WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Suffering and Trials”

Stop Complaining!

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Complaining is an everyday occurrence, acceptable in all social norms. It is one way to open up a conversation with strangers. Everything is fair game when it comes to expressing dissatisfaction or annoyance. Maybe the weather doesn’t agree with us, so we gripe. A car in front just nabbed the parking space we were eyeing. How many times have we tapped our toe over the long checkout line at the grocery store? It could be our circumstances have changed, bringing with them discomfort or sorrow. But God does not approve of this negative habit, for several reasons. Can you guess? Consider the Israelites as they traveled along the route to the Red Sea.

“They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.” Numbers 21:4-6 (NIV)

The first thing you should notice is that “the people grew impatient on the way.” Patience is listed as a facet of the Fruit of the Spirit and is also a virtue. To wait without complaining is admirable but not actually virtuous. Patience becomes virtuous when discomfort is added to the equation. When the act of waiting without complaint includes personal discomfort, virtue has appeared.

Our God is patient and longsuffering. As imitators of Christ, we are to model His patience. Waiting on the Lord teaches us to persevere and maintain self-control.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?Romans 2:4 (NKJV)

Complaining also leads to rebellion, ingratitude, and a lack of faith. Referring back to Numbers 21:5, we see how the Israelites question God’s will, direction/path, and provision. They speak out against God and His servant Moses. There was ingratitude for the heavenly bread, a supernatural provision. It was actually detested by the Jews. Their loathing for manna is defined as a ‘sickening dread.’

God’s position, as Israel’s Creator and Deliverer, was disregarded. Free from Egyptian captivity, they voiced complaints full of disrespect. Instead of praising God for their deliverance, they focused on their new discomforts. Apathetic to their new freedom, indifferent to the miracles God performed on their behalf, heedless to the promise of a future, they instead concentrated on only the negative.

Earlier, in Numbers 11:1, complaining Israelites displeased the Lord and roused Him to anger. So many of us are slow to heed God’s warnings, and even slower to change habits that displease or anger Him.

“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.” Numbers 11:1 (NKJV)

We are to  Do all things without complaining and disputing.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) But, since grousing is sprinkled on just about every conversation, this habit will not be easy to break. Those who decide to take on and break this bad habit will stand out. They will receive attention for simply avoiding conversations that criticize others or complain about issues.

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” James 5:9 (NKJV)

When it comes to complaining, I am just as guilty as those reading this devotion. Some of my negative talk includes political leaders and government issues, along with finances and the weather. Opposing actions, decisions, or ideas belonging to family and friends are also in the mix.

God wants a thankful heart, but if we are full of criticism and discontent how can we demonstrate thankfulness? We are free to present our requests and needs to the heavenly Father, but our attitude should always be that of respect. Laying down a worry or petition is not the same as complaining.

Consider God’s view on complaining then decide if you need to alter your words the next time you experience discomfort or your patience is tested.

“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)

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 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”                  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)

 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)

“We should not test Christ, as some of them did-and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were killed by the destroying angel. There things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:9-11 (NIV)

Tribulations, Gratitude, And The Holidays

Tribulation:CS Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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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)

Don’t Be Anxious!

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

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

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

Blessed Savior,

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

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

Relying On God

Rely on God Begins w:Each Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Is In The Details

 

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God wants a relationship with His adopted children, but why? He doesn’t need us.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,                                              The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,                                                        What is man that You are mindful of him,                                                                             And the son of man that You visit him”  Psalm 8:3-4 (NKJV)

The answer is LOVE. Even though God did not need man He chose to create us anyway. And because of His abundant love and creativity, He uniquely designed every one of us. Our physical attributes were given much attention, including distinct fingerprints and an individual genetic makeup. Blue eyes, brown eyes, big nose or small, we were created in the exact image God desired, and we are all beautiful in His sight. Dare we criticize the Potter of imagined flaws when He sees them as unique and perfect in detail?

We were created with a purpose, so while God knit us together in our mother’s womb, He created our personality and gave us spiritual gifts. These were provided so that we could accomplish tasks that would fulfill His perfect will for us and glorify His name.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”      Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

But God is not only concerned with OUR physical features. EVERYTHING in this universe shouts out, “GOD IS IN THE DETAILS!” All of creation has been given His attention. Consider the stars and heavenly bodies. The orbits these celestial bodies travel are all perfectly aligned! Trees, flowers, and crops have specific seasons of growth, fruit and harvest. All the creativity that went into designing the animals of earth hint of God’s humor and sense of fun (Consider the elephant and the armadillo). God’s appreciation for beauty is evident when we observe the many colorful birds and flowers of this world.

“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.”  Psalm 147:4-5 (NKJV)

If God is involved in the feather design of an exotic bird and the minute patterns displayed on orchids, can we question whether God is involved in the details of our life? 

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV)

God sees all and knows all things. From heaven, He looks down upon mankind and watches all who live on earth. He is not surprised by the right turn we make, even though it should have been a left. He knows how to direct us back to the path leading to glory.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth— He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”  Psalm 33:13-15 (NKJV)

Consider King David. He was a man after God’s own heart, but he was also flawed. David fell into sin with Bathsheba. God was aware of the details that led up to the death of Bathsheba’s husband, so He sent Nathaniel to King David. Through this prophet, God exposed David’s sin and revealed the consequences he would have to endure.

“So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.’ Then Nathan departed to his house.”  2 Samuel 12:13-15 (NKJV)

When we suffer a loss or walk through adversity, God is with us. He sees each detail of our trial and provides the necessary help we need to carry on. When we are weak, HE is our strength. When we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask without doubting, and it will be provided. How could God provide the necessary wisdom for our unique situation if He was not aware of the details surrounding our circumstances?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5-6 (NKJV)

When we have a need, the Lord knows of it before we do! His provisions are always sufficient, but they are not always abundant or given in the manner we imagined. He knows the details that need to fall into place down the road, and we only see the present and a few steps ahead. Things might appear to be hopeless, but God works things out so that He gets the credit and is glorified. 

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”  Matthew 6:8 (NKJV)

Corrie ten Boom wrote a poem about a tapestry God weaves of our life. There are dark and golden threads and the pattern is detailed and beautiful. But her words remind us that the underside of the weaving is all we witness, which means it will appear chaotic and unattractive. The beauty of the canvas God designed will become apparent only after we pass from this world. Only then will we understand why the dark threads were added and see the beauty they added to our tapestry. God is an artist and makes everything beautiful in His time. He is involved in every detail. He is aware of what we face each day.

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving                                                                                                                           Between my God and me.                                                                                                                                   I cannot choose the colors                                                                                                                             He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;                                                                                                                     And I in foolish pride                                                                                                                                Forget He sees the upper                                                                                                                                  And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent                                                                                                                               And the shuttles cease to fly                                                                                                                         Will God unroll the canvas                                                                                                                               And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful                                                                                                                       In the weaver’s skillful hand                                                                                                                            As the threads of gold and silver                                                                                                                   In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;                                                                                                                 Nothing this truth can dim.                                                                                                                            He gives the very best to those                                                                                                                  Who leave the choice to Him.”

― Corrie ten Boom

“Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.”  Psalm 139:4 (NIV)

“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  Psalm 139:15-16 (NKJV)

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:7 (NIV)

Giving God Thanks

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As a matter of fact, God isn’t asking you to be thankful. He’s asking you to give thanks. There’s a big difference. One response involves emotions, the other your choices, your decisions about a situation, your intent, your step of faith.”  ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

God wants us to give Him THANKS, which is often expressed through worship and praise. It is a decision and choice. Some will ask, “Why give thanks to God?” There are many reasons to give our heavenly Father thanks, but the biggest reason is for eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins. Sin leads to death and through the blood of Jesus Christ we have the promise of everlasting life.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)

When we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, His death and resurrection and repent of our sins, we become His adopted children. We are the daughters and sons of a King, true royalty. What an honor and blessing!

As co-heirs with Jesus Christ, we will be partakers of a glorious heavenly inheritance. This inheritance will never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:4). It is incorruptible and undefiled.

“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”  Hebrews 9:15 (NKJV)

“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”  Colossians 1:12-13 (NKJV)

But our inheritance has a condition, one that is often overlooked or ignored. Let us consider the words found in Romans 8:17….

“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:17 (NKJV)

Many of us focus only on the encouraging words found in this verse, overlooking the clearly stated condition, “if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

We must suffer WITH Christ, therein we shall thus be glorified together.

“Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  1 Peter 4:13 (NKJV)

But WHY must we suffer? Why is this life so difficult and filled with pain and loss? Remember, man is born sinful, so God uses adversity to transform us into the very image of His son, Jesus. Philippians 3:10 further states that through suffering we come to know our Lord more intimately, and God longs to have a personal and intimate relationship with all of His children. He longs for our fellowship.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10 (NKJV)

Sadly, many Christians who have been tested with trials and adversity give up on God. They question HIS faithfulness and forget that it is THEIR OWN faithfulness to the Redeemer that must remain true. God desires a steadfast spirit. The Father is always faithful and always present, according to the Bible.

These believers, who fall off the path of righteousness, have lost sight of God’s position (Creator) and forget their own position (The created). They doubt His plan and question His love.  They rely on their own understanding and forget that His ways are so much higher than their own ways. God sees the end of our journey while all we see is the next step ahead.

We are called to persevere for a reason. This life is hard, although we are given many blessings along the way. The Bible warns us that we will be tested, but we must trust God and persevere. God has lovingly equipped us for every struggle in life. When we are weak, God will be our strength. Furthermore, we have spiritual gifts that include the armor of Christ. The shield of faith is often dropped in battle and accounts for the many who walk away from God.

“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us”                       2 Timothy 2:12 (NKJV)

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Romans 1:21 (NKJV)

Through prayer, we have communion with Christ. Conversations with anyone will bring about a bond. With prayer, our bond with Christ is strengthened, even when circumstances confuse us to no end. So, back to giving God thanks.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

In all circumstances, we are to thank God for His wonderful gift of love; Saving Grace. However, the enemy wants to change our perspective of God from Loving Father to that of a harsh and unkind Master. He wants to rob God of the glory and praise He deserves.

The Deceiver hits below the belt. He takes advantage of every opportunity, including personal moments of weakness. Hoping to fill our heads with doubt, he will use lies and half truths to cause us to question the purpose for our suffering. The thing is, we do not have to understand everything that happens to us. We just need to trust that God wants the very best for us. Trust! We must trust the love and faithfulness of our Creator. This is the test adversity is all about. With the Word stored in our heart, we can protect ourselves with our spiritual shield of faith and attack the enemy with our spiritual sword. And as we resist this foe while calling upon the name of Jesus, he MUST flee.

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NKJV)

There is power in the name of Jesus. This is certainly something to give thanks for!

“Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 1:29 (NKJV)

Joy, an emotion, will fill our hearts when we consider the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. But it is when we choose to thank God, especially during our darkest times, that we offer up true worship. God commands us to give Him thanks at ALL times, through  ALL circumstances in life. Within this perimeter, we will find seasons of sorrow and death, illness, weariness, and loss. To believe in His love for us, is to believe He is worthy of thanks at all times. Don’t let your emotions, or circumstances affect your attitude of thanks. Give God thanks for each new day and for the glorious gift of eternal life.

“And in that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.

Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.’ Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.” Isaiah 12:4-5 (NAS)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1 (NIV)

“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)

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