“Testing Produces Endurance”

even-smaller-bug-light1

because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. – James 1:3 ISV
 
We love reading those verses that make us feel good, like Romans 8:28, Phil 4:13, John 10:10 and John 3:16.  Those are great verses that encourage us by letting us know that God is good and everything is going to be okay. But those verses can seem pretty hollow when we feel like God has deserted us and we are all alone in this evil world.  It is hard for us to understand how God, who is love, can allow bad things to happen to His children. When these times come, we need to remember that all we can see is “now”, but God sees and knows all about the future. He allows testing so that we can know where we are on our journey.  He already knows but we need to know so that we do not become puffed up and prideful.  Jesus warned us that in this world we would be offended and tested, so, it should come as no surprise when we are. Our Lord and Savior was tested and tempted in every way possible. He understands our pain better than we do.  We should never deny that we are in pain or that we are sick and hurting.  We need to admit our weaknesses and ask God to bring us through this time of testing. We need to persevere so that we can become mature and complete, fulfilled in Christ Jesus. We don’t want to hear “count it all joy” while we are in the process, but after the test is concluded, we can look back on the experience and see that Jesus carried us through the whole process.  The joy comes from knowing who we serve and that He loves us so much that He will allow nothing in our lives that He doesn’t give us strength to overcome. We are to “count it all joy”, not because of the situation, but in spite of the situation. We can’t be overcomers and conquerors if we never face situations that require us to overcome or conquer.  

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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delightin weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:9, 10 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 07-25-2018

Strengthened to Suffer

even-smaller-bug-light1

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

We are so blessed to live in a country where we can still worship as we are led by the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to be concerned about being persecuted for our beliefs.  We try to avoid those situations where witnessing for Jesus might embarrass us much less those where we might be physically abused.  But, we are living in an age right now where Christians are being beaten and imprisoned for their loyalty and obedience to Jesus.  We need to prepare ourselves for those times even here in our own country.  Our Savior and Lord, the prophets, the apostles and all of those that have gone before us suffered very much. We are not better than our Creator, so we should expect to suffer as well. There are over one-hundred scriptures in the Bible that speak about rejoicing in the sufferings.  We are to “count it all joy”.

 

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. — James 1:2-4 NKJV

Will it be easy to suffer for Jesus?  No, but God does send His angels to strengthen us, just as He did for His Son.

 

42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.– Luke 22:42, 43 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 05-20-2018

Perseverance Brings Rewards

even-smaller-bug-light1

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! ​-Hebrews 10:35​
As Christians living in the “free” countries, we need to be very thankful that we do not have such memories of persecution as the writer of Hebrews has listed here.  At the same time, we need to be cognizant of the fact that our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in other nations are enduring these kind of persecutions right now.  We need to suffer along with them as they are beaten, driven from their homes and imprisoned under false charges. Some of them stay in prisons for years awaiting a trial date and suffering things that we can’t even imagine.  We need to be faithful in supporting them in our prayers and other ways that are available to us.  These brothers and sisters have beautiful testimonies of how God strengthened and sustained them through these times. The ones that were not executed speak of the joy they received because they were counted worthy to suffer with and for Christ. They have and are persevering and their reward will be great.  We also need to be cognizant that such times are approaching for us in our own “free” countries. When we go through these times, are we prepared to “count it all joy”?  Will we persevere and be awarded crowns in heaven to cast at our Savior’s feet? Or will we stand before our Lord empty-handed and receive few or no crowns to cast at our Savior’s feet?

 

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 NI​V​

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 05-14-2018

“Stay Alert”

even-smaller-bug-light1

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. — 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

Paul is telling us to be spiritually alert, sober minded and armed for battle. The demonic forces are well-trained in deception and guerrilla tactics. They are very good at creating illusions that deceive “even the elect”.

 

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. — Matt. 24:24, 25 NIV

So, what does it mean to be spiritually alert?   It means that we have to be prayed up, full of the Holy Spirit and well disciplined in our study of the Holy Scriptures. Jesus defended Himself against the devil by quoting scriptures to Him.  If Jesus needed the scriptures to ward off satan then we surely need them even more. We need to be aware of where we are weak. The demons know our weaknesses and they attack us in those areas. Don’t walk too near the edge of the cliff. If certain things cause you to be excessive or respond wrongly. stay a long way away from those things. Your pride will tell you that you can handle the situation but your Spirit knows better. Let the Spirit man rise up and mortify the flesh.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. — Romans 8:12-14 NIV

The battlefield is the mind, if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts, then we can win the battles.

4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:4, 5 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-23-2018

Watch for the Exit Sign

even-smaller-bug-light1

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.—Romans 12:14 NIV

Praying for and blessing those who persecute us is hard.  The flesh wants to scream, strike back and get revenge. Paul tells us this is a constant battle and we know from our own experiences that that is true. Why? Because the flesh wants what it wants and it doesn’t give up easily.
 
18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.–Romans 7:18,19 NIV
 
We were born in sin into a sinful world. We are constantly tempted by the things we see, hear and read. That old father of liars, satan, knows where the chinks in our armor are and he pokes at us through those holes continuously. We are taught the “it’s all about me” philosophy on a daily basis. “You’re okay, I’m okay”  is a lie from the pits of hell. No one is okay without Jesus and no one can do Godly things without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. As long as we live in this old decaying tent of flesh, we will be tempted and we will have to fight a daily battle against those temptations. But, God has not left us alone to do this, He has made provisions for us. There is always a way out.
 

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.–1 Cor. 10:12,13 NIV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 03-21-2018

“The Great Escape”

even-smaller-bug-light1

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.—1 Cor. 10:12-15 NASB

God exalts those He chooses to exalt for times and purposes that He chooses. Just because we prayed for someone’s healing and they were healed, we should not get the idea that we can decide who to pray for and when they will get healed. We need to understand that we can do nothing for the Kingdom unless we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. God often times can’t use a person for a particular job because it would cause that person to become prideful. God only allows those things in our lives that He knows He has strengthened us to handle. There is nothing happening in our lives that has not happened to others before us. Yes, there is a larger quantity of ways to present the temptations. but as King Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun”.(Ecclesiastes 1:9). When the tempter comes with his temptations, we need to look for the open door and run, just as Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. This is wisdom, we need to get wisdom and with it, get understanding.7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.–Prov. 4:7 NKJV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 02-26-2018

God Will Examine and Decide

even-smaller-bug-light1

My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. – 1 Cor.4:4 NLT

Paul is instructing the Corinthians in what their attitude toward Paul should be. But it is also instructions to us in how we should regard those in Spiritual authority over us. They have been placed over us at God’s direction and they have been entrusted with messages that we need to hear and obey. Those over us are required to be faithful in delivering the truth to us. Paul is so concerned about being faithful and obedient to His calling in Christ Jesus that it makes it appear as if he has no regard for other’s opinions of him. He can do this with a clear conscience since he is being judged by the Lord. Not judging someone does not mean that we throw away all reason and discernment. We are still responsible for deciding to whom and to what message we listen and adhere to. We must be very humble in assessing the value of another person since we know that we will be measured by the same standards we use.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 02-05-2018