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FaithLarae

When God has your Back

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So a few months ago I re-dedicated my life to Christ. I’d been living in the world for a good four years and though I constantly felt guilt there were things I was not yet ready to surrender to the Lord. I think I adopted the theology many churches (In America) proclaim i.e. Jesus as the saviour of my life....but not the master. Now at last I have made him both! 

 

But I have been frustrated. I have so wanted that momentous moment where all the sudden glory overtakes you and you speak in tongues, and dream dreams and see visions and receive words of knowledge..... I can’t say any of those things have happened to me. Now I know comparing yourself to others is not a good thing but my apparent lack of supernatural encounters has made me feel like there must be something wrong with me? I’ve gone so far as to think that maybe I’d gone too far and God has rejected me after all? Am I seeking him in vain? Am I one of those people who will come before Jesus crying “Lord Lord look at the wonderful works I did in your name!” And Christ will respond saying “Get away from me I never knew you!” How terrifying!

 

And yet he is here with me. Perhaps my journey with Christ is more of a slow burning process rather than a road to Damascus moment. Because day by day there is a magnetic energy around me. I constantly feel a pull coming from within and If I let myself relax from moment to moment I literally would not be able to stand. I even think that I have felt the Holy Spirit hugging me, always from behind.... as If to say “It’s ok to fall because I will catch you.” I’ve always been a person of action, thoughts racing constantly, always something else to complete or study - definitely more of a Martha than a Mary lol - and maybe just maybe the Lord is teaching me patience. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit is saying “cease your worry, everything you desire will come to you, I want you to know me more.... but first I need you to trust me.” After all, faith is the hope of things yet unseen.... 

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28 minutes ago, FaithLarae said:

there must be something wrong with me

 

Faith, oh, so well named! Never forget that. There is certainly nothing wrong with you. Don't base your spiritual life on feelings or comparisons. Only on God's Word. He has created you to be you! Only you can do what He desires to be done first in you and then through you. But to do, you must first be! So, relax in who you are. You are a Masterpiece!

 

28 minutes ago, FaithLarae said:

I’ve gone so far as to think that maybe I’d gone too far and God has rejected me after all? Am I seeking him in vain?

 

You cannot go too far nor seek Him in vain. Don't believe the lies the enemy throws at you. The Spirit will be there to catch you, to uplift you, to be all that you need. Rejection is out of the question. You are planted in the foundation of Christ and you cannot get out. Those arms of the Spirit and Christ's shed blood keep you forever in Him. May the Lord bless you in all you do. 🧡

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My favorite verses :) Romans 8:35-39.

 

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Thank you to everyone who read and commented. I’m brand new here but I’m so happy to see so much support. I was half expecting a lot of criticism....but glad to be proven wrong!

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Yeah, we might eat your writing alive but we love YOU!

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<Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
    with your right hand you save me.
8 The Lord will vindicate me;
    your love, Lord, endures forever—
    do not abandon the works of your hands.>. Psalm 138:7-9

 

<

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.> Psalm 1391: 1-12

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Over fifteen years ago, I had a dream in which the Lord warned me that my family and I would soon experience many trials and they would last for a long (unspecified time) but we would survive. The dream was confirmed by a sermon I heard a few days later at a Pentecostal church. (I was a visitor. I mostly go to a Baptist Church.) The dream came true, and for a dozen years or so we experienced more problems than any other period in my life.

 

Jesus said, "In this life, you will have troubles, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

 

A person who reads the Bible, sees what Jesus said, and believes it will get just as much truth and guidance and reassurance as I did. Such a person will not need a dream. I think that God had to speak to me in a dream because my faith was not strong enough to just believe his Word. Many other life lessons I got help with by just reading the Word and obeying it. That is as good as having an angel show up at your door.

 

When I studied Job a few years ago, I counted over a dozen ways that God communicates with people. Some are supernatural and require God to take the initiative, like dreams, visions, messages from prophets, angelic visits, miracles and theophany (hearing God's voice). The others we always have open to us: prayer, fasting, sabbath-keeping, sacrificial giving (yes, giving is a way to speak to God!), reading the Word and listening to sermons, listening to wise elders (pastors, friends, parents), observing the glory of God in nature, and through our suffering. My personal experience is that if you demonstrate a passion to be with and hear from God in the normal, accessible ways, from time to time God will show up in the supernatural ways.

 

One last story. When I was thirty, I was lonely and desperate for a wife. A woman at my church named Lynette said, "I think God is telling me that you will soon meet someone thath you will be in a relationship with." This made me angry. I thought she was saying comforting but empty words that would not come true and leave me worse off than before. A few days later, I reflected on my bad attitude. I didn't know if Lynette was a prophetess or not, but I knew that in my heart, it was not Lynette I was mad at, it was God. Regardless of her words, My mistrust of Him was real. I confessed my unbelief in His ability to help me find a wife. About two weeks later I first set eyes on Tina. We have been married now for twenty-six years.

 

Whenever you see yourself doubting God's goodness, confess it to him. It may open up a channel of grace you never thought possible. My unbelief almost denied me the privilege of receiving a bonafide prophecy from God. My unbelief almost robbed the world of Jaime, Danielle, and Amelie. And I certainly would not be the writer I am today without the lessons I have learned from all of them. Because by the time I got that warning dream about the trials to come, I had four other people to care for. I needed extra reassurance to strengthen me to handle my own trials and shoulder part of theirs.

 

If you love others and devote yourself to caring for them, no matter the cost, I guarantee you will come to places where your faith is too weak for the challenge and God will have no choice but to come down from heaven to lend a hand. Doing as much good as we can is how we seek God and find him.

 

"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." Romans 2:7

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3 hours ago, paulchernoch said:

Over fifteen years ago, I had a dream in which the Lord warned me that my family and I would soon experience many trials and they would last for a long (unspecified time) but we would survive. The dream was confirmed by a sermon I heard a few days later at a Pentecostal church. (I was a visitor. I mostly go to a Baptist Church.) The dream came true, and for a dozen years or so we experienced more problems than any other period in my life.

 

Jesus said, "In this life, you will have troubles, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

 

A person who reads the Bible, sees what Jesus said, and believes it will get just as much truth and guidance and reassurance as I did. Such a person will not need a dream. I think that God had to speak to me in a dream because my faith was not strong enough to just believe his Word. Many other life lessons I got help with by just reading the Word and obeying it. That is as good as having an angel show up at your door.

 

When I studied Job a few years ago, I counted over a dozen ways that God communicates with people. Some are supernatural and require God to take the initiative, like dreams, visions, messages from prophets, angelic visits, miracles and theophany (hearing God's voice). The others we always have open to us: prayer, fasting, sabbath-keeping, sacrificial giving (yes, giving is a way to speak to God!), reading the Word and listening to sermons, listening to wise elders (pastors, friends, parents), observing the glory of God in nature, and through our suffering. My personal experience is that if you demonstrate a passion to be with and hear from God in the normal, accessible ways, from time to time God will show up in the supernatural ways.

 

One last story. When I was thirty, I was lonely and desperate for a wife. A woman at my church named Lynette said, "I think God is telling me that you will soon meet someone thath you will be in a relationship with." This made me angry. I thought she was saying comforting but empty words that would not come true and leave me worse off than before. A few days later, I reflected on my bad attitude. I didn't know if Lynette was a prophetess or not, but I knew that in my heart, it was not Lynette I was mad at, it was God. Regardless of her words, My mistrust of Him was real. I confessed my unbelief in His ability to help me find a wife. About two weeks later I first set eyes on Tina. We have been married now for twenty-six years.

 

Whenever you see yourself doubting God's goodness, confess it to him. It may open up a channel of grace you never thought possible. My unbelief almost denied me the privilege of receiving a bonafide prophecy from God. My unbelief almost robbed the world of Jaime, Danielle, and Amelie. And I certainly would not be the writer I am today without the lessons I have learned from all of them. Because by the time I got that warning dream about the trials to come, I had four other people to care for. I needed extra reassurance to strengthen me to handle my own trials and shoulder part of theirs.

 

If you love others and devote yourself to caring for them, no matter the cost, I guarantee you will come to places where your faith is too weak for the challenge and God will have no choice but to come down from heaven to lend a hand. Doing as much good as we can is how we seek God and find him.

 

"To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." Romans 2:7

 

3 hours ago, paulchernoch said:

personal experience is that if you demonstrate a passion to be with and hear from God in the normal, accessible ways, from time to time God will show up in the supernatural ways.

Paul thank you so much for sharing your story. A primary reason I joined this group was just to share my journey and learn from others.' Sometimes the wisdom of an elder in the faith is definitely needed! I appreciate you :)

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On 7/29/2020 at 7:33 PM, FaithLarae said:

Paul thank you so much for sharing your story. A primary reason I joined this group was just to share my journey and learn from others.' Sometimes the wisdom of an elder in the faith is definitely needed! I appreciate you

You are welcome. 

 

One underrated way of getting close to God is fasting. When I was a new Christian, I saw no point in it. I will go years without fasting, then do it a few times in a crisis, then go back to not fasting. In my early thirties I fasted for a few years regularly, then almost never for about fifteen years or so. Then I read a paper by C.S. Lewis on the Glory of God. He thought it strange that Christians down through the ages spoke so much of its importance. After studying the topic, he reversed his opinions and concluded that it was among the most important aspects of God and vital to the worship and faith of us all. I was like C.S. Lewis before his epiphany. Figuring that he was much smarter than I, I reasoned that I was missing something. So I began fasting one day a week for the next three years. My only prayer each Monday for those years was, "Lord, show me your glory."

 

Did I feel closer to God? Were my prayer times richer? Did I see miracles happen? 

 

No! I felt nothing. After three years, I stopped. I didn't stop because I thought it wasn't working and was useless. I just felt that my prayer had been heard and I could stop fasting.

 

Shortly thereafter, my desire to read the Bible began to revive. It had been weak for a long time. Then I started noticing new truths that I had overlooked. I would read a passage on Friday, and on Sunday the minister would preach on it. One time, I read three completely unrelated passages, Old and New Testament, and all three appeared in the prayer time or sermon.

 

I began to read Job. Six months of studying it got me nowhere. If I were younger, I would have given up, but I couldn't stop. I had to break through. I did. New insights poured out for the next two years and I wrote a book on Job (Job Rises: 13 Keys to a resilient Life). 

 

I believe that fasting unblocks your connection to God. Whatever gifts He has for you, whatever words of insight, or dreams, might come tumbling out if you fast.

 

In the middle of writing that last book, I began fasting one day a week again for about two years. I stopped fasting when the pandemic started. Sure enough, the Lord resumed speaking. I had been writing a Christian YA fantasy and was over halfway though it. When COVID-19 came along, my spirit told me that a light-hearted fantasy was not what the world needed. I dropped that project and began writing a book on how to find peace, based on the book of Ecclesiastes. (Solomon was right. I guess there is a "time to refrain from embracing"!) Six or seven years ago, I tried researching Ecclesiastes, but got stuck. That time I did not push through. This time I didn't even need to push. The floodgates were open from the start. I commenced research in February and writing in March. I have written 400 pages so far, my most productive season ever. Most of all, through it the Lord has shown me ways that He was guiding me before I became a Christian and revealed to me a few verses in Revelation 3 that basically laid out the whole course of my spiritual struggles in the thirty five-years since and the Lord's plan for refining me, which he has been accomplishing.

 

No dream. No vision. No angel. No miracle. God showed me through His word just how much he loved me and made it personal. Some of those other experiences I have been blessed with in my life, and I cherish them. Here is the most amazing thing. In my early twenties I stopped going to church for four years. I endured terrible depression. I seldom prayed. I only picked up a Bible twice during those years. For that I am thankful. If I never read the Bible, I would be dead. If I read the Bible a lot during those years, I wouldn't remember what I had read and could never make the connection to what happened. Because I only read Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd) and Revelation, I could remember what I read and plainly see how those two shaped my life. The Psalm was the Lord's promise that he would walk with me through the darkness of the Valley of the shadow of death, even though I could not see him and wasn't sure he was real. And Revelation scared me. I didn't understand anything about it except to be afraid. Job and Solomon speak often about the Fear of the Lord; that is why I am drawn to them. So my mind could not understand anything, but my spirit learned two things: Jesus loves me, and I should fear him because he means to change me and it won't always be pleasant but I need to trust him. 

 

Revelation 3 speaks of the church of Laodicea, the lukewarm church. It described me to a T. Reading those verses years later, I can see that every failing of that church is one I share (plus more). By inducing me to read that book as a young man, God was showing me exactly how well he knew me, but also that he had a plan to do something about it. Finding that plan now after all those years, I can look back at my whole life and see God's hand in places where I never saw it before.

 

From everything I have learned lately, one thing stands out. Read the Word. You won't understand it at first, and sometimes not for years, but you do not need to understand it for it to being to reform and guide your soul. Through prayer and meditation and study, I can now pinpoint the precise scriptures that healed me of specific moral failings of physical ailments. The Bible is both food and medicine. The food (regjular study) sustains you day by day. The medicine fixes big problems and makes you healthy. A verse that is food for you may be medicine for me, and vice versa. 

 

Patience is vital. I Corinthians 13 showed me what love is and I was saved a few weeks later. Galatians 2 delivered me from the fear of death. It took a month and I never relapsed. Philippians 2 delivered me from depression. I experienced temporary relief a month later, then was fully delivered almost three years later, at which point I finally understaood that passage. By meditating on Habakkuk 3 almost every day for over two years, I learned how to praise God and have hope despite repeated failure in college until I graduated (three years late, and almost expelled). I often thought about Jesus calming the storm (as told to me in a sermon) during fifteen years of trials after I got married. That scripture helped change me from a person with horrible anxiety (nervous tics, headaches, nightmares, trouble breathing, chest pains, ulcers, and more) to one at peace even when I lost my job, my mother died four days later, and my father nearly died two months after that.

 

Whether days, weeks, months, years or decades, the Word consistently and progressively transforms me. In almost none of those instances did I connect the scripture to the healing until years or even decades later. The Holy Spirit applies the Word to our hearts and He doesn't like to brag, so I will brag for Him. It is plowing (suffering), planting (the Word), watering (by the Spirit, who comforts our hearts and leads us through repentance into Holiness), weeding (by the Father, who straightens our priorities, removes distractions and miraculously changes the physical and social world around us) and finally a harvest of righteousness. After that, maybe an interval of peace. Then you begin again, with the suffering.

 

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest. He will not disappoint.

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1 hour ago, paulchernoch said:

One underrated way of getting close to God is fasting

Hahah ;) Funny you should mention fasting. I just started a fast yesterday, but I’ve always had the notion that fasting had to be for a pro-longed period. However, one day a week sounds like a good idea to put into practice regularly 😌 

 

I have to say (for the majority of my life) I’ve always loved the Word. When I was little 4/5 yrs old I picked up my mom’s old Bible and started reading it (as best I could) on my own. In my early days that was all the religious instruction I had as my mom believed, but wasn’t really practicing at the time. The 2 books I was most attracted to most were Genesis (I loved the stories) and funnily enough Revelation. I read those 2 books over and over until when I was about 9 I resolved to read the whole Bible cover to cover. Took me a year to do it but I did. I read the Bible religiously every night it wasn’t until I was about 24 that I hit a wall. I confess my twenties have been difficult. I’ve really struggled with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, disappointment and abandonment. I’ve realized that I have a huge problem with being able to trust; so many people have let me down in my life that that I have a hard time trusting even God. For which I’ve asked his forgiveness and am praying that he will teach me what it really means to rely on him. 
 

I am reading the Word daily again (I just started a guided study on Ecclesiastes) read Romans, started Corinthians and am in the Psalms all the time lol. It’s just when I read Acts and the accounts of the Apostles and Christ himself and I see how powerfully the church moved in the Holy Spirit .... I feel I’m lacking. I want that! I want the whole church to move in the anointing of the first century church and even double the portion as Elisha asked Elijah. For a long time I think I adopted the belief that miracles were for “others,” or only in the Bible but no God is still the same. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and the Holy Spirit is still here with all the same gifts. So I’ve just decided I don’t want to be stagnant. I don’t want to be “content,” in my relationship with Jesus like I was in my earlier

walk. I want more! I want to always thirst more for him and I want to produce much fruit not just a little. And I know the Word is such a key part of that after all Jesus is the Word! But now that I really believe that everything is possible I guess I’m just impatient to see the “everything “ manifest. 
 

I so appreciate your thoughtful instruction Paul ! Thank you 😊 

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Posted (edited)

I hope you get a lot out of your study of Ecclesiastes. Some members at CW recommended that I try mind mapping. I applied the technique to Ecclesiastes 3 a few months ago, to gain insight. Very helpful.

 

It helped me to decode the metaphors in the seasons passage. I found that the 28 seasons are divided into seven groups of four. Each group corresponds to a stage of life, from infancy, to childhood, to teen years, all the way up to mature adult. It is like a whole textbook on developmental psychology condensed into eight verses. Some of the metaphors were tricky. Planting and uprooting means having a stable home and protection versus being forced to move and experiencing disruption and exposure to danger. Tearing versus Sewing and mending has to do with broken relationships versus forgiveness and reconciliation. 
 

as for the number twenty-eight, that is a full lunar cycle. It symbolizes a complete cycle of life. As for putting peace last in the list, we have to work our way through all these challenges and master all the previous “times” to get to peace.

 

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Edited by paulchernoch

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Also, I read an article with a good outline of Ecclesiastes.

 

Reitman, James S. “The Structure and Unity of Ecclesiastes.” Bibliotheca Sacra, 154 (1997): 297–319, Dallas Theological Seminary.

 

Outline

 

I.   Thematic Prologue: What Profit Has a Man? (1:1-11)

II.  Man’s Futile Search for Meaning "under the Sun" (1:12-3:22)

     A. Man's Futile Search for Satisfaction in Achievement (1:12-2:26)

        1. Introduction: Qoheleth's Futile Quest (1:12-18)

        2. The Futile Pursuit of Pleasure (2:1-11)

        3. The Futile Pursuit of Wisdom (2: 12-17)

        4. The Futility of All Toil "under the Sun" (2:18-23)

        5. Hope for Meaning from the Hand of God (2:24-26)

     B. Man's Futile Attempt to Discern God's Purpose (3:1-22)

        1. All Life's Events Reflect Purpose (3:1-8)

        2. God's Inscrutable Purpose for Man's Labor (3:9-15)

        3. Man's Inscrutable Destiny in God's Plan (3:16-22)

III. The Futility of Selfish Ambition (4:1-6:12)

     A. The Pervasive Tyranny of Selfish Ambition (4:1-16)

        1. Unjust Oppression: First Sign of Selfish Ambition (4:1-6)

        2. Bitter Alienation: Ambition's Ultimate "Harvest" (4:7-16)

     B. The Costly Presumption behind Selfish Ambition (5: 1-17)

        1. Man's Ultimate Loss in Presuming on God (5:1-7)

        2. The Cumulative Cost of Presuming on Others (5:8-17)

     C. No Ultimate Advantage to Selfish Ambition (5:18-6:12)

        1. The Utter Despair of an Unsatisfied Soul (5:18-6:6)

        2. The Ultimate Inability of the Self-Determined Soul (6:7-12)

IV.  Despair as a Turning Point to Wisdom (7:1-14)

     A. Authentic Mourning Is Better than Unfounded Optimism (7:1-7)

        1. The Wisdom of Authentic Mourning (7:1-4)

        2. The Folly of Appeasing Despair (7:5-7)

     B. Patient Confidence Is Better than Angry Pride (7:8-14)

        1. The Folly of Angry Pride (7:8-10) -

        2. Wisdom's Ultimate Advantage (7:11-14)

V.   The True Path to Wisdom: The Fear of God (7:15-9:10)

     A. Total Depravity: Man's Greatest Obstacle to Wisdom (7:15-29)

        1. Man's Hopelessly Inadequate Righteousness (7:15-22)

        2. Depravity Exposed in the Search for Wisdom (7:23-29)

     B. The Fear of God: Man's Only Hope in Judgment (8:1-15)

        1. Wisdom's Advantage in the Face of Judgment (8:1-8)

        2. Man's Only Hope: To Fear before God (8:9-15)

     C. The Work of God: Man's Ultimate Source of Meaning (8:16-9:10)

        1. Man's Uncertain Role in God's Inscrutable Plan (8:16-9:2)

        2. Man's Hope for Meaning in His "Portion" from God (9:3-10)

VI. Shepherding Wisdom for the Work of God (9:11-12:7)

     A. Wisdom's Vulnerability: The Need for Moral Vigilance (9:11-10:20)

        1. Time and Chance: "Natural" Advantage Nullified (9:11-12)

        2. Wisdom's Advantage Dismissed by Fools (9:13-18)

        3. Wisdom's Advantage Forfeited by Folly (10:1-20)

     B. Opportune Stewardship amid Life's Adversity (11:1-12:7)

        1. Expeditious Stewardship in the Face of Uncertainty (11:1-6)

        2. Early Stewardship in the Face of Mortality (11:7-12:7)

VII. Epilogue: Qoheleth's Moral Authority (12:8-14)

     A. Qoheleth's Teaching-The Reliable Word of God (12:8-12

     B. The Purpose of God's Word (12:13-14)

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