Hello, I hope that you will enjoy reading my devotions. I do not claim to be an expert in the word, but I am a student of the word and desire to share the insights that the Lord gives to me. I love the Lord, my desire is to please him above all else. I want to hear him say “well done” at the end of each day. I pray you are blessed and challanged!
Trials, tribulations, disappointments, hurts, and suffering; are the things we are promised as children of God. I do not think too many jump up and down at the thought. As humans, we want the easy, soft, straight path to God. Why can’t we get a steady, no hardship, everything is well with my life to get us to heaven? Sounds easy, but it does not sound like a character-building, perseverance gaining, pressing on despite life, does it? Let’s face it, we do not want to do the hard things if we can get away with the easy.
God’s word is very clear about the path of every believer. We are not promised the easy, but we are promised trials and tribulation, hard and hurtful even. Let’s look first at this verse from Hebrews 5 concerning Jesus. Hebrews 5:7-10 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries of tears to the one who could save him from death, and was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be the high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
I think all of us can agree that Jesus suffered greatly for us. He was beaten, hair ripped out, mocked, scourged, laughed at, a crown of thorns pushed down on his head, and hung on a cruel cross until his very life-blood flowed out. This was not an ordinary beating, there were jagged lead tips that inflicted the maximum pain and tearing away of flesh. By the time Jesus was hung on the cross, he would have been unrecognizable I would say. Weak and gasping for air, unable to raise himself due to the spikes in his wrists and feet. It was a cruel, and horrible death. Jesus’ answer to this was to seek strength and help from His Father, and he submitted to the Father’s will completely.
Jesus was the only person who has ever lived a perfect sinless life. He did nothing to deserve the cruel death that he suffered, and he endured it all, even asking the Father to forgive those who had done these cruel things. But what is our response to life’s trials? All too often we whimper and complain about the hard things of life. We compare our sufferings with others. We look for ways out of it, we want it to end sooner than later, or better yet, not have it at all!
We were made perfect before the Father when we were born-again. But, we must also be made holy. And the things we go through in this life are molding and shaping us into the people God wants us to be. We do not and cannot skip this process, no matter how much we wish we could. I’ll admit, I don’t like the hard places of life. I sometimes find myself saying, enough Lord, please enough. All too often people struggle to stay steadfast in their walk with the Lord.
In James 1:12 we read: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
Did you catch that? If we remain steadfast, close to the Lord, leaning into Him even in the hard, we WILL receive the crown of life. Sounds good so far!
What else do we read in scripture? Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Are you rejoicing through your trials? Are you remaining hopeful, when all is going wrong? Are you praying? Sometimes it is hard to pray, but as my pastor is always reminding us, we do not always need words to pray. Sitting quietly before the Lord with our mess is prayer in itself. It is an exercise of faith. So, when words fail, just sit, be quiet and wait for Him.
We read in 1 Peter 5:10 these wonderful words: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
What a wonderful promise. When we have remained steadfast, hopeful, prayerful, and patient during our hard times, we WILL be restored, strengthened, and established by our Lord. These things are not meant to crush us beyond repair but are meant to press us, squeeze us out of us. We are being made more like Jesus, we are becoming Holy through the things we suffer through when we submit to Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short. We each have broken every commandment in thought or deed. And because of this without Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we cannot enter into heaven and God’s perfect Holiness. Jesus submitted wholeheartedly to his Father’s plan. He suffered and endured such horrible things for us.
I do not always suffer well, but I want to. I want to be so surrendered to Jesus that I DO NOT COUNT THE COST of following him. I want to remain so prayerful, that my natural immediate response to the trials of life is to RUN TO HIM IN PRAYER. I want that crown of life I have been promised. I want to be PATIENT IN SUFFERING. I want to COUNT IT ALL JOY as we read in James 1:2 and I even want to get to that place where I REJOICE IN MY SUFFERING according to Romans 5:3. I want to remember that God’s word tells me this: ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD! Not some, ALL, Romans 8:28.
How do we do this, we READ GOD’S WORD! WE PRAY CONTINUALLY, We SUBMIT TO GOD, and we KEEP OUR EYES ON JESUS AND THE PRIZE BEFORE US, and lastly, WE REMEMBER THIS IS TEMPORARY, WE BELONG TO ANOTHER PLACE, THIS IS NOT OUR HOME, and HE HAS PROMISED TO SEE US THROUGH!
I pray that each of you will surrender your right to be offended by the way God works out His plan for your life. That as trials and those things of this life that are hard, will lead you to your knees, looking up, patiently enduring, becoming holy as He is holy. No, we are not promised an easy time, but we are promised to be held, loved, lifted, and restored, strengthened, and brought through. His plans are perfect, even when they do not feel perfect. His ways are perfect and can be trusted. He never gives us too much!
Here are a few more scriptures you may want to read:
1 Corinthians 10:13
Remember, read your bible and pray, Pray and read your bible : )
Remember What He Said
This world is a scary place. It seems most headlines start with someone who was killed, someone who was murdered, there was a mass shooting, the COVID variant is running rampant in areas. Businesses cannot find workers, etc. This world becomes more and more foreign to me the longer I live in it, and I am reminded of this scripture, “Philippians 3:20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is my residence, but it is not my home. One day we will be free of the terrors and hardships of this life, but until then, let me give you a few scriptures that remind us how we are to live and feel. Meditate on them, let them sink into your heart, and be reminded. God is in control and he wants us to walk heads up, unafraid. We have nothing to fear.
Isaiah 35:4 “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your
God will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, he will come and save you.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Matthew 14:27 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Psalm 118:6 “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Psalm 115:11 “You who fear him, trust in the Lord, he is their help and shield.”
These are just a few. Take time to let them sink deep into your soul. God is in control, no matter what it looks like, HE IS SOVEREIGN. One day evil will be banished, the evil one trampled upon and Jesus will rule and reign.
If you are a Christian and bound up by fear and anxiety, why don’t you do as the bible commands us to do, and rest in him. Unafraid, no more fear, no more anxiety. Trust Him. There is such freedom in trusting God to be God and do all He has promised.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is with us? Recently we had a serious situation with my brand new grandbaby. Her little body was having issues and she was put into the NICU. Even though we were certain she would be okay, our concern was at high levels. Watching her go through all the needle sticks and procedures that they do was very hard. Even knowing that she will never remember these hard days, we will. I can tell you that knowing that God was with me made all the difference. What comfort in knowing that we never face anything good or bad without God’s presence with us. He never leaves us to handle it alone. I knew when I cried out to God on our sweet baby’s behalf that He was right there listening and acting. Yes, she is home and she is doing great!
Do things always turn out for the good? No, often the unimaginable happens and our hearts are left broken rather than elated. Does that mean God was not present and He did not hear? No, scripture is clear that we are not alone, Emmanuel is with us, hearing us and working out His perfect plan.
I want to encourage any believers out there who are feeling alone to remember what God’s word says and that He is faithful, He is present, He is hearing you, He cares. As our Pastor said recently, sometimes God wraps himself in the darkness because we cannot behold his full glory at once. But He is in that darkness, walking with us and keeping us through it all.
God is Omnipresent. There is no other person or so-called God who can say that. God desires to be with us and promises to always be with us. Even if you cannot feel him, he is there. We are told that when two or three gather in His name, He is in the midst. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” In
Isaiah 41:10 we read these words: “Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you; don’t be anxious, because I am your God. I keep on strengthening you; I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.” Isn’t that awesome, when our strength fails, His strength holds and keeps holding us.
You may say where is God if he is with us? I think this scripture is a good indicator of where he is. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” He is in us, around us, behind us, before us, He is everywhere at all times. He dwells in the present always.
I love Psalm 139:7-12 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I take the wings of dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”
Wow! No matter where I go, what I go through, On my best day or my hardest day, if I run away or hide in a cave, God is with me. Emmanuel…
I knew as I sat and rocked our sweet girl waiting for the next test that God was with me. Her mommy and daddy knew he was there and all they needed to do was speak that name above all names, Jesus, Jesus. There is power in that name. He comforted us, dried our tears, calmed our fears, and showed up strong for us.
When I said goodbye to my sister as I watched her die on a video camera, God was there. I could feel his presence and I found peace in it. I gave him my pain, I gave him my disappointment, my fears, my tears. I found rest and peace. Days will sometimes be hard, decisions will be harder, know God. Understand He is with you and He will NEVER LEAVE YOU!
Emmanuel-God With Us. Awesome!
Psalm 51:10 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
David had sinned. He had Uriah the husband of Bathsheba killed because he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and she had gotten pregnant with his child. Uriah was a faithful servant to the king and his country. David was being crushed under the weight of his sin. He was hard-pressed to feel the joy he once had. Sin was standing in his way. His relationship with God was strained, not because God had changed or done anything, but David had. He missed the joy he once had. Sin had robbed him of his joy. Now what?
We too can find ourselves living in a joyless way. Sin has robbed us of the closeness we once felt with our Lord. We go through the motions of trying to find happiness, but joy is a harder thing to restore. Unconfessed sin will cause you to feel isolated and alone. It will make you feel like millions of miles have been put between you and God. God has not moved or changed his mind about you. He is close, waiting for, what?
When we sin as Christians it causes us to feel as though a wedge has been placed between us and God. The distance to forgiveness and restoration can seem enormous, but is it? When we let sin have its way and we keep it to ourselves unconfessed before God, joy leaves us. As a believer you know when you are wrong; often we simply refuse to confess it going through the motions of normalcy, attending church, smiling, and putting on a good front, but deep inside we know something is wrong. Our smiles are shallow and our hearts are heavy.
We have allowed the enemy of our souls to rob us of our joy, giving us shame in its place. There is a way to make it right, a way to regain your joy in the Lord. How? Confess your sin, and believe God has forgiven you. See, if we confess our sin, yet still think that God is mad at us and holding onto his anger, our joy will not return. It is only when we believe what his word says in Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” And also in
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Satan will try his best to keep you from confessing, first, he does not want to lose this hold he has on you and the shame he has piled on you; second, he doesn’t want you to stop the sin he has brought into your life. He may even up the anty by making it even more attractive. But, if you confess with true repentance, God will and does forgive. Does this mean the consequences of sin are removed, sometimes, but most of the time we live out the consequences. Just remember consequences are different than unforgiven. God’s word says He forgives. Read it above…He does not despise a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart.
Examine yourself today, look deep into your heart. Is there anything that needs confessing? Is there anything even a small thing standing between you and God. Confess it, bring it to the light, and when you do accept and believe that God has forgiven you. When you do you cannot help but feel the joy rising in your soul. What the enemy had taken is rushed in like a mighty wave. It boils down to believing God has forgiven you. That you are once again in a right place before God. God already knows your sin; he has been with you each time you sinned. He is Sovereign and always present no matter where we go or what we do. He does not force us to as for forgiveness, He waits patiently for us to once again hear His voice and turn away from our sin. He desires to forgive us and to restore a right spirit within us, He waits for our confession.
Do not let fear of unforgiveness or even consequences keep you from confessing sin to God. Do not for one more moment allow the enemy of your soul to lie to you and tell you God cannot or will not forgive you. Remember if his lips are moving, he is speaking lies. He is the father of lies. And remember, when we confess our sins, when we have been forgiven of our sins, God will walk with us through the consequences of those sins and give us grace and mercy even in that.
Let your joy be restored…there is a way. Confession and true repentance.
God is waiting, will you right now bow your knees and ask him, believe him, and let the joy restoring begin. You will not regret it, I promise! He is a good, good Father.
“He will not always harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed and he remembers that we are dust.”
Isn’t it great to know that God’s anger does not last forever and that he never treats us as our sins deserve. If you are his, he has compassion on you, just like we do when our children mess up. Yes, there needs to be some discipline, but it is given out with loving measures. It is not meant to crush their spirit and neither is the discipline the Lord gives to us. Or at least in most families, this is true, I realize in some families discipline is taken too far, been there experienced it! I am talking about how most parents react and treat their children. They are kind even in their discipline towards them.
The Lord has given us his word as a guide book on how to live our lives, how to live in this world, and still stay obedient to his word. All too often though we allow sin to shine its bobbles before us and we are intrigued. Our minds start thinking about it and soon enough it drops into our hearts and we allow ourselves to be led astray. James 1:14 says it this way:
“But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lusts, and enticed. Sin is enticing. We each drawn away to sins that look good to us. My sin may not be the same sin you struggle with and vise versa. God’s word tells us that when we come to Him with true repentance He is faithful to forgive us. He not only forgives us but forgets what we did as well. He casts it as far as the East is from the West. If you have repented of your sin, and you continue to struggle under the weight of condemnation I can assure you it is not coming from God, it is coming from Satan. He wants to keep you locked into a cycle of not being able to fully enjoy Jesus. If you can keep your eyes on you, then they are not on HIM!
I think one of the most precious lines in these verses is this: “for he knows how we are formed and he remembers that we are dust.” God knows me, He knows us more intimately than we know ourselves. He knows every thought, every desire, He knows what gets us all messed up in the first place. He knows what motivates our desires and attractions to sin. He formed Adam from the dirt and dust of the ground, and we all came from there. The feelings and emotions we have in us, He gave us. But because of Adam and Eve’s sin, we are born sinners; and our Lord knows that and His compassion on us is great! Knowing we are mere dust should certainly humble of few out there. But His knowing this just brings out the compassion in him, the desire to help us find our way, at least that is how I see this verse. When we see a toddler hit someone, we do not think bully, we think oh my this little person needs to learn that he cannot hit people, it is not nice, and so we try to teach them the right way. I think that same thing can be applied to God seeing us as mere dust.
In some ways, it is a sobering thing to know that the God of the universe knows every detail of my thoughts and even intents; yet on the other side, it is so good to know that the God of the universe knows my thoughts and even the very intent of my heart and actions. I have had moments where I truly to this day do not know what motivated me to do a certain thing or act a certain way, but my Lord knows and understands. I am not left to my own devices, I don’t even have to figure a way out, when I call on him, he opens the door for me to escape. God loves us, His children more than we can even comprehend. Oh, we can have a glimpse of it in the way we love our children, but it still does not match the love God has for us.
We are to have a holy and reverent fear of God. Not the kind that puts us in a corner shaking and waiting for the hammer to fall, but the kind that realizes who He is and just how Holy He is. The kind that knows that God is Sovereign. All-knowing, and All-seeing and always present. The kind that knows that He can take down a nation just by his word. HE IS IN CONTROL! David had this to say in Psalm 139:1-13 “Where cand I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
He desires that we obey him, but even if we mess up for a little while or a longer time, He will forgive us and forget it, when we repent and turn from our sin. Sometimes we have to live with the consequences and sometimes he even takes those away, He is just that good! So, in closing, if you find yourself caught up in some sin, God already knows and He is waiting with open arms to fill you fresh and new with His spirit and love you back into a right relationship. No matter the sin, no matter how long, no matter who it was with or what it was…God can and will forgive you, do not let the enemy of your soul lie to you and convince you otherwise. Remember if his lips are moving he is lying…He is the father of lies. Always has been, always will be!
Blessings dear friends…May each of us take a close look at our lives and see what pleases the Lord and start doing those things. The hour is growing late.
Hebrews 4:12-13 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any sword, it penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”
I am not sure how these verses hit you, but they hit me hard! To know that at any moment of the day, throughout my day, everything I think and do is known by God. There is NOTHING hidden from Him. I do not have any secrets. I may have things I do not share with others, even thoughts I do not share with my husband, but God sees them all. He even sees into those deep areas of my heart, even its intent is known. Wow and scary at the same time. Knowing this should make us constant in our efforts to live Holy lives. To constantly take our thoughts captive, making sure they are not a stench in our God’s nostrils. There is not a creature on earth that is not fully known by God. He sees all things, at all times, because He is fully present in the entirety of heaven and earth.
God’s word is not just a collection of words for our enjoyment, it is life-giving and life-changing. God’s word cuts through everything. It reveals exactly who we are and who we should be. It goes deep into our moral and spiritual life and sees all of it. It has the power to discern the good and evil in us, and His word demands that decisions be made. Are we merely going to read his word and ignore what it tells us to do, and how we should live? Are we going to read it as though it is just an interesting set of stories, or are you going to apply those things you read to your life? We must decide to obey God’s word, (all of it) or ignore it. Because it is living and active something has to change. When you read it with the intent to know God, to see yourself in the pages, then it demands you either follow or not.
As you read God’s word ask in advance that it be opened to you. Ask God for wisdom, discernment, and understanding as you read. Take time to think about the words you are taking in. Let them drop from your eyesight to your heart. God’s word convicts, changes and grows us. It will reveal what we think and know. Sometimes it is not pretty. Sometimes I read God’s word and think, oh no, this is me! I want to be fully surrendered to God. I want to obey every word that is written. I want him to be the Lord of my life, and when I get the “Oh no” I need to bow my head and repent of whatever it is that made me say it.
We also must decide if we believe what he says in all our troubles and trials. Do you believe God is with you and will never leave you? Do you trust that all things work together for good? Do you believe he can help you through any circumstance? Do you believe he can forgive you and save you? Do you believe when troubles come that God is with you and that he will not forsake you? Do you believe he is faithful and good? Do you believe that even when heartache comes God has allowed it for a time to strengthen your faith? Do you believe he is the only way, the truth, and the life? Do you believe he is victorious over everything, even when life is hard and evil seems to be abounding? Do you believe he can save that hard-nosed, hard-hearted loved one? Do you believe that when bad things happen, God is still good? These are just some of the decisions you must make, that God’s word demands you make.
We cannot know how to live and be if we do not search the scriptures to find out, and we cannot be those things if we do not apply what the Word says to our lives and hearts. We must do more than read it, we must apply all of it! God knows when we are sincere in our efforts. What we must realize is that one day we will all stand before God, we will give an account. Knowing this should make us want to know him fully, surrender fully, let his word answer our questions, and soothe our hurts. Life can be hard, sometimes brutal. It can feel as though the thought of another day is too hard. Pain and disappointment abound. But know this, God uses all of those things that touch us to complete the work in us. I don’t know how, but I do not need to know the how, I just need to trust his word that says he does.
As we approach this Ressurection Day, (Easter) may we once again with new effort dig into God’s word. May we let this past year of hard, motivate us to know our Lord more fully, to allow his word to change us, heal us, grow us, reveal in us those things that need to change. Let a Ressurection of your heart take place in a new way. Jesus came to give us life, He died so that we might live. There is no question his word cannot answer, no pain so deep he cannot heal it. Your thoughts and concerns are not silly to God, He wants us to come to him as little children, and like a child allow him to comfort us and teach us.
I pray you will enjoy a wonderful Ressurection Day! If you do not read God’s word regularly I encourage you to start. If you do read God’s word I pray that you ask for fresh eyes and discernment that you miss nothing he has for you. And mostly I pray that if you do not know the Lord as your Savior and King that you bow your head and ask him into your heart, and if you do, but feel you need a fresh filling that you bow your head and rededicate yourself to knowing him more fully. The time is drawing near friends, today could be the day of his return, and we are not promised tomorrow, so do not delay! Get to know Him….Read His word…It will change your life….There is power in it….It Is LIVING AND ACTIVE!
Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
As we read through the book of Habakkuk we see that he too had questions. He wondered as we do often why it seems that evil is winning; why do evil men seem to prosper. The broken and evil world he was living in troubled him. He asked and God answered. Habakkuk did not ask men for their thoughts, he asked God and received answers from him; he took his complaints, his hurts, and frustration straight to God.
Do you know that we too can take all our requests, complaints, and concerns to God? He wants us to come, he desires to clear up our confusions and hurts our disillusionment and frustrations. Right now in our day evil seems to be winning. The wicked seem to be gaining speed and prospering in their evil deeds. God reminded Habakkuk that although they seemed to be prospering right that moment their end was not a good one. There would be a payment extracted for their sin and rebellion against God. In the end, they would lose out. Theirs would be a fiery pit of hell, and eternal separation from God for all eternity, if they did not repent and turn from their wickedness.
Also, we see how we should respond when things are not going well for us. Even in hard times, when finances are hard, jobs may be scarce, trouble abounds on every side, there is a wrong and a right way to respond to the troubles and trials we face. First, we need to take our eyes off of the problems. We need to see our problems through the lens of our faithful Lord and Savior, and not the Lord through the trials and tribulations. We need to remember that God is always in control!! Nothing happens in our world, or our personal lives that he is not fully in control of. He does not have any surprise moments! Our feelings should not be controlled by the events around us or with us. Our response should always be one of faith, hope, and a calm assurance that we are not alone and that God is with us. He will give us what we need in those moments to stand firm and even have joy in the process if we will let him. God is our strength in hard times.
One day God will rid this world of evil. Those who do not know him will die in their sins and be forever separated from God. There will be no hope in hell. We have a difficult time understanding eternity. We have 24-hour days and we live our lives around that. But in God’s kingdom, there is not a 24-hour clock to dictate life. God can give his children surefooted confidence as they run across life’s mountains and valleys. He can make even the rough hard places passible with joy intact. Does this mean we will not have moments of tears or frustration, no, but those should not last long. There is a difference between happiness and joy. Joy resides deep in our souls and can bubble to the surface even in hard moments. Whereas happiness comes and goes.
We all need to be laser-focused on Jesus. We all need to read and pray as we go through trials, and sometimes we need to just sit in His presence and let him refill us. We need to rejoice in the Lord always! Until God brings about justice and rids the world of all evil, keep looking at him, keep trusting his faithfulness and goodness in your life. He is your strength, He is our hope and our future. He is and always will be God, and there is nothing too hard for him. No problem too big, no disappointment too deep, no hurt that he cannot cover and comfort. Let God be God and you praise him anyway, trust him because He truly does have it all under control, He is truly is victorious in all things!
I am sure like me there have been times when you were not sure where how you were going to pay your bills, where your next meal was coming from, the thought of having enough money for gas seemed overwhelming, figuring out how to budget on nothing for groceries brought tears to your eyes, clothes for your children, but God…
But here I am having always had what I needed just in time. I have never had to do without those things, somehow God always came through. It was never in the way I thought it would happen and it always seemed to cost me some of my pride, but as we know pride goes before the fall : )
I sit here blessed beyond measure, with more than I need, surrounded by all of the blessings God has richly poured into my life obviously, I made it through, and if you are reading this, so have you! Now let’s all give God the praise he deserves! He alone is worthy, He alone is Sovereign, He alone is able… Praise His Holy Name, Jesus, that name above all other names, Master, Savior, Jesus…Count your blessings, stop looking at what is not right and look into the face of the One who can hold you, keep you, bless you and strengthen you, and provide everything you need, and often those things you just want : )
Evil does not win….God does!
Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers, and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Did you know that you are living in a war zone? At any given time there is evil all around you. Spiritual battles are taking place in that realm beyond what we can see with our natural eyes. This evil wants to hinder you, confuse you, stop you, hurt you, and especially make you doubt God. These fallen angels of Satan’s are vicious fighters, they do not get tired or back down. How then can we withstand the attacks and even win the war? Bear in mind we are already victorious in Christ Jesus. And Satan is already a defeated foe operating on borrowed time that he has been given. But for us, we need to be ready at all times. We need the full armor of God in place to withstand the assaults that happen. The goal of the devil and his fallen ones is to defeat Christ’s church, his people.
We are assured of victory, but we must still withstand the battle, we must still stand and fight. To move forward in this battle we need all the equipment to fight. We need supernatural armor. What is this supernatural armor that we are to be clothed in at all times? The verses above tell us. Let’s look at them. First, we need to be strong in the Lord. How do we get this strength? We need to know God’s word, we need to read it daily. We need to pray always. We need to resist the enemy. When we are prepared and full of God’s words we will not be so easily fooled by the devil’s tactics. We have to know the truth to recognize a lie when we hear it.
We are told in the scriptures above that there is a day of evil that is coming. I believe we are in them. Look around at all the things going on. Look at how scripture has been perverted to be inclusive in things clearly against it. What was once wrong is now right and vise versa. People think they can live any way they want and go to heaven, not so my friend, not so!
We are told to stand firm, and when we have done all we can to stand, we are told to STAND FIRM then! We must be wearing the “belt of truth.” What is this belt? For one the belt is where Roman soldiers stored their weapons. Without this belt, they would be defenseless. For us, it means to know God’s truth, His word is to be hidden in our hearts and we should live and walk-in “honesty,” “truthfulness,” “integrity,” and “sincerity that surrounds every part of us. Next, we are to have the “breastplate of righteousness” in place. For Roman Soldiers, this protected what was under it, their heart, lungs, and other organs. If the soldier did not wear his breastplate he was vulnerable. For us, we need to live in ethical conduct; moral principles.
As we continue to read we see we are to have our “feet fitted for readiness.” For soldiers their shoes were fitted with spikes or textured souls, these added things on their shoes also allowed them to stand their ground, and navigate over rough terrain. Our shoes are a little different. They are the footwear of peace. We need to have a readiness to share the gospel with someone at any time. As Christian’s, we should always be prepared to “give an answer.” Others are watching us, how do we react to situations around us? We are to be peacemakers, not fighters, angry all the time. Next, we are to take up the “shield of faith.” What is this faith? For soldiers, it deflected blows they received and gave them overall protection while in battle. For us; It is believing God. The more we believe and have faith in God and his word, the more effective we are when we fight. The enemy hurls unseen arrows at us all the time, we may not even realize that when we believe God, we are fighting and winning!
Next, we are told to take up the “helmet of salvation.” It is obvious that for soldier’s this protected their heads. Our helmet is our assurance of salvation. Jesus told us to “not be afraid” because he wanted to remind us that even though we can die physically, we never die. When we leave this body our next step is into eternity with Jesus. The enemy cannot take our salvation away! Ever! The power of the cross silenced the enemy on this point. When we are “born-again” we belong to God forever. After this, we are told to take the “sword of the spirit”- God’s word. For soldier’s, this was an offensive weapon against their attackers. For us, if we lack knowledge of God’s word, we are in trouble. It is not a means to attack others, but to show us the truth. God is truth. His word speaks truth to us and drowns out the voice of the enemy. It shows us how to live, move and be in this world.
The last couple of things we are told is to pray and be alert. Why pray? We cannot know the heart of God without it. Prayer does not change God it changes us. It helps to align us with His will for our lives. It tells us to pray on all occasions. To be prayerful at all times. Prayer should be our habit, short prayers, long prayers, tearful prayers, prayers of repentance, etc. We need to pray, to commune with. our Lord, to be changed by time with him. How do we get to know someone, by talking to them and listening to them. It is the same with God.
Lastly, we are told to be alert. Soldiers needed to be alert and looking around, checking their armor to make sure they had every piece, that it was in good shape. Going into battle unprepared could end in death for the soldier. We need to be filled with the Spirit of God and His word. We need to read and pray, pray and read. We never know when or how the enemy will attack us, but rest assured he will. We cannot stand firm on what we do not know. We cannot know a lie unless we first know the truth.
We are in a War Zone. If you do not read and pray regularly, I encourage you to do so. This past year has been hard, and there will be more hard days ahead. This world is going the way of the evil one. False prophets all around, the truth twisted to fit lifestyles, and so on. Be a good soldier in God’s army, get to know you Commander and Chief. Listen and obey. Live the way he says to live, be a peacemaker, not a fighter. Let the light of Christ be what others see in you. Talk it, Walk it, Live it! Be ready, Stand firm until the end. It could be any day now!
James 2:1-4 “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand here” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Wow! Evil thoughts! Do you see your favoritism towards people who have more, or are better dressed as evil? God calls it that. All too often in society the well-dressed, the seemingly more important people get better seats and are treated as though they are royalty and deserving. When I think of people who get special attention when they come into a room, my mind goes to celebrities, athletes, and high powered business people. And sometimes even preachers and teachers of God’s word. Sad, but true. A person should never be judged by their lack of. When Jesus talks about our loving our neighbor as ourselves, he means everyone we come in contact with. We do not get to pick and choose who we love and are kind to.
I think the reason we will treat a well-dressed seemingly important person better is that we want to identify with them. We want to see ourselves as more than we are. We fail to realize that not all of these people have gotten where they are by honesty and hard work. Some may have cheated or been born into wealth and privilege. They may even be gaining their lifestyles at our expense. So often those who have much find it hard to follow Christ, who came as a humble servant. Too often a person’s appearance is more important to us than their character.
When we show favoritism because of someones standing, wealth or position, we are looking at the outside and not the character and depth of a person, we are showing selfish motives. All people need fellowship, the rich, the well dressed, and the poor and needy. All are human beings made in God’s image. We are told that showing favoritism is wrong. Yet, Christians do it all the time. Churches even do it, wanting the rich inside the doors, blessing the offering plate! Shame on us!
All too often people view someone being rich as their being abundantly blessed, approved, and favored by God, not true my friend. Often those riches are stumbling blocks to a right relationship with God or any relationship with God. People trust in themselves, they seem to have all they need, so why need God? Following Christ means that we are told to live humble lives, ready to give it all up for Christ’s name and hold onto eternal life. We must live faithful in this life. Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
God’s word tells us that many who are first in this life will be last. (Matthew 19:30) For those who walk faithful regardless of their earthly wealth and circumstances, God promises riches untold in eternity. (Matthew 19:29 reads:) And everyone who has left houses and brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. The world views those who have and those who have not differently. But we as believers need to view people the same, with the same kindnesses and places of importance because we are all made in God’s image.
Why is showing favoritism bad, here are a few footnotes from my bible.
- It is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings.
- It results from evil thoughts.
- It is a by-product of selfish motives.
- It insults people made in God’s image.
- It goes against the Biblical definition of love.
- It shows a lack of mercy to those less fortunate.
- It is hypocritical.
- It is sin.
Showing favoritism IS SIN. Have you ever thought about it that way? Be honest. We are told in verses 10-11 of James: “10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” We cannot use this verse to justify any sin, by saying “well I have already broken one of God’s laws, so why try? God’s mercy is great towards us, and when we repent of our sin, He forgives us. We all need to do our best to not let sin reign in our bodies. Even Christians sometimes sin, but it is not a lifestyle of sin. We need to always measure ourselves against God’s standard, not man’s. We are not saved by the law, but by God’s grace, but as believers, we are to obey God’s word and not only hear it, but do it. One day we will all, even the rich, the poor, the needy, sinners, all appear before God’s throne of judgment to be judged for our conduct. (2 Corinthians 5:10) God’s grace does not cancel our duty to obey him.
So, in conclusion, before you decide to show favoritism to someone who seems of better standing, wealth, or privilege, remember these words found in the last couple of verses of James 2. “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” I want to live a life that pleases God in all I do. I want to treat others as I want to be treated. I have experienced being treated differently because I did not seem to measure up to what the world thinks my financial status should be. I have been judged and found wanting because my academic history did not seem to be enough. I have been judged and found wanting because I have chosen the path of homemaker over a business woman. I am sure at one time or another each of us has been either favored or found lacking.
I want to love as Jesus loves, I want to see others as he sees them. I want to mimic my Lord in all I do and say. I want to see those in need as people made in the image of God, just as deserving as I. I want to; “Act justly, Love mercy and Walk humbly before my God.” (Micah 6:8) The world and its ideas of who should be lifted and given privilege are messed up. Choose mercy over judgment. Let God work out the details of others’ lives. Do not assume that because someone is homeless, out of a job, dresses shabbily, did not go to college, does not make lots of money, or is not in the limelight, that he or she is just lazy, unintelligent, unmotivated, etc. Maybe they are in that state so that you can show mercy and kindness and act like Jesus. Maybe theirs will be the untold riches story we read about. Look into the eyes of everyone and see that they are image-bearers of their Creator. Be Jesus to them…show mercy, show love, act like the One in whom you believe, the Lord Jesus Christ!
We all come into this world with nothing, and we will take nothing with us when we leave. And we will all stand before Him. Be ready!