Viewing Adversity from God’s Perspective!

God uses adversity to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. But when we’re facing a trial in our lives, the last thing we want is someone telling us to rejoice! But, James is not telling us to be joyous because of the trial. James assumes that his readers are committed to spiritual growth. When they understand that trials lead to more spiritual growth, he knows they’ll rejoice because of the end result—growth! The testing of our faith produces endurance. Endurance is a maturing factor. The term “perfect” carries with it the idea of maturity. When people are forced to endure hardship, they mature in some fashion. 

“Dear brother and sisters, consider it all joy, when troubles come your way. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 

James warns us there is a way to interrupt this maturing process. He instructs his readers to “let endurance have its perfect result.” The implication is that by reacting to adversity incorrectly, we short-circuit the maturing process. I know of several people who are mad at God because of some adversity that has come their way. The tragedy in each case is that they have put themselves on the sidelines spiritually. You may be thinking, That’s ridiculous. How could anyone be so enthusiastic about growing spiritually as to rejoice when confronted with adversity? If that’s your attitude, this passage is for you:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).

James realized it would sound strange to tell people to rejoice in the midst of trials. So, he followed it up by saying, “Hey, if you find that hard to accept, ask the Lord to make it clear to you.” That’s what He means by asking for wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to see things from God’s perspectiveMany of us have trouble accepting this connection between adversity and growth. It is hard for us to accept that God is so intent on bringing us to maturity that He’s willing to let us suffer. But, in His economy, adversity is a small price to pay for the benefits of spiritual growth.

As we study the passages such as this one we will find the real issue becomes clear to us. Are we going to take God at His word and begin viewing adversity from His perspective? Are you persevering? Are you enduring? Or, are you resisting? Are you mad at God for what He’s doing? My friends, God wants to use adversity to mature you to the point where your character becomes a mirror image of Christ’s.

Seeking God’s Approval!

I’ve lived long enough to have discovered a very important fact of life–you can’t please people. One of the things I love most about serving God and living for Him is that I no longer have to live in fear of people’s disapproval. All I have to do is concentrate on pleasing God, Who never changes, and I’ll succeed in life. It’s a freedom that I appreciate and can’t live without. I hope this message will minster to you and encourage to a God please. 

“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?” Isaiah 51:1213

When studying the Bible we discover what God says about trying to be a people pleaser. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety.” Trying to win the approval of people can lead to disappointment, frustration, and emptiness. But seeking God’s approval brings peace, contentment, and fulfillment. Those who strive to please others are often unstable. You can’t count on them, and neither can God. They are often easily intimidated, and they can be talked into or out of something, even though their own hearts condemn them for it.

The apostle Paul was a great example of a God pleaser, and the Lord used Him mightily. In Galatians 1:10, Paul exclaims: “Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I’m trying to please God. If I were trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” If we want to be true servants of Christ, we’re going to have to actively seek God daily, ask for His guidance, and then yield to the promptings of His Spirit. Sometimes what people want us to do and what God wants us to do will be the same, but many times they will conflict. It’s up to us to choose who we will obey. If you are in the habit of trying to please people, remember this–it can’t be done. My prayer for you today is that in everything, you’ll set your heart on pleasing God, and discover for yourself the peace and freedom that only He can give!

*****

Have a wonderful day as you remain in His loving presence. Love you all. 

Why me God?

Why me? Why this? Do you ever wonder why? Do you feel guilty for even daring to ask? I think we all have had times when the loss was so great in our lives that we cried, not upon our pillow in a quiet voice in the silence of our darkened bedroom. No we screamed it with all the angst and heartache and brokenness our voice could muster in the public streets for all the world to see. At times, our why was resolved with the still small voice of God and a touch of warmth from the Comforter pouring Himself out upon us. Other times, our felt alone, abandoned. The psalmist did the same. Prophets have cried out. Kings. Our Lord cried out on the cross. 

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent. BUT You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:1-3

It’s odd that we, who think our God does not hear us in the darkness of our nights and the bright light of our grief and pain, continue to cry out. If it were so futile, if God was so deaf, if God was so far away, why would we bother? Because deep in the recesses of our tribulation, emptiness and agony, we know that God is God and God is steadfast and sure. We may question our circumstances, our losses, our trials–but we know that ultimately our answers are in God. And we cry out in search of them. We may not feel our God hears, but all scripture denounces that lie of Satan. We may not think God is present, but Jesus, our King, says differently. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the world.”

With every “why” I’ve ever voiced, my God’s assurance has answered. With every darkness I’ve ever encountered, God pierces with Light and gives me faith to dispel the doubts of my human frailty. So when you wonder why, remember we may never know all the answers. But we have the ultimate Answer–Jesus is Lord of all and has overcome the world.

Clinging to God!

In every situation we face as followers of Christ, we have to decide if we are going to follow the leading of God’s Spirit who dwells in us, or go off on our own. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and it’s His heartfelt desire that we cling to Him and follow Him closely at all times. But He won’t force us to. He will gently nudge us in a certain direction, and then expect us to comply. The second part of this verse says, “Your right hand upholds me.” As we cling to the Lord and follow His lead, He will reward our obedience by sustaining, supporting, and protecting us, so that we can rise above the things that would defeat us or hold us down. 

 

“My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You.” (Psalm 63:8 AMP)

The idea that God would long to be that intimate with us even before Christ covered our sins is amazing. David felt God’s nearness and presence the most in the desert. Sometimes intimacy with God requires desert experiences. It is only when God is all we have that we really come to see and experience Him for who He is. One doesn’t cling to God if one is distracted by the world. Clinging to God is felt only by those who detach from this world and open their eyes to the gifts of heaven.

Clinging alludes to the notion of a satisfaction that one desires to keep and never let go. It conjures up the idea of feeling that your best self is brought forth in the presence of the other. You tend to cling to the one you think does your life most good. David didn’t blame God for his present condition in the desert. He didn’t ask Him, “Why?” David’s inability to get comfort from the world opened his eyes to a spiritual comfort that could not be taken away. He discovered a love that is better than life (verse 3).

Do you find yourself clinging to God? Have you ever felt so loved and connected to Him that you begged Him not to leave you?Difficult circumstances lead us to cling to God. Maintaining the longing to cling to Him when difficulties lift is the real spiritual challenge. Let me encourage you to set your soul to cling to God. Observe all the ways that His right hand upholds you. Open your heart, mind and soul to see His goodness to you moment by moment. Experience the spiritual reality of clinging to God.

Let the Holy Spirit guide your Life!

I confess and mediate on this passage often, because it reminds me of powerful biblical truths that can lead to true freedom in Christ. It tells me what walking in the Spirit is, and also what it is not. Let’s take a closer look at this verse, so that we can gain some life-changing insights from it.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)

If you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior you’re a born-again believer and the Holy Spirit is living inside you to guide and direct you, but the raging battle still exist within every believer: our own sinful nature versus the desires of the Holy Spirit. Who will win? In Galatians 5 Paul warns us that without a fight, we will do what comes naturally – following our own heart’s sinful inclinations and ultimately submitting to the folly of our own desires and influence. By doing so, we will not only experience the natural outcomes of our choice that lead towards destructive behavior.

 

The great news is that as followers of Jesus, we do not have to live life that way! We can live a life guided by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit directs and influences our decisions, our character will reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.(Galatians 5:22-23). So, how do we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives and influence our decisions? Paul says that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature and its passions and desires, and he urges us that “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (verse 24).

Submit to the Holy Sprit’s influence: Let Him be your Master, set your pace, and be your life manager. Let Him refine, correct, and discipline you. Live your life for Him – under His influence, supervision and power.

Lord, help us to continually walk in the Spirit by being “responsive to and controlled and guided by” Him in every situation and circumstance.  Strengthen us so that we will never yield to the cravings or desires of the flesh. Thank You for the victory and freedom that will be ours as we follow Your lead in all things! In Jesus precious name we pray. Amen and Amen.

Dealing with Adversity!

Either we are in adversity, just getting over it or about to go into it, or perhaps, all three at once. Living in this world is not easy and trouble comes with it. The issue is not whether we will experience it, but how we will respond to it. There are a number of reasons why you or I will experience adversity during our lifetimes. Some segments of the church today have been wrongly taught that adversity is a sign that God has removed His blessing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scriptures clearly teach us that trials are a part of a walk with God. 


If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength.” – Proverbs 24:10

No man or woman who has achieved much in the kingdom has been spared some form of trial or adversity. God gives specific reasons for some of our trials. Other times the purpose is to identify with the cross of Christ. We must view adversity as God does–as a means to conform us to the image of His Son. Making us more Christ like is the ultimate goal of all of our experiences with God.

Adversity is God’s workbench where He conforms us to His image.  No matter what God does in our lives as believers, we know that nothing happens without His foreknowledge and His planning. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that God is not aware of our circumstances. Suffering and adversity are parts of our heritage as sons and daughters of God. They come with the territory as parts of God’s refining process for every believer. Consider every major character in the Bible, and you will see that their lives had adversity. God never said we would not suffer as Christians.

Throughout Scripture God encourages us not to put too much emphasis on the here-and-now life, but to emphasize our future life in heaven. Whatever trials we will encounter here will not compare to the glory He will reveal when we get to heaven. Earth is a mere watering hole on the way to eternity. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).


Trust God and do not Worry!

Trusting God today trumps tomorrow’s worries. When your faith is weak, do you forget this and worry. Do you worry about future finances, worry about future health issues, work opportunities and family challenges to come. Where you become anxious when you obsess over future scenarios. Fortunately, our heavenly Father has a stellar track record of trustworthiness. When we are weak—God is strong. When we are faithless—God is faithful. When we are anxious—God is calm. You need to learn to lean into the Lord today and deal with tomorrow when it comes. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

Paul was a servant of Christ who could have worried himself sick. The fear of losing his life could have caused him to hide away and keep quiet about his faith. Worries over his health could have restricted his travel and missionary journeys. Anxiety about being locked up in prison could have been an excuse to not be bold for God. But Paul gave his life, and he gained Christ’s life. He traveled the known world spreading the gospel, as the Holy Spirit strengthened him in his severe physical suffering. In prison he chose not to worry—this was needed solitude to pen scripture. Paul learned to trust God with today’s troubles. He faced tomorrow’s worries as they became today’s.

 

Make thankful prayers your remedy for worry. Keen focus on Jesus causes anxiety to fade away. When you get quiet before God—He quiets your soul. Celebrate Christ’s faithful track record of trust. The peace of God gives you peace of mind. His peace keeps your heart from surrendering to anxiety. Trust in Christ conquers well armed worry.

Trusting the Lord through Prayer!

If you’re a born-again believer, we have the advantage. We have God on our team. And with God on our team, we cannot fail. Seriously. If God is for us, who can stand against us? We just need to talk to Him and trust him, rather than trying to play the game of life on our own. We will learn to trust as we practice trusting the Lord through prayer. 

 “I reflect at night on who you are, O, Lord; therefore, I obey your instructions. This is how I spend my life: obeying your commandments. Lord you are mine! I promise to obey your words.” Psalm 119:55-57

How would you rate your prayer life on a scale from 1-10? Where would you like your prayer life to rank on that same scale? Are you willing to do anything about it? If so, what? If not, why? Our relationship with God will grow as we continually turn to Him in prayer. Similarly, our trust in God grows as our relationship with Him grows. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you,” (John 15:15). Jesus counts us as His “friends”. How many of us would talk to our close friends as infrequently as we talk to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer?     

Of course, it’s not like we can ignore the world around us and pray 24/7. Right? We are still going to go to work, have playtime, time with friends and family, but in the midst of it all, Scripture instructs us to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Our practice of this continual praying life will increase our progress in faith and in trusting God. This can translate into prayers of thankfulness and petition. We can redeem these times to thank God for and pray for our children, our careers, our futures, our marriages, our trials and our challenges. When we “do life” with God – when we exercise this spiritual discipline of continuous prayer – our faith grows. It helps us to trust Him more.

Jesus was the only perfect man and He turned to our Father continually. Jesus also modeled how we should pray (Luke 11:1-13), and taught about prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). If Jesus, the God of the Universe, saw prayer as such an important part of the Christian life, why do we sometimes overlook the importance of it? We need to make time to turn to Him and trust Him with our daily concerns, big and small.

“I am strong when weak”

The passage below is a portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has helped me during any difficulties throughout my walk with the Lord. This isn’t something to read once and simply retain for life as it needs to be reminded of this lesson time and again, and I find much rest once I am redirected back to this passage. I hope it ministers to you the same way. 

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Although the whole chapter is a passage I often read, it is the last sentence in verse eight that gets my attention every time. It reminds me that “I am strong when weak”. We often find ourselves asking God for help in our trials and weaknesses, wanting Him to miracle us out of the difficulty we are in. When we do not experience the deliverance in the way or time we want, it is very easy to get frustrated and lose sight of the bigger picture. Even Paul experienced this – in verse eight, he asked the Lord for special deliverance three times, yet it did not come.

Paul finally realized that God’s grace was made strong in his weakness. Don’t miss this… It is within our times of trouble that we must be willing to let go of being in charge, and let God take over. In times of plenty and in times that are bare, we are merely stewards of what God has given us. We need to allow the ownership privilege to remain with Him, and allow God to carry the bulk of our burdens.

When we understand we are merely managers and stewards, we achieve the proper mindset of deferring to the Owner of all things as our ultimate guide on what we should do and how we should manage what is on loan to us. When we do this, our mind and attitude can find a most unusual, but special kind of “delight” as God’s power and grace is able to be displayed in our times of weakness and pain.

I want you to remember that regardless of what you may be going through right now, God can do amazing things not only in your life, but also through your life as you release your need of control and hand the reins over to Him. Whenever we suffer insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties in life, the grace of God will be given to us, so that He can be glorified as He provides us the strength to carry on.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy coming in the morning!

This life we live in is filled with many problems, where we seem to  suffer overwhelming, emotional, pain where every second seemed like an hour, and every hour like a day, and every day like a never ending eternity. My Friends-It may not be this morning, or tomorrow morning, but the joy of the Lord will return to your  heart and your circumstances will turn around for your good if you continue to seek the Lord. Don’t give up and don’t turn back. You’ve come too far to drop out of the race now, continue to run for the prize. Too much of you has been invested in Him, and He has invested His Son in you. His hand is outstretched still. In His favor is life, and that more abundantly. 

“……..weeping may endure for a night, but joy coming in the morning– Psalm 30:5 


But there are times my friends, when it hurts so deeply that trusting God is the only way to find life again. How often have you found yourselves in that very predicament. You see we’d like to think that once we come to Christ, once we ask Jesus into our hearts and choose to live for Him, that life will somehow be mountaintop experiences from that day forward. Friends, I’m going to be completely honest with you and speak from my own personal experience when I tell you it is not a mountaintop experience all the way, but when He takes you to the mountaintop there’s nothing else like it in the world. But choosing between living life with God or living life without God, I’d rather have God by my side every step of the way. For once the weeping has ended and His joy comes in the morning, there is no experience that compares to that. 


The more life hurts, the more I’ve learned to lean on Him and trust Him. In the face of failure I submit all the more and allow Him to get the glory, allow Him to use for good what the enemy meant for evil. 


So no matter what you are facing today, take it to the Lord, cast all your cares of it onto Him, and know that because of His mercy on you His kindness will not leave you and His peace shall not be removed. They’re yours if you can only believe. Life will throw curves on a good day, it will get really ugly and painful on a bad day, and the bottom may drop out, but underneath are the Everlasting Arms. Trust them today and find healing for your soul. Scripture says in Psalms 29:11- The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace. I pray He blesses each of you this day.