"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Reflection of Jesus

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

I hung up the phone feeling as if I could have offered more comfort, shared more wisdom, and offered my friend more help. There are times we each have to face the pain the Lord allows into our lives and let Him guide us through. There are times when we have to cry and reconcile; learning to accept that often life is just plain hard.
So many people in my life or the lives of those close to me are going through difficulties. Many face a change in circumstances which will change everything for the rest of their lives. Some face the possibility of death.
It is easy to ask “why,” to let ourselves be dragged down to the point where we forget to look to Jesus for help. God never promised us a life that is free of pain and trouble. In fact, He promised quite the opposite, but He did promise the strength to see us through it.
The apostles suffered for their faith. Yet Paul said that the suffering we experience in this world should be considered nothing compared to the glory which will belong to those who persevere. The hope we have for our time in this world is the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to get through. Our real hope lays in the future, when we reach heaven, and when Jesus returns.
If life is too much for you, take it to the foot of God’s throne, seek Him in prayer for the moment by moment ability to see you through. Don’t be surprised that you suffer, or fight the pain that God allows in this life; embrace it as an opportunity to grow closer to Him. It is the reason He is called the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”
A plaque once hung in my daughter’s room which depicted a little girl looking into the water, but the reflection looking back was the face of Jesus. He wants us to be like Him. Being molded into shape is often a painful process, but the product, our hope of glory, is worth it.
He never promised trouble-free living, but the enabling to persevere. Let Him give you His peace in the midst of your trial so that the world will see Him reflected in you.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Do It

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6b

I stared at the computer screen in surprise. The offer from a year before to write a weekly devotional for the church webpage was growing into a ministry, but not just one touching friends and family, one reaching people across the world. How did it happen?
            Out of the weekly devotional came the idea for a blog. I had no idea who would read it. I still don’t. Someone mentions it now and then, and it thrills me, as it would any writer. But as I looked at the stats on readership I realized it was growing into something I never expected. Simply sitting at my computer, doing what I love, was reaching people in far off places for Christ: Russia, Germany, Canada, the UK, Brazil, France, Malaysia, the Philippines, Latvia—wherever that is, people were reading my blog.
            If we make ourselves available, God will bless. If we step out in obedience, He will be faithful. We say those things and profess to believe them, but then we are completely blown away when He does what He promised.
            I spoke to a group of young women recently on spiritual gifts. I urged them to take a test, pray, see what they most loved doing, and ask God how He could use it. We all have gifts, some small, some huge, but God gave them all, and if we let Him, He will use them for His purposes.
            I know my gifs are teaching, exhortation and encouragement. But I also know that I have physical limitations. I have health conditions which made me realize a long time ago that small ministries were what God had for me. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re only asked to be faithful to use and multiply whatever God has given us.
            I lead a small women’s Bible study. I write a weekly devotional read by a very small sampling of people, but somehow it made it to Russia, and Latvia of all places. I wanted to be a missionary. Perhaps I am, just not in the way I thought.
            What do you do well? How can it be used by God? Ask God to show you what He wants you to do. Then just do it, to the best of your ability, and wait to see where He takes you.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Change of Plans

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

            The tiny bundle placed in my arms was warm and sweet, the answer to years of prayers, heartache, and uncertainty. My husband and I stood in the chapel and the adoption agency with tears of joy in our eyes as we looked at our son. The day of delayed flights and rushing through airports was a microcosm of the turmoil of tests, surgeries and years of waiting.
            Four long years of hoping for a child were over, culminating in the joy of a three-week-old baby boy, wide awake and somehow aware that his world was changing forever. He looked around, taking everything in. A sensitive, reflective child, he has always had a tender heart and gentle spirit.
            Twenty-one months later a phone call during the Super Bowl brought us a baby girl who has never ceased to bring excitement into our lives. Arriving two years earlier than we thought possible, becoming an amazing athlete and never slowing down once, she never fails to surprise us.
            My husband and I had often talked about adoption when we were dating. We were products of the “zero-population” generation. We talked about having two children and then adopting two more. God’s plans didn’t include the biological children. He had something so much more special, a plan to show us His loving control over our circumstances, while accomplishing His perfect purposes.
            As friends had two or even three children in the time it took us to have one, we learned that God’s plan is unique for each of us, but always meant to make us fall on our knees and acknowledge His loving sovereignty.
            Perhaps you have seen your dreams all turn to dust and your hopes fall to the ground, nothing growing to fruition, nothing turning out the way you planned. You may carry the scars from battling disappointment and confusion about where God is leading you. It may seem He doesn’t care and has turned a deaf ear to your prayers.
            When doubt and disappointment seem to follow you everywhere you turn, turn to Jesus and lay your hopes and dreams at His feet. Commit to serve Him no matter where He is leading and He will establish a way for you that is far higher and better than anything you ever imagined.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Follower or Fan

“They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, ‘Hosanna!’” John 12:19
“’Here is your King,’ Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, ‘Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!’” John 19:14b, 15

The loud howling and yelping of a pack of coyotes in the woods below our mountain home sent a shiver up my spine, startling me as I sat down to write an Easter devotional. I often go out on the patio and look down into the trees and oak brush, hoping for a sight of them, knowing some innocent creature has become their prey. Seldom do I hear the cry of their victim, as they come upon it and tear it to pieces. But their cries of victory and bloodlust echo through our small valley.
            This morning I was reminded of the cries of the Jewish leaders and people on a long ago day in Jerusalem as the innocent Son of God stood before them, bloodied by their lashings and reeling from their blows, yet not speaking a word. He knew His death was imminent, but He stood in silence, hearing the people who proclaimed Him their king a few days before, denounce Him and hail Caesar as king.
            He wept over the city, saying He longed to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for protection. But they rejected Him in favor of corrupt leaders and a foreign power which would eventually destroy their city and scatter them like leaves in the wind.
            I just completed a Bible study which challenges those who believe in Jesus to decide if they are a fan who hangs on while it is fun and popular, then fades away as someone else rises to their attention, or a follower. To be a true follower you stick with your decision through bad times and good. You don’t just have the cap and t-shirt, your loyalty is branded on your heart, unchanging no matter the consequences, a life-time commitment that often demands your all to keep.
            This week, perhaps more than any other on our calendar, those who consider themselves followers of Christ are reminded of the cost He paid on our behalf, the suffering He bore that we might live. Unlike the innocent prey of the coyotes, we have a chance to escape the torture of a life without hope, and a death which holds no hope of release from suffering.
            Which group will you be in, those who proclaim Jesus King of their lives, or those who fall prey to the lie of temporal pleasure?

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston-Holtman & 2MefromHim Ministries, 2011. All rights reserved. Do not use without permission of author.