WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Maturity In Christ”

Submission Is Love

*9

In this day and time, the word submission is often held in a negative light. It is confused with control and servility, a slavish submission to others ruling over us. But, when viewed with a spiritual perspective, submission is an act of love.

Submission is not the same as obedience, although they bear some resemblance. They both recognize there are appropriate responses to authority. However, obedience is a response to a rule and the person of authority judges according to the rule. Submission is NOT a response to rules. It recognizes that an order of authority is in place, but the focus is different. The person under authority submits because the love of the authority figure is their focus.

The human bond of marriage gives us a glimpse into our heavenly relationship with Christ. We, the wise virgins holding our lamps filled with oil (Matthew 25:1-13), wait expectantly for our bridegroom. The church, or Body of Christ, is the Bride… and Jesus is our Husband-to-be. We are to remain ready, alert, and pure for our beloved.

 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NKJV)

And as a bride looks for ways to please her betrothed; how to serve, honor, and delight him, we too should look for ways to serve, honor, and delight Jesus. Love motivates and instills a desire to dedicate everything to the one we adore. Willingly, we sacrifice and relinquish our own pleasure for that of our beloved. In return, the one we love is blessed and searches out ways to honor and bless us in return.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)

Wives submitting to husbands are all a part of God’s divine plan. It does not mean women are second-class citizens or any less loved or esteemed by the Father. Consider the holy Trinity. Jesus submits to the Father. The Holy Spirit submits to the Son. But all three… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same. The three are God in one.

When we yield and submit to those we love, or to those with authority over us, there is a bounty of spiritual fruit that comes from our compliance.

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NKJV)

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” Titus 3:1 (NIV)

 Jesus is the perfect role model of gentleness. Although He struggled with the cross before Him, while in the Garden of Gethsemane He submitted to the will of His Father. His submission was an act of love to both His Father, and to us.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)

Submission produces gentleness, a facet of the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, known as ‘The Good Shepherd,’ calls His people sheep. Sheep are gentle creatures. They are peaceful and submissive. Therefore, a Spirit-filled Christian who manifests the fruit of gentleness will be submissive and useful to the Lord, his Shepherd. A gentle and quiet spirit is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4). My hope is that each reader considers the love gift of submission. Remember, the focus of submission is your love for the authority figure.

Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:21a (NKJV)

Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’” John 5:19 (NKJV)

 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:49-50 (NKJV)

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.Ephesians 1:22-23 (NASB)

Holy Fear

*88

There is a fear of God that adoration enfolds with arms of thanks. It acknowledges the absolute power of the Creator and the inconsequence of man. This holy and reverent fear is the beginning of wisdom, for it is wise to know one’s place in this world…and in the next.

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27 (NKJV)

The Bible gives many examples of believers showing reverence for God. Abraham (Genesis 17:3), Moses and Aaron (Numbers 14:5), Daniel (Daniel 10:15) and Joshua (Joshua 5:13) all fall on their faces in humble piety and devotion. In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene demonstrates her esteem for Jesus by pouring expensive perfume on His feet and using her hair to wipe them clean.

Because of pride, man often thinks too highly of himself and claims credit for that which God has achieved. It is dangerous to be wise in your own eyes and the Word tells us that “pride comes before a fall.” Stealing from God is no small matter, be it His plunder and goods or acts of might. Consider what happened to Achan (Joshua 7:20-25) and the arrogance of David’s soldiers when they demanded spoils for an unmerited victory. God had gifted them the spoils and the battle conquest, it was not won by mere flesh and blood (1 Samuel 30).

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.” Proverbs 3:7 (NKJV)

When we live a life of contentment and satisfaction we provide the enemy with fewer foot holes to tempt us with. A fulfilled life leaves the adversary little room for traps. Temptation is harder to achieve with a saint living peacefully with what God has provided. Evil will readily slip past the door of a contented man and seek out easier and less satisfied prey to devour.

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.” Proverbs 19:23 (NKJV)

Certainly a holy reverence is due our God yet we have fallen away from positions of prostration during prayer. No longer is it a common practice to bend a knee during times of intercession or during solitary moments of thanksgiving and praise. Where has our reverence for God flown?

In mercy and grace the Savior freely gives atonement for sin. Yet, do flippant confessions and petitions show up in the throne room with an expectation of unquestionable forgiveness? This is my answer offered back to you in a question. Is not a broken and contrite heart the sacrifice God expects when delivering His gifts of redemption?

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. These, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 (NKJV)

Consider how you have been approaching God as of late. Are you entering into your prayer time with an awareness of His righteous sovereignty? Do you toss petitions at His feet without any thought for quiet meditation? Forgiveness is a precious gift and your prayers should be made with reverence and offered in awe.

TAKE TIME TO READ THESE WORDS OF WISDOM AND CONSIDER THE REVERENCE GOD IS DUE

“In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” Proverbs 16:6 (NKJV)

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29 (NKJV)

“The greatness of God rouses fear within us, but His goodness encourages us not to be afraid of Him. To fear and not be afraid -that is the paradox of faith.” ~ A.W. Tozer

This devotion is found in my book Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, and Promise. It is available on Amazon.  Here is the link…

http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Adversity-Thoughts-Wisdom-Promise/dp/1503377989/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1445567083&sr=8-4&keywords=cheryl+Zelenka

Spiritual Gates

*7

Gates serve several purposes in the physical world. They keep the good in and the bad out. They are a means for entrance or departure. Gates provide protection. There are also arrival and departure gates. Since Jesus spoke in parables, and analogies are seen within parables, let us consider how gates tie into the spiritual matters of our heart.

The first mention of a city gate is found in Genesis 19:1. At the gate of Sodom, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, greeted angelic visitors into the city. Gates were places of central activity, business transactions, and the place where court was convened. Public announcements were also proclaimed and publicized in this location. A gate was where rulers met and counsel was given.

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. Genesis 19:1 (NKJV)

 Gates were a big part of a city’s protection against invaders. Babylon had at least eight gates, which were a part of the walls surrounding the city. The gate of Ishtar was a double gate and a real showpiece with dragons and lions. The entrance into a city and the Processional Way were artistically built to boast of the ruler’s power and strength. When nations warred against each other, the city gate(s) was a prime focus for possession. To control the gates of one’s enemies was to conquer their city.

“Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.” Genesis 22:17 (NKJV)

For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.Isaiah 28:6 (NKJV)

In this world, our walk with Christ will be filled with spiritual battles. We are aliens in this world so; our thoughts and actions are not usually in agreement with the “politically correct” view of our friends and family, neighbors and co-workers. Furthermore, if we are vocal in our objections referencing abortion and gay marriage (and other issues), we will quickly find ourselves under attack.

It is likely that we will be labeled prejudiced and judgmental, even ignorant. Some believers have already undergone vicious attacks that have caused unjust imprisonment, along with threats to job security and future employment. Yet, God prevails. His purpose and will are accomplished through His chosen ones whom He has equipped to do His work. We are to be “bold and stouthearted” for His glory.

God’s thoughts and ways are above our own, but we should strive to be imitators of Christ. Our thoughts and actions should be above the ways of this world. There is a gate to the wisdom, understanding, and the knowledge of God, but it only opens through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior, the gates to our mind, heart, and spirit open and the scales of deceit fall from our eyes. Indeed, the eyes of our heart become enlightened when we submit to God’s sovereignty.

“’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)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1 (NKJV)

 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” Ephesians 1:18 (NKJV)

Proverbs 4:23 provides us with a warning…. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Diligence calls for a concentrated effort that is meticulous, rigorous, and thorough. Blue Letter Bible speaks of diligence as a guardhouse.

In the Bible, the word “heart” is usually a reference to everything that makes you…. YOU! This includes thoughts, feelings, understanding, personality, and passions. It is the total sum of our character. Therefore, it is something we must actively guard and defend, if we care about the kind of person we want to be. We should be very aware of what and who we are allowing access to our heart. We must play an active role as the “gatekeeper” of our own heart.

And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.” Nehemiah 7:3 (NKJV)

If we leave our heart-gate wide open and unattended, all kinds of thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and past-times will enter in and THEY WILL influence us. There will be a reshaping and transforming of our character. Some of the things that enter in will be good, but the bad things will have an effect on our character and taint all within us that is good.

 Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’”    1 Corinthians 15:33 (NASB)

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV)

Remember to keep watch over your heart today. May it be open to the goodness and blessings of the Lord, but discerning and wary of anything the enemy may try to slip past your heart-gate. Strive to be holy… for HE is holy. Imitate Christ in all things and remember to resist the devil …. For then he must flee. May the gate to your heart be well oiled with prayer and thanksgiving.

Hunger Pains

*Empty? Grace

Feeling Empty?
Hunger pains are not pleasant. They occur when the stomach empties and its walls come into contact, rubbing against each other. Eating food, which once again separates the walls of the stomach, relieves the gnawing sensation.

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When we have an overall sense of emptiness, it is likely that we are suffering from spiritual “hunger pains.” The living Word of God is our spiritual food. There are several scriptures that speak about feeding upon His word. Ezekiel equates the eating of God’s Word to the sweetness of honey, and Jeremiah tells how eating scripture echoed the joy and rejoicing found in his heart.

“And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Ezekiel 3:3 (NKJV)

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Our body needs food for energy and it is essential for good health. Our spirit requires the wisdom, encouragement, and instruction found in the Bible to maintain spiritual health. As we move through our day, food fuels our physical body and helps us to think clearly. Without sufficient nourishment, accomplishing tasks become harder. Again, in the spiritual realm, without the Word freshly consumed daily, we will stumble and find ourselves less effective in our witness. Meditating on the truths and promises of God aids us in facing adversity and overcoming snares set by the evil one.

Our Lord does not encourage a “feast and famine” attitude when it comes to nourishing our spirit. Just as we eat food several times a day, we are encouraged to read the Bible daily. The Israelites were instructed to collect manna daily. (Exodus 16) This bread from heaven would rot if it were left for the next day. Additionally, it was collected in the morning, as it would melt under the heat of the sun.

Viewed as an analogy, this scripture suggests we consume the Word in the morning before our day begins. It is so easy to put God on the back burner and get caught up in the cares of the day. We need to put Him first! The instruction and encouragement we glean in our quiet time will carry us throughout the day.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10 (NKJV)

“But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

If we feel unsatisfied with life and empty, reflection is necessary. Why are we feeling empty when we know the Holy Spirit is alive within us? Has the enemy succeeded in stealing our hope? Have we set aside God’s will and turned our focus to fleshly desires and ambitions? Is the sovereignty of God and His position as our Creator now questioned or even disrespected? Have we forgotten the abundance of His love?

“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)

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

Or, has God asked us to move in a new direction, and the fear of leaving behind that which is familiar, upsetting our peace of mind? Maybe the emptiness we feel is because God has more for us. Do we have a vice grip on the past and present? If we cannot open our hands to hold God’s hand, how can He lead us into new territory and new blessings? Trusting God to fill us with understanding, knowledge, and necessary skills is a test. He WILL test our faith!

“And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze” Exodus 35:31-32 (NKJV)

“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Ephesians 4:10 (NKJV)

The Lord will add many to His kingdom through believers who walk in the fullness of Christ Jesus. Grace will abound to those who walk in obedience. Joy will fill their hearts while they sow the seeds of His love and share the promise of eternal life.

“For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:24 (NKJV)

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When emptiness fills our spirit we ought to look towards service and opportunities to help others in need. By turning our focus upwards and outwards, God will fill us with new joy. This joy comes from having been found worthy to serve the King of Kings. Our pleasure brings contentment since pleasing God, through our service and love, has now become our delight. Brand new and astounding desires will begin to formulate in our weary hearts that are aligned to His will.

With God, nothing is impossible. When we put Him in the driver’s seat, He will take us on an incredible journey. Expect the unexpected! Detours are not really detours after all. They are an important part of our journey, full of lessons and life applications.

When God’s will for us has become our all-consuming desire, we will not suffer true emptiness. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed filled. Any emptiness that comes from unfulfilled desires or sorrows will be refined in the Refiner’s fire. This takes time and the heat of the furnace is painful. Count your trial as a blessing. Our joy is not the trial itself, but the fruit that is born out of our adversity.

“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)

Arriving at utter submission, and a state of unquestioned commitment is difficult to say the least. For we wrestle not our flesh alone but also powers of darkness. When an absolute yielding of self has been achieved, emptiness will no longer prevail. For He is the only One who can completely satisfy every need. He alone makes us whole.

If we continue to feel empty, our sorrow or desire has not been completely restored by God’s healing love. Possibly, our hearts have yet to lay all the disappointment and pain at His feet. An “If Only” may remain, interfering with an utterly yielded faith and hope in Christ. An absolute faith that God has permitted what is best for us, and for those we love, is still working itself out.

Our focus on “self” is what gets in the way of complete joy and peace. When HE is our all-in- all, we are filled to overflowing. But everything, EVERYTHING else must be placed behind Him. God alone and HIS good pleasure is all we should want and hope for in life.
Easy to accomplish? NO!
But deserved? Yes, YES INDEED!

“To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NKJV)

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11 (NKJV)

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 (NASB)

Partakers Of God’s Divine Nature

*8

Through the power of God, His children have been given ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness. Thus, we are blessed to be partakers of God’s divine nature. We need not be bound to the sin and corruption that is in the world.

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

The character traits of a godly person are found in Galatians 5:22-23. When the fruit of the Spirit is active in our lives, we can ascertain we are walking in the way of holiness and righteousness. This righteousness is given, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe (Ro. 3:22).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”   Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Godly character is preceded by a devotion to God. All that we do should be for His glory, never ours. Since God gave each one of us gifts and talents, we ought to bless others in using them but accredit God for our performance. Musical talents, athletic prowess, mathematical abilities, artistic accomplishments, and an aptitude for engineering feats were knit into our being before birth. Nothing we accomplished is apart of His power and grace.

“You are to be holy to Me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be My own.Leviticus 20:26 (NIV)

Living in a fallen world will challenge even the most determined soul when it comes to maintaining virtue. Yet, the apostle Peter stressed the importance of diligently adding to our faith virtue. Lifestyle evangelism is the calling of every saint and requires behavior that demonstrates high moral standards.

When the world lies to avoid trouble, believers are to speak the truth, trusting God with every problem. When finances are tight, a dishonest gain is a temptation many cannot resist. Christians are blessed when they trust God with money matters, for He promises to provide for every need. In times of desperation, how many of us have received an anonymous check in the mail that covers the rent or food bill? Maybe a job falls into our lap during such times, or a bill is canceled. Faith in God’s provision glorifies His name and is a witness to the unbelieving world. The lost may call it luck, but we know it is God’s grace.

Taking on the divine nature of God includes self-control and a willingness to persevere through the darkest of times. Will we succumb to self-pity and grumble against God, or will we praise His name throughout our adversity? It is not only God who tests and observes us in such times, but our neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Christians are making note of our experience. They will be encouraged and inspired by our behavior, but they could use our behavior to criticize our faith and belittle God’s power and love.

May we all strive to walk in godliness and brotherly kindness through every trial, including those of unimaginable suffering, pain, and loss. When we are weak God is our strength. When our eyes are on Him our troubles are forgotten. The lost will see HIS power in us, and our reliance upon His grace will produce much fruit for His kingdom. We must remember He is sovereign. Take on the divine nature of God, choose to persevere, and believe that the one who loves you will carry you through every hardship. He is faithful.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 (NKJV)

A Bondservant For Christ

*7

Would you define yourself as a bondservant for Christ? The Greek word for bondservant conveys a strong sense of “slave” over that of a “servant.” So, for a Christian to be God’s bondservant, they must desire to give unconditional service and loyalty to their Master.

“Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:67-69 (NKJV)

Bondservants serve God with a grateful heart. They acknowledge His authority and the forgiveness of sin through His victory over the cross. Salvation (a free gift offered to all) is so precious to them, they ask God to fill them with His love and power to accomplish His perfect will. The bondservant of Christ understands that all glory belongs to God and they serve Him with this purpose in mind.

Servants and slaves are given tasks daily. With a desire to please their master, they strive to accomplish their assignments with diligence and integrity. Likewise, a bondservant of Christ must keep his eyes on the prize, running their spiritual race with endurance. This means they view every job and duty as GOOD, completing it with a thankful heart. Because all Christians serve a good and faithful Creator, we can trust that every unpleasant task, trial, or burden is for our benefit and the glory of God.

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”   1 Corinthians 4:1-2 (NKJV)

Today, ask yourself if you COMPLETELY trust the Father’s love for you and the faithful promises within the living Word. Have you claimed them? Hope is found in God alone. “ ’But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.’ ” Psalm 39:7 (NIV)

Our identity should be in Christ. Our significance does not rest upon our occupation, talents, or position in this life. We are valuable because we belong to God. We are valuable because we are precious in His sight.

So as we live a life of faith, “self” should be laid aside since we are now new creations.

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) Christ lives within us.

The devotion and loyalty of a bondservant will require self-control, trust, and focus. To remain loyal to Jesus, especially in these times of political correctness, will require sacrifice, suffering, and even persecution. But this should not surprise us! Jesus forewarned us.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

Why then choose the high road? Each of us should ask this question. The answers will vary, but love is a big part of the answer. God’s love for us, and the debt Jesus paid on our behalf is proof of HIS unconditional love and faithfulness. A free gift does not require a gift in return, but a thankful heart will want to give back. And how do we give back to a God? How do we demonstrate our love and loyalty? The first two commandments give us the answer.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV)

Let us all consider our service and loyalty to God. Deuteronomy 7:9 and Romans 8:38-39 tell of His faithfulness to us. But God has made it clear that we too are to demonstrate faithfulness. “If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 8:19). 

Yes, God desires faithful servants. To be faithful is one thing and a bondservant another. What distinguishes the bondservant of Christ is his spiritual maturity. Sanctification has served to pull dross and sin to the surface, and this saint recognizes he is nothing without Christ. He concedes that his righteousness comes from Christ alone, who lives within his heart. Over time, through struggle and adversity, the refining process has revealed the importance of submission. For when we are weak God is strong. When we step aside, God is finally free to work. With the decision to live for Christ no matter the cost, a bondservant is fashioned.

Wherever his master leads, he will follow. The less travelled path is the one God has prepared for this saint. Eventually, it ends in the high places. But the journey before him is complicated and covers dangerous territory, with more demanding terrain. It is not for the baby Christian or for those who are weak in faith.

The ground is often desert-like, where lost and weary souls await guidance and help. They thirst for the living waters and the bondservant shares the Good News to bring them to back to their senses. They will revive the deceived with words of truth and hope, reminding them of the unfailing love of the Father. By pointing them to Jesus, they will once again see His light and find their footing to back to righteousness and truth.

The bondservant of Christ will serve his Master and go where others would dare not follow. Why? Because the will of God is now his as well. Faithful believer or devoted bondservant… Which will you choose?

Intimacy with Christ comes when we invite Him to invade every space within our soul. Let Him brake down every wall of shame, sin, and self-will. He will rebuild and fill the space with His righteousness. With every little “death” there comes new life. With every surrender there is victory, and in each decision to serve God a reward in heaven.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Father God,

Thank You for choosing me to live eternally with You. As Your bondservant, I will serve You loyally and with a thankful heart. I am blessed by Your desire to know me intimately. I long to know You more and more.

I now ask for a greater and deeper faith, one that trusts You unconditionally and with my whole heart. I do not want to lean on my own understanding when adversity and times of testing come. Your ways and thoughts are so much higher than my own. Grant me a faith that is certain of Your unconditional love and faithfulness. Enable me to REST in You, even during the most painful and trying circumstances. Be my peace, strength, and hope.

Thank You for calling me Your child. I am Yours. Do with me, as You will. Strengthen and equip me to endure any purpose You have ordained for my life and may I succeed in glorifying Your holy name. Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)

“Therefore you shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” Deuteronomy 5:32-33 (NKJV)

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NKJV)

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)

Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.1 Samuel 12:24 (NKJV)

Your Mind Is A Garden

*Mind is a Garden

God will often speak to His children through nature. A garden is full of lessons and analogies if only we have eyes to see and a heart that listens. In order to enjoy a beautiful and healthy garden, a lot of work must take place. However, the fruit and pleasure to be gained is well worth the trouble.

In the spring, soil is turned over and prepared for plants and seeds. Fertilizer is applied to the flowers/plants for vigorous growth. Watering is necessary along with the chore of weeding.

The trick to weeding is staying on top of their assault. A little weeding every day will prevent an invasion that overwhelms and chokes out desired plants. However, if weeds are ignored, they will take over a garden. Most are very resilient and determined to grow and multiply. Getting rid of them will require much time and effort.

Our spiritual growth is a lot like a garden. Consider sin as the invading weeds. Sin will mangle and impair our development in Christ Jesus. Sins, like weeds, are quick to grow and multiply, which is why daily reflection and removal should be practiced.

When a sinful thought enters our mind, we can act on it or ignore it. The Devil keeps busy by planting appealing but unhealthy thoughts in our head. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to protect us. With discernment, we can recognize and turn from every evil.

However, we have been given a free will. Every day we make choices, follow God or ignore His laws. With God’s grace, we are able to take every thought captive and turn from sin.

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”    2 Corinthians 10:5 (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” 1 Peter 1:13 (NKJV)

Self-control is a characteristic belonging to the fruit of the Spirit. We cultivate the fruit by reading the Word and filling our minds with God’s truth. Our decisions on entertainment choices and fellowship with others are also key.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”   Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Depending on how bound we are to a particular sin will usually determine the length and intensity of our spiritual battle. Strongholds can be broken! There is no temptation set before us where God has not provided an escape.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Obedience and submission to God matures our spiritual garden of faith. Our old man is corrupt and we are to walk as new beings, in the righteousness and holiness of God. This is not always easy, but there will be joy in every decision made to lay down self and take on God’s character and will.

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)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” Titus 2:11-12 (NKJV)

If fear and anxiety are an issue, robbing peace of mind, again take every thought captive. Recall the faithfulness of God in the past and trust He will continue to be faithful today and tomorrow. Fear and anxiety only produce weeds. They will not bear fruit of any worth.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 (NKJV)

May the peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind. There is an escape for all sin because the blood of Jesus Christ covers us. Resist the devil and he must flee. This is a promise. Be bold and stouthearted and remember to put on your spiritual armor. May the helmet of salvation inspire you to put on the mind of Christ.

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

Our Longing For God

_Long for God

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)

“At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9 (NASB)

Our longing for God should be greater than any craving that consumes us. We need to be passionate, to the point of being overwhelmed, in our desire to sit in His holy presence. The scriptures compare our yearning for God to that of a deer panting for streams of water. To yearn for God means we long for His fellowship.

God is our friend. However, it is up to us to cultivate this precious relationship. He already knows us inside and out. He is waiting for us to get to know Him. If we don’t spend time with God, we cannot expect to know Him intimately.

Some of us are satisfied with friends who are simply acquaintances, surface friends who don’t require much time or effort. Acquaintances are great for small talk and chit chat, a friendly hello over the backyard fence, but these friends are superficial.

Then there are friends who take. They take our time, our energy, and a lot of our patience. They take and we give, and give, and give. The relationship is not balanced and we see them more of a ministry than an equitable friendship. I wonder if God looks down on us and see us in this same light. We take and He gives and gives… and gives.

True friendship is an investment of time and energy. It requires an open heart. God created us as relational beings, with a need for love and a desire to be understood. Since we were made in the image of God, it makes sense to conclude, although He does not NEED our love and understanding, He DESIRES our love and fellowship. He wants to be with us, and share His wisdom, love, power, and beauty. He wants US to know HIM intimately.

Are we so in love with God that we desire nothing else? Do we eat, breathe, and dream of Him? Are we so passionately desperate for His presence that we cry out for Him like a parched desert crying out for rain? Do the things of this world hold little worth when compared to KNOWING God? What are the secret desires in our heart? Are our hidden desires for heavenly treasure, or are they tied to earthly passions and belongings?

Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

 I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah” Psalm 143:6 (NKJV)

When we are in love, it is hard to be parted from the one we adore. In fact, many have suffered a broken heart from loosing the love of their life. Should we not have the same yearning love for our blessed Savior?

My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.” Psalm 11:20 (NKJV)

“With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9 (NKJV)

God wants us to seek Him and He wants to be found! He does not want to play HIDE AND SEEK and remain hidden behind the sofa. Never far away or out of our reach, He rewards the seeker.

How does He reward the seeker? What is the reward? Dear Friend, it is with treasure. Our treasure is God, yes, God alone. What more do we need?

“So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us” Acts 17:27 (NKJV)

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.” Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)

“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the SOURCE of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may love he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, The Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing. I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” (P.14 The Pursuit Of God by A.W. Tozer)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVQmZCK4Fiw

During your quiet time pray about your relationship with God. Do you long for His presence? Do you yearn for a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him?

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:81 (NIV)

“I long for Him more than sentinels long for the dawn.” Psalm 130:6 (TLB)

Relying On God

Rely on God Begins w:Each Day

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” ~ C.S. Lewis

A mountain climber must rely on his equipment to sustain him if climbing alone. A child riding to school in a car must rely on the driver for his safety. Sometimes we put our trust in objects and other times we put our trust in man. But the reality is, God alone sustains us! We are to rely on HIM for all of our needs. To rely is to depend on with full trust or confidence.

Relying on God requires faith, so there needs to be a certainty of His love hidden in our hearts. With this assurance, we are then able to trust His character and believe our every need will be met. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as a “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

A month after leaving Egypt, the children of God started to worry about running out of food. Many of the animals taken in the great exodus had already been slaughtered to feed the masses. The Lord was aware of their anxiety and wanted the Israelites to depend on Him for their survival. Therefore, He spoke to Moses and said,

“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” Exodus 16:4 (NKJV)

In a miraculous way, God provided food for His children. Manna, the bread God rained down from heaven, tasted like wafers made with honey. Their supernatural provision was sweet to the taste AND met their need for nourishment.

Had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full.” Psalm 78:24 (NKJV)

“Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NKJV)

Jesus is the “Bread of Life.” He is our spiritual food. The Bible is the living Word of God and so we are to feed upon it, daily. Normally, one does not go a day or even a week without food. We need to eat in order to stay healthy and strong. Food gives our body energy and enables us to move throughout the day.

God likes to speak to us through analogies, so the feeding of our body with food is aligned to feeding our spirit with the Word of God. Our spirit needs the living Word to energize and move us through each day. Just as our physical body becomes weak and unhealthy without nourishment, our spirit becomes weak and unhealthy when we neglect the scriptures. But when we feed upon the Word, His instruction will become our encouragement. His love within us will become more obvious to others. Our actions will be more like that of Christ.

It is worth noting that the Israelites had to collect their food daily (except on the Sabbath). It took some measure of effort on their part to gather the manna, for it was as fine as frost. Our heavenly Father will always provide for our needs, but He expects an effort on our part.

If the Israelites did not collect the manna in the morning, it melted in the heat of the day. They had to make an effort to rise in the morning and gather in God’s provision before it spoiled. Furthermore, they could not gather extra (except for the Sabbath) and keep it overnight because it would go bad and breed worms. In order to sustain themselves, they had to collect manna daily. We are to follow their example and feed our spirit with the bread of life, daily.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)

For forty years, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness. Every day they ate the manna God provided. This is a reminder to rely on God for strength and provision during personal times of adversity and testing. Encouragement is provided throughout the Bible. We can find great comfort by reading about the many ways God helped His people in the past. He will help us today as well.

Meditate on the following scriptures and pray about seeking God daily.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:6 (NKJV)

Look to the Lord and His strength; Seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4 (NKJV)

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 (NKJV)

The Sovereignty of God

*8

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 

Post Navigation