In Due Season

There is a common plight among preachers today, as well as with those who profess Christ, but did not sincerely repent. They fall away from the calling, which God has on their life (Ephesians 2:10). Even authentic Christians grow weary in the ministry, especially in these last days of apostasy, with hearts that turn cold towards the Gospel.

We can draw courage, however, from the fact that if we do not faint, we will reap God’s reward (Galatians 6:9). Sharing the gospel of Christ with an unbeliever, and watching the light dawn in their face, is the most fulfilling experience this side of heaven. God’s truth transforms them as we witness a real change in their life.

This happens so infrequently, however, that over time we tend to get discouraged and frustrated. We take our eyes off Jesus and look instead at the lack of our results as we minister for the Lord. Noah preached for 120 years and only his wife, sons and daughters-in-law believed his message. The entire known world at that time scoffed at his faith and message. Yet, he did not give up.

God gives the Harvest of souls in His perfect timing. There is no need for us to struggle or strain, because the battle is the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). He is the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38). We plow, we sow and we trust that the seeds, which we broadcast, will eventually bear fruit. Through faithful service, we will reap in due season, if we do not give up.

Prayer:
Father God, when we arrive in Heaven, a host of Believers will welcome us, some of whom we never met before that day. They are there with us because of something You used us to say or do, which changed their life or the life of someone they know. I look forward to standing in Your presence and seeing the full impact of my service to You. Therefore, use me now to share a smile, a hug, an understanding word, a listening ear and the word of my testimony in Your precious name.

Thought for the Day:
We may win one person to Christ, who will eventually win a multitude, just because we took a moment to share a testimony of what God did in our life.

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Grief Relief

The rancid taste of grief sours our personality at the same time that it bitters our soul. We drown in depression and we see no reason to continue with life. We grieve over the loss of our loved ones, as well as cherished pets and possessions. Grief plays havoc with our emotions by knocking them off center.

We want to hide between the sheets and drift off into oblivion or take unprecedented risks. Our loss causes our favorite hobbies to lose their appeal. We question our sanity and our bewildering physical ailments, which come out of nowhere without any viable reason. Some even attempt to contact their dead loved one through satanic séances and spiritualists.

Experts advise against making major decisions while the fog of grief clouds our judgment. We stand the risk of rebounding and marrying the wrong person, or selling the home of our dreams for fear of not being able to care for it on our own. If we forget God in our recovery, we will perish as those without God (Job 8:13).

Take a year or more to recuperate before making decisions and only after obtaining Godly advice. God is there for you…always. It takes time to recover, but God meets all of our needs, clears up our confusion and heals all of our pain (Jeremiah 29:11). Praising His name and seeking Him each moment of the day will bring us more fulfillment than we ever experienced before in our life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we are certain to the depths of our being that You are the Living Lord. Every negative aspect in our life right now will turn out for our good, as we trust in You. Even if we are truly alone in this world, we can place our hope in You and pray night and day, asking for Your help moment by moment (1 Timothy 5:5). The prayer that never fails is, “Lord, Your will be done.” It is hard to give up control of our life, but we will experience so much more freedom once we totally surrender and live in Your joy as our peace and strength. Once we come to that place of total surrender to Your will, no matter what it is, then we set You free to bless us.

Thought for the Day:
When grief resurfaces with some trigger that reminds us of our loss, we can remember that even in the darkest nights of our life, our faith increases and our personal relationship with God deepens.

Faith and Courage

The Bible is full of the exploits of sinners just like us. God is not ashamed of those who exhibit their faith in Him, in spite of the moment of their weakness (Hebrews 11:16). Many of them had a calling from God and fulfilled that mission with faith in God’s faithfulness. As people of faith, we can include our self in that great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1).

These people of courage stood strong and were on their guard (1 Corinthians 16:13). They resisted the devil by keeping a firm footing in their confidence in God. They walked by faith and not by sight, needing no physical proof for their beliefs (2 Corinthians 5:7). We can stand strong too, knowing that fellow Believers around the world are experiencing similar or even worse trials (1 Peter 5:9).

We learn how to live a life of faith from these ancient, Biblical Saints. If we do not have faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). He wants us to come to Him believing that He exists and that He rewards everyone who earnestly seeks Him. Faith believes God’s Word, and is sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see in the natural realm (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith believes that God formed the universe by His command, creating the galaxies simply by His spoken word (Genesis 1:3). We look forward by faith to the Kingdom of God, because we are only aliens and strangers on this earth (1 Peter 2:11-12). Until we go to glory, we fight the good fight with courage, finish the race and trust in the goodness of God (2 Timothy 4:7).

Prayer:
Father God, we thank You for Your forgiveness, provided by Your sacrifice of Your own son (Romans 8:23). We have no words to express our amazement or our gratitude to You for this free gift (Ephesians 2:8). Our faith in You will extinguish all of Satan’s flaming arrows, which he aims at us (Ephesians 6:16). By faith we eagerly look forward to Your Spirit birthing Your perfection in us (Galatians 5:5).

Thought of the Day:
The righteous will live by faith. – Galatians 3:11

God’s Unfailing Love

God hears our prayers and answers them (Psalm 40:1; Micah 7:7). When our soul faints from trials and stress, we can put our hope in the Word of the Lord (Psalm 119:81). Our soul finds its rest in the Lord of our salvation, because our hope comes from Him (Psalm 62:1,5). When we trust in His Word, others who also fear the Lord will rejoice because they see our testimony of His provision (Psalm 119:74).

At times, we may feel disheartened or discouraged without any reason. God is putting a burden on our heart and we have no idea who to pray for or what is going on (Romans 8:26). However, God’s Holy Spirit knows and wants us to pray for God to work in these lives, for Him to send His ministering angels to protect them and for Him to provide for them in every area of their need. Prayer changes lives.

Even if we are the ones living through a time of illness, unemployment or estrangement from a child, spouse or parent. These negative circumstances give us an occasion to spend time alone with God. This is often one of the most precious periods of our life. As we linger in God’s presence, our soul is filled with strength, peace, love and courage.

Protect against limiting God’s glory by doubts and insecurities. Trust in His faithfulness to see us through every trial life throws in our path. He promises to work out even the most horrendous circumstances for our good (Romans 8:28). God’s love is unfailing and His deliverance is abundant (Psalm 27:14, 130:5,7; Isaiah 8:17). He is our help and our protection (Psalm 33:20).

Prayer:
Father God, remind us to spend time in worship and adoration all throughout the day. We thank You for all of the special “hugs” You give us in both the simple and complex ways You order our life. As we bask in Your presence, cover us with Your love and glory and fill us to the brink with Your Holy Spirit, so that we can accomplish Your will for our day.

Thought for the Day:
As we immerse our self in fellowship with God, His Holy Spirit fills our soul with inexpressible joy and transforms us into the divine nature of Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7-9; 2 Peter 1:3-4

The Spiritual Fruit I Would Choose

Did you ever notice that the fruit of the Spirit are all characteristics of a servant? If I were picking fruit, I would have chosen traits like perseverance, wisdom, courage and strength. These would come in handy in life more often than not. However, these are all qualities, which help us to serve our self. God, in His wisdom, chose humble attributes for us.

The fruit of the Spirit are: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Self-Control and Faith (Galatians 5:22-23). You can see how they would produce a very fine servant.

These traits mean:
Love – affection for others
Joy – exuberance about life
Peace – serenity
Patience – willingness to stick with it
Gentleness – compassion from the heart
Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being
Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing
Meekness – humility and service
Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

The Bible describes characteristics of the flesh, which are the opposite of God’s fruit: envy, strife, hatred, self-centeredness, criticism, worry, depression, pride, bitterness, complainers, quitters, backbiters, lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful, those who invent ways of doing evil, and people who put work and fun ahead of God (2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30).

We can focus on replacing hatred with love, discontentment with peace, irritation with patience, criticism with gentleness, backbiting with goodness, worry with faith, pride with meekness, and depression with true joy, as we are controlled and guided by the Spirit of God.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your fruit and for faithfully healing us of the wounds in our life, which cause us to exhibit negative, fleshly characteristics in our life. We always feel so repentant when we do. It is good for us to humble our self and to apologize to those we offend. Thank You also for Your gifts, which You give us for the common good of Your Body. A message of wisdom or knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, prophecy and preaching, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts to each one as He sees fit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

Thought for the Day:
God always provides us with wisdom when we ask for it. – James 1:5

The Benefits of Believing

Anger previously ruled our life, and rose up from the disappointments we experience from our conception, and which intensified throughout the years. Some have a more violent past than others, but we all suffered from deprivation, violence, permissiveness and/or wickedness in one form or another. Salvation through Jesus Christ eliminates much of our anger. Christ frees and heals the pain of our past and gives us courage to face the future.

The second asset we receive with salvation is the blanket of peace, which defies human explanation and envelops every fiber of our being (Philippians 4:7). We suddenly realize that we are not alone (Hebrews 13:5). We have no need to struggle through life any longer. Rather than seeing life as full of hopelessness, we see that all things are now possible, because Christ lives in us (Luke 18:27). In our exhaustion, we yoke up with Jesus and find fulfilling rest (Matthew 11:28:390; Hebrews 4:10).

Jealousy and envy no longer rot our bones (Proverbs 14:40), because we realize that God does not love another person better than He loves me. He loves us all enough to go to Calvary’s cross and bear the penalty of our shameful sins. Problems only arise when we compare our life to someone else’s and focus on what we do not have, rather than to live in gratitude for what we do have. God works all things, even bad things, out for the ultimate good (Romans 8:28; John 3:16, 3:34).

We are filled with God’s Spirit (Romans 8:9). We are able to accomplish the works God created for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), because we can do anything now that Christ abides within us (Philippians 4:13, 19). When we feel defeated, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 91:15). God works in and through us as we walk in His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). We are still powerless alone, but Christ in us is infinitely able. We are now more than conquerors and nothing separates us from His love (2 Corinthians 9:8; Romans 8:37-39).

Prayer:
Father God, You are our Everything (Psalms 23 & 91). There is not a hair on our head that grows in or falls out, which You do not see (Matthew 10:30). You give us wisdom to face the challenges of life (1 Corinthians 1:30), and You walk within us every step of the way (Hebrews 13:5). Each day, we acknowledge You and You direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). When life worries or frustrates us, we can cast every care on Your shoulders, because You care for us infinitely more than we even care about our self (1 Peter 5:7).

Thought for the Day:
When I feel like I can no longer face the challenges of life, I realize that the King of Kings forgives me and provides me with love, power and a calm mind, which allows me to obey His will. – 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1-2, 2 Timothy 1:7

Don’t Tread on Me

In our world full of people who have no respect for personal boundaries, we often live in a state of simmering panic. Sudden changes and fluctuations in our financial, marital and employment status, and in the conditions around us, compound our natural fears of the unknown. Trepidation and insecurities plague us and we struggle to know when to submit to these changes or when to assert effort to resist or to prevent them.

Living as victims in life is self-defeating. When we succomb to hopelessness and anxiety, this is a sign that we are not seeking our comfort from God. The Serenity Prayer taught me to find God’s courage to face challenges; and then to submit to or resist them, as He gives me the wisdom. I learned that the Lord actually achieves every area of life concerning us (Psalm 138:8). We trust in God’s faithfulness and grow in faith with each lesson we learn.

As we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 10:4), we can live a life of hope and fulfillment regardless of what happens in the natural world around us. We abandon human reasoning and rely totally on the Spirit of God for our direction and encouragement. When we shed all desires birthed by the finite, carnal nature, which is actually dead in Christ, we can then pursue the realm of the infinate and eternal instead, and walk by the direction of God’s Spirit.

As Believers, we recognize that the uncertainties of life have no power over us at all. We display the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), which is the divine nature of Jesus expressed through our soul – our thoughts, choices and emotions, which in turn influences the health of our body. Just like Jesus, we return love for hatred and blessing for cursing (Luke 6:28). As we realize that our old nature is dead in Christ (Colossians 3:3; Galatians 2:20), then God’s Spirit can exhibit His nature through us all of the time.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for sheltering us under the shadow of Your wings as we traverse this life, which often frightens us. Help us to realize that our carnal nature is truly dead in Christ (Romans 8:2), and that Your Spirit in us will shine through us. You protect us from any of life’s surprises, because You ordain them in our life. Therefore, when we do experience some trial or tribulation, give us the wisdom to know what to embrace and what to resist, as well as the courage to experience anything You choose for our ultimate good.

Thought for the Day:
If we have the Holy Spirit in us through rebirth in Christ, we have all of God’s fruit abiding in our nature all of the time.