Chasing Victory

Chasing Victory

I John 5:4-5 (AMP) For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. Who is the one who is victorious and overcomes the world? It is the one who believes and recognizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yesterday. Oh my goodness! Where to begin and yet not bore you or even overwhelm you with the details. The only reason that I even dare to share it is to encourage someone who may be facing the same. His voice broke through the darkness like a huge hand shaking me violently from sleep, “Honey, it’s 6:30!” How can that be possible? I set the alarm. No, I didn’t. I must have forgotten. We got in late. Our routine not the same. Ugh! No Jesus for me this morning, or so I thought. Running through the paces of what had to be done over what my heart desired to do, I bypassed the study to grab the dog and wake up the girls. My poor little had quite a shaking the day before while tubing on the river. Her head slammed into the water and the pressure made her earache. Now her body was sore from the impact, no worse for wear but exhausted from a long weekend without much sleep. Work has been crazy. Do I stay home with her? Is she okay? What should I do? Why is this so hard? She gets up and begins to get ready so I do the same. My husband and I run over each other in our morning routine which is usually hours apart. I am struggling with my attitude. I have so much to do lingering from last week into today. It seems no matter how much I mark off the list more keeps piling up. Running around in a flurry, I remember that I need to change the sheets in the guest room. The laundry is piling up, too. I grab some frozen chicken for dinner and head for the shower. I have to leave in less than an hour. I promise the Lord that we will talk on the way to work. The long commute is good for quiet time with Jesus unless work meets you in the car with your office manager. My mind is racing and my heart is sinking. Lord, help me today. This day is going to be a booger. I feel it inside me. I hate days like this. “Lord, I need you!”

Arriving to work and reviewing the que, all the projects due that loom over my head present as a little black rain cloud. “God, I need you!” I grab the Bible out of my purse. Surely, there is a word for me somewhere in this little blue book. I read Ezekiel the first chapter. Let me summarize. God calls Ezekiel to bring a Word to the Children of Israel – a strong retort to stubborn people who will not listen. Okay, thanks Holy Spirit that is encouraging…no seriously I get what you are saying but I need to hear that you will rush in to help me today, calm my racing heart, ease my anxious mind, and still this chaotic day. Leaving around six, two hours later than the norm. I am so tired and drained as I crawl to the car. My brain is mush for lack of better terms. My job is not physically strenuous at all, but mentally it is brutal. Holding the steering wheel tight in my hands, I whisper, “God, I need you!” I call my husband to let him know I am late. Hinting at fast food, his disappointment clear, I decide to cook even though it’s getting dark. Let’s not forget that the taxes are due. I have to submit them tonight. The to-do list for tomorrow may not leave room so prudence says, “Now!” While dinner is cooking, I slide into my desk chair. The place where I seek Him, but now just keep doing. The sheets in the guest room still calling – in between dinner and taxes – I strip it and put them in the washer. The timer sounds from the oven and I rally the troops. Sitting around our table, I look at their faces missing the ones who are not there. Thankfulness floods my heart. I made it. We made it. I begin to think about the things that have gone right today. All the small victories won. All the challenges overcome. I am thankful. So I ask each one to share just one thing no matter how big or small they are thankful for, too. The tension breaks as our family meal begins… Lord, thank you for being so much greater than me.

Everyone born of God IS victorious and overcomes the world. It says, “Everyone.” There are no exceptions. If Christ lives in me, I am enough. If He lives in you, you are more than enough to overcome every challenge and temptation that comes your way. It is our continuing and persistent faith in Jesus that gives us victory every day. My strength is no match for the enemy. However, His Grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is exposed when my weakness leads me to the Cross and I exchange my inability for all of His Possibilities. We become victorious and overcome by believing in the Power of Jesus Christ and its potential in us. I didn’t do the things I normally do including spend a significant time in my study and prayer room. Discipline puts me in this place daily so that on those days when life comes hard and pressures are overwhelming – the Christ in me is enough. I believe not because I everyone is in my favor but on the simple and active belief that all things are working together for my good because Jesus Christ is alive and well inside me.

What does it mean to overcome? Jesus overcame the world. It would be a good idea to know what He did. Overcome means get the better of in a struggle. To conquer or defeat something. It means to prevail over or persist in one’s effort. It is to overwhelm or overpower the mind, will and emotions to hold on to our faith. It means to gain victory. Victory is just on the other side of overcoming. We must overpower that which is fighting against us to live in the constant state of winning that Christ promises. How do we overcome? We must fight for our faith despite the constant conflict with our flesh and relentless adversity by the enemy.

John 16:33 (AMP) I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

Jesus was honest. He did not sugarcoat the truth about life in this world. It’s going to be hard. Difficulties will rise up. Challenges will be faced. Temptations will greet us at every turn. It is not going to be an easy journey, just a worthwhile one. You will have “tribulation, distress and suffering” BUT be courageous, confident, undaunted and filled with joy. There is joy in Jesus Christ. What I failed to mention in my dissertation about yesterday is there was laughter. There were friends who encouraged me. Keep running! You’ll catch up. Jesus overcame the world. God is greater than my feelings. Many of the things, I give a high priority are not as important as I think compared to the more than I can think, imagine or ask (Ephesians 3:20) that the Lord is doing in me and through me at the very same time.

My conquest is accomplished. My victory abiding. I love these words so much today. They give validity to my hope that I hold so dearly and tightly to my chest. As if to let my beating heart, help revive it in tough times. Yet, I know that my hope is established by faith and not anything that I can do. I cannot boast of the breakthrough today. The kind of accomplishment that allows us to lay down and sleep in perfect peace even in the midst of crushing pressure and countless deadlines. Jesus keeps telling us these things, encouraging us to believe, empowering us to hang on because He is building, shaping and molding our heart to live in victory rather than chasing it all the time. He is filling us with more of His Spirit and the inexpressible joy that is evident in perfect peace. God is with us. He lives in us. We are victorious.

I John 4:4 (AMP) Little children (believers, dear ones), you are of God and you belong to Him and have [already] overcome them [the agents of the antichrist]; because He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world [of sinful mankind]. 

It’s funny that these words of encouragement are sandwiched between warnings about false teaching. When I missed my quiet time in the Word this morning and did not go into my prayer closet, but conversed with the Lord on the go. I was tempted to take an invisible bat and beat myself in the head. I have to do this – I always do this – the Lord has instructed me to do this. No, He has simply asked me to follow Him wholeheartedly. All the “to do” things are of my own design. I believe that the enemy works on both sides. The world places a high demand on our time and attention. Sometimes the people in church can do the same thing. We must be faithful to the fellowship. We must “serve” the Lord and “do” the right things. Is this really the Voice of the Lord? Because His Word says that the “blessing of the Lord brings true riches and He adds no sorrow for it.” There was no more important place I went or task performed yesterday than to sit down with my family at the dinner table and join hands to pray. To speak our thankfulness to Jesus because no matter how difficult it was – we made it. Overcoming the world’s pressures and gaining victory over the enemy’s attack – our family sat together in the Presence of the Lord, filled with His Spirit, covered with grace and shared a meal together. We made it. It was in the moment of perfect peace that victory is secure. The knowing that God is with us – Immanuel and stopping because nothing is chasing us but His Unfailing Love and Goodness. It will find us if our heart and mind are set on Him.

I Corinthians 15:57-58 (AMP) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].

Can I just encourage you a little today? You are victorious. You don’t have to chase victory or try to overcome. The Victor and Overcomer already lives in you. By trusting and believing that He is enough and continually pushing every care, worry, need or burden over to Him, it builds our faith into confident hope so on days when all hell breaks loose, nothing goes right, and everything seems to be falling apart – His Chaotic Love sweeps us up and envelopes us in perfect peace. The kind that our heart, mind, will and emotions can rest in even when our body is on the go. Life will continue to be full of temptation, pressure and responsibility. Jesus didn’t promise to take these challenges away but that in each one – His People overcome. Victory belongs to us if we choose to claim it, step in it and live in each day.

Psalm 117:2 (AMP) For His lovingkindness prevails over us [and we triumph and overcome through Him], and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

 

Found My Joy

found-my-joy-2

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.

Slowly but Surely

Slowly but Surely

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

The revelation was a bit discouraging but I am definitely slowing down. My body does not allow me to cram quite as much into a day before giving way to tiredness. I do not feel old yet I am beginning to experience the characteristics of aging. This is not a melodramatic tirade about old age and getting old but rather a simply stated fact. Youth gives way to the notion of invincibility. A teenager or young adult does not consider tomorrow but lives spontaneously for today. There will be endless tomorrows to plan and worry for the future so they live in this moment. The moment is filled with immediate gratification. There is no waiting but a constant need for movement. Anticipation gives way to impatience and the impetuousness of youth doesn’t allow for slowness, steadiness or careful consideration. As time passes, the choices made during these times welcome us into adulthood. With families and responsibilities being knocked around a bit by life, it is time to enter the rat race and chase the American Dream. Busyness consumes us. Climbing corporate ladders and chasing after children, life ticks by day by day. Until the day, the nest gets a little bigger. The endless pursuit of satisfaction leaves behind broken promises and dead dreams. Nowhere near the golden years, but maybe with a few gray hairs, there will be many who utter the words “there must be more to life than this.” There is. I believe that the Lord waits for us to get through those other things and do what we need to do so that coming to Him, we will be ready.

The Lord is not being slow. He is not slack concerning His Promise. Our God is filled with unfailing love, compassion and mercy for us. Countless times it has caused Him to calm His Anger, and hold tight the Hand of Wrath that our transgressions should release. However, in our finite thinking, taking freedom for granted in our prayer closet crying out – “Where are you God?” Oh, He is right here. Waiting and watching for us to respond to His Promises held securely in His Hand. When our minds reach the end of our knowledge, our bodies grow weak and weary, and when our soul is left unfulfilled, it is only the beginning. We must slow down. It is not our nature. God will wait until it is.

A day is like a thousand years to the Lord. When it comes to God the saying must be true that He’s got “nothing but time.” Each person create has a plan with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It is achieved by wholeheartedly seeking the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:13) Humanity has eternity in each beating heart that is ready to connect with the Kingdom. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Every day is recorded (Psalm 139:16) so our way is mapped out moment by moment so even the moments filled with mistakes and misfortunes our not dead ends but still line up with our destination. The Word of God promises that He perfects that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) so that takes the pressure off of me. Finally, my all-time favorite after living half my life, I “know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His Purpose for them.” It took a long time to get here, but I am glad that I did.

2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT) In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The more you grow, the more productive and useful you will be. The Word of God is seed to a fertile heart. It doesn’t always manifest fruit as soon as it is planted and often must go through many seasons to grow. We like immediate growth. Nobody likes to wait. Ever. The effort put forth to attain the Promises of God for our life is faith which is not an innate human quality. It begins with a tiny measure tucked within us that must grow into righteousness. The first step is salvation and the application of God’s Grace in our life. It cannot stop there. If we do not continue the growth process of redemption with such things as surrender and obedience to the Lord, there will be no fruit or satisfaction in our life.

The process of faith is marked by slowness. Moral excellence takes a great deal of self-control. It requires careful thought before each action. Self-control comes from knowledge. We have worldly knowledge that is good and useful such as not to touch a hot stove or it will burn us, but when it comes to spiritual wisdom – we must obtain it by studying the Word of God, praying it and living it until it yields each promise. This takes time. But then God’s Word talks about the things most people loathe like patient endurance and godliness. Making us think of exercise, our flesh comes up with a million excuses why there is no time or worth to seeking such trivial things. Without persistence in patience, exercises of endurance and the Holy Spirit’s production of self-control though it is possible to have a good life, we will not have the life that God has promised.

Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Do you see it hidden in this verse? Could it be a hint at why we are waiting all the time? “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down.” We want the things of God. We find them in the Way of God. His Way is One Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Jesus Christ. God waits for us to find “the Way”. Let us strip off every “weight” that “slows us down.” I wonder if all this waiting and watching is meant to alleviate the weight of sin that slows us down. Could it be that in the patient process called faith that God allows things to slow us down so we will recognize each weight and burden? Yes.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NLT) I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guard post. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. 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.

Countless times in my life, I have felt like the watchman on the wall standing at the guard post waiting on the Lord. I have gone willingly and not so willingly. I have wasted a whole lot of energy climbing up and down indecisive about God’s Timing and unsure of His Faithfulness. It is not human nature to trust but to test everything. It is only now after much waiting that I am beginning to understand the futility of impatience. God is God. He is Sovereign. He will not change His Mind. God does not lie. There is no point in my attempts to rush the things that the Lord is doing in me, through me and all around me because His Will will be done. God is not delayed. He is perfect. His Way is absolutely flawless. He is working out the details for my full benefit and will not stop just because I am not happy or given to fits. Trust me. I have tried.

I want to encourage you today to wait on the Lord. Climb into the watchtower which strangely resembles your prayer closet. Stand guard at the door of your heart barring doubt and disbelief in the stillness of waiting. A lesson that I learned during our son’s illness is that our waiting is also filled with precious moments of life called time. Once time passes it cannot be recalled. No one can turn back the hands of time. I remember one evening early in the fight. The room that I shared with our son had twin beds – one for the patient and one for the caregiver. The silence was broken by the crickets outside and the rhythmic ticking of the pump by his bed. He said, “Mom?” “Yes.” “Thanking you for coming to take care of me. I know you are having to miss work and the girls and all…” My heart sank so deeply I could feel the mattress move. All I go utter was “there is nowhere that I would rather be.” During the next few years, I spent countless days and hours waiting and watching our son fight for his life with the Lord by his side. Because of that nighttime conversation with him, I recognized that while I did miss home that there was no place I would rather be or no more important use of my time. We had a lot of good times in the midst of what the enemy laid out for destruction. I think sometimes as believers that it is easy to become so focused on what we want the Lord to do according to our human expectation that we miss what He is doing in our heart. Even in the long hours of waiting each moment is filled with meaning, purpose, and promise. We must learn to live in the waiting periods of life and recognize the importance of patience. Impatience will rob us of the love, grace, joy and peace that the Lord has provided in those moments. However, as we learn to slow down and wait on the Lord our strength is renewed. (Isaiah 40:31)

James 5:6-8 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen.  You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

In I Peter 2:2-3, it talks about our arrival as newborn babies who crave spiritual milk. Milk helps babies grow, develop and mature. Spiritual milk does the same for believers. The purpose is to grow into the full experience of salvation. In kindergarten, my very first science project was to grow a radish in a small Dixie cup. Every day I watched and waited, elated when the first leaflet pushed through the soil. However, when a radish was not produced in a week, I lost interest. My mom tended the tiny plant, watering it, putting in the sunshine, and tending it until she came to me one day so I could harvest the radish. We think that the Lord is slack concerning His Promise. Deciding that surely He has forgotten us. Yet when we refuse to wait rushing off ahead, or sit pouting in the watchtower, the Lord carefully continues the process of cultivation in us and around us so that nothing is wasted even in our inability or unwillingness to wait on Him. We have no choice so it seems that it would be beneficial to make the best of it.

Growing a radish in a cup is an elementary science experiment for children. Those who participate are not farmers. A farmer is someone who grows from experience. He understands the growth process and invests in it continually. We can experiment with Christ or learn to experience Him every day. It is our willingness to invest our life and time in spiritual growth and heavenly pursuits even when it means extended wait times that make the difference in our life.

Proverbs 20:29 (NLT) The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

Yes, I am definitely slowing down in more ways than one. Gone are the all-nighter. Done with the endless activities crammed packed in a day. No more going until I fall over because otherwise I would be in bed by 6PM. Those gray hairs peeking out will be dealt with by my hairdresser next week, but the experience that I have had with Jesus is priceless. I have spent countless hours waiting on the Lord only to know I cannot move forward without Him. Rather than escaping the waiting room, I find peace right there in that moment. I think that at my age, I am finally learning to pace myself and find balance. Where are you now?

Whether you are a kid, teenager, young adult or seasoned person, you will go through times of waiting. It is the process by which the Lord grows the Word in us to faith. He is an on-time God which seldom fits our schedule or routine. You think you need Him now, but just wait until tomorrow. God is making it come to pass slowly but surely. If you can find it in the Word of God, you can have it. If you can see it in scripture, you can be it. If your pursuit is Jesus, you will find Him. You just may have to wait a while. Is that okay? It is when you consider it will be worth it. It will be worth it all.

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. 

Just Uncomfortable

Just Uncomfortable

Philippians 1:28-30 (NLT)

Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.

 

We are given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. Woo hoo! Who wants to suffer for Jesus? Yeah, right. We don’t like to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable much less suffer for the Lord. Few Americans understand what true suffering really is as our birthright of residency affords us a better life than many other people across the Globe. I understand that there are homeless and hungry right here within our borders. Men, women and children ruthlessly under the control of prime evil who are enslaved and solicited. But what about you? What about me? Do we know what suffering for Christ really is? There are stories of churches who have split over something as trivial as renovation. Others divided by public opinion. The Body of Christ has grown quite comfortable in the air-conditioned comfort of padded chairs entertained by proper productions. So when it is time to learn, grow, develop to mature in the Lord, they balk at the discomfort crying out like it is suffering.

 

When our youngest was an infant, she was quite dramatic. When she experienced the slightest bit of discomfort, she would wail as if begin dismembered. Her birth was traumatic. Oh it was not eventful other than she stubbornly wanted to stay put but once she made it into the world, she let everyone know she was displeased. Hence the first two years of her life, if she didn’t like it she let you know about it. She’s a lot like that still just a bit more reasonable. Was she ever truly starving? No. Was she freezing to death? Seriously. Was she drowning in a wet diaper? Of course not. She was uncomfortable and demanded her to be comfortable again. Now I could stop right here and be just fine. I see where this is going and I am not sure I like it. Oh well…

 

To be uncomfortable is a state of discomfort, feeling uneasy, painful or irritating. This would describe the majority of life’s situations. However, we become extremely sensitive to such feelings in a world shaped around comfort. Padded seats. Temperature controlled environments. Free Wi-Fi. This catering to the flesh and all its creature comforts has created a world full of babies. What happens at work when the Internet goes down? Chaos. How about at home when the cable goes out? More chaos. We have lost touch with the reality that we live in a very comfortable environment. Even church has become comfortable catering to the people who attend rather than the One who gave His Life so they could live again. Sad but true. I hear you, Lord.

 

To suffer is a whole other matter, thankfully not many people have truly experienced suffering. To suffer is to undergo, be subjected to, or endure pain, distress, injury, loss or anything unpleasant. Suffering is marked by misery. What is true suffering? The word “endure” means ongoing it seems to have no end. I know that I think I suffered through our son’s illness. The pain in my heart lasted for years on end. The bad news just kept coming with bursts of light in between. My hope would rise and fall like the chest of someone breathing as we walked out God’s Plan. But now I question that…

 

2 Corinthians 11:19-30 (NLT)

You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face. I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! 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.  Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

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.

 

If you recall the Corinthians were not happy with Paul after he called them out in his first letter, so he sent a second one. He summarized the life of faith and ascertaining hope when he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Whether through discomfort or suffering, we come to a point of human weakness. At some point through growth, development and discipline, believers should show signs of maturity that leads to understanding of the process by which such things are achieved. We move from infancy in Christ to adulthood when discomfort doesn’t bother us and suffering is welcomed. Who would do that? Paul did. Look at what the man endured after coming to Christ. Have our lives even come close? We pride ourselves in serving once a month in the nursery. He was beaten. He was battered. He lived in chains on the verge of death. Yet he kept on ministering the Good News of Christ. I love how after listing all the ways that he suffered, he speaks to the pastors out there. Even under the harshest circumstances, he still tossed and turned at night thinking of his people and his church. Lord, forgive me for allowing discomfort to stop me when I was made for so much more.

 

I have shared this before, but it seems appropriate now. Our son endured heavy doses of radiation treatment to kill the cancerous tumor in his nasopharynx. In the beginning, it seemed harmless. Halfway through it began to leave a slight mark with some symptoms. The doctors warned that as it went on it could get worse. By the last week, it was horrifying. The skin began to boil and blister from the inside out. His ears literally separated from his head. The heat coming off his skin would melt the prescription ointment off my finger before I could apply it. All I could think of was Job and his boils. I told him, “Buddy, if you want to cry, complain or even tell God that this sucks I think He would understand.” He was just sit there while I treated him enduring the agony and torture. He told me, “Mom, what good would it do to gripe and complain? They told me this would happen, it is only for one more week.” I think about this every time a little discomfort brings a complaint to my lips. We do not know what true suffering is because most of the time, we are just uncomfortable.

 

We will never know the true potential of God in us until we reach the end of our strength and ability to do anything about our current situation. When we have done all that we can do but stand on His Word, there is a shift in power in our life. It will not happen if all we want to be is comfortable. It happens when we suffer because it produces endurance that makes us wait on His Promise. God is good. His Unfailing Love and Goodness pursue us all the days of our life waiting for the moment we run out of energy and turn back to the Cross. Everything that I need, want and desire is found in Him. It is the God in me that will produce it in my life when I surrender all even if that means suffering a little while.

 

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 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.

 

What is holding you back today from trusting the Lord? Are you uncomfortable with the circumstance surrounding your life? Of course you are. You are not of this world. As a temporary resident and foreigner it is going to only get worse the closer to His Kingdom and deeper in His Presence you wander. Jesus didn’t look at the Cross when He walked toward it. He only saw You. You were His Heart’s Desire. He didn’t care what it would take, His Love for you and desire to be with you so strong that He saw only joy waiting for Him. Sad to think that we seldom are willing to keep going when the mountain grows steep, valley gets low, river rages, storm clouds gather, people talk, the enemy attacks, or we just get plain uncomfortable. For the joy awaiting Him…friend that’s you…it’s me…He became our Champion. He endured it all just to be with us forever. Don’t give up. The Lord knows you are weary. He knows fatigue is setting in so He applies His Grace that is sufficient for us to be more than uncomfortable but suffer with Him. It goes on to say that we have not given our lives in the struggle with sin. Hmm… could that mean that this battle is not outward but comes from within?

 

Matthew 10:21-23 (NLT)

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

Daily Struggle

Daily Struggle

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 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.

 

A little girl was playing when she noticed her little dog was just about to enjoy a big fat caterpillar snack. She rescued the tiny crawling creature giving him refuge in a mason jar with a little twig and some grass for comfort. Soon he made his way to the middle of the branch and by morning there was a tightly woven cocoon surrounding him. She waited and waited knowing that soon a lovely butterfly would emerge and fly high above the dangers of the earth below. One morning the cocoon was moving and she knew that it was time. But as the little butterfly continued to squirm and move with no sign of escape, she took little scissors to ease its passage to eliminate its struggle. Out popped a butterfly but not as she envisioned, its body was fat and wings shriveled and wet. So she took the little creature to her science teacher seeking help yet again for her tiny friend. The science teacher immediately knew the problem and told the little girl that when she had cut the cocoon and ended its struggle to survive she had preempted God’s Process. See it is in the struggle that the wings are strengthened to fly.

Struggles are a part of life. They are predetermined and predesigned to strengthen God’s People and create the endurance we need to finish the race. No one likes the struggle but most will deem it worth it when the finish is finally found. The life of faith is a series of trials and tests to examine our faith for perfection. It must be authentic. Without real and genuine faith, we will not make it to our destination. Our journey will end abruptly. It is human nature to find release from the pressure and end the struggle as soon as it started. In some cases, we are successful but one must consider the cost. When our son battled with cancer, I was determined that it would not touch my faith. Well, it did but not like one might imagine. Like an athlete attacking a weight bench, it made me examine my faith and decide whether I would be strengthened or give up all together. Cancer did not change us but it certainly has empowered our faith over the last four years.

I have endured trials that ended too soon because I gave up. But there have been some tests in life that giving up was not an option. Our son’s life was not optional. There was no choice. People often say, I don’t think I could’ve done it. Friend, if it happened to your child you would do it. You don’t have a choice. Death is not an option. Life is the primary goal. When our choice is life or death, everything changes. If we only could see that every struggle in life is a choice between life and death, we might look at these things a little differently. Jesus is our Champion. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He promised that with God all things are possible. Faith is the force that unites us to the Father through the Son.

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. When a tiny baby is being thrust from the womb, its chest is squeezed so tightly that the fluid is pressed out of them so that he can take his first breath. Birth is a violent process. It is quite painful, I can attest. When I look at my five beautiful people, it is worth it. Every painful moment is absolutely worth it to me. When I read this verse this morning, I thought about my own life. I can hope that the last great struggle we faced is over. But if I am still breathing, there will be more. Some days I am ready for the fight. Other days, I just want to give up or give in as my flesh rallies against me. But it is a matter of life and death…

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NLT)

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.”

 

Grace did not change God’s Offer for His People. It stands firm today. You decide if you will live or die and between prosperity or disaster. Life is a struggle. Every single day our flesh fights for control. Paul summed it up like this, “I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s Law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (Romans 7:21-23) I know that there are many days when I think I have come so far but still have too far to go to ever make it to a place of firm faith and completely confident hope. But when we consider that it is a matter of life or death…maybe it will make a difference in how we fight. Like the butterfly works to strengthen its wings when it thinks only of getting out of the cocoon or a newborn baby wants only a little room to move so it makes its way into the world, so it is with us in the daily struggles. We do not see the long range effect they have on our life but for those who love the Lord with all their heart and are determined to remove that sin creating havoc in their life – each struggle will result in blessing and prosperity. Are you willing to fight for your life? It will be a daily struggle. It will requires a daily decision.

I Timothy 4:8-10 (NLT)

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

 

I have a confession to make. I have stopped working out. I didn’t mean to. It kind of just happened. I got too busy or too lazy – pick one. Some days it is preempted by my schedule and the routines of those I love. Other days, I just don’t feel like it. In a nutshell, the result is I haven’t gone in a long time. I want to be healthy. Exercise makes me feel better and is of good benefit to my life. I have a gym membership so I can go anytime that I want to but if I am not willing to get in the car and go – it does me no good. We are saved by Jesus Christ which gives us access to God’s Presence and subsequently every single promise that He ever made to us guaranteed by His Spirit within us. If we refuse to struggle to maintain our faith and keep a type grip on hope fighting against our own unwillingness to surrender and obey, we will never reap the full benefits of salvation. It is an access point but if we choose not to go in – there really is no point. Obedience offers the life we hope for. Discipline keeps us on track. Grace is enough when it is what we rely and depend on. Faith that is unfounded is fruitless. Hope that is not grounded in Christ is just another floating timber rather than a solid anchor. We need the struggles we face to know the God who we serve.

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.

 

Today you will face some difficult choices, overwhelming challenges and daily struggles, it is called life. There is purpose and meaning in each test and trial we face as we decide whether we will choose life or death. There are not multiple routes from here to forever. Just one. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) There are a lot of folks trying to make up different ways to get there, but truly the only way to walk in the Presence of God is obeying His Word and following His Way every single day. You cannot follow the Lord and willingly walk in sin. As you walk with Him, He will show you the things that may be permissible but are not beneficial. The things that feed our flesh rather than releasing the Holy Spirit to fill us and equip us to live forever. We are reborn in Jesus Christ. Like the infant is pressed through the birth canal removing water to breathe in air, we pressed by problems to remove our sin and breathe in more of His Spirit. Just like the brand new butterfly must fight for freedom, we must fight the need for release and cries for escape to break every bondage that sin places on our life so we can rise above our problems to live by faith and confident hope. The process you are in has meaning. It has purpose. The Eternity that is hidden in our heart is being expressed into our life. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Isn’t that what we desired coming to Christ? A new life. Isn’t that what we meant when we repented from our sins? To remove them once and for all to live in totally free, healed and delivered from them. Don’t give up. Daily struggles are the process by which our faith is refined and hope driven home in our heart. The good news is that Jesus is our Champion. In all things we are more than conquerors. No weapon formed against us will prosper. Though trials and sorrows may be many, Jesus overcame them all!

John 16:33 (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The Persecuted – A Devotion

The Persecuted

Psalm 37:5-6 (NLT)
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

 

The word persecute has two meanings. The first is to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment especially because of religious, political or any other belief or social grouping. The second meaning is to annoy, trouble or harass persistently. I dare say that as believers that we will most certainly fall under one category or the other if we are truly living what we believe. A life of faith will draw the attention of not only people but the enemy who makes it his full time job to seek those who he can steal from, kill or destroy. With this in mind, we speak words of faith calling for the justice of God and His Word to come to pass in our life, but sometimes forget that this draws the attention of the enemy of our soul more than ever. As you strive to commit everything you do to the Lord and trust Him – He will most definitely help you to overcome in every situation. But we must remember such a lifestyle will draw enemy fire in our life. Are you in such a situation? No matter how hard to try to live for God, do the right thing, speak life, turn from evil to do good, and be a shining example for Christ, it seems like life gets harder and harder as the attacks of the adversary through people, circumstances and trouble become more and more persistent in your life. Welcome to a life of persecution. We were warned by the Lord. But He is not one to abandon us or leave us powerless without a defense. Our faith can help us overcome the annoying, troubling and persist harassing of the enemy. In fact, we must learn what to do when we are persecuted to not fall into the valley of pride to fight our own battle but rather learn to wait for the Lord. He promises to make my innocence radiate like the dawn and the justice of my cause to shine like the noonday.

The most difficult battles to fight our way through or even “faith” it through are those that just don’t make any sense. Unfair is one thing but illogical is quite another. When you follow all the rules, do the right thing, and live in integrity – yet are still called out as a liar, cheat, dishonest, or worse. Is there purpose in times like these when the only one who seems to see through it all is Jesus? He knows our heart. If you have done the right thing, He knows and this promise is for you. Let’s say you messed up along the way, it is still okay as repentance quickly lines our heart back up with the Lord. He will never let the righteous fall even if they stumbled a bit stepping back in. What’s the point of it all? Well, the enemy wants to take you out because your light in the midst of oppression shines brighter. Jesus came to give us abundant life. When we are humbled by the hardships of life, He blesses us even more.

Matthew 5:11-12 (NLT)

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

 

The enemy knows our greatest weakness. He is merciless and will use it against God’s Children each and every time. We must take our weakness and insufficiencies surrendering them to Jesus Christ. Why? God blesses us in that moment of the giving of our life by fortifying our faith with confident hope. We can see past today into forever and determine how it will weigh upon it. God promises to bless those who mocked and persecuted. If people lie about you or try all sorts of evil things against you than you will be blessed. How do I know that this applies to me? Are you following Christ? As a believer, you can expect the enemy’s attacks against your life on a personal level. He is trying to convince you that the Blood of Jesus is not powerful enough to overcome in every situation so you will abandon this notion of faith and trust in God to return to doubt and unbelief. To worry and become anxious in fear removes our faith from the Lord and gives the enemy the power to defeat us in life. We should be happy when trying times come because it is yet another opportunity to shine for Christ.

I am presently in the middle of an all-out war in the workplace. I have done the right thing. The policies have been adhered to. There is no doubt in my mind that my co-workers and myself have done nothing wrong. We are the only ones trained in our field who truly understand the job that we do. Yet, we have been falsely accused and unfairly judged by a group of individuals locked in a political battle. I was called in by my administrators and shown the report that will soon be posted publicly. It indicates wrong doing on my part and singles me out by position and title. Despite supplying a plethora of information documenting the truth, the auditors do not want to report the truth. They want to destroy their purported enemy. I am simply collateral damage. I cannot leave my job. It is not time. I must stand in the midst of false accusations, continued harassment and ongoing attacks with only the Lord by my side. My coworkers are helpless. My superiors are stuck. But why me? I have asked the Lord repeatedly. It is senseless. Could it be that the Lord has already turned this around for my own good? It may not be today or even tomorrow. The “truth” may never make front page news but be buried in the end. Faith is not just for the majors in our life like sickness and disease, it is a way of life. Such conditions remind me that I don’t need Jesus sometimes, I need the Lord ALL the time.

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT)

Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. They will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough.

 

We are in this world but not of it. It does not matter if I gain the whole world only to lose my soul. To sever ties with my dependence on this world, its people, and its prosperity sometimes requires persecution. Such times reveal our dependency issues and those things other than God that we are connected to. I say this with complete honesty and humility transparently before you. I work for the Lord. But sometimes I forget to look to Him for my blessing. “Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent and they will receive an inheritance that will last forever.” But like a popular gameshow, I must choose the blessing that I am after. Will I chose the short term blessing of personal gratification and the applause of others? Or will I decide to let the Lord decide the measure of my return? Ooh, how we all struggle in this area whether we admit it or not. I am taking the persecution against me personally. I am weighing it heavily professionally. But ultimately if the prosperity of God is my goal, I have to let it go. I have to decide that His Promise is what I am after rather than prideful fulfillment.

You will not be disgraced by these people. They cannot take your life but create an avenue for the Lord to change you for the better. Will you allow it? Those who choose to believe no matter how difficult and hard things get that you are blessed will do more than survive but will thrive to the Glory of God. The situation creates attention and others begin to look at us in either pity, compassion, or sometimes pride and arrogance. Either way, this persecution you are going through will certainly get others looking at you while living under the spotlight. We are called to be the Light of the World. See the connection. This time of trouble brings you out of obscurity and gives us the opportunity to be a beacon on a hill for others to see the Glory of God because He loves us so and flock to it. This, of course, depends on how we endure such times of testing. Will it bring honor to the Lord, or dishonor His Sacrifice and disarm His Power in your life? It is completely up to us what we choose to make of this bitter time and bad situation. Just think of Job, he probably never would have lived a life of significance outside of his hardship. He remained faithful to God through it all. He was blessed double for his trouble and remains an encouragement to others through all generations.

Psalm 37:23-25 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.

Persecution is the pressure point that pushes the Light of His Love in our heart out for public display. We can evaluate the contents of our heart by what comes out of our mouth during the test. If we truly believe that it is the Lord who orders our steps and that He delights in every detail of our life, then we know that Romans 8:28 is true and a work in progress in our life. The Lord is turning every detail for our good even this one. I have stumbled in this situation as it has made me angry. I feel violated. There doesn’t seem to be any justice and the wicked appear to be gaining ground. But the Lord has promised that He will never leave me. He is holding my hand so that I will not fall in this time of testing. The Lord will not abandon me or leave me to my own resources but instead I will prosper under pressure. Commitment of our entire life to Jesus plants seeds of righteousness that are sometimes (often) watered by our tears. When the pressure of persecution is applied to our life, it causes them to begin to sprout into blessing because we refuse to leave the field.

2 Samuel 23:11-12 (NLT)

Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.

 

One of David’s mightiest warriors was a man named Shammah. Have you heard of him? Yeah, me either until our pastor introduced him about a month ago in a message. Shammah was locked in a battle with the Philistines (the giants) in the middle of a lentil field. The Israelite army fled but Shammah held his position until the battle was over. The Lord brought Him great victory. Will you stand your ground today? In the midst of a battle is when true character and commitment is revealed. You must decide if what you after is worth fighting for. My faith is worth fighting for. I will endure persecution to be the Light that shines in the darkness for others to see. Rather than focusing on the enemy, I must focus on me. Building my faith by reading, studying and meditating on His Word rather than then accusations of the enemy. I must commit my entire life – body, mind and spirit to the Lord and make sure to keep that connection intact even if it means sacrificing every ounce of my pride. (It will!) Unless the Lord tells me to move, I must hold my position of faith and confident hope until He comes. He will make my life shine out the Light of His Love in this situation if I just hang on until He works out every detail for my good.

Psalm 37:34-37 (NLT)

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed. I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them! Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.

I want what God has planned for my life. I want the future and hope that is promised those who seek Him wholeheartedly. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) If you feel the same way, I encourage you to read Psalm 37 today. It puts your life and those who come against you in their proper place. You have only one enemy. Be sure that he maintains his identity in your life and pray for those who he is using mercilessly to come against you. This is vitally important as it will open the gateway of blessing as it did for Job. This too shall pass. I will say it again. This too shall pass. That which has come against you may seem endless and overwhelming but it will end because Jesus has overcome every problem we have. Choose the fruit of His Spirit over any root of bitterness that is trying to creep into your life and suffocate your heart. Those who come against you are under attack as well. The enemy you face is always the same. Let the Lord give you wisdom and understanding so you will know what do next time. Stop talking about it and pray about it. Worthless talk and endless chatter fill the enemy with new ideas and ways to get inside your head. We reveal our position in careless words. Speak the Word of God over your life. Trust the Lord. Stop fighting for your cause and invest your energy in faith in God. He is faithful. He is good! He loves you! You may be the persecuted today but if you will just hold on it will produce prosperity tomorrow!

Psalm 37:1-4 (NLT)

Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Struggle is Real – A Devotion

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Matthew 26:36-41 (NLT)

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!

 

Just five days after Jesus was welcomed by the people in the event that would one day be known as the triumphant entry, the Lord is in the garden challenged by His Flesh to abandon His Future. The substance of faith and confident hope hung in the balance that day as our Savior and Lord prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken from me.” Those who had followed the Lord throughout His Ministry witnessing firsthand all of the signs, wonders and miracles comparative to their historic teaching as Children of Israel completely missed the significance of the moment succumbing to stress rather than reaching deep within to press on. The Lord told the men that his “soul was crushed with grief to the point of death” yet they would not bother to inconvenience themselves enough to stay awake and pray. Don’t judge them too harshly. Our turn is coming. Jesus surrendered in that moment to the Will of God the Father when He said, “Yet I want your Will to be done, not mine.” Such an acknowledgment to the Lord does not end the battle but most often sets off a war. Human beings are not given to submission and pride does not allow for surrender rallying against such behavior every step of the way. But those who choose to be victorious must come to understand today that the struggle is real!

 

To have a willing spirit is one thing, but to be strong enough to walk God’s Way and submit to His Will is completely different. Our flesh is weak. Our body is weak. We are tempted at every turn to settle for lesser things, give up on God’s Best, and quit trying to do the Will of God and have His Promises. Jesus did not ask the men to pray for Him, but it says, “Keep watch and pray, so that YOU will not give in to temptation.” The Lord knew what was coming. There was no way to stop it. It would be a terrible tragedy that would result in a triumphant return. Jesus was not concerned so much about His Own Plight but the struggle of those who would be left behind.

 

John 17:9-15 (NLT)

“My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.  Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

 

When Jesus was physically here, He offered human protection to His People by the Power of His Name. Jesus knew, of course, that His Time here was drawing to a close. He would die and offer salvation to the world. But would they accept? In doing so, each one would have His Spirit to guide and protect them from here to Eternity. But without such a helper, He knew the weakness of their flesh would quickly overpower their spirit. Those who belong to Jesus will be subject to warfare. If you are not engaged in a battle with your flesh, then most likely you are not being real with yourself. All Children of God must struggle to overcome their flesh if they want to live by His Spirit.

 

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.

 

God is faithful. He will always show you a way through temptation so that you will be able to endure. If we are not challenged in following in the footsteps, I dare say that we have quite possibly wandered off course. God’s Way is always contradictory to man’s way. His Spirit guides us from glory to glory that is impossible outside of a thriving relationship with Jesus Christ. But the enemy tempts us with religious attitudes and restrictive behavior calling it godliness and righteousness when the only way to be like God is through Jesus Christ and faith in Him is the only requirement for righteousness. To stand strong in our own strength is the greatest lie of all for it is when we are weak that we become strong.

 

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.

 

Who wants to be weak to find true strength? No one who lives in the flesh. Human flesh demands its own way and demands gratification and comfort in this life. Self-entitlement comes forth from a selfish soul bent on compromise and substitutions if that is what it takes to be temporary satisfied. In most cases, we trample through God’s Grace and the Blood of Jesus thinking that is what is for. So we can live in our weakness and make it through life living however we choose and accepting less than God’s Very Best. When facing insults, hardships, persecutions, troubles and the like, we cry out to the Lord for His Mercy and Grace to ease our burden and suffering. Disinterested in the Will of God, we cry out simply to be rescued from discomfort, discontentment, discouragement and defeat only to never truly seek the Lord wholeheartedly but use His Grace as an excuse to remain weak and misguided. The devil is a liar. He has one purpose. He wants to destroy you. He will rob, steal, kill, and make you suffer in an attempt to turn you from Christ and keep you from His Grace. The enemy hates you but is not about enticing and romancing you to lure you into temptation. The greatest temptation of all is to walk in our way and never fully repent turning to follow Jesus. His Grace is all that I need. It is a safe place to store my faith so that confident hope can be produced that leads to prosperity. The very thing that I seek to satisfy my soul and all its longings cannot be found in this world but in one man, Jesus Christ. My weakness allows the Power of Christ to come in me, work through me and overflow from my life. I saw a t-shirt that said, “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” Now I know what that meant to the owner and watching world, but to me it tells a different story. I can do nothing apart from Jesus Christ. The harder that I try to work out the details good or bad in my life, the less likely I am to surrender to the Grace of God and His Righteousness found only in Jesus. It is okay to feel weak and even to admit it to the Lord. In fact, it is a requirement for true righteousness and genuine faith. These are the qualities that produce a solid stand for the Lord. It has little or nothing to do with me but fully relies on Christ. All I can do is come which means surrendering my will, mind, and emotions especially me heart to fully accept His Power in my life.

 

Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another powerwithin me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

 

Thank God for the honesty of Paul who admits that even when he wanted to do what is right, he inevitably ended up doing what is wrong. To love God’s Law with all of our heart means to embrace it. All of it. I am married. If I keep part of my vows but refuse to keep them all there will most definitely be a breach in our relationship. I must overcome the temptation to have my way all the time in order to walk with my husband. Our walk with the Lord is no different. It takes a concentrated effort to follow His Voice, listen to His Word, and obey His Commands not because we have to but because we want His Will in our life. We desire all the benefits of the Cross enough to pursue them wholeheartedly. We will always be at war with ourselves that is the purpose of endurance to keep turning back when our flesh gets us turned around and submitting more and more of our life to the Grace, Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ. We will never be fully free from sin outside of Jesus Christ and the day of redemption. Until then, it will remain a struggle in our life.

 

Hebrews 12:1-4(NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joyawaiting 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.

 

I know you are weary. I know that you want to give up. I know the fight is hard. I know the struggle is real. But I also know that God is good. I know that when Jesus accepted God’s Will that led Him to the Cross, it was for me. It would be the strength that overcomes my weakness. Jesus overcame the world. He was tempted so that I would be able to find my way out by His Example. He is the one who initiates and perfects my faith. I can do nothing worthwhile, good or beneficial outside of His Power that lives in me. I just have to keep trying. I must never let go of my faith no matter how hard the enemy fights to take it replacing it with fear. I cannot allow my mind to be distracted by doubt as the enemy tries to fill my head with his lies and threats. God is good. He has good things in store for me. This allows me to accept His Grace knowing that He is working every detail in my life for good. All I must do is win the struggle to surrender and give all of my life to Jesus Christ. It says in Luke 22:43, that when Jesus accepted God’s Will over his own that an angel of the Lord came to strengthen Him. This is a promise for us, too. In surrender, God meets us there. He strengthens us to take just one more step of faith. Each morning He gives us new mercy for all the times that we try and fail so we can try one more time. Instead of adding new weight and responsibilities called for by religion, I am told to strip off every weight that keeps me from running the race. The Lord has promised that He will carry my burdens in exchange for His Yoke that is easy and light. I am wrestling with the world for my faith but I am struggling with myself. I win when I give up and surrender all that I am to all that He is. Do not take it lightly my friend, this struggle is real. But the ones who endure to the end with faith in hand will be saved. Don’t feel guilty. There is no need to be ashamed. His Grace is enough. His Mercy is new each morning. You will overcome just don’t give up. If you are breathing, there is still a chance to have God’s Promises and live a prospering life. The Lord is not finished with you yet, so why are giving up? He made your life be enough to fulfill His Purpose and Plan but you must still live in the moment. The struggle is real. End the struggle. Accept all of Jesus and demand less of you.

 

Psalm 13

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?  How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?  Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

suffering – a devotion

James 5:11 (NLT)

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

 

Job was a Man of God doing his job, loving his family and minding his own business when the rug was pulled swiftly and completely out from under him. How do you react when encountering trials in life? Suffering is a direct result of circumstances and situations in life. How we contend with such interference and opposition is essential in our relationship to God. Suffering is a direct result of sin in the life of a believer. Suffering makes faith necessary and hope important. Yet suffering is not a popular topic in the church today. With a unified cry, Children of God plead for the Lord’s Blessing. They long for monetary and material prosperity while their soul starves to death. Suffering is uncomfortable to talk about and most certainly to endure. It is simple. It is reality. It is a part of every believer’s life. There is purpose in our suffering that when understood can essentially build our faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ allowing His Love to carry us through the hard times into His Glory. However, hanging on to our way of doing things and remaining in one’s comfort zone nullifies this process. What is suffering anyway?

 

Suffering is pain or distress. It is to be at a disadvantage or loss. Suffering can refer to a penalty such as death. Suffering is to endure pain, disability or death. When you undergo or experience certain things especially those which provoke change it is to suffer. Suffering refers to toleration. All these definitions are important in understanding the meaning of the word “suffering.” When you take the literal meaning of the word and combine it with the scriptural translation, what the world views as a negative becomes positive. Let’s take a look at the Word of God and what it has to say about suffering in order to make the trials and tests of this life meaningful and profitable to God’s Children. God does not want His Children to suffer. His Creation plan did not include the suffering of mankind. Sin introduced suffering and so it is. Jesus Christ is our escape from the death penalty of sin. People who call on His Name will be saved and reconciled to God. Sin is a tragedy in the life of every believer. It is not fully slain until we die a natural death. So if Jesus came to save us, why all the suffering?

 

Jeremiah 15:17-19 (NLT)

I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins. Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” This is how the Lord responds:  “If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman.
You must influence them; do not let them influence you!

 

I have found myself in this very same place many times. Looking around at a world that seems to be having fun while the “good little Christian” is sacrificing for the Lord, serving God is not drudgery. However, too many times we “do” things for the Lord but do not have a “heart” for God. Suffering strips away the flesh exposing the contents of one’s heart. God’s People have a purpose of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be the Light of the Word sharing God’s Amazing Love. However, like the frustrated believer in the passage above, we become consumed in what “we” do for the Lord and what “we” give up becoming solely focused on the Kingdom’s Impact on us rather than our influence on the Kingdom. God basically says you are useless to me in this condition. As flesh is removed, it reveals the motive of the human heart. Such revelation is crucial in not being disappointed at the day of Christ’s Return. Suffering opens an opportunity for personal growth. It is a time for “more of God and less of me” to take effect. Influence is important because you impact people’s lives whether trying to or not. It is important to daily examine the contents of one’s heart to ensure that sin has not taken over once again. Suffering is an invitation to do just that with God’s Intervention.

 

Lamentations 3:19-23 (NLT)

The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends!His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

 

I would venture to say that Joseph never forgot the smell of the cold, damp mud at the bottom of the pit his brothers cast him in. The taste of the dirt in his mouth still lingered long after he was removed from the trap. He remembered the feel of lengths of rope used to bind him into submission and the strap of discipline that brought him to his knees with its steady snap. Joseph could probably relay with stunning clarity. Those who have endured the fiery trials of life can still smell the smoke. Hope breaks through like the dawn for those who choose to trust in the Lord during times of suffering. As life is pulled from your hands as you know it, God will fill you with His Abundance like never before. You would not have given it up willingly. However, in these times of testing, one must reach for the only thing that is real. Are you suffering circumstances too overwhelming to bear? What are you reaching for today? How will you remember this moment in time? Will you rejoice or relent? It is all up to you.

 

Romans 8:16-18 (NLT)

For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

 

As God’s Children, we are also engaged in the war against darkness. The battle to retrieve and rescue all the souls the enemy has tried to capture is our fight. There will be opposition and hardship. Jesus encountered such things as will His People. Our goal is to be an heir of the Glory of God. The Glory of God is His Fullness. It is His Everything manifested in our life filling each moment in time. Yet, how can we compare our struggles with those of the early Christians or martyrs around the world today who literally experienced torture and death because of their belief in Jesus Christ. Every day you are faced with situations and circumstances that demand a choice – Jesus or the world? When you choose to exalt the Name of Jesus Christ, no longer is your suffering meaningless but fruitful. The Lord unites with such an effort. Suddenly, your life shares in the sufferings of Jesus Christ as you endure, persevere and tolerate the assault never wavering from the Foundation of Faith who is Jesus Christ. Where is our strength? Suffering is the door that gains our access to God’s Kingdom. It is a fight. Unavoidable. You must endure the battle to win the victory. You must be sure. Faith and trust are essential to successful suffering. The enemy cannot kill us or drag God’s People to hell but he will do everything in his power to win your trust. Scary to think that there is an opposing force constantly trying to drive a wedge between God and His People. It’s a fact. Welcome to suffering…enduring until the end.

 

Romans 8:23 (NLT)

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children including the new bodies he has promised us.

 

If suffering is a direct result of sin, then the only way to be free of suffering is to die. It is appointed to man once to die. The natural death people dread more than anything. Spiritual death is equally as violating as the thought of being vacated from the world. Suffering will not go away until sin does. Sin will not go away until we die and join Jesus in Eternity. Suffering is how we get through each moment. Our pain and distress is separation from God’s Kingdom. We suffer to be with the Lord. People are at a total loss without Jesus so we struggle. Pain, disability and death are all a part of this world, but have nothing to do with Eternity. We suffer to be released from this world into the everlasting. When our faith and trust in God becomes strong enough to go through things in life and toleration is our tool for survival. Not toleration of the world, but peace under pressure and flexibility during refinement. When our trust is so big that suffering is no big deal, then we are getting somewhere with God.

 

Philippians 1:29 (NLT)

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

 

When enduring a season of suffering, it is often very difficult to find it a privilege, but it is. It is a privilege to share in the afflictions of Jesus Christ. To endure for His Name Sake, never wavering is immensely rewarding. It identifies you as God’s Child. No clearer relationship is defined that when a believer lays down his life for God’s Plan. If only as Children of God, we could understand that suffering is an opportunity to have more of God’s Spirit moving through us and pressed until His Anointing runs out. It is not a mistaken moment, lost cause or squandered opportunity, no right where you are in the midst of your agony be it spiritual, physical or emotional is the perfect time to expect God to move in your life. Don’t look at what you want today but look to Eternity. Suffering is not about today but Forever. When we slice it into a momentary thing it becomes worldly, but when endurance becomes identified with Eternity – God is there. Suffering is a part of life. It is easily overcome by the Word of God and will give you a powerful testimony that will release the Glory of God in your life. Endure this test. Don’t worry. God is in control of your entire life including this moment. He is not judging your whole life by this moment. Thank the Lord for this chance for change. Embrace the new creation that is coming by releasing the old you. God wants to redefine your character, build your faith and release your promise. It all begins with a little suffering.

 

2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT)

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

Why Struggle? – A Devotion

Psalm 13:1-2 (NLT)

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

 

In the midst of life’s struggles, people often wonder much like the psalmist if the Lord has forgotten them. Is this a punishment for sin or disobedience? How could I have avoided such anguish in the first place? Does it seem like the enemy always has the upper hand in your life? Times like this make it difficult to remember that God is on our side. As I pray for my son who is battling cancer, the most difficult thing as a mother is to see your child suffer. The path to diagnosis has been long and treacherous enough and the road to recovery seems equally as long if not longer. He has endured many things only to discover that the enemy once again is attempting to steal his destiny. His life is interrupted and put on hold. He is a great kid who loves God. So I couldn’t help but ask “why this” and “why now”? God so faithful in His Love for me answered. “God hates to see His Children struggle.” Just like every other time God imparts divine wisdom, human minds falter in deciphering the truth. It requires a “selah” or to pause and reflect. One must open His Word and compare His Promises to life. If God hates to see His Children struggle as we hate it for our children, then why do such things as addiction, rebellion, heartache, disease and yes even, cancer occur in a believer’s life. Why does God allow His People to suffer if it is contradictory to His Will for their life? As a follower of Jesus Christ who is completely confident in His Will and Plan for my life, I trust the Lord. God knows my heart and no matter what happens in my life and whether I like it or not, I will exalt His Name. I cannot help but do so because God is real. The more I know Him, the more I love Jesus even when I don’t understand what He is doing.  So why struggle? So if my heart is secure, then why all the suffering? It must have a purpose. It does. God hates to see His Children struggle.

 

The word “struggle” means to contend with an adversary. It is to cope with inability to perform well. To make one’s way with violent effort. In the natural, this world could be applied to various situations. However, as Children of God we do live in the natural realm but are merely visiting or passing through on our way to Eternity. Therefore, we must apply these terms and conditions to the Kingdom of God. The challenges of today are paving the road to Destiny for tomorrow. They are momentary. However, in each trial overcome by the steadfast heart of a believer through faith and trust in God, there is victory. The struggles in life are not about you, but rather a Kingdom force pushing its way through to your life. When you choose to grab hold of the Lord and make Him the anchor for your hope – you will not be moved. Struggle is not about defeat but overwhelming victory. It is God’s Power and Strength being manifested in your life. Don’t believe me? His Word confirms that God hates to see His Children Struggle so He is determined to empower them – YOU!

 

I Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sistersall over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

 

You have victory in Jesus Christ. You will not die but live eternally. Just for the record, satan is not altogether pleased so he fights to change your mind. What better way than trials and tribulation? God will never let the righteous fall and stay down. (Proverbs 24:16) He will lift you up. The fall exposes weaknesses in our faith. It indicates areas of our life that need the Lord’s Power and Strength. Suffering is not a punishment but empowerment. It allows us to clearly see insufficiencies in our faith and quickly allow God to fill those areas with His Power. You live in opposition to the darkness as it tries to permeate and extinguish the Light of God that shines in you. It is a constant battle. It is important in the midst of a struggle to stand firm on what you know about God and fill in the blanks with His Word. You are not alone. The enemy is rallying against all those who Love God and are committed to exalting His Name. Don’t forget – WE WIN. Regardless of the details of life – we have resounding victory in Jesus Christ.

 

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.

 

In the midst of great struggles, people do not want grace and mercy. Let’s be honest, they want out! Weakness is not popular in a pride-driven world. Yet as a believer of Jesus Christ, weakness is an opportunity for God to pour more of Himself into His Children. Pride reviles God. (Proverbs 16:18) It is human nature to ask God to “take it away” rather than to lead one through the trials of life. If the Word of God is true (which it is) and we have achieved victory through Jesus Christ, no matter what the struggle we are the winner. Every battle is ours. Every dispute will end in our favor IF we put our faith and trust in Jesus because He is our victory. What a relief that it is not up to His Children to be strong. In fact, it says we can take pleasure in our weakness. Every struggle you are facing is simply an opportunity to depend on Jesus more and more so that He can reveal all His Power and Strength in your life. What a relief that I do not have to cope with my problems but just allow the Lord to lead the way!

 

Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

 

Struggle and opposition is nothing new to the Kingdom of God. It is ongoing as the enemy fights to take back all he has lost. As a member of the Kingdom of God, this is your fight, too. Your faith must become violently oppositional to the invasion of the enemy in your life. It is time to take a stand in the midst of your circumstances and suffering. You have the victory. You have the Power of God at work in your life. Your struggle is not in vain. It is a Kingdom effort. Violence is okay when partnered with truth and righteousness. Don’t give up but press in. Use your prayers to fortify the Kingdom of God in your life. Do not let the enemy invade your faith. He cannot have your hope. These are the bounty of God’s People. It is our inheritance in Jesus Christ and he cannot have it. Your struggle has little to do with you and everything to do with Kingdom business. Don’t let pride make the things you are facing against you but your faith. The devil wants it. Your faith and trust in God secures victory every time without it – all is lost. Hold tight to faith without wavering. God will be your strength. Whatever you are going through is about the Kingdom of God not a temporary moment in time. You will win if you violently protect your Love of God. You will overcome if He is your strength. Your weakness is to one’s benefit as the battle is the Lord’s. Stand firm in your position. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Make known the Name of the Lord and His Faithfulness no matter what the report. It will send the enemy fleeing. You may not see your adversary only natural complications but you WILL see victory in the Name of Jesus.

 

Ephesians 6:11-13 (NLT)

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 

 

Partner in Crime – A Devotion

Romans 7:14-16 (MESSAGE)

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

 

Why does it seem that once a rule is established it becomes a point of constant testing? What is it that insults human intelligence to encounter a boundary? Such things provide the order and security that we want in life. As we approach God’s Kingdom and look in from the outside, we desire all that God is and the refuge and security provided in salvation. We long for righteousness that puts us in close proximity with the Lord, yet as we measure up to the commandments of God there are times when we pick and choose obedience based on our own psyche and what we determine to be right for us. It would seem that upon entrance into the Presence of God and the Glorious Life that is promised one would follow all the rules to maximize its full potential. However, inside the gates of the Holy of Holies is the place where the questioning begins. Why do we struggle with adhering to the guidelines of God’s Word and surrendering our life to God? Paul puts it bluntly when he admits, “God’s commands are spiritual, and I’m not.” How many of you can relate to his confession today and struggle to be spiritual in a carnal world? Who is willing to admit “I’m full of myself?” If we know that God’s Way is clearly better than why do people struggle with releasing their life to Him? Seems like we would willing give God our weakness, failure, defeat and dying flesh in exchange for His Strength, Victory, Hope and Eternal Life. Yet daily believers are in a tug-of-war with the Holy Spirit for control over their life. We want God’s Best but choose to go our own way wondering why we keep missing the mark and where did things go wrong?

The point of origin of your defeat was in the Garden of Eden. It all dates back to when we became fully aware of good and evil. Prior to that moment, mankind only knew the goodness of God and life inside the Law of God. Sin was not an option because evil was not evident. After sin entered the world, everything changed. Our mindset was deeply affected by the invasion of corruption into the human soul. It was from that very moment that the battle for our life began. Now though we know what is good, there is an inner struggle for control because we have been presented with options. There are now two sides. Being created in the image of God, we often struggle with choices that we are not equipped to determine based on our own intellect but require God’s Insight to accurately judge. It was in the Garden that man became divided from God and presented with spirituality and carnality. In this place, the choice that we struggle with every day was born. Being in the likeness of God, we think that we have a choice how to live? Without the Knowledge of God, we do not have all the facts and live in imminent danger of our choices.

Romans 17-20 (MESSAGE)
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

 

God knew people needed help to survive the treachery of one’s own mind. He sent Jesus Christ to remedy the situation. Jesus Christ came to give people the heart and mind of the Father. He was here to share God’s Secret to Success and empower God’s Beloved to reach the other side. Sin’s prison is a real place outside of Jesus Christ. It’s funny how the prison system is filled with “innocent” people. Many feel as though the details of their conviction were a big misunderstanding or are clearly in denial of wrongdoing at all, yet the reality of their crime is evident in the loss of their freedom. Many ordinary people live similar lives of denial every day living in “sin prisons” of the heart rather than experiencing the freedom of life in God’s Grace. There is no denying our guilt but there is an inner desire to improve and do better. Good intentions do not overcome our sinful nature. Jesus does. There are some Christians who have tried to follow God’s mandates for living for many, many years and still feel they keep falling short. People who decide to follow God but don’t really do it. Paul makes the declaration, “I need something more!” We cannot follow the Law of God in our sinful condition, we need help.

Romans 7:21-25 (MESSAGE)

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

The sad truth is that outside of Eternity, we will never shake sin. It will be with us throughout our natural life. Just because you keep falling short of the life you strive to live for God – does not make you a failure…it makes you human. The Good News is that we have an advocate who will overcome sin in our life each day. Jesus Christ wants to be your partner in crime. He wants to take those bad decisions and turn them into good ones. The Lord desires to stick closer than a brother molding and shaping your life with God’s Goodness and Grace. He wants to fill you with the Knowledge of God to promote sound choices. Jesus will make miracles out of your mess. Your groaning will turn into testimonies of His Greatness. The secret is in partnership. The only escape from sin’s prison is Jesus Christ. We must cling to Him pressing into His Presence and living there. “He acts to set things right in THIS life of contradictions…”  Though we continue to struggle with sin in this life Jesus is working on our behalf to set things right. Life with Jesus will give you peace in the midst of your battle! Don’t pick apart your life and shortcomings. It’s time to pick the right partner! Jesus will make all the difference in THIS world.