WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Obedience”

Fear Hinders Our Labor For Christ

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God does not turn a deaf ear to any righteous person crying out for help. The Lord hears their cry. Every believer should embrace this promise. And although God is spirit, and we are spirit encased within flesh, He hears our petitions from His realm on high.

Furthermore, God delivers the righteous out of all their troubles. This deliverance can occur in many different ways. God may simply remove our adversary or obstacle. He is able to do what we deem impossible. But, more often then an immediate or supernatural intervention, He will enable us to face and overcome our obstacle through His amazing grace. He equips us to subdue the enemy, who schemes to deceive us into thinking we have lost a battle that has already been won.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19 (NKJV)

Fear is often the root of our trouble, and it is an obstacle that hinders the work of Christ. It is bondage, yet we have been set free! When we ought to love the unlovable, fears of the unknown often rush at us instead. When an opportunity to share the grace and love of God stands open before us, we cower at the possible pain a wretched and lost soul might inflict, forgetting to walk in victory our risen Lord and provided.

They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:19 (NKJV)

A time of testing, where a loved one is placed in the way of danger or adversity, can be especially difficult. But God understands this pain. He watched His beloved son, our Lord Jesus, suffer and endure the very cross that set us free. His crucifixion and resurrection brought about such remarkable good, the redemption of mankind and a restored relationship with God! Jesus’ fearless trust in His Father’s will and provision enabled Him to overcome all His trepidation while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew pain was in His future, but He embraced it, trusting His Father’s plan.

Suffering is found in the Refiner’s fire, and our refinement is a blessing. While in the throngs of great suffering, we might not understand the value or beauty it instills within us. But in time, it will be revealed. Understanding will come. But faith…FAITH in God’s character and goodness will propel us ahead to embrace the difficult task set before us. Grace… The GRACE of God will carry us through our test. Love…The LOVE of God that lives within us will soften our hard hearts and fearing nature to love the hateful that mock and persecute. With the eyes of Christ….Eyes that see us as we will one day be will be our own eyes, so long as we cry out to Him in righteousness.

Oh Lord, hear my cry. Make my eyes Your eyes! Let me see what You see when gazing upon the lost and spiritually dead. Help me to love them as You do and to love them as You love me.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  James 5:16 (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

FEARS

Mastering Our Tongue

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The book of James warns us about the power behind each man’s tongue. This body part may be small, but it is capable of inflicting great damage if we do not learn to harness it. In fact, man cannot tame his tongue on his own. It requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and constant attention to self-control. Even then, there will be moments when a misspoken word causes us to sin. However, there is a reward for bringing our tongue into submission, so strive to train it! For if we master our tongues we also bridle our entire body!

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.James 3:2-4 (NKJV)

Just as a bridle is used to master a horse’s direction, a rudder is used to steer a ship. Winds may blow a sailing vessel off course, but a small rudder can get it back on track and direct it to its intended port. Likewise, our tongue needs to be bridled by the grace of God so that He, our pilot, can then direct us along our earthly path.

Sadly, blessings AND curses do proceed from our mouths. Opposites birthed within our hearts, which then flow up and out of our lips. Again, James reminds us that a spring of water is not both sweet and bitter. It is filled with one or the other. This analogy reminds us to be careful with our words, keeping them sweet and full of God’s life-giving grace and love.

“With it we bless our God and Father, and with it, we curse men who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring send forth freshwater and bitter from the same opening?” James 3:9-11 (NKJV)

In 1831, Professor Touery drank a lethal dose of strychnine in front of his distinguished colleagues at the French Academy of Medicine. Fortunately, he had combined the deadly poison with activated charcoal and lived to tell the tale.

Here is our hope! Sinful words may live within our hearts and spew recklessly from our lips, but the poison found within such words can be neutralized. This means that if we apply an opposite force, the damage should become ineffective (although it might take a good measure of time to see results). But this requires the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within both the offender and the wounded target.

What is the neutralizing agent? God’s love! Hateful words are powerful and damaging. But God’s love can restore relationships and bring them back to health.

Poisons also have antidotes! It is a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison. Antidotes either prevent the poison from working or reverse the effects. The love of Christ is a powerful antidote. It counteracts the poison spewed through gossip and slander. With it, we are given new vision. It enables us to view situations and people through eyes of love. By it, forgiveness is possible because the antidote brings to mind all the sins Christ has forgiven in us.

Ultimately, our goal should be to eliminate any poison resting our tongues before it has a chance to do any damage. This is possible, but we must,“Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5b (NKJV) Reading the Word of God will help with this goal. While feeding upon the Word of God and consider, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (NKJV). Fill your soul with sweet reflections so that there is no room left in your heart for any bitter or hateful thoughts.

 *Read the following scriptures and ask yourself if you are harboring any feelings of unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart? Are the words of your lips overflowing with sweet spring water, bitter water, or both?

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.Colossians 4:6 (NKJV)

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)

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 (NKJV)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19 (NASB)

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

Pride and Humility

Humility:Chambers

“The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility.” ~ Oswald Chambers

What is the first RECORDED sin mentioned in the Bible? Many of us might think of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Yes, original sin did take place in paradise and was committed by the very first children of God. However, Satan committed the first sin RECORDED in the Word of God and Pride was his downfall. Shortly after his sin of pride, rebellion was added to his long list of transgressions.

“ ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ”  Isaiah 14:14 (NKJV)

“You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” Ezekiel 28:14-15 (NKJV)

Unfortunately, mankind is NOT immune to the sin of pride. Although sin is sin, and all sin leads to death, pride is often the root cause of many other sins. Pride wars against Christian humility, a virtue highly valued by God. In addition, remember what happened to Satan when God took offense to his pride. He fell…. And he fell hard!

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

Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.”   Proverbs 18:12 (NKJV)

Jesus, in absolute humility, stepped down from heaven and lived among man. He could have called upon a legion of angels to take out His enemies and at any time He could have returned to His Father’s throne room. However, with a love we cannot fully understand, He died for us and was humiliated by those whom He Himself created! Spit on and whipped, bruised for our transgressions, Jesus lived and died in humility and rose again. He conquered the grave and Satan knows it.

God was looking for obedience in His son, and Jesus was obedient to that which He was called. Selfless and humble, Christ regarded others above Himself. Take a minute to consider that measure of humility….. God, our creator, put us ahead of His needs and wants. Did He not take on the role of a servant? Did He not wash the feet of His disciples? Was He not born in a stable?

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”   2 Corinthians 8:9 (NKJV)

We are told what is good and what the Lord requires of us.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”           Micah6: 8 (NKJV)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Philippians 2:3 (NASB)

With pride in our hearts, we can’t see beyond ourselves. Pride repels the call to love others because, with it, we are caught up in our own self-love. Pride takes our focus off God. We forget that our Creator is the one who has given us everything: our looks and gifts, our talents and ideas, our intellect and successes in life.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”               James 1:17 (NKJV)

In no uncertain terms, God expects His children to walk with humility. The fruit produced from a humble life is the attainment of wisdom. Proverbs 8:11 is just one scripture that speaks of wisdom’s value.

“For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.”

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

Furthermore, a promise is given to those who walk in humility…. Honor.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”    1 Peter 5:6 (NKJV)

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.”  Proverbs 15:33 (NKJV)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.”  James 4:10 (NKJV)

May we all take some time today to consider our ways and root out any pride that has taken root in our hearts. Let us avoid a fall like the one Satan suffered. Let us all ask if we have been claiming the glory that really belongs to God.

If we win a talent contest… are we remembering who gave us the talent in the first place? Are we using our gifts to bless God and the Body of Christ? Has pride given way to self-love and caused us to ignore those in need? Let us be completely humble, and ask God to remove the shame of pride and replace it with humility and grace. Then, let us walk as children of light and servants of the Most High.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NKJV)

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.” Psalm 25:8-9 (NKJV)

God’s Unfolding Plan For Our Life

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God’s plan for our life is one that continuously unfolds. Minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and step-by-step He guides, all the while unfolding His glorious intentions. His wonderful blueprint for our lives was designed before we were even born. Every detail was considered when He assigned our mission, duty, responsibility, and occupation (s). He created and set circumstances into place that would refine our gifts and engage our specific attributes. Always, ALWAYS is our service for His glory and the blessing of His people. Moses is a wonderful example of this fact.

“Then the Lord said to Moses,  “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.  Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.” Exodus 14:1-4 (NKJV)

Pharaoh and his army pursued the Israelites, and overtook them as they camped by the sea.As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.” Exodus 14:10 (NKJV)

The Israelites later turned on Moses and questioned why they ever followed him into the desert. They were prepared to return to Egypt and once again become slaves. Their faith in God’s power was weak and they saw no way out of their trap. The Red Sea was an apparent roadblock, but God would use that roadblock for His glory. Nothing is impossible for God! On that day the Israelites witnessed another incredible miracle of God’s provision and faithfulness as they walked on dry land, through the Red Sea, to safety.

Do you see how God’s plan unfolded? God gave Moses directions, telling him to encamp by the sea. God also told Moses that Pharaoh would pursue the Israelites. Furthermore, God revealed that He would gain glory for Himself through Pharaoh’s assault. But God did not tell Moses the Israelites would panic and turn on him. God often unfolds His plan measure-by-measure. He tells us enough to get us moving in the right direction but then, there are tests of obedience and faith that He intertwines in our journey.

Moses obediently camped by the sea and was not surprised by the appearance of the Egyptian army. Trusting God would faithfully deliver His people, Moses did not allow the Red Sea to become an obstacle. He remembered God said, “But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army,” and so the parting of the Red Sea fulfilled this prophesy.

God wants us to depend on Him daily. Moses did not have directions for the next week or month. He took one day at a time. He had to train his ear to LISTEN for God’s voice.

Now consider the apostles. Their lives were a continuous unfolding. After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His friends to go back to the city and wait for the Holy Spirit.

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 (NIV)

Jesus did not tell them what the promise would look like. He gave them only the directions they needed, go back to the city and wait. Obediently, they waited in the city for the promise to be clothed with heavenly power. Once the Holy Spirit arrived, they learned to discern His leading. They healed many in the name of Jesus, spread the gospel, established churches, and wrote words of encouragement that are now known as the LIVING Word of God.

Jesus told Peter to “Feed my sheep.” He did not give Peter detailed instructions on how to accomplish this request, but He did equip him. Every apostle went out and shared the good news. Apostles were persecuted for their faith, unfolded as part of their Christian race. God taught them to be content in times of plenty and times of want. They gave Him continuous praise as they knew He was ever present and in control.

Other examples of walking with God and trusting Him to unfold His plan include Abraham: Leave you homeland

Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ ” Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV)

Joshua: March around Jericho

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Joshua 6:1-5

God has a purpose and service for each one of us. Maybe it is in the prayer closet. We might not see the fruit of our labor, but the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Prayers are ALWAYS answered in God’s time and for His glory. God unfolds how to pray and who to pray for by using the Holy Spirit to direct us while on our knees.

We are all called to share the Good News. We must look for the opportunity and trust God to give us the wisdom and knowledge to share His love. Maybe we will help a stranger and God will unfold the best way to witness. A neighbor might need of a ride somewhere and you hear God say, “Drive!” After you obey this unusual request, God might unfold His real purpose for your service. Every day unfolds new mysteries of God’s love for us.

Wait on God to fulfill His promises. Wait for the Savior to unfold His plan for your life. He is equipping you now for what lies in the future. Patiently wait and remember that God looks for willing servants who say, “Lord, send me!”

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

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153044654302949&fref=nf

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. ”                        ~ Corrie ten Boom

“Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.”                                  ~Oswald Chambers

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)

 

Trusting God Will Lead And Guide

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God has a distinct plan and purpose for each one of us. He knit into every person the gifts, attributes, weaknesses, and strengths necessary to accomplish His perfect will. While He fashioned us into unique individuals, we were given much attention. He determined our sex and intentionally placed us in the nation, family, and social setting that would best serve to mold and equip us for His good purpose. Knowing this, we can confidently trust God to lead and guide us in our spiritual race.

 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

All seemingly chance or random happenings, every sudden or unexpected turn of events…. Both good and bad, were included in this plan before we were born. He places every believer in the Body of Christ that pleases Him. He has sovereignly determined our function and purpose and has given us the necessary spiritual gifts to perform our specific purpose.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-18

But how many of us have struggled to discover the will of God for our lives. How many have endured sleepless nights of angst, fearful of missing the mark and not clearly understanding His instruction. As God knows our hearts and motives, we should find comfort in knowing God sees our intent. Even if we make a “mistake” or go down a “wrong” path, God’s plan and purpose will prevail. He will faithfully GUIDE us so that we fulfill the plan He has ordained for us.

The only reference to the disciples seeking to determine the will of God occurs in Acts 1:24-26 (NKJV)

“And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”  And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

The Lord will always GUIDE His people! This is not to say we should set aside the act of seeking His will. We do have a responsibility to be knowledgeable in our decisions, asking God for wisdom and not doubting in His provision (James 1:5-8). However, we should trust and find comfort in knowing that He will faithfully lead and direct us throughout life. Sometimes He will send the Holy Spirit to speak to us, though a dream/vision or directly through the Word of God.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

Seeking God’s will is prudent but when we are at a crossroads, anxious about our next step or a new direction, we have the confident hope of knowing He will lead us all the way. God’s plan for us is NOT contingent upon our decisions in life. God’s plan is not and never will be contingent. His will and plan is SOVEREIGN. Therefore, it includes our wise decisions AND our foolish decisions, sinful choices, willful acts of disobedience, and silly choices. His ways to guide and direct us are infinite! However, there is always the gift of free will, which causes some to deny Him.

His guidance is almost always a step-by-step process. Your obedience to follow His lead is determined by your measure of trust and faith in His love. Your willingness to die to self is also instrumental in running the race God has ordained for you.

Remember, even if you go in the wrong direction He will guide you. God knows how to clear the way, even in a wilderness. You can always get back on track if you look for God to lead, guide, and direct.

“He does not play games with us. He does not look down from heaven at our struggles to know His will and say, ‘I hope you make the right decision.’ Rather, in His time and in His way He will lead us in His path for us.”  ~Jerry Bridges (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

“For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our GUIDE even to death.” Psalm 48:14 (NKJV)

“The Lord will GUIDE you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”  Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”   Romans 8:14 (NKJV)

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority.” John 7:17 (NKJV)

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