WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

God’s Point of View and Proportions

9When life is chaotic, painful, or full of uncertainty, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Exhaustion wears a person down, both physically and spiritually. And without time in the Word, depression is certain to knock on our door. It takes both physical and spiritual strength to weather a storm, and we require nourishment to persevere a lengthy or intense battle.

Without spiritual manna, the devil can easily establish footholds in our walk with Christ. Footholds are often secured when we doubt the goodness and faithfulness of God. Is God not constant? Is He good only when times are joyful and fruitful? Or, is God good, in spite of the trials that try to knock us sideways?

God does test our faith. But when adversity comes, He hopes the struggle succeeds in chiseling away personal impurities. Remember, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we look into a mirror, we should see Christ in our reflection.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

But the devil, always the prowling opportunist, uses adversity to spread lies. His lies attack the very nature of God.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

In good times and bad times, we have to keep our focus on things above. By doing so, we obtain a proper perspective of our situation and correctly see things in their right proportion. Our circumstances may look grim, but Jesus walks with us through every storm!

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

When we remember God’s love for us, we can look at our situation and identify positives, if we search them out. God is all about turning bad things into good. Learning to develop God’s perspective on life is greatly beneficial, but it takes self-discipline and there is no room for self-pity.

Consider the story of David and Goliath. If David had simply looked at the proportions of size and strength when facing Goliath, he would never have approached the giant. But David put God into the equation. He knew that all things were possible with God. He also knew that God would not be mocked.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)

David had God’s perspective when he accepted Goliath’s battlefield challenge. He was able to perceive things from God’s point of view. He knew God was all-powerful. He was certainly far greater than the prideful Philistine who had yelled insults at God’s chosen people. Without armor, and holding a mere slingshot, David slew the enemy who had insulted his God, tormented King Saul, and terrorized the entire army of Israel.

King Saul, David’s brothers, and the Israelite army were paralyzed with fear because they viewed the giant and his challenge with earthly eyes. When God is not added into the equation of life, the proportions of the battle before us will cause feelings of intimidation and even terror.

If you find yourself in a time of testing, where a trial of some sort presses in, add God to your equation. When you do, the obstacles Satan has planted for intimidation purposes will appear out of proportion. Circumstances that initially seemed vast and capacious will melt away and become a fraction of what they had once appeared to be. The Light of the World will disperse all darkness and expose the devil’s handiwork. Step-by-step, through every twist, bump, and turn in your road, God will walk beside you in love, grace, and mercy. Like David, you too will sleigh your Goliath because God is with you.

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 (NKJV)

 Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you.Proverbs 4:25 (NKJV)

 “So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6 (NKJV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Spiritual Footholds

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The Bible warns us not to give the devil a foothold. But what is a foothold and why is it so dangerous?

And do not give the devil a foothold.Ephesians 4:27 (NIV)

When I hear the word foothold, I imagine a mountain climber scaling a steep incline. A foothold is a place where a person’s foot can be placed to support them securely, especially while climbing. It is a reliable position from which further progress may be made. A foothold can be a good and necessary thing. But when you add the devil to the equation look out!

We are told that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul refers to our earthly bodies as a tent in 2 Corinthians. As you read on, consider your body a type of residence.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)

The warning God speaks of has to do with our emotions. The devil preys upon feelings of anger, bitterness, depression, guilt, shame, fear, and worry. Examining the verse in front of Ephesians 4:27 provides us with more information. It explains how we provide the devil with footholds.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

Ephesians 4:26 is not referring to a just anger due to sin or unrighteousness. Rather, sinful anger hurts others. Proverbs 22:24 tells us to avoid those who are quick to anger and Proverbs 29:11 calls those who give full vent to their rage, fools.

It takes discipline to take every thought captive, but it is a sure way to keep the devil from our door. When we succumb to self-pity, depression, or any other negative emotion, we allow the devil to get a foot inside our house. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us to deal with our anger before the setting sun. In other words, do not let anger fester in your heart for very long. Take care of it quickly. Resolve the matter otherwise, it can lead to bitterness and a multitude of negative emotions. This can be applied to worry, fear, shame, depression, or any other emotion that does not glorify God. Seek help in prayer and through the Body of Christ.

When we provide the devil with a foothold and we do not slam the door on his foot, he will push his way into our abode. Once inside our home, he is no longer a foothold but rather a stronghold. He has gained more control. It will take a lot of “work” to evict him. So, slamming the door on footholds and bolting the lock as soon as the devil withdraws his sore foot, is a much wiser option. The robber and thief would love to usher in havoc and rob your peace of mind. Prayerfully consider your emotions and ask God to rid you of any footholds the devil may have in your life.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

Helpless Before God

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Prayer is a gift. Human beings are the only creatures blessed with the ability to communicate with God. As with any relationship, honest communication is necessary for connections to grow and mature. God is all about intimacy. He loves us with a tenderness beyond compare. Yet, many of us neglect the prayer closet. Why?

Sin or rebellion may be our reason. If we think God can’t see our sin or actions we are foolishly trying to deceive ourselves. God knows and sees all things. He came to save the sick and lost. He understands temptations and no sin is beyond His forgiveness and love. Facing God with honesty is difficult, but the only way to recapture a broken relationship.

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

Fear may also be a reason for our reluctance to pray. Fear of punishment or God’s anger is a cunning trap set by the enemy. The devil loves to shovel shame and guilt our way. But God is love. Love if forgiving, gentle, and kind. But we also serve a just God who honors free will and allows consequences for sinful actions.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

Sin must be confessed if we want our prayers to be heard. Sin separates us from God. King David sinned greatly yet God still called him, “A man after My own heart.” Adultery and murder are not what we would imagine when considering this mighty declaration.

And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.Acts 13:22 (NKJV)

A reverent fear of God means we understand whom it is that we are speaking to. It shows respect and awe. With a reverent fear we recognize our condition and see that we are helpless, helpless to run our spiritual race without God’s strength and assistance.

So, when we come before God we must don a cloak of humility. Acknowledge Him as the Creator of the universe. Consider His power and might. Be in awe!

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”         Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)

Humility will bend our knees when we consider our position as the creation. The one true God, the Creator of all things actually wants fellowship with us. So with a reverent fear, one without terror and distress over punishment, we must lay our hearts bare and trust God to toss them as far as the east is from the west.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”        Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)

We live in a world that praises self-reliance and it starts with infancy. Parents rejoice over their child’s first step, their first bike ride without training wheels, dressing and bathing without assistance. Even the fierce, “ME do it!” brings a measure of pride to every parent’s heart. Not needing parental help with certain activities is necessary for human development. But we will always need the help of our spiritual Father. We should strive to lay down our self-will and rely wholly on God. With an attitude of helplessness, God will lift us up and provide for our needs. Depend on God. Spend time with Him in prayer, and concede that you are wholly dependent on Him.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10 (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”        1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.Romans 5:6 (NASB)

Do You Stick Out?

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The Bible tells us we are aliens and strangers in this world. This is a reminder to all Christians that heaven is our eternal home. The Greek translation for alien is a sojourner, stranger, and foreigner. A foreigner is one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship. Our citizenship is with God and in the heavenly realm.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wave war against the soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 (NABS)

 But, for now, we must run a spiritual race; working out our salvation by making the most of the days God has allotted us. Every person has a specific number of days to live in this world. No spirit or man can snatch us from God’s hand or steal a single minute of our life. Through the sanctification process, God equips us to fulfill those works He Created us to execute for His glory.

A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.Job 14:5 (NIV)

 When we live as followers of Christ, we will stick out.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.Galatians 3:27 (NKJV)

Non-believers shall take notice and question our thoughts and actions. If we go against politically correct ideas, warped by the Ruler of this World (John 12:31-32), we will find ourselves judged by the ones he has deceived. The devil has many names including: God of this Age (2 Corinthians 4:4), Deceiver (Revelation 12:9), Enemy (Matthew 13:39) , Liar (John 8:44), Adversary (1 Peter 5:8), and Accuser (Revelation 12:10). They define his character and his actions.

That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

Our Christian character and faith will be attractive and repulsive to the lost. Some will find themselves drawn to our inner peace and love, while the conviction of the Holy Spirit will cause others to react with judgment and hate. Conscious of sin, but not willing to admit it as sin and turn from it, a spiritual battle incurs.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)

Times are changing. More and more Christian beliefs are viewed as ignorant, backward, unrealistic, and behind-the-times. Words such as archaic, old-fashioned, and out-of-date, will find their way into judgmental conversations. But what the world does not understand is thatJesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). Additionally, God does not adjust His living Word to accommodate our lusts and desires. He is unchanging.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.Malachi 3:6 (NKJV)

 When we accepted Jesus as The Way… The Truth… and The Life, we died to our old self and put the righteousness of Christ. We are a new creation! So, our old worldly deeds and ways of thinking were renewed in the knowledge of God the Father. We are not supposed to compromise our thinking in order to fit in with those who have not accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We are to fellowship with all mankind and share the Good News, but never are we to water down the truth. God is black and white when it comes to His Word.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 (NIV)

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” Colossians 3:9-10 (NKJV)

Ask yourself this question. Do your co-workers and neighbors know you to be a Christian? If not, why are they unaware of your faith? Have you been hiding your light under a bushel and for what reason?

Satan is looking for ways to tickle ears and tempt us into complacency. We must fight it! Do not settle for lukewarm Christian living. Let us all strive for boldness in our witness, living out our gift of salvation with hearts of gratitude. God is mighty to save but He also expects action. We have a responsibility to share the truth with the lost. That truth is, there is only one way to the Father and that is through His son, Jesus Christ. Being a good person is not enough to secure a place in heaven. If we love those around us, we must stick out.

Hell is a reality. When we speak the truth we are speaking in love. God hates gay marriage, abortion, sexual immorality, covetousness, and idolatry. Our responsibility is to speak the truth and share the Good News. It is God’s job to work on the hearts of the lost. Be bold! Be brave! The harvest is great and very ripe but the laborers are few.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Matthew 9:36-38 (NKJV)

 “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.1 John 1:6-7 (NKJV)

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 (NASB)

Suddenly, God Moved

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There are many stories in the Bible where patience, endurance, and perseverance were necessary to obtain the promises of God. These are wonderful traits and all of them are helpful in our Christian walk. The life of Joseph and Abraham are just two examples of patient endurance. But sometimes, sometimes, God moves suddenly.

The book of Exodus tells us the story of Moses. A Hebrew by birth, he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Growing up, he enjoyed the luxuries of a royal household. But when he was grown, Moses was despondent over the Hebrew oppression and had compassion for his brethren. So much so, Moses killed an Egyptian after witnessing him beat a Hebrew slave. Pharaoh soon heard of the murder and sought to kill Moses, who then fled Egypt to dwell in the land of Midian.

It was forty years of desert living before God spoke with Moses. Speaking through a burning bush that was never consumed, He instructed Moses to return to Egypt.

“Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10 (NKJV)

God promised to deliver the Israelites from oppression and bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses took God’s Word to heart. He believed God would help the Hebrews.

In faith, Moses returned to Egypt and confronted Pharaoh. It took time, and several plagues to convince Pharaoh to “Let My People Go.” But sure enough, Moses eventually collected the Israelites and God (Pillar of Cloud or fire) led them to the Red Sea.

By now you must be wondering where it is that God moves suddenly. So far, Moses has had to endure a season of waiting, unlikely detours, demanding tests, and roadblocks. But God promised Moses that the Israelites would inherit a land of plenty, and He is faithful. As we continue on with the Israelite’s trek to the Red Sea, we discover an example of God working suddenly to fulfill His promise.

Pharaoh decided to pursue the Israelites, intent on bringing them back to Egypt. When the children of God saw the Egyptian army they panicked, thinking they were trapped. On one side stood the Egyptians and on the other side the Red Sea. There seemed to be no escape. They forgot God had promised them freedom and that He was faithful.

“And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Ex 14:13-14 (NKJV)

Moses did not know how God would deliver them, but he had faith God would find a way. When God speaks a promise to us, we must persevere until its fulfillment. Trusting God’s provision, when all around us we see impossibilities, can be a very difficult challenge. It is often a real test of faith. But for God, nothing is impossible. ‘Impossible’ is not in His vocabulary.

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” Psalm 33:4 (NKJV)

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. Genesis 28:15 (NKJV)

God then told Moses to move the people forward, toward the Red Sea. He then added,

“But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:16 (NKJV)

Suddenly, when all seemed lost, God provided a way for the Israelites. He caused the sea to fall back, and with miraculous power God made a way for His children. They moved forward in their quest for freedom.

If God has spoken to your heart a promise, prompted you to move in a new direction, or awakened a desire that is of His will, move forward! Trust Him to make a way. There may be detours (Hopefully not 40 years of wilderness wandering), times of silence, and even disappointments, but keep the faith. Stand on His promise. Remember, He just might act suddenly. Will you be prepared to move, even if there is no clue He is about to act?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”                 Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Consider the scriptures below and pray for God’s guidance.

“Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.” 2 Chronicles 29:36 (NKJV)

“I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3 (NKJV)

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

“My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.”  Psalm 89:34 (NKJV)

God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT)

What Does God Think Of Our Grumbles?

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What does the Bible teach us about grumbling and complaining? The Greek meaning of the word complainer means, “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” The first complainer was the very first man, Adam. After he sinned in the Garden of Eden, he complained to God that Eve was the reason for his disobedience.

“Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’”

Complaining is a part of human nature, that is, our sin nature. There is a long list of complaints throughout the Word of God. Job complained about his suffering and material losses. Jacob complained about his first marriage. Queen Esther’s enemy, Haman, complained to King Ahasuerus about the Jews in the land. Jonah even complained about the mercy and grace God showed the people of Nineveh.

Prayer is an avenue in which we can have honest conversations with our Creator. We are instructed to come boldly before the throne of God. He will listen to our grumbles and complaints, but it is best to petition for strength and understanding while conveying frustrations and disappointments. The prayer closet is a sanctuary for all believers but discontentment is a sign we have not accepted God’s plan and will for us.

As believers and lights of the world, should we join in conversations where grumbling is the focus? Discontent breeds bitterness, anger, and often ill will. Scripture warns us to refrain from complaining, especially in front of non-believers.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV)

Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!James 5:9 (NKJV)

With elections in the forefront, it is easy to fall into negative political conversations. It would be so much better if we petitioned God, in our prayer closet, for His pick regarding leadership. Requesting God’s will in such matters will ease our worries over political figures and provide us with peace of mind. There is no authority higher than God, and He appoints all earthly authorities.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2 (NKJV)

The apostle Paul wrote about contentment, the solution to our habit of grumbling. He understood that God was our all and all, our everything. Nothing else can fill us with absolute peace and contentment. The knowledge of God, His love and sacrifice, is the key to accepting all circumstances in life.

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)

To wrestle with God is acceptable, but you might get your hip knocked out of socket (Gen. 32:25). To blame God and speak ill of Him is sinful. When the urge to grumble arises, consider these facts first. God’s ways are not our ways as His thoughts are so much higher than our own. God loves us unconditionally and disciplines those He calls His own. God knows our future and how to get us down the path of life. Finally, we live in a fallen world where man still has a free will.

 

Alone With God

 

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There are several stories in the Bible where God calls one of His chosen into a place of solitude and seclusion. The apostle Paul, who has one of the greatest conversion stories in the Word of God, was led into the desert for three years. During that time the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. Saul, later known as Paul, had persecuted Christians with near fanaticism until his conversion along the Damascus road. God used the desert years of solitude to renew Paul’s mind and to transform him into the image of Christ. This desert interlude was a part of Paul’s roadmap, and the years of solitude were essential in preparing him for Christian ministry. Certainly, it was a time when the Lord revealed many deep spiritual truths.

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.” Galatians 1:15-18 (NKJV)

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:22 (NASB)

It is during those times when we are unseen, hidden away from others, that we go deeper in our relationship with Christ. There are treasures in the depths of solitude, but we have to dig them out. When we silence the chaos of the world around us and meditate on the living Word, our spirit will burn with intensity. We are quicker to recognize the Shepherd’s voice and better able to discern the counterfeit mouthpiece of the enemy. Times of solitude are seasons of absolute dependence and submission, and these characteristics ought to follow us into the daylight hours of servitude and Christian ministry.

Moses is another example of a great leader called into seclusion, but the degree of his sequestration varies. Upon his exile from Egypt, Moses lived as a fugitive for forty years in the Arabian Desert. Once a Prince of Egypt, he put on the cloak of a humble shepherd. This was not an easy life since shepherds spent most of their time outside (in all kinds of weather) away from family and friends. Moses spent many nights alone watching over his father-in-law’s sheep.

In Exodus chapter 3 we read that Moses is tending Jethro’s flock in the wilderness near Mount Horeb/Sinai. This is where the angle of the Lord appeared in the form of a burning bush. God calls His people to remote areas for several reason: to learn, to prepare, to test, to strengthen, to direct.

Later, in Exodus 24:9-18, God tells Moses to come up into Mt. Sinai to meet with Him again. This time Moses is gone for forty days. Moses needed time alone with God to receive instructions and so that he would have courage to face the opposition of men. The first time, he needed courage to face Pharaoh with God’s directive to allow the children of Israel to go free.

“So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:18 (NKJV)

We read in Scripture that Jesus frequently went off by Himself to be with God. Private time with the Father is necessary for every believer.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16 (NIV)

After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led the Lord into the desert. There, for forty days and forty nights He was tempted by the devil. Jesus overcame every enticement of the evil one, and left His wilderness seclusion to begin His public ministry.

Paul, Moses, and Jesus sought out, or, were led to secluded places. Wilderness and desert locations are not easy environments to abide in. However, under the shadow of His almighty wing, there is protection and comfort. Great treasures are hidden deep in wilderness locations. Treasures that build faith and strengthen godly convictions are worth more than rubies and gold. Do not be afraid to dig deep. If God is leading you to a solitary place, He may be preparing you for a new ministry, or equipping you for the next leg of your spiritual journey.

I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow; No turning back, no turning back.

~ S. Sundar Singh.

Friend Of A King

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When we become believers, we enter into a life long journey where we discover the many facets of our relationship with God. To start, we come to know Him as our Creator. Then, we learn He is one God in three Divine Persons. From there, many of us develop a loving relationship with God where we view Him as a Father. Through Jesus, we have and Savior. God: Creator, Mysterious God in three persons, Father, Brother, Savior.

Sadly, many Christians never come to know the many additional dimensions of God and how we can identify with Him. King, Brother, Husband, and Friend are just a few more worth mentioning. Every time I meditate on the notion that my Creator wants a personal and intimate relationship with me, His creation, I am befuddled and awestruck.

With worldly eyes, we can grasp the honor of being called a friend to the King. Kings are powerful rulers who are busy with many affairs. They are leaders, champions, and the defender of many. As a King’s friend, we have favor and influence.

Daniel found favor with King Nebuchadnezzar. When Daniel requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have prominent positions over the affairs of Babylon, it was granted.

“Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” Daniel 2:49 (NKJV)

But Daniel and his friends knew a far greater King and would not worship any other ruler besides Yahweh. For their lack of loyalty to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius, all four were persecuted. One King placed three inside a furnace (Daniel 3), and Daniel found himself in a den of lions by the other. Once given exceedingly great favor, they lost their King’s approbation, for it was conditional. But for their loyalty to the one true God, the King of Kings rewarded them with miracles of wonder and life. No harm or injury befell any of the four men.

Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong to you.’

Now the king was exceedingly glad for him and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.”  Daniel 6:20-23 (NKJV)

 We have the ear of our eternal King. Continual access to His throne room is ours, for He never sleeps. And we are charged to come boldly to His mercy seat. With all honesty, we are encouraged to pour our hearts out to the King, without any fear of punishment for speaking with forthright candor.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Our God and King fights for us, for the battle is His, not ours. He protects and shelters us from harm. He did so with David and Moses, Joshua and so many more.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” Exodus 14:13-14 (NKJV)

“Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and My deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.’”             2 Samuel 22:3-4 (NKJV)

Our King loves us, as David loved his friend Jonathan.

“Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:1 (NKJV)

In fact, God is jealous for us. He is jealous when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him. God is possessive of the worship and service that belongs to Him. As friends of a King, it is sinful to worship or serve anything other than the King.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Exodus 20:4-5

Our King, our friend, though mighty and all-powerful is still forgiving and full of mercy, grace, and compassion. Peter denied him three times, yet Jesus sought him out and forgave him. He went to Peter in John 21 and showed compassion and forgiveness.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47 (NIV)

As hard as it is to imagine, our King sings and rejoices over us with gladness. Christ praised John the Baptist saying “No man born of woman was greater than this prophet.” He extolled Peter and gave him the title “Thou art Rock.” And while many condemned Mary Magdalene, Christ defended her as a model of generosity, applauding her large heart: “She hath loved much.”

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11a (NKJV)

We serve a King who calls us His friend. Let us rejoice and be glad in this blessing.

God Desires Honesty

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We have the freedom to speak honestly before our King. God already knows what we think, and what we are about to say, so it is foolishness to hide our true feelings from Him. We have permission to be honest, really honest, and need not fear retribution or punishment for our transparency.

Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4 (NIV)

Consider Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Jesus considered all three to be His friend. And even though He was the King of Kings in living flesh, He welcomed their honest feelings. In one story, Martha complains about Mary sitting at His feet and listening to His word, instead of helping her serve guests. She actually rebuffed Jesus and questioned whether He cared that she had been left alone to serve guests. Furthermore, she ordered Him to tell Mary to help. Jesus acknowledged her feelings but replied that Mary had chosen the good part, which would not be taken away from her.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’

 And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

 On another occasion, Martha, grief-stricken over her brother’s death, freely spoke of her disappointment with Jesus, for He had not been present before Lazarus passed. She did not know that her Savior intentionally stayed away so that He could perform a miracle. Lazarus was raised from the dead, which led to many conversions.

“’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’” John 11:21-23 (NIV)

God does not look favorably upon liars. Truth is who God is. He cannot lie. Since we are called to be like Christ, we too must strive to speak truthfully at all times, even in our prayer closet.

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of timeTitus 1:2 (NKJV)

“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? When it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last.” Acts 5:3-5a (NKJV)

If we hold feelings of hate, disappointment, lust, fear, or bitterness in our heart, it is best to acknowledge it, express it openly with God, and then ask for forgiveness. He can handle our true emotions. He knows our hidden sins and welcomes honest communication. Truth and honesty make for an intimate relationship with God. Pour your heart out to the King. Those who speak truthfully are His delight.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

“An honest heart loves the truth.” ~ A.W. Pink

The Holy Archer And His Arrows

**Arrow

An archer must pull back his arrow to make it fly. Before releasing the shaft, it should touch the bowman’s face. With proper aim, the arrow will hit its mark.

If God is our archer, we then, are His arrows. And even though His quiver if filled beyond our knowing, every shot is carefully planned before it is lovingly released.

When positioned in His mighty bow, we will experience the confusion and pain of backward friction. Yet, we can take heart, for we are in the most skillful of hands. God will send us forward, when His aim is perfected, to hit the proper mark.

Each arrow (beloved child of God) is drawn close to God’s cheek before it is released. What comfort! There is a special moment of communion as He takes aim, before freeing us from the restriction of His mighty bow.

Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.” Zechariah 9:14 (NKJV)

Maybe we will land in some new terrain or ministry. Possibly, the mark we hit needs to hear about Jesus and His incredible blood sacrifice. God may even shoot us into a dark forest filled with principalities and powers of darkness, an arrow intended for spiritual battle.

For they intended evil against You; They devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore, You will make them turn their back; You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces.Psalm 21:11-12 (NKJV)

If life seems difficult, cumbersome, confusing, even painful… hang on! God may be launching you into something great. Focus on living for Him and stay in the present, but seek His will for your future. Do not let the worries and troubles of each day discourage you. They might be the sharpening agents necessary for God to launch you toward HIS intended target.

He fills His hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.Job 36:32 (NIV)

 God cannot miss His mark because He is without sin. What is the biblical definition of sin? Literally, it means to miss the mark. It is a Greek term that comes from an archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Romans 3:23 says that “ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore, even though God’s aim is always perfect, man is sinful; thus, all of us have missed the mark, not getting our arrow to hit the perfection of God.

And since all of us are missing the mark, all of us require His grace. Missing the mark does not mean we are off the team. No, God knows what we are made of and understands that our heart’s desire is to serve Him, even when we fall short.

 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:25 (NKJV)

Sin affects our relationship with God. To get back on target, we must acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness. Sin separates us from God and He turns a deaf ear to our prayers. Repentance will enable the Archer of the Universe to once again interact with His arrow, skillfully shooting him forward so that he hits a bulls-eye.

To find available books by Cheryl Zelenka on Amazon go to: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cheryl+zelenka&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acheryl+zelenka

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