WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Sin”

God Desires Honesty

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We have the freedom to speak honestly before our King. God already knows what we think, and what we are about to say, so it is foolishness to hide our true feelings from Him. We have permission to be honest, really honest, and need not fear retribution or punishment for our transparency.

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

Consider Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Jesus considered all three to be His friend. And even though He was the King of Kings in living flesh, He welcomed their honest feelings. In one story, Martha complains about Mary sitting at His feet and listening to His word, instead of helping her serve guests. She actually rebuffed Jesus and questioned whether He cared that she had been left alone to serve guests. Furthermore, she ordered Him to tell Mary to help. Jesus acknowledged her feelings but replied that Mary had chosen the good part, which would not be taken away from her.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’

 And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

 On another occasion, Martha, grief-stricken over her brother’s death, freely spoke of her disappointment with Jesus, for He had not been present before Lazarus passed. She did not know that her Savior intentionally stayed away so that He could perform a miracle. Lazarus was raised from the dead, which led to many conversions.

“’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’” John 11:21-23 (NIV)

God does not look favorably upon liars. Truth is who God is. He cannot lie. Since we are called to be like Christ, we too must strive to speak truthfully at all times, even in our prayer closet.

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of timeTitus 1:2 (NKJV)

“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? When it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last.” Acts 5:3-5a (NKJV)

If we hold feelings of hate, disappointment, lust, fear, or bitterness in our heart, it is best to acknowledge it, express it openly with God, and then ask for forgiveness. He can handle our true emotions. He knows our hidden sins and welcomes honest communication. Truth and honesty make for an intimate relationship with God. Pour your heart out to the King. Those who speak truthfully are His delight.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

“An honest heart loves the truth.” ~ A.W. Pink

The Holy Archer And His Arrows

**Arrow

An archer must pull back his arrow to make it fly. Before releasing the shaft, it should touch the bowman’s face. With proper aim, the arrow will hit its mark.

If God is our archer, we then, are His arrows. And even though His quiver if filled beyond our knowing, every shot is carefully planned before it is lovingly released.

When positioned in His mighty bow, we will experience the confusion and pain of backward friction. Yet, we can take heart, for we are in the most skillful of hands. God will send us forward, when His aim is perfected, to hit the proper mark.

Each arrow (beloved child of God) is drawn close to God’s cheek before it is released. What comfort! There is a special moment of communion as He takes aim, before freeing us from the restriction of His mighty bow.

Then the Lord will be seen over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, and go with whirlwinds from the south.” Zechariah 9:14 (NKJV)

Maybe we will land in some new terrain or ministry. Possibly, the mark we hit needs to hear about Jesus and His incredible blood sacrifice. God may even shoot us into a dark forest filled with principalities and powers of darkness, an arrow intended for spiritual battle.

For they intended evil against You; They devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore, You will make them turn their back; You will make ready Your arrows on Your string toward their faces.Psalm 21:11-12 (NKJV)

If life seems difficult, cumbersome, confusing, even painful… hang on! God may be launching you into something great. Focus on living for Him and stay in the present, but seek His will for your future. Do not let the worries and troubles of each day discourage you. They might be the sharpening agents necessary for God to launch you toward HIS intended target.

He fills His hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.Job 36:32 (NIV)

 God cannot miss His mark because He is without sin. What is the biblical definition of sin? Literally, it means to miss the mark. It is a Greek term that comes from an archery term meaning to miss the bulls-eye. Romans 3:23 says that “ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore, even though God’s aim is always perfect, man is sinful; thus, all of us have missed the mark, not getting our arrow to hit the perfection of God.

And since all of us are missing the mark, all of us require His grace. Missing the mark does not mean we are off the team. No, God knows what we are made of and understands that our heart’s desire is to serve Him, even when we fall short.

 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:25 (NKJV)

Sin affects our relationship with God. To get back on target, we must acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness. Sin separates us from God and He turns a deaf ear to our prayers. Repentance will enable the Archer of the Universe to once again interact with His arrow, skillfully shooting him forward so that he hits a bulls-eye.

To find available books by Cheryl Zelenka on Amazon go to: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cheryl+zelenka&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acheryl+zelenka

Your Mind Is A Garden

*Mind is a Garden

God will often speak to His children through nature. A garden is full of lessons and analogies if only we have eyes to see and a heart that listens. In order to enjoy a beautiful and healthy garden, a lot of work must take place. However, the fruit and pleasure to be gained is well worth the trouble.

In the spring, soil is turned over and prepared for plants and seeds. Fertilizer is applied to the flowers/plants for vigorous growth. Watering is necessary along with the chore of weeding.

The trick to weeding is staying on top of their assault. A little weeding every day will prevent an invasion that overwhelms and chokes out desired plants. However, if weeds are ignored, they will take over a garden. Most are very resilient and determined to grow and multiply. Getting rid of them will require much time and effort.

Our spiritual growth is a lot like a garden. Consider sin as the invading weeds. Sin will mangle and impair our development in Christ Jesus. Sins, like weeds, are quick to grow and multiply, which is why daily reflection and removal should be practiced.

When a sinful thought enters our mind, we can act on it or ignore it. The Devil keeps busy by planting appealing but unhealthy thoughts in our head. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to protect us. With discernment, we can recognize and turn from every evil.

However, we have been given a free will. Every day we make choices, follow God or ignore His laws. With God’s grace, we are able to take every thought captive and turn from sin.

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”    2 Corinthians 10:5 (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” 1 Peter 1:13 (NKJV)

Self-control is a characteristic belonging to the fruit of the Spirit. We cultivate the fruit by reading the Word and filling our minds with God’s truth. Our decisions on entertainment choices and fellowship with others are also key.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”   Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Depending on how bound we are to a particular sin will usually determine the length and intensity of our spiritual battle. Strongholds can be broken! There is no temptation set before us where God has not provided an escape.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Obedience and submission to God matures our spiritual garden of faith. Our old man is corrupt and we are to walk as new beings, in the righteousness and holiness of God. This is not always easy, but there will be joy in every decision made to lay down self and take on God’s character and will.

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)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” Titus 2:11-12 (NKJV)

If fear and anxiety are an issue, robbing peace of mind, again take every thought captive. Recall the faithfulness of God in the past and trust He will continue to be faithful today and tomorrow. Fear and anxiety only produce weeds. They will not bear fruit of any worth.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 (NKJV)

May the peace of Christ, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind. There is an escape for all sin because the blood of Jesus Christ covers us. Resist the devil and he must flee. This is a promise. Be bold and stouthearted and remember to put on your spiritual armor. May the helmet of salvation inspire you to put on the mind of Christ.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

The Promise of Forgiveness

*Jesus Forgives

1 John 1:9 is a PROMISE. We will find forgiveness in Christ if we confess our sins and repent of our ways. This is a blessed assurance. God will never say, “No, I will not accept your confession of sin and heart felt apology. I do not forgive you. I do not want a relationship with you.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Some of you may know the heartache of unforgiveness. After humbling yourself and apologizing for a wrong, hoping to restore a broken relationship or bring healing to someone, you were rebuffed or ignored. Your cry to be forgiven was not met with love or a consoling pardon. The pain of unforgiveness is heart wrenching. All one can do is act on what the scriptures instruct and pray, leaving the rest to God.

Thankfully, we will never suffer this rejection with God. He accepts our plea for forgiveness and casts the memory of our sin as far as the east is from the west. We have been washed in the blood and sacrifice of the Lamb. Our Creator longs for an intimate relationship with us and since all sin separates us from His presence, He forgives us repeatedly.

We cannot however change people, or their reaction to our sin. We can only work on changing ourselves…. with God’s grace. Because God loves us, He works to perfect and refine our spirits until they eventually reflect back the very image of Christ. This act of sanctification requires man to lay aside pride and self-will. Everyone comes to the place of absolute surrender at a different time in life. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we eventually come to understand the necessity for making greater room in our hearts for God.

He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 (NIV)

A conflict between two people means that there are TWO individuals who need to work together on the resolution. One may want change and restoration but the other might not. We can influence people in a positive way by walking in the light, but God alone refines and transforms the heart. If one person is not willing or ready to consider forgiveness, reconciliation is put on hold.

There is always the hope of a restored relationship but sin, even confessed sin, will change an association in some way. We are not like God who is able to forget wrongs and cast them beyond His memory. Broken trust takes time to heal. It takes work and patience, understanding and tolerance. Wounds heal but some scars remain. Maybe the scar will serve as a testimony of God’s healing power, a witness to others who are living in broken relationships.

A restored relationship gives glory to God. It can become even better after suffering through affliction, betrayal, and sin. Love is the healing balm that makes this possible. Love is the greatest gift of all and can cover a multitude of sins, if we are willing to lay down our own pain and offer the wrongdoer (It usually takes two individuals to make a wrong and therefore two are necessary to make it right again) absolution.

Hold on to the promise that ALL of your sins are forgiven when you repent to God, even the unforgiven sins held against you by someone with a hard heart. You are cleansed from all unrighteousness the minute you confess to God. He pardons all unrighteousness and grants absolution. Guilt does not come from God, just Holy Spirit conviction that leads to humble repentance. You have been forgiven. You are forgiven. By the blood of Jesus Christ you are freely forgiven.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;And I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

He does not treat us as our sins deserveor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is His love for those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west,so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (NIV)

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis                                 

This devotion is from my book FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE. You will find it on Amazon the first week of December. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

God Will Soften A Hard Heart

This is a devotion from my next book, FACING STORMS: DEVOTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION. Be sure to check out my other books on Amazon!                           

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cheryl%20zelenka&sprefix=chery%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acheryl%20zelenka

*Hard Heart

“You will begin to heal yourself when you let go of the things that hurt you in the past, forgive those who have done wrong to you and learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.” – Anonymous

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

Jesus suffered many physical injuries on His road to Calvary. The beatings, whipping, and crucifixion left him barely recognizable, even to His family and friends. Because of His great love for us, He took up the cross. It is by His wounds that we are healed. It is through His blood sacrifice that our sins have been forgiven.

Jesus took the sins of the world and pinned them to the cross. Through this act of love, and through His resurrection, we no longer need to fear death. Eternal life has been granted to everyone who repents and acknowledges Jesus as his or her Lord in Savior! In addition to this glorious gift, we have a constant hope through the assurance of grace. With our sincere confession of sin, forgiveness is always granted.

Why, when we have such a forgiving Savior as our role model, do we wrestle with the issue of forgiveness….. Both in giving it and receiving it? Did not our Lord love us first, even while we were blemished by sin and active in worldly pursuits? Should we not be grateful that He looks past the sin we still struggle with and recognizes the being we have yet to become?

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Oh my, what a friend we have in Jesus! Contemplate His sacrifice! He left His heavenly realm to live as flesh and blood, then willingly died to set us, The Captives (to sin and death) free.

Mercifully, God has equipped you and I to overcome every adversity in life. Through faith and the gift of prayer, we may call upon His supernatural strength any time we feel weak, overwhelmed, or discouraged. He is always willing to help, advise, protect, encourage…. And forgive! He wants to commune and fellowship with us. Since sin separates us from His presence, He is constantly pardoning His children.

Rebellion and personal sin will intensify personal sufferings, so your obedience and submission is factored in to how well you weather a storm. Sin, disobedience, and rebellion always complicates life. Even so, what REALLY matters is the following point. If you acknowledge and confess your sins, you will ALWAYS receive forgiveness. Jesus never ignores a sincerely repentant heart.

So once again I ask, why do we withhold forgiveness when others ask it of us? Is it possibly due to a cold and hardened heart? If so, how is a hardened heart mended?

A hardened heart is surely a sign of an unhealthy spiritual state. With all probability, it belongs to a hungry and thirsty soul who has neglected the Word of God and the Springs of Living Waters. It has become parched and weak for a lack of supernatural spiritual food and water.

A hardened heart needs to hear the loving and healing promises within the Word of God. However, the difficulty comes in getting the loved one to listen. In all probability, they have not been open to the wise counsel of others and has stopped communicating with God, even ignoring prompts from the Holy Spirit. The truths within the Word can supernaturally break through all self-protection, pain, and anger. It will eventually untangle the lies Satan crafted and therefore crack the marble heart of stone. Look for opportunities to share even the shortest of scriptures with this person.

Another important part to healing a hard heart is fellowship. All of us have sinned. When somebody is not walking in close communion with the Lord, they usually avoid any interaction with others who are. They tend to become anti-social and isolated. This solitude gives the Devil a foothold and even more opportunity to tempt, deceive, and lie.

It requires a humble heart, softened by the prayers of others, to acknowledge a detour from the path of God. Pride is a sin we are all guilty of and it will lead to spiritual stagnation, decay or even death. However, once a hardened soul decides to enter back into fellowship with the Body of Christ, and honestly faces what has hardened their heart, peace and joy will once again return to their life. Unforgiveness is a ball and chain. It is tightly fastened around the leg of those who refuse to forgive.

Forgiving yourself of past sins is also required if you want a softer and more pliable heart. When you refuse to forgive yourself (and others) you dishonor Christ and all He did for you on the cross, and through His resurrection.

When you confess sin, it is cast as far as the east is from the west and is forgotten. Please, dear reader, stop reminding your Father of things He has already forgiven and forgotten. He was beaten and bruised so that you would not have to suffer an eternity absent from His glorious presence. He wants you to rest in this truth: By His wounds you are healed.

Will you not extend forgiveness and provide healing for the one wounded by your unwillingness to forgive and forget?

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

“As far as the east is from the west, 
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

“ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”   John 15:13 (NIV)

“It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:5 (NIV)

“God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.” ~ Henry W. Beecher

Forgive and then…. Let God Work

UTR Forgive Us As We Forgive Others

Dear Reaader,

I did not write this post but I wanted to share it with you. The source is at the bottom of this devotion. Over the years, I have been wounded by friends and family who would not offer forgiveness for my sins against them, or acknowledge their own sins against me. I rest in knowing God has forgiven me and that we all fall short of the glory of God. I am a work in progress. Sactification does not happen in a day. It takes a life time. I am a sinner but a child of God who is well loved by her heavenly Father. May we all learn from our mistakes and do what we can to live in peace with each other. Sometimes, we must trust God to “fix” a matter…. in His perfect time.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV)

There are people who insist on holding on to resentment, often inventing situations in their minds that never happened, justifying their bad behavior, and putting the blame on others. They see themselves as the abused party, always quick to take offense. Rarely are they able to have healthy relationships, for they are in reality, the abusers. Their world centers around them, and any attempt by others to appease them, only contributes to the anti-social behavior.

Such behavior betrays a deep spiritual and psychological illness, one that is not easily healed. Such people feel empowered by making other people uncomfortable, and normal attempts at rapprochement often end in failure, for such people are always looking for ways to continue their control over others. Their illness is difficult to heal, for their pride and deep seated sense of superiority makes repentance difficult, for they simply don’t see themselves as having a problem.

One of the Desert Fathers tells us of a young monk who came to his elder, complaining that he’d been wronged by one of his brothers, and following the holy tradition of the desert, had gone to the one who had wronged him, asking for forgiveness. The erring brother refused, so the wronged brother wanted to know what he should do in response. The elder told the young monk that he had walked away justified in the eyes of God, and that there was nothing left for him to do, except to pray for his erring brother.

This true story from the Desert Fathers makes clear that we must always be quick to forgive others, even if they were at fault, not remembering the wrong done to us, nor depend on the other cooperating in the reconciliation. Their repentance is not required, for we will be held accountable only for our own response. Before God, we will be justified.

When another person refuses to accept our heartfelt apology, we must be willing to let it be, and walk away, knowing that we’ve done our part. Abusive people such as these, can, if we let them, prevent us from living our own life in Christ, for they keep our focus away from the forgiveness that comes from Christ. When we walk away from such negative people, we walk away having forgiven them, and we commit ourselves to praying for their repentance. There is nothing more we can do.

Keeping our focus on Christ, we do not react, do not resent, and do not lose our inner peace. The sickness that is at the basis of controlling, abusive people, must not be allowed to take away from the inner joy and peace that comes from our personal relationship with Christ.

For your own soul’s sake, and for the soul of the abuser, continue to pray for them, but go your own way, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).”

http://tokandylaki.blogspot.com/2014/03/when-people-dont-forgive.html?m=1

Kindness & Truth

Kindness & Truth PM 213 DPI

“I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.”   ~ John Wycliffe                                                                                                http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-truth-20-great-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2tkrNszvJ

“Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart”Proverbs 3:3 (ASV)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

 Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25 (NKJV)

KINDNESS and TRUTH should always hold hands. Together they are powerful and fully capable of spreading insight and revelation, conviction and true repentance. However, one without the other is never beneficial or profitable.

When truth is spoken with callousness, or merely in a hurried fashion, discourse will surely follow. By forgetting to speak honest words, with the love of God backing them up, our candor will put folks off. This hinders the effectiveness they could have and the ability for someone to receive them.

Ephesians 4:25 instructs us to put way lying and speak truth to our neighbors. This applies to our friends and family as well. Although sincerity is not always easy, the Lord requires it of His children. He does not lie, therefore He expects us to make a concerted effort to follow in His footsteps.

Truth is supposed to establish trust and/or restore and build up relationships. Truthful words are hard to share but they are even harder to hear and receive. A spirit of humility and sincere love, when speaking words of truth, should always be a prerequisite if God is leading you to confront someone. We are all sinners and it is imperative to remember this fact. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We all have seasons when we are trapped and ensnared by the entanglements of sin.

A reputation of honesty is certainly worth its weight in gold. Just be sure kindness and the love of Christ is present when realities are shared or addressed. Certainly we are to “Do to others as we would have them do to us.“ (Luke 6:31 NIV)

If you find a friendship has been destroyed by truths, first look to yourself (and not the other) when finding fault. Maybe your tone lacked compassion and your emotions got in the way. Sin should be confronted with truth but be sure God is leading you to acknowledge it and wait for His leading to speak. He knows when the time is right for the arrow of truth to pierce the soul, and hit its mark.

Godly truth will cut down the lies of the enemy and it should bring about true conviction and sorrow, spiritual growth and joy. But then again, some hearts are so hardened and deceived it may take many arrows to finally pierce their spirit and bring about true repentance. This is where prayer and intercession must step in, never loosing hope in the ability of God to lead a sinner to the mercy seat of God.

“These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:             A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord  among brethren.”  Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV)

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” John 17:17 (NKJV)

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13 (NKJV)

“These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace” Zechariah 8:16 (NKJV)

Moses And The Sand On His Back

StAnthony

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15 (NKJV) 

Just as Jesus would go off by Himself to pray, we should do the same. Each lesson found in the Bible is there for our benefit. It is up to us if we put them into practice.

Getting away from distractions, in order to intercede for others and find direction from God, takes discipline. We live in a world overflowing with tempting diversions. Letting go of their pull is wise but not always easy since they are everywhere.

While Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for forty days and nights, the Devil made several efforts to tempt Him (Matthew 4:1-11). Our Lord faced each temptation in faith and victoriously overcame each one. In the end, the Devil ran off and angels were sent to minister to Jesus. Although desolate and solitary places have fewer enticements, the temptations are still there.

Have you ever been wronged by another so deeply that you were tempted to hold on to your bitterness and anger? Did you feel entitled? Sometimes unforgiveness feels good. However, it only offers a false sense of power. God is always the one in control….. not the Devil, you, or the one who offended you.

The Desert Fathers (there were also Desert Mothers) were Christian hermits and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD. There are many little stories and vignettes and teachings that they left behind. Often they are little lessons about spiritual matters. Here is one very famous of their sayings:

“A brother in Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to him, saying, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you”.

So he got up and went. He took a sack, filled it with sand and cut a small hole at the bottom and carried it on his shoulders. The others came out to meet him and said, “What is this, father” The Abba said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another” When they heard that, they said no more to the brother but forgave him.”

When we give in to temptation, sin occurs. The Bible tells us that we are never given a temptation beyond our ability to bear. God continually provides an escape route. This means we are always able to forgive. Sure, we may be a tempted to withhold forgiveness, but there are the unfailing provisions from God that enable us to offer it through His love and strength.

Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to rule on or judge the sins of others? We can just turn them over to God, who judges righteously. He sees all, knows all, and loves all. He is fair and just. Our God is aware of the things that tempt us and has equipped us to overcome each and every one. There is no temptation permitted victory over the children of God, for His faithfulness is never-ending. His powerful equipping will constantly provide us with the means we need to overcome the lure of holding onto unforgiveness.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”    1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’

and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
 lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” Matthew 4:1-11 (NKJV)

To read more about the Desert Fathers go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Fathers

The Grace of God Looks For Us

Draw Near Throne for Mercy & Grace

“When you blow it, God doesn’t turn away from you; He turns to you.  His grace is looking for you.” Unknown

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. “ Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)

Grace occurs when we get something we don’t deserve. It is unmerited favor.

If you have deeply wounded someone in your life, you may think your relationship with him or her is over. However, there is always hope when you have Jesus on your side. Through grace, the wounded party may choose to give you something that you don’t deserve, their forgiveness and a renewed hand of friendship. Only God’s empowerment can enable someone to extend this hand of unmerited favor.

If you find yourself desperate to be forgiven, first pray that God softens the heart of the one you wounded. Ask God to prepare their heart not only to hear your confession of sorrow and regret, but also to accept it. You must lay aside all excuses and accept responsibility for your part. Bringing up their flaws and their possible part in the conflict is not wise; it will only widen the gap. God will convict them, in His time, for their part in the matter.

The grace you long for may not occur immediately and you may have to wait for some time, even years. Don’t loose hope and remain diligent in your prayers for the afflicted one. Be patient, for you serve a God who daily works miracles.

Be watchful that you don’t give the enemy a foothold either.  He will try to convince you that your action is beyond forgiveness. Remember, Satan is a skilled manipulator and liar. God forgave you the minute your sin was confessed. Please find comfort in this fact. He has tossed your sin as far as the east is from the west.

If you have done all you can possibly do to repair the relationship, and it still remains broken, you must let God work things out. Release all control to God and have faith in His power to heal. It is very possible….

To read the rest of this post please go to http://facingtrials.com

God’s Love Includes Harsh Pruning

Love w:Action & Truth

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)

God is love and commands us to love one another. He “demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8) Our heavenly Father loves us, even when the filth of our own sins cling to us.  He sees the good in all His children.  Looking past our present flaws, knowing they will transform into attributes of beauty through His grace, He sees the work of art we are destined to become.

Oh, that we might see our brothers and sisters with the same spiritual eyes of love that our Savior reserves for us! Why must we focus on the sins within those we care about, and not glorify the gifts of praise God has already transformed in them? We live in a world full of hash criticisms and so often we end up pointing out weaknesses in others, when we in turn have a huge plank in our own eye. 

However, God’s love is not always puppy tails and cotton candy.  Sometimes, His love is a plate of vitamins and liver.  He sees our malnourished spirits and lovingly asks us to swallow some bitter pills. In love, He brings difficult things to our attention that may at first be a real challenge to digest.  But once we have taken that first awful bite ….. and really chew on it, we decide to lay down our pride and admit our wrongs.

Max Lucado put it very well in the following quote:

“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses……

If you want to read the rest of this post please go to

http://facingtrials.com

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