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Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Spiritual Maturity”

Dusting Away Distractions

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Everyday life is filled with distractions. Daily goals are met with enticements and diversions that hinder or impede their achievement. Then, while slipping into bed, we review our day and roll our eyes over the many different directions our rabbit trails took us. Distractions once again sideswiped our well-intentioned plan to move forward in our ventures.

When it comes to our spiritual walk, distractions are a key strategy utilized by the devil. Whether he shoots fiery arrows of condemnation and blame in our direction or the enticements of the world call out to us, fellowship time with God is curtailed. The Bible warns believers to be alert and sober minded, lest we find ourselves devoured by this prowling lion.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)

 John MacArthur sheds light on how to fight distractions.

“The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties. And that is the only way to know real satisfaction.”  John MacArthur

Focusing less time on ourselves and spending more time in fellowship with God will accomplish several things:

First, our peace of mind will increase and our stress will decrease. Meditating on the faithfulness and love of God will build up our faith and remind us that there is no life circumstance hidden from our all-knowing God. Worry and stress are a distraction. Focusing on problems is a trap. Doing so will consume our thinking, and eat us alive, leaving us with no time or energy to meditate on things that are noble and pure.

Finally, brethren, 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)

Our time would be better spent by seeking God through prayer; asking the one who loves us most, to provide solutions and to direct our path. Then, through the discipline of self-control and patience, we must let go of our frets, trusting an answer is on the way.

Distractions also come in the form of pleasure. Taking a hike, going to a movie, shopping, getting a manicure, and having a leisurely lunch with a good friend are all pleasurable activities. But if they prevent fellowship time with God, they are distractions. Lunch with a friend is not a bad thing in itself. In fact, the Bible encourages us to fellowship with other believers so that we can lift each other up. No, lunch dates are not the problem. The trouble occurs when the cares of the world and the busyness of life cuts into our time with God. Carving out a set time to fellowship and focus on God is a good way to attack distraction issues. God needs to be a priority.

Distractions of the flesh are probably the most common. Sex, food, wine, and a lust for money have made many a prodigal. But these distractions are manageable, if we keep our focus on God. When we commune with the Lord, He will remind us that we are to live as aliens in this world. That home is heaven. To love the world is to be an enemy of God.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 (NKJV)

And the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.Mark 4:19 (NKJV)

Another distraction many of us struggle with is ministry work. Many believers get so busy with church activities that they struggle finding time to be alone with God. A thought or word God would have revealed, had time been spent at His feet, is a grievous loss. We are to serve the Lord without distraction, but to do so, we must also learn to abide in Christ. A constant awareness of His presence, a continual lifting up of praise and worship, and a daily knowledge of His desire to speak to hearts will help to eliminate our struggle with distractions.

I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways.” Psalm 119:15 (NKJV)

And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.1 Co 7:27 (NKJV)

 A steadfast heart is a loyal heart of devotion. It is focused and strong. It keeps a believer from turning aside to the right and to the left. The path before them is clear and by making God our spiritual “nerve center,” forward progress happens.

Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.” Joshua 23:6 (NIV)

If we want spiritual growth and maturity, we must consider our fellowship time with God. Is He a priority? Do we spend time meditating on His word? What distractions keep us from Bible study and how can we change things? Periodically, we all need some dusting off and a little spring-cleaning is always a good place to start.

A Proverbs 31 Woman of God Is Worth Finding!

Proverbs 31 PM

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil
all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12 (NKJV)

Proverbs 31 is a gracious gift from God. It was included in the Bible for a reason, and it is not only for the well being of women. Men and children will also gain wisdom and understanding by reading this proverb. The benefits of finding a virtuous woman are well spelled out, so men would do well to seek a wife with the assets found within the description of this fine lady. (Children will gain a deeper appreciate of their mother)

 In verse 10 the question is raised, “Who can find a virtuous wife?” Even in those days it was difficult to find a woman with integrity, skill, virtue, and wisdom.  However, they did exist back then and they do exist in the present age, although you may have to look a littler harder and wait a little longer to find this special woman.

Her worth and value is compared to rubies, stressing that she is far beyond the worth of these gems. Trust in a marriage is a strong and desirable trait, so having one by your side with whom you confidently credit with reliability and credence is worth seeking.  She is indeed a treasure to be found!

A husband’s heart is put at ease when he can rely on his wife’s virtue and strengths, while also trusting her with the most sensitive of confidences. He fears no evil intent and knows his welfare is her heart’s desire. Sadly, Samson did not marry a Proverb’s 31 woman. Delilah sought out the secret of his strength for she had evil intentions to use his secret against him. ( I am a single woman and Bride of Christ.  It is for Him I live to honor and serve. It is His confidences I seek to gain.)

The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a ……

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Apply Instruction And Knowledge

Apply Heart 2 Instruction

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”                             1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV)

We begin our education from the moment we are born. In order to survive, we must acquire knowledge and information and then apply it to our lives. When we first start off in life we crawl, but it is not long before we take our first baby steps. Assuredly, all babies fall down a multitude of times before mastering the ability to walk. Thankfully, a tenacious perseverance propels them to get back up and try again until the new skill is mastered.

As Christians, we need to adopt this tenacity to persevere in our walk with Christ.  He asks very little of us, for all He wants is a forward movement.  Baby steps are just fine, until there is …..

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Waiting With Hope

Waiting

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart 
and wait for the Lord.”              Psalm 27:14 NIV 

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Dear One,

How would you explain “waiting on God” to a friend? Would you define it as an “expectant hope, eagerly watched for with hopes of a quick arrival?”  Maybe you would simply explain it as “something one does if something tarries.” There are many scriptures that not only mention the word “wait,” but also actually command us to wait.  Psalm 27:14 is such an example.  However, within the command there is an added encouragement.  We are told to be strong and take heart as we wait.

It takes spiritual strength to stop, wait, watch, and allow God to work.  We can become discouraged if hopes and prayers are not answered in our own timeframe.  Heavenly timelines are altogether different from earthly ones and our Lord’s timing is always perfect.  It may take a lifetime to see one of your prayer request answered.  This kind of waiting will take a mature faith and spiritual endurance.

Patience is a fruit of the spirit and evident in the character of God.  Patience is the twin to Spiritual Waiting and the half-sister to Longsuffering and Endurance.  They all share a strong family resemblance but they are different just the same. 

You may be living with a long and painful illness while patiently waiting for a cure, or the promised rest of your eternal home.  Living with pain, illness, and suffering requires patience and perseverance.  In fact, illness and pain helps to mature all the fruits of the spirit within you.

Waiting for justice and looking for God to avenge personal injuries requires the fruit of self-control.  By waiting for God to judge those who have wounded us, we are guaranteed a just God will hand out a just consequence and penalty. Deuteronomy 32:35 instructs us that vengeance belongs to God.  The English Standard Version of the Word states that He will “take revenge and pay them back.”  Trust that all injustices are observed and are never forgotten or overlooked by your Father.

Isaiah 40:31 says that if we wait on the Lord He will renew our strength.  By resting in His might and His promise to answer the prayer offered in faith and aligned to His will, we will find new strength.  Instead of giving in to the exhaustion caused by worry, anguish, distraction, and fear, we are given an opportunity to refresh ourselves by patiently waiting on God to act.

Your ability to wait on the Lord is rooted in your confidence of who He is and what He is doing.  Is your faith built on a solid foundation of His character and love?  Trusting in His principals, promises, power, and divine purpose will enable you to wait in peace.

Psalm 33:20 informs all believers of HOW they are to wait for God; it is with HOPE.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1) and a conviction of things not seen.  Hope is a part of faith and waiting on God requires both.  May the peace of Christ rest upon you as you cast aside your burdens, trusting Him to address them in His time.  I pray your strength is renewed as you wait.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. 
 For the Lord is a God of justice; 
blessed are all those who wait for Him.”         Isaiah 30:18 (ESV)

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”Psalm 33:20 (NIV)

It Takes Endurance To Scale A Mountain Of God

Rock Climber

 

Teaching our puppy how to catch

by 2goldogs•4 weeks ago•1,111,965 views

 

Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)     “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

Dear One,  

I hope you enjoy this short video.  I have watched it about eight times today and every time I get a giggle.  Notice the pup’s concentration.  His effort to obey is so sweet. 

During your Christian walk,  you will encounter many challenges and lessons.  God understands your limitations, but He WILL send challenging opportunities for spiritual growth your way. This means that these trials and lessons will stretch you.  After all, if your lessons were only about things you have already mastered, how would you grow? 

(Obviously this sweet puppy was given more than his ability, but I am sure his willingness to try a new trick certainly made his master smile.

God does not expect us to perfect all of His lessons the first time they are introduced.  Schools will often use a curriculum that builds on concepts taught in previous years.  They call this a, “Spiral Curriculum.” Students at one grade level may be introduced to a concept and in another grade; the original concept is revisited and reviewed.  Additional information is then added in hopes of challenging the student. The knowledge of the concept is built over a period of years. 

The Father will take a similar approach when teaching His children important spiritual lessons.  As children, we are introduced to the concept of love.  If you are lucky, you grew up in a home with loving parents and extended family members.  You knew security and felt safe.  Love was more about receiving than it was about you giving it away. 

As you grew in years, your love lessons took on additional new angles. The concept of giving out of a pure heart may have come into the picture.  Unconditional love is a lesson for more mature believers, so God usually does not start us out with this college course. 

As God sends lessons your way, be it a hardship or a joy; try to be diligent in learning all that He has for you to grasp.  You may fall, but Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)  states: “The righteous fall seven times, only to rise again.”  Perseverance requires us to be steadfast and patient.  Endurances is a pre-requisite of perseverance.  You cannot move forward on your spiritual journey unless you put one foot in front of the other! 

It takes endurance and patience to scale a mountain.  If you look at the whole assent while at the base, you could easily become overwhelmed.God breaks lessons and tasks down for us. 

When approaching a mountainous climb, the first goal should be to get the proper climbing equipment.  In a spiritual climb, this means dressing yourself in the Armor of Christ.  Then look into maps and a possible guide.  Again, in a spiritual sense, this would be equipping yourself by reading God’s instruction manual and praying that He will be your guide.  The assent to the “base camp” will be the next step.  Every night a new plan would be made in order to reach the next mountainous destination, until the summit is finally reached.

The lessons God directs our way are meant to be for our benefit. They are sent with love. He prepares us for that which He created us to perform for His glory.  He will not send a soldier into battle without armor, nor will He send His child down a dark path without a light.

May your lessons in life be accepted with an obedient heart and a desire to please the Holy One. They will stretch and mold you into the masterpiece He knows you already are, once His glory is revealed.  Climb with the confidence of a deer jumping from mountain cliff to mountaintop.

(Habakkuk 3:19 NIV)     “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to tread on the heights.”

 

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