WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Thanks”

Friend Of A King

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When we become believers, we enter into a life long journey where we discover the many facets of our relationship with God. To start, we come to know Him as our Creator. Then, we learn He is one God in three Divine Persons. From there, many of us develop a loving relationship with God where we view Him as a Father. Through Jesus, we have and Savior. God: Creator, Mysterious God in three persons, Father, Brother, Savior.

Sadly, many Christians never come to know the many additional dimensions of God and how we can identify with Him. King, Brother, Husband, and Friend are just a few more worth mentioning. Every time I meditate on the notion that my Creator wants a personal and intimate relationship with me, His creation, I am befuddled and awestruck.

With worldly eyes, we can grasp the honor of being called a friend to the King. Kings are powerful rulers who are busy with many affairs. They are leaders, champions, and the defender of many. As a King’s friend, we have favor and influence.

Daniel found favor with King Nebuchadnezzar. When Daniel requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have prominent positions over the affairs of Babylon, it was granted.

“Also Daniel petitioned the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” Daniel 2:49 (NKJV)

But Daniel and his friends knew a far greater King and would not worship any other ruler besides Yahweh. For their lack of loyalty to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius, all four were persecuted. One King placed three inside a furnace (Daniel 3), and Daniel found himself in a den of lions by the other. Once given exceedingly great favor, they lost their King’s approbation, for it was conditional. But for their loyalty to the one true God, the King of Kings rewarded them with miracles of wonder and life. No harm or injury befell any of the four men.

Then Daniel said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong to you.’

Now the king was exceedingly glad for him and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God.”  Daniel 6:20-23 (NKJV)

 We have the ear of our eternal King. Continual access to His throne room is ours, for He never sleeps. And we are charged to come boldly to His mercy seat. With all honesty, we are encouraged to pour our hearts out to the King, without any fear of punishment for speaking with forthright candor.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Our God and King fights for us, for the battle is His, not ours. He protects and shelters us from harm. He did so with David and Moses, Joshua and so many more.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’” Exodus 14:13-14 (NKJV)

“Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and My deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.’”             2 Samuel 22:3-4 (NKJV)

Our King loves us, as David loved his friend Jonathan.

“Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:1 (NKJV)

In fact, God is jealous for us. He is jealous when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him. God is possessive of the worship and service that belongs to Him. As friends of a King, it is sinful to worship or serve anything other than the King.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Exodus 20:4-5

Our King, our friend, though mighty and all-powerful is still forgiving and full of mercy, grace, and compassion. Peter denied him three times, yet Jesus sought him out and forgave him. He went to Peter in John 21 and showed compassion and forgiveness.

Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47 (NIV)

As hard as it is to imagine, our King sings and rejoices over us with gladness. Christ praised John the Baptist saying “No man born of woman was greater than this prophet.” He extolled Peter and gave him the title “Thou art Rock.” And while many condemned Mary Magdalene, Christ defended her as a model of generosity, applauding her large heart: “She hath loved much.”

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” Matthew 11:11a (NKJV)

We serve a King who calls us His friend. Let us rejoice and be glad in this blessing.

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)

Adore Him

 

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Psalm 2:12 speaks of “kissing the Son.” This is an example of adoration. But the actual words, adore and adoration, are not found in Scripture. To adore God is to express reverence and homage; worship. Jews demonstrated their adoration for God in several ways, including taking off their shoes, and prostration.

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5 (NKJV)

Since God is the greatest thing in existence… or ever will exist, to adore and worship anything besides Him is sin. We are commanded to worship God and He deserves our praise and adoration.

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’” Revelation 22:8-9 (NKJV)

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)

Yahweh is so great and marvelous that there is no other by whom He can swear, so He swears by His own Name.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.” Hebrews 6:13 (NKJV)

 Additionally, God is passionate for His own glory. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of His name. He defends it and will not share it with any other.

For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, and for My praise I will restrain it from you, so that I do not cut you off.  Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.Isaiah 48:9-11 (NKJV)

Mankind was created for God’s good pleasure. In return, shouldn’t our good pleasure be to adore the Creator? Our greatest service may very well be to worship the Almighty now, and throughout eternity.

During the holiday season, when the world is consumed with parties and gifts, it is easy to worship God with lips alone. A heart of adoration is a heart of purity free of distractions. It is a heart of thanks. Thanks for life and eternal salvation, regardless of circumstance.

The night Christ was born, an angel appeared to shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. “The glory of the Lord shone all around them” as the messenger spoke of the Savior’s birth.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:13-14 (NKJV)

Jesus was the gift then and Jesus is the gift now. Our offering, or gift to the Son of God, is our worship and adoration. This December consider the magnificent sacrifice of love the Father made on our behalf. Jesus has given us hope and new life. His birth, death, and resurrection freed us from eternal death and damnation.

Showing love though the giving of gifts is wonderful. Enjoy your family, friends, and the season of Christmas. But consider once again the shepherds. They were given a mighty gift the night Christ was born, but they had to seek it out. They found Jesus and were forever changed. With adoration, they stood before the manger and worshiped the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. May the heart of worship and adoration be with you this season and throughout the New Year.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.Psalm 95:6 (NKJV)

 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.Jude 24,25 (NKJV)

 O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant
Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.

Thank God For His Wisdom!

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“It is impossible for God to will anything but what His wisdom approves. That is, as it were, His law of justice, in accordance with which His will is right and just. Hence, what He does according to His will He does justly: as we do justly what we do according to law. But whereas law comes to us from some higher power, God is a law unto Himself.”    – Thomas Aquinas 

What is wisdom? Is there a difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom found in God? How can we obtain Godly wisdom and what is its value? The Bible answers all of these questions.

Wisdom takes knowledge and understanding and considers the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of an experience. It encapsulates intelligence, common sense, skill, insight, and good judgment. Wisdom is different from knowledge, but it also incorporates knowledge. They overlap. You cannot exercise wisdom without knowledge; because, in order to figure out the best way to achieve a goal, you have to have knowledge of many factors.

There is an earthly wisdom and also a wisdom given by God that comes from above.

First, it is prudent to recognize and acknowledge that God is wise. In fact, His wisdom is beyond our understanding and past our finding out. HE has no counselor, for God is perfect in knowledge and understanding. Therefore, He has no need to seek advice. He is never changing in His perfection; thus, there is no need for improvement.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.” Daniel 2:20 (NKJV)

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?’” Romans 11:33-34 (NKJV)

To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”  Romans 16:27 (NKJV)

Godly wisdom is first PURE. Purity demands that we live morally and ethically clean lives. Sin taints judgment and affects actions. With a pure heart, we can discern the voice of God and perceive things without being deceived by apparent truths that are in all actuality misleading snares. Satan has tricked many men by cloaking “facts” that are seemingly obvious and palpable, but are in all reality evil.

Heavenly wisdom is pure and then…. peaceable, gentle, and willing to yield. To obtain heavenly wisdom, the surrender of self-will must be laid humbly at Christ’s feet. Where anger and bitterness once lived, mercy and the fruit of the Spirit will reign. God’s wisdom is without partiality or favoritism.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”     James 3:17 (NKJV)

There are two traits the Bible identifies with earthly wisdom; Self-seeking and bitter-envy. Self-love, self-pleasure, and self-will are all recognizable within this false wisdom. By adding “self” to the equation, it becomes impure. Additionally, the added ingredient of bitter-envy further serves to corrupt this wisdom. For bitter-envy will pursue with a poisonous zeal and in a manner of contention to prick others and cause harm. Where Godly wisdom is filled with love and mercy, worldly wisdom is filled with envy, confusion, and demonic strife.

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.James 3:14-16 (NKJV)

When we find ourselves in situations where wisdom is required, all we have to do is ask. God freely shares His wisdom, but we must ask in faith without any doubt.

“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)

“For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding” Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV)

 With thankful hearts, we praise the one true God, the giver of all life. His wisdom created the universe and established the heavens. Praise God who sees the wretched state of mankind, has mercy on us, and holds each one of us in the palm of His right hand! May He continue to lead us with heavenly wisdom, power, and grace.

With a reverent fear, we seek your face. Guide us, Lord! Train us with Your knowledge and teach us how to apply it, so that as we run our spiritual race, we do so with heavenly wisdom and a heart to love and save the lost.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)

 I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.” Daniel 2:23 (NKJV)

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.1 Corinthians 1:21 (NKJV)

“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness.’”    1 Corinthians 3:19 (NKJV)

“The all-seeing eye of God beheld our deplorable state; infinite pity touched the heart of the Father of mercies; and infinite wisdom laid the plan of our recovery.”                ~David Brainerd

 

 

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

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.

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)

The Train of Life

*7

Dear Friends,

Last Monday I got a call that my sweet mother had a brain hemorrhage. There was no hope to heal her of this injury. All we could do was make her as comfortable as possible. I was with her the entire week and in her final moments. She ran a magnificent race and is finally home with her heavenly Father. Her funeral is this Saturday. I am staying with my dad now and will return to my home a few days after her funeral. Please pray for me as I am sick and very tired. I need strength to be a help to my dad. I have been greatly loved by wonderful parents and I will miss my mom greatly.   Cheryl

At birth, we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side.

However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.

As time goes by, other people will board the train, and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize they vacated their seats.

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty, we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love. More importantly, thank God for the journey.

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.  ~Unknown

_**Mom & Flowers

 

Grumble, Grumble, Complain

*24 Hours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Promises From God

*Love

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” Psalm 119:140 (NKJV)

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19 (NKJV)

I am so thankful God has given us a multitude of encouraging promises to stand on. We must seek them out, but they are in the Word and easy to discover. Promises of His love, protection, provision and many other gems are there to give us hope. If we diligently seek Him, we will never fall short of encouragement and reasons to give Him praise.

God’s Word proclaims that there is no fear in love, that perfect love casts out all fear. Indeed we are to respect and honor our God, demonstrating awe when we enter into His presence (He is our Creator), and we can rejoice in knowing He loves us unconditionally. What comfort this is for all believers! We need not ever fear approaching His throne and mercy seat. He freely offers His love and forgiveness time, after time, after time.

God’s love for us is an enduring love. It is constant. He remains faithful in His affections even when we are faithless in return. His love is also unconditional. Therefore, if we rebel like the prodigal son, we are always welcomed home with open arms. God’s love is continuous even when it is one-sided. However, if we decide to love Him back, our relationship with God will deepen to such a level of intimacy that no other could ever compare.

God rejoices over us with singing. Did you hear that? God sings and rejoices over us! This is not just when we repent and return to Him, like a lost lamb I believe He rejoices over us when we make choices that glorify His name. He must sing every time someone shares the Good News. Indeed, every time we choose to live and love in righteousness He surely smiles.

Abounding in His everlasting love for us His affections are always in action. He longs for a relationship with mankind, His own creation! Would you want to befriend something you made with your hands, like a knitted sweater or a piece of pottery? What an idea! What a concept!

If you think your sins have left you unfit to approach God’s mercy seat, you are wrong. The Father looks directly into the heart of man and sees past his sin. He recognizes you as the masterpiece He designed long ago. Come before Him and He will lovingly wash you as white as snow with the blood of the Lamb. You will be cleansed with His righteousness. Free from sin, He will then dress you in clean clothes.

“Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.’” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NIV)

Do not let sin separate you from the love of God. He longs for your fellowship and calls out to you. With loving- kindness He is drawing you even now. Can you feel it? Knock on the door of His heart and He shall answer with much singing and rejoicing. Just as a groom longs for the affection of his bride, God longs for your fellowship and adoration.

READ THE FOLLOWING PROMISES OF GOD THEN MEDITATE ON HIS LOVE FOR YOU.

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

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:26 (NKJV)

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not.” ― C.S. Lewis

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