WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Quotes”

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

Moving Forward In Fear

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Fear can petrify, but only because we’ve given it power. If we remember God is always by our side, the fears causing us to quake in our boots will suddenly be exposed as the imaginary monsters that once lived under our beds.

The phrases “Fear not” or “Be not afraid”, occur 103 times in the King James Version of the Bible. When we consider that God has selected every word in the Bible, we can draw a few conclusions. Repeated words are repeated for a reason. God wants us to pay attention and take them to heart.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

God understands the human condition, yet He still requires obedience and faith. Trusting an unseen God with daily life choices is hard enough, but when those choices include life and death situations, we must lasso and claim His undeniable love for us. Only then will we overcome the mysterious and painful challenges in our path.

Where we place our confidence will determine our stance when trouble comes. Consider Moses. God was met with resistance when He told Moses to return to Egypt and confront the mighty Pharaoh, demanding that he free the Israelites (Exodus 3 and 4). Moses was self-conscious and fearful about being the mouthpiece of Jehovah. (Some scholars believe Moses had a speech impediment, such as stuttering. Ex. 4:10). Instead of trusting that God had already enabled him for the work, he let insecurity rob his confidence. He had his eyes on his flesh and not an ALL POWERFUL God.

Although God provided Aaron as a mouth for Moses, he still had to decide whether he would obey God or let personal fears deter him from his calling. As we well know, Moses did move forward, in his fear and insecurity, to confronted Pharaoh and lead God’s people to freedom. His faith in God was greater than his fear.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Our heavenly Father never forces us to do anything. But, like a good father teaching his daughter/son how to change a flat tire or cook a meal, He encourages us to step out in faith to learn and do things that will assist us. We can be confident He has our best interests at heart. We are under His protection and all seeing eyes.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV)

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”  Psalm 139:9-10 (NKJV)

We have the Holy Spirit living within us. He will faithfully lead us into all truth and empower us to cope with every task ahead. We should not be afraid to venture out of our comfort zone to answer God’s call to serve. As we begin our new path, we might see just one step ahead, but we cannot let that deter us! When we take that single step forward, God rejoices over our decision to trust Him and will reveal sound footing for our next step.

You may ask, “Where is God taking me? What will I need to do? Is adversity and suffering part of this journey? Why is the entire footpath engulfed in a fog?” Could it be that if you saw the obstacles and blessings down the way, you would be overwhelmed? God knows us well and He wants to encourage and cheer us forward. Just as Moses walked forward in fear, we too must build up our most holy faith and face our fears. Praise God who faithfully leads, provides, protects, and helps us throughout our journey to our eternal home!

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14 (NKJV)

 “Seeing that a pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” ~John Calvin

Pride Will Hang You Up

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The Bible warns us of pride. This feeling is not of God. Instead, it is from the world. Satan’s pride led to his fall from grace (Ezekiel 28). We should examine our hearts daily to see if pride has wiggled its way into our hearts.

“For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 (NKJV)

Pride is listed as one of the six things the Lord HATES. Proverbs 6:16-19 mentions haughty eyes. Google defines haughty as, “proud, arrogant, vain, and pompous.” To be prideful is to forget that our Creator gave all we have to us. Our intelligence, talents and beauty were designed especially for us. We did not come by them on our own and have no right to arrogantly flaunt special attributes.

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him:

Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

God gives beauty (intelligence, gifts, etc.) to individuals for a reason, His glory. They are also helpful when used for the betterment of others. Human beings are attracted to good-looking people. This attention is useful to public speakers, missionaries, and leaders intent on sharing the Good News. Sadly, special gifts and attributes have caused the downfall of many people, including numerous Bible characters.

Absalom, the third of David’s six sons is considered the most beautiful man in the Bible. All of Israel admired his good looks. Without a single blemish from head to foot, he was blessed with thick heavy hair. Sadly, this asset, which brought much pride eventually led to his demise.

“Now in all Israel, there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head—at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard.” 2 Samuel 14:25-26 (NKJV) 

Absalom ended up hating his father, King David. He used his position, beauty, and charm to lead an uprising that became a civil war. Even though the King told his mighty fighting men to ‘deal gently’ with his rebellious son, Absalom met an early death. Pride was his downfall.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)

David gave strict orders that Absalom was not to be killed, but while fleeing on his mule through the woods, Absalom was entrapped when his long hair became entangled in the branches of a Terebinth, and in spite of the kings instructions Joab kills Absalom.

Ironically, Absalom’s hair, one of the many things he took pride in, became entangled within the branches of the Terebinth tree. Trapped and hanging between heaven and earth, Joab and 10 young men found the traitor and killed him.

“Then Joab said, ‘I cannot linger with you.’ And he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the terebinth tree. And ten young men who bore Joab’s armor surrounded Absalom, and struck and killed him.” 2 Samuel 18:14-15

Pride puffs up and causes one to think too highly of them self. Our reliance is to be in Christ. It is through His strength that we are enabled to accomplish the works He has prepared for us. If we rely on our own strength we will never get them done.

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” says the Lord.Obadiah 1:3-4 (NKJV)

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.Proverbs 11:2 (NKJV)

“The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility… According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Shod Your Feet With The Gospel Of Peace

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The Christian spiritual race is an uphill climb, full of snares and rough places. A smart runner selects shoes that will carry him through every type terrain. Our spiritual armor includes shoes, and we are instructed to “shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).

The gospel of peace is the story of God’s love for us. Jesus carried and nailed the sins of the world to the cross. By His death and resurrection, the blood of Christ covers us. Through the forgiveness of sin, our fellowship with God has been restored. We have the promise of eternal life, so long as we declare Jesus the Son of God and our Redeemer. The word shod simply means… to wear footgear. Our spiritual footgear is the story of God’s love and sacrifice. This is our comfort and our calling. Through Christ Jesus we have victory over death, a message we are commanded to share with the lost world.

Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19 (NKJV)

However, this does not mean everybody should quit their day jobs and sail off to Africa as missionaries. Indeed, some are called to preach the gospel in other lands, but there are also everyday opportunities to share the Good News. If led, we can point our feet to the house of a sick friend or lonely neighbor, and be the hands of Christ. With an open door, we can speak words of encouragement, which will accomplish much, though we might not realize it at the time.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)

Persuasive and timely language is a most effective balm to a hardened mind or heart. And like “apples of gold set in silver,” they are a beautiful and joyful thing to receive.

Believers possess a special treasure, the promise of eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with God. How can we not share this good news with those around us? How will others believe in Him if we keep silent?

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:14-15 (NKJV)

God will often prepare the hearts of those whom He has called, thus giving the messenger of Good News fertile soil to plant His seed. The heavenly Father requires our faith and action to fearlessly speak the truth. Compromise is not of the Lord. His Word will stand without sugar coating, so long as we speak with gentleness and respect. Useful scriptures will suddenly come to mind, helping us in our task of loving the one in need. The Holy Spirit will give us the words and actions necessary, so laying aside our own agenda and personal strength is key. We are to rely on God’s leading and supernatural power, for those acting on their own authority are guilty of robbing God of His glory. We are the messengers of God but He is the Savior.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

Any time we step out in faith, the enemy will try to interfere with our efforts to share the gospel. Utilize the entire spiritual armor of Christ. Pray. Harassment should not be a surprise to the believer. Rather, our perspective should be that any spiritual annoyance and intimidation is confirmation we are walking right with God. Gaining back the ground Satan has stolen is never easy. The prowling lion that looks to devour is a mighty foe, but the Lion King of Judah has already won the battle. The victory is already His and we share in the victory through Jesus Christ. Let us all make an effort to share the gospel of peace with someone new every day.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

“Of course you’ll encounter trouble. But behold a God of power who can take any evil and turn it into a door of hope.” ~ Catherine Marshall

Haphazard Plans?

_God In Control

God’s way will turn a man’s thoughts inside out and upside down. We can’t forecast the way God works. The wisdom of the world would argue that God is haphazard, but He is not calculable in His providence. He works in ways we cannot predict or understand.

’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

God’s sovereignty is a reality. His love for us is undeniable. There is no other Father who has sacrificed His only son for the redemption of mankind. So, when life seems to be out of control, even hopeless, we must remember God is behind the scenes working things out according to His perfect will.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Matthew 18:2-4 and Mark 10:15 both mention children. Their innocence and faith should be our example. By taking on a cloak of humility, we can submit to the Father’s will and trust where He has placed us, even if it is within a turbulent storm. Why? Because He loves us!

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV)

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NKJV)

The ‘whys’ in life can plague a person’s heart. The proper place for our questions is at the feet of Jesus. But, when we lay them down, we can’t assume He owes us an answer. He owes us nothing. He might not reveal His reasons for our discomfort. But with the innocence of a child, we can trust our Savior and believe that our present circumstances are for our benefit.

God does not punish His children. However, because He is a loving Father, He will discipline us. Rooting out sin, character flaws, and transforming weaknesses into strengths will not occur overnight. And the time it takes a believer to lay aside self-will, surrendering everything to God, is different for everyone.

The more obedient we are to His leading, the faster He will mold us into the perfect vessel He envisioned. But, the transformation from sinful man to that of one reflecting Jesus Christ in every way requires time. A potter molds clay and reshapes his medium over and over until it stands out, unique and worthy of his initials. Uncomfortable pressure, painful twisting, and a dizzying spin on His wheel will eventually get us the kiln. Then, agonizing heat will purify the last of our impurities. Oh, how precious it is to share in the sufferings of Christ! We can take comfort in knowing He records each one of our painful tears. They are in His record. They are valued.

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

God will send the perfect circumstances our way to get this job done. We won’t understand our entire journey, but we don’t have to, right? We simply need to trust in the love of God. He is our hope, and hope will never disappoint.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Romans 5:5 (NKJV)

Hope in Christ! He has a plan for you and it is not a haphazard one. The ups and downs of your life were designed long before you were knit within your mother’s womb. God sees you, as you will be perfected, and purified. Eventually, when you look in a mirror, you will only see Jesus. Your reflection will glorify God and honor Him. Praise Jehovah!

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For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

“If you try to forecast the way God will work you will get in a muddle; live the life of a child and you will find that every haphazard occasion fits into God’s order.” ~ Oswald Chambers

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

“While it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who hasn’t surrendered His authority.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Dusting Away Distractions

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Everyday life is filled with distractions. Daily goals are met with enticements and diversions that hinder or impede their achievement. Then, while slipping into bed, we review our day and roll our eyes over the many different directions our rabbit trails took us. Distractions once again sideswiped our well-intentioned plan to move forward in our ventures.

When it comes to our spiritual walk, distractions are a key strategy utilized by the devil. Whether he shoots fiery arrows of condemnation and blame in our direction or the enticements of the world call out to us, fellowship time with God is curtailed. The Bible warns believers to be alert and sober minded, lest we find ourselves devoured by this prowling lion.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)

 John MacArthur sheds light on how to fight distractions.

“The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties. And that is the only way to know real satisfaction.”  John MacArthur

Focusing less time on ourselves and spending more time in fellowship with God will accomplish several things:

First, our peace of mind will increase and our stress will decrease. Meditating on the faithfulness and love of God will build up our faith and remind us that there is no life circumstance hidden from our all-knowing God. Worry and stress are a distraction. Focusing on problems is a trap. Doing so will consume our thinking, and eat us alive, leaving us with no time or energy to meditate on things that are noble and pure.

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)

Our time would be better spent by seeking God through prayer; asking the one who loves us most, to provide solutions and to direct our path. Then, through the discipline of self-control and patience, we must let go of our frets, trusting an answer is on the way.

Distractions also come in the form of pleasure. Taking a hike, going to a movie, shopping, getting a manicure, and having a leisurely lunch with a good friend are all pleasurable activities. But if they prevent fellowship time with God, they are distractions. Lunch with a friend is not a bad thing in itself. In fact, the Bible encourages us to fellowship with other believers so that we can lift each other up. No, lunch dates are not the problem. The trouble occurs when the cares of the world and the busyness of life cuts into our time with God. Carving out a set time to fellowship and focus on God is a good way to attack distraction issues. God needs to be a priority.

Distractions of the flesh are probably the most common. Sex, food, wine, and a lust for money have made many a prodigal. But these distractions are manageable, if we keep our focus on God. When we commune with the Lord, He will remind us that we are to live as aliens in this world. That home is heaven. To love the world is to be an enemy of God.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 (NKJV)

And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.Mark 4:19 (NKJV)

Another distraction many of us struggle with is ministry work. Many believers get so busy with church activities that they struggle finding time to be alone with God. A thought or word God would have revealed, had time been spent at His feet, is a grievous loss. We are to serve the Lord without distraction, but to do so, we must also learn to abide in Christ. A constant awareness of His presence, a continual lifting up of praise and worship, and a daily knowledge of His desire to speak to hearts will help to eliminate our struggle with distractions.

I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.” Psalm 119:15 (NKJV)

And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.1 Co 7:27 (NKJV)

 A steadfast heart is a loyal heart of devotion. It is focused and strong. It keeps a believer from turning aside to the right and to the left. The path before them is clear and by making God our spiritual “nerve center,” forward progress happens.

Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.” Joshua 23:6 (NIV)

If we want spiritual growth and maturity, we must consider our fellowship time with God. Is He a priority? Do we spend time meditating on His word? What distractions keep us from Bible study and how can we change things? Periodically, we all need some dusting off and a little spring-cleaning is always a good place to start.

Waiting On God

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God often asks us to wait. Waiting builds patience in our lives and transforms our character. It also deepens our dependency on God.

Moses is a wonderful example of someone whose character was transformed through the discipline of waiting. After his exile from Egypt, Moses spent 40 years in the desert of Midian. He went from being a prince of Egypt to a shepherd. God fed him lessons in humility and patience. Moses probably felt he was doing nothing worthwhile in life, but God was equipping and training him to be a leader, and that included desert survival skills. At the age of 80, Moses returned to Egypt and delivered Israel through the power and will of God. Then, for forty additional years, Moses endured a desert existence, leading a stiff-necked people God called His own.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

The story Joseph is another example of waiting on God and trusting in His provision. After his brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph was taken to Egypt. Once there, Potiphar, who was in charge of the Pharaoh’s kitchen, bought him. He made Joseph his personal attendant and placed him in charge of his entire household. Unfortunately, his master’s wife tried to seduce him and when Joseph resisted her advances, she lied about the encounter thus prompting Potiphar to send him to prison.

“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and show him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:20-23 (NKJV)

For two years Joseph sat in prison. God was with him the whole time, preparing him for a job that would save many people.

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” Colossians 1:10-11 (NKJV)

It wasn’t until the Pharaoh experienced bad dreams that Joseph was remembered and called to interpret their meaning. Eventually, Joseph rose from slave and prisoner to Pharaoh’s second-in-command. He was able to rescue many Egyptians from a famine by stockpiling grain during seven years of plenty. Because of the famine, Joseph was once again reunited with his family and in a position to save them, by providing much needed grain.

After Jacob died, his brothers feared for their lives regretting having sold him into slavery. But Joseph assured his brothers that God had always intended that he go to Egypt so He could him to save many people. Therefore, he wanted to take care of his brothers, their children, and his father’s household. Joseph believed God had a divine plan for his life. He had to get to Egypt some how, and his brothers took care of that step. Learning leadership skills were also necessary, and learning them in a prison was also a part of God’s plan.

The means by which God equips His children may seem strange, even brutal. But, we must trust that our loving Father knows the best way to discipline, refine, and equip us for the works He wants us to accomplished. Moses and Joseph waited a long time to see the fruit of their labor. We can learn from them. Patience is an act of faith and takes a good measure of self-control. Let the following scriptures encourage you while working through your personal sanctification process. Let the dross come to the surface! In time, you will look into the crucible of melted gold and the reflection you see will be the face of Christ.

Do not let the loud utterances of your own wills anticipate, nor drown, the still, small voice in which God speaks. Bridle impatience till He does. If you cannot hear His whisper, wait till you do. Take care of running before you are sent. Keep your wills in equipoise till God’s hand gives the impulse and direction.“ ~Alexander MacLaren

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I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning— Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6 (NKJV)

 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faith.” Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.Psalm 37:34 (NKJV)

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Grace: Unmerited Favor

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Grace is unmerited favor: to get something that you do not deserve. Humility is a sure way to obtain the grace of God but pride will interfere and hinder God’s dispensation. Consider the character of Noah, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Mary, and Esther. At some point, humility reigned in the hearts of these believers.

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 (NKJV)

During the times of Noah, the book of Genesis reports God was, “sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  Wickedness was everywhere, yet Noah was still able to walk with God. He chose to live a righteous life. In spite of his community, living beside evil neighbors and all kinds of debauchery, Noah strove to be just. God considered him perfect in his generations.

Noah was shown grace. He and his family survived the great flood. His obedient and constant faith produced an ark though it took between 50-75 years to build and his community most certainly ridiculed his effort. It provided safety from deadly waters. But since grace is a gift, freely given, Noah did not earn God’s favor. Rather, his effort to live with integrity got the Father’s attention.

“Grace, then, is grace, – that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Lot, Abram’s nephew, was another man who tried to live righteously among the corrupted morals of Sodom. But because of an outcry against the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent angels to investigate and destroy the entire city. Thanks to the prayers and intervention of his uncle, God provided His grace and delivered Lot, his wife, and two daughters. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife died when she looked back in longing for Sodom, which had corrupted her heart. Lot did not earn the grace, it was unmerited favor from God.

As America removes God from schools, government, and every day life, our present days are becoming darker and darker The blatant disrespect of God’s living Word and the blood sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ have corrupted many hearts. Mankind lives for self and not for the love of others. Just as in the days of Noah, evil intent and wickedness is busy in the hearts of mankind. Imagine a snowball rolling down a hill, sinfulness is growing bigger and faster in our land. But, there is always hope.

With eyes looking up, focused on our eternal home, we can live in righteousness, thanks to the grace of God. The moment we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became a new creation. Called to die to self and set aside our old nature, we have been commanded to live in holiness.

“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)

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, a sin your ignorance;  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV)

Just as Noah and Lot were able to forsake the norm and strive for righteous, we can tool Living in a fallen world is very challenging, but His grace is sufficient. His favor enables man to resist temptation and sin. May the grace of God be with you always.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)

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“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)

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NKJV)

(“John testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’) Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.John 1:15-17 (NIV)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

Tribulations, Gratitude, And The Holidays

Tribulation:CS Lewis

Difficult times do not go on vacation when the holidays roll in. Loved ones still die, brave fighting men and women continue to endure battle wounds, terrorists find new ways to murder innocent people, financial ruin knocks down new doors, and terminal or debilitating illnesses are still diagnosed. But the “God who foresaw your tribulation has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

You might not feel like celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus this year. The trials of 2015 may have knocked you sideways, and an attitude of gratitude might be tucked further away than just your back pocket. God understands. Did His heart not break when we crucified His son?

He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.Isaiah 53:3 (NKJV)

Yet, Jesus rose from the grave… victorious. He ascended into heaven and once again found His way to the Father’s right hand. Although life may seem like ashes, you too will rise victoriously. Hold on to your faith.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” ~ Oswald Chambers.

God keeps watch over His children both day and night. His love for us is what strengthens and equips us, always whispering inside our hearts to persevere. When the act of breathing seems too great a burden, God makes it His business and breath for us. He understands our pain. He gives power to the weak.

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.Isaiah 40:29 (NKJV)

 When the mysteries and sorrows of life attempt to steal our hope, the promises of God are what we must claim. Write them down. Recite them out loud. Sing them to the heavens.

“We have to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know Him.”   ~ Oswald Chambers

 God is perpetually refining His children and seeking relationship. Intimacy is important to the Father and He longs for us to draw near. The Creator knows everything about us. Isn’t it remarkable that the Potter wants to confide and share His knowledge with His vessels? Dare we ask, “How well do I know my God?”

Should this holiday find you in the grips of despair or heart-wrenching sorrows, be encouraged with this good news. The PEACE of CHRIST never left you. It is still available and free. The JOY of Christ is also still present. Not giggles and smiles necessarily, but real JOY. Christian joy is knowing God. This Joy tells us that ALL sorrow will pass and eternity awaits our homecoming.

Praising God for the blessed gift of His Son, especially during painful times, is in itself a gift we offer the Father. And in the tradition of Christmas giving, I shall ask, “Will you offer this gift of praise to the One who loves you most? To the One who died for your sins and understands your pain?” You don’t have to put up Christmas lights, or even a tree. Just celebrate the reason for the season with JOY in your heart. JOY that you are His and HE is yours.

“There is a great difference between Christian experience and Christian faith. The danger of experience is that our faith is made to rest in it, instead of seeing that our experience is simply a doorway to God.” ~ Oswald Chambers

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When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”                  Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (NKJV)

 “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 (NKJV)

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

 

Iron Sharpens Iron

 

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An excerpt from my book Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, and Promise

**Available on Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Adversity-Though…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

IRON SHARPENS IRON

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

A dull knife is still a knife but far less effective than one that has been thoroughly sharpened. The same goes for Christians. A Christian who is lax in obtaining knowledge by way of reading scripture is still a Christian, but far less effective than a believer who reads the living Word daily and listens for God’s instruction. God will surely use both Christians for His purposes, but the one who is more spiritually minded will have greater success in leading others to Christ.

We were created for fellowship and a lone Christian is at a great disadvantage. Again, let me refer back to the knife analogy. A single knife sitting in a drawer, with no other blade next to it, will eventually grow dull and less effective in its purpose. The same goes for the Christian who neglects fellowship with other believers. They are that solitary knife growing duller and more foolish every day, due to the absence of a sharpening “blade.”

The people who cross your path in life have been placed there for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence and no meeting is by chance. Every person you work with, all of your family members, the homeless person on your street corner, even the neighbor next door has been placed in your life for some purpose. God has provided interactions with these individuals, although certainly in different measurements of intimacy. Everyone in your life is beneficial to your spiritual growth, and you in theirs as well.

“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts into our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.” ~Corrie ten Boom

The individual who causes you the greatest annoyance is sharpening your capacity to love unconditionally.

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