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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Joy is a spiritual state of well being. It is an assurance that God is in control, an inner source of delight regardless of circumstances. Happiness is an emotional state of well being, which is mostly determined by circumstances. Both joy and happiness are gifts, but joy takes precedence over happiness because joy is sustaining, while happiness is fleeting.

Nevertheless, joy often comes through pain and sorrow, something I would rather avoid. Psalm 30:5b tells us that: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,”

sunrise

Here are a few things that have brought me joy…

Losing a thirty-nine year old daughter was painful. Now, almost five years later, I find joy in knowing that she no longer suffers from a mental illness. I have a joyful assurance that she resides in heaven.

After my daughter’s death, my husband and brought her two children, ages 16 and 10, into our household. Death had seemingly robbed us of our retirement years. Our friends were skeptical of our decision to raise young children in our sixties and seventies, but we traded temporary happiness for sustaining joy and we have no regrets. Radical obedience produces joy.

I once prayed for a long time for a friend to find Jesus. When I saw hopeful signs of genuine change in my friend, I was happy; when my friend regressed, I was sad. I was on the roller coaster of life with them, but at some point, I finally understood that only God could retrieve, rescue, and restore the heart of my friend. When I rested in His will, His joy became my strength. After twenty-five years, God answered my prayer — my friend found the way to Jesus.

Sometimes I become discouraged when my live-in grandchildren misbehave. I focus on my failures and unrealistic expectations instead of God’s work in their lives. However, when I see them comfort another child or place their allowance in the collection basket at church or help an elderly neighbor, joy fills my heart.

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 4:17

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Sometimes you feel all alone in your thoughts and concerns.

How do I know this? — because I feel all alone sometimes, too.

My husband and I adopted a child who experienced bipolar disorder from the very early age of eighteen months. It was back when doctors thought it was impossible for children to have a mental illness.

No one understood; I felt all alone. The good news is that my alone-ness caused me to reach out to Jesus.

You see, sometimes we don’t know we need Jesus until He is all we’ve got. Medical help came for my little girl much later — at age seventeen. Jesus was all I had during those desperate years.

Even those closest to me didn’t understand my pain, my struggle. In their presence, I still felt alone. Their words were empty, like sounding brass echoing off the walls. Jesus was the only One who understood and I was not alone!

Where do you go when you feel alone?

When we feel alone, we need to get alone — alone with God, reaching out to Him. He is the one person who understands, empathizes, heals, encourages, and lifts us out of our alone-ness.NST

He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut 31:6).

Do you have a quiet, alone place, where you can seek the One who understands? — a place where you can reach Him? He is the only One who can meet your need.

You’re not alone!

View other posts on “You’re Not Alone” on http://www.holleygerth.com

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News Flash: My second book, Sixty Days of Grace, Reflections on: God’s Sufficiency for the Journey,is now in the publication process. After two weeks of scrambling to get all the necessary materials submitted to the publisher, I am finally blogging again. This is an exciting time as I wait in awesome anticipation of God’s wonderful plan to come forth in my life; but it is also a little scary, not knowing exactly where His dreams for me will lead me. Today, I would like to share one of the reflections from Sixty Days of Grace.

Grace Refused

What do you think is the biggest slap in God’s face? Is it murder, adultery, armed robbery, or child abuse? While these offences all represent a disregard for God’s commandments, none of them are so egregious that they’re beyond the forgiveness of God. Just peruse the Old Testament of the Bible and you’ll discover that God forgave all the faith heroes of gross sin. In the New Testament, Jesus delights in forgiving sinners.

No, the biggest slap in God’s face is refusing His grace!

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they refused His grace. However, their disobedience wasn’t a surprise to God. He’s an all-knowing God, therefore, He knew from the beginning they would sin and take all of us down the tubes with them. He already had a divine plan in mind to redeem His creation. That plan was to, one day, send His Son Jesus to suffer, shed His blood, and die on a cross as the final sacrifice for the sins of all men and women. This sacrifice provided an opportunity for people to be forgiven, redeemed, and forever live under God’s grace.

First, God gave mankind His moral laws. He gave these laws to reveal sin to the people, because without laws, they couldn’t discern right from wrong. For thousands of years people lived under horribly restrictive laws, which were impossible to keep. One of these laws required a priest to kill and sacrifice an innocent lamb on an altar to cover the sins of the people. However, this sacrifice only covered sin; it didn’t erase it forever. Therefore, the people had to continue to sacrifice lambs for sins, and live under laws that only pointed out their sin without redemption.

One would think that for these people, who lived under the Old Testament laws of sacrificing lambs for sins, Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of all would have made perfect sense. Unfortunately, most people during the time of Jesus didn’t connect the dots between the sacrifice of an innocent lamb in the Jewish religious ceremony and the sacrifice of Jesus, who called Himself the Lamb of God. Just like Adam and Eve, they refused God’s wonderful grace.

We gentiles also have refused God’s grace. Some can’t quite understand how Jesus’ sacrifice on a cross could be anything but cruel abuse leading to the death of an innocent man. At first glance, it seems like a wasteful exercise in futility. However, Jesus repeatedly taught that His sacrifice on a cross would redeem and make children of God all those who truly believed in this divine work. Rather than seeing this sacrifice as God’s greatest gift of grace, many still can’t connect the dots regarding its true significance. More than two thousand years after Jesus’ sacrifice, people still refuse to accept God’s redeeming grace. That’s the supreme slap in God’s face!

…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,

to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,

who is the image of God. (II Corinthians 4:4)

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Dearest Child,

You have many God-sized dreams; nevertheless, they seem thwarted by your disability.

You repeatedly ask, “Why did God make me this way?”

“God does not make mistakes,” I reply, “He has a purpose for you.”

“What is my purpose?” you ask.

“I cannot tell you that, only He can. You must seek Him and He will teach you,” I exhort.

The lions grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalm 34:10-11

“But, I’m not normal, Mama?”

“The Lord says you are beautifully and wonderfully made, little one.”

“I don’t feel beautiful.”

“You are beautiful in His sight and that is all that matters!” I retort.

“My dreams seem impossible,” you say.

“Perhaps, it is not about your dreams, dear child, but rather His dreams for you? They will materialize if you follow them because He is God and you are not.”

“I have limitations, I have nothing to offer, Mama.”

“Everyone has something to offer, dear one. Think of the gifts He has placed in you from the beginning. What can you do with what you already have?”

“But, Mamma, I am afraid.”

“Child,” I reply, “the only fear you need is the fear of the Lord.”

The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom;
 All who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To Him belongs eternal praise.
Psalm 111:10

“I will be here for you, but you must seek God’s dreams for you – His God-sized dreams. When you find them, you will also find your calling. Follow it until the end of your days, my child.”

Lovingly,

Your Mama

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It was Easter Sunday and I was as empty as the tomb of Jesus. I visited politely with the people around me at church, but my soul was a dry hole.

There was no apparent reason for the shroud of darkness that had enveloped me for weeks. It began right after writing that second book. I had a vague sense of feeling lost, not knowing where to step next. Although the previous six months had been stressful, surely I had been through worse periods of strain in my life.

I kept silent about the turmoil within, sharing my feelings with God alone. However, He seemed strangely distant. Certain that He had not moved, I entertained the idea that I had somehow stepped off the track, sinned, or missed a call.

Time dragged on. Answers to prayer did not come. Scraping my soul raw and repenting of all sin did not relieve the uneasiness; Bible study classes did not inspire; sermons waxed cold; and, ministry grew dull. Nevertheless, I continued every day to write in my journal three gifts I was thankful for and to read at least one Psalm.

While writing an article on depression, I reviewed the signs – a sense of sorrow, loss of purpose, lack of interest in normal activity, changed sleep patterns, inability to concentrate and/or make decisions, a vague sense of emptiness and anxiety… The signs were all there – I had slipped into depression. Imagine that! The very person writing and speaking about hope for mental illness was now depressed. 

Of course, there are those in churches who will say a Christian has no reason or right to be depressed. Yet, scripture confirms that it has been familiar to many throughout history:

The author of I Kings writes this about Elijah the prophet, “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life…’” I Kings 19:4

David wrote, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” Psalm 6:3

Paul wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Romans 9:2

Even Jesus cried out when he was on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.

There is no way of knowing what caused my depression and I thank God it was temporary. Nonetheless, several good things came of it – now I can truly mourn with those who mourn and I can comfort others in ways that I have been comforted. 

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What happens when we hope for things that do not materialize?

In high school, my best friend often told me that she stopped hoping for anything because she did not want to be disappointed again. Obviously, in the short fifteen years of her life she had already met with so much disillusionment that she felt it necessary to build a wall around her heart to shut out hope.

Much later, I learned she lived in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home. Her hope was in her parents’ changed behavior. She hoped they would stop drinking and perhaps that she might be a part of their recovery. However, when the circumstances did not change, it ended in disillusion, because her hope was misdirected.

I once asked a 97-year-old relative if he thought he would go to heaven. He said, “I hope so.”

At age 97, he was surely close to the end of life, and I deemed it urgent to talk about his eternal destination; so, I asked him on what grounds he had hope of going to heaven.

He replied, “I have been a good man. I have obeyed God’s laws. I was faithful to my wife. All my life, I went to church every Sunday…”

However, I burst his bubble when I asked if he just “hoped” he would go to heaven or if he “knew” for sure he would.

“No one ‘knows’ for sure if they will go to heaven,” he rationalized.

His response made it apparent that he only “hoped” he would go to heaven; he was not sure he would. I then shared with him how he could know for sure. His hope had been in his good deeds, and it was misdirected.

When my daughter became ill, I placed my hope in my ability to find the right doctor, the right counselor, and the right medicine. I was sorely disappointed when nothing worked. My hope was misdirected.

The Bible tells us hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5), and yet, we see that when we place our hope in the wrong places i.e. other people, good deeds, or our own abilities, it ends in disillusionment, doubt, and disappointment. How and where have you directed, or misdirected, your hope?

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;

My hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;

He is my fortress,

I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6.

Would you like to learn more about finding hope in difficult situations? Enter your name in a drawing to win a free copy of the book, God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder, go to www.dorothyruppert.com/contact-dorothy . In the message box type “enter me in the drawing” and provide your mailing address. All entries must be submitted by 12:00 a.m., April 15, 2013. Two winners will receive a free copy.

This book is about evidence of God’s grace and hope as I walked alongside my daughter who experienced bipolar disorder.

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A mom never stops being a mom, no matter how old her children. Nevertheless, I may be one of the oldest moms still raising a child. Our daughter went to live with Jesus four years ago and my husband and I took on responsibilities for rearing her two children. Our grandson is now 20 years old and living on his own. Our granddaughter is 14, a freshman in high school, and is still with us.

I have always been a planner – a goal setter. When I married my husband, I had already planned what my life would look like. Of course, everything was going to be perfect, but God had another idea. Planning and setting goals is wise; however, leaving God out of the equation is a mistake. He knows the future and we do not. I have learned that God’s thoughts are forever higher than mine…

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9.

God blessed our marriage with happiness, a home in the country, and a delightful son. Nevertheless, my first unmet goal occurred when I was unable to have a second child. (My infertility lasted 12 years, when we had another natural-born son.) A womb shut up by God, resulted in the adoption of our beautiful three-week-old baby girl in 1969. We named her Tammy and, for the first two years, our lives were picture perfect.

As our baby girl grew into toddlerhood, I observed that she often displayed an unexplainable moodiness. With each passing day, she became more irritable and our home became chaotic. By the time she entered kindergarten, I had read all the books on child development and child behavior in the local public library and two university libraries. To obtain further advice on what could possibly be wrong, I consulted every professional I could find. There were no answers. I could not fix whatever was happening to my child and, apparently, no one else could either.

One evening, when our daughter was six years old and dreadfully ill, I sat in a pew at my church in utter despair; my spirit was broken, my plans demolished. Nonetheless, God had a better plan – one that I did not fully understand at first! That night I surrendered my life and all my plans and dreams to Him.

My trials did not stop – they intensified, but God was now at the helm of the ship instead of me. It took another eleven years for our daughter to receive the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the treatment for it. My book, God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder, is the heart-gripping story of my journey through those troubled years.

Wellie-BookThis book is about God’s marvelous grace, imparted to me, in difficult times. God repeatedly reassured me with this verse…

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. II Corinthians 12:9.

So now, I am a “grandma-mom.” My 14-year-old granddaughter teaches me every day that God’s grace is sufficient. I jokingly tell my friends that I am mothering again because I did not learn all my lessons the first time around. However, I am fully aware that this is one more divine opportunity, one more gift from God to discover His plan for my life.

God has the best plan for you and for me – one we could never envision or accomplish on our own.  

Register to win a free PDF copy of thirty devotionals from the book, God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder, by going to www.dorothyruppert.com/contact-dorothy Type in your name, email address, in the message space type “enter me in the drawing,” and email it back to me. All entries must be submitted on or before 12:00 a.m. CST, April 15, 2013. Two winners will be randomly drawn from the names submitted.

To purchase an author signed soft-cover book, go to www.dorothyruppert.com/purchase-a-book .

Unsigned books and eBooks are available at online retailers.

For more stories of God’s grace, keep coming back to this blog.

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