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Overcoming Difficult Trials

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A Godly Perspective

A person’s perspective is an attitude and viewpoint. It can be positive or negative. A positive perspective sees the good in even the most painful and darkest of circumstances. A negative perspective will eventually lead to a hard heart, a root of bitterness, and a stagnant spiritual walk.

Perspective is an understanding that events, people, and circumstances are interrelated, and a positive perspective means we have the ability to see things from a larger frame of reference. A positive perspective means we are looking through the eyes of Jesus.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

With the eyes of Christ we see the good in all people, even when confronted by rude, abusive, and angry people. With a Christ-like vision, we are less apt to judge and more likely to adopt a compassionate attitude. We will consider why actions and behaviors play out and hold our tongues and judgments for later.

When we consider the life of Jesus, we see he was a friend to prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners. He was able to look past their mistakes or employment choices and see into the heart of the person. His love looked past all rebellion, greed, and lust and saw the desperation and need for acceptance and love in man’s heart.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”       Luke 7:34 (NIV)

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32 (NIV)

As sinners, at some point we will act out, saying or thinking things that cause our Savior grief. One of these things occurs when we doubt the love of God. During difficult trials, our flesh cries out under the pressure and pain. Too often a man thinks, “If God loves me why must I suffer?” It is because of our sin and our need to be sanctified. The pressure of difficult times will bring the dross of our sin to the surface, enabling the Holy Spirit to remove it for our benefit. We are called to be like Christ.

“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)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

Sometimes we feel like mishandled clay in the hands of The Potter. Under intense pressure, we cry out and protest at every squeeze and pinch He makes. Then, when The Potter places us on His spinning wheel, life seems to spin out of control. No longer can we see clearly, for the world has become a blur. When the turning slows and comes to a stop, we feel the Creator’s hands lift us from the wheel. In fear, we tremble. Why? Because the heat of the kiln awaits us and we can not look past the future discomfort.

With the eyes of Christ, we see how The Potter has carefully placed us in just the right spot on his spinning wheel. As it whirls us around, we take note of how The Potter places both of His loving hands about us, molding us into a vessel of beauty and usefulness. We understand that our life is under His control, so we worry and fret not. When our Creator lifts us from the wheel and places us in the kiln, we welcome the heat. For it is in the fire that our beauty is enhanced, free of imperfections and strong.

Perspective helps when we are faced with adversity. Perspective was one reason Jesus was able to endure the cross. Without perspective, we follow our own natural inclinations. May God grant us eyes to see the good in every person and in every circumstance.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)

Haphazard Plans?

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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

Submission Is Love

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In this day and time, the word submission is often held in a negative light. It is confused with control and servility, a slavish submission to others ruling over us. But, when viewed with a spiritual perspective, submission is an act of love.

Submission is not the same as obedience, although they bear some resemblance. They both recognize there are appropriate responses to authority. However, obedience is a response to a rule and the person of authority judges according to the rule. Submission is NOT a response to rules. It recognizes that an order of authority is in place, but the focus is different. The person under authority submits because the love of the authority figure is their focus.

The human bond of marriage gives us a glimpse into our heavenly relationship with Christ. We, the wise virgins holding our lamps filled with oil (Matthew 25:1-13), wait expectantly for our bridegroom. The church, or Body of Christ, is the Bride… and Jesus is our Husband-to-be. We are to remain ready, alert, and pure for our beloved.

 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NKJV)

And as a bride looks for ways to please her betrothed; how to serve, honor, and delight him, we too should look for ways to serve, honor, and delight Jesus. Love motivates and instills a desire to dedicate everything to the one we adore. Willingly, we sacrifice and relinquish our own pleasure for that of our beloved. In return, the one we love is blessed and searches out ways to honor and bless us in return.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)

Wives submitting to husbands are all a part of God’s divine plan. It does not mean women are second-class citizens or any less loved or esteemed by the Father. Consider the holy Trinity. Jesus submits to the Father. The Holy Spirit submits to the Son. But all three… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same. The three are God in one.

When we yield and submit to those we love, or to those with authority over us, there is a bounty of spiritual fruit that comes from our compliance.

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17 (NKJV)

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” Titus 3:1 (NIV)

 Jesus is the perfect role model of gentleness. Although He struggled with the cross before Him, while in the Garden of Gethsemane He submitted to the will of His Father. His submission was an act of love to both His Father, and to us.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)

Submission produces gentleness, a facet of the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, known as ‘The Good Shepherd,’ calls His people sheep. Sheep are gentle creatures. They are peaceful and submissive. Therefore, a Spirit-filled Christian who manifests the fruit of gentleness will be submissive and useful to the Lord, his Shepherd. A gentle and quiet spirit is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4). My hope is that each reader considers the love gift of submission. Remember, the focus of submission is your love for the authority figure.

Submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:21a (NKJV)

Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’” John 5:19 (NKJV)

 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.  And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” John 12:49-50 (NKJV)

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.Ephesians 1:22-23 (NASB)

Iron Sharpens Iron

 

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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

 

 

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New Seeds From God

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content”  Philippians 4:11 (NKJV) 

seed-sprouting

So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33 (NKJV)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

Dear One,

It is easy for us to fall into self-pity, especially when our personal trials and struggles bring loss. Of course loss comes in many forms: the death of a loved one, financial security, social standing, and even faith. And all loss will cause us to pause or reflect. How we react to our ruin, impairments, or damage will reveal our true faith and maturity in Christ.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” These are such revealing and truthful words from Matthew 6:21. If your loss involves a house or some kind of finance, there will certainly be some measure of discomfort. However, if you adopt the right perspective, losses are not a bad thing! Change or hardship can produce new seeds and godly fruit in your future. When our hearts are yielded to His will, God’s loving hands will sow and cultivate superior seeds of faith. 

Where have you placed your trust? Is it in the riches God permitted you to obtain and collect, or is it in His daily promised provisions? Anything you surrender to Him in this life will be replaced, no greatly increased, in heaven. Our hope should be in Christ alone. We must surrender our carnal security and lean on the One who knows our needs, before we can even ask for them.

If it is your social standing that has vanished, ask yourself this question. Did Jesus care about such matters? A man/woman of integrity will be recognized. If you seek wisdom for the betterment of others, God will provide opportunities for you to share His truths. But when we seek position for selfish reasons, forgetting that it is God who gives us our intellect and station in life, we steal His glory. All we do should point others to God and His saving grace.

Those who ….

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