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Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Spiritual Warfare”

Facing Your GIANT Fears

David and Goliath

Giants were actual biblical figures (Gen. 6:4, Num. 13:33), which intimidated and triggered fear in man. If used as an analogy, giants are obstacles and fears that hinder God’s direction in our life. New career paths, a step into ministry, a move, an illness, or some monumental challenge are all calculable Goliaths.

Fear is innate, a healthy survival instinct. But fear should be a manifestation that produces positive action. Too often fear hinders our spiritual growth. It is a mighty weapon utilized by the devil and many saints have stood petrified before ominous figures or obstacles.

A popular phrase, “If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it,” is a true statement. The Bible backs it up, but the courage to face these giants will require faith in God’s power and His steadfast love for us.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NKJV)

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

 “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.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)

 By studying the battle Saul faced when the Philistines sent their mightiest soldier,

9’6” giant Goliath, to defy the armies of Israel, we can learn much. Here was an actual giant with a clear height advantage! Saul was probably 7 feet tall and David, a young man at the time, was probably less than six feet. Although Goliath intimidated Saul and the men of Israel, David was not afraid of the Philistine champion. Why?

“And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” 1 Samuel 9:2 (NKJV)

“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” 1 Samuel 17:4 (NKJV)

Acts 13:22 describes David as, “A man after My own heart.” Some Christ-like characteristics manifested in David’s life include his devotion, trust, love, reverence, and faith in God. When David heard Goliath’s taunt, a righteous anger rose within his heart. He rebuked the men of Israel for fleeing in dreadful fear.

“And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.” 1 Samuel 17:24 (NKJV)

The words, which David spoke, were then reported to Saul, who sent for him.

Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” 1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NKJV)

With this dialogue, we see Saul assessing David’s size and ability. Surely he admired David’s courage but doubted his power to overcome the mighty giant. David then continued by telling King Saul of his shepherd experiences, defending the lambs in his charge.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,  I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”  Moreover, David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NKJV)

David, with all humility, recognized God as the one who delivered him from the paw of the lion and the bear. He also acknowledged it would be God who delivered him from the giant, Goliath. Faith allows us to conquer our fears, as opposed to being conquered by them.

David knew exactly what God thought about a man who insulted the people of God. He knew God had promised to curse anyone who cursed Abraham’s family, the Israelites (Genesis 12:3). David also knew God had promised to conquer the Israelites’ enemies, no matter how big!

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

At this time, Saul was out of God’s will. If we are out of step with God, the obstacles in our life will also seem like Giants. But if like David, we are abiding in Christ, relying on the tried and true promises of God, we will be overcomers. We are already victorious through Christ Jesus. What can man do to us if God is our righteous shield? He will strengthen and prepare us for every battle and journey, obstacle or adversary.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.Psalm 18:3 (NKJV)                                                        
**Meditate on the following scriptures and pray over any giants now in your life.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore, I shall see my desire on those who hate me.” Psalm 118:6-7 (NKJV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

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

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

**Photo is from my recent trip to Israel. It is of the Valley of Elah

Please visit my fb page for more Christian encouragement. https://www.facebook.com/cherylzelenkaauthor

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

Holy Fear

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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

Seeking God: ALL Are Called To Pray

*Prayers

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!”   1 Chronicles 16:11 (NKJV)

Spiritual work is HARD work. Prayer is often arduous. It requires time, concentrated focus, and humility. Prayer is more than mere meditation. Rather, it is the means by which every saint cultivates intimacy with God. To commune is to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity and intimacy. Often there is an interchange of thoughts or feelings. (http://dictionary.reference.com/)

“Spiritual work is taxing work, and men are loath to do it. Praying, true praying, costs an outlay of serious attention and of time, which flesh and blood do not relish.” ~ E.M. Bounds

 Oswald Chambers suggests in his book Daily Thoughts For Disciples, that prayer develops and nourishes the life of God within us. It advances and feeds us while we move towards spiritual maturity. How? Continual contact with the Father sharpens our spirit and teaches us to focus on matters that concern God. It develops spiritual discernment, increases our love and compassion for the lost, and aides in transforming our minds.

 For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV)

 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” Ephesians 4:23 (NKJV)

 “Choose to view life through God’s eyes. This will not be easy because it doesn’t come naturally to us. We cannot do this on our own. We have to allow God to elevate our vantage point. Start by reading His Word, the Bible…Pray and ask God to transform your thinking. Let Him do what you cannot. Ask Him to give you an eternal, divine perspective.” ~ Charles Swindoll

 We are called to abide in Christ. This means to remain inseparably linked to Christ in all areas of our life. When the Word of God abides in us, and we have asked God to lead us in prayer according to His will, powerful things will happen in the heavenlies.

 Practice entering the throne room of God with praise but also enter into prayer with a motive and intent to listen. If we cannot silence our own thoughts, how will we ever manage to hear HIS voice? While quietly waiting on the Holy Spirit, God will make know His will and purpose and effectively lead us through our time of intercession.

Since prayer brings us into the very presence of God, we can be certain a spiritual battle will ensue. Do not let this discourage you! The enemy would not fight so hard to distract, discourage, or exhaust us if God’s leading was not effective and powerful.

We are to “fight the good fight” and prayer is something we are ALL called to do. It is not just a select few who are “raised up” or gifted to pray. It is every Christian’s privilege! All believers should strive to become prayer warriors. We ought not to put the burdens of the world on only a few shoulders. We must unite and draw close to God as a nation. The sacrifice of time and the energy exerted during intercession will develop our spiritual muscles. Thanks to prayer, we can call upon God’s power and tear down devilish strongholds and the evil schemes of the enemy. We ALL benefit from prayer.   It is my hope that prayer fills your day and blesses many, through the power and leading of Jesus Christ.

Read the quotes and scriptures below and then consider your prayer life. Do you need to make any changes?

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NKJV)

“Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” ~ Samuel Chadwick

“The Christian should work as if all depended upon him, and pray as if it all depended upon God.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Are You Persistent In Prayer?

 

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We should be devoted, persistent and steady in our prayer life. Our communication with God should not only be daily but continuous throughout the day. The Bible is full of scriptures encouraging believers to be tireless in prayer. It is God’s will that we seek Him out.

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

Although God hears every prayer and enjoys our fellowship during intercession, prayer requests are not always answered within our timeframe. We should not assume God has turned a deaf ear to our petition if pleas are not answered immediately. Our requests might not be aligned with God’s will or sin might be tainting our appeal. Even Habakkuk expressed frustration and impatience over God’s delay in answering a prayer request.

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!Habakkuk 1:2 (KJV)

God sees beyond our present circumstances. He brings events into play that we do not know about in order to fulfill His purpose and obtain well-deserved glory. Learning to “wait on the Lord” develops patience, a valuable component of the fruit of the spirit.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.Hebrews 10:36 (KJV)

God hears every prayer, so patiently seek Him out but wait on His timing to fulfill a personal request. Be on guard for any attempt from the enemy to instill doubt and discouragement. Wearing the spiritual armor of Christ will help ward off his fiery darts of lies and deception. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.”Psalm 40:1 (NKJV)

“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)

Additionally, we are to endure. This means we must weather each storm and discomfort by waiting. The testing of our faith produces steadfastness, which works to give us greater strength.

PERSISTENCE is also rewarded. Christ shared the parable of the persistent widow (found in Luke 18) so that we would not lose heart when prayer needs remain unmet. We are not punished for reminding God of our shortcomings or reiterating our requests for help. He wants us to rely on Him for everything. When a situation appears hopeless, God acts so that we know He provided the answer.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’  And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.  And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)

With persistence, we find our way through adversity and finish our spiritual race. Google defines persistence as “a firm continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” Life in this world requires stamina and grit. Thanks to Christ we are

…. more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NKJV)

 Endure, be persistent in prayer, wait patiently for the Lord to act, and never cease to give Him thanks and praise.

Meditate on the following scriptures and ask God to speak to you about your prayer life.

Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.1 Chronicles 16:11 (KJV)

“O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.” Psalm 88:1 (NKJV)

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” 1 Chronicles 16:11 (NASB)

Spiritual Gates

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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.

Your Mind Is A Garden

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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)

The Highway of Holiness

*Highway

“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” ~ John Wesley

Many of us are praying for a revival: A revival that restores our faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. We ask that revival once again comes, sweeping over our land like a wildfire out of control. A spiritual wildfire that would bring many prodigals home and open the eyes of the lost.

However, it is not enough to merely understand we have been saved and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. We lack passion. It is the reverent fear of God and an indescribable thanks for His eternal love that is absent in so many of us today. Humility has not brought us to our knees, prostrate with gratitude and submissive in our absolute repentance.

Are we merely speaking empty words of godly sorrow, without the earnestness and sincerity of heart our Lord so desperately desires? Every move to remove God from our government and ignore His truth is breaking His heart and causing Him anger.  For we are turning away from the One who has blessed and protected our nation. He will not have it! We will see the consequences of our sin and rebellion… unless we turn from our wicked ways and repent.

“See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point,  you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”        2 Corinthians 7:11 (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NKJV) says, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.”

We are called to be holy, for He who has called us is Holy. This means our conduct. We are to take the life of Christ as our example, and the wisdom found within His Living Word and apply it to our lives. Our family, friends, neighbors and even strangers should know we are Christians by our actions and lifestyle. They should see our love and willingness to serve. We are not to compromise Biblical truths for the sake of avoiding adversity or hurting the feelings of those who have been deceived. We are to witness and share the truth, but always with gentleness and respect. America does not want to offend anyone, although offending God does not seem to matter as of late.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

If there was a revival of holiness in our day, what would it look like?

Chastity would be practiced and honored. Integrity would be valued and honest words would once again serve to instruct and advise. Love would rule our hearts and compassion would cause us to intercede throughout the day. Our personal relationship with Jesus would grow in intimacy and our ability to hear the Holy Spirit would be fine tuned. With our closer walk with God, our faith would grow and our trust in God’s provision and grace would carry us past times of persecution and suffering. Our actions and decisions would not be based on fear, for nothing is impossible for God. He is ALMIGHTY.

We would live among the dirt of this ailing nation, but remain pure and clean in His sight. Our light would be evident to the lost and they would be drawn to us. Some drawn for a desire to be more like us… others are drawn with evil intents and a desire to put out our light.

However, hope is eternal and living a life of holiness promises great reward.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”    Philippians 2:14-16a (NIV)

How do we live out our faith with a “No Compromise” attitude? Is it even possible to live a life of holiness in a world so bent on hate and debauchery? Yes. Yes it is, with the help of Christ. Will it take personal sacrifice and be the cause of conflict. Most likely. However, we are not called to be man pleasers. We are called to serve and honor God. We have one judge and that Judge is God alone. We should consider our ways daily and determine if they please or grieve the Lord.

The heavenly Father gave us free will. He also gave us an instruction manual… The Bible. We must read it daily (even memorize it) so that we know what God says about certain behaviors/actions. What God expects from His children and what He finds as abominations are also written in scripture. Just as God tested Abraham, Moses, and Mary, He will test our faith as well.

These are dark times and the days ahead will prove to be even darker. Find encouragement in the community and Body of Christ.  There is a comfort to be found with like-minded believers. Surround yourself with brothers and sisters who will hold you accountable and lift you up in prayer. We need each other to maintain our calling to be holy. Blessings to you as you continue to travel the highway of holiness.

“Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself and by whose side would you sit? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes are not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth?” ~ J.C. Ryle“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” ~ John Wesley

 

Pearls and Diamonds

Diamonds

We are God’s treasure.  He took great care in our design.  Just as every snowflake, pearl, and diamond is unique, so are we!  However, it takes pressure to turn a lump of coal into a diamond or a grain of sand into a pearl. 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a Merchant looking for fine pearls. When He found one of great value, He went away and sold everything He had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)    

Intense pressure causes great suffering and turmoil. The transformation of our spirits, as we are sanctified, must endure pressures just as a grain of sand or a diamond in the rough must experience.  In the end, we will be the spiritual diamond or pearl our Lord desires.  However, before the Lord can press and transform us into the gem He has envisioned, we must lay down our wills and submit to His.

When we undergo the incredible, but often-painful process of transformation, we will find comfort within the pages of God’s Word. People, even with good intentions, will often leave us unfulfilled and empty with their sincere attempts to encourage and help.  Thankfully, the Bible is filled with every encouragement and hope we will ever need.  The promises of God are sound and true.

We are told that the devil is a prowling lion. He watches and waits for opportunities to pounce and devour. In order to gain spiritual ground, he won’t hesitate to act in our moments of grief, confusion, or pain.  So, we must always be on guard and discerning, his attempts to discourage often occur during our times of weakness and stress! 

This hungry lion knows where to attack and so he will set out to rob us of hope. He knows the weak spots of every believer and looks for unprotected or damaged areas in our spiritual armor.  Therefore, let us keep our spiritual sword sharp, which is of course the living Word of God.  Ready yourself for battle for Satan is not compassionate and will show no mercy or grace. In order to gain spiritual ground, he won’t hesitate to attack when we are at our weakest.  

No soul, pearl, or diamond, will remain in the dark ocean or the pitch-black earth forever.  Something will come along to propel it to the surface.  You will be discovered, admired, loved, and treasured by the ones who find you.  The Almighty God already knows about your beauty.  I am speaking about those around you who finally discover your value, as you live out His purpose for your life.

You are the pearl in Matthew 13:45-46.  God is the Merchant.  When finding you, He sees your value and sells everything He has in order to purchase you.  Jesus purchased you with is blood.  You are His treasure.  Think about your value and your cost to God.  With this in mind, will you now stand up and endure the sanctification process of your heavenly Father?

“Deep in the center of the earth, a diamond is formed. Though many will admire its beauty and usefulness, when its formation is complete, none views the process by which it is formed. It is hidden, unseen, in the darkness.  So is the work of God in the heart of man.”  -Diane Dew                                                        

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

“Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” Job 22:21 (NIV)  

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)

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