Intentional Pain

Many of you know that 2 weeks ago I underwent my last breast cancer radiation treatment. Unfortunately, I recently had to return to my oncologist due to the excessive pain and burning of my skin.

The condition of my skin was worsening. I was told that it would get worse but in my mind, there was no way it should be this bad.

The oncologist said that yes my skin was worse than what most radiation patients experience but for my particular situation the condition of my skin was normal. He said that he intentionally wanted my skin to burn this bad and that I may be suffering now but I’d be thanking him later.

The statement my oncologist made really got me thinking about intentional suffering resulting in a better tomorrow for ourselves or for others. In particular, how God allows suffering for a greater purpose.

Noah endured over 100 years of hard work, ridicule, and opposition to build an ark that God told him to build in order to save himself, his family, and the animals from being destroyed in the flood [Genesis 6-8].

Through Noah’s intended suffering, God saved the human race and the animals and we are here today to read about Noah’s faith and be encouraged by it.

Joseph was hated by his brothers. They sold him as a slave and he was taken to Egypt. While there, he was falsely accused of rape and spent many years in prison. Later he found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and was placed in charge of all of Egypt; saving the world from starvation [Genesis 37-41].

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Ruth, a Moabite, married into a Jewish family. Her father-in-law died, her brother-in-law died, and her own husband died. She had a choice to make. Go back to her Moabite family or go with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to a foreign country to start over.

Ruth chose to stay with Naomi. In a foreign land, she worked hard gleaning grain so she and Naomi could eat. That’s when she met Boaz. They ended up getting married and having a son named Obed; the grandfather of David [Ruth 1-4].

God intentionally allowed Ruth’s suffering so that through her David would be born. We are still learning many lessons from the life and faith of both Ruth and David. Not to mention, Jesus is in their genealogy [Matthew 1:1-17].

Jesus was born to die. He left His place in heaven, came to earth, and was born of a virgin. He lived a life of obedience to His Heavenly Father. His life and death were a sacrifice for all of us. Because of His sacrificial death on the cross, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life [Colossians 1:13-14].

Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death, hell, and the grave. Through Him, believers, also have victory over death, hell, and the grave [1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Revelation 1:18].

Oh, that’s not all, Jesus then ascended to the Father where He sits at His right hand forever living to make intercession for us [Romans 8:34].

And not only that, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within every believer; filling them with the Spirit of the Lord, wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, and the fear of God [Isaiah 11:2].

God intentionally allowed Jesus to suffer for the benefit of the whole world.

Isaiah 53:10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.

What pain are you currently going through? Maybe, like Noah, you are being ridiculed for your faith. Maybe people think you are foolish as you obey God and walk in His ways day after day.

Maybe, like Joseph, you are hated or have been betrayed by those closest to you. Maybe your own family. Maybe you’ve been wrongly accused of something and are being punished for something you didn’t do.

Maybe, like Ruth, you have lost a spouse and with them your provision or hope for starting your own family. Maybe you’ve had to move to a strange place with strange people and strange customs. Maybe you have to work a back-breaking job every day to feed yourself and a loved one.

Have you considered that God has intentionally allowed your suffering for a greater purpose?

What do Noah, Joseph, Ruth, and Jesus have in common? They all obeyed God and trusted Him and His plan. And that’s what we have to do.

We have to resist self-pity and stay focused on God and His word. We have to keep moving forward and never give up hope for a better tomorrow.

Romans 8:18, 28 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Journey/Week 10

Week one of breast cancer radiation treatment is complete. A lot of you are wondering how I am feeling. Some of the side effects I have experienced this week are indigestion, dry mouth, tiredness, brain fog, and redness of the treatment area.

But in all of this, the most important thing to know is that God is working all things out for my good, the good of others, and for His glory [Romans 8:28].

The employees at the cancer treatment facility are very kind and friendly. Most of the other patients are also kind and friendly. However, some of them just want to sit, be quiet, and not be bothered, which is completely understandable.

I’m a pretty friendly person by nature. But believe me, it’s quite tempting to isolate yourself in this type of scenario. Sometimes misery doesn’t want company.

I’ve learned from experience that the only way to snap out of the self-isolation mentality is to put others before yourself. Which can be very hard to do when you are dealing with your own health crisis or any crisis for that matter.

Philippians 2:3b-4 Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Every patient in that cancer radiation treatment center is hurting; not just me. We are all fighting the same battle; some at different levels than others but a battle none the less.

There is a popular quote by Maclaren that is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” That is so true!

We have no idea what people are going through. It’s so easy to make assumptions by what we see but in reality, we have no clue. That’s why it’s so important to be kind, no matter what we see. Yes, even when the other person is grumpy.

I think sometimes we take it personally and take offense when someone is unkind to us. Maybe instead, we should view it as an opportunity to show the love of Christ to them and pray for them. It’s all about perspective.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I went into breast cancer treatment wanting God to use me to be a blessing to others. I was and am determined to not let my pain be wasted.

My daily prayer is that my eyes, ears, and heart will be open to recognizing opportunities to encourage others in some way. Not just at the cancer treatment facility but everywhere I go.

There is one woman that I notice daily in the treatment waiting area. She always sits alone. She looks so sad and so sick. She doesn’t talk to anyone unless it’s one of the employees. My heart goes out to her.

No matter how bad you think you have it, there is always someone that has it worse than you.

The Lord has put it on my heart to reach out to her. So far I’ve been able to talk with her and try to gain her trust. She’s even allowed me to pray with her. I’ve made it my personal goal to make her smile. I think I may have my work cut out for me. However, with God, all things are possible [Mark 10:27].

I know breast cancer is a horrible situation for me to be in, but if God can use me to help one person to know Him and His love for them, it will all have been worth it.

Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

The life God has given us is not about us. It’s about Him and it’s about others. We all have a purpose in this life. And our purpose may not be all sunshine and roses. It may mean going through tough times to get to the one who is lost so they can fulfill their God-given purpose.

God has a plan. Let’s trust His plan. Let’s allow God to use our difficult situation to make a difference in someone else’s life. Let’s put others before ourselves. Let’s be kind even when it’s hard.

One act of kindness can change someone’s life forever.

Titus 3:4-5 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.

~Patrice Maguire

Prayer for salvation: Dear God, I know I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do Your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

All are Valuable and All have Purpose

Recently on my morning walk, I was thinking about the 40 Days For Life Campaign that is taking place all over the country. I thought about what this world might look like if everyone valued ALL life of ALL ages.

What would the repercussions of a world that saw every person as significant and as having a purpose be? What if we took Matthew 7:12 seriously and did to others what we would have them do to us?

Would the murder rate go down? Would the rate of kindness go up? Would respect increase? Would there be less lonely people in nursing homes? Instead of hurting one another would we be helping one another and encouraging one another? Would there be more mercy and more generosity going around?

All are valuable!

Luke 12:24 Consider the raven: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

All have a purpose!

Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purpose and some for common use?

What if we not only saw other people as valuable and having a purpose but we also saw ourselves as valuable and having a purpose?

Would we talk differently? Would we dress differently? Would we behave differently? Would we be more careful about what we put into our bodies? Would the suicide rate go down? Would we be determined to find out what our purpose is and persevere to fulfill it?

Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

What if today, every parent and every teacher taught every child that they are valuable and that they are here for a purpose?

Would there be less bullying? Would there be less lonely children on the playground? Would their grades go up and their bad behavior decrease? What would the next generation look like? What greatness would transpire?

It has to start with you. It has to start with me. Let’s treat all people the way we would like to be treated. Let’s not only tell people they are valuable but let’s show them they are valuable.

Let’s stop blaming and pointing fingers for how we feel about ourselves and take responsibility for knowing our own value and purpose. Let’s make today one of the most important days of our lives and find out what our purpose is and start walking in it.

~Patrice Maguire

 

Who’s Side are You on Anyway?

We all seem to be picking sides. And we’re angry about it. We are siding with a particular political party, or a particular race or a gender. We are either on one side or the other. Pick one! It’s as if we are all against something or someone. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There is a third side to consider. Its God’s side. God isn’t on one particular side. He wants us to be on His side.

Joshua 5:13-14 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

As members of the Body of Christ/Christians, we don’t get the luxury of picking a side other than God’s side. We are not here to represent a political party, a race, a gender or even ourselves for that matter. We are here to represent the Lord and Him only. The very word Christian means Christ-like.

What does it mean to be Christ-like? We can find the answer to that in John 17:

  1. Jesus was here to glorify His Father.
  2. He gave eternal life to all.
  3. He brought the Father glory by finishing the work He gave Him to do.
  4. He revealed the Father to us.
  5. He gave us the word that the Father gave Him.
  6. He prays for us.
  7. He protects us.
  8. He gives us joy.
  9. He sanctifies us.
  10. He has given us the glory that the Father has given Him.
  11. He unifies us.
  12. He has made the Father known to us.

Judging by Christ’s behavior, are we Christ-like? Maybe it’s not so much what we are saying and doing but how we are saying it and doing it.

Are we glorifying God? Are we sharing the gospel? Are we fulfilling the purpose that God has given us? Are we revealing God in us through His Holy Spirit? Are we speaking God’s word? Are we praying for others? Are we protecting others and their reputations? Are we bringing joy into people’s lives? Is their evidence that we are being sanctified? Is God’s glory shining through us? Are we bringing people together? Are we making the Father known in our behavior and speech?

As we can see there is no way to be biblically Christ-like and still choose a side other than God’s side.

Let’s choose God’s side! Let’s represent Him! That is our purpose!

Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

~Patrice Maguire

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Gems

In March of this year, we purchased a small house on fifteen acres of land. Some of it is cleared but most of it is wooded. We really enjoy living here. We are discovering that this property has many hidden gems.

Every season the land seems to produce a different berry or fruit. Most of it grows wild on the property. So far we have discovered blackberries, dewberries, beauty berries, and now muscadine. We also have deer. We didn’t know we had any of these things on the land when we purchased it but we love the surprises.

As I was on my morning walk around the property today, I was thanking the Lord for all of the food that He has provided for us here. Then He reminded me of a scripture in John. John 4:32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then I thought, “Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking. There is food on this property to eat that I never knew about.” Then I remembered verse 34 in which Jesus went on to say, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” Now that’s a whole different way of looking at food!

I began to ponder that scripture and ask myself, “Is my food to do the will of God and to finish His work?” Then I thought about the purpose of physical food. Food sustains growth, it provides energy and it nourishes. It is vital in order for our bodies to survive on this earth. It also satisfies our hunger. Does doing the will of God and finishing His work sustain my spiritual growth? Does it energize and nourish my spirit? Is it a vital necessity for me? Do I hunger for it? These are a lot of important questions for me to think about.

There are plenty of times that I forget that I’m here on this earth to do the will of God and His work. In other words, I forget my purpose. What happens when I forget my purpose? I can get greedy, offended, selfish, controlling, deceptive, manipulative and just plain mean. The list could go on. I have to remind myself regularly that I’m not here for my own personal gain. I’m here for the gain of the kingdom of God. This life and this body are temporary but the things of God are eternal. When I’m doing the will of God and finishing His work I’m making an eternal impact that will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Hidden gems!

How about you? Could you say that your food is to do the will of God and to finish the work He’s given you? Or is your food to do your own will and to finish your own work? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your  heart will be also.”

~Patrice Maguire

 

 

Lacking Humility

Have you ever felt annoyed by someone who just can’t seem to get it together? They always seem to be going through some sort of crisis and they are always asking for prayer. You may find yourself saying things like “This person is supposed to be a Christian. What is their problem?” Well, don’t feel too bad, I do it too. In fact, I just did it today.

This summer I have been studying the subject of faith. This afternoon I was studying Romans 14:1-3 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not condemn the one who does, for God has accepted him.

The way I study the bible is I read the passage then reflect on it and then respond to what I’ve read and reflected on. My response is usually in the form of a prayer. As I was praying, the Lord showed me that I was guilty of judging others whose faith may be weaker than my own. He has accepted them, therefore, I should accept them. Besides who do I think I am?  I go through plenty of my own crisis and often need prayer and ask for prayer. Who knows maybe someone is annoyed by my seemingly weak faith.

Ultimately it’s basically all rooted in pride. God’s word says in Proverbs 16:18 that Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. And Zephaniah 2:3 says Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what He commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. Obviously, God is not pleased with my pridefulness and lack of humility.

So it’s with a repentant heart that I ask the Lord to forgive me and to help me to do unto others as I would have them do unto me (Luke 6:31). I am thankful and honored for the privilege to intercede on behalf of others. It is part of my purpose. And I will do it with a humble and loving heart. After all, isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is doing for me and for you right now? Romans 8:27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

~Patrice Maguire

 

A Brief Moment in Time

I know you’ve probably heard about the thief on the cross. But have you ever really thought about him? What was his name? What kind of life did he live? Did he have a family? How old was he? We know so little about him.

What we do know is that he was a thief and his crime was serious enough to require his execution. We also know that he had a conversation with Jesus before he died. Luke 23:42-43, Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Several years ago I was going through the hardest thing I had ever endured. It involved one of my children. One day over the phone I was having a conversation with my pastor at the time. We were talking about my son and his situation and he said something to me that I will never forget. He said, “God had to get the thief to the cross.” Those words were life-changing for me. Those words changed my perspective on the whole situation. It was no longer about consequence due to some bad choices my son had made but it was about God’s plan.

God used the thief on the cross to teach me about how far He will go to find the one sheep that is lost. And that’s when I started including these words in my prayers for my lost loved ones, “Lord, get them to the cross whatever it takes.” Those words are still so hard to say but with eternity in question, they are necessary.

So I’ve said all of that to come to this conclusion. We know one more thing about the thief on the cross. He had a purpose. For a brief moment in time, he fulfilled that purpose. Still to this day people are talking about the thief on the cross. He is being mentioned in sermons all over the world. A thief!

We all have a purpose. God used the thief on the cross to change my life, change my perspective and to change the way I pray.  Who’s life will God use you to change? Who’s perspective will God use you to enlighten? Who’s prayers will God use you to influence? You don’t have to have a platform or be a pastor or a famous person. All you have to be is available and willing to be obedient. It can be something as small as a short conversation. What may seem small to you could mean everything to someone else.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

~Patrice Maguire