The Known God

The Known God

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

I have a friend who is experiencing a difficult season in life. He has family issues. He is experiencing health issues. He is an optimist at heart but the last message bringing bad news threatens to take him out at the knees. He writes editorials for the local paper. Articles from a personal perspective offered as encouragement. He came to me asking if I would read his latest commentary. His concern was that his perspective was too raw and might be detrimental to his readers. He is part of the Unitarian church which believes that each person is free to search for their own personal truth on issues such as the existence, nature and meaning of life, deities, creation and afterlife. The mission is “inspiring to seek freely, live ethically, and nurture each other and the Earth.” He is one of the kindest people who I know that lives this very thing in his life. However, knowing the adversity that he is facing and reading the words pouring from his heart, it is clear that in the midst of this overwhelming trial – he is struggling to keep his optimism. Without faith there is an end to optimism.

Paul talked about the “Unknown God” standing before the council in the midst of Areopagus…“Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…”(Acts 17) When everything is going right and all is well in life, it is easy to praise and worship an “unknown” God but when everything is falling apart and nothing is as it should be – this person is not enough. Without His Constant, Abiding and Sovereignty, there is no anchor of hope to hold on to and no one to put our faith in. So it is through our suffering that God is truly revealed to us. Our desire to know Him deepens trying to make sense of the unthinkable when it comes. He is the one who we carry the pieces of our broken heart and life to in an effort to be made whole again. It is hard to make sense of suffering sometimes but thank you that God doesn’t have to be foreign and unknown to us anymore. Greater is He who lives in us than He that is in the world. (I John 4)

Proverbs 14:10 (NKJV) The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.

Suffering is defined as enduring pain, disability, or death patiently or willingly. To tolerate or allow. To undergo, be subjected to, or endure. You know the very thing that is causing your heart sorrow or even bitterness today. The very thing that challenges your heart and mind to believe beyond the impossible boundaries of the earth into the heavenly realms of possibility just to survive. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those with crush spirits. (Psalm 34) The sufficiency of God’s Grace that releases His Power in our life is when weakness takes over and we cannot in our own strength do anything at all but rely on the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12) God knows what we need, when we need and how to give it to us. We must only have faith in God to receive it. The decision to make the Living Hope a known reality in our life is essential.

Romans 15:4 (NKJV) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Faith is illogical apart from God’s Word. Without a knowledge base to build our faith in Christ upon, there is no possible way to convince our mind of anything else. To attempt to believe in Jesus without knowing Him including His Sacrifice, His Character, and His Identity will only lead to frustration and failure. Jesus is the Word of God. He came wrapped in flesh to be our living love story. (John 1:14) The Cross is unpleasant. His Death violent. His Blood shed quite messy. It is all relevant to the story and without it – God remains unknown to us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can know who God is by name but become His Child or know Him. God loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for every single human being on the earth. It is totally up to us in accordance to freedom to choose to know Jesus or not. The seed of faith must be planted in the Word of God to grow and mature into confident hope. This is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of the unseen reality of the Living God at work in us and through us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. When God becomes known to us, His Comfort surrounds us. He doesn’t make our life comfortable but gives us love, joy and peace from the inside out.

Acts 9:25 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

God has given us a Comforter. He is the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christ released when He died on the cross and made available to all of mankind through His Sacrifice. The veil or curtain in the manmade temple which separated God and His People was destroyed in that moment. Free access to God in His Presence offered to all who come by way of Christ. We need God’s Word to know Him and His Spirit to be known by Him.

Those who walk in reverence to God (fear) and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit where multiplied even in the heavy persecution of the early church. The word “comfort” used in this passage comes from the word “paraklesis” which means calling alongside to help, to comfort, to give consolation and encouragement. The Holy Spirit is the one who produces the inner peace that allows us to walk by faith and not by sight as instructed. (2 Corinthians 5) “Paraklete” means strengthening presence or the one who upholds those appealing for assistance. The Presence of God is essential for our successful navigation of trials, troubles and trauma in life. It doesn’t make sense. Jesus warned that as sin grew rampant and love would grow cold. There would be wars and rumors of war. There would be hard times. Those who endure to the end will be saved. This means that no one is exempt from such adversity in life but that we all can overcome through the Word of God and His Spirit. True worshippers do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NKJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche) The humanistic statement quoted by many is simply not true. What doesn’t kill us can make us bitter and broken. It can destroy our soul with vacant barrenness as the last shred of hope is consumed by fiery trial. The treasure I have is the Known God who loves me. He is constant. He is in control. He is good. He is always working for my good and His Glory in the worst of all possible situations. Faith in God is my comfort zone. I must leave the earthly comfort of complacency, compromise, and conventional thinking to know Him. I must accept the terms and conditions of salvation which require a Savior and Old Rugged Cross. I know it makes you uncomfortable to owe someone something. The flipside of the coin is certain death. To live a life that ends in torment forever. Thanks be to God that though there is suffering and sorrow in life – my hope is secure. Faith in God makes all things possible. He comes close to us in our brokenness to be our comfort. He is the Resurrection and Life but to experience these qualities something must die.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I am praying for my friend today. His heart is heavy. Hope is waning. He is struggling to maintain happiness and hope without substance. His Faith is in an Unknown God defined by his mind. The Unknown God will never be enough. We must know God to enter His Presence and live in it. You know your own suffering today. Your heart can well define its sorrow. Bad news may have come calling. It has visited me recently too. It is only by faith and trust which gives way to confident hope that I am still here. God knows what I need and how to deliver. His Spirit comforts me, encourages me and restores me when emptiness threatens to overtake me. Christ is enough. He must be our portion. We must live in Christ to know God and experience His Glory and Goodness in our life. His Way is always better which means I must yield my way to Him. Even when that way is dark and foreboding, I must go where He goes, doing what He does, saying what He says, and becoming who He has called me to be. I must decrease so Christ increases in my life. (John 3:30) It is only then that we do not fear the messenger but fully embrace the Word. Only then can I take my eyes off the giant and turn to my Champion. I have hope that is eternal and cannot be stripped away. Living hope. He is the Known God to all who seek Him. His Name is Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

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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.

Just Jesus

Just Jesus

Matthew 22:36-38 (NLT)

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

The thought for today is not too complicated or complex to understand. No one will have to dig too deep into theological references to find it or divulge into overindulgent commentary filled with verbal prowess. It will not require advanced education or lots of experience. One thing. I am back to one thing today as I sit here and think about Jesus. I want Him today. I need Him today. Every detail of my life is in disarray. His Hand has been shifting and changing things around in my life until nothing seems familiar anymore. While my spirit is at peace in the thought of it, my mind reels to grab hold of something for control. What is most important in my life today? I have a “to-do” list. I guess I always do that gives me purpose and goals for each day. It used to be nonnegotiable but I am learning to bend. God is unraveling my life. He has moved me from a stressful, hectic and overbearing environment to a peaceful workplace. I believe that even though it is only my employment that it will be a place marked by my careful undoing and reshaping by the Hand of God to release me from certain things that have overtaken me. I am relieved. I woke up this morning way earlier than I planned. Scrambling to my quiet place for this precious time with my Lord, there is but one thing on my mind today. It’s you Lord. I want to love you with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind until there is nothing left to give to the lesser things in life which is everything compared to you.

Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

 

One thing that I ask. I have been here before many times. I remember finding this verse, loving it and praying it over my life for quite some time. It’s strange but even when our son was diagnosed with cancer, I felt this longing to be closer to Him. Just to get next to Jesus knowing that everything would be alright although in the nature it was quite bleak. The more that I focused on “one thing” the easier it became to make it through the days, hear the bad news, and continue pressing onward. To some it probably seemed as though I had completely lost my mind, and maybe I did to some extent as I got lost in Jesus. I choose where I spend my days on the earth. Will I be wrapped up in worry, stress, fear, pain or oppression, or will I allow myself to enter the Presence of God and remain there? Some of you, even those who might call yourselves Christians, have no earthly idea what I am talking about. It is not earthly. It doesn’t always make sense hence it is called the peace that passes understanding.

Leaving the job that offered security when the bottom fell of the economy all those years ago has been very difficult. It was a stable position that many joked one must either quit or shoot the Pope to leave. Well, thank goodness I went for the first option. I had no idea how much of my life it was. I didn’t realize that it consumed so much of my thought time, home life and emotional well-being…but I do now. Again as I think about today. The first day of a new career and better way of life – I want Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less. Just my Savior and Lord, He is the one thing that I ask for today because I have tried everything else this life has to offer and He is the Only One who satisfies me. He completes me. He is Jesus. That’s what I want today – just Jesus!

Matthew 9:20-22 (NLT)

Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

I have a confession to make. While I want the absolute best of everything for my husband and children, I do not always look out for myself. My husband and children want the very best for me, of course. But when it comes to thinking I deserve better things or accepting such things from others I struggle. Why? Probably because I know me. I feel unworthy of God’s Love AND the love given to me by my family. Why? Because I know me. I know every fault, failure and shortcoming in my life. I am my own harshest judge so often I accept certain things as a condition of my life rather than banging down the doorway to the Throne Room of God to get my answer, solution, healing or deliverance. I want more for them than I do myself. This is not God’s Plan for my life. I have some issues and the Lord is dealing with them today.

I love the woman who had some issues. The first was a physical condition that plagued her body for twelve long years. The type of infirmity that she had caused even her religion to shun her. She had convinced herself that if she could just sneak up and touch the robe of Jesus that should would be healed. She was right. But look at what Jesus said to her. “Daughter, be encouraged.” Now if He had healed her of the condition, why would she need encouragement? Jesus saw inside the woman and knew she needed Him to heal her heart.

Mark 5:30-34 (NLT)

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Jesus wanted to meet this woman face to face. Healing her body was not enough. He had to heal her heart. She wasn’t only suffering physically but was injured emotionally. She had spent all of her time, energy and resources searching for a cure for her body. In that pursuit, she experienced many things that hurt her heart probably more so than her body. Her faith came from an exposed, broken heart (the kind Jesus loves because now His Power can work). The disciples were trying to control the crowd around Jesus. When He asked, “Who touched me?” Don’t you think He already knew – of course, He did. He wanted her to know one that she was healed and two that she was set free. It was not an accidental, coincidental encounter that made her well but a once in a lifetime experience with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – Jesus Christ. It was not a random act of faith but an intentional moment created by God to tell this woman that He loved her. The healing belonged to her. She didn’t take anything that did not belong to her. Her suffering was now over.

How many of you reading this today are holding on to burdens that you think belong to you? I have been. I am trying to let go as it unfolds before me. Jesus loves you. He loves me. This is not a corporate love that falls on just anyone. The Lord intentionally loves you and blesses you in life. It is from His Love for YOU not everyone else that nailed Him to the Cross. We must accept the Love of God for us before we will ever be able to adequately express Him to the world.

Luke 8:46-48 (NLT)

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”  When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

 

What was the woman’s part in all this? She acted “deliberately”! She intentionally touched Jesus Christ expecting to be healed. She was desperate. She decided to encounter Jesus that day. Her purpose was to touch the Lord and make a connection with Him. She did. He healed and delivered her in that moment completely. He gave her the peace she lost a long time ago. Faith made her well that day – body, mind and spirit.

The word “deliberate” means carefully weighed or considered, studied or intentional. To act in such a way that has been carefully thought out in advance, planned, studied and intentional. I wonder what would happen if this was how we approached Jesus Christ each and every day. Unlike the woman, we don’t have to travel far. Don’t even have to leave our house in most cases. I have found Jesus in the most unlikely places. Some I would willingly share and others that are downright embarrassing. Faith is a deliberate action. It is not a random act. We must carefully weight and consider our relationship with Christ, study His Word and become intentional Christians who are after only one thing – just Jesus. Where you find Him will be completely up to you? What will do when you find Him? Again that is part of the freedom that we are allowed in Christ. Everything changed for this woman when she reached out to Jesus deliberately – intentionally – full of faith. I wonder what would happen to me and you if all we wanted was the Lord – just Jesus.

Hebrews 10:21-24 (NLT)

And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

Nothing Can Stop Me Now – A Devotion

Nothing Can Stop Me Now

Psalm 30:4-7 (NLT)

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!” Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

Was yesterday a full moon? There was a lunar eclipse although we could not see it for the cloud cover over our area, but it was reportedly a blood moon. I know that people believe that a full moon can change the atmosphere and people for that matter. I am beginning to believe that there is something divine when the light of the full moon breaks through the dark and it must make some people crazy or at the very least shake them up a little. When I woke up I felt great, which is unusual because although I choose to get up at 4:30 AM that it is not a love affair with morning but my Heavenly Father that drives me to do so. I can attest as can my poor, precious husband that it is not my most stellar time of day. When the alarm goes off it is usually accompanied by moaning and sighing, but not so yesterday I greeted the alarm with a smile. Now I should have known right then and there that something was out of whack – silly me. Totally out of character and contradictory to my nature, I was in a great mood from the get go. Even with a few morning setbacks, I could feel joy just flowing from me. It was as if tiny little bluebirds were floating around my head as the melodious words to the children’s favorite “Zip-a-DeeDoo-Dah” from the movie Song of the South played in my head. Walked into work and cold water was immediately thrust upon me. Problem number one right out of the gates combined with my good friend’s “get-back-I-haven’t-finished-my-coffee” and “the-money-doesn’t-balance” attitude as I offered help in finding a resolution. No worries, I continued whistling down the hall to my office. I really cannot recount every single thing that happened from the time I entered my office until I crawled back to my car but it was bad. Problem number one had infinite attached. My lists became longer and time became shorter. People lost their mind including one who required three meetings with administrators and the other who decided to unleash on my co-worker and myself until a nice deputy became involved. Did I mention that I have a bridal shower for my daughter this weekend? And yes, that means a wedding in the very near future! See when you read the title of the post, you probably thought I was going to share something about our son and his journey. Well, in the midst of the chaos marked yesterday – I didn’t have a chance to even wonder about his well-being although I am quite happy to report God is good and our son is making an amazing recovery from his bone marrow transplant – thank you for asking and praying! Upon arriving home, I began feverishly cleaning our house. This is my usual response to stress overload. For some crazy reason, it brings me peace within the order and control especially when everything is out of control. My final prayer when falling into bed way later than usual was “Lord, prepare me for just one more day!”

“When I was prosperous, I said, ‘Nothing can stop me now!” This morning these words are on automatic replay in my heart and in my head. Apparently there is something that the Lord wants me to find tucked in His Word to recharge my heart and change my mind about the day that lies ahead. My usual casual run through status updates this morning as I was waking my brain showed a couple whose baby they have waited for was finally born. He has a severe birth defect so their time with him today is precious. Another whose husband is fighting a nasty brain tumor who late in the night packed up the car to head to MD Anderson as the doctors in our town have indicated that they are out of treatment options. The story of another woman battling cancer who cries out to another to live out each moment rather than giving up in her fight. She says this in her post, “Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.” (Kara Tippetts) God’s anger toward us ended when Jesus Christ died for our sins on the Cross. All of these difficult details of life are meaningful. The three stories that I have shared all have a common thread. They believe in God’s Goodness in the midst of tragedy. They hold tightly to His Favor granted strictly because of His Kindness and so they continue to embrace life rather than turning bitter and cold from the harshness of it all. These are the ones who know the true meaning of “nothing can stop me now!” His Favor lasts for a lifetime.  It is present in the good days though we do not appreciate it quite as much as on the horrible ones.

Job 36:15-16 (NLT)

“But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity. God is leading you away from danger, Job, to a place free from distress. He is setting your table with the best food.”

 

God knows my heart and its honesty when I tell you that Job’s friends annoy me so that I have trouble reading his story to get to the good part. On and on they go about a God that they have heard about but do not really know. If they knew God like Job did in righteousness, it would have been different. However, their knowledge of God is evident and the Lord’s ability to use anybody to get His Point across is clear. Elihu tells Job that “by means of suffering, He rescues those who suffer…for He gets their attention through adversity.” Having faced the greatest adversity that I have ever known in the past three years, this verse brings comfort. I understand what Elihu is telling Job but not in what the man is saying but rather what the Spirit of God is evoking. “God is leading you from danger Job to a place free of distress. He is setting your table with the best food!” My banner on one social network page has a water pitcher with the words over it, “To be filled with the Spirit means to be emptied of self.” I posted it so long ago I don’t even remember when. As I read it today, I realize that through adversity God has granted my prayer. He has filled me with His Joy, Peace and Love so when trouble comes it is what I draw from. I had to be poured out to have what I desired. I had to be broken to be healed, restored and made new. The process has been quite painful. But God is leading me to the refuge of His Presence and teaching me that even when it seems like an ordinary day, I must strive to remain there because at any moment all hell will break loose. The enemy has my relationship with the Lord because it strips him of power to control me, hurt me or even destroy me. However, that does not mean that he has given up so easily. What does the devil have to lost? His torment and torture will continue until my other foot takes its final step into forever with Jesus in the meantime, I must keep one foot in His Presence and the other firmly rooted and grounded in His Love by faith. This verse makes me think of Psalm 23.

Psalm23

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His Name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely Your Goodness and Unfailing Love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

 

The comparison here is evident at least it is for me. The Lord is My Shepherd. He wants to provide for me. He wants to lead me by His Goodness to all the Good Things that He has prepared for me along the way called life. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I have nothing to fear. God is with me. He helps me. He goes before me and stays close behind me making sure I have safe travels. His Discipline guides me, protects me and yes, even comforts me in just knowing Him. God’s Goodness and Unfailing Love are in constant pursuit of me which implies that there may be times in my life when although I thought I was doing all the right things my heart was not in the right place. To Jesus, your heart is all that really matters. A heart intent on seeking Him wholeheartedly and finding His Love will never be disappointed because that is what hope is all about discovering that there is more to life than this so you enjoy the minutes, hours, days and seasons that come in it knowing every detail will be turned for our good. Would I have followed Jesus if I did not need Him so? Probably not. Would I have discovered my great need outside of my suffering? Definitely not – I had it all under control. But when I lost control – Jesus stepped in and filled my life with His Goodness, Mercy and Love to overflowing.

Lamentations 3:18-23 (NLT)

I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” 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.

 

There is a sweet, young couple who are the kids of a friend of a friend. The day that they went to the hospital to welcome their second child, their two-year-old fell into a pool and nearly drowned. Ever since that day, they have been on a long road to recovery with no promises other than faith in God which we know makes all things possible. In and out of the hospital, they face many challenges with their precious little one. She wrote recently that she and her husband have no regrets. Their whole life they have considered to be blessed. I believe that when suffering comes it cleans out all the mess and digs to the heart of the matter. It cleans the window to our heart and allows to see the contents. It reveals hidden regret, guilt or whatever thing was buried beneath the busy, ordinary and scheduled routine that we once lived enabling us to look at our life with clarity that we may have never known. There is wisdom in that moment. Faith is revealed or sadly not found. We find out what we are really hoping for in life and if it matters at all. The most profound blessing that I find to be a common thread in the different people who I have shared is that when everything fell apart, faith was found and hope discovered. “Yet I still dare to hope…” only those who know God will come to this determination. In such a place, He meets us with faithfulness, mercy and love. Not on that day when every changed, but each day as we learn to pursue the Lord by faith fueled by Great Love. “I will never forget this awful time.” This may not be a bad thing if that awful time produced more faith, stronger hope and confident love for Jesus.

Psalm 30:11-12 (NLT)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

 

When I opened my eyes today, I had to laugh. I couldn’t believe that I was in a good mood all over again as if yesterday was washed away. I am not wary of what today holds but ready to face it by faith. My hope is secure. I am covered by His Love. While I was sleeping, the Lord left me some mercy to carry me through another day. I cried out for mercy yesterday and it came special delivery today. I am a scheduled stop each new day. I have said many times to many people that on our wedding day when I look up and standing before me are all my precious children fancy clothes and all together as they should be and I reach over to slide my hand into my husband’s that I will know that we made it through this “awful time”. I don’t know what will happen the moment after or the next day or the coming years – the future eludes me. But I have peace knowing that my future is good and has hope. If I search for the Lord wholeheartedly, I will have that future and hope that He promised. (Jeremiah 29:13) I tell you today be careful what you pray for. To be filled, you must be emptied. To be healed, you must be broken. To feel His Presence means experiencing loneliness. Suffering produces a hunger and thirst for the Lord and His Kingdom. No one wants to suffer. I did not raise my hand or check a box that yes we were ready to fight cancer. But now I can say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” and mean it because I know this is true. Suffering changed my heart. Now I want the Favor of God in my life more than anything else. It also draws the attention of the enemy who will take anything from us that we are willing to give including our peace and joy which are both Gifts from God. “Nothing can stop me now…” No really, one bad does not necessarily lead to another but if it does – I welcome the opportunity to suffer if it means to know Him more! I will walk through the darkest valley to know the Light of His Amazing Love. His Favor lasts a lifetime! It has made me secure!

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Approved – A Devotion

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2 Timothy 2:15-16 (AMP)

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.

 

The last week has been one of the most challenging that I think I have ever faced. As if running a marathon race and on the last leg which is always the longest mile, my flesh is weak, strength is waning, patience ending, endurance failing and heart reeling just to make it across the finish line. Maybe you feel that way too? Our insurance company has covered our son’s cancer treatment for the past couple of years without incident. His care to date has reached a half of a million dollars which is mind blowing. Radiation and chemotherapy are terribly expensive not to mention all the imaging that he must have to continually examine every square inch of his body for invading disease. After much prayer and consultation with the Lord and his physicians, we believe the next step to be a bone marrow transplant. It sounds more complicated than it really is. They will take stem cells from his bone marrow and preserve them. Under close medical care they will then give him a high dose of chemotherapy to annihilate the hidden, dormant cancer cells that insist on raging back to steal our son’s life, this treatment is near fatal. After they are satisfied that they have done everything to eliminate the cancer they will return the harvested stem cells to restart his body’s immune system and hope it will lead to remission including the long life God has promised our child. It seems logical. Doctors and specialists around the world have been consulted. Everyone is in agreement…except the one who must approve it in order to pay for this expensive treatment. They have denied the request not one time, or two times but three consecutive times. Yesterday, we prepared our final appeals sending them out to the last two agencies that can reverse the insurance company’s decision. I have discovered something quite valuable through the trial and testing of our faith over the past week not to mention the past couple of years, I must present my life to God for approval not man so no matter what happens in the next couple of days concerning our appeal – God has approved us already! An approved workman of the Lord is one who is tested by trial.

 

What is God after in allowing hardship to come into our life? He is testing our faith in Him for authenticity. He is confirming our hope as confident making our future a reality. If we could just see past the momentary troubles and temporary trials into the future, we would realize that every detail of our life is carefully orchestrated by the Lord to produce righteousness that is evident in faith and confident hope that no matter what our situation is produces peace and joy just knowing that we have God’s Approval. Denial is this life is not meant to produce doubt in our life but to press us into righteousness and a closer relationship with the Lord. We must learn to take disappointment as a stepping stone to the divine plan and purpose of God for our life rather than some sort of discipline from God. He is not punishing you my friend, the Lord is perfecting every detail of our life as we learn to love and trust Him more.

 

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (AMP)

For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes

in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God. But it is God Who confirms and makes us steadfast and establishes us [in joint fellowship] with you in Christ, and has consecrated and anointed us [enduing us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit]; [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].

 

Stopping in the grocery store to pick up a few things before hurrying home, I heard someone call my name. A friend from church began speaking encouraging words and reminding me of the Promises of God that belong to me if I simply choose to accept them in my life. I have listened to long sermons that have not energized my faith and stirred my Spirit like she did in that moment. The Word of God is fully of many precious promises that are already destined to be part of my life. My role in approval is acceptance. I must accept God’s Will including all of His Precious Promises by faith. Faith becomes action as I begin to align my life with God’s Word that is filled with all the things that are already “yes” and “amen” in my life. God’s Word is who Jesus Christ was when God sent His Son wrapped Him in flesh to convey His Great Love for all of mankind who are called to be sons and daughters of the Most High God. That is you! That is me! But like the prodigal son, most of us must find ourselves face down in the pigsty of life before we return to our father’s house and live in our inheritance once more. Rejuvenated by my brief conversation with such a godly woman, I began to thank God as I tried to focus on my list and get back home. Well, God wasn’t finished with me yet. Rounding the corner with a wobbly buggy (what’s new), I almost managed to take out a local pastor. He recognized me as I did him about the same time. His wife received a bone marrow transplant when she was the same age as our son. Coincidence? Not at all. We began to talk about the common journey that united us. He asked about our son as he and his wife have been praying for him. As the conversation continued, there would be no whining and complaining as we both began to testify to one another about God’s Goodness and this treasure of faith found in learning to trust Him more. He pointed out a fact that I sometimes forget in the fight. We would never have discovered such a treasure with the vast potential of our faith had we not been tested by fire developing a real and true relationship with God thorough Jesus Christ. So as I entered the grocery store wondering how in the world, we had run out of everything so quickly – God had sent His Word to meet me and stirred up my faith all using things in the natural. Why? Because I am approved by God through Jesus Christ. Every promise that He has given me is “yes” and “amen”. It is achieved by faith that produces confident hope and staying power to wait until He comes. His Holy Spirit stirred within me confirming that nothing in my life is coincidental or consequential but every detail is being used to confirm my identity as Child of the Living God who has a rich inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

 

Romans 5:3-5 (AMP)

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

 

Why are do Children of God experience pressure, affliction and hardship? It is all explained in Romans 5, but it is tough to understand. Hope is not necessary for the things that we can produce in our life. We do not hope for a better job but rather look for one. We do not need to hope for a new car but save to buy one. Too many times, Christians use their faith to try to secure earthy necessities and desires. This is pointless. If you can see it, there is no need to hope for it. However, when faced with situations in our life that are beyond our human control with no earthly way out, we must decide if we will rely on and trust the Lord. When all is stripped away, what do you have left? Do you believe in the Love and Faithfulness of God enough to put all your eggs in that basket? In suffering, we become helpless to help ourselves and learn to trust the Lord. Sad but true. I know there must be a better way, but I am a stubborn, selfish and strong-willed person. It is in times of utter weakness when I cannot go on that the sufficiency of God’s Grace is demonstrated in my life. Not because God is not able but now I am willing to put my faith in Him. Patience allows me to begin to wait on God rather than trying to make my own way. Endurance develops maturity in my character. Character is my personal identity. God is looking for approved faith and tried integrity. As I allow these painful situations to mold and shape my faith producing hope for the future, my identity as Child of the Most High God becomes evident and His Promises (which are my inheritance) seem to make it to me. Now I begin to understand what inexpressible joy and peace that passes understanding are all about. I would never have experienced such things believing God for my daily needs. (John 6:26-27) A well-developed faith expects God to provide for us from His Riches which leads to confident hope that allows us to stop worrying about tomorrow and reach for Eternity! You are already approved! God chose you before you were born! (Jeremiah 1:5) He has ordained you to be a messenger to this world and tell of His Great Love. How can you tell anyone about something you do not know? How convincing will your message be if there is no validity to your faith? Only those who truly believe will be able to share His Word with lasting results.

 

Romans 14:17-18 (AMP)

[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. He who serves Christ in this way is acceptable and pleasing to God and is approved by men.

 

The sufficiency of God’s Grace is only evident when we reach the end of ourselves. When we cannot save ourselves or meet our own needs will we ever truly cry out to the Lord and seek right standing with Him once again. Righteousness is the place where we love and trust the Lord more than the things of this world and work steadfastly to separate ourselves from everything and anything that would distance us from the Lord. We become servants of Jesus Christ as we strive with great eagerness to know the Word which is His Identity, to walk in His Way that always leads to righteousness and have His Will which is always perfect. It has nothing to do with the details of life. Yesterday, as I sent out the two final appeals for our son’s treatment, in that same moment – I could feel the Peace of God wash over me. There was no anxiety in the thought “this is it” because I know better. By faith, I have seen the impossible happen. Living in the realm of hope, God’s Grace has been more than sufficient. Even though I have exhausted all efforts, I know that I am approved. In fact for the rest of the day and through the night, I kept hearing the word “approved” in my head. I can almost hear the stamp hitting the paper. I honestly have no idea what the outcome will be in the coming days. But because I seek the Righteousness of God and His Approval first above all other things, I have the peacefulness and joy of the Lord regardless. I used to really struggle with waiting and sometimes I still grow impatient but now when I experience the peace of God that comes when my faith begins to develop and mature into confident hope I am overwhelmed with thankfulness before the promise reaches me. Those who serve Christ this way leads to the Favor of God is released in righteousness by faith to deliver the outcomes that God has detailed for our life. What does that mean? His Grace is sufficient to move the heart of mankind even those in direct opposition of the Kingdom to move on your behalf. What is God waiting for? He is waiting simply for you to love and trust Him just a little more so your faith with prosper into confident hope that will last forever!

 

Philippians 3:8-9 (AMP)

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), and that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith.

 

These words truly recap our journey so far as we have discovered what faith is all about. When everything in our life is counted as loss compared to the priceless privilege of knowing Christ. How do I know that? Because through this terrible trial, all the unimportant worries and cares have been stripped away and the only hope that we have is Jesus Christ. People cannot fix the problem. Money cannot solve it either. The Lord is our only hope. We are out of options and now enter the place called impossible which is exactly where He dwells. The sufficiency of grace takes over where the strength of man ends. I am at that place and shockingly it feels pretty good. All my worry has not added a moment to my life or my son’s so I gave it up for faith that secures Eternity for all who believe. I now am after one thing – genuine faith! It will produce genuine righteousness that allows me to step out of the temporary and live to for the Eternal. Be encouraged today! Do not give up becoming weary in well doing! Study! Be eager to show yourself approved to God alone. He just wants your love and trust anything else is manmade and worthless when it comes to godly success. Every promise for your life is “yes” and “amen” just because you are called by His Name and accepted your position as Child of God. Live like it. Let go of that heavy burden, it belongs to your Father now! You will be filled with the Joy of Jesus and Peace of God as you learn to trust Him more. You are headed to a future that is good and carries hope. Everything is going according to plan! His Plan! You are approved. Live like it!

 

I Peter 1:6-8 (AMP)

 [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, so that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy.

Pass the Cup – A Devotion

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Psalm 16:5-6 (NLT)

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

 

There have been many days over the past two years that I have pleaded with the Lord to pass this cup from our life. With each new diagnosis of cancer in our son, my heart has been laid out before the Lord for His Examination. Certainly there must be something that we are doing wrong. Perhaps, there is something that we are not asking for because His Word says, “Ask anything in my Name and I will do it!” Maybe we have just been obedient enough or good enough to secure God’s Cup of Blessing in our life. Yet the Word tells me that the Lord alone is my inheritance. He is my Cup of Blessing. It goes on to say that He guards all that is mine insuring me that it is pleasant land and a wonderful inheritance. Some days I am willing to admit it doesn’t feel that way. There are days when I wonder how much more this family can endure, how much farther can we go, and can we hold it all together to finish the race? We have to finish the race of faith and enter the realm of hope that we are promised. This is a matter of life and death. To stop, quit or give up now is no longer an option for the price is much too high. There are so many days when I have asked the Lord to pass the cup from our son and then waited and watched only for him to endure yet again. Make no mistake, our family has seen the Hand of God, the Healing of Jesus Christ and the Help of His Spirit every single step of the way. But can we do when the cup of suffering stops before us? Why would God allow this for the ones He calls His Special Possession, Treasure and Beloved? This is probably the hardest thing to understand as believers when bad things happen to godly people. It happened before Jesus Christ. It happened while He was here. It happened after He died, rose again and ascended. It will continue to happen until He returns. We must somehow learn to see past hardships, trails and pain to the inheritance that is the Blessing of God that He is desperately trying to deposit in our life. Yes, it sometimes is found in suffering.

 

Luke 22:41-44 (NLT)

He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

 

If anyone understands the pain of suffering, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. To consider that the sin of all mankind was His to endure on the Cross. (I Peter 3:18) Not to mention, the stripes on His Back that represent healing for His People. Consider this…the sin of every human being saved and unsaved were paid for on the Cross can you imagine the penalty that Jesus endured for not only ordinary people but even those who choose to reject Him. The thought is overwhelming. To consider the pain of each stripe that is for our healing, the thought occurred to me that this must include the pain of every illness, sickness and disease. Then I considered what my own son has endured times every single person who was ever born, the pain of such is unimaginable. Jesus knows suffering. He gets it. He endured it and most importantly, He overcame it. Though He bore the load of many, it was your face that He saw when it came to your sin, shame and pain. Jesus asked, “His Father to please take this cup from me.” But the most important thing that Jesus demonstrates in this moment is that He was willing to endure suffering and drink from the cup if it was His Father’s Will. “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine!” I have struggled with this many times over the last couple of years. How many times have I tried to be strong enough to accept the suffering to get to the blessing? But each diagnosis brought its own desperation. We had no choice but to accept the suffering and endure for the cure. Now my son has been given a choice will you endure suffering for a better chance at life? We have prayed. Oh, how I have prayed! We have sought the council of wise professionals and yes, continued to pray for the Lord to guide us secretly hoping that He would at some point say, “Nope, stop right here. This is over!” But He has not as we take tiny steps of faith forward diving into the realm of hope!

 

“Then an angel appeared and strengthened him.” Not every account of this moment has this revelation. It would seem that the minute that the man of Jesus submitted to the Will of God, instantly he was strengthened by the Presence of God. “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) An angel strengthened Jesus, but now we have His Power inside of us. The more we suffer in our pursuit of Jesus Christ, the more that He will comfort and strengthen us. (I Corinthians 1:5-7) By accepting God’s Will when times get tough and seeking His Face, we determine if this trial is one we are to step over or go through. We ask the Lord if it is Your Will pass this cup from me, but if it is Your Will Lord then pass the cup to me! Those that are avoidable will be removed but when it is time to go through it, do not be afraid – God is with you, working for you and working through you to bless you beyond belief in the outcome.

 

Psalm 23:5-6 (NLT)

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

 

If the Lord must prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies it would seem to me that there may be some tough times ahead, right? He anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows with blessings so again there must be some validity that we are going to suffer some in this life. But why? Why would God allow those He sent His Son to die for to suffer as well? I am so glad you asked that question! The Valley of Weeping is in this world but we are not of this world so in the midst of chaos – the Lord has hidden joy, peace and strength for His People to endure to the end. (Matthew 24:10-13) Suffering is the birthplace of endurance and literally means prepare to endure. The root word literally means to undergo and/or endure. Suffering is a direct result of sin that cursed the earth. (Isaiah 24:5-6) A curse consumes the earth only people are part of God’s Salvation Plan. So despite the fact that we have been saved, the world in which we live has not been. We should not be surprised by the trials that we face but be ready for them. (I Peter 4:12) The Word even tells us to look for joy in them. (James 1:12) God will allow suffering if it leads to life. (Psalm 71:19-21) “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. All power to him forever! Amen.Suffering is not meant to destroy God’s People but empower them to live forever! It is the opportunity to learn to endure to the end, experience God’s Blessings, and full empowerment of God! Yes, you will suffer. It is a part of life on a dying planet, but you will not be left behind to be destroyed by the curse as the Glory of God works in you and through you to make your way out! It was predicted that the Messiah would suffer many things before entering His Glory – and He did. Read the word and you will find that there is joy and blessing in our suffering because He suffered for us! We are not exempt from such things by the Grace of God but enabled to endure by the Power of God working in us!

 

Romans 8:26-30 (NLT)

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believersin harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstbornamong many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

 

We have been given the Holy Spirit as our helper. His Spirit teaches us to live in harmony with God’s Will. Remember…not my will but Your Will God! God has a purpose and plan for our life with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) God’s Glory is released in our suffering as we submit to the Will and Way of God for our life. We depend on Him in that moment fully trusting by faith the unseen rather than taking hold of the seen and making it a reality in our life. The enemy wants our suffering to become bitterness which creates hostility between us and God. 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.” (Lamentations 3:19-23) The difference between those who succeed in suffering to produce endure and those who succumb to suffering which leads to disappointment is this – “Yet I still dare to hope…” Hope is the anchor of our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) It keeps our faith solidly fixed on the Lord no matter what is going on around us. We must remember in our suffering that God is faithful working every single detail for the good! His Mercy is new each morning so it is perfectly fine to completely exhaust today’s supply in making your way into the Presence of God. No need to live on reserves. If you will grab hold of faith and anchor it with confident hope, you will endure. No matter how strong the wind or violent the storm, you will see the Glory of God which is our inheritance along with every single blessing that He has been guarding for us. 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.” (James 5:11) God is ready to release His Glory in our life but will we accept a cup of suffering to have it? (Romans 8:15-25)

 

I Peter 4:12-19 (NLT)

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian,for then the glorious Spirit of Godrests upon you.If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”  So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

 

Suffering is all about building endurance to make it to the end and claim our inheritance in God. It is never a result of our sin. Jesus paid the price for every sin you will ever commit. You can add nothing to it. Don’t be surprised by fiery trials but accept God’s Grace in your life to stand strong and overcome the enemy’s assaults. His Grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) The more you experience the fullness of God’s Grace the more you will determine that it is more than enough. God will not fail you but in His Will He will prosper you! It tells us throughout the Word of God that His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts! It also reminds us that He uses foolish things to confound those who think they are wise. Suffering is an opportunity to trust the Lord with our life. Each trial allows us to experience more of His Love, Grace and Mercy. We don’t have to endure suffering of the world that leads to death, but to the Glory of God accepting His Strength, Joy, Peace and every other blessing that He has prepared for us. As you consider your present trial, I encourage you to ask the Lord to pass the cup from me or if it is Your Will Lord pass it right to me!

 

Philippians 3:8-11 (NLT)

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Pain is Good – A Devotion

Psalm 71:19-21 (NLT)

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God?You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

 

Pain is a good thing. Pain is a God thing. Without pain, people would never know that anything was wrong and live in constant danger. When touching something hot, pain tells the body to move away from it. When using a limb beyond its intended range of motion, the body will ache in resistance which indicates limitation and so we stop rather than risking injury. Pain is how disease is detected in the human body. When a person begins feeling bad, they will go to the doctor and have a checkup to alleviate the symptoms associated with the illness. There are times when a cut is so deep that the pain receptors are severed and there is no pain at all. The cancerous tumor in our son’s body grew undetected for quite some time. It was unnoticeable until he developed a stiff neck and headache which led to a series of doctor’s visits and ultimately a diagnosis. A broken heart is the discomfort of a broken relationship. It causes pain that begins emotionally or spiritually and can even lead to physical manifestation if not adequately addressed. So pain is not the culprit, instead I believe pain can be a blessing in disguise. Pain is a driving force that leads many people into the Presence of God. Pain is not punishment. Pain is pressure. Pain has a purpose. Pain holds a promise. If people would decide to get to the bottom of the pain in their life, it is quite possible that they would discover the Healer. Jesus is not a stranger of pain. In fact, we will never know the suffering that He endured on the Cross because of our sin. To many this statement will bring no comfort, but to those who discover His Power and Strength in the midst of weakness and pain – it means everything!

 

Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)

Then I realized that my heart was bitter and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

 

The point of all pain is salvation. Whether the pain in your life is physical, emotional or spiritual, God’s intent is to heal, restore and renew your body, mind and soul always and in every situation. Most of the time, it is a combination of all three elements at work in the process. God never intended pain as a punishment but a warning sign. It signals the heart, mind and soul that there is a problem somewhere that needs immediate attention. Pain is physical or emotional distress as a result of suffering. Are you in pain today? Is your heart broken? Are you living in chronic distress physically, emotionally and/or spiritually? God is ready to rescue you from your state of discomfort. The Lord desires to heal your body, mind and soul! Jesus died to establish this covenant in your life. Are you ready to take advantage of your benefits in God? “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart.”

 

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT)

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

 

Sin is in our body, mind and soul. It is woven in our DNA. It is painful to separate our life from this world and sin. We are addicted to it. Pain brings repentance which leads to salvation. We do not fully understand God’s Grace and Mercy, at least I do not. How God could love me when I cannot seem to get rid of all the sin and rebellious tendencies in my life is beyond my comprehension? Why is not perpetually disappointed and angry because of my faults and failures is mindboggling? Living in a seemingly “oops, I did it again” lifestyle, one would think God would wash His Hands of me rather than embracing me and loving me through it all. Pain is misunderstood because of this very problem. We do not understand that God has gone to great lengths so that He would never have to punish us. Pain is nothing more than an indicator light when there is a malfunction or problem. Pain is not the problem and not punishment. As our flesh demands release from the discomfort, it pushes us to discover the source of the problem and solution. God will allow pain in your life if it leads to repentance, salvation and blessing!

 

Psalm 25:16-18 (NLT)

Turn to me and have mercy for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins.

 

The purpose of pain is repentance. Nothing, my friend, leads to repentance faster than a life or death situation. If there is anything keeping you from God, it goes overboard when headed for disaster. Trust me, I know. The purpose of pain is always salvation. Spending three months surrounded by cancer patients in treatment, I have heard the repentance of former smokers who put down the offensive things the moment they were diagnosed with cancer. Over and over they relayed all their failed attempts at quitting only to pick the habit right back up, now their disease-ridden bodies fighting to stay alive. I have also witnessed the repentance of many hearts turned backed to the Lord in the midst of life or death. Treatment for our son ended about seven months ago, many of these folks are now with the Lord. Their hearts turned back in the midst of pain and desperation. God will do anything to save your soul for Eternity even if the only answer is pain and suffering. He loves you that much! It may not sound like love but real, true and genuine love makes tough decisions when necessary to preserve the life of a loved one. As a parent, I must set boundaries and limitations on my children to protect them and teach them of the dangers in life. I pray for them that the Holy Spirit will reinforce the Word in their heart as they go on to live adult lives. There have been time when they would cry in the midst of discipline as a direct result of the consequences or choices that I must make but it is my responsibility to guide, direct and teach them the way of life and direct them into the Presence of God. But as a loving mom, afterward I embrace them and love them unconditionally even when they are disobedient and rebellious because they are my children. Such is the responsibility of God who has set forth guidelines of obedience that we clearly could not obey. He sent Jesus Christ, His Only Son to die for our sin and pay the penalty so punishment is no longer necessary but that does not mean that we all have repented and returned to the Lord. So it is still God’s Way to allow things to happen that will redirect us back in His Way and to His Will. Pain brings repentance. If you do not believe me, go back to Psalm 25 and move up to the first six verses that say, “Oh God, I give my life to you…” David was in pain. He was in trouble and deep distress which led him to repentance. It brought David to a place where he would ask God to “forgive all my sins.” Salvation is living daily in a state of repentance and clinging to the Lord. We forget that sometimes! God reminds us! Could the distress in your life be a distress signal from the Holy Spirit that there is a sin problem going on? Could it be that repentance is needed? It is certainly worth a try!

 

Hebrews 12:10-13 (NLT)

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.  So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

 

Pain presses out the purpose in your life! Those who never go through anything in life have no reason to “press on”. You have to come face-to-face with a mountain to climb it and exercise “faith” muscles that you didn’t know you had. There must be no going back to keep you moving into the future. God’s Purpose for your life is often times revealed in the midst of pain and distress. You release all safety nets and worldly attachments when all you have is God! When no one else can save you, help you or deliver you – even the most rebellious person will knock on the door to His Kingdom! Why do bad things happen to good people? The same reason that bad things happen to bad people, God has a purpose and plan for your life that exceeds anything that you ever imagined. He is going to press it out of you! Read I Chronicles 4:9-10. Meet Jabez. He was born in pain so his mother named him as such. Can you imagine being labeled a “pain” from birth? How about being called that every time you were summoned? There must have been rejection in this man’s life simply because of his name. However, God used his dishonor to bless him. Jabez cried out to the Lord to “bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”  What did the Lord do? He granted Jabez’s request and blessed him! Would this man have cried out if his parents called him, “Joseph” or “Peter” or “Paul”? Probably not, but in pain he cried out to God and his purpose found and fulfilled. Whatever pain is in your life today has a purpose? God is ready to restore and renew your life in the midst of your distress if you will cry out to the Lord, repent or turn back to Him. The Lord will save you! It has been His Plan all along and He will bless you! His Word says that He will!

 

Romans 8:20-25 (NLT)

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 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. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hopefor it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

 

Believers experience pain every day, but God has given us His Spirit to distinguish the difference between pain as a result of yearning for the Lord versus pain that is the result of separation from Him. Peace accompanies the groaning of one who is ready to meet God and unrelenting pain indicates a prevailing problem. No worries. God has placed His Spirit inside of you to discern and direct you in the way you should go. Pain is a part of life. It is unavoidable until we meet Jesus Christ face-to-face. Pain is good. It is not without promise and purpose. Further along in Romans 8, it says that “the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believersin harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” We are never alone even when in agony. Hi Spirit help us in our weakness even telling us what to pray based on His Word. God knows your heart and will not let anything reside there that comes between the two of you. His Spirit is working God’s Own Will inside of you that you may be one with the Father. But above all remember this, no matter what you are going through, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how painful it is or how broken you feel, GOD is always working EVERYTHING for the good if you love Him and desire His Purpose! Do you love the Lord? Do you want His Will for your life? He has given us a glimpse of the future! It looks like this…

 

Revelation 21:3-5 (NLT)

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

 

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.

Grace, Grace and MORE Grace – A Devotion

Hebrews 13:8-9 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried aboutwith various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

 

There was someone who I am well acquainted with whom I choose not to name to protect the innocent who decided it was high time to improve their physical appearance. The goal was simply to “get in shape.” So diligently they began to visit a local gym and work on muscles that had been inactive for quite some time. Early in the process, this person decided to work out as they had in their youth with a vigorous upper body routine. Excited about their workout that day and the results anticipated, one could say that they slightly over did it. The next day, this same person could not raise either arms or even bend them for that matter making it impossible to accomplish even normal everyday tasks such as eating, drinking or brushing their teeth. The routine chosen to strengthen their body had rendered them completely incapacitated and bound by weakness making them totally dependent on their loved ones for care until their muscles finally relaxed and became flexible again. This scenario reminds me of how as Christians, after long bouts of spiritual inactivity, people rush in with full force trying to push our way into God’s Presence rather than allowing Jesus to open the door. Religion is often the culprit. Ignoring the intimacy of a relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s People attempt to storm the doors of Heaven with good deeds, committed service and faithful attendance. While all these things can be an avenue to honor God with one’s life through commitment of all things to Jesus Christ, it is not the access point into the Presence of God. The Presence of God is accessed only by the Grace of Jesus Christ. Faith is the access point of grace. One’s heart cannot fake faith or acceptance of God’s Grace just as the body rejects the insult of over activity after bouts of inactivity – the Spirit reacts the same way. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ. When we attempt to gain access any other way, it is highly likely a believer will find themselves totally overwhelmed by weakness and inability.

 

Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we havepeace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

The world believes that “might makes right”. However, that is not the philosophy of God’s Kingdom. It is the concept of “right makes might” that is the rule of Heaven. We are granted access to the Power of God by faith that opens the door to God’s unmerited favor and grace. Grace must be clearly defined to be accepted. Grace is mercy, clemency or a pardon. It is granted because it cannot be earned. Grace is a direct result of human inability and weakness. Those who are led by the pride of life can never fully accept the Grace of God because according to the flesh it must be earned. Only those stripped down to total human insufficiency can experience the fullness of God’s Favor and Grace as it is accepted as their total strength because they have yielded and accepted that there is NOTHING they can do to make themselves right with God. Only through total dependency on Jesus Christ, can a believer access the Grace of God through faith. Without weakness, a believer can never experience God’s Power in their life. It is their human strength that is exhibited by doing good things and saying the right words. God is looking at the human heart for total submission and weakness to release a pardon on your life that will open the door to EVERYTHING His Kingdom has to offer. However, too often we must be rendered totally helpless to find this access point of faith into grace.

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NKJV)

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Even Jesus Christ in human form asked God to release Him from suffering due to the weakness and frailty of His Flesh. (Matthew 26:39) However, Jesus added not “My Will” but “Your Will” be done. If only we could learn from the Lord when overcome by weakness and choose to immediately stop fighting for our way and readily accept God’s Way no matter how He chooses to act. This is an act of submission that the flesh wars against, yet it is total empowerment and embodiment by the Spirit of God in the life of His People. God’s Strength is made “perfect” in weakness. The weaker your flesh becomes the stronger and more accepting of God’s “Perfect” Grace a believer will become. To stop boasting of personal strength and quit attempting to be strong, but rather grab hold of the truth that our human state is completely and utterly helpless outside of faith in God through Jesus Christ. Those who begin to allow such knowledge to take hold and grow into a foundation of faith will experience the “Power of Christ” resting on their life. Suddenly, there is overflowing peace in the midst of trials and overwhelming joy in adversity as God gives us the strength to persevere and the power to overcome every situation with a Kingdom solution. It is the confession, “When I am weak, then I am strong” that accompanies faith opening the door to God’s Grace and unmerited favor in the life of every believer. The strongest Christian is the one who by the world’s standard is the weakest. “Less of me and more of you” must be the outcry everyday as we exchange our human weakness for God’s Power and Strength, abandoning self for the Spirit of God.  Who could possibly take pleasure in “infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions and/or distresses”? The person who has yielded every aspect of their life mind, soul and body to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith opening the access door to God’s Grace – that’s who.

 

I Peter 5:10-11 (NKJV)

But maythe God of all grace, who called usto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

 

“After you have suffered for awhile” – oh how we all long to suffer. Not really, but the truth is suffering is the groping in the dark that opens the door to His Glorious Light. Without suffering, many people would never encounter the Love of God because pride is deceptive. It makes everything in this world about “you” and how it impacts “you”. It is in suffering weakness is established and accepted in the life of many people. Without adversity, flesh takes credit for the blessings in life. It boasts of its power and strength rather than giving Glory to God who is our Strength. God is the God of All Grace. Meaning every part of your life and debt to God’s Law is completely satisfied by His Grace. Therefore, your suffering will NEVER be in vain if you have totally accepted God’s Grace. Those who have accepted the call to “His Eternal Glory by Christ Jesus” are promised to be perfected, established, strengthened, and settled (at peace) by God. Glory becomes God’s from this perspective of life. Suffering is a humbling experience that exalts God over man making Grace our Strength and total sufficiency releasing the Glory of God in our life.   

 

Romans 5:20-21 (NLT)

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

God’s grace is abundant. There is always enough. It never runs out. No matter how much our human weakness and stubbornness tries to exhaust it, God’s Grace covers it all. Do you feel helpless today? Beat down? Struggling to get up? Why not take this opportunity to allow faith to be established in your life? Call on the Name of the Lord and let His Grace lift you up. Stop fighting for a lost cause. You will never win the battle. Let God establish victory in your life and be your strength. The more you fight, the more helpless you will be as God slowly and methodically hedges you in. He wants your heart. He longs to be your sufficiency. God desires to be your EVERYTHING and release Eternal Blessing in your life. The Lord is waiting on edge for the moment of surrender when He can come in like a flood and wash your cares away with peace. Experience God’s Power in the most unlikely place today – total weakness. His Grace is enough. It is more than enough. When you think you have gone too far, you are right where God wants you. Let faith open the door to God’s Amazing Grace.

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.