Archive for the 'Comfort' Category

Stand Fast in Times of Trial

My heart has been especially burdened lately with the trials that many of you are experiencing. From lost jobs, to financial difficulties, hospital stays, and even family deaths, there just seems to be a lot of stuff happening that just isn’t fun. But I’m writing this blog to tell you that I have had confirmation from our Lord both from His Word and through several of His servants that He has not left our side. In fact, He’s right here holding out His hand to you so that you stay close to His protection and comfort. God wants you to stand fast in your times of trial.

When we talk about standing fast I always remember that the Bible says in Ephesians 6:11-13 for us to:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This passage means that life is not without difficulties. We will experience them, and we must be prepared for them. We must stand and face them head on. The good news is that with God on our side, there is nothing we can’t face and see through to the end. Sometimes just facing the trial head on is really all God wants. In my opinion, God is constantly looking for examples of people who face the troubles of the world with peace, grace, and a sense of calm knowing that He is ultimately in charge. It’s those people who really make a difference in the natural world.

I still remember a man who I met at a Denver area church who told me he had just lost all of his life’s saving in the Enron debacle. He was so calm! It didn’t seem to bother him one bit, and surely that same problem could easily lead to depression or even suicide with any other person. I’m sure that everyone who meets him and hears his story will be moved, like me, by his faith in God to turn even that great trial into a triumph through standing firm. He told me, “Well, I guess God wanted me to work when I thought it was time to retire. He must have something really great in store for me.” Can you imagine how pleased God is that this man still believes and tells others about His glory?

You should realize, of course, that not all trials are from the devil. That’s because many times we have made improper choices that set certain problems into play. Nevertheless, Satan is going to take whatever problem you initiate and use it to steal from you or destroy you if he can. Really, because of God’s grace, that’s the really exciting choice we have every day. No matter what happens, no matter how difficult we think something in the world is, we can choose to let Satan use that difficulty to really mess us up, or we can choose to let God use the same difficulty for His glory. If you really focus on what’s happening supernaturally, you can even find hope and some joy in even the worst times by simply knowing that what God has in store for you later will be so great.

When my husband, Tim, went back to Kansas to take care of his sick dad, things could not have seemed lower. No matter what he did, he couldn’t find out what was wrong with his dad, and after a while Tim had to quit his job to act as a 24/7 nurse. A lot of people fretted over the situation and warned Tim that he wouldn’t be able to find work again and that he would go broke, etc. Well, at that time Tim had a choice: (1) let Satan use the situation to cause hopelessness and despair, or (2) let God use it to show His glory. Tim chose number two, constantly telling people that God would surely find him another job, and the money would be no problem because God would surely work everything out. In the end, Tim was able to spend the last year of his dad’s life with him. He talked to many people in Kansas, including his dad, about God’s will and favor. And you know what? We never even really felt any lack of money due to losing his job. There was a sense of peace, even in the middle of a huge trial, by just knowing that God was in charge and that He would use the situation to lead to something even greater.

No matter how your trial originates, you still have the same weapons – namely the grace of Jesus dying on the cross, the Word (Bible) of our Lord, and our community of believers to provide encouragement, enlightenment, and strength. It’s so important to just stand and face that trial, rather than to run away, hide in a comfortable place or hop a boat on the river of denial J . If you try to ignore it, the problem will still be there when you return – in fact, it might have even grown into a bigger issue. And while you’re standing firm, sharpen your sword, which is the Word of God – dig into your Bible to refresh your memory of who you are and the promises our Lord made to you.

When I have things going poorly in my life I try to step back and ask a few questions and quickly move to the resolution.

1. What have I done in the natural world (like sin or un-forgiveness) that may have contributed to or started this difficulty?

If I identify something that has started the problem, then I accept the responsibility for the action or sin and ask for forgiveness. I then look for the resolution – it may mean humbly apologizing to someone, or making amends in the situation, or just standing in there for the natural course of things – like when you break a law and have to go through the court system. Sometimes I’m not sure what the root cause is and I just go to prayer and ask for revelation on what I have done. I ask for forgiveness, blessing, and supernatural help. Once I’ve done this, I try to leave it alone and let God walk with me through the problem however long it takes. That means that I try not to worry about it or continue discussing it. I simply release it so that my heart can remain pure and free.

2. Have I forgotten to pray spiritual coverage  to keep me and my household protected?

Sometimes I realize that I have gotten overly confident in my flesh and that I have not asked, on a daily basis, for God’s supernatural wisdom and perfection. This usually happens when I don’t get in the Word for even one tiny verse and my focus gets off my Lord and His purpose for my life. I immediately ask for forgiveness and ask for supernatural wisdom, revelation, and protection over me, my friends and family, my household and any one that I come into contact with each day.

3. Maybe I am doing the right thing – if so, is the attack from the enemy simply one designed to get me off track from living a Godly life?

If I’m on a Godly track and I think I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, regardless of what the world would say to do, then I just smile and feel fortunate that the enemy is trying to deter me from accomplishing something big. When this happens, I know that it’s some of the strongest demons that are in play, so I try to remember that it’s important now more than ever to press into my Lord through prayer, His Word, and His people. The Bible says that some demons react only to prayer and fasting, and so sometimes I fast.

And so, my beautiful brothers and sisters, stand firm! Be armed with the knowledge that your Heavenly Father is right there with you to help you muscle through your difficult time! In the end, getting through it by standing firm and choosing to side with God will be worth it. Whatever your trial may be, if you choose to walk with God, He will bless you with wisdom, abundant peace, and sharpened tools for life in the natural world.

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Ministering to People in Grief

Ministering to People in Grief

Often times we will interact with people hurting with grief.  Know that grief does not only come from loss of loved ones through death, it can also come from the loss of a relationship, marriage, job, pet, etc. 

During this last year I had six loved ones pass on to be with the Lord. While that was all happening, a lot of very well-intentioned people said a lot of well-intentioned things to me. I know they were trying to comfort me because at one time or another I had said these very same things to people when I thought they needed comfort. But I also had people say things that I found very comforting. Let me tell you what those things were so you can use them yourself.

1.  “I’m so sorry for your loss – I can’t begin to know how you feel.” It was so nice to have someone just say they felt sorry for me. Plus, I liked it when they said they didn’t know how I felt. So many times people say they know how I feel and the first thing I think is, “really?” I also had someone say that they were sad when they experienced “something similar.” That was okay, too, because it recognized those subtle differences that made our losses different. 

2.  “I know you’re really going to miss them.” That’s a fact for sure, and I can’t imagine a time when saying this won’t be true. Let’s put it this way – if you say this and it’s not true, get ready for a pretty interesting story. Most of us miss people when they’re gone. This is a lot better than saying something like, “they lived a good, long life.” Although that might have been true for the passing of my 94-year-old grandfather or my 84-year-old father in law, I would rather have had them around for a few more years. 

3.  “How are you doing – what can I do for you?”  This is a very practical question that told me that they were willing to chip in when things were rough.  Believe me, that’s helpful and comforting. A lot of times when people die, you just aren’t sure what to do, and having someone offer up a little help can really calm you down. This is a lot better than saying something like, “Well, they’re no longer suffering.”  While this might be true, my first reaction to this is to think about them suffering. 

4. “Can I pray for you?” Man, can you ever! I’m always looking for people to pray for me, with me, around me. Even if we didn’t do it right then, together, I found a lot of comfort in knowing that someone was going to speak to God about me and my loved one. Christians tend to fall back on certain “company line” statements about death, such as “They’re in a better place,” or “you’ll see them again,” or “it was their time to go,” but for whatever reason, these statements just didn’t do much in the way of comfort for me. That was a big revelation because I think I’ve said each of these things a hundred times.

I had one person put everything together and say, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ll pray for your heart to be comforted and I know you will miss them a lot.  I still miss my _______ because my love was so deep for them too.  Let me know if you need my shoulder to lean on or to talk about your loving memories.  Can I buy you lunch? ” Now, that was a good one!  

Things I learned in my encounter with losing family and friends

I recently experienced the loss of four loved ones during a seven month period.  It was a surreal time, and I hated going in to tell my boss what was going on in my life.  I bet he thought that no one could make up something this crazy just to get out of work.  I wondered if people would be afraid to be around me since death and dying was so frequently affecting my loved ones.  During this rocky time, my husband was out of town taking care of his ailing father, who also recently left us to accept his promotion in eternity – death number five.  It was a bit much, and, like McCauley Culkin in the movie, I was home completely alone.

I couldn’t help but wonder, “why, God, why?”  “Why are you taking so many of my loved ones at this time?” I began to understand how fragile and fleeting this life is here on earth. I heard someone say that we often treat this life as if we’re humans having a spiritual encounter, when in fact we’re really spirits having a brief human encounter.  This statement alone gave me peace to understand that the bodies we occupy now are but temporary, and that at least our eternal bodies must be glorious and feel more like home.

Overall, my recent experience surrounded by so much death and dying solidified several truths that I’d heard, but hadn’t grasped or practiced at a higher level.  Here they are:

1.  Be nice to everyone and practice empathy; there really isn’t ever any good reason to be mean or vengeful.  It may not always seem natural to operate out of mercy and love rather than out of judgment and contempt, but the spiritual benefits are enormous.  There are enough negative people in the world who are looking to criticize others that you don’t need to criticize, too.  Remember that even though we have our golden ticket to eternity based on our belief that Christ is the Son of God, we are still accountable for our actions.

2.  Make peace and forgive those that have hurt you, even if you feel that you didn’t do anything wrong.  Step up, grow up, and offer the olive branch of peace.  Think about how bad you’ll feel when your friend or family member dies and you didn’t have a chance to make amends.  You have a choice to live a life free from the pain of unforgiveness.   Think about the ultimate model for forgiveness – Jesus.  He didn’t come back and seek out those that persecuted and put Him to death to get even. In fact, even while on the cross, He asked His father to “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34.

3.  Remember that you aren’t alone – God is with you so press into Him!  During this painful time I had so many people tell me how strong they thought I was.  I told them that if I looked strong it was because I was being held up by our heavenly Father.  I’ve never been more aware of the protection, peace, and compassion of God than during this time.  I surrounded myself with excellent spiritual manna such as truth-teaching TV programs, the word of God, my Christ loving brethren, and daily telephone prayer with my husband.

4.  Protect your spirit by only spending time with people who lift you up or who encourage you to be your best.  Limit time with the people who drain your energy, push your buttons, or criticize you, even if they are family.  These are the people that the enemy will use to push you into sinful and unlovely behavior.  People may not remember when you walked away exuding mercy and grace, but they will always remember the one time that you snapped. Don’t give the enemy a foothold just because you didn’t bridle your tongue.

5.  Shine up your spiritual armor.  Study Ephesians 6:10-20, and remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  It’s important for us to remember that although we’re in a war, we don’t have to become a victim or hostage in that war. Every day I asked the Lord to protect me from the evil one and to help me walk in love.

6.  Resist the urge to complain and whine about what you’re going through.  Remember that your heavenly Father will use everything for his Glory, and that when you come through the fire you will be blessed and will have grown spiritually!  I can’t easily explain why bad things happen to anyone – let alone good people – but I can say that those who keep a good attitude and keep their focus on God will come through like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:12-27, who emerged from the fire without even the smell of smoke upon them.

7.  Treat yourself kindly.  Exercise and eat good quality, healthy food. My doctor has been working very closely with me during this time to make sure that I’m rested and feeding my immune and adrenal systems.  The one big thing she keeps stressing is for me to eat high quality, nutritious food.  So resist the urge to eat “comfort food” and stay away from sugar, fast food, and processed foods.  Eat more fruits, vegetables and good organic meats.  Also, treat yourself occasionally to your favorite relaxing activity.  Personally speaking, I love a good spa visit for a pedicure, facial or massage.

Tough times don’t have to beat you down. Do the natural by taking care of yourself, and the supernatural by relying on God for the rest, and even the hardest times will help you grow spiritually and help to continue in your ministry to others! People notice how others handle difficult situations, so let them start taking notes about you!

Be Blessed

Denise and Tim

Arming the Saints Ministries

Comfort for All

Did you know that we have access to the ultimate in comfort during those times when life has hurt us or broken our hearts?

The Greek work for comfort is paraclese or parakaleo, and you may recall hearing the Holy Spirit referred to the Comforter or Paraclete.

John 15:26 (KJ) – “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me”

John 14:16 (KF) – “And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

A decision to follow Jesus – to believe what he said about both himself and you – means that you are given the Holy Spirit to reside within you. If you read enough stuff about the Holy Spirit, you’ll see conflict and confusion unlike any other topic (some churches don’t even teach on it!) But despite any disagreement on the form and function of the Holy Spirit among various religions, I believe that God’s Spirit indwells believers quite literally. That’s really an awesome thought, and it means that it is proof that God is ALWAYS with us and ALWAYS there to provide comfort and guidance to us.

When we are going through a difficult time, we often use our friends and families as sounding boards for advice, but we should really be relying on our Father FIRST by getting into the Word and prayer constantly throughout the day. Our Father is the source of our comfort, and so relying on Him is something that we need to make a focused effort to do at the outset. His advice is always the true and right path – even if it seems hard or makes us initially nervous! The comfort comes from following God obediently.

Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)

This single verse shows us that our comfort from God creates a duty to give comfort to others. And it goes the other way, too. Much like the idea of reaping and sowing, if we share our comfort, we will receive comfort from God and others.

We know that we live in a very painful and difficult world that is dominated by the enemy. Accordingly, it’s our duty to keep our wits about us and to properly process the things that happen to us and to others so that we can provide comfort and support. We live in a time much like in the time of Isaiah where “good” is called “evil” and “evil” is called “good” so relying on the Word of God is crucial for telling what is coming from whom.  We must not fall prey to the lies and deceptions of the enemy, and we must not allow ourselves to feel like victims. After all, we’ve already won this fight!

We have a compassionate loving Father that wants the best for us.  He will allow us to grow through our difficulties and assist us to weather any storm.  His compassion and comfort for us is shown not only through comfort of knowing He loves us, but also through comfort and encouragement from others and the Word, and through the experiences of personal and spiritual growth from other difficulties we have overcome.

Some form of the word “comfort” is found 69 times in the NIV Bible – 19 of these are in the New Testament.  “Encouragement” is often used as comfort, and this word is found 55 times in the NIV. The fact that the word is used so often is a great reminder that God does love us and care for our wellbeing. As God’s children, we need God’s comfort.  We need to know God cares about us and we need the comfort that can only be given through the promises in his Word.

I have always loved Isaiah 40:29-31, but now it has an added dimension: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Those of us who hope in the Lord will renew our strength, and that gives us comfort. We will soar like eagles and not grow weary or faint, and that gives us comfort.  So much of the frailty that we feel when we need comfort – weariness, tiredness, weakness, and faintness – can be overcome by finding hope and faith in God. Rest in His comfort, strength and love.

So keep your head up and focused on God when you feel down, walk in His strength when you are weary and tired, and breathe in the Holy Spirit when you feel faint. As you go through the day, keep saying the simple phrase “Jesus in me” to remind you of the promises of God. Keep His Word close to you and hide it in your heart and be encouraged that He will guide you through the tough times!


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