WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Hope”

Don’t Be Anxious!

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“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 5:25-34 (NKJV)

Blessed Savior,

I lift up those who are filled with anxiety. With your love, calm their anxious heart. Bring them to an understanding of Your Sovereignty. You are more than able to guide them through their trouble, so help them to relinquish control and trust You to handle their trouble. Let the knowledge of Your power and love lift their spirit and give them hope. May they move through their struggle in peace, knowing nothing is impossible with God.

Thank you for giving us exactly what we need, including trials and times of stretching. Amen.

The Sovereignty of God

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At some time in life, everyone becomes overwhelmed by life circumstances. Maybe it is a sudden illness or the death of a loved one that catches us off guard. Maybe it is a financial loss, new job, or move. All of these examples are prone to bring about personal worry or stress. However, God is never frazzled by the situations in our life. He is completely aware of what we face every hour in every day. We  often forget that He is in control and an ever-present help during times of trouble.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea”  Psalm 46:1-2

God is Sovereign. He is King of all the earth and the Creator of the universe.  He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  

OMNISCIENT means that God is ALL KNOWING.  

OMNIPOTENT means that God has ALL POWER and can DO ALL THINGS

OMNIPRESENT means that God is present everywhere at the same time.

The Sovereign power of God to help us is only a prayer away! With these definitions in mind, why do we get so worked up and worried? We are told NOT to be anxious. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” 

R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God

Are we doubting His goodness and power? God is constant and never changing. If He is good and all-powerful during good and pleasant times in our life, is He not also good and all-powerful during the dark and painful times as well?

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

Furthermore, the LOVE of God is full of compassion and abundant in mercy. We may not see our circumstances as loving and filled with mercy but God does not lie. This is when we must have faith. Faith to trust that His mercy is carrying us through our trial.

“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,

Long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15 NKJV

The power of God is beyond our comprehension, but we do have a glimpse of His might. By His Word alone, the heavens were made and the starry host was created by the breath of His mouth. Amazing!

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” Psalm 33:6 (NIV)

He is all knowing, so He is well aware of what we are experiencing right now. He does not forsake His children. He does not leave us to fight alone.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 

Finally, when we are at the end of our rope, we must remember that God is present everywhere. He is not so busy solving problems on the other side of the world that He ignores our plea for mercy and grace. Rather, He is big enough to handle ALL the troubles in the lives of All His children…… big and small.

Let us decide (with our free will) to trust our heavenly Father and let go of our worries. Let us choose to place every daily concern at His feet. He is mighty and powerful, and loves us beyond measure. The enemy cannot touch a hair on our head without His permission. Our Lord has equipped us for EVERY circumstance, including the one we are facing now, or the one in our future. And although we may feel weak, HE will be our strength. 

God wants us to rely on HIM! In order to do this, we have to give up all control and trust Him. His way is always perfect and right, even though it is often painful and wearisome. Let the promises found within the living Word of God be our hope and encouragement.

Remember, Jesus wept. He understands our pain, even when we do not understand His will.

“If there is one single reason why good people turn evil, it is because they fail to recognize God’s ownership over their kingdom, their vocation, their resources, their abilities, and above all their lives.” 

Erwin W. Lutzer 

Running Home

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For just a moment, imagine that you can see the colors and beauty of a robe woven from all of your demonstrations of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It would take your breath away! Unique in design, for everyone shows kindness in a different way, your robe would be singularly remarkable and noteworthy.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Every small and unselfish act of kindness is noticed by God and used for His glory. A smile offered to a crying child, a dinner sent to a sick neighbor, even the helping hand offered to a stray dog is recognized. We are told to bind kindness and truth around our necks. A necklace to remind us that, with each new day, we are given opportunities to share the love of Christ.

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.Hebrew 6:10-12 (NKJV)

Additionally, we are called to put on our spiritual armor…. And it is called, “the armor of light.”

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  Romans 13:12 (NIV)

We walk in a world where mere hints of heaven’s beauty abound, and if we take the time to acknowledge it, we are often at a loss for words. Heaven and all of its glory are much more than we can imagine. It will take an eternity to see every beauty and wonder that Father God has created for us.

This knowledge of a better place, in another world, spurs us on. It comforts those who have lost loved ones and encourages those lacking hope and faith. We are but aliens in a foreign land while we live out our lives on earth.

We must run the spiritual race God ordained, and often it is a marathon. We see the finish line but the upward climb leaves us panting for breath. Panting to the point where we no longer have any strength to continue, so the heavenly hosts cheer us on and we continue the upward climb.

Our earthly beloveds run along beside us for as long as they can, but as the race comes to an end they no longer can follow. They assure us that it is well with them and that we must finish our race on our own. Parting is so hard, but we hear the call of angels and the voice of our Father. We say our good-byes and move towards the radiance ahead, dressed in our armor of light and wearing our robes woven from the righteousness we inherited through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Every kindness, selfless act of love, compassionate act, patient response, and gentle word of grace offered in this life will continue to live on in the hearts of those we leave behind. God will cause others to water the seeds that we have sown in His name. Parting with loved ones is just another lesson from God; it chips away at our sinful man, causes us to reflect on heavenly things, and serves to refine us into the image of His son.

Reminding ourselves that death is just part of the journey called life will indeed renew our hunger for our forever home, for in heaven we will no longer be aliens in a foreign land. In heaven, a new journey will begin. A journey where there is no more sin, death, pain, or sorrow. A journey full of adventure, service, wonder, and joy.

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.Proverbs 3:3 (NASB)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4 (NKJV)

This devotion is dedicated to my wonderful mother…. Barbara Ann Hentschel Zelenka. She passed away on May 18th, 2015

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Peace: The Absence of Fear

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“You have to remember, fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Don’t misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” ~Anonymous

“The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.”   Psalm 29:11 (NKJV)

“And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”   Daniel 10:19 (NKJV)

When fear is present, peace is absent. Fear will always rob our peace of mind, weaken our resolve, disturb our rest, and cause us to question the righteous power of God. Fear is an emotion that will hinder our walk with Christ unless we learn to face our adversity with trust, trust that God is in control.

In Isaiah 26:3 we read how God keeps those whose minds are steadfastly transfixed on Him in perfect peace. When we take all our thoughts captive and trust God with our well being, fear will depart. Placing our faith in His power will remove insecurities, wobbly uncertainty, and unstable thoughts or decisions.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

Because God knit each one of us together, He understands our nature and individual weaknesses. He lovingly calls out, “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). It is His desire for us to rest in His peace. God longs to give us rest. Faith requires trust, and peace is the fruit of that trust.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.” When He walked the earth as the Son of Man, He told that we would have to face tribulation. But He also told us to be of good cheer since He had conquered the grave. This fact alone should produce peace in our hearts. The battle has already been won. Eternal peace is our guarantee, but peace while we are still yet earthbound is also available. In fact, we are told to pursue it!

“Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”   Psalm 34:14 (NKJV)

How then do we pursue peace? Through Christ and Christ alone! Through supplication and humble petitions we enter the very throne room of God. While in His very presence, we interface with a mediator who intercedes on our behalf both day and night, for He never sleeps. By knocking on His door and seeking Him out, He gladly agrees to fellowship and dine with us. While in His presence, He will fill us with hope, inexpressible joy, and comforting peace. Trusting in His love for us produces peace.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”   John 14:27 (NKJV)

Psalm 23 mentions how God provides peace for those walking through “the valley of the shadow of death.” By focusing our eyes on Him, not concentrating on our difficult circumstances, He leads us through green pastures and beside still waters. Who doesn’t want to rest in such a place?

When we walk by the Spirit of God, the fruit of the Spirit shall become even more evident in our lives. Peace, not fear is a component of this fruit. We must crucify our flesh, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (NKJV). By doing this, God blesses His people with a quiet mind and contentment.

“God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst… will be quiet in the middle of alarm.” ~ F.B Meyer

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”   2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NKJV)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”   Psalm 23:1-6 (NKJ)

“A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.” ~D.L. Moody

 

Grumble, Grumble, Complain

*24 Hours

The following question will challenge even the most mature and spiritually filled believer. “Do you grumble and complain?”

Complaints are included in acceptable social conversations. They are objections, even acts of protest. Voicing anger, fears, dissatisfaction, annoyance, and irritation will certainly get a conversation rolling. But will the topic or act of disapproval be edifying and pleasing to God?

Take a minute and consider why we complain. Are we looking for the empathy of others? Are we making excuses for our behavior? Is it due to some selfish motive, or is it an act of self-righteousness? Has self-pity consumed our thoughts and voicing our anger brings relief? Is it a passive-aggressive way to let God know we are mad at Him? By complaining, have we judged God by blaming Him for our discomfort?

Or, are we seeking justice for bona fide mistreatment and abuse? Should injustices be left unrecognized? Are we not called to carry each other’s burdens? Do we not have a responsibility to stand up for the weak and defend those in need?

Making a petition for help is different from grumbling and complaining. In the midst of a trial we should call upon God’s grace. However, circumstances are permitted, created, and ordained by a sovereign God who has orchestrated them for our welfare. To complain about our situation is to argue against God’s will and plan. Asking for strength to move through a trial is acceptable but complaining about our loss, pain, or struggle is not beneficial for us or honoring to God.

God can handle our honesty and He knows our feelings before we are completely aware of them our self. He lives to intercede on our behalf, and the refining processes that trials generate often require the supernatural strengthening of God. Asking for help is an act of humility and will draw us closer to God. Complaining does not draw us closer to God, nor will it build intimacy with Him. In fact, complaining kindles His anger.

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. “ Numbers 11:1 (NKJV)

Philippians 2:14-15 commands us to DO ALL THINGS without complaining. In a world filled with wicked and perverse men, making a point to remain positive will get attention. We are called to shine as lights in this fallen world. Praising God and His provision at all times, especially while we are persevering though trials, will cause others to rethink their ways. This positive and thankful thinking will require self-control and discipline. Breaking the habit of grumbling will not be easy, especially if it has been long practiced. But with the grace of God it can be mastered.

“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)

We are called to do ALL THINGS without complaining. This includes our acts of labor and employment, the “Honey-Do List,” car pools, time with relatives, and even mundane and repetitious days filled with simple but necessary duties and tasks. For every day in our life has been planned out by God, days of sorrow, excitement, joy, adventure and seemingly uneventful days. Each and every day is a gift and should be filled with thanks and praise.

So, we are to DO all things without complaining, but what about daily conversations? Is it all right to complain about the food in a restaurant? How about the driver on the highway who just cut you off? Surely it is okay to complain about the snow in April or the lack of rain in August. Weather has long been considered a safe topic of discussion in every day “small talk.” Many of us will make note of a beautiful sunrise, the blue sky or lovely clouds. But we are also quick to complain about weather. Are we sinning when we voice complaints about something so common as weather?

Ask this question, “Does my complaint glorify God?” You have your answer! We are to edify others with words of encouragement and hope.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.“ Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV)

Apparently mankind has never been satisfied. Just think about Adam and Eve! Even in paradise they were not content. Is it then fair to say that human nature is never content? Yes. The constant clash between fleshly desires and spiritual contentment is a battle fought every day.

The poor want to be rich, but wealth is not the answer. A rich man also seeks more and complains as much as any other man. The single woman wants to be married and the married woman wishes she were once again single. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But if we watered our side of the grass… it would be just as green as the one on the other side.

Paul tells us how to battle our urge to grumble and complain. Seeking contentment in every circumstance is the secret. This requires God’s help and we must call upon His strength to find this peace and joy.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)

May we strive to consider our daily conversations, seeking to edify others and glorify God. Desiring contentment, we lean on the love of God and trust in His provisions. We ask the Holy Spirit to prick our spirit every time we are tempted to grumble and complain. We choose to praise God for EVERYTHING, including the circumstances we now face. We cast all of our cares upon Christ Jesus and thank Him for each thing in our life.

“It is no use to grumble and complain; It’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice; When God sorts out the weather and sends rain- Why rain’s my choice.” ~ James Whitcomb Riley

“If Christians spent as much time praying as they do grumbling, they would soon have nothing to grumble about.” – Anonymous

It’s Friday…. BUT EASTER SUNDAY IS COMING!

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” 1 Co. 15:3-4 (NIV)

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Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YByT6wfdhJs

 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” 1 Co. 15:20-27 (NIV)

 

Easter: Victory Over Death

 

*Easter

Easter is a time when Christians around the world remember the incredible love sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our Savior’s willingness to step down from His heavenly throne, take on flesh, and die in a most gruesome way, is proof of His amazing devotion and affection for us all. He looked past our sins because He desired relationship and fellowship with His creation. He bore the cost of our sins, nailing them to the cross. Thanks to HIS righteousness we too are righteous, now able to stand before God as His adopted children.

And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”     1 Corinthians 15:4 (NKJV)

Therefore, since we are now united with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection we resist all evil. We are no longer slaves to the enticements of this world. Jesus, our eternal hope, is the doorway through which all sin is conquered. Our “old man” has been crucified with Christ and we have been reborn. With hearts laid down in humble submission, eternal life is our promised reward.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”   Romans 6:4-9 (NKJV)

And since we are now in Christ, we have become a new creation. Old things… such as lustful passions, deceptions, ungodly habits, and evil desires are to be put away. We are called to walk as children of light. The light of Jesus should be so bright within us that all who are lost and spiritually dead are drawn to it, and therefore to Christ Himself.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”   John 3:6 (NKJV)

Jesus came into this world to give and serve. We too should live a life of selflessness and service. Paul passionately beseeched fellow believers in Romans 12:1-2 to present their bodies as living sacrifices, “holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

When we serve others, we serve God. The body He created for you and for me is perfect, designed exactly for His sovereign will and purpose. Every talent and gift, weakness and flaw, strength and disability was given to us for a reason. It helps to remember that when we are weak His power and strength becomes evident to all. God will use what we consider personal flaws for His glory.

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

We praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice. We give Him thanks for reuniting us with the Father and for perpetually interceding on our behalf. We rejoice in the promise of eternal life, recognizing Christ’s victory over sin and death. We exalt God for His mercy and grace and thank Him for the sweet fellowship He offers His adopted children.

Jesus died on the cross because He wanted to free us from sinful wandering and restore our relationship with the heavenly Father. Unity and fellowship is of great importance to our Creator. And although we are each unique in design, we are meant to be bound together as one. As a united whole we make up the entire body of Christ. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, we too are to stand unified with each other AND with God. This can only be done if we forgive trespasses and submit to God’s sovereign authority.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”   John 17:20-23 (NKJV)

As Christ died and rose again, let us too die to sin and rise up as beacons of light.

Oh death… where is your sting? Has Christ Jesus not given us victory over you? Has He not promised all who call upon His name the gift of eternal life? Blessed be our Savior! Jesus! JESUS! Precious Jesus! There is awesome power in Your holy name!

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV)

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 (NKJV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”          Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9 (NKJV

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV)

“The only thing I can give to God is ‘My right to myself.’ If I will give God that, He will make a holy experiment out of me, and God’s experiments always succeed.”   ~ Oswald Chambers.

God Prunes-And Not Just In The Spring!

*Prune

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” 15:2

I view my past illness, a brain tumor that caused nearly a decade of clinical depression and near death, as an answered prayer. In days gone by, I often petitioned God to remove me from the public school system. But my prayers were never prayers of true faith. No, they were prayers of desperation and hopelessness. I never quit my job to pursue a different career because finances were always priority. I didn’t believe God would provide for my family in the same manner I was able to provide as a teacher. Relying on myself was easier than trusting God, especially when it came down to future finances. This is where my thinking fell short. Scripture says God will provide for our NEEDS…. Not for every want and desire, comfort or luxury.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Accustomed to a certain life style, I had no desire to pursue another profession that offered less pay. After 25 years of saving, I had finally purchased my dream home. The thought of selling it in order to pursue a different career was not part of my reality. I wanted out of teaching, but only on my terms. I was not willing to make adjustments or sacrifices. Money was an idol of false security.

My wrestling match with God was long and intense. It lasted more than a night and it didn’t leave me with a dislocated hip. Instead, I end up with a non-malignant brain tumor. When I refer to this tumor as a blessing sent from God I am sincere. For you see, this illness changed my life. It became the catalyst that reignited my spiritual walk.

Thankfully, God knew the best way to answer my prayer. I believe He led me into teaching and I believe it was also God who placed a desire in my heart to leave teaching. He didn’t let my attachment to worldly possessions interfere with His plan for my life. He designed me with a purpose and there was a “next step” for me in this life. It could only happen by stepping out of the classroom.

And although sin was ruling my heart with fear and covetousness, He graciously pruned away those dead branches for they were hindering my spiritual growth. By cutting out the dead wood, I was able to recognize these sin areas that required further refinement. Every year God must prune these sin areas in my life for they are aggressive in their attempt to grow back, yet never do they bear any fruit.

So, who can understand the mind of God? His ways are so much higher than our own ways. His thoughts are just not our thoughts! Bu sending a serious illness my way, or merely allowing the tumor to grow for ten miserable years, God answered my prayer to move past elementary teaching. It was a part of His sovereign plan for my life, before He knit me together in my mother’s womb.

God was not surprised by my illness but I surely was, for It brought about a lot of change I didn’t expect or desire. Not only did I loose my dream home, but I also left a community I felt comfortable with and never wanted to leave. God was pruning and stretching my faith throughout my journey. He provided the means for a new beginning and moved me to the place He wanted me to grow.

God’s sovereign will is always fulfilled. How He answers our prayers can truly be very surprising and unexpected. And when He decides to prune His children with challenging storms of adversity, we will do well to remember that the pruning of the Lord is an act of love. For God will instruct/discipline those He loves.

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, a father the son he delights in.”    Proverbs 3:12 (NIV)

James 1:2-4 reminds us that we are to count trials as pure joy, not that the circumstances are the joy, but the outcome they produce is the source of our rejoicing.

God teaches us not only through His Word. He also teaches us through trials that refine us into the image of His son. These times of trouble mature the fruit of the spirit within us so that goodness, kindness, gentleness, peace, love, joy, patience, faithfulness and self-control are more evident in our life. The pruning of the Lord is painful but the fruit it bears is profitable to God, others, and us.

Suffering is a part of the process by which the children of God are made holy. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God’s holiness. The Captain of their salvation was made “perfect through suffering,” and so are they (Hebrews 2:1012:10). There never was a great saint who had not experienced either great hardships, or great persecutions.

 Let us try to settle this in our hearts also. The children of God all have a cross to bear. A suffering Savior generally has suffering disciples. The Bridegroom was a man of sorrows. Therefore, the Bride must not be a woman of pleasures and unacquainted with grief. Blessed are they that mourn! Let us not murmur at the cross. This also is a sign of sonship.”    ~ J.C. Ryle

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_Dec 2014

Depressed? Remember God’s Faithfulness!

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“When the world says, ‘GIVE UP,’ Hope whispers, ‘TRY IT ONE MORE TIME.’” ~Unknown

Many strong and inspiring figures of the Bible suffered from depression: David, Jonah, and Job are just a few. David had Saul breathing down his back and looking for ways to kill him. (1 Sam. 19:1-2) God commanded Jonah to warn his Ninevite enemies to repent. Instead, he turned tail and ran away. God then sent a whale to swallow Jonah, but only after sailors tossed him overboard hoping to calm a raging sea. (Jonah 1:4, 11-12, 15). God tested Job’s faithfulness by permitting Satan’s request to afflict and torment him (Job 1:8-12). Each man had a strong relationship with God and a deep faith, yet they suffered from depression. Why?

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”   Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)                              

One reason for their depression is they all faced very painful or challenging circumstances. When we are asked to do something incredibly DIFFICULT, or when we face persecution, injury, or loss… our faith is tested. Everyone is susceptible to depression, which springs forth from roots of hopelessness. Even the mightiest of believers can tumble into this debilitating trap. The enemy is adept at spreading lies that feed our fear, doubt, and despondency. He continually schemes up ways to infiltrate our heart, which is the seat of our emotions. He persistently harasses and taunts the children of God.

Remember, he is that “prowling lion” who always watches for opportunities to devour his prey! As his intended prey, we need to remain with the flock and not isolate. Depression often causes a believer to step out of fellowship. This is an unwise and dangerous move. The times when we least FEEL like going to church are the occasions when we most need friendly interaction and support. By choosing isolation, we give the enemy a big opportunity to drag us down into the pit of despair.

Our God is a God of HOPE. Depression contradicts the promises of God, which are intended to encourage. There is always a new beginning to look forward to, thanks to the promise of a new day. Trials might not end or improve tomorrow, but there are new blessings in every day, including the hope that the next sunrise will bring relief.

If you find yourself down and out of sorts, believing your situation is too much for you to bear, why not bend a knee? Ask God to send His ministering angels your way to lift you up. Petition God and ask that He send cheerful advocates your way. Friends who speak words of hope and encouragement are always comforting.

When emotions get the best of us, a fellow believer can offer biblical insights and shed light on difficult circumstances. If there are no answers to be found, a warm embrace and reassuring smile will help to calm our nerves and lift our spirits. Fellowship and compassion are provisions of God’s grace.

A perspective change can also be very helpful during times of adversity. I have found difficult moments bearable when I attempt to see things from God’s perspective. Through the eyes of God, love enters a scene. With love coloring the circumstances around me, trust in my Creator is once again restored. Additionally, compassion towards the one who wounded me is awakened and anxiety retreats, allowing problems to take on realistic proportions.

Philippians 4:8 is a wonderful verse to memorize for when we meditate on things that are praiseworthy, we are also reminded of God’s love and faithfulness.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”   Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I also encourage the recitation of God’s promises. Because our heavenly Father knew we would walk through difficult times and face painful adversities, He made sure to include countless words of encouragement in His Word. We can stand on each one of His faithful promises.

May the peace of Christ lead you through this day and provide the rest and comfort you desire.

MEDITATE ON THESE SCRIPTURE VERSES AND ENCOURAGING QUOTES:

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”   Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV)

“Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the windows which hope has opened.”          ~Charles Spurgeon

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.”   ~Catherine Marshall

The Wonderful Names Of God

*Names of God

God has many special and encouraging names. I pray this video encourages you this morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NscHCa395-M&feature=youtu.be

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