Troubles

EVERYONE IS IN A WHEELCHAIR

Kim Ordile

When Lou Ordile showed me this article written by his wife Kim, I immediately asked if I could share it with all of you, God has given her excellent insights through her significant struggles.

Kim and Lou along with their children, Joseph and Jessa have shown the power of God’s grace in the midst of life’s great difficulties. May their heart be our own!

Back in 2012 my health started to decline. 

Today the wheelchair is my reality. 

But this is not about me, for God has graciously reminded me that everyone feels like they are in a wheelchair:

The feeling that things are out of my control

Being pushed in directions I didn’t plan on going

The fear of going too fast or the frustration with going to slow

Heart ache due to broken dreams

Angry from having to live with limitations, consequences, boundaries and restrictions

Coping with changes that impact my identity, or who I thought I was

Anxiety that I might be rejected

A sense of pain, and the lack of comfort or contentment to make it go away

I have found the only way for me to resolve any of these feelings is on my knees before God.

God loves me and he loves you, and he longs to be in relationship with us.

Hard times cause our hearts to long for something deeper and real. This is found when we are in relationship with the God who created us. Accepting that Jesus is God’s Son and that he died and rose again to pay for our sin, is the way to God. 

God is the only One that can give us peace, a purpose, a true identity, contentment, and the security of being unconditionally loved. 

I pray that no matter what your wheelchair is – that you will receive God’s love for you. I have found his love to be true even in my wheelchair!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13  

Kim Ordile

REFLECTIONS ON JESUS’ BIRTH: part 3

When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.   Matthew 1:18-20

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt.  Matthew 2:13-14

Jesus’ birth brought Difficulty

We know Joseph was initially filed with anguish over Mary’s pregnancy (he was preparing to break off the engagement)

Imagine the rumors and accusations which must have often touched the whole family

No one believed she was a virgin giving birth

People thought them liars or fools  

Then Joseph and Mary had to flee for Egypt to escape Herod’s slaughter of innocent children

Jesus birth was clearly God’s favor on Mary and Joseph!

Yet there were also burdens attached to it

We should never think hardships are evidence that God is uncaring!

The truth is – that in order to be obedient to God we will have you had to endure hardship

The truth is – that faithfulness and godliness at times will hang burdens around our neck

The truth is – that in bearing these burdens, we share what Jesus’ family shared

We should be able to rejoice in that fact

LONELINESS

Loneliness has many causes

It may be that our circumstances have isolated us

Perhaps we don’t fit in with other people’s expectations

Or people we cared about – have left our life

Loneliness can also be the result of attitudes and actions that have driven people away

I don’t know your situation, but I do know we often get stuck in our loneliness, becoming unsure how to get out.

I have two suggestions for you regardless of why you lonely

First, change your focus from trying to find acceptance from others, to how God can use you to touch others.

This means relationships are no longer under the expectations of what people will be for you. Instead expectations are on how God will work in and through you.

You cannot control how people treat you, but you can be confident that God wants to use you to touch people with His love and for His gospel. This should excite us, because there are no purposes more wonderful than those that God has in using us.

Right now, there are people around you who are hurting.

It may not show on the outside, but it does not take much digging for their pain to come to the surface.

Become attentive to people.

Look for ways to serve them.

People will usually be receptive to those who genuinely seek to serve them; partly because it’s relatively rare, and partly because people are looking out for themselves.

The simple question of asking people how you can pray for them can open many opportunities to show you care.

This concern can have a powerful impact.

You will find your life filling with involvements that are God focused, and encouraging. It is incredibly satisfying when you can step back and see that God is using your in various relationships

If you are not sure who to start with, look for people the world pushes off to the side

Look for those who are being mistreated. Pay attention to people from their perspective rather than you own. There is work in all of this, but people want to be near those who care for them.

Second, make God the relationship that truly satisfies you.

It pleases God when we enjoy the good things He has created for our enjoyment – but our contentment should be in Him alone.

God deeply loves us . . He has saved us . . and He is committed to graciously finishing His work in us. These realities should all bring contentment.

When we compare what God has waiting for us, with what we think is missing from our present life, there really is no comparison.

Can you say you are content in Christ even if nothing else changes in your life?

This is something we must work at and “learn” (Philippians 4:11). But once learned, it is a precious reality, because nothing can then take contentment from us.

Make your relationship with God, the one that fills your heart, satisfies your soul, and fulfills what you have been thinking relationships should be.

Although we can feel lonely, it is impossible as a child of God to be outside of love or to be alone

6.19.12

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.08.14

“Prayer and Healing”                       

 James 5:13-16

When I was 16, I watched a woman be healed dramatically! Since then I have watched many people die. The subjects of Prayer and Healing are connected and of deep interest to all believers.

James begins with an encouragement to pray (v13)

Whatever is going on in life, we are to respond with prayer and praise

Prayer and praise should be inseparable, neither one existing alone

Prayer and praise are the voice of the Christian life 

As Christians, how can life move apart from interaction with the Triune God?

Prayer and worship are not polite Christianity, or religious form

They are integral to how we think of God, the gospel, ourselves, and Christ’s kingdom

Prayer and praise is our starting place, our safe place, and where we find strength

Let’s look at the text through a series of questions

1.  Why are we told to ‘call for the elders’? (v14)

Elders (pastors) don’t have special power, they represent the Church (v16 tells us elders are not the only ones to pray for these needs)

God’s role in our lives is connected to our local church 

At Greentree we emphasize biblical community, because the Bible does

2.  Why are the sick to be ‘anointed with oil’? (v14)

Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; it is a reminder of where the power comes from

The use of oil is not a sacrament (giving grace); and oil from Jerusalem is not more effective

Oil is used in the Bible for anointing to declare we are calling for God’s presence

3.  Why do we need to ‘confess our sins’? (v16)

It’s not because all sickness is the result of a sin; v15 says ‘if’ they sinned. And Job’s friends were rebuked by God for making that accusation against him

The emphasis here is that we must come to God with a right heart

This is similar to the principle behind John Baptist’s ministry; he prepared the way for Christ by calling on people to repent

Prayer for healing must be more than acknowledging God’s power

We are acknowledging His rule over all things, including our bodies and life

4.  What is the “prayer of faith”?  (v15)

This is prayer that trusts in God, by acting on what He has said

It is trusting that we have free access to God, that He is able to heal, that He cares for us, and He is perfectly good

This prayer is offered in Jesus name, which means it is offered according to his will

In Exodus 6:2-3, when God made his “name known” to His people it was to say “I am the Lord”. God was claiming sovereignty over their lives

Prayer offered in Jesus name fulfills what we are taught in the Lord’s prayer “Your will be done”

It follows Jesus prayer in Gethsemane when he said “Not my will, but yours”

Our faith doesn’t leverage God into acting on our behalf

Biblical faith can never involve the lessening of God’s sovereignty

5.  Why are not all Christians healed? (v15)

There is a measure of mystery to this, which we cannot fully answer – now

But Paul was told by God that his “thorn in the flesh” would not be removed.

Paul refers a few times to his co-laborers who he left ill

Concluding thoughts

1.  Sickness can come for different reasons

Sickness at times may be because of our sin, as a discipline from God (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Sickness may not be because of our sin, but a test from God (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) 

Sickness may be the mercy of God to deliver us from this evil world (1 Kings 14:1 & 13)

Sickness may be so God can demonstrate his sovereignty (John 9:1-3)

2.  It is good to want healing, but remember those who are healed on earth will eventually die

3.  We are encouraged to pray for healing, expecting God’s activity

It is not more spiritual to accept disease and refuse to ask for healing

If we hide sin in our hearts we should not ask for or expect healing 

4.  Total healing cannot occur until our incorruptible bodies are changed at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15)

Aging, sickness and death are a direct result of the original sin. Our current bodies are affected by our sin nature

5.  As people of the gospel, we should recognize God uses our condition in His big plan!

The witness of spiritual fruit (godly character) is greater than that of miracles 

God will be good in our sufferings and He will use them well (James 1:2-3)

6.  God will heal all things perfectly and forever!

REJECTION REALLY HURTS

I can vividly remember the time in my life when people rejected me.

It hurts that much!

Rejection often starts early as children find obscure and silly reasons to label someone as an outcast

The pain of rejection is repeated throughout our lives: 

When our parents are too busy, or a parent leaves our life

When a teacher or coach dismisses our honest efforts

When we are always last to be picked for a team

When a friend chooses to join a “cooler” crowd

When a love interest cuts us off

When family members lash out with cutting words

When people at work fail to include us in their conversations, or their lunch excursions

When our failures causes people to scatter from us

When our convictions anger people, or bring out words of disdain

When no one ever hits our like button on Facebook

When in our own church, no one comes up to say hello

Now for the WONDERFUL news!

Christ will never reject those who honestly call on Him to be saved

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5

Once we have been received by Christ, all heaven accepts us with open arms – always and forever

Romans 8:15  tells us God “adopts” those Jesus saves.

God will never turn away from His children

God will never ignore, dismiss or misuse His children

God will never, never, ever reject us.

Not for anything!

Come to that relationship

Rest in that relationship

Rejoice in that relationship

And may we reveal the heart of God for others who bear the pain of rejection

I NEED A WAY OUT

ashcombe_maze

Life can get complex and confusing.

We feel as if we are in a maze without the benefit of a bird’s eye view.

Instead we are stuck in the middle of it with all the angles, turns and dead ends.

Are we on the right path?

Are we even close to making progress?

What do I do now . . or next?

We cannot put ourselves in a bird’s eye view, but we can follow the wisdom of the Person who built the maze and knows the way through.

God is never confused or flustered about world events, local events or your events.

Despite the fact that people around us (and sometimes) are sinful, inconsistent and unpredictable  – God sees the way of wisdom with perfect clarity.

The even better news for us, is that God speaks to us and gives us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

The word of God is wisdom for every generation and for all situations.  It simply will not let us down or lead us astray.

The Holy Spirit (who inspired God’s word) lives in everyone who trusts in Christ.  Jesus called Him the “Spirit of Truth”.

Wow – the Source of truth dwells in us AND the Word of truth can rest in our hands and make its way into our hearts.

Will life still be confusing at times?

Yeah!

But “the way” to live, and hope, and respond and make progress is clear.

Make The way – your way.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.01.14

God knows the oppressor and the oppressed

James 5:1-11

Fairness, oppression and justice; these are issues people care about deeply. Is God concerned?  Will God act? People have their opinions, in James 5 we have what God says

James addresses the oppressor and the oppressed

vs 1-6 His warnings appear to be directed to the unbelieving world

vs 7-11 James is addressing “brothers” i.e. the church

James starts with 4 warnings against common misuses of wealth

1.  vs 2-3 warn against hoarding wealth: The unsatisfied pursuit of having more

This is someone whose hope is in wealth, without eyes for God’s kingdom

Hoarding ignores that the world belongs to God and we are his stewards

2.  v4 warns against defrauding others:  Dishonesty to increase wealth

The text uses the example of employees, but it could also be customers

3.  v5 warns against self-indulgent lifestyles

The focus is on our use of wealth rather than on the amount of it

4.  v6 warns against financial oppression

This is when the pursuit of more damages people’s lives

These warnings can be condensed into two basic indictments:

(1)  If you are depending on wealth, it will fail you

(2)  Don’t be deceived by earthly success, because sin will be judged

Although these warnings are for the unbelieving world, we are to examine ourselves

Even if our guilt is far ‘milder’, God is displeased by any form of it

The main issue isn’t wealth itself, but wealth that ignores God

Wealth doesn’t make us sin, but it is filled with opportunities for sin (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

We protect ourselves through the pursuit of being stewards for God (Matthew 6:19-21)

Randy Alcorn writes in his excellent book The Treasure Principle:

“Giving is the antidote to materialism”

Our giving is a central part of godliness

Do you ever seek God concerning your giving?

James gives encouragement to the church (v7)

God who sees the oppressor, also has a heart for the oppressed

Just as the rich need to have an eternal justice perspective (v9 the Judge is at the door)

So the oppressed need an eternal blessing perspective (v7 the Lord is coming)

It is easy to be discouraged when we can clearly see and feel  oppression

Patience is needed because the world is filled with people who fulfill vs 1-6

Patience is appropriate because Christ is “coming” (v7)

The injustices of the world are not an endless turning wheel

As we wait in anticipation of Christ with these attitudes:

1.  Be Patient (mentioned four times)

The illustration of the farmer tells us our struggles are only for a season

This patience keeps us from losing hope: we are confident about what’s ahead

This patience keeps us from losing focus: we live by what’s coming

2.  Establish or strengthen your heart v8

We are not just “getting by”, we have the wealth of gospel blessings (Ephesians 1)

We have exciting and meaningful purposes to plunge our life into – this includes being a worshiper

3.  Don’t “grumble” against fellow-believers (v9)

Grumbling causes us to join the oppressors

If we have the gospel, grumbling becomes an accusation against God

And the Judge who stands against the sins of vs 1-6, stands against this too

We are to exchange being complainers to become exhorters for Christ!

James provides wonderful encouragements that make those attitudes possible

1.  Jesus is near (vs 8-9)

No believer is far from Christ’s presence or his fulfillments

2.  Jesus is purposeful (v11)

Do you trust God in his purposes?

That he will fulfill them?

That they are good?

We have great examples in Scripture (v10-11)

We are not the first generation to suffer and struggle

From the distance of time, we can see that God did not fail his people in the past

Don’t you want to be an example for generations that follow us?

3.  Jesus is coming! 

This is a reality which looms over all our struggles and all our oppressors

Do we live as if we will see Jesus?

And what difference should that make?

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.15.14

Wisdom for Every Struggle                     

James 1:5-11

We need wisdom, because life is filled with trials

The use of the word “lack(ing)” in vs 4 and v5 show us James is continuing his subject of how we “meet trials”

We need wisdom to have a biblical perspective for our trials

We need wisdom to take biblical steps in our trials

1st Encouragement:  God has all the wisdom we need

God is not merely wiser or the wisest, he is the “only wise God” (Romans 16:27)

All wisdom begins with God, because he began all things

People who are not impressed with God’s wisdom, are living in disregard of eternity

2nd Encouragement: God gives generously  

The word here for generous means more than abundance; it implies God’s ‘careful attention’

God gives out of his complete wisdom and his deep love for us

3rd Encouragement: God gives without reproach

God doesn’t belittle us for needing so much wisdom, or for needing it so often

How we ask for wisdom is essential (v6)

We are to “ask in faith”

In chapter 2, James tells us faith is belief that takes action (2:17-19)

To ask in faith means we believe God has the wisdom we need AND we act according to wisdom he gives

Who is this ‘doubter’ that James warns against?

It is not everyone who ever struggles with a doubt

The word pictures show that doubt is the course of their life (vs 6-8)

They have no root in God or his word.

They doubt God is the source of all wisdom

In desperation they may ask for God’s help, but they don’t bow to his rule

This person’s request is not answered (v7), because they want relief, but not God

What is the prayer of faith that James commends?

1.  Prayer that God himself is enough for us; so we live that way

2.  Prayer that believes the gospel hasn’t exaggerated; so we live that way

3.  Prayer that trusts how God responds is trustworthy; so we live that way

Faith is strengthened by the practices of being a worshipper, and of preaching the gospel to ourselves

God answers our request through 3 branches of the same stream

1.  God’s Word – read it and be under its teaching   

2.  The Holy Spirit – respond to His convictions   

3.  God’s people – grow meaningful connections in your church

God’s wisdom is always appropriate even when not it’s specific

We may not hear the precise details we want, but God always gives us the attitude, perspective, and priorities we need

Wisdom in trials includes our view of a blessed life (v 9-11)

The context of the “lowly” brother in v9, is his financial and social status

Our financial and social status is a major category in the ‘trials of life’

James wants us to think about our ‘status’ with a biblical perspective

1.  If your heart is burdened by what you don’t have – look again

Your position before God is beloved child and heir with Christ

Your possessions are the gospel, the Holy Spirit and a new life

Your experiences will include all that the new Heaven and new Earth can offer

2.  If you have an abundance of material blessing – look clearly!

Your greatest blessing is what was taken from you:  sin and judgment

Your hope is in what you could never obtain yourself

But, James doesn’t let it go; he keeps pressing the point (vs 10-11)

We struggle to prosper and still keep a dynamic biblical perspective

James reminds us eventually all we will have left is our soul standing before God

We need wisdom in how we respond to trials and in how we live in prosperity

If we are not living in love and submission to God – we don’t have wisdom

SERMON LEFTOVERS 9.08.14

A Joy Surpassing Our Struggles 

 James abruptly jumps into the deep end of the Christian life

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4)

James assumes we will “meet” trials and a “variety” of them

This is nothing new, in John 16:33 Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation”

If we are taught or expect that trials in this life can disappear, that is simply unbiblical

James gives us a wise perspective for all “trials” (v2)

How we think about trials should bring “joy” to us

This does not mean difficulties bring only joy (Matt 26:38 with Hebrews 12:1-2

The phrase “all joy” or “pure joy” means the highest joy

We have reason amidst our hurt and struggle to also have joy

This is not a ‘grin and bear it’ attitude, it is joy over what else is happening

God is active in our trials, they are not evidence that he distant or angry at us

God is in the center of our events and he is producing something (v3)

God is being perfect toward us, so that we may become “perfect” in him (v4)

Our natural perspective in difficulties is to think the best good is for them to go away!

However, Romans 8:22 compares our current “groaning” to the pains of childbirth

You want the pain to end, but not at the expense of that child

Struggles are real, but they are also temporary and purposeful

We have no promise that the trials of life will be removed or reduced

However, we do have promise that life in our trials can be more fruitful, contented and joyful

To trust God, means all things take on a God perspective

To love God, means all his ways are so worthy – we see them as praiseworthy

What do trials accomplish that is joyful? (vs 3-4)

1.  God uses trials to produce “steadfastness” in us

We are to “know” that difficulties “test” or prove our “faith” (v3)

Trials teach us that we cannot trust in ourselves or depend upon the world

These trials reveal that God is worth trusting and following

Trials help us see that walking with Christ is the one thing we must never neglect

  • Rather than accuse or doubt God, we keep worshipping Him
  • Rather than think obedience is not worth it, we know that submission to God is always our ‘true north’
  • Rather than get back at those who hurt us, we pursue God’s agenda for them
  • Rather than compromise to stop pain at any cost, we persist in whatever steps will honor God
  • Rather than wallow in self-pity , we rejoice that the Holy Spirit is transforming us
  • Rather than be examples of inconsistency, we become witnesses that the gospel is real!

2.  God uses trials to work toward our completion (v4)

“Perfect and complete” means we become all God purposed for us

“Lacking nothing” means there will be nothing left to add

Through trials, God is fulfilling the wonderful plans he has for us:

  • To be ‘like Christ’
  • To ‘love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength’
  • To live ‘filled with the Spirit’
  • To be mature disciple-makers

Just as birth pains have precious results, so do our labor pains

We don’t like struggle, yet for God’s covenant people, they are filled with graces

Peter repeats James in a way that exalts those graces  1 Peter 1:3-7

A joyful perspective sees: 

1.  God truly is all glorious

2.  God has a great heart for us     

3.  We have a wonderful eternity with him

What do you ‘see’ about God in your trials?

HOW MUCH POWER DO YOU NEED?

God’s power is infinite

It is far beyond what our minds can imagine: Ephesians 3:20 “(God) is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us”.  There is no measurement of God’s power – simply because it has no end!

God’s power is absolute

God never struggles

Against anything!

earthly or satanic powers; his declared will is simply accomplished: Job 42:2 “no purpose of his can be withheld from him”. No power can ever challenge him, because he is the source of all power. God is always in full control and lacks nothing, because He needs nothing.

God’s Creation power is at work in us

This is the power to bring something out of nothing! Put the worlds greatest in a room with nothing – and they will never come out with something. The reality of this power at work in us, is a deep well of encouragement, Isaiah 40:29 reminds us,

“(God) gives power to the weak and to those who have no might he increases strength”

God can give strength to those who have none

God can give peace when we have no earthly reason for it

God can make purity where unrighteousness is found

God can create a soft heart in those who have a hard heart

God can create help when none is in sight

And for those who don’t think they need God, Isaiah 45:7 says God also creates darkness and calamity”

God’s Resurrection power is at work in us

“And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20)

Whatever power you need, will never exceed the power used to raise Christ from the dead. Resurrection power is not dependent on what the one dead can do, it is all about what the one who raises the dead can do.

Understanding this power brings encouragement no matter how weak we may be. It is the encouragement the Lord gave the Apostle Paul when God told him “my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Believer, does it seem as if God’s power is absent from your life? Remember the power God has already exercised for you:

The power of God has already defeated sin and death

The power of God has already put fear into the hearts of demons

The power of God has already cleansed you of all unrighteousness

The power of God has already given you a new birth

If God’s power has not worked the way you want

It is because God works according to his perfections. Your “unmet” need is not from a lack of what God can do, or from an unwillingness of God to help; it is because he is always perfect toward you.

God is in power . . he is in control . . and he is in you!

 

R