Now and Later

Now and Later

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When I was a kid, my favorite candy was called “Now and Later”. Small squares of taffy individually wrapped in a variety of flavors wrapped in colorful paper sold at every corner store. A bit sour at first, it took a while to chew it until it softened and completely swallow it because it stuck to every corner of your mouth. The inventor decided to take a bar of taffy and cut it up so it could be enjoyed – you guessed it – now and later. Previously the bar was sold in whole pieces so it had to be consumed all at once. Surprisingly this candy has withstood the test of time and is still available in nineteen different flavors. Have you ever eaten a “Now and Later” candy? It is very dense, thick and chewy. At first it requires a great deal of jaw strength and a whole lot of work to make it soft enough to enjoy. It takes a while to process and swallow to digest. So it is with faith and the process is called endurance. The only requirement is patience.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation now. Afterward (later), they will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. Why would God test and tempt us now? He doesn’t. God will test us, but it is our flesh that does the tempting. Today – there are many in the middle of a test who think God is tempting them or otherwise engaging them in this difficult process. It is human nature to try to escape those situations and conditions that require us to “patiently endure.” Who wants to be stretched? Who asks to struggle? Yet throughout our life certain circumstances and difficult conditions call for this very thing. We must learn to patiently endure because Jesus told us those who “endure to the end will be saved.” I think we have painted a multifaceted picture with brilliant color of what that means in accordance with our situation or condition. However, God in all things sets forth a redemption process in our life. We endure the process and He produces the outcome. Not just any outcome, the best of all possible outcomes. He gives us victory in all things through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are overcomers.

What does it mean to patiently endure? I looked up both words and here is what I have come up with. To be patient means bearing provocation. Provocation is anything that incites, instigates, angers or irritates. Provocation occurs each day. People seem to be the ones who hit the deepest nerve and many will give credit to the enemy. Proverbs tells us that if we fall under pressure that our strength is too small. There is no provocation that can overtake us unless it is our reaction to give in to it. Provocation is like the giant taunting David in the midst of the battlefield. His words and verbal attack could not hurt God’s Man. He patiently endured his brothers ridicule and the Philistines banter. He won!

To be patient means bearing annoyance. I grow annoyed every day don’t you? Little things become bigger things by dwelling upon them. How many thorns in the flesh do you have? Overcoming annoyance means to learn to ignore disturbances and those pointless arguments. We must learn to focus on the One who brings peace and rest to our mind, will and emotions. Those who trust the Lord will have perfect peace. Annoyances become disturbances that distract us. Leading us from following Jesus to be driven by the fuel of emotionalism.

To be patient means bearing misfortune. Everything may not work out the way that we think it will or expect it to but that does not mean it is not working in our favor. God takes every detail of our life and works it out for our good and His Glory. When reading the Gospels, it is hard to understand sometimes the doubt and disbelief exhibited by the disciples. However, we have the whole picture. We see Jesus on the Cross. We know that He released His Spirit and soon it would be available to us. We know that He is coming back from the dead and resurrected to life. But to these men, this was real life. Depicted in real time without a higher perspective or futuristic vantage point. They say Jesus persecuted. They witnessed the violent beatings and torture of the Man they called Messiah. They heard the nails being driven into His Hands and Feet. They experienced the humiliation of the Cross and the belittling of those who watched everything they believed made a sacrifice that day. We were not. We are given the whole story beginning to end. Yet many still do not believe…it was the same then as it is now. Unmet expectation only means that it was not in Jesus Christ. He will fulfill every desire of our heart if we are patient in misfortune.

Patience is bearing delays, deferment or postponement in life. It means taking a seat right there and being still when God says, “Wait.” I don’t like to wait. In fact, over time I can see all the ways the Lord has offered me opportunities to learn to wait. A little here and a little more there. Over time, I have become much more patient. From my early childhood to young adulthood, my grandmother probably told me once a day – you must be patient. The church told me no matter what to never pray for patience for the process is too hard. Knowing all this, the Word of God tells me that I must by all means endure the process that produces patience to receive God’s Blessing. Proverbs says a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. I wonder if God proverbially calls life a tree so that we will come to realize growing faith is a slow process involving many seasons. We will wait. Those who wait in the Lord are promised not just the strength to do so but in their humble state to be lifted up at just the right time. I know you are tired of waiting – I feel your pain. I also know the joy and life that comes when the dream or desire is finally fulfilled. It is always worth the wait.

To be patient is to bear hardship. Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people. Sin is the rampant. Love has grown cold. Worldly expectation cannot count on fulfillment because the heart is fickle. Difficulties are certain. Oppression will come. Suffering is inevitable. Feeling any better yet?

Of course, the final thing and probably the one most understood is pain. Human beings experience pain from birth. It is a common thread. We know how to support each other through painful processes including physical infirmities, emotional breakdowns and mental suffering. Most people have some form of compassion. Pain is part of life because of sin. It was introduced by the first humans who chose their way over God’s Plan. They picked the lie over the Truth and so here we are now. Your sin does not necessarily produce the pain in your life because of anything you do or do not do. It is just a prevailing factor of human depravity. If a virus or germ goes undetected by our immune system, it becomes an infection. If our body doesn’t come against it fighting it, it will lead to death. Sin is a factor in our DNA. God’s Word, His Will and His Way are given to us and we are guided by His Spirit to avoid it. However, we are still subject to the invasion of our life due to the sin that is already here. God’s Grace given in Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin and death over our life. Though there is pain, there is the promise that He will relieve our pain, wipe our tears, and heal us forever.

All of those bearings in life will inevitably happen in your lifetime, but the thing that makes the difference between going through them or to do so patiently is this: to do so with fortitude and calm without complaint, anger or the like. I have endured many things in life. However, by definition there are not many of them which I have done so successfully. I have quit and I have definitely complained. I have been angry. Pitched a fit. Walked away. How about you? God uses these natural situations and everyday occurs us to teach us endurance. To endure means to bear without resistance, to hold out against, to sustain without impairment. It is to tolerate and put up with it. Those who learn to do so are promised God’s Blessing in their life now and later.

Maybe you are thinking as you read this – you have outlined my life, trials, tests and temptation in great detail – are you really trying to make me feel better about it? “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a change to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing!” God has a purpose in this process called life. It is not easy. It requires patient endurance that is only possible by faith and confident hope. That is not easy either – faith is evidence of unseen things that cannot be experienced in the natural. It is to explore possibility in the impossible. It to live a life that is illogical compared to our flesh and human nature. It takes time to produce such a change in the heart and mind. Trouble is when the pressure and pain that produces endurance hit us – it is our desire and temptation to escape. Temptation is the personal desire to give up, give in, or go another way when faced with obstacles and oppression the force the God in us to be expelled from us. The pressure of death to life is overwhelming. New life takes time. Like a tree planted by the riverbank going through many seasons, but the promise is that we will prosper in all of them. A tree must withstand every season because it is planted with deep roots in the ground. What about you? Are you planted in a firm foundation of faith? Are you patiently enduring the change of each season? Are you struggling just to hang on? Does the end of your rope appear to be a disappearing thread?

I Peter 2:19-21 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

I used to perceive God only as futuristic. This was my way of avoiding the things I did not understand or could not reconcile to the Love of God and found contradictory to His Character. There will be things in my heart and mind that I struggle with. Certain outcomes that do not meet my expectation. Are you patiently enduring today or just struggling to get by? I want to encourage you today. If we decide to apply faith and confidence to our struggles each day, it will produce peace and joy as God begins to complete the work that He began in us. Do not be discouraged. The disciples struggled to believe in all things with Jesus right there with them. God is pleased when we patiently endure. He did not say that we were perfect, He is perfect. It is His Perfection that blesses us as He makes good out of every detail of our life. We must only try wholehearted to seek Him and we will find Him. Patient endurance is holding on to our faith without wavering from our faith. He knows life is hard. He knows we are tempted. He knows we are only human. He is working every detail for our good. His Blessing is not our success or failure to overcome the obstacles presented in each day but our simple obedience called patient endurance.

Mark 6:47-50 (NLT)  Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 

When the disciples were caught in a storm in the pitch black darkness right in the middle of the lake, Jesus was walking across the lake. We often think it is to them, but in the Gospel of Mark it tells us that Jesus was going to pass them by on His Way to the other side. It was a test to measure their faith. Their faith ran out before they made it to the other side. They cried out to the Lord in fear and terror. So He came to them… Jesus will do the exact same thing for you. Yes this may be a test. This may be the opportunity God has designed to grow you in faith and confidence. If you are in need of strength or courage, cry out to Jesus today. He did not tell you that you must do it alone. He is our example. The Lord is our every present help. We are not called to be the strong ones but to be yoked with Jesus so He can be our strength. Don’t go it alone. He is our Lord both now and later.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NLT) Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

 

 

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Joy Ahead

joy-ahead

I Peter 1:5-7 (NLT) And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Over the weekend, I began renovations on our soon to be guest bedroom. The spare room in our house received a fresh coat of paint. The baseboards, trim and doors were painted with pristine white paint. An old dated bed I bought secondhand also received a makeover. New linens I had my eye on were purchased and now await the arrival of the new mattress set soon to arrive. All the work the last few days has produced soreness in my body due from age and being completely out of shape. Getting up in the morning, I am moving a bit more slowly allowing my muscles to loosen up and catch up with my reeling mind full of the next home makeover to do list. Even though I am filled with little aches and pains the smell of fresh paint and all the like new things coming together have filled me with deep satisfaction. Sitting on the couch with my husband, my best friend, and partner for life sharing a cookie date to reward our labor, I am no longer concerned about the fact I may require assistance to get back up and walk like an elderly woman. I am deeply content in our progress together and look forward to our next project as our new house becomes our home.

There is wonderful joy ahead. I believe this statement wholeheartedly. I know that God is working the details of my life for His Good and His Glory just as He has promised in His Word. (Romans 8:28) However, it is going to take an investment on my part. It is through faith that God protects us by His Power so that we will receive salvation. Too many times, we buy in to things without reading the fine print and conditions or go in halfheartedly making it into what we want it to be. The fact is that in this life there will be trials and temptations that test our faith for genuine authenticity. It is just a part of our life in Christ that determines if this thing called faith is valid or not.

I Peter 2:19-20 (NLT) For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

Jesus promises that the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) The one who continues to live by faith when it seems small and insignificant. When things don’t go our way, do we react in the moment or have the confidence to respond by His Spirit. Faith is about forever. It is futuristic. It is unseen. In a world full of distractions, it is up to those who desire a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ to live “conscious of His Will” and not according to how we feel or how others may treat us. Life is hard. It is unfair. People can be callous, cruel and uncaring. My conditions, circumstances or even consequences may cause inconvenience, suffering or hardship in my life. How do I respond? What is my reaction? If the things I endure are merely consequential, it is not the kind of endurance that produces more faith. When I do what is right and I am treated unjustly yet still choose to endure – it is then that God is please with me.

God’s Will for my life is good. He promises me a plan with a future and hope. If I pray, the Lord listens. If I seek Him wholeheartedly, I will always find Him. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) When I choose to walk by faith and not by sight, it doesn’t secure the journey but the outcome. I will still go through things. I will face temptations. There will be trials. It is the joy ahead that my heart holds on to. The reality of Jesus Christ is formed and fortified through every hardship endured. It is our decision to stand that makes Him the Cornerstone of our life. The unmovable and unshakeable foundation that will remain when everything else falls apart. Are you ready to give up? Thinking of giving in. Not sure what the point is anymore, life is getting harder. There is no relief. Where is Jesus in all of this?

Hebrews 12:2-4 (NLT) We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

To gain perspective in the life of faith, one must keep all eyes on Jesus who is the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Don’t look down but look ahead to the joy of meeting Him face to face as you are welcomed into forever with Him. This must be the reality of our life and existence to overcome the hardships and trials. We are the “joy awaiting him” that kept Jesus on His Journey to the Cross. His eyes were on us. His Beloved so He kept going. He endured the Cross. We just have to make it through hurt feelings, hard times, and harsh reality. Yet we have hope. Jesus did it all for me a broken shell of a human who needed everything that He had to offer but able to give nothing in return. In His Perfection, people were hostile to the Lord. Threatened to kill Him. Tortured Him. Humiliated Him. Mutilated Him. Nailed Him to a Cross. Most of us will only know minor inconveniences in life but have a hope far greater than anyone can imagine. Lord, thank you for the Cross. Thank you for enduring and calling me joy!

James 1:12 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Thanks to Jesus, God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Those who do are promise the crown of life reserved for those who love Him. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1, “we think you ought to know about the trouble we went through…” He goes on to share the hardships and trials they faced in their ministerial journey. “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure…” Paul elaborates that they did not think they would live through it and expected to die. The result is the part of this passage that is “as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God.” Paul continues “we have placed our confidence in Him and He will continue to rescue us.” This is the point of our trials and hardships in life. Endurance is not easy. It is not the outcome for everyone. Those who do will be blessed.

2 Corinthians 6:10 (NLT) Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

When we were looking at homes to purchase, we had to picture our life in the house despite the fact others lived here. When we found this one, we knew it had the potential to become our home. Now that we live here, it is a continual process of cleaning, painting, and renovating to make it our own. Some areas are bare while others are coming together. If I choose to continue this process, one day each room will represent home to us. For now, there are paint swatches on the walls, patches on the holes, lots of conversations concerning possibilities, and purchases to be made. It will take some elbow grease or maybe a lot of it to get this place into shape. Crawling around the floor painting baseboards the other night, I could feel the stiffness coming on. I knew the next day or so would prove that climbing up and down the ladder produces the same results as three sets of squats in the gym. However, it is worth it to see the new guest room coming together.

Our spiritual life comes in the form of possibilities. What once was impossible becomes completely possible because we have a seed of faith to grow, develop and mature in us? We must count the cost of faith and decide if we are willing to make the investment required to have real and genuine faith. Faith is a process. It requires a commitment to Jesus Christ and the unseen reality of faith in Him. We must believe that He is real and His Promises are true. We have an advocate. The Holy Spirit works in us and through us to produce all the awesome things that God has promised. We must give up our personal real estate called pride and selfishness to have it. We also have an enemy who tries to taunt us and tempt us to give up, give in or quit altogether. The struggle is real. The promise is true. We have been given a free will to choose how much of our life that we will invest. Will I give until it hurts? Will I press when I am weak? Will I trust when I am discouraged? How far am I willing to go to find Him? Will I endure?

Matthew 14:28-31 (NLT) Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

I have been thinking a lot about Peter walking on the water. Jesus didn’t make him leave the boat. He chose to step out of the boat to walk to Jesus. When he saw the conditions around him, and stopped looking at the Lord, he began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus “immediately reached out and grabbed him.” I believe wholeheartedly that it is in these trials and temptations of life when I come to the end of myself. It is in that moment, when I cannot do it anymore, and lunge toward Jesus that the purpose is served. The moment when I have nothing left to give but rather than going under I make one last effort to reach Jesus. Peter did not try to save himself. He did not try to get back to the boat. He called on Jesus. He found His Joy. He didn’t want to go back. Peter wanted the Lord as is clear throughout the account of his life. This disciple tested every boundary or perceived obstacle between himself and Jesus Christ. He endured. I believe that Peter was saved. I want to live this kind of life. Like Peter I must decide that the joy ahead of me is worth all that is in me to obtain. Jesus is my joy! He is my salvation. It is His Grace alone that is the powerful potential locked inside of me. I must be willing to endure for it to make its way out of me by faith!

We endure this life for the joy set before us. He died for us. We will probably never experience more than inconvenience for His Cause. He gave up everything for us. I must decide today if His Way and His Will are worth having and that the joy found in His Love and Grace are enough to get over those things that irritate, annoy and hurt me to find my joy. When Jesus is my everything, He will always be enough! Endurance is the effort put forth to respond to God’s Promises rather than reacting to the persistent testing, trials and troubles of life. It keeps us engaged and fighting the good fight. Be encouraged today! One small step of faith can change our entire perspective of life. To endure for a moment can offer strength for a lifetime. You can do it. Don’t give up. Jesus hasn’t given up on you. You were worth dying for! Surely we can stand a little longer for Him. For those who do, there is joy ahead!

2 Timothy 2:11-15 (NLT)  This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Life is Hard

life-is-hard

Colossians 1:26-27 (NLT) This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Life is hard. It is not fair. There are days when it seems to be unbearable. Are you struggling today? When coming to Christ, there is an expectation of relief, but is it reality. Are you not exchanging one burden for another? Well friend, that depends on you. I decide whether or not to continue to endure pressure in this life or simply give up. It is called a free will. God gave each us the freedom to choose how to live our life and make choices day by day. I do not have to pick goodness. I can leave behind mercy coming back for it later. I can wander as far and long as the winding wilderness I choose and when I call – the Lord immediately answers. This is hard to comprehend and in most cases arguable by many.

Religion often defines the rules of relationship within the Body of Christ called His Church. Well, every medical textbook and journal can outline how the human body is supposed to work and delineate the diseases and disorders that arise, but in the end it is never completely documented. New things crop up every day. Medicine evolves as quickly as church does. We find “new ways” to worship God when really there is only one way to approach Him.

God’s ways are not our ways and His Thoughts are than our own or so it says in the Book of Isaiah. If life is hard, what difference does Jesus make? If there is no real explanation of how to love Him, ways to serve Him or clear-cut directions to the Kingdom of God then how will anyone ever get there? Oh there is definitely instruction and guidance to step in the Glory of God but it is hard. It requires struggle. There is endless pressure. It all produces endurance. The fiery trials of life reveal genuine faith, but as one may recall only three Hebrew boys were brave enough to defy man’s law and step into the hot furnace that day.

The church is crying out for revival. I am praying it will come. The Glory of God manifesting His Presence in corporate worship that spills outside the four walls of a building and washes through the streets of every city until the overflow covers our nation and overflows its borders around the world. Revival is not about you. It is about the Body of Christ coming together to prepare for His Return. We just have the privilege of participation. It is within us the moment Christ is accepted in our heart to be our Lord and Savior. However, life is still hard just the same. Christ lives in me. I have full assurance of His Glory. The secret of centuries died on the cross and came up out of the grave so that you and I could become new creations. Now is that so hard…yes, it is very difficult.

Acts 14:21-22 (NLT) After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.

Paul and Barnabas gave this reminder to early believers while encouraging them to continue in faith. “We must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Do you agree? Did you come to the Lord under false pretenses with the wrong expectation? Many do. A watered down Gospel preached by false prophets tell of a grace that is wonderful and free allowing us to do what we want to when we want to and how we want to and all gathering together in the end to meet Him face to face. Who doesn’t love free? There is another end to that spectrum called legalism that prescribes long list of dos and don’ts that mean nothing when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus did it all. He paid it all. I can do nothing to earn the Grace gifted to me by the Living God. So that doesn’t make life any easier either. Life is still hard no matter which end of the spectrum our life falls. But wait, then there is the Truth…

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NLT) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.” How many times I have read this verse in the course of my life? Sometimes to understand what a scripture really means one must go back and read the course of events prior to it. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul discusses the trials and hardships that he has endured since meeting Jesus Christ. He is talking about false prophets and teachers. By mid-chapter, he is pretty worked up as one might say in the South. People boasting about all they do for the Lord have sparked a tirade in God’s man. He talks about serving God candidly. He is not boasting but making a point. “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Paul was a high ranking Pharisee who lived in comfort and opulence until he fell in love with Jesus. Once he had given his life to the Lord, he goes on to say now he has a burden for all the churches. He finally concludes that given all that he has done for Christ, he would rather boast about the things that show I am weak. Why? Why would he say such a thing?

For when I am weak, then I am strong. Let me give you a hint that I discovered a couple of years ago, if you can still do it – it’s not weakness. It is when you cannot do it any longer that God takes over. Peter was walking on the water by his faith, when that ran out is when he reached out grasping Jesus’ Hand for help. In Mark 6:47-52, the disciples are on a boat in a terrible storm. They are not praying but in a full panic. When Jesus comes walking on the water, they do not even recognize him. This is right after he fed five thousand with a little boy’s lunch but now it is about them. They are facing a struggle. It’s their very lives that are in danger. It just got personal and they do not even see that it is the Lord. Hmmm… Could it be that it was in this moment that these men came to the end of themselves?

“He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them…” (Mark 6:48) Did you catch that? Jesus intended to go past them. Why? The disciples had the Word of God in them and knew Jesus. They were in serious trouble. They were rowing hard. They were struggling. Why would their friend just walk right by? Because they had the power in them to calm the storm and regain control of their vessel, but they did not believe. They got in the way. Fear. Pride Doubt. There are so many things that deprive us of faith every single day. When we come to the end of our own strength, we do what these men did. They cried out to Jesus. Is life too hard to bear right now? Are you working hard and getting nowhere? Struggling just to keep your head above water? Holding all the broken pieces together hoping your heart will beat again? Are you close to giving up? Are you tired and weary? Have you called on His Name?

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NLT) We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

In Mark 14, there is an account of a woman who came in with expensive perfume in an alabaster jar. She broke it open and poured it out over the head of Jesus. She broke the beautiful vessel containing her life’s worth. She gave her all to Jesus. What do you hold precious in life? It could people…possessions or even pride. It is required. All is required for His Glory to come out of us. We have been given a light that shines in our heart. The pain and pressure of life makes personal strength wane as the structure of our life begins to shake precariously. Life is hard. It is rough sometimes. It is purposefully that way as God answers our call for revival and begins to move closer as He is called. We cannot remain the same. My strength has to go so that I am weak and submitted before Him. This pressure brings forth purpose. The pain causes brokenness. The hunt causes desperation. When we are knocked down, we extend our hand while calling His Name. It is through suffering that the meaningless things blocking the out powering of God that we desire are removed. Suddenly, His Great Power will pour from our heart into our life. We must give our all. Most people aren’t ready for that because it makes life too hard.

God’s Grace is enough for me. It is when His Power works best in my life. He is doing a new thing that sometimes caught in old ways and old things we miss. (2 Corinthians 3:13-15) Tradition robs us of future glory basking in afterglow instead of the light glorious light that brings new life. We will never see the Glory of God by keeping the Law. (Romans 9:30-32) The Glory of God called revival will only come in the sufficiency of God’s Grace when each person accepts humility and weakness to be strong in the Lord. We all have hidden thorns designed to burst our pride and keep us humbly walking with God. Some of us are just too afraid to expose them and accept His Grace alone to cover them. I don’t want to be the one show stops revival from coming to my church, community and the world. I am weak. I need God’s Strength every single day. Life is hard but His Grace is enough for me.

Luke 5:1-7 (NLT) One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

Peter and the others had a bad day of fishing. As they were cleaning their nets, Jesus asked Peter to take him on the water to speak to the people so he did. Fish weren’t biting anyway. Afterwards, Jesus told him to go deeper and let down his net. He told the Lord listen we worked hard all night and came back empty handed. “But if you say so…” Let’s retrace what just happened. Peter was working his everyday job in everyday life. Jesus came walking by and asked to use his vessel. Peter obliged. Jesus then instructed Peter to go fishing again. Peter had a choice. He chose to obey the Lord at His Word. What happened? Their nets were so full of fish that they began to tear! I wonder how many times we hear the Word, but do not believe it enough to do it. How often does Jesus whisper a thought or idea to implement and we decide it is not worthy of our attention? Been there done that. Life is hard and too often so are our hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:3-6 (NLT) We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.

What is your heart’s desire today? Do you want to be a true minister of God sharing the Gospel, building His Kingdom, and releasing revival? Life is hard. The pressure will not let up especially if this is your purpose. We must live so that no one will find fault in our ministry – there goes pride. I have seen pride kill so many congregations. God begins to move. Pressure builds. People refuse to submit. Passion dies. God’s Presence moves to where He is welcomed and given His Proper Place. We must learn patience. Persistence. Pursuit. Pride must go in the Mighty Name of Jesus. We prove ourselves as God’s People by living in love, preserving purity, gaining understanding, learning to be patient (Lord help me please), being kind to all mankind, allowing the Holy Spirit to shape, mold, change and even break our heart when needed, and by our sincere love. Love has grown cold even in our churches. Lord, teach us to love all people. Desire them above ourselves and minister to them selflessly. Life is hard. I am weak. Jesus be my Strength today. Your Grace is enough for me.

2 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Found My Joy

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James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Our family has a very odd way of dealing with discomfort. When trouble comes, it seems to produce laughter in us. At the hospital the night our son was diagnosed with cancer, the nurse came down the hall to see what all the commotion was as the Lord turned our sorrow and immediate devastation to gut wrenching, overflowing laughter. The tears of sorrow were somehow exchanged for those produced by joy. When my mom went in for open heart surgery a few weeks ago, at 6:30 AM in the morning, the surgery waiting area erupted with laughter while our family took selfies in matching tees that said, “God is good, y’all!” After surgery, while mom was resting in ICU, since the militant nurse would not allow us stay with her, my sister and I created Dubsmash videos and reconnected after many years apart in an empty waiting room all night long. Joy. Just joy. Not the kind of joy that the world has but the kind that comes from knowing that God works everything out for the good of those who love Him.

There is a great exchange made when gathering our hopes, dreams and expectations and dumping them at the feet of Jesus Christ. It is the moment that our tears created by sorrow can be turned into joy. It is in that decision that a challenge, hardship or trouble goes from a struggle to an opportunity. When our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. Yay, patience?! It is not the growing pains that are funny but the inexpressible love and peace found in the refuge of Christ offered to those that bring their hurts for healing, disappointments for hope and brokenness for beauty. We decide when joy makes its way to us because it is always streaming down from the Heart of Jesus to His Beloved People.

Let it grow. I believe that joy is evidence that there is another root has made its way into His Foundation, that our lives have transitioned a little more to the Kingdom, and that our faith is a little stronger than before. (Colossians 2:7) The Lord has a plan. It is that you and I will be perfect and complete needing nothing. Is that you today? Are you perfect? Do you feel complete? Are you needing nothing? Yeah, me either. So now what?

James 1:5-8 (NLT) If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

What did people do before Google, YouTube, and Pinterest? No, really. How did we find information without the world’s largest search engine? How did we fix things before YouTube came along? My cooking skills were developed spending hours on Pinterest expanding the menu. In fact, my daughter’s wedding was made completely possible by Pinterest as well. See there is an information highway out there and media that floods our hearts and minds. It is driven by supply and demand as every website and television show is sponsored by a company trying to “sell” us something. It may be a product, service, or idea. When I need true wisdom, there really only is one credible source.

The Word of God is written, spoken and imparted to people. If we do not have joy, it represents a need for faith and trust in the Lord. This is not developed the way it is achieved in the world. Yes, there are resources on the Internet, television, podcasts, and in churches, but the most credible resource that is given to the believer is the Holy Spirit. Do you spend time in the Word of God each day? Do you listen for His Voice? Do you exercise the knowledge that you have attained turning it into wisdom? Only faith and trust in a God who cannot be seen produces the kind of joy that gushes past the troubles of life making its way into the atmosphere. We must know the Word of God and recognize His Voice to have the kind of faith that endures tests and temptations.

James 1:9-11 (NLT) Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.

God doesn’t really care about your bank account, investments or portfolio. He gave it all to you anyway. It all belongs to Him. The treasure that He is after and desires most is our heart. The love born of commitment, devotion, desire, passion and pursuit. When our life is worthless outside of Christ is when a believer finally invests all their resources including time, talent and treasure into knowing Him more. This kind of life is marked by humility. This is the downfall of the modern day church and the rising of the remnant church all at the same time. The religious congregation says come here let me fix you. You need to look like us, talk like us, act like us and be like us to see Heaven. Then there is the opposite extreme that tells you grace is free so trample it as you may. Do what you want when you want and it really doesn’t matter because God is all about free love. Well that’s not the truth either. Jesus paid the ultimate price to set us free. It was not free but cost Him everything. He freely gave His Life as a sacrifice. This is humbling.

I believe that the Lord is rising up a church that is recounting the cost paid for them and realizing its incredible worth. They are embracing “whosoever come” and “meet this man”. It is filled with imperfect people passionately pursuing a perfect God together. Laying down their life for the Lord and one another. It’s called a remnant because it’s small. God is looking for humble people with heart’s intent on finding Him. Committed to knowing Him. Devoted to following Jesus all the way to the Father. Giving up their life to have Eternity. Is that you? Oh Lord, I want to be that kind of church.

James 1:12-15 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

Having a large family and five children, you think that you will always have a houseful until they begin to grow up and fly away. Our fourth child will be a senior in high school next year – ugh! She brought home her class ring information which made my husband decide to look for his own class ring. I don’t know if he found it or not but he did manage to produce the sappiest love letter I have ever read from a clearly smitten woman – me. How embarrassing! As I read it, I realized that after all these years – I still feel the same way. We have been through many ups and downs. We are blended family which only adds to the commotion. We have had great times, good times and devastating times and the glue of our family has held tightly.

God blesses those who patiently endure the testing and temptation. Life is full of tests. There will always be temptations and easy ways out. At the end of this life will we find our first love? God never tempts us so when a trial comes or hardship arises – we can find refuge in the Lord. Do we? Or do we give into the temptation to react to our circumstances, situation and discomfort? When I am faced with difficulties, I have learned that I can trust the Lord. How did I learn that? Brokenness that lead to complete submission. Absolute loss of control which has been my undoing. It is the trials and temptations of life that drive our faith in the ground like a well-positioned post so as it gets harder the believer gets stronger. The process can be painful. It is hard. But it is always worth it.

James 1:16-18 (NLT) So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

There is a song that I love by Bethel Music called “I Have Found My Joy.” It says, “there’s a line and we’ve crossed it. Some would say that we’ve lost it. But we’ve found our joy, we’ve found our joy, it’s all in knowing You.” Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. The joy in our life is discovered in our relationship of faith and trust in Jesus. We are His Most Prized Possession but how can we know that if we do not come to Him, communicate with Him, and commune with the Lord. It is our relationship with Jesus that allows all the good and perfect things that the Father has for us to make their way to us. This is why when hard times come, true believers laugh through their tears. We can trade every sorrow for joy at His Feet and in His Presence.

Have you found joy today? Do you know what its like to laugh in pain? Find humor in hardship? Jesus wants that for you today. He is calling you to it. There is inexpressible joy in Jesus Christ. I cannot explain it but to say that when I should be crying – I am laughing. Some people may think that I have lost it but I really don’t care what they think – I have found my joy. In every season there will be rain, but He is the Light of my Salvation that reminds me that this season will end producing new seeds to plant, some that are growing and there will be fruit on my vine if I just stay close to Jesus.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

Are you in the middle of one of “these trials”? Yeah, me too. The good news is that the Lord will reveal if you have genuine faith. The bad news…well, I can’t seem to find any because where faith is revealed joy is released. The more faith produced in us when we go through trials, overcome temptations and move just a little bit closer to the Lord, the more blessed we become even if we have less in this life – it is abundant life that makes us completely needing nothing. Don’t give up. Trust the Lord. No matter what you are going through He is fighting Your Battle, making a Way, and there is purpose and meaning in our life far beyond human comprehension. Just stand right where you are and He will fight for you. Jesus loves you. You are His Prized Possession. In exchange for your small investment of faith under fire, the Lord will give you glorious, inexpressible joy. This is the reward of trusting Him and it will be the salvation our soul!

I have found my joy!

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT) Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

This Day

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Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

This day snuck up on me this year. It usually doesn’t as every other year I carefully watch for its approach not to be taken off guard but to revel in the Goodness of the Living God. This year it was shadowed by my mom’s open heart surgery and subsequent recovery with multiple days away from home. It is also trumped by new faces and laughter of a little boy who has brought sunshine into our life as our family gets to know two new people. After three weeks of carefully watching and praying for my mom, then a weekend of pumpkin patches and painting with family – when the social media notification came I couldn’t believe it was this day all over again.

“We have a diagnosis. Brenan Flint has nasopharyngeal cancer. We do not know what stage it is BUT we do know that god is not surprised. Jesus is our Healer and His Spirit is with us! We have to walk it out! Standing on His Promises!” (Facebook post on 10/24/2011) I will never forget this day nor do I think that I should. I made this declaration on social media not knowing that it would literally consume more than three years of my life. So many times it is easy to profess Christ and faith in Him but then when it is put to the test anything lasting more than a day is unthinkable. Yet in that moment on that day, there was no other choice…or so I thought. Over the next couple of years, it would go from bad to worse. I thought I was broken and emptied in that moment but I wasn’t. I am a strong person full of pride and stubbornness that kept me from truly believing without seeing. God changed that on this day. It was the beginning of the end of me. I am okay with that…now.

The Lord is my Light and My Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? The person who wrote the post back then and the one who blogs today are very different. The change that began on that day took literal years to complete. I know that by the time the end of the journey was reached my proclamation in life was different. It became this:

Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV) One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

I was recently sucked into watching a portion of the movie, “The Shallows” with a young friend who I at first thought was watching “Cinderella”. By the time I tuned in, the heroine had been attacked by a great white shark surfing and was tuck on a rock with a seagull. I will not ruin the movie for you so feel free to continue. She was on a rock in the middle of the ocean completely along trying to survive. She could not swim to shore or the shark would attack her. She was stranded on the rock in the middle of the ocean. She cared for the wound using her past experiences. But now to live, she must rely on something new. She was in a hopeless situation. In such as state, she had to draw from experience and inner strength to devise a plan for her rescue.

While she was out there, a man wandered onto the beach. She shouted to get his attention and asked for him to call for help. Instead, in his drunken stupor, he robs the young lady. However, at some point, he wanders in the ocean and well I will leave the rest to your imagination, but it was not good. She watched from the rock. Now I wonder what might have happened if she had been on the shore…would she have been in danger of being robbed and harmed herself. See when we think that all hell is breaking loose in our life or our hope is gone – I believe it is the moment that our faith is exposed and allowed to grow a little more in who we know God is rather than what we make Him to be.

When our son’s cancer went into remission the first time, I gave God all the glory for the wonderful miracle that He had performed. He relapsed not once but a few more times before more drastic measures were clearly required. Each battle seemed harder than the first draining my time, energy and resources but what was the choice? To quit, give up, or give in. Absolutely not. So like the girl stranded on the rock, I had to cling to Him – Jesus – My Rock.

The reality of life is that it is uncertain and difficult. Jesus told us it would be like that but yet we become overwhelmed and surprised when trials and hardship come. Faith is perfected and refined in fiery times and difficult struggles so when we pray for such a thing – these things should be expected. Yet even now, in the midst of our current challenge, it caught me off guard and clearly by surprise just as this day did so many years ago.

Psalm 27:7-11 (NIV) Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

The trial of cancer and the illness of our child taught me a valuable lesson to live by. I must seek Him first in all things or risk being destroyed. I live, breath and exist in Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of our trials that all the meaningless and worthless things are stripped away to expose the Light and Glory hidden inside of us when we trust the Lord even just a little. Faith is a mustard seed it is not a mighty oak. The “mighty oak” is the righteousness that is afforded us by the smallest investment of faith. When things don’t make sense, the enemy rushes in, the boat begins to wobble, the waves rise up, the storm winds blow, and the tempest threatens my meager existence – I find that I would rather swim to the rock then risk heading for the shore. I need the Rock of my Salvation to assure me, refine me, restore me and redeem me. When my heart is challenge, it reminds me – “Seek His Face!”

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Fast forward through this day as I relive it in my mind, the day when everything changed. The moment my heart was completely shattered on the cement floor of a hospital. The time when my faith was tested by a fiery trial burning it down to its source. Those days were hard. The challenge overwhelming. I would relive this day of an awful diagnoses not once but a total of five times. Five times that God told me our son would live but the enemy whispered that he would die. Well, that wasn’t acceptable for me when God told me personally that “He would live and not die” if I trusted Him. At the end of this day, I finally believed and remain confident today that “I will see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. So I will…”wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart” oh and yes, I will “wait for the Lord”.

Reading this you may be facing a single trial or what seems like a firing line. Faith can be found in the midst of it all when you decide rather than escaping this thing or fighting back in your own strength that you learn to lean on Jesus and trust Him. Great aspiration until someone’s life is on the line, then you wonder is it enough. His Grace is always sufficient for you and me. We just give it lip service rather than life service most of the time. Maybe you are thinking – my trial or test is nothing like the one you went through – and I hope that you never do – but if you do, it will be the teeny, tiniest bit of faith that will get you through. Trouble is that what we call faith in God most of the time is not that at all.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

To walk by faith and not by sight as believers are instructed (2 Corinthians 5:7) means to believe when you do not see. When everything is falling apart, trusting that God is catching all the falling pieces of worth to make the masterpiece that He promised. (Ephesians 2:10) The Lord has taken note of every single tear that has fallen from your eyes. (Psalm 56:8) He is not afraid of the enemy and neither should you be. Jesus overcame the world and has given you the victory. With all this encouragement comes this expectation, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see. Everything you see and all the things that you can do are not the product that produces faith. It is those times that you see no way out, no one is there to help you, and when it seems like there is no hope that faith is revealed in our life.

Those times when the only hope and help that we have left is Jesus Christ. It is in that moment on this day that your heart decides to seek Him and that the Lord is worth finding. Are you struggling today? Your heart is pressing you to seek Him but your head is recanting “what’s the point?” Is this the day? The one that will go down in history when you decided to put all your love, faith and trust in Jesus Christ? The moment when nothing else matters but crawling on the Rock of your salvation and waiting for the Lord to come to your rescue. The first couple of times that our son was diagnosed with cancer – the doctors were optimistic. But the third diagnosis and it severity – transitioned us all into the realm called hope. Oh Lord, let us live there and never wander out. The place where You are our Refuge and Strength. The Strong Tower where your people live, breathe and exist. I will never forget this day in history. I will relive it in my heart. This is the day that You, Jesus, became my one thing.

Psalm 118:15-21 (NIV) Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

 

Water Works

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James 1:2-4 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, when trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Stumbling in the kitchen, way too early to be awake, trying to feed our frenzied pets, a thought occurred to me. Yes, my mind works in mysterious ways. Last month, our refrigerator was acting up so we contacted a repairman to fix the leak. Since he was already here, I asked him to please fix the water dispenser as well. He was able to replace all the hoses and stop the leak but the dispenser was not working because the line was frozen solid. The only way to restore the flow was to defrost the fridge. Everyone knows what a hassle that is so thanking him kindly for his suggestion, my crew continued to get water from the tap. Well, it occurred to me standing there waiting for my furry kids to eat that maybe the water works. After all, our power was gone for three days and the refrigerator was completely defrosted unintentionally. Grabbing a glass, I tested the dispenser and sure enough water came streaming out. Now this may not seem impressive to you, but I marvel in my experience that God is always working His Goodness in our life.

Consider it an opportunity for great joy when trouble comes. Raise your hand if that’s you! The one who jumps up and down shouting with glee when bad things happen, interruptions occur or the storms of life hit. Nah, me either. I usually must fight to keep my composure, bite my tongue not to complain, and pray a lot…a whole lot for the Holy Spirit to keep my attitude in check. The hurricane that knocked out our power, destroyed the yard, and killed the Internet is no different. Completely disrupting our schedule, annihilating our routine, and jacking with my order, I just wasn’t feeling too exiting about my growth process at the time. Why this? Why now? What an inconvenience! Lord, I am uncomfortable. God was testing the water lines in my life. Checking for anything blocking my faith or tempting my heart so that He could remove it and allow me to overflow in the abundance of joy that faith allows when we trust the Lord completely.

Faith must be tested to allow our endurance to grow. We are created not just to survive but to thrive in this life as we make our pilgrimage home to be with the Lord. This life of faith is not for wimps. It is for the willing who will endure the tests, trials and temptations to be with the Lord. We must have full blown endurance to make it through this life. We cannot quit or give up. It may be hard and seem impossible but those who will put in the effort to continually grow through trials and seek His Goodness in life will prosper from the inside out.

Endurance is the ability or strength to continue especially despite fatigue, pain, hardships or other adverse conditions. It is a call for patience and self-control which are the less desirable but totally necessary fruit of God’s Spirit within us. The Lord has more for us than we are willing to wait for. We would rather compromise and settle for substitutions in life instead of waiting it out and having His Very Best. It is human nature to avoid discomfort of any and all kinds. To avoid inconvenience as if it were some kind of plague. Jesus wants to produce faith in us that endures until His Promise is received.

I Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and perfects gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

It is unfortunate that most of the time, the only way to discover how precious our faith really is means removing all the other things of lesser value. We do not seek it’s worth or invest in acquiring more because quite frankly to most it is a last ditch effort at survival. To be completely honest, faith is reserved when all our human strength is gone. Our flesh refuses to trust God until it is a matter of life or death. The moment that faith in God becomes our only option is the point in time that we are fully invested and all in the effort to know Him more. Faith gives us access to the Kingdom of God, its outcomes, promises and supernatural power right here and right now. But who has time for this anyway? Our refrigerator just needed a little time to thaw out to work properly again. I was not willing to go through the painstaking and difficult process of defrosting it completely to allow the water to flow through it freely. God did it for me. In the midst of the storm, He was still working out good things for me just as He promised.

James 1:12-15 (NLT) God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,” and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

God never tempts us. The enemy cannot “make” us do anything that we do not want to do. Who does that leave? ME! I am my own worst enemy when it comes to temptation. It is my desires that lead my away from faith and trust in the Lord. It is my want for something other than His Absolute Best and to be exactly where He is by faith that keeps me from enduring tests and trials. I choose to relent and take an easier route. It’s true.

With this in mind, you and I will face temptation today. The temptation to take the easy way out. To compromise. To give in just a little. To complain. To react rather than respond. Our flesh will never willingly give way to the Spirit. We fight the battle of temptation every single day. It is always going to be easier to throw in the towel than to pick it back up. God blesses those who endure. God requires patience to strengthen our faith. We will have long wait times. We will be stretched to the end of our natural ability and strength. If we want eternal life, it will be worth the investment. The Lord promises to never to tempt us beyond our endurance. (I Corinthians 10:13) In every situation, we have the opportunity to overcome.

I Peter 1:8-9 (NLT) You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him, and rejoice in inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.

The inexpressible joy that comes from faith cannot be experienced except by those who endure. It is not something attainable outwardly but inwardly. Just as the water line had to be thawed so the water could flow out of the dispenser, the Lord uses trials, temptations and hardships to clear the way for His Blessings, Promises and Inexpressible Joy to overflow in my life. I cannot make it happen any other way but by faith. Faith must endure every obstacle presented. We must trust the Lord with our life and everything in it enough to wait out the process, fight for our faith and stand until He comes. The reward will be our salvation.

Matthew 24:12-13 (NLT) Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

This is a test. It is only a test. One day this will not be the case. According to Matthew 24, this day is swiftly approaching. False prophets. Check. Wars. Check. Rumors of war. Check. Nation against nation. Check. Earthquakes and natural disasters. Check. Sin rampant. CHECK. Love grown cold. CHECK. We are in the end times. Jesus is coming. Why is He coming? He is coming to save those who endure to the end. He is coming for the Bride who remains faithful to the end. We have married off one bride in our family. At no point in her engagement did she ever say, I am tired of the stress of preparation or I don’t want to wait anymore. She looked forward to the day she would meet her handsome groom to say, “I do!” I want to do life with you. I want to be with you. I love you! Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are His Bride. He is worth waiting for. He is worthy of our faithfulness and endurance to the end. The Lord is our inexpressible joy.

Lord, help me to remember this is only a test. Teach me the way of patient endurance in all things so that I may be the radiant bride you are coming for. Give me faith, Lord. Test my faith for validity and genuineness. I long to be faithful to the end. Help to do so. Show me success. You are my one desire. I want you Lord. Let you living water flow through me today unstopping every stubborn hard spot that you find! In the Name of Jesus I ask these things! Amen and amen!

Psalm 118:24-25 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success.

Out with the Old

Out with the Old

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

 

What a difference a day makes. When the new day arrives, the old seems so small…most of the time. It’s when we get stuck in a series of days or season that never ends that we forget the “new things” God is doing because we are just trying to get through this time…this hurt…this season. It is fall…no I am not jumping around but fall is a relevant time in the series of seasons. The window is open and the leaves are falling like rain. Fall is when we harvest. Leading into winter when the barren land dies to rejuvenate when spring comes around and rolls into summer. The problem is that we don’t see seasons of life as they link together to form productivity and cultivate certain things in our life but too often focus on the things of each one that are difficult. Each leave falling represents a place for a new one to grow from a bud, to a blossom into fruit. But rather than focusing on this chain of events, we become focused on planting in the spring, enduring the heat of the summer, raking the leaves in fall and shoveling snow through the winter. Right now with pumpkin latte, pumpkin bread and just about every other pumpkin thing mankind can market, we are focused on winter. Excited about the change in seasons, boots, sweaters, bonfires and Christmas… until it gets here and then we want beaches, flip flops, vacation and sunshine because we are overwhelmed by the holiday stress, being stuck in the house and mounds of laundry produced by layers of clothing. The key to living a full life in Christ is becoming focused on the new thing that He is doing in us rather than the circumstances and consequences of change around us.

To create something new, something must die. To become a new creation, it means that we must die to our old life stepping into that “new thing” that the Lord is doing. This is not as easy as one might think considering people like to be comfortable. We want change but do not embrace it. We must never give up on what the Lord has promised us or the process by which He changes us. To become committed to enduring such change, we must be aware of the season we are in and the fruit it is producing. I am just as guilty as everyone else who asks for more and cries out in the overflow. His Ways are not like ours. They are so much higher as God sees things from His Perspective which is not daily but forever. I remember when my babies were small and still nursing. There were certain times like when driving the car or maneuvering through the grocery store when they might have to wait a few extra minutes to be fed. Now I knew how long it had been since their last feeding and how long it would take me to finish each task, but to my children a mere 15 minutes was forever and they would wail as if starving to death. And so it is with the Lord who knows exactly down to the minute how long this process will take. We scream and cry for release but He is focused on completion. He knows just how long it will take and gives us the grace to make it through even though we might think it is killing us. It is. It is burning up our flesh to make room for our faith. It is increasing our endurance which will produce strength of character. God uses every season of life to produce something in those who choose to surrender each season to Him and embrace the change that He is evoking in our life.

Yesterday they surgically removed the port from our son. What a glorious day! It is finished. The Lord true to His Word has healed and delivered our precious son from cancer. Physically – he looks amazing. You couldn’t wipe the smile off of his face. He is embracing the life of a college student once again. He is alive, well and prospering after four years of pain, suffering and physical attacks. It is a new season for all of us as we turn from the past and look to the future. The doctor asked if we would like to keep the port, I said, “No, I think we got our money’s worth!” with a laugh. Our son said, “No, I don’t need it anymore!” Out with the old. But then the doctor said, “You know 95% of our patients want to keep it.” What? Why? Who wants to remember all the pain and suffering? A lot of people live in the past every single day and it impacts their future negatively. I was very close to doing the very same thing.

2 Timothy 1:5-7 (NLT)

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

 

My usual routine in returning from Gainesville is to collapse on the couch. It is exhausting for some reason to spend the day at the hospital and then travel two hours home even though you essentially do nothing more than sit around waiting most of the time. However, my kids had a youth night at church that I promised if I made it home in time that I would take them. God always has jokes. I arrived home just in time to switch cars and head to the church. It was worship night. It seemed appropriate to worship God especially on this night. We made it. Praise God we made it to the finish line. It was not a triumphant arrival but a quiet approach. There were no crowds cheering just a family who endured and overcame somehow managing to survive a horrible ordeal even prospering in it. The enemy tried to take our son but instead God gave us another one in our son-in-law. We have not suffered in the midst of this other than in our hearts and minds when all around us the Lord has provided everything we need and then some. We even made new friends along the way. God is so good!

Anyway, in the midst of the amazing Presence of God last night, the praise team began to sing the song, “I Won’t Go Back” by William Mcdowell. The chorus goes like this: So we say… I won’t go back, can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me… say I won’t… I won’t go back… I can’t go back, to the way it used to be… before your presence came and changed me!” That’s when it hit me. In this season, I have been changed for the better. The enemy wants me to focus on the hardship endured rather than the change that has been produced in us. He wants me to live in those moments and times of devastation like the one when we thought our son was clear only to find out less than 24 hours that he had relapsed worse than ever before. The doctors were scared. Fear hit me so hard I fell to my knees. See I had let my guard down and dared to rejoice in his healing and the enemy caught me unaware. I literally fell to my knees when the doctor told me which I had never done before. I couldn’t breathe as if fear had thrown a blanket over me and was slowly suffocating me. That must have been the moment that I decided not to thrive but survive. I realized in worship that I have been a slave to the spirit of fear for a very long time. Out with the old. Fear wants to remind us the difficult of the past to prepare for the future. The Lord is doing a new thing in each new season. Fear is not welcome there. We must get rid of the fear that wants to linger from our past to fully embrace the Love of God that changes moment by moment, day by day and season by season.

2 Corinthians 5:13-17 (NLT)

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Before you discredit this word as not for you because you or your child or your family has not gone through a life or death situation, this applies to every man and woman who is born again. If you have lived to the age of accountability, I am quite certain you have experienced seasons of life and indeed have a past of some sort. Whether or not you inflicted the pain in your life or it was at the hands of another, doesn’t really matter? The Lord wants to heal your mind, soul and body today. He wants to cut away the old scar tissue that binds your heart from receiving more of His Love to create a soft, pliable heart that is ready to be filled to overflowing. You cannot compare your life to others. You cannot decide that God’s Love is not for you based on how you live or what you are doing. God requires one thing from us. All of us just as we are. We cannot do a single thing to make our relationship with God right again, Jesus did it all. We can only accept the precious gift we have been given. It is a brand new life. It is not something that happens overnight but through season. If we will learn to release the past and fear associated with it to fully embrace the changes that God is making in us and through us, we will become the new creation that He promised we could be… in Christ alone. We make the decision to leave the past behind. God will not rip anything from our hands but simply offers us something better. Our trials and hardship can have meaning and purpose when we keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus holding tight to the hope we have in Him, remembering His Promises and living by faith alone. Fear has no place in you today. His Perfect Love is driving it out. So out with the old and welcome your new life in Him again and again with each new season!

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Back in the Saddle – A Devotion

Back in the Saddle

Psalm 32:8-11 (NLT)

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

Having always loved horses, I jumped at the chance to go riding with a friend. I was in middle school or junior high as it was called way back then. Her family owned a stable that boarded horses and on the weekend they would care for and exercise the animals for their owners. My friend was an excellent rider having experience since she was a very young child. She was completely comfortable despite the great size and power compared to her small frame. There was a well-worn trail that she would ride along with each horse. Leaving the stable it was narrow and tight, but then the pathway opened into a large white sandy area circling back around to head for home. Even the horses knew the way, so it was usually an uneventful course. As we rode along talking and laughing one day, the horse that I was riding got spooked and began to buck. Now if you have never experienced such an event it is very scary. Hanging on for dear life, there was no calming or controlling the animal in that moment. Whatever scared him did a fine job, I was going down. The key was to fall and not get trampled to death. When I hit the ground thankfully is was in the area with all the sand and the horse ran off. I fell hard but was unharmed without a hoof touching me despite his flailing and jumping around. My hands were shaking uncontrollably. As my friend retrieved the frightened animal and tried to determine what had happened, she came back to check on me. I was fine in my body without broken bones or any dislocated joints, but my spirit was broken. There was no way that I was getting back on that horse because I never wanted to experience being bucked off again. Although in our early teens, this young lady would impart wisdom to me that has stuck with me through life. She said, “You don’t have to get back in this saddle or on the horse again right now. But if you don’t, you will never ride a horse again.”

Fear is a powerful force to be reckoned with in our life. I got back up on the horse that day and uneventfully walked him home. I was absolutely terrified in that moment. But the freedom that I felt when we got back to the barn and got off the horse was worth it all. I had conquered my fear that day. I have overcome anxiety that told me I was not in control. The Lord has promised to guide me down the best pathway for my life. I have chosen to take Him up on that offer. But the deeper I go into the things of God the more that I have come to know and understand that I have no control in this situation. I must trust the Lord to have all that He has promised. Even when that trust requires overcoming fear and anxiety about what is coming next, I must choose to get back in the saddle of life again. This passage in Psalm 32 brought back memories of that day. My friend and I were not really churched at the time so she was not necessarily speaking Biblical truth to me in that moment but I believe it was God’s Spirit setting me up for life.

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 (NLT)

We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I don’t know what today will hold. I don’t know what news that the “rider” will bring. I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know God. I know the Lord and more importantly want Him to know me. God’s Power raised Jesus Christ from the dead so that the benefits and blessings of being a Child of God are available to me. I must only believe. To believe – it sounds so small and sweet but it is the most powerful driving force in our life. What we believe is the very thing that molds and shapes our thoughts, attitudes and actions. If we allow the falls in life to keep us from trying again, then we will never get away from fear, doubt and anxiety. It will become a prison. It will be our dream killer. It will be a faith stealer in our life. So we have to get back up when we get knocked down. We have to keep going when we want to give up. We must not allow our feelings in that moment of disappointment dissuade us from following Jesus Christ, but so often we do. The hardships in life hurt. The struggle is real. I could give you a list of things that I do not understand despite years of experience and hopefully a bit of maturity in the mix. “Our present troubles are small and won’t last long” but they feel like they are going to last forever and are very, very big. God is working to produce His Glory in our life. I believe this even though to the naked eye this is not how it seems or what the enemy wants me to think. Grace is all about keeping us until His Glory reaches us. So when I fall down, I have been given the profound privilege and overwhelming opportunity to get back up, dust myself off and try again because Jesus died so I could possess such an opportunity over and over again. If I can only get past the temporary and stop calling it terminal to feel the freedom of overcoming my doubt, fear and anxiety to keep moving even when I don’t think that I can. I know that God is my God and He brings dead things back to life.

Isaiah 57:10 (NLT)

You grew weary in your search, but you never gave up. Desire gave you renewed strength and you did not grow weary.

You know the “chick flick” movies where the man and woman break up and one of them decide to move away. They pack up their house and head to the airport while suddenly the other one has an epiphany that they cannot live without the other so the pursuit begins. Watching the movie our heart races. We want them to find each other again. Fall in love and live happily ever after. The writer has included many twists, turns and near misses between the two adding great intensity to the pursuit. This verse makes me think of this for some reason. God’s Unfailing Love is always pursing us. He is ready to pour His Grace, Glory and Goodness in our life just because of that Great Love. There is nothing that we can do to earn it so losing it is really not an option. We grow weary in our search sometimes but that doesn’t mean that we have to give up. Desire gives us renewed strength so that we push weariness aside to have that which we are after. I want certain things in this life. I have found out by living my life that there are times when things do not turn out like I planned. Other times when I am thrown for a loop and find I have fallen down. I am down but not out. It is that moment of brokenness that we decide what the true desire of our heart really is. If it is Jesus, we have to get back up and keep pushing and pursuing because our desire will not let us remain. The past few weeks have made me weary in my search…I cannot and will not give up. My desire for Jesus Christ and the things that He has promised me is renewing my strength. I have decided to get back in the saddle of expectation again hoping to make it to the Promise that I seek. I had to fight fear to get here. I had to wrestle with anxiety. I had to overcome doubt. But the moment that I decided not to give up on His Goodness for my life, I am free again. Free from those things holding me down to soar above the current circumstances and wait on the Lord.

Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Please don’t think that I am crazy but from time to time I have conversations with two voices in my head. The first is my flesh that is always crying and complaining when trouble comes. It doesn’t like change or to be uncomfortable. It is usually the one who is yelling the loudest and longs to quit. Then there is the Spirit who reminds me of how much God loves me and that He really is doing something with my life. This voice is quiet, calm and confident. It speaks softly. I decide the voice that I listen to and the opinion that I will make a fact in my life. Some of you just thought, “She’s crazy” and will probably quickly unfollow this blog. But then there are those of you who know God and know that what I am saying is true because you struggle too. Since you have heard about Jesus and learned the truth…this message in Ephesians applies to the believer. It is not for everyone. Only those people who have decided that they want to silence the flesh and live by the Spirit will have such struggles. But those who decide to live by the Spirit will allow the Voice of God to renew their thoughts and attitudes which form the actions in our life. These will be the people who successfully put off their old nature and assume the new nature gifted to us by God. We will be like God in our confidence that His Word, Will and Way are the best things for our life.

Psalm 119:37-40 (NLT)

Turn my eyes from worthless things and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

Turn my eyes from worthless things. I could repeat this a thousand times a day and still need to repeat it tomorrow. This world appeals to us because we can see it, feel it, and touch it. God gives us life in His Word. Faith comings by hearing. God’s Word gives us promises. We must have faith that God is trustworthy. Tough call when this world instantly gratifies our senses, but worthwhile if we want more than this world has to offer. God’s Word assures us that what He promised is true. It is Jesus. Remember, Jesus was the Word of God wrapped in flesh so we would get the message that God loves us. God’s Goodness is in His Word. His Word fortifies the Spirit inside of us and gives us a two-against-one majority over our flesh. The Spirit and God’s Word always agree and work together for our empowerment and good in all things. Do you need a boost today? Trying to get back up? Deciding whether or not you want to get back up or not? Read the Word of God. Find your promise. Pray. Pray in the Spirit connecting one-on-one with the Father and His Son. Such an effort will cut the fear that is holding you back, overcome the doubt that is weighing you down, and release you from the bondage keeping you from God’s Best!

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)
The
 Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Still Adjusting – A Devotion

Still Adjusting

Ephesians 1:3-6 (Message)

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

 

One of the many things that I do for work is event planning. When there is a campus event, it is my responsibility to work with other departments to pull it all together. There are meetings and lists that drive the duties of everyone involved. At first it is quite overwhelming, but in the end it is satisfying when everything comes together. When it comes time to set up for these events, I am extremely particular about very small seemingly insignificant details. For example, table placement is one of the things that can literally take me hours along with set-up. There are a select few who will work with me in this area because I am too picky. Alignment and symmetry must be good. Functionality a must. Table covers must be even and straight. If there is anything on the table, it must be uniform. It is a tedious task and many people do not see the point. But when the event begins and visitors walk into the room, it is clearly noted. Presentation is very important. In each detail, there are little adjustments here and there. Over the course of working with many of my coworkers, it is inevitable that in the course of putting on the finishing touches the patience of some wear thin. Others will suddenly have other tasks that call them away. Not everyone is all about the fine tuning that drives me when I am in the “zone”. I am not even sure if it is a blessing or a curse sometimes. I am unable to walk away until in my mind it is perfect or at least as close as I can possible come to it.

God is perfect. He is a blessing in my life. He wants to bless me more and more. Jesus Christ is the One who makes such blessing possible. My ability to receive all the blessings that God has prearranged for my life comes in my ability to align my heart, mind, body and soul with His Will and Way for my life according to His Word. It sounds like an awesome task and responsibility which it is. But Jesus bears the brunt of this responsibility in our life. We are called to endure until the tweaking, adjusting and changing of our life settles us into proper position and placement to prosper. Who likes to be picked at? Who loves change? Who wants to conform? The process of perfecting our life is God’s Job but we are the ones who must undergo the transformation. Sometimes it is miraculous and supernatural, but more often than not, it is a constant process of refinement.

Romans 8:18-21 (Message)

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

 

“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) This has become my life verse. It is how I live ever since our life dramatically changed more than three years ago. I radically changed in the course of a day and have continued to adjust ever since. At first, being so engrossed in the care of our son and trying to hold things together in the rest of my life – I could do nothing more than trust the Lord and hope for the best. Ever since his bone marrow transplant for the first time in those three years, we have made it seven months with no evidence of cancer. Praise the Lord! So why can’t I fall back into a regular routine or certain schedule. I do not live in fear of cancer or anything of the sort. But I am different and my life forever changed so why can’t I adjust. I have sought the Lord on this subject because as a survivor through the difficult times growing up it is not my nature to live in an emotional flux. I plant my feet in the ground and keep forging along. But not this time – not know. It all points back to what the Lord has promised me in Romans 8:28. He is working all things together for my good because I do love Him. I am called according to His Purpose. His Purpose is all about thriving not just surviving.

It is hard sometimes to see past the hard times of life to the future that we have in the Lord. It is even harder to understand that no matter what we are going through that He is always working out the details for our good. I have come to realize that I am still adjusting to the violent change that impacted our life and exploded our faith. I am not on my own timetable but the Lord’s. I am not alone even when I feel as though I am because this glorious transformation is in us all as His Creation.

Romans 8:22-25 (Message)

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

 

Having five children, I am well aware of the pregnancy and birthing process. The Bible equates our difficulties in life as “birth pangs”. God is doing something productive in us but sometimes all we feel is the pain because we cannot comprehend the promise that is attached. The Spirit of God sees the Promise anticipating its arrival, He prepares us to receive it. We yearn for deliverance not knowing how to find it. We want full satisfaction in the midst of our discontentment. The problem is that if we do not become connect to our promise – we may abandon the process and abort the promise. There is joy in expectancy when what we are waiting for is worth something to us. I would go through everything that I have been through physically to have my children all over again because I love them and they were definitely worth waiting for and the endurance of labor and delivery. Each promise that the Lord has for His Children is of equal or greater magnitude than this. We must become connected to the promise and release the pain of our process to endure until the end.

Romans 8:26-28 (Message)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 

As I said before, I am still adjusting. Adjusting to my new life after a total change of heart. It is not easy but worthwhile as the Lord changes my life to fit into His Plan and to receive His Promises. He is putting me in good working order for His Kingdom. He is settling me into a life of faith that produces full satisfaction and hope that never leads to disappointment. He is altering me to achieve accuracy in my goals and aspirations to fulfill the desires of my heart. When I was about to give birth entering the “transition” stage of labor, I would make the declaration that I was done. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was tired of the pain. I wanted “it” out of me now. Looking back, all these statements seemed ridiculous as my flesh called out for relief. I laugh at the midwife who told me in the middle of such a rant. Ok, you can go. No problem. I actually took her seriously for about 30 seconds. Two minutes later, I was holding a beautiful more than nine pound baby girl falling in love all over again. Could it be that in that moment we are tired in the waiting that we are closest to the promise? When it is the hardest to hang on that we are almost at the top? The Holy Spirit is pushing and pulling helping us in our weakness but ultimately it is up to you and I just how intent we are on seeing the Goodness in every detail of our lives. Is it worth the wait? Is it worth holding on one more day? Is it worth pressing on? Is it possible to overcome? We decide in that moment if we will have God’s Promise and fulfill our purpose. It is totally up to us because as long as we are willing to accept this change – the Lord is adjusting, aligning and fine tuning our life to have it.

Psalm 119:73-77 (Message)

With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad. I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what’s true and right. Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight just the way you promised. Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to.

I know that I do not have all the answers. I am not in control of His Plan. The Lord knows exactly what He is doing in my life so I have to trust Him. When I work on events, I see a vision in my head that is clear while others just have to trust me until it comes together. When I think about the Lord ordering the steps of my life, preparing me for the glorious life that He has promised, and all the details that sum up the goodness that He is working on – I understand in my not understanding that He has a vision for my life worth having, worth waiting for and worth changing for. I am still adjusting and I won’t give up.

Habakkuk 3:2-3 (Message)

And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

This Too Shall Pass – A Devotion

This Too Shall Pass

Psalm 125

Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever. Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever. The wicked will not rule the land of the godly, for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong. O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you. But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord. Take them away with those who do evil. May Israel have peace!

 

“This too shall pass…” has become the motto of many people when facing times of hardship and trouble. I thought it was a scriptural verse but discovered that this adage is not found anywhere in the Word of God although some attribute it to King Solomon. This makes sense as it sounds like something he might have said. Although it is not scripturally-based, it is sound advice. We live in perpetual motion. Our life has purpose and is set forth to find it and fulfill it. This drive comes from the passion that keeps our heart beating each day. God put eternity in our heart so that we would have the desire to find our purpose and pursue it. Ultimately, our divine purpose is to discover the Love of God, meet the Son of God, step into righteousness and be totally transformed. Sounds easy enough until words like “testing”, “trials”, and “hardship” become part of our life. We assumed that a life living for the Lord would be different but we never read the book. Misinformed and soon misguided, Christians miss the mark of true faith because they do not know what they believe. Case in point, did you think “this too shall pass” was from the Word of God, too?

Those who trust the Lord are secure. They will not be defeated. They will endure forever. The Lord surrounds His People. These are true statements. We must trust the Lord. “This too shall pass…” offers encouragement indeed, but the Truth of the matter it is the one who endures to the end who will be saved. (Matthew 24) The trial will end. The test will be over. This hardship will not last. But it will soon give way to something else, in the end all that matters is do you trust Him? Those who do will live forever, but what if I don’t know how to get through today?

Matthew 24:12-14 (NLT)

Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

 

Sin will be rampant everywhere. It is. Love of many will grow cold. It has. The one who endures to the end will be saved. It’s not over yet. Yes, this world will one day pass away but in the meantime as it slowly decays physically, morally and spiritually – God’s Plan is working and the Good News is spreading throughout human desperation and dire need of a better life and the need to be released from this oppressive state. The problem is that we are so caught up in getting over it that we fail to walk through it most of the time. Rather than crying out for God to release us from our present situation, why not invite the Lord to change us in it? We want His Hand not His Heart. But trials and tests will change all that as we are transformed within them. Do you trust the Lord enough to walk through the fire rather than jumping over it all the time? We can miss the Lord avoiding trouble or trying to find the easy way out. For example, the three Hebrew boys who were cast into the fire. It could have been avoided. They could have pretended to bow down with their body but still loved God with their heart. Surely God could see that in the midst of their hardship and understand. Or was the point to spread the Good News that the Lord will free us in the fire while He walks with us in it. When we read Matthew 24:12 THROUGH 14 – it is a different picture than by reading a single verse. Our life is in a transformation process that requires endurance and the world we live in is of no use or moral support so we must totally rely on Jesus. God it. But it doesn’t stop there. This is not a personal act of endurance but an advanced directive on our life to fulfill the Great Commission that does not get put on hold because you are going through something. In fact, it is the time that the fire is turned up the contents of our heart boils. Whatever is in our heart spills over the top when subject to great pressure. This is the purest form of evangelism that changes hearts and lives the most. When faced with the unthinkable and all we can think of is Christ.

Psalm 138:7-8 (NKJV)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 

I found these verses somewhere around our son’s third cancer relapse. I couldn’t understand why we kept finding ourselves in this position when I believed that God is our healer. I trust that God’s Plan for him is to live. We believe. Yet, over and over again one step forward and two steps backward. I needed God to show me that He was God and in control. He did. He also gave me the promise that He will perfect that which concerns me. Cancer concerned me. There are still some days that I must remind myself who destroys all sickness and disease. I love Romans 8:28 which promises that God’s Goodness can and will come from every detail of our life. These two truths combined offer hope when most would say it is hopeless. When I walk through trouble, the Lord revives me. Would I seek Him to meet my needs if there was no trouble? Hmm. He stretches out His Hand against my enemies sweeping me to safety with His Right Hand. Will He be able to do this if I am fighting my own battles? Hmm. The Lord perfects that which concerns me…but how can He if I am doing it my way instead? Hmm. God’s Mercy endures forever and for all the times I have stopped to go hmm.

Psalm 136:1-9 (NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.  Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights— His faithful love endures forever. The sun to rule the day, His faithful love endures forever. And the moon and stars to rule the night. His faithful love endures forever.

Sometimes I forget just how big God is – that is usually on the days when I resign myself to simply getting by rather than expecting God to show up and show out on my behalf. If I can just make it through this day alive – must become I am more than a conqueror! It’s tough sometimes especially in times of struggle when holding on to faith and staying strong in hope seems too much to bear. We must remember that God is always in control which mean that He is working for you in the midst of the chaos. Why? His Faithful Love endures forever. Beyond the hardship, disappointment and pain is a Great Big God who love us with all His Heart working out every detail for our good and perfecting all that concerns us.

I Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

 

You know that you asked for it, right? I mean you do understand that to be closer to the Lord means that we must be transformed day by day. God is faithful. If you ask to be more like Jesus, He will work to make it so. The test will be passable. The trial will be endurable. Will you endure to the end is the question? Do you really want to know the heart of God or are you just trying to get what is in His Hand? Earthly blessing and its prosperity will all pass away. Those who endure to the end passionately pursing God’s Heart will live forever. “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.” (2 Corinthians 6:3-6) Endurance without transformation is futile and worthless. This too shall pass is no good unless it gives way to a deeper and more transparent relationship with Christ. Human effort and energy can carry us just so far. It becomes glorious when our strength is gone and weakness takes over. Will you allow Him to come that close and take you that far?

 

I Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

 

A sweet friend reached out to me the other day to tell me that she had been praying for me the last few days and that I was heavy on her heart. She felt the Holy Spirit leading her to tell me. I am glad that He did and she was faithful. It has been a rough week. She had no idea but was faithfully interceding for me. I told her of the image in my head as I endured the trials going on around me. I feel as though I am crouched low to the ground in a defensive posture with my leg folded and knees tucked underneath me. My arms cover my head as I attempt to defend myself in this vulnerable position. I can feel the Hand of God covering me. He has surrounded me with His Angels who are engaged in a battle that is fierce. I can feel the heat of the intensity yet nothing is touching me, but I am tired of the oppressive position and want to move. Her word to me was to stay right where I am until the battle is over. To just hang on. This is when I must continually recite the Word of God as a reminder. His Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures every circumstance so my love for Him must never give up, never lose faith, always be hopeful and endure to the end even when the end is not in sight. I must hold my position.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 

It is my goal today to remember that I am being transformed into what is good, pleasing and perfect because it is God’s Will for my life. Like Esther, He created me for such a time as this even though my conditions are uncomfortable and seemingly unfavorable. (Esther 4:13-14) Not only am I called to endure but I was created to make it through this life to be with God forever. My goal is total and complete transformation as I am being molded and shaped into the Masterpiece that He has designed me to be and every variable of my life is incorporated in His Perfect Plan if I just will give Him the room to move in me and through me. I do this by enduring which is nothing more than holding my position until My Help comes. This too shall pass but I don’t want it to unless I am changed in the process which will make it worth it every single time!

I Corinthians 15:54-58 (NLT)

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.