Stuck or still?

All too frequently in life, I’ve had that feeling of standing in a trance, while I watch the rest of the world pass me by. Whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually, no matter how hard I try to take a step forward, I just end up feeling stuck. The weight that holds me down each time may vary, but the feelings of lonliness and isolation are the same. I have felt trapped in this very spot for most of the past couple of years – in all three areas. Between my last two miscarriages, cancer, two major surgeries, and the birth of my daughter, I have been almost completely reclusive. I began contemplating my situation, and wondering if the “stuck” feelings were accurate and if so, was it a result of my own doing, or was it a place that God wanted me in? How could I tell? The Bible speaks of moving forward, but also speaks of taking time to be still. Let me share what I learned with you.

Questions to ask yourself:
o Do you see your heartache as useless and of no value?
o Are you “back-sliding” in your relationship with God?
o Do you have obvious anger and bitterness towards God or those around you?
o Do you feel that things are “not fair” or that you “deserve better?”
o Do you get jealous when others have what you want, or do you find yourself wishing for something other than what you already have?
o Are you avoiding your God-given roles and responsibilities?
o Are you suffering with depression that is not medical in nature?

1. If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you are probably “stuck,” at least in part.

Stuck: to be caught or held in a position so that you cannot move; unable to solve a problem and continue working; in a situation that you do not like but cannot avoid; forced to have, use, or deal with someone or something that you do not want.

They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds. Isaiah 1:4b-6a

But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me. Job 30:26-27

For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. Psalm 69:1b-2

Being “stuck” has the idea of being put in a situation that you do not like and being held there without your consent. (Such as a traumatic event, sickness, loss, chronic pain, etc.) However, as Christians, God has given us the freedom to choose to have joy and contentment or to choose to have bitterness and jealousy, in the midst of those situations. If you are stuck there, it is your choice. I would suggest that being “stuck” is the “easy way out.” It is easy to allow yourself to feel victimized and wronged, waiting on those around you to validate your pain and endorse your unwillingness to address it properly.

Questions to ask yourself:
o Are you fulfilling the day-to-day requirements of your God-given roles and responsibilities?
o Do you find joy and peace in the midst of difficult circumstances, and do others notice?
o Are you content?
o Are you strong in prayer and thankful in your current situation?
o Are you growing in your relationship with God, becoming more Christ-like, and learning new things?
o Do you find freedom in the sovereignty of God?
o Are you able to praise and worship God through the storms, even when God may not feel near?
o Do believe that your heartache will be redeemed to the glory of God, and are you working to this end, in so much as it lies within your ability to do so?

2. If you answered “yes” to the questions above, chances are, you are experiencing a time of “stillness” in your life.

Still: not moving; quiet and calm, with nothing happening.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a (kjv)

But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:3-4(kjv).

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way. Psalm 37:7

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Being still takes work. It seems it would come naturally; however, stillness is not really the act of doing nothing. Rather, being still involves seeking God, desiring to know His heart, and then, allowing Him to pull apart your very inner-being – refining, altering, and eradicating. Then, in the tranquility, He begins to redeem, restore, and revive us. Even though the same situations, such as mentioned above, may bring us to this place, our perspective and our expectations are different. Instead of expecting God to “fix” our circumstances, we allow Him to “fix” us. Instead of seeing our suffering as unfair, we see trials as an opportunity to give glory to God.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

Anyone can be stuck. It takes effort to be still. A quote that caught my attention was, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Don’t waste the time that God has given you. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day – no more, no less. What you do with it makes all the difference. You can never get time back. Make sure it counts for something…better yet, make sure it counts for someone – God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31


Original material by Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp43p04-02-14

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Judge Not

(Due to the fact that I will be undergoing cervical spine surgery on March 17th, it may be a few weeks before I am able to post again. This post is a longer one, but maybe it will cover for my absence. You all will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.)

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31

Nobody likes to feel judged. I hate feeling judged about my house, the status of my finances, my relationship with my husband, my chosen form of birth control, my other medications, the number of children that I have, my children’s behavior… The list could go on and on of things that I have felt judged about at one time or another. I know that you have experienced the same thing. We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are, no matter what that might mean.

Why do people judge? First of all, we need to understand the word “judge,” and what it really means. This word is often over-used in society, especially in Christian circles. The actual definition of the word “judge” is: “to form an opinion or estimation of after careful consideration.” When Scripture uses the word, it implies that “careful consideration” is the act of measuring something or someone against a set standard. So I think we can agree that when we judge something or someone, we are forming a belief based upon the impression that we get from that thing or person, when compared to a pre-determined set of rules or guidelines.

Scripture talks about judging others, being discerning, and testing to be sure something is truly of God. It is not so much the “judging” that is the issue, as is the measurement with which we judge. So, maybe better questions would be, what are the reasons that we may feel judged, what standard is being used, and how should we be responding to judgments, based on God’s Word?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. 1 John 4:1a

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14

1. Why do we feel judged?

a. Our Insecurities

If we do not feel confident about what we are doing or in who we are, we will often feel judged by others, even when no one is actually judging us.

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:22-23

b. Misunderstandings

Often, we interpret what someone says and turn it into a judgment. This is especially true, if we know that they feel or believe differently than we do. We must be careful not to make assumptions. We need to be discerning.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 1 Corinthians 14:20

c. Actual Judgments

Sometimes, we are actually being judged. Whether someone states this flat-out, or infers it. We have all felt the sting of someone’s disapproval. How we respond to these is so important to our testimony. None of us are perfect. We all need correction once in a while.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

2. What standards are used to judge?

a. Past expectations

I am a bit rough on things. I tend to break things, unintentionally and rather frequently. I truly don’t mean to, but somehow, I just do. After I got married, I would get so scared to tell my husband that I messed something up. I was so afraid he would get mad at me. Was it because he set this standard? No, it was because of how I grew up. If we broke something as a kid, it was bad news! My father’s personality was like mine. He was very verbal about his thoughts and feelings, and he wasn’t a big fan of fixing things, because of my negligence. He would get frustrated if a kick ball rolled into the garden. On the other hand, my husband is very even-tempered. Very little upsets him. In nearly 20 years, I have only seen him truly mad a handful of times. He has never yelled at me, and has never even made me feel stupid for breaking something. It took time to re-set this standard in my head, and allow myself to act accordingly.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:12-14

b. Society

We often set standards based on what society expects of us. Think about something as simple as beauty. Commercials, TV programs, billboards, and magazines set a standard for beauty that leaves 99% of us lacking. Society sets many other standards as well. Money = success, Sex = love, Possessions = happiness, etc. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves judging based on the false standards of this world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. I John 2:15-16

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2 Timothy 2:4

c. Desires

Sometimes, we judge – especially ourselves – simply based on what we desire. For example: If we desire to be a mother and we are not, we assume that we are a failure. Our desires is such a shallow and frustrating standard, because we have little to no control over how to measure up.

For wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:11

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. Proverbs 19:2

d. Other people’s wishes

This is another one that is exasperating. The mother-in-law thinks that you should be spending more time reading to your 6 month old, while your husband thinks that books are a waste of time, if your child cannot even speak yet. What do you do? Most of us try to please both. Because you feel that either way, you are going to be a failure in the eyes of somebody. Not to even mention that we totally frustrate ourselves in the process. I love what Dave Ramsey says: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” This is often so true, unfortunately.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22

e. “Written” rules

Whether they are literally written on paper or not, this standard is usually much more attainable, and most of the time, it is much more reasonable. This would include school procedures, government laws, and most importantly, God’s instructions in Scripture.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29b

3. How should we respond to judgments – real or perceived?

a. First of all, we need to establish a correct standard of measurement for ourselves.

God’s standard should be the standard we hold ourselves against. Anything else will have us frustrated and leave us feeling like empty failures. Only the truth can set us free, and only the truth can point us in the direction of how we should live – in every single area of life. If someone comes to us with a judgment, we should be open to listen, and then, we need to search our hearts and determine if the judgment is accurate. We must be honest with ourselves, before God. God does use others to exhort and correct us. Even though it may be uncomfortable, the direction of others can save us a lot of heartache later on.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1

The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Proverbs 15:31

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. Proverbs 15:32

b. Next, we need to establish a correct standard of measurement for others.

We all make judgments every day, all day long. We judge if the people around us in a parking lot look safe. We judge if the cashier looks smart enough to get us checked out in a hurry. We judge the mom in the next aisle, when her child screams out a swear word. We even judge other drivers, based on their speed and decisiveness. And that is just our list of judgments before lunchtime! Are we supposed to judge others? The answer is “yes.” However, Scripture is very clear that we need to be careful to judge everyone, including ourselves, by the same standard – God’s standard. We also need to have discretion, and exhortation needs to be coupled with grace.

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

c. Lastly, we need to practice grace and forgiveness.

We are going to fall short of the standard – again and again. So is everyone else around us. Ultimately, if you do not enjoy being judged for petty things, avoid judging others for these things as well. Choosing to give grace and forgiveness – to ourselves and to others – will certainly go a long way in allowing us to live more peaceful and joyful lives.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 2 Corinthians 8:7

Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

Original material by Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission.


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Impaired Vision

In this life, there are many things that rob us of clear vision to take that next right step. We often allow the cares and desires of this world to take away the blessings that could be ours.

And others are the ones [seeds of truth] sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  Mark 4:18-19

1.      We often have a false sense of entitlement.

We feel that somehow we deserve to have our wants met – in our way and in our timing. We forget that in using the very word “deserve,” we disqualify ourselves from everything that we could ever desire, not to mention everything that we already have. We deserve death. Period. It is only by the mercy and the grace of God that we DO NOT get what we deserve or what is fair. We need to be careful how we use these terms. We often set ourselves up for disappointments, frustrations, and even anger. If we keep the proper perspective on what is truly fair and just, we would be less likely to feel victimized.

 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

 For the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23a

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10

2.     Too often we have the major problem of open-mouth disease.

The Scriptures encourage us to share our burdens, to seek Godly counsel, and to use our trials to minister to others. That is one of the main purposes of Perfect Joy Ministries. However, this is not always the reason that we feel the need to talk about our circumstances. Many times, we want pity, a sense of justice re-enforced, and a chance to voice our opinions. As Christians, we need to guard our mouth. I recently heard someone say, “An open mouth leads to blurry vision.” The more we feed ourselves deception, the more we will begin to believe it. We begin to walk by sight, instead of by faith. If we open our mouths, we need to be sure that what is coming out is truth, wisdom, and edifying. The glory should always belong to God.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. Proverbs 15:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom. Psalm 37:30a

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29

3.     We all struggle with a lack of faith, at times.

The level of faith that we need to live a God-honoring life, even in the midst of difficult trials and circumstances, requires a supernatural strength. We must be continually asking God for faith to trust Him, and to allow Him to accomplish His will in our lives.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-24

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7

4.     We often fail to see clearly, due to a simple lack of wisdom.

This one is so easy that it’s hard. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask God for the wisdom that you need. It is not His will that we should stumble around in the dark. God’s Word will give us everything that we need to take the next right step.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:14-17

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ. Ephesians 1:7-9

5.     Often we are very short-sighted.

Our near-sightedness does not enable us to see the whole picture. We lose sight of the reason that we were created. We forget what our true purpose is. We fail to see eternity, in the light of our current disaster or calamity. Sometimes it is so hard to take a step back and remember our calling. We were created to bring glory to God, and to become like His Son. This world is merely a training-ground for eternity. We cannot let ourselves become so involved or wrapped up in the cares of this life that we miss God’s ultimate will for our lives. Remember, the best is yet to come! Live for the eternal!

All things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16b

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

6.     We are double-minded.

We say one thing and think another. We tell one person one thing and another something else. We say that we believe and trust in All-mighty God, but we live in fear and frustration. Our minds and hearts need to be filled to the brim with truth. Do not leave room for doubt and lies. Let the things that you say you believe go from your head to your heart. You serve the God of the universe, the God of things we cannot imagine, and the God of all power and glory, Who delights in the impossible. Live like it!

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:10

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. Psalm 49:3

Original material by Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission.


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The Unseen

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

The world of macro is a fascinating and glorious one. Such beauty lies in that which is naturally difficult to see and is revealed only with lenses, created to take it in.

Taking some of these macro shots one day, I discovered a tool called, a “color picker”, in which you can hover this icon at any spot on the photo and suddenly the color is revealed on a screen to the side. Suddenly this macro world expanded even more, as colors I had not even known existed revealed themselves. Hues and saturations from one end of the spectrum to the other. And all of it on a color palette that even the most gifted master painter could not create.

Getting into this little side hobby caused me think of all which remains unseen within our circumstances and yet, is beauty, waiting to be revealed.

The unseen growth.
The unseen purpose.
The unseen beauty.
The unseen glory.
The unseen redemption.
The unseen blessings.

Unbeknownst to us, every circumstance, especially the most painful, can bring either a regression or a progression. We are never standing still in our Christian walk. For those who are constantly seeking to live a surrendered life, it is the latter, not the former. However, just as we are often completely unaware of the digestion process of our food, we are often quite unaware of our own spiritual and emotional growth for a period of time. But then, we look back through a journal or a blog or just in remembrance and we see huge steps in our faith level or our self-control or our joy and peace and we stop with humble thanks, because we remember what it once was.


This double-arrowed line represents all time – past, present, and future. Your life here on earth is the tiny red dot, and your life in eternity is the purple line. In reality, the dot would be so small, in contrast with eternity, that you wouldn’t even see it. Our life is merely a vapor. ( <input type=”submit” value=”Update” />  What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b) It is gone before we know it. Eternity is not a place you go after you die. Eternity starts at your birth, and heaven is simply a new place to continue to live out the life that God preordained for you. Right now, we are immortal beings with finite minds. When we make the switch into heavenly realms, we will be changed. We will possess the infinite mind to comprehend how everything in this earthly part of our lives fit together.

The children that we have lost had such small dots that many would not even consider their existence. Somehow, this can make us feel additional sadness and negativity toward our circumstances. We often feel that we “deserved” to have that child in our lives for longer. However, when our parents, or another senior in our lives, live a “long and full” life, do we not feel that it was simply “their time to go?” What is the difference? Human perspective. In God’s eyes, both lives were lived in their fullness and were complete and perfect. Not one day too long or one day too short. When we finally have infinite minds, we will be able to see this clearly, and our sorrow will be wiped away in a revelation of absolute truth.

The resounding refrain of Perfect Joy: This is not all there is! So much here on this earth impacts so much “there” in eternity. It might simply be the roles our babies were created to play in eternity, without experiencing earth at all. Earth is a sort of preparatory course for the rest of our lives. It often seems so senseless – so pointless here, but once we cross over there, we will look at what we went through, and how it worked together to make us into who we were meant to be in God’s “forever plan.”

Every pain that ever tore our hearts into jagged little pieces will be held up in light of His astounding, brilliant glory. Every tear shed, which is collected in His bottles, will reflect the sovereign purpose He had ordained for our lives before time. Every grief, every heartache, will be another worship cast at His feet, as we cry, “holy, holy, holy,” and like the beauty of a sunset after a terrifying storm, those heartbreaks will shine with a beauty we cannot comprehend here on this earth.

ALL things will be restored, redeemed, and completed to the glory of God.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11b

Sin, heartache, pain, sorrow, death, etc. were certainly not in the Creator’s initial design for mankind. However, at the same time, God knew that we would choose sin, at which point “bad” things would enter the world – multiplying and destroying. Could God have chosen to force His creation into obedience? Of course. Would He still be fair and just? Of course. Is it also fair and just that He allows difficulties, trials, and seeming “bad” things to happen to us? Of course. Why? Because we were created by Him and He owns us. The Scriptures say that God even uses sinners to accomplish His will. He can do whatever He desires. Here is an excerpt of Romans 9. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter.

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. Romans 9:14-23

This is not an easy concept for us to accept at times. We feel “wronged” or “slighted,” if we do not receive exactly what we feel we need. We often believe that we somehow “deserve” things to be a certain way, or that we somehow have wisdom beyond God to know what “should” happen. We seriously need to consider our perspective. I often use Legos as an example. If we created a huge Lego world, and our little Lego people raised their funny little hands at us in anger, how would we react? Of course, we would smash them, or at the very least, disassemble them. What right do they have to tell us how things should be done? This is the same lesson that Job had to learn. Job 38-39 is God asking Job what right He had to question His Creator. Then, we see a summary at the beginning of chapter 40:

And the Lord said to Job: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:1-5

In conclusion, we have said it before, and we will say it again, God’s sovereignty will bring either bondage or freedom in your life. The choice is entirely up to you.

For more on this subject:

Original material by Melissa J. Carswell, MA, BCCC, Holly M. Besser. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp42p02-23-14

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What is love?

World’s love

• Conditional – convenient love
• Focuses on feelings and emotions
• Asks, “What can I get out of this?” “How will this make me happy?”
• Asks, “Am I better off because of this relationship?”
• If needs and wants aren’t met, QUIT and look for someone “better”
• Searches for the “right” person
• Service = slavery – doesn’t want the relationship to cost anything
• Looks for the failures in the other person and dwells on that
• Has expectations that cannot be met by any human
• Repeats shortcomings and gossips about them to others
• Never considers your own flaws, and always points a finger – lacks grace
• The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side of the fence
• Expects the relationship to be 50/50. If the other person doesn’t give, you don’t either

God’s love

• Unconditional – sacrificial love
• Focuses on the truth – chooses to love
• Asks, “What can I do for this person?” “How can I make them happy?”
• Asks, “Is the other person better off because I am in their life?”
• If needs and wants aren’t met, PRAY and work through it – no matter what
• Waits for God to bring the “right” person
• Service = joy and contentment – realizes that a good relationship is worth everything
• Looks for the good in the other person and dwells on that
• Keeps expectations reasonable, remembering only God can fulfill all things and be all things
• Covers flaws and presents the other person in a positive light to others
• Is willing to give grace, because you are a sinner too
• You realize that the water bill is higher on the other side of the fence
• Puts 100% into the relationship, no matter what the other person gives

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp52p02-13-14

Who Says?

  •  “AGAIN?!?! Are you really going to put yourself through this again? How many times are you going to get pregnant, and suffer?”
  •  “Are you sure you want to try for another child already? Isn’t it a little soon to do this again? Why don’t you wait a little while?”
  •  “You are high risk for another miscarriage. This pregnancy is likely to end in loss. Don’t get your hopes up.”
  •  “Really? You aren’t going to breastfeed your baby? You just aren’t trying hard enough. Don’t you want the best for your baby?”
  •   Vaccinate? (enough said)

Most of us have heard similar things from people in our lives, whether it be our spouse, a family member or friend, or even a doctor. As a matter of fact, many of us have probably said these things to ourselves at some point.

I’d like to challenge you to consider following these statements with the simple question, “Who says?”

Unless your answer is “God,” then, these words are simply words – nothing more. Certainly God sends people into our lives or uses the Holy Spirit to give us counsel and wisdom, but we have been told in Scripture:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God… 1 John 4:1a

We often allow ourselves to become enslaved to opinions of others, frozen by fears from our past experiences, and swayed by a lack of faith. We forget that our God delights in the impossible. He finds pleasure in doing what we cannot imagine. As children of God, we are called to freedom, not bondage. We are free to hope for the incredible, believe in things we cannot see, and trust in a God, Who holds the entire world in His hands.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 2 Peter 2:19b

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Galatians 5:13a

Live as people who are free. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. I Peter 2:16a, 19

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:32, 36

So, how do we know what the next right thing is? How do we know we are making the right decision and not just being foolish? May I be so bold to suggest that based on Scripture, if we are delighting in the Lord, following His ways to the best of our human ability, keeping a clean heart, and desiring His will in our lives, that we cannot make a wrong choice? God desires that we know His will for us. (Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17) He doesn’t want us to wonder, to struggle, or to question each choice we make. He wants us to be sure of ourselves – because of HIM and of Who HE is. I truly believe that if we are doing what He has asked of us, He will lead us in the right path. You can plan and prepare and even start on a particular path, but if it’s not where He wants you, He will move you. There is nothing – yes, nothing – we can ever do or fail to do that will thwart His plan for our life. (Again, I need to stress that we must keep our heart’s desire fixed on Him and Him alone.)

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:3-5

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. Psalm 37:31

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

So, are you trying to decide when to start trying for another baby? Are you newly pregnant and worried about the outcome? Are you a new mother with some really difficult decisions to make? Stop being anxious. Take the next step. Do the next right thing with confidence in the One able to keep you from falling. Just do it!!

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013.  May not be used or re-printed without permission.  bp51p02-06-14

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When Hope is Gone

Romans 8:18-30
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

I have shared Romans chapter 8 before. I love the beauty in the promises. There is so much to take in. I love the verses about hope. But what happens when hope is gone?

The past month has been filled with my hopes being crushed. I have a severe spinal disease that needs treatment. I wake up each day with hope that this might be the day that someone “fixes” me. I have hope that I just might have a chance to play on the playground with my daughter – something I was never able to do with my sons. I have hope that one day my children could run and jump into my arms without causing damage or at least excruciating pain.

I was recently directed to look into a spine center three hours from my home. From the time they reviewed my MRIs, they were positive that they could help me. We had the surgeries scheduled, the paperwork completed, and a deposit paid. Then, Obamacare hit. My dreams of being whole and pain-free were over with one phone call. Because insurance companies are paying less for out-of-network treatment, my financial responsibility went from $2,000 to $20,000. In an instant, my hopes for healing were gone. The pain in my body somehow doubled in that moment. A spinal block and a wheelchair began to look, not only possible, but almost welcome.

From the time I was very young, I wanted to be a mom – that’s all – just a mom. I never had dreams of being a teacher or a doctor or an astronaut. I just wanted to have a family. Even in elementary school, I would draw pictures of the ranch that I would build for orphans. I wanted to adopt in the worst way. When the spine condition kept me from having children for the first seven years of my marriage, I thought that adoption would certainly be a viable option.

When I finally surrendered this area of my life and longing to God, I was blessed with my first son. Even though pregnancy has been a rough road for me, I was so grateful that God saw fit to bless me with three beautiful children here on earth and four more in heaven. In the meantime, my husband changed his mind about adoption. He was no longer interested. Ugh. Another dream dashed.

Now, I am facing the reality that my body cannot safely carry another child, without huge risk to my health. I have an appointment scheduled next week to have my tubes sealed. However, I am still praying and debating. How can I completely kill another hope? How can I allow the one thing I wanted for so very long to be taken from me? I just do not feel that our family is complete. I just do not have a peace about it. What to do?

As I ponder these hopes in my life, I have been forced to one conclusion in the past two days. It sounds so easy, but if you investigate your life, I will guarantee that you aren’t doing it either.

I need to put ALL of my hopes in GOD – ALL of them.

I need to stop hoping in science, in doctors, in adoption plans, in birth control (or lack thereof), and a multitude of other things to complete my dreams and desires. Even when I cannot see the road ahead or how God’s plan could possibly be accomplished, the Holy Spirit prays for me. He intercedes on my behalf with the Creator of the universe. He sees my heart and hears my cries for help, and He speaks to the One who named the stars, asking Him to meet my needs. Amazing!

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, NOTHING WILL THWART THE PLANS OF ALL-MIGHTY GOD! There is nothing I can do or even the President of America can do to change the will of God. If He wants me to be healed, He will make a way. He doesn’t need an insurance company to cover the costs. He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn’t need our money. If He wants me to have another child, He doesn’t need me to change my husband’s heart or keep my womb functioning, in order to accomplish this. Once again, I put my great God into a very tiny box. Oh, may I look to the One who formed me from the dust of the ground to complete what He has preordained for my life. God is already in my future. He has seen my children grow up. He has seen my grandchildren. Surely, my hope is in the fact that He will do what is best for me and what brings glory to Himself – every time.

Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp50p01-21-14

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