God Lifted Me Up

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm 40:1-3).

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Sometime ago I had a rough week.  At one point I felt as if I were drowning.  I was so overwhelmed that I came close to quitting my job but God gave me the strength to carry on.  On my way home from work on Friday afternoon, I felt drained.  My tiredness was like a heavy burden weighing me down.

When I got home, I played some of my favorite Gospel CDs and I felt the heaviness lift.  I sang along, my heart filling with joy.  I was singing praises to the Lord and as I focused on the words I felt my self lifted up.  I became energized.  I was no long tired.  I played several CDs and read a couple of quotes and sayings from “God’s Little Instruction Book for Women”.  It was a wonderful way to usher in the Sabbath.

God lifted me out of the pit of despair and placed my feet on solid ground.  God lifted me up when I lifted Him up.  The best pick me up is singing praises to God.  The next time you feel low, pick up the Bible and read a psalm that praises God, put on your favorite Gospel CD or sing a few hymns.   One that comes to mind is Sing praise to God.

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
the God of all creation,
the God of power, the God of love,
the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul He fills,
and every faithless murmur stills;
To God all praise and glory!

What God’s almighty power hath made
His gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning glow or evening shade,
His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth,
Within the kingdom of his might,
Lo! all is just, and all is right:
To God all praise and glory!

The Lord is never far away,
throughout all grief distressing,
an ever present help and stay,
our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand,
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!

Then all my gladsome way along,
I sing aloud thy praises,
that men may hear the grateful song
my voice unwearied raises:
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
both soul and body bear your part!
To God all praise and glory.

Doubt

“Occupy your mind with My love, leaving no room for worry and doubt.”

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Doubt is like a bad penny.  It always keeps turning up.  It seems that no matter how many times we see the hand of God working in our lives, there is always room for doubt.  Even when we have a close relationship with Him, there are times when we still have doubts.  The disciples, who spent so much time with Jesus, still had doubts.  When Jesus told them, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” they thought He was referring to food.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “You have so little faith!  Why are you worried about having no food?  Won’t you ever understand?  Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over?  Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over?  How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6-13) He was reminding them that each time they needed food, He was able to provide.  Then it dawned on them that He wasn’t speaking about yeast or bread but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The disciples had seen Him perform miracles before and they had forgotten how He had fed thousands of people with what seemed like very little food.  He had made a little go a long way.  Like the disciples, we too doubt the power of God and He has to remind us.

The disciples doubted the resurrection.  The Bible says, it was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, and the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons.  She went and found the disciples, who were grieving and weeping.  But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.  Jesus also appeared to two other people.

At first they didn’t recognize Him because He had changed His appearance but once they realized that it was Him, they rushed back to tell the others but they didn’t believe them.   When Jesus appeared to the eleven, He rebuked them for their unbelief” (Mark 16:9-14).  In the Gospel of Matthew, it says, that when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted (Matthew 28:17).

Mary had taken good news to the disciples but they allowed doubts to spoil what should have been a joyful moment.  Sometimes we allow doubts to get the better of us and we miss out.  Doubts could prevent us from seeing God’s blessings.  The religious leaders in Jesus’ time had the Light but their doubts kept them in darkness.  Doubts can hinder us from doing the Lord’s work.  Doubts can rob us of great opportunities.

Jesus does not want us to worry or have doubts.  He wants us to focus instead of Him and what He can do for us.  The next time you start to doubt Him, remember these words, “Only believe, only believe; All things are possible, only believe”.

Never doubt, only trust and believe.  Remember all the times Jesus came through for you.   Fill your mind with His love and promises.  Don’t clutter your mind with doubts.  As Paul advised us, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Searching the scriptures will also help.  Diffuse the doubts with God’s Word.  Whenever you have a task to do and you start to have doubts about it, say to yourself “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Devastating News

240_F_43342280_9fhJmIlVeQ5Zo89BgyO4mMkrzhXYj3UjSo, dinner with Marcus was amazing.  I had such a great time.  As I do my work, my thoughts take me back to that Saturday evening.  He came and picked me up at my place at exactly seven.  He looked very handsome in his expensive looking tan colored jacket and white shirt.  His eyes traveled over me in my red dress with the cap sleeves and flare skirt.  I had washed my hair and it fell in wavy curls about my face.  I could see the admiration in his eyes and I was thrilled.  “You look amazing,” he said quietly.

I smiled.  “Thank you,” I replied as I preceded him into the hallway.  After I closed and locked the door, we walked to the elevator.  The Hispanic woman who lived opposite me was coming towards us.  After she greeted me, I saw her eyes shift to Marcus and the way she looked at him.  I glanced up at him but he was looking straight ahead.  He was probably was used to women admiring him.  I can just imagine that a lot of his female students had crushes on him.  It made me feel great that I was the one he was taking out for dinner.  Nervous excitement filled me and soon we were on our way to the restaurant.  He drove a Bentley.

On the way, we talked about all sorts of things.  I learned that he was a Seventh-day Adventist like me.  The rest of the family was Baptist.  “What made you switch?” I asked.

“When I started studying the Bible, I realized that there were some major doctrinal misunderstandings of the Baptist church such as the secret rapture of the church, immortality of the soul, eternal torment, Once saved always saved, Sunday sacredness and the law being done away with in Christ.  There were Bible texts which refuted all of these teachings.  An Adventist colleague of mine invited me to an evangelistic series which I attended.  My life changed after that.  I left the Baptist church and became an Adventist.  What about you?  Were you always an Adventist?”

“Yes and I’m thankful for that.”

We reached the restaurant which such a warm and friendly atmosphere.  I loved it and the food was out of this world.  I loved being with Marcus.  He was so much fun.  I felt as if we had known each other for ages.  I could tell that he enjoyed my company too.  I felt that I was on cloud nine and I didn’t want the evening to end.  As we were having our dessert, he said to me, “I once had someone ask me if God only saves vegans.  The person asked me that question because he was told by a vegan member that those who are still eating flesh food will never see Heaven.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I exclaimed.  “What did you say to the person?”

“I told him that we are saved by Christ’s grace and His righteousness and not by our own works. We can’t earn our way to heaven by being vegan or vegetarian, nor do we choose to not eat meat because we believe that by doing so we will be saved.  It’s like what Paul said when the Jewish Christians were saying that the non-Jewish Christians had to be circumcised in order to be saved.  Being circumcised or not doesn’t save anyone.  We are saved by faith alone and not by works so that none of us can boast about how good we are and how much we deserve to go to Heaven.  Salvation is for everyone once they accept Christ.”

“I can’t stand it when people have issues with me eating fish and poultry even though these are considered clean.  Jesus Himself wasn’t a vegetarian.  He ate fish.  When the Lord visited Abraham with the two angels, didn’t they eat Veal?”

Marcus nodded.  “Yes.  It’s a shame that diet is the bone of contention in the church.  Eating meat became part of the diet after the flood and unless God Himself tells me that I should become a vegetarian or vegan, I will continue to eat fish and white meat.”

“Amen to that.”  The rest of the evening we talked about other things and then it was time for him to take me home.

When we were standing outside of my door, he said, “I had a wonderful evening.”

“So did I,” I was quick to let him know.  I wanted to say that I wish it wouldn’t end.  I couldn’t invite him inside because of what could happen.  As Christians, we had to be mindful of how easily we can become tempted to do things we know we ought not to do.  If we didn’t believe in the Bible then, we would not have thought anything was wrong with him coming into my apartment for a nightcap or spending the night.

“When can I see you again?”

“Anytime you wish,” I was happy to tell him.  Every single day would suit me just fine.

“Tomorrow I would like to take you to Napa.  I can pick you up in the morning and take a scenic drive.  It takes about an hour and forty-one minutes to get San Jose to there.  Once we get there, there are several fun things we can do.  What do you say?”

“I say yes!”

“Good, I’ll see you tomorrow.  I will call you.”

I smiled up at him before I opened my door.  I turned to face him.  “Good night and thank you for a wonderful evening.”

327_16843_17“You’re welcome, Abi.  Good night.” He reached out and gently squeezed my arm.

I leaned against the door frame, watching as he walked away.  My heart leapt in my chest when he stopped and turned to look at me, a slight smile on his face before he continued down the hallway towards the elevators.  I waited until one came and I heard the doors close before I went into my apartment.  For the rest of the night and all morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus.

The next day, he took me to Napa and the first thing we did was go for a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards.  It was an exhilarating experience.  Marcus told me that the next time we would go early in the morning when it’s even more spectacular.  Next, we went Olive Oil tasting, we had lunch a very nice Spanish restaurant called Zuzu.  Afterwards we went to Sterlings’s where we stomped grapes.  The grapes felt so yucky between my toes and my feet had turned purple but we got free tee shirts.

Before we went bowling, we wandered for a bit in downtown Napa with its shops, cafes and chocolatiers and visited the Oxbow Public Market where we treated ourselves to organic ice-cream.  It had been a long time since I had an ice-cream so it was a big treat for me.  After we finished our ice-creams, we headed to the bowling center where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  I never had so much fun in my life and I thanked God for bringing Marcus into my life.  As we drove back to San Jose, we made plans for our next date.  And we have been dating ever since.

The ringing of the phone brings me back to the present.  I stare at the display.  I don’t recognize the name.  I pick up the receiver.  “Hello?”

“Hello Abiyomi.  This is Philip Jennings.  We met at the barbecue.”

“Oh, yes, I remember you now.  You’re married to Bobby’s sister, Nicole.”

“Yes.  I called your mother and she gave me your work number.”

I could sense that something was wrong.  “What’s the matter?” I asked.

“It’s about Bobby.”

My heart was pounding now.  “What’s happened to Bobby?”

“He died this morning.”

I began to tremble.  “Died?  But how?” As far as I knew Bobby physically fit.  He hardly got sick.

“He took his life.”

Source:  Perspectives-Adventist; Seed Time; A Passion and a Passport; SFbaytripper; California Dream Big

Singing

I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me – Psalm 13:6

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Ranan means to sing, shout, cry out.  Ranan is often used to express joy, exultation which seems to demand loud singing, especially when it comes to praising God.

Isaiah 12:6

Proverbs 8:3

Psalm 32:11

Shir calls people to express their praises to God in singing

Psalm 96:1-6

 

Who sing?

Believers

Ephesians 5:19

The Redeemed

Revelation 5:9

 

When to sing?

Times of victory

Exodus 15:1, 21

Imprisonment

Acts 16:25

Times of Joy

James 5:13

 

Why Sing?

Thanksgiving

Psalm 147:7

Joy

Psalm 27:6

Gladness

Jeremiah 31:7

 

What to Sing about?

God’s power

Psalm 59:16

God’s mercies

Psalm 89:1

God’s righteousness

Psalm 51:14

 

What kind of songs?

Triumph

Judges 5:12

Spiritual joy

Psalm 119:54

Physical joy

Genesis 31:27

Deliverance

Psalm 32:7

Singing/songs help us to stop wrestling with negative thoughts.  It shifts our focus away from our problems to God.  King David sang to the Lord in Psalm 13.

Do you wake up in the morning and find yourself humming a song that keeps playing in your mind throughout the day?  What about when you are going through a tough time and a song that is just right for your particular situation comes to mind?  I have had the experience where I was going through a rough time and suddenly, out of nowhere, the words, “God will take care of you” started to go through my mind.  I could hear the tune.

I went and got my hymnal to see if there was such a song.  I was surprised when I saw it.  I wondered if it sounded like how I imagined it to be.  One day I got my answer.  When the hymn was sung in church the chorus was exactly how it played in my head.  Singing and songs have lifted my spirits, strengthened, given me hope, comfort and encouragement.

Two years ago a group of us went on the Great Controversy tour and we visited a place called Torre Pellice in Italy where the Waldensians hid from the Christians who were persecuting them.  We went into one of the caves where men, women and children hid.  It was cold, damp and dark.  We had to be very careful when we crawled in and we had to have torchlights, which those people didn’t have at that time.  We stood there in the cave and we thought of the people who had be flee into the wilderness and hide in caves because they would not compromise their faith.  We started to sing “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” Singing this song gave us the strength and courage and helped us to appreciate these brave men and women who ended up dying for their faith.  One of these days, we will meet them and together we will sing the song of the redeemed.

Abiyomi Meets Marcus

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationI’m trying really hard to concentrate on my job but it’s tough.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Marcus Kincaid, my friend, Bobby’s very handsome and charming uncle.  He was at the family’s barbecue. I was thrilled to see him.  From the moment we met which was about a year ago, I was smitten with him.  Bobby told me that women are always throwing themselves at him.  He said that his uncle seems quite happy being a bachelor and he didn’t think marriage was in the immediate future.

I wasn’t dating.  The last relationship I had ended two years ago after my boyfriend and I had a heated argument over the Once Saved Always Saved teaching.  He was emphatic that a person could not lose his or her salvation but I told him that when we accept Jesus, our names are written in the Book of Life but since they can be removed, it is possible for those who once accepted to reject.  He insisted that I was wrong and that once a person comes to Jesus they can never lose their salvation.  He told me that I was confused about a lot of things in the Bible and that I needed to get my facts straight.  He became very livid and ended up storming out of my flat.  The next day he called and broke up with me.  The fact that it didn’t take me long to get over him made it clear to me that I wasn’t in love with him.

I decided that I would put dating on hold.  I had my work and church to keep me busy.  I didn’t mind being single.  And then, I met Marcus.  He was was sitting at one of the tables outside with a couple of people when Bobby took me over to meet him.  He was wearing a white tee shirt which hugged his muscular body and a pair of navy blue slacks.   He was wearing sunglasses so I couldn’t see his eyes but I knew he was watching me as Bobby introduced me to the other people at the table first.  There was a slight smile on his face.  When it was turn, he stood up, towering over me and held out his hand.  It swallowed mine and it felt nice and warm.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

I smiled shyly up at him.  “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.  Bobby has told me so much about you.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you too.  Wouldn’t you join us?”

“Sure.  Thank you.”  I sat down in the chair adjacent to his which he resumed.

Bobby didn’t join us.  He went off to help his father with the burgers.  The people who were at the table excused themselves and went off.  Marcus leaned back in his chair and studied me.  I was nervous but tried to appear relaxed.  “How old are you?” he asked, startling me.

“Twenty-five.”

226158_mww“Really?” he sounded surprised.  “I could have sworn that you were Bobby’s age.”

“You’re not the first person to tell me that I look much younger than I am.”

“I’m 50 years old, you know.”

It was my turn to be surprised.  “Really?” I exclaimed.  “You look like you’re in your late thirties.”

He laughed.  “You flatter me,” he remarked.  “I guess I owe it all to keeping fit and eating well.  Tell me, are you dating anyone?”

Again I was taken aback by his question.  “No.  Work and church keep me busy.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m a Graphic Designer.”

“Sounds very interesting.  Which area do you work in?”

“I do visual branding for companies, such as logos.”

“Do you enjoy what you do?”

“Yes, very much.  What about you?  Bobby told me that you’re a professor of Classics at Stanford.”

“Yes, I love teaching and have always been fascinated by Greek and Roman literature, art, history and culture.  My course deals with how those two ancient civilizations have globally influenced the societies we live in.”

“I love Greek and Italian food,” I said and he smiled.

“There’s a new Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio.  I’ve never been there but I’ve heard that it’s even better than the restaurants in Greece.  If you’re not busy next week Saturday, I’d like to take there for dinner.”

After I recovered from my shock, I managed to say, “That would be nice,” rather breathlessly.

We spent the rest of the afternoon together and when I was leaving, Bobby said to me, “I knew that you two would hit it off.”  I didn’t tell him that his uncle was taking me out for dinner.

And that’s what’s occupying my thoughts now.  Tomorrow’s Saturday and I can’t wait to see Marcus.  Now, I just have to figure out what I’m going to wear so that I will wow him.

Sources:  Youth Employement; Stanford University;

 

The Young Widow

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I knelt in the cemetery, my heart heavy with grief and sorrow.  My beloved had departed a fortnight ago, leaving me inconsolable.  Tears streamed down my face as I lifted my gaze heavenward and asked the Lord why He’d seen it fit to rob me of my happiness.  Why had He taken my Edgar away from me after eight months of marriage and made me a young widow with no children and soon to become homeless as Edgar’s family was determined to turn me out of the home we shared because I was a foreigner?  Oh, Lord, have mercy on me.  Let the ground open and devour me.

108 Words

Some times the Lord acts in ways we can’t understand but we have to continue to trust that He knows best.

young widow

Stop Making Excuses

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When God calls us to serve Him do we make excuses?  Moses did.  When God asked him to go and tell the Pharaoh to let the Jews go, Moses protested, “O Lord, I’m just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I’m not now, even after you have spoken to me. I’m clumsy with words.”  So God asked him, (Exodus 4:10-12) “Who makes mouths?” the Lord asked him. “Who makes people so they can speak or not speak, hear or not hear, see or not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go, and do as I have told you.  I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say.”

Moses protested but in the end, he led the people out of Egypt.  He became a great leader.  After his death, it was written that, “There has never been another prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent Moses to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and his entire land.  And it was through Moses that the Lord demonstrated his mighty power and terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

We have to trust God and believe that He will equip us for the work He calls us to do.  He used the staff Moses carried to perform great things and He equipped Moses to become a leader.  When it became too much for Moses to handle the many responsibilities, God impressed Jethro, Moses’ father in law to give him this very good advice, “You’re going to wear yourself out-and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing him their questions to be decided.

You should tell them God’s decisions, teach them God’s laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives.  But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes.

“Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.  These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” (Exodus 18:18-23)

Moses learned how to delegate and that too makes for good leadership.  God does not expect one person to do everything and that is why leaders in the church and in the world have people working with them.  Jesus taught this when He called twelve men into His ministry.  He could have done it all by Himself but He chose not.

Jeremiah was a youth when God called Him to service.  He shares the experience which must have been overwhelming.  “The Lord gave me a message. He said, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

“Don’t say that,” the Lord replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

When God calls us, He doesn’t send out to do the work and leaves us on our own.  He is with us every step of the way—instructing, guiding and helping us.  I used to be shy and didn’t socialize easily.  Since I allowed God to use me, I am not shy anymore.  He helped me to gradually get over my shyness.  I started with small things like scripture reading, poetry reading and then I graduated to telling the mission story, sharing my testimony in front of a large audience and making announcements.  He called me to be the leader of Singles Ministry.  I didn’t know anything about being a leader but I trusted that He would help me to do my best and He did.  He accomplished a lot through me.  Now, I am comfortable being a leader and I delegate like Moses was encouraged to.

Is God calling you to serve Him?  Don’t use your age or gender as an excuse not to answer His call.  David was a boy when he was anointed king of Israel and Josiah Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years.  He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn aside from doing what was right. (2 Kings 22:2)  God accomplished great things through women.  Deborah was a judge, Miriam was a prophetess and Dorcas was a disciple and community worker.  God can use you.  Stop making excuses and allow Him to do marvelous work through you.