Remain Steadfast

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.

‭‭James‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In this section of James 1, James is talking about the testing of our faith. He goes on in verse 13 to remind us that God does not tempt us with evil. When we are tempted to sin it’s generally because of our fleshly desires. When we are able to overcome temptation we develop spiritual maturity, not through willpower, but through dependence on God.

While this verse is addressing the reward of being steadfast in temptation, I think it’s equally applicable to remaining steadfast in the storms of life. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10) Then, he tries to twist the narrative and blame God for his destruction.

God loves His children. He isn’t up in Heaven thinking of ways to make our lives miserable, to see if we will remain faithful. Life’s miseries are the result of living in a fallen world. God will test our obedience, but He will never tempt us to sin. Any parent who loves their child sets healthy boundaries for them (rules of obedience). And every parent will tell you, children will test those boundaries. They don’t enjoy having to discipline their children, but they must, if they want to raise healthy, well adjusted adults who function well in society.

Prayer: Lord, when I am faced with temptation, give me the strength to overcome, so that I can become steadfast in my faith. When I do sin, help me to be quick to repent.  Father, I know the boundaries You have given me are for my good. I know You are trying to protect me, not deprive me. 

Lord, when Iife throws hardship or pain my way, remind me that You are with me. I never have to suffer alone. Protect my heart from anger and bitterness. Help me to respond in ways that are life giving, knowing that this is just a season, it will pass. 

Nothing I have endured can compare to what Jesus willingly did for me, so I will strive to endure with patience. Thank You Lord for giving us the perfect example for how to navigate this life. 

It’s our time to SHINE

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John 13:35 ESV

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As I read this scripture this morning God brought me to a new place. I love how personal He is. God has called us to a place of love and unity. That unity, or lack thereof, has a major influence on how unbelievers see Christians.  There are many evils that seek to separate us and drive us apart because the enemy knows a divided house cannot stand.

Crisis tends to bring people together. 9/11 was a perfect example. With COVID-19 however, we are being told to physically isolate ourselves, at a time when being with our tribe is even more comforting.

My challenge to you today is this: How can God use you during this time of isolation? I’ve seen some very creative ways people are reaching out to others without putting themselves or others in danger. Driveby birthday parties, singing outside nursing home windows and apartment balconies are just a few examples.  One of our small groups from church wrote thank you cards to doctors and had one of the doctors who attends our church deliver them to his co-workers.

There are endless opportunities for us to SHINE right now. Will you take advantage of this time? Call or text someone each day, to encourage them and let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers. Start a Facebook group among friends to gather socially online. Connect with family over Zoom. Send cards, write letters. Drop off a meal to a senior or single, etc.

I’d love to hear your ideas of ways we can SHINE during this time. Please share in the comments so your ideas can spur and inspire others.

Blessings!

~ Deb ~

 

The Secret To Contentment

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV)
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I take comfort in knowing I can do anything the Lord empowers me to do. I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer and of faith. 

Philippians 4:13 popped up as the ‘Verse of the Day’ recently on YouVersion. Because I am an advocate on reading scripture in context I have started reading the chapters as well as the verses. As I read Philippians 4 it occured to me, Paul wrote this verse in the context of contentment. He wasn’t quoting a formula for victory, he was declaring that he was able to endure both hardship and victory because he knew the secret to contentment was knowing God would sustain him in every circumstance.

I must admit, there are times I question God when I see things that don’t make sense. Certain things rob my contentment, if I allow them to. When I see children suffer or people die prematurely; when prayers don’t get answered the way I would like, it’s hard to be content.

And yet, I know that God is good! I may not understand the why, but I believe God’s promise that, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) Ultimately it comes down to this, do I trust Him? 

The secret to contentment is knowing that God will sustain you through the trials and the triumphs of life. It is knowing he will give you the strength you need, when you need it. He will not leave us to face our battles alone. He is always with us.  Contentment is birthed in trust. It is resting in the knowledge that God is for you, not against you. 

PRAY: Lord, help me to follow Paul’s example in learning to be content in spite of my circumstances. Forgive me for the times I have complained and allowed circumstances to rob my faith allowing doubts of Your goodness to prevail. Help me Lord to be content in all things, knowing you will sustain me and give me strength. 

Help is on the Way

img_0992“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.” Psalms 145:18-19 NKJV

When I read the book of Job I am always encouraged by Job’s faithfulness at a time when his own wife advised him to give up, curse God and die. Personally, I know I have a long way to go before reaching that level of faith.

When faced with adversity people often ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” I cannot answer that question, but I know He is STILL a good God.

Hold tight, help is on the way! Cry out to God. It’s okay to be honest with Him about your fear and doubt. He WILL rescue you. It may not look like you expect or be in your timing, but He will not fail you.