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Time to refocus!

anxiousladyI am sometimes a very slow learner when it comes to spiritual lessons. Fortunately, God is so patient with me/us! He allows us to try our own methods until we realize they don’t work so great and than allows us to refocus on what is important. In fact, through the nudging of the Holy Spirit, He will show us along the way if we listen.

When I find myself getting physically and or emotionally anxious I know that something is off in my relationship with Christ. I have come to realize that that usually follows taking my eyes off the things God has shown me through His Word, His Spirit or other brothers or sisters in Christ and putting them on the natural. The natural is NOT what we are to focus on.  It will limit God working in us and through us!

Our focus is to be on the revelation of the Word of God, who He is and what He has called us to do. Things that are to be accomplished for the Kingdom of God will never be achieved by focusing on the natural. It is through His supernatural revelation and the working of the Spirit that these things will be done by.

If you are finding yourself stressed, strained, upset, fearful or angry, it’s time you get quiet before the Lord and confess whatever it is that has captured your attention away from Him and His promises. Get into prayer and lay it out before Him and than rest in knowing He HAS heard you and will make a way. Rest in knowing He knows everything about you, about your past and your future. He has promised you REST as you walk out this life and He is waiting to provide it to you.  “And He said, my presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Get alone with Him today, confess your sins, lay your messed up emotions at His feet and wait on the REST He promises, no matter what your circumstances are.  REST is not dependent upon good times only. He promises peace and rest DESPITE our circumstances!

“COME TO ME, ALL  YOU WHO LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” ~ Matthew 11:28

 

Life is but a Vapor

This past weekend we lost a dear friend. She had recently been battling cancer and lost her fight. In our minds and hearts we lost her way too soon. She was still young! We didn’t expect to lose her this soon! This morning I was reminded that there are no guarantees when it comes to our life span. We cannot possibly predict what the future may hold for any one of us.  I was hit in the face with this fact almost ten years ago when we lost our twenty year old son Daniel in a car accident. I was reminded of it again this weekend.

There is no certainty, no guarantees and no assurance that we will have another day, another week, another month etc. As much as we like to feel we have control over so much of our life, this is one area none of us can control completely. We can take care of ourselves and try and stay fit but even that does not guarantee longevity.  So what does this mean? Should we live our lives in fear or discouragement knowing just how frail life can be? Should we worry incessantly about what could happen? The answer to all three questions is a resounding NO!

We are to live each day as if it were our last, abiding in Christ and serving as we have been called. NO fear, NO terror, NO worry, just living out our lives with purpose each day as we walk close to the ONE who gives us purpose. Each day is a gift God gives us to walk close to Him and share the gospel with a dying world. As long as we are staying close to Him through our prayer life and increasing our faith through the reading of the Word, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts and leading us. That is how we are to live each day. Not worrying about tomorrow or what it may bring. Simply living each day with His purposes in our heart! When we need wisdom to do so we simply ask for it. He promises to give it to us liberally! When we stumble, we need to repent and get right back on track. Moving forward in the course He has set before us.

We run into the most trouble when we forget that we who follow Christ, have been called for a purpose. We have been bought with a high price, the price of His shed blood. We have not been called to ignore God’s purposes and live out our own plans. When we remember to whom we owe our life and redemption we live with His purpose in mind. We lose the need to control our future. James says it beautifully. James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

None of us knows what the future holds. We do know that we have been given this day! This day to walk close to the ONE who saved us and called us. Let’s remember to seek His face today and fulfill the purposes He has for us! Not worrying about tomorrow, next week, or any time in the future!

Lord, forgive us for our arrogance in thinking we have all the time in the world to fulfill Your purposes. Remind us each day that we need to live close to You, seeking Your face and purposes for our life. Knowing that life is but a vapor! We may not have tomorrow but we have today!   We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Really? Peace & Joy during a storm?

There is only one way, we who are followers of Christ, can possibly have peace when we go through a storm in life. It is by believing in the depths of our being the truth that God is faithful to us and will NEVER allow us to go through more than we can bear. It is knowing with absolute certainty that NOTHING or NO ONE is able to cause us to lose our peace and joy if we put our trust in the ONE who is absolutely trustworthy. The reason we too often lose our peace when the storms come is simply because we have stopped believing that everything that happens to us has been allowed by the ONE who knows us best!  He who knew us while we were being formed in our mother’s wombs, knows what can be used in the transformation of our character from selfish, self absorbed individuals to sold out, Spirit lead followers of Christ.

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote, “God gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” There is so much truth in this quote. Why does it often take afflictions, trials, storms to grow us up? Perhaps it is because when things are going smoothly we tend to forget the goodness of our God. We tend to fall back into the pattern of thinking somehow we have control over all our circumstances. We forget just how much we need to rely on and depend on the lover of our soul!  When difficulties enter our lives it usually doesn’t take us too long before we are back to crying out to God for His help.

God wants us to go through life knowing, really knowing and believing that ALL things work together to them who love God and them who are called according to His purpose. When we finally really get it, really believe it, than we are able to trust Him regardless of the battle, regardless of the size of our opponent and regardless of the severity of the difficulty. This is how we are called to live as followers of Christ. Not on a daily emotional roller coaster that is fueled by our emotions and insecurities. We are to live by the truth of His Word which tells us nothing can separate us from Christ or His love for us. NOTHING!  If we allow them, afflictions will teach us just how reliable HE really is. If we speak the truth of His word to our situation and believe it in the depths of our being, than we are able to maintain our joy and peace no matter how difficult or severe the trial is. The truth of this has been demonstrated through centuries by all those martyrs who have willingly given their lives rather than deny Christ. They believed the truth of His Word and they lived it! Their lives and even their deaths became a witness for all those around them, that God will give the grace and willingness to endure whatever may come to those who love Him.

If our love is conditional based solely on His gifts and blessings to us it is not really love at all. If we truly love Him and believe He is who He says He is and that He loves us enough to not allow us to endure more than we can bear, we will be able to go through ANY circumstance with joy and peace. 

 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”~Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not for one second suggesting this may be easy. Yet it is possible. Not by mind over matter or wishful thinking but soley by knowing the truth of who HE is and how very much HE loves us. By knowing Christ’s promises are as good today as they were when He walked the earth.  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.~Romans 8:28  

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;  and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.~Romans 5:1-5 

Our confidence in these truths  grow as we spend time with Him daily in prayer and as we spend time reading our Bibles, the Word of God.

 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.~Psalm 145:18  

 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.~Colossians 4:2

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.~2 Timothy 3:16,17

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”~Romans 10:17

None of us know when trials will come. If we stay close to our Savior and grow in our faith, knowing and trusting Him completely, when they come we will not be swept away. We will be able to stand and endure with peace and with true joy (not surface happiness) but true joy, knowing whatever He allows to touch us is going to work out for long term good!  He will continue to grow Christ like character in us as we go through the very things we wish to avoid the most.

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

Ultimately, Christ is preparing us to one day meet Him face to face and hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” My prayer is that we will cultivate a deeper, more sincere walk with our Savior and Lord and that we will hide the Word of God in our hearts so that when the storms of life come crashing in, we will NOT be troubled or dismayed. We will confidently rest in knowing even in this, we can joyfully trust Him!  He is still in control!

Where’s your focus?

For those of us who call Jesus Lord and King, we have so much to be thankful for. For those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and King they have so much to gain by calling on His name. With Him in our life we are able to walk through any situation that life may throw at us. He doesn’t allow His kids to go through more temptation than they are able to bare if they abide in Him through the journey. He may allow a storm in our lives but He will never  bail on us during the thick of it. Never!

 

Too often we slip into a pattern of worry or fear with regards to the future. We forget that the lover of our soul never turns a blind eye to His church. Instead, He waits to hear from us. He longs for our fellowship. He is as close as the mention of His very name!

When we find ourselves feeling far from Him it is usually the result of setting our eyes on the natural. We forget that our relationship is a relationship of faith, not based on what we see but instead on the truth of the Word of God and the revelation of who Christ is through the Holy Spirit.  It is so important that we get ourselves back to the truth of the Word of God and the knowledge of who Christ is and will always be! He is Emmanuel, GOD with us! Don’t forget it! Instead let the truth of that sink into your heart! God loved us enough that He sent His own Son for our redemption. He wanted to restore a relationship with us so much that He allowed His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you and me!  That’s an awesome love right there!

When you find yourself reducing Christ and enlarging your problems, it’s time to get back to this basic truth. It’s time to heed Apostle Paul’s words taken from Colossians 3:1-3 NIV Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

You will only grow in your intimacy and love for Christ when you set your mind on things above. It is there in the realm of faith that He will begin to move the mountains in your life as your lean into Him and trust Him to do so! Keeping your eyes on your problems will keep you bound by them! Keeping your eyes on Christ will allow Him to move mightily!  James 1:8 KJV tells us A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  We can’t keep our eyes focused on our problems and trust God for the answers at the same time. We must exercise our faith and turn them over to Him and trust Him to work everything  out for our good! He promised to do just that!  Romans 8:28 NIV 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

If you are struggling through a situation right now, take your eyes of your current situation and remember you have been raised with Christ through your redemption. Set your heart and mind  on things above. Remember that Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is ever making intercession for you, His church! There is nothing too big or difficult for Him to handle. Release the fear and stress of your situation into the hands of the ONE who loved and loves you more than His life itself!  Trust Him, He is worthy!

 

 

Did I choose by chance?

It is an exciting thing to know that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God Himself drew you to Him. Do you realize that?  It wasn’t just that one day you made the decision to follow Christ. Before that day ever happened God Himself drew you to the place where you would make Christ your Lord and Savior.

I think many of us forget what an interested and loving God we serve. He creates the desire in us in the first place! He calls us by name and draws us to His Son! It is impossible to come to Christ without the Father Himself first drawing us to Him!

In the book of John Jesus tells us just that. John 6:44-45 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” What a beautiful thing to know that God was interested enough in you and I that He drew us to His beautiful Son for salvation and abundant life!

If you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or thinking that you will never amount to much remember this,  GOD loved you enough to draw you to His Son!  That makes you incredibly special and important! He offers you abundant life! He offers you a life of purpose!  He doesn’t draw anyone to Christ to stay in the same place!

Let the awesomeness of that sink into your soul today as you go about your day. You are loved so much by your Heavenly Father that He has drawn you to His Son! When we begin to grasp the truth of the depth of God’s love for us we will live as God has called us to live, like lights in a dark world!

Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV

 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let the truth lighten you today!

 

DON’T lose heart

When you find yourself in a hard place caused by someone else do you find yourself asking, “God when are you going to answer? When are you going to put a stop to all of this?” Well I have it on good authority that God hears your petition! He is not a god of stone or wood, He is the ONE true living God! Jesus gave us some pretty wonderful encouragement with just this matter in the book of Luke.

Luke 18:1-8 NKJV  Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”

Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

This is such a powerful nugget that we too often read through quickly and neglect to allow the significance of this word sink in. We are not a people that should lose heart but instead to always pray!  We are not to pray once and give up grumbling  when we don’t receive an answer immediately. We don’t really like to hear it but  God will allow our adversaries to be used in the sanctification process of our walk with Him.  As we go through such a process Jesus tells us  that we are to continue to pray through. God will answer our prayer. He points out in this parable how even the unjust judge will answer a petitioner if they fail to give up asking. How much more can we count on God, who loves us, to answer us! Not only will He answer but He will avenge His elect (that’s us!) So what does that mean? He will hear us. He will also avenge on our behalf. The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of avenge is;

avenge     verb \ə-ˈvenj\    : to harm or punish someone who has harmed you or someone or something that you care about

So not only will God hear us and answer but He will also handle our adversaries. We don’t need to. He will do so in His way, in His wisdom on our behalf. We have no excuse to allow hatred or bitterness against our adversary in. We can count on the fact that if we, His elect,  cry out to God and do not lose heart, He will answer and take care of our adversaries too.

Jesus isn’t talking about an adversary here of our own making. For example, if we have mistreated or sinned against someone and we are receiving the fall out of that, we shouldn’t be surprised. God will allow us to reap what we sow from time to time. 1 Peter 3:15,16 NKJV 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.  He is referring to unjust treatment through no fault of our own. This may be as a result of our Christian  stand on issues, our faith itself or for any number of other reasons. Just to be clear we are not to willingly hurt others and call on God to avenge them on our behalf!   😉 However if we find ourselves being unjustly targeted or persecuted we are to cry out to God for help and know that He will answer! He may choose to allow us to endure for a season but we can be sure He will be with us as we do. As we cry out to Him, He will equip us to endure whatever He allows and He will take care of our adversary.

Throughout the world we have brothers and sisters in Christ suffering for their faith. They are not forgotten by God. Their prayers are being heard. Though they may be called to endure persecution for a season or even give their life for Christ, He will be with them every step of the way. He will equip them for the task.  God will not allow them to endure more than they are able to endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV assures us of this.13 No temptation (including the temptation to recant our faith) 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.

 Perhaps one day, we too will be called to do the same.  Jesus is telling us in Luke 18 that regardless of the unfairness of a situation God permits us to go through, regardless of who our adversary is,  we are not to lose heart! We are to continue in prayer! Just because our situation may not be pleasant, it does not mean God does not hear our cries! In fact, we can be certain He does!  He is JUST and we can be assured He hears our cries!

So whatever situation you may find yourself facing right now, DO NOT lose heart! DO NOT give up crying out to Him. He hears and will answer! He will not allow you to go through one iota more than you can bear. Of that you can be sure!  Jesus said so.