Posts Tagged ‘contradiction’

The Goodness of Suffering

Jun 29

by Victoria Robinson

Some words just naturally go together. Like …

peaches & cream

dates & romance

ice cream & summer

vacation & fun

chocolate & strawberries

But some word combinations bring to mind the term oxymoron. There are just some word combinations that seem contradictory. Like the words goodness and suffering. Yet without tremendous suffering you and I could never experience the goodness of God. The sufferings of Christ are so descriptively written in the Word of God that I do not personally enjoy reading those verses the way I do the scriptures that paint a beautiful picture in my mind. For instance the words of the prophet Jeremiah when he said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. … Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” Now that sounds like fun! 

Yet as a child of God we must come to understand the goodness of suffering. The apostle Peter tells us we should not be surprised by painful trials we suffer. He also tells us we should rejoice that we participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. This is really the key to understanding suffering. The fact that everything in our lives is designed to bring glory to God. Again Peter speaks of suffering when he tells us that Christ suffered thereby leaving us an example. 

One of my dearest friends and I, always jest that when suffering comes our way, both of us are quick to look for the exit door. We just want the pain to stop and stop right now. The apostle James said, “As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.” When the apostle James spoke about the sufferings of Job he said, “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” So once again we find a great contradiction in our human thinking. Jobs tremendous sufferings and God’s compassion and mercy. 

The apostle Paul left a legacy of Godly suffering. His life as a Christian began with God saying, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Paul was quick to embrace suffering. He said, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” His focus in life was to share the eternal salvation he had found when he embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior and to help people grow in the grace and knowledge of their Savior. When the Holy Spirit warned him that prison and hardships were facing him in Jerusalem he said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” 

Dearest girlfriends, let us embrace the goodness of God when sufferings come our way and seek to glorify Him. 

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. ~ Hebrews 2:10 NIV 

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. ~ Jeremiah 31:3-4 NIV 

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” ~ 1 Peter 2:19-22 NIV 

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. ~ James 5:10-11 NIV 

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” ~ Acts 9:15-16 NIV 

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. ~ Acts 20:22-24 NIV 

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. ~ Hebrews 10:32-36 NIV 

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. ~ 2 Timothy 2:8-10 NIV 

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. ~ 2 Timothy 1:8-12 NIV

A Polite Conversation With Him

Jan 07

A Polite Conversation With Him 010712 2by Victoria Robinson

What in the world does learning how to use etiquette in conversation and learning how to converse with our heavenly Father have in common? Actually, quite a bit. Conversations with Him are what we think of as prayer. In the 1896 etiquette book, The Secret of a Happy Home, Christian author, Marion Harland, speaks of the satisfaction in telling one’s woes and sorrows to an interested listener.

“Undoubtedly there is a momentary satisfaction in telling one’s woes and sorrows to an interested listener. When the auditor is a friend, and a trusted friend, whose sympathy is genuine and whose discretion is vast, there is a comfort beyond description in unburdening one’s soul.”

Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

Fortunately every one of us has a trusted friend we can unburden our souls to. King Solomon told us, “… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The friend  he is referring to is Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Our Lord and Savior gave us detailed instructions on having a polite conversation in prayer with our heavenly Father. He told us, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

“Some people are always bored. May it not be because they look at everything animate and inanimate from a selfish standpoint, with the query in their minds, “How does that affect me?” The old definition of a bore as “a person who talks so much of himself that he gives you no chance to of yourself,” may apply not only to the bore, but to the bored. When you find yourself wearied and uninterested, be honest enough to examine yourself calmly, and see if the reason is not because your vis-a-vis is not talking about anything which interests you especially. Should he turn the conversation upon your favorite occupation or pastime, or even upon your personal likes and dislikes (which, by the way, might be an infinite bore to him), would he not at once become entertaining?”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

Listening to the other person is an important key to polite conversation. Nobody enjoys chatting with a boorish person who only is concerned with prattling on about themselves. Your heavenly Father is not interested in having a one-way conversation with you. Besides, if you are not listening during your prayer, you cannot possibly attain His wisdom for your requests. Conversing with our heavenly Father must always include listening. In her 1860 book, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness, Florence Hartley gives us instruction on the importance of listening while conversing.

“It seems paradoxical to observe that the art of listening well forms a part of the duty of conversation. To give up the whole of your attention to the person who addresses himself to you, is sometimes a heavy tax, but it is one which we must pay for the privileges of social life, and an early practice will render it an almost involuntary act of good breeding; whilst consideration for others will give this little sacrifice a merit and a charm.”
Florence Hartley, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness 1860

Genuine praise is another important aspect of good conversation. Marion Harland gives an excellent example of developing the habit of praising the one you are talking with.

“Ten girls whom I know formed a society for the repression of unkind criticism. The members themselves to try, as far as in them lay, to speak kindly of people when it was possible for them to do so, and when impossible to say nothing. At first it was hard, for self-conceit would intrude, and it is hard for one girl to praise another who dislikes her. Little by little the tiny seed of effort grew into a habit of kindly speech.”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

This story is reminiscent of the hardness that can develop in our hearts and hinder us from praising our heavenly Father during prayer. The enemy of your soul will always point out why God is not worthy to be praised. A direct contradiction to the Scriptures! The psalmist tells us, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.”

Just as Marion Harland reminds us that no true lady complains while conversing with others, neither should we bring our request to the Lord in a complaining manner.

“But if you do not feel this, for politeness’ sake refrain from making your listener supremely uncomfortable by your complaints. No true lady will so far forget her innate ladyhood as to be guilty of this rudeness.”
Marion Harland, The Secret of a Happy Home 1896

An extremely descriptive picture of the perils of complaining while praying are found in the book of Numbers. The Israelites were whining about not having meat and my oh my did they ever get their request granted! The Lord said, “The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

Polite conversation sometimes involves forgiveness. The person chatting with you may say something offensive and it is important for you to overlook the words that have wounded your heart. The Lord instructed us that prayer also involves forgiveness. In the book of Matthew, Jesus told us, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Our prayers will be hindered if we approach God and have unforgiveness towards others.

Dearest girlfriends, let us endeavor to develop polite conversation when we pray.

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. … ~ Psalm 55:22 NLT 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
 
If you are having trouble, you should pray. … ~ James 5:13 CEV
 
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24 NIV
 
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. ~ Psalm 18:3 NKJV
 
“Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” ~ Numbers 11:18-20 NIV
 
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. ~ Proverbs 12:16 NIV
 
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: ”‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ~ Matthew 6:7-13 NIV
You can read these antique etiquette books from the library of Girlfriend’s Café by clicking on the links below.
 The Secret of a Happy Home
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness

Girlfriends, Is He Lying?

Jul 27

Girlfriends is He Lying 072711by Victoria Robinson

Girlfriends, if he’s talking—he’s lying! Our Lord and Savior made this fact clear when He told us, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The enemy of your soul does not have one shred of truth in him so it is impossible for him to tell the truth. Satan is not only a liar, he is actually quite chatty. The very first time we see him, he was chatting it up with Eve. He told her, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” This was in direct contradiction to what God did say. He had told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

I love the wisdom Matthew Henry imparts to us about this tragic series of events.

“O that our hearts were deeply affected with this record! For we are all nearly concerned in it; let it not be to us as a tale that is told.”
Matthew Henry

Before we condemn our sister Eve for falling for such an obvious lie, let us look at our own folly. Have you ever had the thought, “Just inhaling the luxurious scent of chocolate won’t have any calories.”? Then suddenly you find yourself in a daze with chocolate on your lips and fat on your hips! The lie was to believe that toying with your weakness would not hurt you. I am certainly not saying chocolate in itself is evil, but if it is not done in moderation, then it can be a sin.

The apostle paul showed great concern that the Christians in Corinth were susceptible to falling for lies when he said, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

So what’s a girl to do? Take your thoughts captive and do a truth check utilizing the Word of God. Had Eve taken a moment to think on the very words spoken by God, she would have had clarity in the situation and avoided sinning.

Dearest girlfriends, I pray we would be strengthened with the truth of God’s Word instead of believing the enemy’s lies.

… He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. ~ John 8:44 NIV
 
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ~ Genesis 3:1-5 NIV
 
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” ~ Genesis 2:15-17 NIV
 
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:3 NIV
 
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie … ~ Romans 1:25 NIV
 
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV