Hope in Tribulation

Featured

water falls near green trees

 

Our trials have far-reaching effects; some that we never realized could happen, and some we will never know about until we get to heaven. Our attitude in them and through them will inspire other people in their walk with the Lord (Philippians 1:14).

 

Trials are not really obstacles, but opportunities to have faith in God’s faithfulness, and to uncover the seed for a miracle, which He plants within each issue that we face. They are truly blessings in disguise.

 

Our new life in Christ is a bed full of sweet smelling roses, but each stem of our walk is full of prickly thorns. Jesus exhorted us to expect tribulation in this world, but to be encouraged, because His presence in us helps us to overcome.

 

Jesus already overcame the world (John 16:33). His power and wisdom see us through every negative incident. Even Job received multiple blessings that far surpassed the horrid trials that he experienced.

 

The dear apostle Paul suffered shipwreck, beatings, jail cells, pursuit by persecutors who wanted to end his life, abuse, etc. (2 Corinthians 11:24-25). Paul endured his troubles by changing his focus from his miserable conditions to God’s promises (Romans 8:18).

 

Paul learned the secret of rejoicing through His tribulation. He even sang praises to God while chained in a Roman prison (Acts 16:16-40). His faith in and love for God barely waivered in the face of debilitating difficulties. He learned abiding contentment (Philippians 4:11-12).

 

Prayer:

Father God, Your Word teaches us that after Satan attempted to sift Peter like wheat, he would be able to strengthen the church by his testimony and the lessons he learned (Luke 22:31-32). Thank You for helping us to shift our focus from our trial to our testimony. We all know people whose lives are a witness to Your power in spite of their troubles.

 

Help us to change our attitude and our focus from the events in our life to Your provision in spite of them. We do not want our faith in You or our love for You to waiver in the face of difficulties. Teach us not to be discouraged when we encounter difficulties, because You use complications to test our faith, to strengthen us for future trials, and to prove that Your grace is sufficient to sustain us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Thought for the Day:

Some people mistakenly believe that God promises never to give us more trials than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:12-13); however, this promise actually refers to temptations; God will allow us to experience overwhelming trials that force us to run to Him for our deliverance (John 16:33).

 

Christmas Magic

green grass field near sea under white clouds at daytime

 

At Christmas time, the earth’s population sings traditional carols without paying any attention to the words. They give Santa the glory for what they call “Christmas magic” or “X-mas miracles”, and he gets the praise for giving them the gifts that loving friends and family actually purchased for them.

 

However, the very word Christmas gives us the true meaning of Christmas. A mass to celebrate the birth of Christ. The actual day is debatable, but since we are going to honor Jesus’ birth anyway, one day is as good as another.

 

Christmas carols are full of Biblical truth, starting with “The First Noel” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, which relate the fact that shepherds heard the first Gospel message from Angelic beings (Luke 2:13-14). “Away in a Manger” also regales us with the fact of His birth.

 

The words of “Little Town of Bethlehem”, denote His birth too (Micah 5:2), and if we pay attention to these songs, we too can celebrate this beginning of our Savior’s life on this earth. “Go Tell It on the Mountain” reminds us to share our faith and the truth of Jesus’ birth.

 

Next, we have “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, which personifies the authentic Believer’s longing for Our Savior and King to take His rightful place as Supreme Ruler of Heaven and earth. This song declares prophecies about Jesus – as the Rod of Jesse, the Descendant of David, His virgin birth and His name Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

 

My personal favorite is “Joy to the World.” It is not really a Christmas song, because the verses proclaim the truth of Christ’s second coming to sit on His throne with the government on His shoulders, and to restore order to our mixed-up, degenerate world (Genesis 3:17-18; Psalm 96:11-12; Psalm 98).

 

“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” proclaims the power of Christ over demonic activity (Mark 2; John 3:16). “Oh Holy Night” is another definite favorite carol that reminds us that although not everyone will choose Christ as their Savior, every ear will hear.

 

So, the next time you hear a Christmas spiritual, pay attention to the words, and sing them from your heart in praise to our King. He left the glory of heaven with the sole purpose of paying the penalty of our sinful behavior as our pure and perfect Lamb of God.

 

Prayer:

Father God, Christmas is the season of the year when the focus of many is on songs about Your Son’s birth. The sad part about Christmas is that in spite of their love for these songs, very few people will hear the actual words and believe in the Christ of Christmas (John 3:16-18). They are too wrapped up in the trappings of the season, and they neglect the actual meaning of it.

 

Impress on everyone the truth of the songs that we sing. Jesus will eventually reign and rule the world with Your authority, righteousness, truth, and grace that will delight the inhabitants of the earth. Remind us that we can enjoy this euphoria every day of the year by turning from our sinful lifestyle and dedicating our life to Your service.

 

Thought for the Day:

Christmas carols preach the Gospel of Christ every year, but most people focus more on the delusion of Santa’s fictional powers, the glitz and glitter, and getting their wishes granted than on the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that changes our life for eternity.

– Matthew 24:14

 

 

A Good Marriage – A Supportive Unity

brown plant on body of water

 

Spending time developing a lasting unity in marriage is well worth the effort. Learning each other’s love language, and cultivating an understanding of our partner’s needs makes one another feel accepted, cherished and loved. We spend quality and quantity time together. ( http://www.lovelanguagequiz.com/ )

 

We cannot nurture one another if we do not understand one another, and what we each need to function in our role, calling, ministry and union in life and in our marriage. We both compliment and complement each other.

 

A husband cannot care for or protect his wife if he does not understand her fears and insecurities (1 Peter 3:7). A wife cannot support and respect her husband if she does not take time to learn about his vocation and to notice and appreciate what he does for her.

 

Daily performing small acts of kindness, and making frequent big sacrifices for each other will ensure an exclusive and permanent relationship that will last a lifetime. This helps to discourage affairs and shuts the doors on ideas of divorce. The grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence.

 

Our union is inseparable, and we delight in time spent together by having adventures and exploring opportunities to enjoy our community, state and surrounding areas. Together, we visit extended family, and we take vacations as a couple every year.

 

We understand that our union with our mate is the only option ordained for us by God. Our commitment to each other builds with each passing year, because we refuse to listen to the devil’s lies or to entertain the draw of the world to be unfaithful to our spouse in thoughts or deeds.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we are never more fulfilled than when we walk close to You as individuals and as a couple. Through Christ in us, You change our nature from a carnal, earthly, fleshly one to a new character full of purity, Godliness and spirituality (2 Corinthians 3:18). You give us a way out of every future temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), as well as Your wisdom, peace and joy.

 

You walk with us every moment of every day, giving us Your strength to go through every trial as You deliver us through each issue that we face (Philippians 2:12). With our mind focused on You, we walk in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Our deepest affections are reserved just for You and for our mate, as we dwell together in unity and live a life of praise to Your name.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we focus on life through a carnal perception, we experience stress, anxiety, anger and many other negative emotions; yet, when we focus with an eternal perspective, we are only interested in God’s intentions, instructions and His inclusion of us in His plans.

 

 

Does God Turn Blind Eyes to the Wicked?

selective of fuzzy caterpillar

 

When we look around at those who live in the wealthy part of town, we are often envious of the prosperity that these individuals enjoy (Psalm 73:3). Many of them live a depraved life; yet it seems that God does not hold them accountable for their sinful lifestyle (Matthew 5:45).

 

Some of these carnal people slide through life without paying any consequence for their decisions, and reaping the rewards of their depraved endeavors. Yet, many who live righteously are weary, and deprived of this world’s goods.

 

However, we do not need to envy the wicked, because they eventually fade like grass and the flowers of spring. As we continually trust only in the Lord, and take delight in Him, He gives us His desires in our heart (Psalm 73).

 

God makes our innocence to shine like the dawn, and our righteousness to radiate like the sun at noon. We are always in God’s presence, and we wait patiently for Him to act on our behalf. He is our Jehovah Jireh – our Provider.

 

Some of the wicked even plot against, curse and defy the righteous; but the Lord just laughs at their attempts to defeat us. Even though the wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to harm us; ultimately, the Lord will not let the wicked succeed.

 

A wonderful future awaits those who love and live for God, but the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future. At times, we see wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when we look again, they will be vanquished.

 

Prayer:

Father God, sometimes we feel concern about what seems to be Your indifference over the horrible wickedness rampant in the world, and which will cause even those who serve You to suffer. Many things seem unjust and unfair to us now, with our limited vision and understanding. Help us to realize that the judgment of the wicked will come eventually, so this fact can diffuse our disappointment and strengthen our soul.

 

Jesus promises us that we will have tribulation in this world (John 16:33). He suffered all of his life too (Hebrews 5:8). In Your timing, show us what will become clear if we will be patient. Teach us to suspend judgment for a while, and to have faith in You. Help us to realize that when our vision is blurred, patience and time are essential elements in restoring our proper perceptions (Malachi 3:13-18).

 

Thought for the Day:

Joseph testified to his brothers that the evil they had done to him had been turned into good by the hand of our Father in Heaven; the humble person is consoled in heaven, but the proud one, who rejects the Lord, suffers eternal pain in hell.

Genesis 45:7

 

Who is Your Daddy?

silhouette photo of person holding string lights turned on

 

Prior to salvation, we served our father Satan (1 John 3:10). We lived in bondage to his yoke, his destruction, and his plans for our demise (Ephesians 2:2). Through the cross of Christ, we received redemption from the lies, wiles and devastation of the devil (Colossians 2:15).

 

We no longer submit to his determination to destroy us through debauchery, worldly philosophies, empty promises and vain ambitions. We are also free from the driven nature of our fleshly desires and the allurement of the world’s trappings (Romans 6:16).

 

At salvation, we gain a heavenly mindset as we allow God’s Word to renew our mind, and His Spirit to exchange our carnal nature with Jesus’ divine nature in us (Romans 12:2; 2 Peter 1:4). Christ is our life now, and we view everything from His perspective (Colossians 3:3-4; Philippians 1:21).

 

We are crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and freed from chasing phantom dreams, worldly fads, satanic visions and earthly pursuits. Instead, we embrace the freedom of the crucified life in Christ.

 

This inborn meekness gives us the benefit of inheriting the new heaven and earth as co-heirs with Jesus (Matthew 5:5; Revelation 21:1-3; Romans 8:17). Our life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 2:3).

 

God protects us, and grasps us in the palm of His hand (John 10:27-28). He abundantly provides for us and supplies every need we will ever experience on this earth (Psalm 23; Luke 6:38). This realization affords us with abounding grace, love, peace and joy.

 

Prayer:

Father God, this world does not understand our faith in You, our lack of materialism, our disciplined life, our heavenly mindedness, etc.; and they often ridicule and reject us because we are so different in every way from their choices and experiences (1 Peter 4:4). Remind us that this puts us in good company, however, because Jesus was treated with this same contempt and rejection.

 

Thank You for exalting Jesus to Your right hand, and revealing Him to us as our savior, redeemer, friend, brother, and co-heir of Your Kingdom (Romans 8:19). You give us a glorious future through Christ in us (Colossians 3:4). Remind us that our true citizenship is in heaven, and that we will abide with Him in His glory forevermore (Philippians 3:20-21).

 

Thought for the Day:

In the new heaven and new earth, the children of God will enjoy a glorified body, like Jesus had after His resurrection, and in which He appeared to many people during the 40 days he remained on the earth prior to His ascension into Heaven.

– 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 1 John 3:2-3

 

Communicating with God

low angle photo of grass taken at daytime

 

Did you ever make a “telephone” with paper cups connected by a string? As long as my playmate and I kept the string taut, the voices carried clearly from the speaker to the listener.

 

If we got too eager and moved closer to one another, the dialogue ended, because the line was no longer taut. The further my playmate leaned toward me to hear, the longer our communication was interrupted, because the line grew looser still. Even if I yelled louder, she still heard nothing.

 

This happens sometimes when we try to communicate with our Heavenly Father. We tell Him our issues and hear no response. Then we try talking louder, even yelling and questioning if He is even listening to us. Until we rest and quit straining forward, we hear nothing!

 

Communication is not re-established until we relax and sit back. Sometimes, static – caused by the cares of the world, sin in our life, and idols that we pursue – slurs our conversation and interrupts our communication with the Lover of our soul.

 

The Lord is there all the time, trying to speak to us, but we do not hear Him, due to our stressing, straining and striving to communicate with Him; or due to the sludge of life, which stops up the flow of our interaction with our Daddy God.

 

When we lay down our attachment to the world, the Holy Spirit washes away the residue from the sludge that we allowed to build up between us. Our communication is restored without any exertion at all when we rest in His love and grace.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for always listening to us. Even when our stress level interrupts our communication, You never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You are always there inside of us…loving us, coaching us, cleansing us and leading us through life.

 

In times of silence between us, You are still there, and we can enjoy Your presence even when we say nothing. Help us to reject the lies from Satan who feeds on the fears and insecurities of our soul. We love You with our whole heart and we have faith in Your faithfulness.

 

Thought for the Day:

When we quit trying so hard, our anxiety and stress diminish; and when we cease our self-efforts and trust the Lord to speak in His timing, the communication line between us tightens once again and we can hear clearly now.

 

Led by the Spirit

assorted-type cacti

 

Loving others does not mean that we give people what they want when they want it; it is following the Spirit’s leading in everything we do and say (1 Corinthians 10:31-33). Reaching a balance in the area of ministry is both basic and simple, when we submit to God’s Spirit.

 

If God does not give us His perfect peace to comply with someone’s request or a need that we see in their life, then we do not get involved, except to pray for them. God teaches us to develop healthy boundaries based on the Holy Spirit’s direction.

 

This is crucial for creating a safe place – a home base – for the authentic person whom God created us to be, as we follow His will through each moment of our day. We are the result of all of the nature and nurture that God provided for us in our lifetime.

 

He intended that we have our exact environment, trauma, blessings, family, and genes in order for us to become the person He needs us to be. This way He can use us to help others with our unique skills and talents.

 

Many of the ministry needs that we try to respond to may appear Biblical on the surface. The issue is legitimate and the person is in real need. However, this does not mean that we indiscriminately help everyone who has a need. God will direct us by His Spirit.

 

If the Holy Spirit does not direct us to get involved, and we do so anyway, this can have an oppressive effect on us and those we help, because it becomes a “works” brand of Christianity. Then, God orchestrates new circumstances to accomplish His purpose.

 

Eventually, ministry can feel like slavery and bondage, and may even cause us to grow more and more resentful and angry in our soul. We can learn balance from Jesus. He walked among the multitude of sick people beside the pool of Bethesda. They all needed His help, but God’s Spirit directed Him to heal only one of them (John 5:1-19).

 

Prayer:

Father God, teach us that if we do not follow the leading of Your Holy Spirit, we run the risk of getting worn out and of distancing our self from You, which will cause us to lose our spiritual anchor. Obeying Your Spirit keeps out unwanted intruders of doubt, insecurity, fear and obligation, and provides a safe place where we can grow and develop as Your saint and servant.

 

Your plan for our development involves a building up of our self in a grace-filled, restorative experience of Christ in us, which is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We need to allow others to learn to trust You too. Show us how we can live less like Martha – who frantically rushed around serving others, and more like Mary who allowed herself to sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42).

 

Thought for the Day:

Allowing God to build up our feelings of self-worth and to help us to develop secure boundaries is a spiritual priority as He teaches us to say “No,” which is more important to our spiritual growth than saying “Yes” to yet another “spiritual” activity; we do not always need to have a clearly articulated or spiritual-sounding reason for saying, “No.” If God is not leading you to say, “Yes,” then by all means, please say, “No.”

 

Carried by the Angels

snow capped mountains near body of water at daytime

 

We all have a boundary around our lives (Psalm 139:16). God formed us in our mother’s womb, sustained us through every event in our life, and walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).

 

On this day, we will pass through the veil of death into the presence of God. When we take our last breath of this earthly air, we take our next breath in the celestial atmosphere of heaven.

 

Losing a loved one is the most debilitating and devastating experience anyone can ever go through. This grief extends beyond words and engulfs our body, soul and spirit. Often we find no solace in our grief.

 

No word of comfort, no gesture of concern and no card or flower can lighten our burden of anguish. Grief is a natural process, which has no exact time frame and is experienced in unique ways by different individuals.

 

Feeling the pain of grieving is difficult, but it is an important step toward healing. When viewed as loss, there is no solace in death. However, when viewed as our Homecoming, we find comfort and even joy.

 

Death is actually the doorway to our ultimate healing with no more sorrow or sickness. Rather than focusing on our loss, we can focus on the time we had together, and the person their love helped us to become.

 

We find comfort in God’s love and in His strength to continue on in our journey. He has a special plan for our life that does not include our loved one. He will reveal it to us one step at a time. He nurtures and comforts our heart and soul as we look to Him one moment at a time.

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for the time we shared with our loved one. Remind us that we never need to stop loving the one that is no longer with us. The death of a child through a miscarriage or illness is the hardest trial for us to bear, but Your love comforts us in any loss. You will teach us to cherish our memories of our loved one for the rest of our life, and they will enhance our future relationships because of the love we shared.

 

When some of our memories cause a stab of emotional or physical pain now and then, remind us that these fleeting moments are a normal part of the grieving and healing process, even when they happen on and off for years or never go away. Help us to realize that it is important to allow our self to have these feelings rather than to deny them, cover them up with busyness, or bury them deep in our soul. Teach us to feel the sadness fully and then to let it go.

 

Thought for the Day:

Loving again can feel like disloyalty at first, especially when we think about enjoying a life that does not include our loved one; however, this is far from true, because our loved one would want us to live a full and happy life even though they cannot be here to share it with us.

 

 

Ideas to make the transition of loss less painful:

  1. Make a keepsake box full of treasured photos or mementos of our relationship with our deceased loved one.
  2. Visit a special place we enjoyed together, and allow the joy of those good memories to wash over our soul.
  3. Set a special plate for them on holidays and birthdays and chat with family and friends about good memories.
  4. Write our loved one a letter, or visit their grave and tell them how we are feeling.
  5. Allow our self to cry, because tears wash away the grief. It is important to realize that we can cherish a memory without getting trapped there.
  6. Cherish the memories without allowing our loss to control us; and find joy in our new experiences, as we take comfort in the knowledge that we will keep our cherished memories with us wherever we go, and whatever we do, and with whomever we do them.
  7. Gain comfort and courage from God’s Word with verses such as:
  • Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. NKJV
  • Psalm 48:14 For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. NKJV
  • Proverbs 14:32 Even in death the righteous have a refuge. NIV
  • Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. TLB
  • Psalm 16:9-11 Heart, body, and soul are filled with joy. For you will not leave me among the dead; you will not allow your beloved one to rot in the grave. You will let me experience the joys of life and the exquisite pleasures of your own eternal presence. TLB
  • 2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. KJV
  • Luke 20:36 And they never die again; in these respects they are like angels, and are sons of God, for they are raised up in new life from the dead. TLB
  • Luke 16:22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. KJV