WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the tag “Submission”

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)

Hunger Pains

*Empty? Grace

Feeling Empty?
Hunger pains are not pleasant. They occur when the stomach empties and its walls come into contact, rubbing against each other. Eating food, which once again separates the walls of the stomach, relieves the gnawing sensation.

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When we have an overall sense of emptiness, it is likely that we are suffering from spiritual “hunger pains.” The living Word of God is our spiritual food. There are several scriptures that speak about feeding upon His word. Ezekiel equates the eating of God’s Word to the sweetness of honey, and Jeremiah tells how eating scripture echoed the joy and rejoicing found in his heart.

“And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Ezekiel 3:3 (NKJV)

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)

Our body needs food for energy and it is essential for good health. Our spirit requires the wisdom, encouragement, and instruction found in the Bible to maintain spiritual health. As we move through our day, food fuels our physical body and helps us to think clearly. Without sufficient nourishment, accomplishing tasks become harder. Again, in the spiritual realm, without the Word freshly consumed daily, we will stumble and find ourselves less effective in our witness. Meditating on the truths and promises of God aids us in facing adversity and overcoming snares set by the evil one.

Our Lord does not encourage a “feast and famine” attitude when it comes to nourishing our spirit. Just as we eat food several times a day, we are encouraged to read the Bible daily. The Israelites were instructed to collect manna daily. (Exodus 16) This bread from heaven would rot if it were left for the next day. Additionally, it was collected in the morning, as it would melt under the heat of the sun.

Viewed as an analogy, this scripture suggests we consume the Word in the morning before our day begins. It is so easy to put God on the back burner and get caught up in the cares of the day. We need to put Him first! The instruction and encouragement we glean in our quiet time will carry us throughout the day.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10 (NKJV)

“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.’” Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

If we feel unsatisfied with life and empty, reflection is necessary. Why are we feeling empty when we know the Holy Spirit is alive within us? Has the enemy succeeded in stealing our hope? Have we set aside God’s will and turned our focus to fleshly desires and ambitions? Is the sovereignty of God and His position as our Creator now questioned or even disrespected? Have we forgotten the abundance of His love?

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

“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)

Or, has God asked us to move in a new direction, and the fear of leaving behind that which is familiar, upsetting our peace of mind? Maybe the emptiness we feel is because God has more for us. Do we have a vice grip on the past and present? If we cannot open our hands to hold God’s hand, how can He lead us into new territory and new blessings? Trusting God to fill us with understanding, knowledge, and necessary skills is a test. He WILL test our faith!

“And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze” Exodus 35:31-32 (NKJV)

“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” Ephesians 4:10 (NKJV)

The Lord will add many to His kingdom through believers who walk in the fullness of Christ Jesus. Grace will abound to those who walk in obedience. Joy will fill their hearts while they sow the seeds of His love and share the promise of eternal life.

“For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:24 (NKJV)

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 (NASB)

When emptiness fills our spirit we ought to look towards service and opportunities to help others in need. By turning our focus upwards and outwards, God will fill us with new joy. This joy comes from having been found worthy to serve the King of Kings. Our pleasure brings contentment since pleasing God, through our service and love, has now become our delight. Brand new and astounding desires will begin to formulate in our weary hearts that are aligned to His will.

With God, nothing is impossible. When we put Him in the driver’s seat, He will take us on an incredible journey. Expect the unexpected! Detours are not really detours after all. They are an important part of our journey, full of lessons and life applications.

When God’s will for us has become our all-consuming desire, we will not suffer true emptiness. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed filled. Any emptiness that comes from unfulfilled desires or sorrows will be refined in the Refiner’s fire. This takes time and the heat of the furnace is painful. Count your trial as a blessing. Our joy is not the trial itself, but the fruit that is born out of our adversity.

“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)

Arriving at utter submission, and a state of unquestioned commitment is difficult to say the least. For we wrestle not our flesh alone but also powers of darkness. When an absolute yielding of self has been achieved, emptiness will no longer prevail. For He is the only One who can completely satisfy every need. He alone makes us whole.

If we continue to feel empty, our sorrow or desire has not been completely restored by God’s healing love. Possibly, our hearts have yet to lay all the disappointment and pain at His feet. An “If Only” may remain, interfering with an utterly yielded faith and hope in Christ. An absolute faith that God has permitted what is best for us, and for those we love, is still working itself out.

Our focus on “self” is what gets in the way of complete joy and peace. When HE is our all-in- all, we are filled to overflowing. But everything, EVERYTHING else must be placed behind Him. God alone and HIS good pleasure is all we should want and hope for in life.
Easy to accomplish? NO!
But deserved? Yes, YES INDEED!

“To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NKJV)

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11 (NKJV)

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52 (NASB)

How Is God Stretching YOU?

7) Young Woman:Cheryl

God is once again taking me out of my comfort zone! He likes to stretch (mature) His children and to be honest, I like being stretched! I don’t ever want to be stagnant and slow in my spiritual growth. I have tossed the baby bottle of milk aside because I so enjoy feasting upon the prime rib of sold spiritual foods!

I was once a public school teacher (25 years) but God called me into a new career as an author. Boy, that was a shock and a stretch! With God’s help, I wrote 3 devotionals and a Bible study. Non-fiction is now my comfort zone.

Well, now He is calling me to once again use the gifts He placed within me to teach. He has asked me to enter the world of FICTION, or Historical fiction. I am writing a children’s rhyming book inspired by the book of Esther. As of now it does not have a title. I am praying about this and I know it will come to me in God’s timing.

A wonderful illustrator (She is also an author, publisher, etc) has agreed to work with me. Her name is Cheryl Ellicott. Please keep this project in prayer. I would like to see this book in public schools, libraries, and of service to the home schooling network. There will be a curriculum sold separately for 2nd-5th graders.

We are to use the gifts GOD GAVE US for HIS glory and the edification of the Body of Christ. I challenge my readers to use their gifts!! God will see your labor of love and be pleased and glorified. Posted are samples of Cheryl Ellicott’s work. These are NOT for my book. They are posted to show her style.

How is God stretching YOU in 2015? Please share!

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:9-10 (NKJV)

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV)

2) Cheryl Landscape w:Woman and Child14) Sparrow:Cheryl10) Girl w:Bible Cheryl13( Corrie ten Book:Cheryl

The Eyes Of Your Heart

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I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,”  Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

“The eyes of your understanding”: (ophthalmos) + (kardia), “The eyes of your heart.”

Dear One,

It is well understood that the heart is an organ in our body.  It pumps blood through our circulatory system, feeding our cells and organs nutrients. When the Word speaks of the heart, it is referring to the THINKING INSTRUMENT of the SOUL.

Scripture tell us that the heart is the seat of emotions.  When Paul prays that the “eyes of the Christian heart” be enlightened, he is asking God to help us grasp the revelation of things revealed to the mind. He wants the revelations to move, motivate, and deepen our spiritual insight.  With knowledge, we can then use wisdom to apply the understanding to our lives. 

When the eyes of the heart are open and enlightened, we FEEL the power and wonder of the truths written in the Word.  With emotions that are in sync with the spiritual revelations of the mind, a believer can be a highly effective and an honorable vessel or tool of God.  A passionate Christian is highly motivated and ready to serve. They want to understand all things of Christ. 

When you face a trial, struggle, or unfathomable circumstance, pray that God opens the eyes of your heart.  The Holy Spirit revelations to your mind will then ignite emotions resting in your heart that validate the truths of the gospel.  We need to feel the truth in our emotions, yes in the heart-not just in our intellect.

It is ok to FEEL the truth with our emotions, but it is not ok to be led by the emotions of the heart alone.  Jeremiah 17:9 warns that the heart is impossible to understand and is deceitful.  No wonder the heart needs eyes to see what the mind is learning from God! 

JOY is an emotion our spirits experience when chewing on the promises and truths of God’s Word.  The eyes of our heart will often rejoice with joy, as our minds comprehend the treasures found in the Bible.  However, we must be careful when other feelings convince us to go or do things that would not please God.  “It FEELS so good so it must be right” is not always the case.  The heart and mind must find confirmation with the leading of the Holy Spirit and the truth spelling out in the Word.

Everything you do flows from the heart and therefore we are instructed to guard it well.  It is the wellspring of our life.  The heart guide and directs us, and every word that comes out of our mouths starts in the heart.  All of our actions and decisions are driven by the desires found in our hearts.  That is why it is so important to ask God to make His desires our desires.

May the wellspring of your life (found in your heart) overflow with joy, as the “eyes of your heart” see and understand how deep His love is for you.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and then He will give you the desires of your heart.  When your will is HIS WILL, how can He deny your request? 

Above all else, guard your heart, 
for everything you do flows from it.”                 Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.”                 Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Bitterness Is A Destructive Weed

Better or Bitter?

 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”   Ephesians 4:31: (ESV)  

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled”                            Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)

Dear One,

When going through a difficult time in life, it is easy to imagine that God has abandoned you.  The shock of unimaginable circumstances, the pain and suffering that they may cause, the confusion and whys that fill your mind, could all lead you down a path of bitterness. 

Hebrews 12:15 describes bitterness as an emotion that takes “root” in a person’s soul.  Bitter feelings and attitudes may start out small and hardly noticeable at first.  However, bitterness quickly grows into something very destructive and troublesome.  It has the ability to defile many.  Malice and spite are birthed from it, and could cause a spirit of ill will and a desire to do evil.  It destroys spiritual joy.

Bitterness is a sign of a worldly attitude.  Those who are bitter will often seek revenge, and unforgiveness usually has an iron grip on their heart. The bitter wronged will take on a stance of judge and jury, thus eliminating God’s right to correct His own children.

Frustration and anger, confusion and hopelessness will lend themselves to the development of a victim’s attitude or perspective.  Constant complaints of, “Why Me?”  will aggravate the sin of bitterness.  We live in a fallen world and we are told that we will have tribulations in this life.  God permits suffering for our own benefit.  His own son was called to suffer incredible brutality.  Trials are meant to transform us into the image of Christ.  They are not enjoyable but they will come.

It is the grace of God with which we must fall upon when tragedy hits.  Faithfulness to our Redeemer must be the spiritual fruit we put into practice during such trying times.  It is with our faith, believing in a loving Creator, that we can accept the unacceptable and move past all trials sent our way.

If you have ever pulled weeds in a garden, you know that they can be incredibly difficult to remove. Some of the smallest weeds have deceptively long and deep roots. It takes a great deal of effort and strength to uproot them.  If a garden is well maintained, weeds are identified and removed while still sprouts.  The uprooting does not disturb the soil too much, and little or no damage is done to nearby plants.

However, if a weed is left to grow and is uprooted when fully mature, surrounding plants will be affected by its removal.  They may be damaged or even themselves uprooted, due to their close proximity to the trespasser.  Bitterness is this weed.  It will certainly affect, uproot, and damage all nearby believers.

Bitterness is just like any other sin.  It will affect our relationship with God and our relationship with those standing beside us.  It will not remain hidden or buried. Eventually, it will sprout and flower. Seeds of bitterness are like helicopter seeds, they whirl themselves about and fly into the wind landing in many different locations.

If the entire root of bitterness is not removed, it will grow back.  An act of forgiveness or the acceptance of the purposes and plans of God, will help in removing the weed completely.  Don’t let the gall or impudence of bitterness rob you of your delight.  Your delight comes from knowing that you have been Redeemed and saved.

Bitterness is a work of the flesh and His “Chosen Ones” should not take part in it’s evil.  It causes anger, strife, rivalries, and dissensions.  It hinders God’s request to be kind and compassionate.  We are commanded to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Bitterness separates us for God and the fellowship of the Body of Christ. Lay down your bitterness and trust that God has a reason for your trial.

“For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”          Acts 8:23 (ESV) 

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”   Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)

The Anxiety Of The Virgin Mary

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Dear Ones,

Mary had a lot on her plate.  I hope her faith and trust inspires you.

“Mary lived in invisibility in the moments of an ordinary, obscure life, as far as anyone in her own life knew.  And yet, in the living of her life, quietly, faithfully, God noticed her…..God saw her and she found favor and pleased His heart.  God always sees…. Even when no one else is noticing.”  Sally Clarkson

“But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”  Luke 21:14 (NIV)

Do you ever feel invisible?  Do you ever feel like you are so ordinary that nobody, not even God could notice or use you for a purpose?  If so, be encouraged by the story of Mary, the woman chosen to give birth to the Savior of the World.

Mary lived her life in quiet faithfulness and God noticed her as she lived her day-to-day life.  The bible does remark that she was a great beauty, like Esther.  Nor was Mary an incredibly intelligent and gifted girl, at least not as far as we know.  She did not have to be talented or outwardly beautiful to get God’s attention.  Her simple faith and goodness is what found her the favor of our Creator.

This favor came at a great cost to this young woman.  Her trials would put many of our sufferings to shame.  We ought to find encouragement in her perseverance and faith to accept the path God decided to lead her down.  She did not shout from the rooftops that she was carrying the Savior of the World.  No, it was with quiet submission that she accepted the will of God.

Mary must have felt great anxiety when facing her betrothed with the news of her pregnancy. Joseph had not known her intimately, and had decided to divorce her quietly. God provided for Mary by sending an angel to Joseph in a dream.  In Matthew 1:20 the angel said, ““Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up from his dream, he did what the angel had commanded and took Mary home as his wife.  Any worry Mary felt was set aside by God’s provision and grace. Protection had been provided.

Throughout Mary’s life, the hand of God was there to provide for her. The birth of her son occurred within walls and not in the great outdoors. A lowly manger was the Savior’s bed, but it was God’s provision and sufficient for Mary’s needs.

Shortly after the wise men had left their gifts with the newborn Savior, a new crisis erupted for Mary and Joseph.  Herod had heard about the birth of a new ruler for Israel.  He sent out an order to kill all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger.

Matthew 2:13 continues the story by saying, “When they (Magi) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

“So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.”

Mary had to set aside her worry and trust that God would protect the Son He had given her through the Holy Spirit. Since the message to leave Bethlehem had come to Joseph, Mary also had to trust that God was leading in her life through her husband.

Mary found favor in God’s eyes through her quiet faithfulness.  She did not go unnoticed.  Her obedience in submitting to God’s eternal plan could have led her to many anxious nights.  Instead, Mary exercised her trust in His goodness and provision.  She threw her cares back up to her heavenly Father, and depended on Him to protect her and lead her throughout life. 

If God is for you, who can be against you?  (Romans 8:31) If you submit to His will for your life, He will be faithful to complete the work that He has begun in you.  Mary’s purpose was to give birth and raise the Son of man.  She did not let worry interfere with that purpose.  She did not let the fear of man or circumstance rob her of the honor God had offered.

Remember Mary and all she had to face the next time worry tries to visit your doorstep.  Consider her act of faith and submit to the trial before you, knowing that God will take care of any problem that challenges you. He is looking for the faithful to cast their cares upon Him.  His shoulders are just about as big as his arm span, and they are as far as the east is from the west.

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”          Psalm 34:4 (NIV)

 “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’”  Luke 1:28      

The description of ‘highly favored’ comes from a single Greek word, which essentially means ”much grace.”

Can you tell I have been battling my old bad habit of worry once again???  Two posts on the topic in two days.  Hopefully, I am not the only one out there that needs to review the topic of anxiety.

I will be at a woman’s retreat and unable to post new articles until Sunday night or Monday.  I am sure I will return with many gems and nuggets to share with all of you. I am feeding my weary soul this week-end and enjoying wonderful Christian fellowship.

 

 

Free Will, Stumbles, And God’s Open Arms

Prodigal Son Go Home 

“If we only have the will to walk, then God is pleased with our stumbles.”            

         -C.S. Lewis

 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”     Luke 15:17-20 (NIV)

Dear Reader,

Free will is one of God’s many gifts to His children.  He made us with His powerful love and wants our love in return, but He will never force us to reciprocate His love.  If He ordered us to love Him, without the option of free choice, our love offering would not be a true and pure one.

When we choose to love God, laying our wills at His feet is part of the sacrificial offering.  Love is never self-seeking, so our wills must fall to the ground.  A committed believer will choose to hand over the heart God created and say, “It is Yours to do with as You will.”

In Deuteronomy 30, we learn that with free will there is life and prosperity, death and destruction.  We are commanded to love and obey Him by keeping His commandments. He wants us to “choose life,” but always the gift of free will remains. 

When we acknowledge that our hearts belong to the Creator, walking with Him will be our greatest desire.  Just as a toddler learns to walk, we will stumble and fall.  This is part of the learning process.  God understands.  He is pleased with your decision to walk with Him and He has no objections with you holding onto His hand to avoid stumbling.

However, when and if you stumble, you can be sure that God will accept you back with open arms.  Think of the prodigal son. He finally humbled himself and went back home to his father.  Surprised by the overwhelming welcome of love, that son would remain faithful and loyal to His father. Gratitude would be in his heart forever. 

When we follow the path of the Prodigal Son, it will be faith and humility that brings us home to Father God.  The love of the Father will keep us by His side holding on to the gift of forgiveness.  We will continue to stumble, but God will smile as we pick ourselves up and choose to take the hand He offers.  He does not look at our failures but rather sees our growth.  He sees the positives and our attempts to grow in goodness, not the wrongs and sins the devil wants to highlight and use to condemn us.

Difficult times may be the catalyst used to propel your return to an active life with Christ.  The hardships you experience could be the actual hand of God reaching down from heaven to save you.

The nail pierced hand of His Son is all you need to remember if you begin to question God’s love for you.  Choose to accept His hand and let Him lead you.  His grace will be sufficient to carry you on your way to glory.

You may get more skinned knees along your way, but God carries an endless supply of band-aides.  Since stumbling will occur, I recommend a good pair of spiritual hiking boots.

(The armor of Christ does include, “Sandals of Peace.”)

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NIV)   “ See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”

 

Broken Seed

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“Never underestimate the power of one, tiny broken seed.  Placed in the right hands, it will surely grow into an expression of His beauty for all to see.”      -Mary Southerland

John 12:24 (NIV)  “ Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Dear Reader,

It is never fun enduring a trial or being broken.  The pain or sorrow that accompanies the struggle can be devastating and loathsome.  Depression will often try to smother  a weary soul, like a slow mist on a dark night.  

Difficult times are sent by God to teach us perseverance and trust, unless we have brought them on by our own sinful choices.  In that case, reaping the consequences of our sin can still be turned into useful lessons and wisdom.

There are hidden sins deep inside each of us, which will only rise to the surface when we are pressed and tested.  Exposed, these sins will either humble us into confessing them to God, or anger us. 

In the later case, we will attempt to burry these sins once again in the depths of our very being.  Thankfully, God loves us enough not to let them remain hidden for long.  New trials will come to bring these same sins to the surface.  Until humility finds us, and our confessions are laid at the feet of Christ, the refining process will continue and address the same issues. 

One cannot climb a mountain until specific basic skills have been mastered.  Sin after sin, spiritual lesson after lesson, we eventually recognize the wisdom of God’s love at work in our lives.  With this new maturity in Christ, we willingly allow ourselves to be broken by God’s merciful hands.

It is therefore this laying down of self-will that finally propels a believer into a place of real usefulness for the Lord.  It is in dying that we find life.  It is in serving that we obtain joy and contentment.  It is with a selfless life that we find peace and rest for our souls.

If WE are that single mustard seed of faith (or kernel of wheat), broken and lying on the ground, we have the blessed opportunity to multiply for His Kingdom’s sake.  Yes, in dying we are watered by the Hands of God and a new harvest arises out of our single act of dying to self. 

As broken seeds, sown and transformed into plants with fruit, the Master Gardener must decide which plants He should harvest and which ones should go to seed.  For you see, the plant whose fruit is harvested is enjoyed at the banquet table of God.  However, the plants permitted the honor of going to seed will become either a spice offering to God, or sown once again for an even bigger harvest the next spring.

Either way, a broken and single seed will produce much for the kingdom of God.  Your trial is an opportunity to give yourself over to God.  It is in dying that you will find eternal life, it is worth the breaking.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)    “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Galatians 6:9 (ESV)    “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Psalm 126:6 (ESV)   “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

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