WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

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Haphazard Plans?

_God In Control

God’s way will turn a man’s thoughts inside out and upside down. We can’t forecast the way God works. The wisdom of the world would argue that God is haphazard, but He is not calculable in His providence. He works in ways we cannot predict or understand.

’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

God’s sovereignty is a reality. His love for us is undeniable. There is no other Father who has sacrificed His only son for the redemption of mankind. So, when life seems to be out of control, even hopeless, we must remember God is behind the scenes working things out according to His perfect will.

“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Matthew 18:2-4 and Mark 10:15 both mention children. Their innocence and faith should be our example. By taking on a cloak of humility, we can submit to the Father’s will and trust where He has placed us, even if it is within a turbulent storm. Why? Because He loves us!

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV)

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NKJV)

The ‘whys’ in life can plague a person’s heart. The proper place for our questions is at the feet of Jesus. But, when we lay them down, we can’t assume He owes us an answer. He owes us nothing. He might not reveal His reasons for our discomfort. But with the innocence of a child, we can trust our Savior and believe that our present circumstances are for our benefit.

God does not punish His children. However, because He is a loving Father, He will discipline us. Rooting out sin, character flaws, and transforming weaknesses into strengths will not occur overnight. And the time it takes a believer to lay aside self-will, surrendering everything to God, is different for everyone.

The more obedient we are to His leading, the faster He will mold us into the perfect vessel He envisioned. But, the transformation from sinful man to that of one reflecting Jesus Christ in every way requires time. A potter molds clay and reshapes his medium over and over until it stands out, unique and worthy of his initials. Uncomfortable pressure, painful twisting, and a dizzying spin on His wheel will eventually get us the kiln. Then, agonizing heat will purify the last of our impurities. Oh, how precious it is to share in the sufferings of Christ! We can take comfort in knowing He records each one of our painful tears. They are in His record. They are valued.

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

God will send the perfect circumstances our way to get this job done. We won’t understand our entire journey, but we don’t have to, right? We simply need to trust in the love of God. He is our hope, and hope will never disappoint.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.Romans 5:5 (NKJV)

Hope in Christ! He has a plan for you and it is not a haphazard one. The ups and downs of your life were designed long before you were knit within your mother’s womb. God sees you, as you will be perfected, and purified. Eventually, when you look in a mirror, you will only see Jesus. Your reflection will glorify God and honor Him. Praise Jehovah!

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For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

“If you try to forecast the way God will work you will get in a muddle; live the life of a child and you will find that every haphazard occasion fits into God’s order.” ~ Oswald Chambers

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

“While it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who hasn’t surrendered His authority.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Will You Speak?

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Uniquely formed by the hands of God, with special gifts and talents, each one of us has been created to fulfill a specific purpose. Understanding the cost of our redemption, a freely given blood sacrifice, humbles man into submission. Therefore, we yield our will and take up His instead. Obedience, faith, and trust draws one into Christian service, but it is our love for the blessed Redeemer that propels us forward into unknown territory.

The prophet Jeremiah was very young when the Lord called him into service. He was ordained to be a prophet, a mouthpiece for God. Understanding the importance of such a position, he was filled with fear. He felt all of his insufficiencies. But God insisted that he go where he was sent, and speak as he was commanded. God persuaded Jeremiah there was nothing to fear, saying He would be with him to provide any necessary deliverance.

“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;  Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’

 Then said I:

‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’

 But the Lord said to me:

‘Do not say, “I am a youth,” for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.”

From that moment, Jeremiah lost all fear and pronounced the sad prophecies and warnings of God, without regard for the king and his strong men. This was often at the peril of his life. However, God was faithful to protect and deliver him from all harm. This is not to say he was free of trials and hardship, including time in a cistern. (Jeremiah 38)

Jeremiah lived during one of the most devastating periods in Jewish history. He saw the destruction of Jerusalem, after his warnings and prophecies fell on deaf ears. How sad it must have been to speak words of warning yet see them ignored. Once the catastrophe came, he lamented the terrible fate of his people in the Book Lamentations.

As children of God, we ALL have a responsibility to share the Good News with others. To hold on to this hope, found in Jesus Christ, and not speak of it is contrary to our calling. The Great Commission is not just for missionaries, evangelists, preachers, or teachers. We all need to be ready and willing to give a reason for the hope that lives within our hearts. Fear will try to hold our tongue, but like Jeremiah, we must trust God to give us the words to say and the deliverance from every evil.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Some will ask, “What about the Christians who have been unjustly imprisoned for their faith? How is God protecting them? So many Christians are facing dreadful atrocities, painful persecution, even murder for simply professing their faith in Christ.

Here now is the hard pill to swallow. How do we know God hasn’t delivered them? Our heavenly Father is a God of compassion. He wants the very best for us. Although our feeble minds might not fathom the purpose for such trials and suffering, should we toss aside what we do know of God’s righteous character? Surely our faith assures us that there is some good, some great work, and some wondrous reward for those who refuse to deny Christ. We must remember our inheritance is in heaven.

The heavenly Father had a purpose for Jeremiah. God’s plan was to use Jeremiah to pronounce judgment upon the people of that time. It was not a job he relished. In all honesty can we say, should an opportunity arise, that we too would speak the truth regarding our faith, even if it led to persecution? Would we deny Christ to avoid imprisonment… or even death? The day may soon be upon us when the faith of every American is questioned, just as it is now questions in Syria, Iran, and across this world.

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 (NKJV)

Grace: Unmerited Favor

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Grace is unmerited favor: to get something that you do not deserve. Humility is a sure way to obtain the grace of God but pride will interfere and hinder God’s dispensation. Consider the character of Noah, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Mary, and Esther. At some point, humility reigned in the hearts of these believers.

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 (NKJV)

During the times of Noah, the book of Genesis reports God was, “sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  Wickedness was everywhere, yet Noah was still able to walk with God. He chose to live a righteous life. In spite of his community, living beside evil neighbors and all kinds of debauchery, Noah strove to be just. God considered him perfect in his generations.

Noah was shown grace. He and his family survived the great flood. His obedient and constant faith produced an ark though it took between 50-75 years to build and his community most certainly ridiculed his effort. It provided safety from deadly waters. But since grace is a gift, freely given, Noah did not earn God’s favor. Rather, his effort to live with integrity got the Father’s attention.

“Grace, then, is grace, – that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Lot, Abram’s nephew, was another man who tried to live righteously among the corrupted morals of Sodom. But because of an outcry against the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent angels to investigate and destroy the entire city. Thanks to the prayers and intervention of his uncle, God provided His grace and delivered Lot, his wife, and two daughters. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife died when she looked back in longing for Sodom, which had corrupted her heart. Lot did not earn the grace, it was unmerited favor from God.

As America removes God from schools, government, and every day life, our present days are becoming darker and darker The blatant disrespect of God’s living Word and the blood sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ have corrupted many hearts. Mankind lives for self and not for the love of others. Just as in the days of Noah, evil intent and wickedness is busy in the hearts of mankind. Imagine a snowball rolling down a hill, sinfulness is growing bigger and faster in our land. But, there is always hope.

With eyes looking up, focused on our eternal home, we can live in righteousness, thanks to the grace of God. The moment we accepted Christ as our Savior, we became a new creation. Called to die to self and set aside our old nature, we have been commanded to live in holiness.

“That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  As obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, a sin your ignorance;  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV)

Just as Noah and Lot were able to forsake the norm and strive for righteous, we can tool Living in a fallen world is very challenging, but His grace is sufficient. His favor enables man to resist temptation and sin. May the grace of God be with you always.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)

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“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)

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NKJV)

(“John testified concerning Him. He cried out, saying, ‘This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’) Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.John 1:15-17 (NIV)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

The Peace of Christ

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Jesus did not enter this world to bring peace. Rather, He came wielding a very sharp sword. In fact, this weapon is so keen and precise that it pierces between soul and spirit. With supernatural power, it discerns our thoughts and the intent of our heart.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

 Confusion can arise when reading John 14:27, for Jesus speaks of giving us peace. If He did not come to bring peace on earth, why would Christ speak of leaving His peace? There is a clue within the scripture, “He does not give as the world gives.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27 (NKJV)

Jesus does offer peace to individuals, but He did not come to earth bringing political peace. His message was radical. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. But the message written in Exodus 21:23-25 directed Jews to act without showing grace. To understand the new message, Jews first had to believe Jesus was the Son of God. They also had to embrace the power in love, the greatest and most powerful gift of all. The blood of Jesus provided forgiveness of all sin and believers were to practice and model forgiveness.

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)

Man often spurs political agendas. Greed, selfish ambition, and power are all motivators. Sin prevents peace in the realm of politics. It is too saturated with self.

But Christ came to us in humility, with a servant’s heart. He brought a peace beyond comprehension, yet obtainable through a sincere faith and a trust in His perfect will. He is the Prince of peace.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

When man looks to the Father, seeking the Wonderful Counselor for help, there shall be peace. When man reflects on the power of God, He who is Mighty, there shall be peace. When confused thoughts afflict and we lay our burdens at Christ’s feet, there shall be peace. For with a Savior who loves us we have hope, and in that hope we also find peace.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:23 (NKJV)

The blessing, “The peace of Christ be with you” is perfect for these days of trouble. Christ is our peace. So, when political leaders attempt to force their agendas on the world, we should rest knowing God is in control. The Lord knows about every atrocity and will transform them, some how, into good.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

It is not for us to understand how He acts, or His perfect will. But, it is our responsibility to wait, trust and believe in His character. God is faithful. He is love. He is all-powerful. He is gentle and merciful. Jesus already won the battle, which the devil is trying to overturn. The enemy should read the book of Revelation! The Lord reveals the ending and he ends up in a pit of damnation.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)

 May you find encouragement in these scriptures.

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)

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7 (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

Iron Sharpens Iron

 

_Facing Adversity Cover Final jpg

An excerpt from my book Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, and Promise

**Available on Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Facing-Adversity-Though…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

IRON SHARPENS IRON

“Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

A dull knife is still a knife but far less effective than one that has been thoroughly sharpened. The same goes for Christians. A Christian who is lax in obtaining knowledge by way of reading scripture is still a Christian, but far less effective than a believer who reads the living Word daily and listens for God’s instruction. God will surely use both Christians for His purposes, but the one who is more spiritually minded will have greater success in leading others to Christ.

We were created for fellowship and a lone Christian is at a great disadvantage. Again, let me refer back to the knife analogy. A single knife sitting in a drawer, with no other blade next to it, will eventually grow dull and less effective in its purpose. The same goes for the Christian who neglects fellowship with other believers. They are that solitary knife growing duller and more foolish every day, due to the absence of a sharpening “blade.”

The people who cross your path in life have been placed there for a reason. Nothing is a coincidence and no meeting is by chance. Every person you work with, all of your family members, the homeless person on your street corner, even the neighbor next door has been placed in your life for some purpose. God has provided interactions with these individuals, although certainly in different measurements of intimacy. Everyone in your life is beneficial to your spiritual growth, and you in theirs as well.

“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts into our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.” ~Corrie ten Boom

The individual who causes you the greatest annoyance is sharpening your capacity to love unconditionally.

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

Mastering Our Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Persistent In Prayer?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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