Jul 27, 2012

Yep, We’re Going Thru

The testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. When you ask, believe and not doubt. James 3:3-6

Release and trust. Trust God - whether you see victory yet or not - cause He IS gonna come through for YOU. Don’t just believe that God can do it, or that He’ll do it for others and not you. No … He’ll do it for YOU too, for He’s no respecter of persons. It doesn't matter what it looks like, God's still moving. Most of the time we don't see where God's been till after He's already past (done what we need).

If you feel alone or like God isn’t hearing you, that’s just not true. God is ALWAYS with you and He hears your EVERY cry. God hasn't abandoned you, He may have just stepped back so you could see how strong, tall and beautiful you really are.

I’ve been having a lot of physical problems lately, including trouble with both my knees (bursitis, bones separating, and possible gout) and I can barely walk. Both knees are swollen and now my legs are swollen, too. I started using my cane and now my hand and wrist have become so swollen that I can’t even use the cane anymore. I’m used to lifting weights every day, doing 2 or 300 sit ups a day, and walking 3 miles 5 times a week and now … NOTHING. I feel like I’m going stir crazy. It’s pretty frustrating. On top of everything else that I’m behind with, I have 2 acres of grass that needs to be cut, desperately (pray for help with that, thanks).

The below scripture from Job really brings fight to my soul, a desire to not give up. Each time I’ve had severe medical problems or have been in the hospital, the Lord has had it rise up from within my spirit and it renews my hope. I quote it quiet often and it’s really become like a theme scripture for me:

Though He slay me, yet will I wait for and trust Him and I'll maintain and argue my ways before Him and even to His face. Job 13:15

So often we think that we’re going through a severe trial or storm because we’ve sinned. Sometimes that’s true. The Lord will use our desperate times to show us areas that we need to work on. BUT, we need to stop receiving the lies of the enemy about us and what we’re doing and not doing, and instead be able to come to the Lord and ask Him what He thinks. BE STILL and listen to what He has to say. Wait on Him if you have to. He’s faithful to point out areas that we need work on … without beating us up. God is a GENTLE leader and a GOOD Father. During a trial if He shows you some area where you’ve sinned or need work on, ask for forgiveness, repent, and ask for grace and help to do better. Period. WITHOUT guilt or shame move on. If you don't hear anything, if the Lord isn't pointing to a particular thing that you need work on, you're probably not in the trial due to sin.

Sometimes the trials we go through are because WE’RE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT. The enemy would like nothing better than to steal, kill and destroy us. He doesn’t want us helping people and encouraging them in the Lord. Tough toodles, the enemy is a loser. We must be strong and continue to carry on. We’re gonna do it anyway.

If you’re going through a hard trial … that trial is almost over … hold on a little longer. The trial WILL come to an end. I said, the trial WILL come to an end. If you're doing your best ... KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING ... and be listening for further instruction. Our part is to praise, it's the Lord who actually defeats our enemies for us. Praise God (whether you see victory yet or not) 'cause He's gonna come through for you.

We don't have to be afraid anymore, because our loving, heavenly Father walks through the valley of the shadow of death WITH US.

Father, forgive us for the times that we hurt You. Help us to repent and move on instead of beating ourselves up when You show us areas that need work. Be the lifter of our heads. Encourage us. Be so close that we can feel Your loving arms around us. Lord, give us peace and rest on EVERY side. Help us to make it successfully through the trials you allow in our lives and help us not to give up while going through them. Defeat our enemies. Hold us in the palm of Your hand. Thank You Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 see also: There's a Reason for That Test, You Know
                How's That Waiting Thing Working Out for You?

Jul 20, 2012

The Enemy of Busyness

"I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, 'You are my God!' My future is in Your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly." Psalm 31:14-15

Are you burning the candle at both ends? Taking on too many responsibilities, no matter how 'good' they may be, can often render us ineffective for service to God.

Busyness, no matter how much it may be 'working for the Lord' can exhaust us, make us unavailable for quaility time with our family, and can cause us to miss opportunities that the Lord may specifically want us to be a part of because we've already filled up our time slots or are just plain too tired to do it.

When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another - and ourselves.

God knows our limits. He understands our capacities.  He's willing, if we will ask Him, to help us navigate the busyness and activity that often trips us up. Thankfully, He can rescue us from the barren life of busyness. He wants us to offer our too-full schedules up to Him, allowing Him to weed out all the activities and responsibilities. Then, place back on our calendars only the things HE longs for us to do and possess.

When this happens, we can create space in our calendar to retreat, places of sweet respite in our days where we connect with God. We can SLOW DOWN and sit still to listen and learn.

SLOW DOWN. Sit in God's presence. Take a walk in the park. When someone talks to you, really listen. Are all those things that you've put before your God and loved ones REALLY that important?

Taking time out for a break from it all is something we need to do for ourselves, WITHOUT feeling guilty the whole time we're trying to do it. We need time for God to refill and refresh us. We need time for God to speak to us. We need time for God to minister to our emotions. Resting and relaxing is the most spiritual thing we can do sometimes.

It's time to put our schedules before the Lord. Have you overcommited?

Father, forgive us for allowing busyness to overtake our lives, crowding out others and worst of all You. Help us to take care of Your temple, for You live within us. We offer our bodies to You as a living sacrifice. Help us to get rest and refreshment like we should. Help us as we purpose to place only those items on our calendars that You want for us to have on them. Show us what to do with our time, Lord. Lead us. Give us grace and discernment when to say 'yes' and the boldness to say 'no' when we should, without fear of rejection or making others mad. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Jul 18, 2012

The Man with the Plan

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, '(good) plans to prosper you and not (bad) to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' Jeremiah 29:11

God definitely has a plan, a good plan for our lives. We aren't here just to wander through life going from one crisis to another. We may think God's apathetic and cruel. We may have mixed Him up with the world. But He couldn't possibly will us evil when His very character is goodness -- and good will toward all of us.

God's planted a seed of purpose within us, but we must diligently seek Him in order for the seed to grow, and most of the time that seed doesn't grow into a full-fledged plant without dying, getting imbedded and being nourished ... and that takes time. We'll reap a harvest at just the RIGHT time. Seed --- TIME --- harvest.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Has God planted a seed and a desire within you to do something? Don't allow your circumstances to dictate whether or not that seed becomes a plant. Keep your eyes off your circumstances and on God.

'No weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from Me. I, the Lord, have spoken!' Isaiah 54:17

God wants us to hope and trust Him for a brighter tomorrow. Don't give up. Press in to God and press on with Him. God promises that He'll give us the desires of our heart when our will is aligned with His.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Trust God with your life ... the path you take, the friends you have, the place you live, the family He's placed you in, the ministry He's blessed you with ... trust Him with it all, for He's a good, faithful father and He will NEVER let you down.

If God tells us to do something we don't have to know why, just know that He WILL accomplish what He wants to through it. God DOES NOT want us to fail and He's going to make sure that we don't, for God's our greatest encourager.

Following Jesus is the ultimate plan for us all and to use our specific talents in His service. Seek God. Read and meditate on His Word. Love Him with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-40). Take advantage of every opportunity that the Lord gives you. These things are being in His will and following His plan.

Father, I pray that You give us hope and help us not to give up. Silence and defeat our enemies. Help the plans that You have for us to come to fruition and help nothing to get in our way. Work YOUR will through us Lord as we submit our all to You. Give us strength and wisdom to be able to do all that You ask us to do. Help us to love You and love others. In Jesus' name, amen.

Jul 8, 2012

In Times of Weakness

Let us then fearlessly, confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. Hebrews 4:16

In times of weakness do you depend on God, obey Him and seek strength to overcome? Or do you make excuses and turn from His leading? Vulnerabilities can drive you closer to God or blind you to His love.

Are your circumstances weighing you down? Do you feel trapped in your present situation? If so, you may be searching for a way out of your suffering. You may be vainly trying to find relief and solace in the flawed solutions of this world. Yet as we learn from the apostle Paul, God is the only solution to our struggles.

For years, Paul struggled with what he called "a thorn in my flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Many have theorized about what it might have been, but no one knows for sure what Paul faced. We do, however, know that it was mentally and physically exhausting for Paul. Perhaps because we aren't certain what it was, we can relate more to Paul's struggle as we compare it to our own.

In the midst of his pain and suffering, Jesus spoke directly to Paul, reassuring him of His watchcare.

"Three times," says Paul, "I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Few of us like to think of ourselves as being weak. We like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient, even in our spirituality. We think we need to be strong in our Christian walk, so when sorrow comes, we strike out against it. When faced with discouragement, we draw back in fear. In the face of disappointments, we become angry, wondering if God has forgotten us. But HE HASN'T, and HE WON'T.

God didn't forget nor dismiss Paul's thorn, and He won't overlook ours. He uses life's stresses - physical and emotional - to draw us closer to Him. He can speak to us and show us how and where His grace is most efficient.

God could've eliminated Paul's struggle in a moment. But He knew that Paul would receive the greater blessing and the greater lesson by learning to rely on God's perfect strength through his difficulties. God knew that His grace wouldn't manifest or shine in a strong and self-sufficient person like it would in a person who suffered in weakness.

Do you find yourself stretched to the breaking point today? Even if you believe "I can't take another day of this. I just need to leave, to escape, to begin again," - you CAN'T outrun God. When you're faced with hardship, you need to run toward Him, not away from His love.

Some people, even Christians, have been running from God their whole lives. When the storms of life come, instead of leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ, they choose to run to false shelters, attempting to escape His reach. In the Psalms, King David had a realization about the wonder of God's grace and forgiveness, rather than running.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

Without a doubt, you can know that no matter what life menaces you with, God will pull you to safety if you call on Him. He is the One that can save you from certain defeat and give you the hope you need.

Panic and anxiety are no match for God's grace. He goes before us into life's battles. The victory is ours, though it does not come through our efforts or strength. It comes from His hands and His grace. No one is more committed to our success than Christ.

No matter what you face, God's grace IS sufficient. His power is revealed and made perfect through your weakness. Never be ashamed to cry out to the Lord. He listens for you and will come to you, fulfilling the promise of His matchless, perfect grace.

Don't be ashamed, embarrassed, or too prideful to come to Christ ... He's waiting for you.

God is the ONLY solution to our struggles.

Father, help us to come to You in time of need, without fear of rejection or judgment. We need Your grace to carry us through. Help us to come boldly to You, Abba Father ... and there I know You'll wrap Your loving, heavenly arms around us and give us strength and grace to go on. Comsume us with Your presence and Your peace. In Jesus' name, amen.

see also: Turn to God

Jul 4, 2012

Release From the Bondage of Self-Rejection

Therefore, accept each other just as
Christ has accepted you, so that
God will be given glory.
Romans 5:7

There’s many people that live in bondage and aren’t even aware of it. Even though they don’t face bars and chains, they’ve fallen victim to beliefs and behaviors that keep them in captivity. They may go about their life thinking that everything’s all right, but deep down inside of them something’s really wrong.

The bondage is that of self-rejection, which can have absolutely devastating effects on your life. When you internalize the cruel words and rejection of certain people and believe their lies about you, it can wound you deeply. You begin to think that everyone views you the way that they do - even God. Yet, it's
bondage and you MUST break free of it.

Rejection is one of the most painful emotions that a person can experience. We sense someone else’s
disrespect or disapproval and it undermines our confidence. No one ever enjoys feeling rejected, but when a person experiences it continually, they eventually become accustomed to it. It permeates all their thoughts and everything that they do. They eventually reject their self because those feelings of failure and disapproval
become part of their identity.

When a person falls to the bondage of self-rejection, they can’t believe anything good about their self. They need someone who they see as more important to accept them in order to feel approval. Of course, this is undermined the moment they fail to earn that person’s approval. This is a trap that can be devastating to
a person’s life because it affects everything.

As a result, they may:

• have a critical spirit because they feel rejected
• have difficulty loving others
• continually feel inferior and incapable
• attempt to get attention in immodest and unwise ways
• have a spirit of perfectionism, and because of that will often procrastinate
• have an ongoing attitude of anger and bitterness
• be very easily hurt and offended
• be very suspicious of other people’s kindness
• tend to be a loner because they eventually drive people off

When people experience rejection, they may take all kinds of wrong steps to feel better about
themselves. Instead of looking to God for their worth, they focus on the people who disapprove of them and look to ungodly ways to earn others’ endorsements. As Christians, it’s easy for us to be critical of them and we need to stop. So often we wind up rejecting them for their behavior and just add to the hurt and woundedness, instead of loving them despite their actions. When we tell someone, ’You’re bad. You’re evil. You’re no good,’ we fire darts at the person’s heart and damage them. However, when we confront them with the truth out of love, we can impact their life for Christ.

We ALL need a sense of belonging, a sense of worth, and a sense of comptence.
We’re accepted by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If God approves of someone, what other people think shouldn’t make much of a difference.

You have not received
a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:15,16

Although all of us were alienated from God by sin, now … through Christ, we’ve been adopted into His family. We belong because the Father loves us. The One who’s opinion really matters has accepted us - and NO ONE can change that.

Our worth is found
in Jesus Christ. God loved us so much that He gave the life of His only Son to save us. THAT IS LOVE and in its ultimate expression. How much are we worth to God? EVERYTHING.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Our competence comes
through the Holy Spirit. We have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us. He prepares us, equips us, and
helps us in every task God calls us to do.

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells
in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

Have you experienced rejection? Do you know
someone who has? Rejection is painful and destructive. However, you can’t focus on the feelings it causes because they’ll lead you away from the truth of God’s love for you. As a Christian, you belong to almighty God. Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you have an ever-present, all powerful Helper in every situation. God loves you UNCONDITIONALLY, has forgiven you COMPLETELY, and has accepted you TOTALLY. You are a whole person in Christ, which is why you should thank God for all that He has given you. Praise is the best and surest way of overcoming your feelings of rejection, because you are affirming the truth with your words.

Though we would like all people's approval, the truth is it's not going to happen. We have to be ok with ourself and carry on, whether we ever get people's approval or not.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for loving us unconditionally, forgiving us completely, and accepting us totally. Thank You for making us a whole, accepted, worthy, competent person through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

see also: Do You Hate Yourself?