WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Wonders Of God”

Suddenly, God Moved

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There are many stories in the Bible where patience, endurance, and perseverance were necessary to obtain the promises of God. These are wonderful traits and all of them are helpful in our Christian walk. The life of Joseph and Abraham are just two examples of patient endurance. But sometimes, sometimes, God moves suddenly.

The book of Exodus tells us the story of Moses. A Hebrew by birth, he was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. Growing up, he enjoyed the luxuries of a royal household. But when he was grown, Moses was despondent over the Hebrew oppression and had compassion for his brethren. So much so, Moses killed an Egyptian after witnessing him beat a Hebrew slave. Pharaoh soon heard of the murder and sought to kill Moses, who then fled Egypt to dwell in the land of Midian.

It was forty years of desert living before God spoke with Moses. Speaking through a burning bush that was never consumed, He instructed Moses to return to Egypt.

“Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10 (NKJV)

God promised to deliver the Israelites from oppression and bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses took God’s Word to heart. He believed God would help the Hebrews.

In faith, Moses returned to Egypt and confronted Pharaoh. It took time, and several plagues to convince Pharaoh to “Let My People Go.” But sure enough, Moses eventually collected the Israelites and God (Pillar of Cloud or fire) led them to the Red Sea.

By now you must be wondering where it is that God moves suddenly. So far, Moses has had to endure a season of waiting, unlikely detours, demanding tests, and roadblocks. But God promised Moses that the Israelites would inherit a land of plenty, and He is faithful. As we continue on with the Israelite’s trek to the Red Sea, we discover an example of God working suddenly to fulfill His promise.

Pharaoh decided to pursue the Israelites, intent on bringing them back to Egypt. When the children of God saw the Egyptian army they panicked, thinking they were trapped. On one side stood the Egyptians and on the other side the Red Sea. There seemed to be no escape. They forgot God had promised them freedom and that He was faithful.

“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. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Ex 14:13-14 (NKJV)

Moses did not know how God would deliver them, but he had faith God would find a way. When God speaks a promise to us, we must persevere until its fulfillment. Trusting God’s provision, when all around us we see impossibilities, can be a very difficult challenge. It is often a real test of faith. But for God, nothing is impossible. ‘Impossible’ is not in His vocabulary.

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)

“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.” Psalm 33:4 (NKJV)

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you. Genesis 28:15 (NKJV)

God then told Moses to move the people forward, toward the Red Sea. He then added,

“But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:16 (NKJV)

Suddenly, when all seemed lost, God provided a way for the Israelites. He caused the sea to fall back, and with miraculous power God made a way for His children. They moved forward in their quest for freedom.

If God has spoken to your heart a promise, prompted you to move in a new direction, or awakened a desire that is of His will, move forward! Trust Him to make a way. There may be detours (Hopefully not 40 years of wilderness wandering), times of silence, and even disappointments, but keep the faith. Stand on His promise. Remember, He just might act suddenly. Will you be prepared to move, even if there is no clue He is about to act?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”                 Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Consider the scriptures below and pray for God’s guidance.

“Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.” 2 Chronicles 29:36 (NKJV)

“I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.” Isaiah 48:3 (NKJV)

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

“My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.”  Psalm 89:34 (NKJV)

God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NLT)

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.

Easter Message: Love Requires Sacrifice

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According to John 3:16, God loved/loves the world.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.John 3:16 (NKJV)

From these words, we learn that Christian love requires sacrifice. God gave up His son in order to reestablish a relationship with us. Fellowship with God required atonement, and Jesus was the only acceptable blood sacrifice that could bring forth restoration. Jesus was without sin, a spotless lamb. He obediently accepted His Father’s will and took on the sins of the world and nailed them to a cross.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.Romans 4:25 (NIV)

Father God knew His only begotten son would have to endure great suffering, but He also wanted to provide us with koinonia. So, because of His incredible love for mankind, He willed Jesus to step out of eternity and down to earth, and a brutal death. Father God knows all about sacrifice, grief, pain, and love.

Jesus Christ is the very definition of love. He always put others first. He freely gave His time, energy, food, friendship, love, and grace. And at the end of the day, He offered His love, obedience, fellowship, praise, and will to His heavenly Father. He lived to serve others. His eyes were never on Himself. He looked for ways to satisfy a need, quench a thirst, teach a lesson, or please His Father. There is JOY in service. There is JOY in giving.

We are called to live a life of love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

By looking into the Word of God and contemplating the life of Christ, we see that the power of love is remarkable but costly. Individual acts of sacrificial love have a transforming power. Consider the story of the widow in 1 Kings 17:8-16. In an act of faith, a widow sacrifices the very last of her food (a little oil and flour) and makes the prophet Elijah a cake. She was surely hungry. In fact, scripture states she was collecting wood to make a last meal before death.

And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”  1 Kings 17:12 (NKJV)

Her faith and sacrificial love was rewarded with a jar of flour and a jug of oil that would miraculously refill itself. God provided in her time of need and her life was surely never the same.

There were lepers, cripples, and blind men transformed by the healing hand of Jesus. Christ’s love transformed prostitutes, tax collectors, and fishermen. The sacrifice Christ made on the cross has transformed you and me! We were damned in our sin but His sacrifice has provided hope. We can rest in the promise of eternal life.

This Easter, reflect on the command to love one another. For if we hate our brother we do not have Christ in us. Do not love in word alone but love in deed and action. Be His hands! It will require sacrifice. This is known as Christian love.

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. “ 1 John 3:15-16 (NKJV)

Meditate on the following verses and consider how you might love another with sacrificial deeds of love.

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?1 John 3:17 (NKJV)

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:4 (NKJV)

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Facing Your GIANT Fears

David and Goliath

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

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

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

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

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

 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relying On God

Rely on God Begins w:Each Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Train of Life

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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

 

Easter: Victory Over Death

 

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Easter is a time when Christians around the world remember the incredible love sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our Savior’s willingness to step down from His heavenly throne, take on flesh, and die in a most gruesome way, is proof of His amazing devotion and affection for us all. He looked past our sins because He desired relationship and fellowship with His creation. He bore the cost of our sins, nailing them to the cross. Thanks to HIS righteousness we too are righteous, now able to stand before God as His adopted children.

And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”     1 Corinthians 15:4 (NKJV)

Therefore, since we are now united with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection we resist all evil. We are no longer slaves to the enticements of this world. Jesus, our eternal hope, is the doorway through which all sin is conquered. Our “old man” has been crucified with Christ and we have been reborn. With hearts laid down in humble submission, eternal life is our promised reward.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”   Romans 6:4-9 (NKJV)

And since we are now in Christ, we have become a new creation. Old things… such as lustful passions, deceptions, ungodly habits, and evil desires are to be put away. We are called to walk as children of light. The light of Jesus should be so bright within us that all who are lost and spiritually dead are drawn to it, and therefore to Christ Himself.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”   John 3:6 (NKJV)

Jesus came into this world to give and serve. We too should live a life of selflessness and service. Paul passionately beseeched fellow believers in Romans 12:1-2 to present their bodies as living sacrifices, “holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

When we serve others, we serve God. The body He created for you and for me is perfect, designed exactly for His sovereign will and purpose. Every talent and gift, weakness and flaw, strength and disability was given to us for a reason. It helps to remember that when we are weak His power and strength becomes evident to all. God will use what we consider personal flaws for His glory.

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 (NIV)

We praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice. We give Him thanks for reuniting us with the Father and for perpetually interceding on our behalf. We rejoice in the promise of eternal life, recognizing Christ’s victory over sin and death. We exalt God for His mercy and grace and thank Him for the sweet fellowship He offers His adopted children.

Jesus died on the cross because He wanted to free us from sinful wandering and restore our relationship with the heavenly Father. Unity and fellowship is of great importance to our Creator. And although we are each unique in design, we are meant to be bound together as one. As a united whole we make up the entire body of Christ. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, we too are to stand unified with each other AND with God. This can only be done if we forgive trespasses and submit to God’s sovereign authority.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”   John 17:20-23 (NKJV)

As Christ died and rose again, let us too die to sin and rise up as beacons of light.

Oh death… where is your sting? Has Christ Jesus not given us victory over you? Has He not promised all who call upon His name the gift of eternal life? Blessed be our Savior! Jesus! JESUS! Precious Jesus! There is awesome power in Your holy name!

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV)

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 (NKJV)

“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)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”          Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9 (NKJV

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV)

“The only thing I can give to God is ‘My right to myself.’ If I will give God that, He will make a holy experiment out of me, and God’s experiments always succeed.”   ~ Oswald Chambers.

God Prunes-And Not Just In The Spring!

*Prune

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” 15:2

I view my past illness, a brain tumor that caused nearly a decade of clinical depression and near death, as an answered prayer. In days gone by, I often petitioned God to remove me from the public school system. But my prayers were never prayers of true faith. No, they were prayers of desperation and hopelessness. I never quit my job to pursue a different career because finances were always priority. I didn’t believe God would provide for my family in the same manner I was able to provide as a teacher. Relying on myself was easier than trusting God, especially when it came down to future finances. This is where my thinking fell short. Scripture says God will provide for our NEEDS…. Not for every want and desire, comfort or luxury.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Accustomed to a certain life style, I had no desire to pursue another profession that offered less pay. After 25 years of saving, I had finally purchased my dream home. The thought of selling it in order to pursue a different career was not part of my reality. I wanted out of teaching, but only on my terms. I was not willing to make adjustments or sacrifices. Money was an idol of false security.

My wrestling match with God was long and intense. It lasted more than a night and it didn’t leave me with a dislocated hip. Instead, I end up with a non-malignant brain tumor. When I refer to this tumor as a blessing sent from God I am sincere. For you see, this illness changed my life. It became the catalyst that reignited my spiritual walk.

Thankfully, God knew the best way to answer my prayer. I believe He led me into teaching and I believe it was also God who placed a desire in my heart to leave teaching. He didn’t let my attachment to worldly possessions interfere with His plan for my life. He designed me with a purpose and there was a “next step” for me in this life. It could only happen by stepping out of the classroom.

And although sin was ruling my heart with fear and covetousness, He graciously pruned away those dead branches for they were hindering my spiritual growth. By cutting out the dead wood, I was able to recognize these sin areas that required further refinement. Every year God must prune these sin areas in my life for they are aggressive in their attempt to grow back, yet never do they bear any fruit.

So, who can understand the mind of God? His ways are so much higher than our own ways. His thoughts are just not our thoughts! Bu sending a serious illness my way, or merely allowing the tumor to grow for ten miserable years, God answered my prayer to move past elementary teaching. It was a part of His sovereign plan for my life, before He knit me together in my mother’s womb.

God was not surprised by my illness but I surely was, for It brought about a lot of change I didn’t expect or desire. Not only did I loose my dream home, but I also left a community I felt comfortable with and never wanted to leave. God was pruning and stretching my faith throughout my journey. He provided the means for a new beginning and moved me to the place He wanted me to grow.

God’s sovereign will is always fulfilled. How He answers our prayers can truly be very surprising and unexpected. And when He decides to prune His children with challenging storms of adversity, we will do well to remember that the pruning of the Lord is an act of love. For God will instruct/discipline those He loves.

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, a father the son he delights in.”    Proverbs 3:12 (NIV)

James 1:2-4 reminds us that we are to count trials as pure joy, not that the circumstances are the joy, but the outcome they produce is the source of our rejoicing.

God teaches us not only through His Word. He also teaches us through trials that refine us into the image of His son. These times of trouble mature the fruit of the spirit within us so that goodness, kindness, gentleness, peace, love, joy, patience, faithfulness and self-control are more evident in our life. The pruning of the Lord is painful but the fruit it bears is profitable to God, others, and us.

Suffering is a part of the process by which the children of God are made holy. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God’s holiness. The Captain of their salvation was made “perfect through suffering,” and so are they (Hebrews 2:1012:10). There never was a great saint who had not experienced either great hardships, or great persecutions.

 Let us try to settle this in our hearts also. The children of God all have a cross to bear. A suffering Savior generally has suffering disciples. The Bridegroom was a man of sorrows. Therefore, the Bride must not be a woman of pleasures and unacquainted with grief. Blessed are they that mourn! Let us not murmur at the cross. This also is a sign of sonship.”    ~ J.C. Ryle

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_Dec 2014

The Wonderful Names Of God

*Names of God

God has many special and encouraging names. I pray this video encourages you this morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NscHCa395-M&feature=youtu.be

Interview With God

*0

http://vimeo.com/8898059

“So you would like to interview Me?” God Asked

“If you have the time.” I said

“My time is ETERNITY. What questions do you have in mind for me?”

“What surprises you most about humankind?”

God answered, “That they get bored with childhood. They rush to grow up and then long to be children again. They lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived.”

I asked “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons You want Your children to learn?”

God replied with a smile….

“To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. To learn they cannot make anyone love them. What they CAN do is let themselves be loved. To learn that a RICH PERSON is NOT one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons who love them dearly but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others. But that they must forgive themselves.”

“Thank You for Your time” I said humbly. “Is there anything else You would like Your children to know?”

“TO LEARN THAT I AM HERE…. ALWAYS.”

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