

I apologize for all the opportunities I missed to pray for you, to tell you, “You’re not alone,” to simply acknowledge that you are not really ‘fine.’

And from now on, I am going to strive to live with an an open mind to God’s direction and an open heart to His generous provisions.

Care to join me?

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21

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Categories: Concepts

Carry

Author: Bernadette Saddik

My heart is heavy-My spirit is worn.
My feet are tired-My head pounds.

Who’s burden is this to carry?
Am I not supposed to bear my own load?

We are all part of the body, responsible for the path You set out.
Is it possible for the hand to help the eye?
Or is the eye all alone?
1 Corinthians 12

Who’s burden is this to carry?
Am I not solely accountable to my Lord?

We are meant to work with others, loving them as You love us.
Is it wrong to ask for assistance?
Or is that misusing this love?
Luke 10:25-37

We are the recipients of sacrificial love, in need of Your salvation.
Is it wrong to lean on others?
Or is that disrespecting You?
Galatians 6:8-10

“My child, with this I leave you:
I AM ‘a stronghold in times of trouble.’ Psalm 9:9
‘[I] demonstrate [my] own love for [you] in this’ Romans 5:8
‘Christ died and returned to life.’ Romans 14:9

“So, little one,
Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved…and gave Himself up as a fragrant offering.’ Ephesians 5:2
‘Be devoted to one another in love.’ Romans 12:10
‘Serve one another humbly in love.’ Galatians 5:13

“Yes, child, it’s OK to ask for help–please ask Me!
No one’s burden involves just himself.
You do your part, open your heart.
And I will work all things for the good of those who love Me.”
Galatians 6:2-5, Romans 8:28

Our God is indeed great Who can turn pain into a medium for love!

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 NIV

 

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Categories: Concepts

Positivity

Author: Bernadette Saddik

What I am about to say next may or may not resonate with your experiences. However, this is the perspective of one physical chronic illness fighter and how I get through the day without losing myself. I pray that it helps you understand a loved one or helps you in your own journey. I write this to give some insight to the situation.

In my own experience, it is not possible to go through one moment to the next without some deep joy. Joy that comes from One, only One, enough as One source, our heavenly Father.

Without this joy, the knowledge that the next moment will hurt, and the next and the next and the next and the next…is beyond comprehension of the will to keep moving forward.

Resentment, frustration, anger, betrayal, and yes, hatred, fleetingly taunt the soul. But, joy provides the smooth glass to which these feelings cannot stick.

That is not to say that this, negativity, if you will, does not put up a fight to stay as residences.

It takes a lot of energy to fight. But, I keep fighting. Partly because I know that letting it overrule me takes more energy.

It is a blessing when one’s path in life is not to dig out of the pit of despair. And I am very grateful that this has not been a step in my journey. It certainly is not because I have done anything in particular that has made me ‘successful’ in dealing with the negative feelings. Each person has his own walk in life.

(I say feelings instead of attitude because one can definitely have negative feelings not associated with perspective. Simply thinking happy thoughts when ill will not make the pain go away. It is important to keep up spirits when possible, but when it hurts, it hurts!)

Ultimately, I battle each and every day not to lose hope, motivation; not to let the pain overwhelm me into hiding in bed all day. I don’t always achieve this goal. But, the tools I use to prevent it from overcoming me are genuine–as all of God’s gifts are. They may not necessarily prevent me from “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4 KJV), but God never promised that we wouldn’t.

He promised that He would not leave us. That after all this pain and suffering and emotional turmoil, we will be “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

I fear that unless one goes through it, it is difficult to grasp the gravity of the situation each second of the day presents. Yet, if this is the only way to understand the dilemma of the chronically ill, then I wish no one had to understand, and that those who don’t never do.

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22 KJV

Dilemma of Chronic Illness

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Categories: Concepts

Capability

Author: Bernadette Saddik

In my post, “Love,” I posed the question of what we are capable of handling.

I honestly don’t know all the answers, and the ones I do ‘know’ show my very limited understanding of the vast nature of life and God.

But this particular question stumps me more than a lot of others. In fact, I’ve been delaying this post for a while.

Every single one of us has a thorn. We all have at some point something in our lives we have to deal with.

And, the questions which inevitably come are: why did God let this happen (discussed in my post: “In the valley…”) and how are we going to get through whatever ‘it’ is.

Logically, one can conclude that with God, we can tread the path He lays out for us. (Psalm 23)

Emotionally, I want to throw reason out the window, curl up in a ball, and cry.

Not too helpful, is that?

How do we convince the heart, the depth of our very beings, that God will see us through a blissful end to our track?

Well, I go back to Paul and his thorn. Three times he pleaded that God take it away. And what did God say? “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV).

The first part of that response is where my dilemma starts. The answer, however, lies in the second.

God is lovingly invested in us in so many ways:
First of all, He is our Creator and Father.
Christ died and rose that we may live.
And, in His battle against evil, the weaknesses evil causes us highlight God’s strength because God strengthens His people through them.

He doesn’t want us to hurt, but there is evil in this world, and it inevitably strikes out at us, we who are made in God’s image. But, God won’t let us fall if we don’t choose to.

So really, all I need to concern myself with is whether I want God to handle my life or if I want to give myself the illusion of control as I spiral out of it.

Nothing like a nice, crisp contrast to make the choice clear.

Paul understood that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).

When I am huddled in pain, sobbing, wishing it could all go away, reliance on Christ fuels the ability to withstand anything in my path.

You can do it, forging ahead to fulfill the purpose God has given you. It hurts sometimes; it sometimes hurts a lot. But by simply moving forward, living each day in awe of creation, you by the power of the Spirit in you defeat that which is wrong.

Yes, God crushes its head and lifts you from its cruel, cruel jaw.

You win by acknowledging and accepting that God has won, wins, and will win.

You claim a part in His victory as His child.

Let it hurt. And let it be known that it doesn’t strike your core because of the brief prayer, “But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may Your salvation, God, protect me.” (Psalm) 69:29 NIV. Let God’s salvation protect you.

Let yourself feel down, and defeated, and depressed, and broken. And then rejoice that you don’t have to be up, and strong, and happy, and whole by yourself to get through your thorn. God does that for you. You’ll find your countenance brighter more often.

Christ is risen! He suffers what you suffer. He faced the worst that evil can throw at anybody, and He came out victorious. (Ephesians 4:8-10)

Victorious not just for Himself. For each and every one of us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 NIV

Yes, He has gifted us with a vast capability to handle whatever is thrown at us.

Yes He has.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NIV

 

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Categories: Concepts

“In the valley of the shadow of death…”

Author: Bernadette Saddik

“…I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” – from Psalm 23:4 KJV

Why do bad things happen in the first place? Why must we all at some point in our lives trek through this valley?

It’s a complicated question, one to which I don’t know the answer too. But, I’ve thought about it quite a bit in the past few months. Here are some thoughts. As always, feel free to comment.

First, let me be clear: God does not want us to suffer.

We must remember that the earth is under the reign of the evil one. You can read about how that happened in Genesis 3. The very ground is cursed; the world as it exists today is imperfect.

But, there is hope, for God, “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13 KJV).

That change of address, so to speak, will occur when we shed the bodies of the “the god of this world [Satan, who] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not…” (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV).

In the meantime, we live, striving to live like Christ. And we make mistakes steered by the brokenness of human nature.

Paul writes of the struggle we experience between right and wrong, and of God’s mercy. “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25 NIV. 

Christ has delivered us from death, from this chaotic world which humanity handed over to Satan! But what does that have to do with why bad things happen?

Because there are rules to the heavenly conflict between God and Satan, even though God has already won. Evil is a near infinite power, which means he still packs a punch. And because God doesn’t play dirty He follows those rules.

Remember Job? Satan challenges His authority, and Job was a part of this heavenly conflict which we cannot begin to understand. Yet, God blessed Him several fold over. He affirmed His power and wonderful plans for His flock.

That does not mean God is incapable of stopping bad things!

Rather, He takes us through journeys that end of being better for us. He takes what is inevitable and maximizes its good for us and harm against evil. Job learned a lot about God in the process, bringing him closer to the Heavenly Father.

Christ gave us an example of how we should face suffering. He cried out in prayer when He was weighed down by His burden. “‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’…Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will'” (Matthew 26:38-39 NIV).

“But as You will.” Powerful words. God is a benevolent God. “‘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'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

So, whatever suffering we face now, believe, have faith, that it is insignificant compared to the glory He is bringing us to one step at a time.

“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen” from Matthew 28:20 KJV

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Categories: Concepts

The Rocky Way

Author: Bernadette Saddik

I reach out my hand as I trip;
You are already there to catch me.
I raise my voice as I fall;
You are already there to hold me.
But Lord, You know I will trip and fall,
So why did you nearly let me?
But Lord, You know that I hurt,
So why not heal me?

“My child, I know of that which you do not.
I know where you will be in a thousand years.
Please, let Me wipe away your tears.
Accept that the victory evil sought
Is surely mine, now and forever.
This world, it isn’t the end.”

“Those rocks worship Me.
But, this world is fallen,
And evil makes them slippery.
I am infinite, evil is close to.
In a battle there will be wounds,
But My Son bore them for you.”

“I suffer your sufferings.
I have made your death life.
By My power your weakness turns the arrow
That flies to you ten times back.
By My power your pain makes you strong
That those rocks seem like nothing but pebbles.”

That those rocks are nothing but pebbles…
I change my perspective on bad?
Bad is death eternal.
Trial is nothing sad.
Evil tries to deceive,
To make us perceive
That God makes bad, death, happen.

Evil is the source of evil.
God is the source of good.
Keep the lens on straight,
For the way is narrow.
We’ll learn from this
And be all the better.
So, why do bad things happen?
Because, this world is broken,

And the best is yet to come.

 

In the meantime, remember to smile at life’s joys, for God grants us countless blessings each day, giving us a flavor of perfect happiness with Him, in Him, because of Him. Christ is risen, and all we do should rejoice in His victory over the only ‘bad’ thing that matters.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

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Categories: Concepts

Love

Author: Bernadette Saddik

There is a basic concept that God has allowed me to explore to help keep my spirits up. It reminds me of a difference between Judas and Peter.

Judas could not get past the fact that he was responsible for another’s death. He stewed in that horrible situation, and it drove him to a miserable permanent end.

The aforementioned example of Judas illustrates a problem–that staying stuck in that which is not good, in that which is not right, leads to scary ends (Matthew 27:1-5).

Happy thoughts are too simple, too shallow a solution. Great, the thoughts are in my head, but how do I get them to my heart? This is where the point of this entry come in.

God is love. It is this love that warms our hearts, our emotions, to Him. Christ made clear that love is an action (John 3:16). Thus, the action of love is what inspires our deepest motivations (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Most likely, you’ve heard the advice to go to a food bank and help others when you life isn’t quite agreeing with us, that it will make you feel better. While I certainly do not dismiss charity, it can be extremely discouraging when you are, for whatever reason unable to follow through.

You are not a failure.

This, however, can put us in an interesting predicament–we need action, but action seems insurmountable.

Here, God shows us His grace. Peter, who denied Christ three times, repented (Mark 14:66-72). The very nature of repenting means to acknowledge the wrong and then do something about it–often implementing a new strategy to prevent a repeat. Peter did not have to go out and do a thousand good deeds. He did, but he did not have to in order to be a part of God’s peace. All he needed to do was repent.

And that leads to a burning desire to sincerely follow where God led him (John 21:15-19). God will not give to us that which we cannot handle.

Which brings me to another question: what are we capable of handling? But that is for another post. (UPDATE: read about it here at Capability from 6/30/13)

In the meantime, do not stop praying and “asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9 NIV).

He does hear your prayers. He does answer.

Look for all the positive, wholesome moments in your life, and they are answers. Go from there, see where your prayers take your mind wanderings. Above all, love God, and love one another (Luke 10:27). It needs not be huge and grandiose. A small gesture can mean the world to someone.

Remember, God has granted us quite a capacity to love.

God bless you all

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11 KJV

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Categories: Concepts

To make a joyful noise…

Author: Bernadette Saddik

The other day, I saw a little curious dog. He skipped about every third step. I wondered why as I laughed.

I wondered why.

Ours is not to demand that God tell us why. But sometimes, in His mercy, He gives us a clue.

A clue that is like a boulder falling from the sky…hard to miss.

That adorable dog has a purpose. We all do. Actually, our purpose is most sacred among creatures, for we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1: 26-27). But, in that moment, one of his reasons for existence in that place at that time was to make me, and other bystanders, laugh.

God is a God of humor, of joy. Why else would the platypus look so hilariously strange to our eyes? Why does, as one acquaintance cannot help but point out, the pangolin look so giggly cute? Why does a laugh from the depth of our beings lift our spirits?

Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Laughter is the noise of joy. And we are to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 100:1 KJV).

So, one question we might ask God in our prayers is: what can I do to make a joyful noise. Yes, there are times in our lives when we must mourn (Ecclesiastes 3:4), when we suffer such that we can only focus on keeping our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). In those times, let the Spirit guide you.

The next time you debate: why bother smiling, why bother seeking joy in this broken world, remember, that is our calling (Ecclesiastes 8:15). We are messengers under Christ to spread the good news, and “light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart” (Proverbs 15:30 NIV). Imagine if the world saw a crowd of God’s followers smiling, rejoicing in His gifts. What a powerful ministry.

We are engrained to enjoy life. Don’t you enjoy receiving something? How many enjoy even more the act of giving? We can give others a taste of God’s bliss.

Christ is risen! Proclaim that with all the happiness that one can feel. Proclaim that in your thoughts, in your words, in your actions. Think positively, speak joyfully, laugh heartily. There is a wealth of gems of His marvelous glory. These shine brilliantly not by our own power, but by His.

Who knows? Your day might lift a little too.

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” -Psalm 126:1-3 NIV

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Categories: Concepts

Purpose

Author: Bernadette Saddik

The tsunami is not such a mighty force without a slew of variables.
…..The swell must reach a certain height in a certain place at a certain time.
…..A boat or school of fish might pass by and imprint its mark.
Very few variables–relatively speaking to this whole process–will have some direct impact on the final crescendo of this crashing wave.

There is no less honor for the parts early in this cycle than late.

As a community, let us build a tsunami of change.
…..However, just as this awesome phenomena can and often is devastating, so too can our actions be destructive.
Let us make our tsunami as beautiful as when it sculpts the rugged cliffs in the sunset.

We will succeed. We will also make terrible, terrible mistakes.

In our darkest hours, find the compassion God has awakened in us to seek a more perfect consequence.
In our crowning glories, find the joy God has blessed us with to strive for a more perfect peace.
In everything, inspire and be inspired, to advance. Motivate and be motivated, to grow.

Our actions, our thoughts, our words–they all contribute to this tsunami. Respect yourself. Respect others. Be deliberate in your choices.

Pursue the passions and gifts God has endowed upon you, for the work of the Lord knows no bound for progress. He plans for the good of those who love Him. So…

Speak out, no matter how loud or shaky.
Stand up, no matter how tall or steady.

You are the wind, the water, the fish, and the foam.
You have His power within you.
You are blessed.

You. Have. a Purpose.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV

Purpose

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Categories: Concepts

Nostalgia

Author: Bernadette Saddik

I don’t remember his name, but a guest speaker from a chapel once gave a sermon that has, for some reason, stayed close to my heart. It was about nostalgia. So, thank you, for all who speak on this topic.

Nostalgia, he explained, is a yearning for home—for heaven.
…..It is the tip of the iceberg called marvelous glory which we see on earth.
…..It is the sweet smell of that which we cannot quite remember the name.
…..It is a moment when God reveals a glimpse of the life which is to come.
…..It is one of His many gifts to us that keeps our eyes fixed on Him.

Back then, I thought it was limited to when my heart swelled at the crashing waves of the ocean. Now that I’m in the midst of this battle, nostalgia has a whole new dimension of meaning to me.

Let me side-track here: Pain in this life is inevitable—we live in a broken world (Genesis 3). Often we forget and get too caught up in the moment: that midterm becomes worth losing sleep over, this appointment is worth stressing out about, etc.

This is not the end…it is a step to a new beginning.

Yet, things of this world can too easily overwhelm us. We become blind to the nostalgic moments existent in the most seemingly dull times in our lives.

Remember that every breath is an opportunity to partake in this experience, to know God deeper, “…seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (from Acts 17:25 KJV).

As I learn to re-prioritize, I realize that more. I no longer need (though I’d love) to be by the ocean to feel this way.

Sometimes, just sitting crumpled in pain counting each breath as a blessing is enough to fill me with this wonderful experience. Through this, God grants me peace in the darkest hours.

Nostalgia, one might say, is a calling from the Comforter which settles the cries of our souls until that beautiful reunion with our Creator.

After all, I know without a doubt that better times are to come.

I’ve tasted it. You have too.

And I pray that you know this as well, that you may “know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19 NIV).

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Categories: Concepts