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The Trials of Life

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

“…May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite… May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed–“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.” (Spurgeon’s Devotionals)

Suffering. Not so pleasant a thought. Certainly it is not something that anyone would desire. Yet it is through the suffering that we, as Christians, are made strong. Think about a chunk of coal. After many years of tremendous pressure, it becomes a beautiful diamond. It is from the pressure put on us during our times of trials and suffering that we are being perfected for God’s Kingdom. It is through our faith and trust in God that we have the strength to go through the storms, knowing that there is victory on the other side.

In my book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, I shared some of the toughest trials a person could go through. But my faith gave me the strength to go through it all. I endured the suffering because God gave me hope in the knowledge of His eternal love. There were times when I said, “In spite of the storm, I am strong”. But now I know that it is because of the storm that I am stronger.

After the storm comes the rainbow. God gave me the privilege of witnessing and sharing in a precious miracle. It has been a privilege and joy for me to see the impact in people’s heart in sharing that miracle. What a blessing it is for me to share God’s love and goodness, not only when life is good, but even more during the trials!

“Faith, Hope & Miracles” is available at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008J0Z2FQ

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Are You Prepared

by Amber Leggette-Aldrich

Have you ever been in a situation where you were planning for a very special occasion, something like a first date or a special anniversary? Or perhaps a long awaited vacation or weekend getaway? Did you plan and spend time preparing, desiring that everything be just right? Most of us would try our very best to be prepared, to look just right and have everything in it’s place, ready for the event, wanting everything to be just perfect. In fact, we make plans and preparations for many things in our daily lives. And most of us have at least on a few occasions gone through a good deal of time and effort, preparing to look and be our best for someone. But do we do that for Jesus? Are we prepared to meet Him?

The bible gives us pretty clear instructions on what we must do in order to prepare ourselves (our hearts and souls) for Him:

In Acts 2:38 it says, “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost“. (KJV)

Ephesians 2:8 tell us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: ” (KJV)

And Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (KJV)

Of course this is only a small part of the bible’s instructions for our preparation. The bible also makes it very clear what will happen to us if we are not ready.

The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalms 9:16 & 17 (KJV)

Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” Psalms 55:15 (KJV)

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33 (KJV)

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15 (KJV)

All too often the thought of where our souls will spend eternity is put off, not taken seriously, or just not thought about at all. We use excuses of being too busy with everyday life, saying things like, “I’ve got more important things to do right now; I’ll take care of it later, when I have time”. But this is something that simply cannot wait until later! What if there is no “later”?

We have all heard stories of how things can happen in “the blink of an eye”. Think about that phrase for a moment. See how long it takes to blink; it doesn’t even take a full second of time. But that is how fast life can end! And most of the time we never see it coming. My son Jason was young, strong and healthy, but was struck without warning with a massive heart attack and died instantly. One minute Christian was an active 8 year old boy having a good time riding his snowmobile, a minute later he was pinned under the tire of a truck being crushed. A while back a friend of mine was killed when the engine of a car he was working under fell on him. Another man recently died suddenly in Big Lake of an embolism. We hear stories like these all the time, but somehow still manage to deceive ourselves into thinking, “that won’t happen to me”. But I ask you, why not? I don’t mean to be morbid or a doomsayer, but the truth is we will all die, sooner or later! And none of us knows the day or the hour, or the where or how of it.

So are you ready to meet Jesus? Is your heart right with Him? Have you been baptized in Jesus name and received the gift of the Holy Ghost? If so, halleleujah! Now what are you doing to reach out to others and helping them to get ready? And if you are not ready to meet Jesus, why not get ready right now? Don’t put it off any longer and risk finding yourself at His feet saying, “I want to do it now” and hearing Him say, “now it is too late”!

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The Straight and Narrow

 Amber Leggette-Aldrich

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:13-16 KJV)

Sometimes I make mistakes, or fall down, as I am walking on the path of Jesus. Those are the times when I am tempted by the ways of the world to sin. If I am not careful to pay attention to where I put my feet, I stumble and fall. There have been times when it seemed easier to give in to the temptations, to walk in the ways of sin.

A thought that came to mind was an analogy of walking a tight rope. While it is true that walking on a rope may not be an easy task, it is much better than the alternative of falling off to your death! God’s path is like that tight rope, it is straight and narrow and may not be easy to walk on. But it leads us to Him and His Kingdom. The ground beneath the tight rope is much wider and appears easier to walk on. But it leads us to eternal hell, and all too often it is marked with a sign that says, “Heaven”.

Sadly, there will be many who blindly follow that wider path right into hell. The bible tells us to “beware false prophets”. They will appear harmless, even good and righteous. But they will be full of misleading lies! They may intend in their hearts to do good, but if they do not know the truth themselves, how can they teach it? Many will unknowingly follow them to hell. We must remember what the bible says about testing the truth, to see for ourselves if what we are being told is really what God’s word says. That is why it is so important to read and understand God’s word, and to have our own personal relationship with Him through prayer.

There will be more people who will intentionally lead other people astray from God’s path. The bible warns us of “ravening wolves”, evil hearts consumed by satan to lead others to be devoured and destroyed. They will use tools such as fear and pain. They will outright lie and use trickery. Such things as using “science” to explain how the possibility of God cannot exist, and that everything can be explained and recreated by humans with science and technology, will create doubt and confusion. Appealing to man’s innate pride and lust for pleasures will be another effective device used to disillusion many, by means of empty promises of power, wealth and personal gain. Phrases like, “You gotta take care of yourself because no one else will” or “it won’t hurt anyone, nobody cares” or “everyone lies sometimes”, will cause calloused hearts that will not receive God’s word.

And still more souls will be lost, being consumed by the things of this world, things that do not appear as harmful at all. In themselves, these things may not be harmful or sinful. But they can end up consuming our minds, then our hearts and souls. Anything that we spend more time and energy on than God, becomes a god to us. It can be food, clothing, money, TV, video games, other people, work, anything we think about more than we think about God! In our busy world, with so much “in your face reality”, it is quite scary to think about, but we’ve got to ask ourselves, honestly, is our heart and mind more focused on loving and serving God than anything else in our life? (But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 KJV)

In some ways it may seem difficult to follow God’s path, the straight and narrow one. But when our hearts are truly open to His guidance, it is much easier than it may appear. With His help to guide us along the way, the truth of His Word and His promise to never leave us or forsake us, it gives us a renewed hope and spirit to continue walking in His ways. When we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus, instead of ourselves, day by day it becomes a way of life to us and it creates a deep sense of joy in us.

The ability to follow the path of Jesus comes directly from His Holy Spirit living inside of us and giving us His strength to do it. This is why it is so important to repent, and be baptized, to have our sins washed away. The Holy Spirit will not live inside an unclean, sinful heart. But once we are made clean for Him, then if we open the doors of our heart to Him, He will enter and live there. His Spirit will lead us and show us the way. God’s ways are good and righteous, and the blessings that come from staying on His straight and narrow path are too many to be numbered. Most important of all, His path leads us home where He is waiting for us.

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by Amber Leggette-Aldrich 4/13/2010

A few years ago I heard someone talking about how people could be compared to cars. Now in our modern world, most people know what a car is and the basics of how it works. There is an engine, which would be like our internal organs: the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. There is a transmission, which would be like our bones, causing forward and backward motion. There is a steering wheel that gives the direction, which would be like our mind. And there is a gas tank that holds the fuel, which would be like our spirit. And it is the gas tank that I would like to focus on for now.

What happens to a car when the gas tank is empty? It won’t go anywhere. So if our spirit is like a gas tank, what happens when it is empty? We (our life) won’t go anywhere. With a car, you go to a gas station and get more gas. But where do you go to refill your spirit? To the Holy Ghost filling station, of course!

As you may have guessed, God is the owner of the Holy Ghost filling station. And get this, His “gas” is FREE! In fact, you cannot buy His gas with any amount of money, nor can you barter or work for it. There is but one requirement to receive it: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) From that point on, every “fill up” is totally free!

(Just a little note here for those of you that own one of those new electric cars…they run on batteries instead of gas, but those batteries still need charging. So just think of God as the “juice” that gives the charge.)

So, just like a car uses up it’s fuel and needs to be replenished, so do our spirits need to be replenished. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2,…”but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.

Many people think that once they get baptized, that’s it, they’re filled up for good. But it doesn’t quite work that way. There are things in everyday life that will come against you. Things like finances, family troubles, accidents, dealing with grumpy neighbors, health issues, etc., all these things will drain your spirit. These are the kinds of things that cause the faces of depression, anguish, frustration, even anger and hatred! But if those are the kinds of faces we show, how in the world are we ever going to convince anyone that the Spirit of God is good? Who in their right mind would ever want that?

Now Christians are supposed to be representatives of Christ, our Savior. We are supposed to be like a light, shining in the darkness for all the world to see. “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light“. (Luke 11:33) The Bible doesn’t tell us to show a spirit of woe and despair or defeat, although there may be times when we feel that way temporarily. And those are the times when we need a refill the most!

Look again at the last part of Romans 12:2, “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. So how do we “prove” anything? By showing it! And how do we show that God’s will is good? With His spirit in us, which should be a joyful one. Now I don’t mean that we should be walking around with a goofy grin on our face all the time. The dictionary defines the word “joy” as: a source of happiness or delight. And in order to maintain a joyful spirit in a world full of darkness, we need to keep getting our “spirit tanks” filled up! How? By reading the Bible, going to church, fellowship, prayer, just to name a few. Sometimes I go to a quiet place, on top of a mountain or out in the woods, and I observe the beauty around me that is God’s creation. And in the wonder and enjoyment of it, I thank Him and praise Him!

When I was baptized, for a short time I felt so happy inside, and it showed on the outside! Several of my friends commented on noticing a change in me. But soon, life set in again. I began to feel the same old emotions, the same old attitudes, the same old circumstances were still there. After a while, I began to wonder what was wrong? I went to church every Sunday, and I read the Bible (also every Sunday). And I prayed, (you guessed it) every Sunday. But throughout the week, I was still living in the dark, still struggling in my stubborn independence, trying to do everything on my own. I’d get filled up on Sunday, but my tank would be empty by Monday afternoon, and then I’d have to push myself along for the rest of the week! There were times when the road of life had a downhill slant (when things were going my way) and I was able to “coast” along for a little while. But inevitably, there would be an uphill climb somewhere along the way, and that’s when things would get really difficult. In fact, I came very close to getting run over by my own vehicle a few times because I couldn’t bear the weight to push it by myself!

My van came with an owner’s manual, and it states that I can travel approximately 370 miles on a tank of gas. So if I plan to take a 500 mile trip, I know I’m going to have to stop for some gas along the way or I’m not going to make it to my destination. The owner’s manual regarding my “spirit tank” (the Bible) doesn’t give approximate mileage however! But instead it says that I am supposed to be constantly replenishing my spirit in God. The words “quick to” appear many times throughout the Bible…quick to forgive, quick to pray, quick to receive, in other words, quick to go to God in everything. I began to realize that I put a lot more miles on my spirit than I do my van, so it must be filled up a lot more often.

When I first began to realize that I needed more fill ups, I thought to myself, “so am I just supposed to move in to the church and read the Bible and pray all day long everyday?” Well of course that’s not the answer! But what I did do was get up a few minutes earlier everyday and say a short prayer. And I made it a point to read at least 1 verse from the Bible each night before going to bed. And it made a difference! Soon, prayers and praise were being incorporated into all kinds of situations and times throughout every day. And it has been keeping my spirit filled ever since!

Now, no matter where I am, or what my circumstances are, I know that I need to continue to grow closer to God. I know that I need God in every area of my life, and I need Him every day! In order for me to keep my “tank” full, I go to the Holy Ghost filling station every single day, sometimes several times in a day, and say, “fill ‘er up, please”! His station is always open, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…Hallelujah!

(Just one more quick note: since Jesus is the one behind my steering wheel now, I no longer have to worry about going around in circles and getting lost, or going the wrong way on a one way street. He is a much more awesome driver than I ever was, and I can sit back and enjoy the scenery along the way!)

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