Lord, let Your mighty spiritual awakening and great revival begin in me. O God, refresh and restore my life, myself, my soul, the essence of who You created me to be: the me You planned while knitting me in my mother’s womb. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me on righteous paths to Your everlasting way.
Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence, I pray, nor take Your Holy Spirit from me; but draw near to me as I draw near to You. Fill me to overflowing with the Power of Your Presence in me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation in Christ. Renew a steadfast Spirit in me: more steadfast than ever before, in ever growing strength of stance. Then use me as You will: teaching transgressors Your ways and converting sinners to Yourself, bringing them to their own life giving, eternal relationship with You.
Make Yourself known in, to, and through me for Your glory and crown; Your Kingdom come, on earth as in Heaven. This I pray, in Jesus, Amen.
“…since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (11:11b)
Amen! Yes. By faith. By faith to trust You, O God, we please You. That faith that pleases You is settled on the Promise Keeper. Not the promise.
Father, we tend to view Your promises from a fleshly standpoint, aligning our hope with our own understanding and desire. We too readily fail to see with Your eyes and realize that You do far above all we can possibly think or ask.
When things don’t go the way we think it should, we believe You failed us and fall into despair. This is sure sign our faith is setting on the promise as we see it, not on trust in You who have the full answer, know the full truth, and always do what is best, accomplishing Your best good for all. Father, forgive me this, and grant me faith that is fully and truly based in You: Your who, Your do, Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
Father, Your peace that passes understanding has walked me through many storms on the raging seas of life. I am so grateful to You for that peace, and I crave it in these troubled days in which we live.
The wind and waves of storms tend to catch our attention, distracting us from focus on being attentive to You – listening for You. Forgive us when distraction wins, leading us to fight the wind and waves from fleshly panic and prideful arrogance. Empower our hearts to turn to You with full focus. Grant us spiritual ear buds that cancel out the noise that leads to fleshly responses on storm tossed seas. Focus us on You, Your presence, Your wee small voice sounding, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
With focus on You, grant us to enter into and remain in Your rest. Empower us to hear and heed Your instruction and walk in Your Spirit to victory over the destructive forces around us. We need You, Father. Make us attuned to paths of righteousness where peace resides and rest rules; where we are made visible lights, drawing others to You. In Jesus, amen.
In my Galatians 4 reading today, this stands out to me:
“Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother.” – 4:25-26 AMPC
Living a Kingdom life now – realizing oneself as citizen and representative of the eternal Kingdom and behaving accordingly – is the walk of freedom that is found in Christ.
Adding to this thought as I pray over it, the fact that the eternal Kingdom “is our mother” fills me with joy. As we follow Mother in knowing how to live for and serve our Father and our King in the power and filling of His Spirit, we find true freedom. We can look at The Kingdom and know how to live on the earth.
The Kingdom is always full of light, for God is the Light, therefor, we are light in Him. Darkness is a facade. Trust God to light up life and make the path clear. He will.
As Jesus is always present in the Kingdom, so He is always with us. He, somehow, is with each of us individually, and all of us simultaneously, without having to divide Himself or His time among us. We are one with Him. Live that.
And as the Spirit fills all things and flows freely throughout life there, so He is in us who seek Him. Trust His flowing Presence, and release yourself to His rhythm.
As this Trinity is eternal and fills all things, so they fill us and make us one with the Eternal. Having our focus set here in God’s Kingdom, empowers our Kingdom life on earth. Walking out life here in this blessed estate, we walk free!
We are freed from fear, knowing death has no right over us, as we are already walking in Life: eternal, abundant, and full, settled in desire to truly trust God to accomplish His plan and purpose in and through us. Jesus had no fear of death, because He trusted God to fulfill His plan.
We are freed from the cares of this world, knowing the Father cares for us from Kingdom stores. He cares for us watchfully and affectionately, never leaving nor forsaking us.
We are freed from the opinion of fleshly beings knowing we walk as Kingdom citizens, pleasing the Lord.
Whatever comes to this life on earth, we know is temporary and it cannot truly harm us who are eternal with Christ. Jesus took our separation from God on Himself at the cross, so we will never have to be separated from Him again. He is with us through whatever comes. He will help us.
This world may kill our flesh, as it did Jesus, but the essence of all we are is already eternal – and safe with Him who gives us Life. We are one together with Him. Live FREE.
As I begin looking at this morning’s “Refresh” scripture, I am led to read it in context with the entire chapter. In Psalm 139 Father highlights this passage, causing me to pause and ponder.
“Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.” – Psalms 139:21-22 NASB1995
This thought process reveals our human tendency to attach evil to the people who practice it. But is it true that God hates those who hate Him? I don’t believe so, and here is why.
One: God so loves the world that He willingly and freely gave His one true Son as propitiation for their sin. The world / worldly is defined by a mindset that is against God and God’s truth. In other words, the world / worldly moves in opposition to God, His will and His way, which is the defining character of that which hates God. But God doesn’t hate the people of the world. He loves the world and made the ultimate sacrifice to prove it.
Two: attaching sin to the sinner is to keep an account of wrongs suffered. God’s word tells us that love does not do that. God is love. He does not act in opposition to His own word and dictates. He is the perfect example of all He calls us to. Proof?
Jesus says of Himself that seeing Him, we have seen the Father. He is the personification of the Father for us. On the cross, He did not take the sin against Him into account, but instead prayed for God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do.” In this act on the cross, Jesus was exemplifying the Father’s example in Isaiah 43:25.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”
In the midst of Israel’s sin, God forgave them out of loving desire to fulfill His purpose of maintaining relationship with them. He says He did so for His own sake. He detaches us from our sin for His own sake so He can continue to love us and reach out a saving hand to us for His own sake, that His purpose and plan may be fulfilled, on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to do the same.
God hates sin, and sin cannot stand in His holy presence. When God turns His back, He is turning His back on sin, refusing it. Sin separates us from a right and good relationship with God, but it does not separate us from His love. He still loves us though our sin hinders our realization of that love. Sin is what God hates, not the sinner; He sent His Son to die for the sinner.
When we grab hold of God’s loving hand through Christ, the death of sin found in separation from God is immediately broken off of us. And as we begin to walk in Love relationship with God, He delivers us from that which leads us to sin. He engenders a hate for sin in us that causes us to turn from sin and walk with Him. But He also places His love in us, thus we hate sin while still loving the sinner; and we are able to forgive the sin in order to have a relationship with the sinner, making us useful to God in being the hand of Christ to a lost and dead world.
There is no sin God has not forgiven except the sin of refusing the work of God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So we who are God’s children through Christ are called to love as He loves. We hate sin, but we love the sinner. We do not walk with the sinner into sin, but we are ready to help them find the love of God for themselves. Holding hate toward the sinner because of their hate toward God revealed by their surrender to sin’s grip only hinders us being the picture of Christ to them, following His example as the image of God to the world.
I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”
Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.
Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.
Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.
Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)
As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.
Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.
The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.
Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.
I was praying about this day and the need to get things done. As I did, I told the Lord how weird I feel. I see a plate before me piled so high with things I need to do and get off my plate, but I can’t find focus there to get anything done. My focus is on a second plate that is empty and peaceful. Both plates beacon my attention and seem important.
As I pray, a flash of understanding hits my mind and excites my heart as The Father sets one thing on the empty plate in my mind. He tells my heart, “You don’t have to worry about the plate piled high. Just trust Me to serve you one thing at a time in due season. Together WE will empty both plates.”
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:28-29
Thank You, Father, that I get to represent You and Our Kingdom in this life. Thank You for calling and equipping me. Fill me, Father, with the power of Your presence and with a grateful heart that serves You well. And thank You for highlighting this: that my service to You be aflame with true reverence and awe in You as I serve in the honor given me: that You choose me for the work You place in my path. Those frustrating people You give me to love in Your name from a grateful heart of reverence and awe in You as You flow through me to help them. Let true reverence and awe for You empower my patient love in those moments. That hard task You grace me to do with joy in the Lord and a life song that glorifies You. Thank You, Father. Let Your fire burn in me as grateful awe and reverent love.
There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).
Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995
In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.
In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.
Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).
When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.
We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.
God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.
The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).
But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.
Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.
I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.
Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?
God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)
Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.
Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?
It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.
So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.
Love is not an emotion. Emotion can accompany love, but deep, abiding love is a choice flowing from who we are that reveals itself through actions.
Rick Warren writes, “Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.
“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.
“The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT, second edition).
“We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.” (From YouVersion’s Forty Days of Love: Day 26)
This is essentially what God and I have been talking about today. Love takes action and shows it’s sincerity. And love is not hypocritical, expecting from others what I fail to do myself.
The example that has been the topic of conversation with my Father today is this. As a new widow, facing a medical test requiring help my sweet husband usually gave, I am having to figure out how to do this without him.
In this situation, I am finding that it is hard for me to call people and seek assistance when they never call or come by to check on me. Though they say, “Call me if you need anything,” the lack of any show of caring without a cry for help calls into question their sincerity. Couple that with knowing how busy people are and how overwhelming life is these days, and I feel like a nuisance in even considering bothering people with my problem.
That is the start of a vicious cycle. Feeling like a nuisance keeps me from calling or going by to check on others, not wanting to be a bother to busy, over stressed people. Which potentially leaves them thinking I don’t really care for them and am too busy to be bothered. Here we go on the round-e-round. 🔄
“So,” I question, “what should I do, Lord?”
Call. Go by. Love actively. Don’t worry about what the other person does or doesn’t do toward me. Be what Father God tells me to be. This love journey fits into the scriptural principle of giving. As we give into the lives of others, it is returned to us.
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB1995)
“And the Philistines pursued Saul and his sons, and slew Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons. The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers severely wounded him. Saul said to his armor-bearer, Draw your sword and thrust me through, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and abuse and mock me. But his armor-bearer would not, for he was terrified. So Saul took a sword and fell upon it.” 1 Samuel 31:2-4 AMPC
Fear of being overtaken by his enemies, only to be mocked and humiliated by them, led King Saul to a soul-death that led him to commit suicide. Many in battle commit suicide rather than face their fear. Fear is a powerful enemy against the health and wellbeing of one’s soul.
Satan loves to exploit our fears. Fear makes us vulnerable. Add to that grief and feelings such as guilt, anger, blame, inadequacy, shame, loneliness, etc., and it’s a poisonous mixture to drink. Experiencing the loss of a loved one by suicide too often mixes up a brimming cup of such poison for those left in the wake of it.
Fear of one’s own inability to trust God, struggling with thoughts and feelings of anger towards Him, are enemy arrows to one’s soul. Fear that God will leave us because of our anger toward Him, failing to trust that God understands our struggle and keeps His word to be with us in trouble furthers the assault. The assault of fear can come without warning, leaving one feeling hopeless and helpless. It often attacks family members and friends who feel they should have been able to do something to prevent a beloved’s suicide.
Some believe that suicide is “the unforgivable sin”. The struggle of a loved one that led to their suicide can cause us to question whether they had a saving relationship with God. Lack of assurance that a loved one who died by suicide will be with us for eternity can cause a fear and frustration that wreaks havoc on the soul (mind/thought life, will, and emotions). The hope I would breathe into this equation is…
One: the only “unforgivable sin” I see in scripture is blasphemy (denial and belittling) of the work of the Spirit found in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ (Matthew 12:25-32). And…
Two: salvation only takes an instant and can come in the last breath (Luke 23:39-43). As long as God is, there is hope.
The counter to fear is faith – faith to BELIEVE and TRUST God. In Hebrews, we are instructed that faith to believe and trust God brings us into His peaceful rest. In the place of God’s rest we find truths that are effective weapons to thoughts that fail to consider God’s power, presence, and provision.
Fear cannot stand where faith to trust God’s unfailing love resides. When we know God is love and His love never stops or leaves us, fear leaves. Even when we can’t “feel” Him because of our pain and grief, trust in His love assures our hearts that He never leaves nor lets go of us. Trust in His love that desires none to perish, but all to come to repentance, clings to hope for the personal work of grace leading our beloved to His mercy even in their last breath. Trust in a loving God refuses to give up on Him.
As one considers suicide – whether contemplating committing it, or being forced to cope with the aftermath of it, fear is an enemy arrow to the heart of one who must realize they are on a spiritual battlefield. Unless we realize there is an enemy of God who constantly watches for opportunity to destroy the work of God in and through us, we will fail to deal with fear as a weapon against us. Like Saul, we will give up on life and fail to trust that God can and will make a way where there seems no way. Giving up on life denies God’s faithfulness and His power.
Fear is overcome by keeping focus on God with faith’s hope, trusting His unfailing love to walk us through to victory.
I read this verse at the end of a devotional on the importance of committed church membership, and it hit me how important it is for people to have opportunity to make that commitment known by giving themselves “first to the Lord and then to us”. I know of churches who have cut out the necessity of a person coming forward to openly join the membership and work of a local church. The church I’m at now is one.
They have their reasons for that, but I also know people who come as spectators and hide in the background, never really becoming part of the fellowship because the practice makes it easier to hide. I even met one such person who said they preferred a large church because it was easier to hide in the crowd, unnoticed. That person disappeared shortly after and I’ve never seen them again.
As I think about that, I realize that one of the main reasons people I have talked with on the subject give for failing to greet someone they don’t know when they believe they may be a visitor is because of fear of welcoming someone who’s been there for years, unnoticed. So those who are visitors leave the experience feeling unnoticed and believing the church’s members are snobbish and unfriendly.
There’s great benefit to publicly joining a fellowship. It gives the members a chance to realize and acknowledge the new family member. Many members then reach out to invite that new one to get involved in the class or group or ministry they are in. Doors get opened to the new ones, making them feel a part of the whole and encouraging their involvement in the ministry called “church”. It lets the new member know they are welcome and feel there is a place for them in the body. And it gives opportunity for love bonds to form as we cuddle one another into the fold. It also destroys the lie of the enemy that there is better fellowship and acceptance at the local bar than in the house of worship.
I’m just getting back into face to face involvement with my local fellowship after several years absence while caring for my husband, doing church at home with him. The devotional read and these thoughts gleaned help me firm up my need to not only commit myself to the church ministry I am part of, but to make that commitment known. In that, I will seek guidance as to where and how I may serve alongside them.
What about you? Have you committed yourself first to the Lord and then to a local expression of His body called the Church? Won’t you join me in devoted fellowship as part of the family of God?
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
God wants our all to grow strong and be in good health. As I read this verse, to my understanding it is giving priority to the requirement of our soul’s health and growth. As our soul prospers, so will our body and life.
The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The mind here indicates our thought life. The will points to our desires and passions that dictate our choices and decisions. And our emotional health indicates the dictates of our feelings in any given moment.
Our emotions are good and intended to help our lives, but not as the leading role for life. Our emotions can prosper and help us only when they are dictated by right thinking and good choices flowing from the dictates of the Spirit controlling our desires and passions.
The soul is covered in scripture as one part because, to function properly, the three aspects that make our soul must function as one. As Father, Son, and Holy Presence work as one, so must our mind, will, and emotions. When mind, will, or emotion go off in their own direction, separate from the whole, that is when struggle, dysfunction, and instability takes hold of our lives.
Give some focus to soul care today and may your entire being prosper as your soul grows stronger allegiance to God and His ways.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.
A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.
On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.
The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.
I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.
This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.
“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:1-9
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.
Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.
Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.
Father, thank You that You are taking me deeper in true understanding of trust in You. Trust in You does not just look for what I want and believe should be. Trust in You realizes when things look and are going all wrong, You are still doing something awesome in the situations and circumstances of our lives and the lives of those we love. We may not understand why You allow what You allow or go about things the way You do, but we can know there is good purpose in it. Help me rest things securely in Your capable hands, pressing forward in the things You call me to without fretting while waiting on You to do what only You can do. Show me when I fall away from true trust, and grow me stronger in the wait as an ally to Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
God is calling me (and I believe He is calling all He calls “My people”) to greater trust.
I am in a spiritual battle right now that God is impressing on me as being training ground for increased trust in Him. I stand in awe of His accomplishment in this experience. You are going through something right now that is God’s call to greater trust in Him. God is getting “My people” ready. Cooperate with Him and choose to trust Him.
Believing God feeds trust. Unbelief kept Israel from entering God’s rest because it reveals a failure to trust. Our trust in God increases and releases our faith, which, in turn, strengthens our ability to believe Him. I am discerning that the strengthening of our trust is vital to our ability to stand in these days that are coming at us. I discern that an evil like this generation has never seen or imagined is coming around a blind corner, something we can’t fathom. End of days? Maybe. But for sure an evil beyond our ability to survive without trust in God for it.
We know we’re living in evil days and we know worse is coming, but this thing coming is beyond comprehension to even think. Trust in God is all that will get us through. Blind trust, that doesn’t have to see to have faith that believes God’s love and faithfulness, is the call of this hour. We cannot stand firm without it. We will fall. Proverbs 3:5-6 is vital to live out now.
Father, thank You for leading us to know that recognition of our great need of You in right and true relationship is our first act of worship. Thank You for reminding us of these things. I praise You that when we seek You wholeheartedly, You keep Your word to make Yourself evident to us and cause us to know You. Father, we — I desperately need You and Your wisdom in these days. We greatly need a fresh wind of Your great vision for us in this time in history. We need You in our every breath. Please breathe on us with the freshness of Your Spirit flow. We need You in our every footfall. Please show Yourself strong as You faithfully direct our steps to paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Make us fervent as Your house of prayer in these days. May we be found faithful at Your return. In Jesus, amen.
Lord we need You. You are our first, most vital need and necessity whether or not we recognize our deep destitution apart from You. Please sweep across this nation bringing about a mighty spiritual awakening and great revival. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to understand You and Your ways with believing faith. Make us to know our true need and our deepest shortfalls. Cause our hearts to turn to You through earnest repentance, truly seeking Your face. Remove our heart of stone and grant us a heart that is circumcised to You and pliable in Your hands. Forgive our great sin against You and, by Your faithfulness to Your word, heal this land. Restore our strength, renew our minds, and banish everything in us that is not of You. Then glorify Yourself, granting us godly leaders and making us a light of Your goodness, grace, and might in the earth. Until Jesus comes, we seek You with earnest expectation and hope in Your mercy made new every morning and Your unfailing love and compassion toward us who believe. In Jesus name we pray, Amen!
I’m going through a series of devotional studies on days of darkness in life, encouraging trust in God, the knowledge that He uses such seasons to prepare us for the purpose He has for us to live out in the light. God does not take us through the deep, sunless valley without working His good will through it. I believe this season of grief in the passing of my husband from this life to the next is such a valley.
These days are filled with the grief of missing him. Giving away his clothes was hard, but it was easier than seeing them set, unused in his absence. We don’t believe in letting such needful things remain in closets and drawers, rotting, when others can get good use out of them, so giving them in his memory was a blessing in this darkness. It shined a light that helps me see the goodness of God in these days.
Reminders of Johnny are everywhere, making me smile and hurting my heart at the same time. I reach in the cabinet for a glass to find the set bought specifically for him, ones more narrow and sculpted in a way his arthritic hands could more easily grasp, and tears fill my eyes. The kids moved his chair across the room for me, because I kept looking over expecting to see him there. The heartache, eased when I see it, by this simple act of loving kindness from my kids, them being God’s light of love to me in these days.
The heartache of closing out the imprint of Johnny’s labors as he worked hard to leave me in good shape to carry on, is constant within me. Though I smile, I can only hope the Son-shine is visible, for there is no sunshine in this heartache.
Some days I feel overwhelmed and alone. But in the midst of the worst of such days, God lovingly reminds me, “Yes. Though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I fear or dread no evil for You are with me. Your rod -to protect – and Your staff – to guide, they comfort me.” And He is clearly guiding me as I deal with these financial issues. (Ps. 23:4, AMPC)
God shines His light on my next place of footfall as He uses lawyers and accountants to help me navigate the financial and property transfers. He reaches out through loving, praying friends who help bring some sunshine to my dark days. One went with me yesterday, helping me go to the clinic and tend to business there, something I was finding too hard to do on my own. Another friend called, helping gear my heart to areas of church family gatherings where I can plug in. She also asked if we can get together next week for a meal. She is an acquaintance I don’t know well, but I look forward to knowing her better. It helps when others reach out a leading, loving hand and say, “come”. It gives light in the midst of the darkness.
God is helping me: protectively leading and guiding me. I’m seeing His light peeking through the heavy cover of this deep, sunless valley, shining, ever beaconing me through the darkness, assuring me that the other side is drawing closer.
There will always be days when missing my sweet man will bring the shadow. But life abundant and full continues as I trust God to do His good work in and through me. Even in this darkness, God is faithful, who will also do it. (Ps. 37:5)
Father, thank You. You led me through a study on patience, the fruit born by Your Spirit in us and lived out through us in Christlikeness. That led to a deep study of love, for “love is patient.” Which led me to this devotional study aid. Love lets Your love transform lives: my own and those around me. Love is patient, trusting Your transforming power and the transformation process.
Love, a bookend flavor of Spirit fruit – it with self-control, holding all other fruit together; love for You first, then for all others as one should love self; love, out of which all other fruit flavors flow. Love patiently waits for Your transforming power to accomplish it’s purpose in those around us and in oneself.
Love is patient. And because it is patient, it chooses to forgive, not holding a grudge or tallying insults, but trusting and praying for Your transformation to be fully accomplished in self and in those we patiently love. Father, I pray to love as You love, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance and be transformed.
Let Love – God is love – abound in me, producing patience that practices kindness; not being jealous or arrogant. Let Your love empower me to act becomingly; not seeking my own desire, nor being easily provoked, nor taking into account a tally of wrongs suffered, but rejoicing in righteousness and truth. Fill me with that love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, knowing that true, godly love never fails. This I pray in Jesus holy name, amen.
Father, am I bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? Am I bearing the fruit of righteousness? The good fruit of Your Spirit, that honors, glorifies, and reflects You? Am I bearing fruit with perseverance? Am I setting a righteous example in my own life and living?
When people read my prayers or my ponderings shared to encourage and strengthen, are they inspired to pray for themselves and to walk in Your ways? Are they strengthened in You, in commitment to You, in true repentance that makes fertile soil in hearts seeded by You, made ready to grow strong in You and bear Your fruit in their own lives?
When I speak, do I clearly speak the truth in love? Do my actions reflect Your truth and love actively working in me? I’ve entrusted my tongue to You as a pen in the hand of The Ready Writer, that You may glorify and magnify Yourself through me. Am I in the way of that?
I have entrusted my life to You. Am I surrendering all for Your will to be done: as in heaven, so in me? If there is too much of me and not enough of You, Lord, circumcise the flesh of my heart; deaden the old; enliven the new. Let it be in me as it was in the words and practice of Paul: I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. It is my constant cry.
I can do nothing apart from You, Lord. My heart desire is to fulfill the call of Christ to accomplish Your purpose and plan in these days You give me to choose You and live life-abundant in Your name.
You are teaching me greater depths of working out of Your resurrection power that is living and active in me. Empower me, through believing faith, to trust You more. Make Yourself known to and through me, that You may be glorified and magnified, and these with me edified and strengthened for these days in which we live.
May we who are your people live You out into this world, that all may know that You are God, and we are Your people: the sheep of Your pasture, led, fed, and shielded by You. Kingdom people, representing Kingdom purpose, in the power and provision of Your Spirit in us. In Jesus and to Your glory, confirm for us the works of our hands by the good fruit produced, the evidence of Your Spirit power, amen.
“Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Father, true joy is in You. As long as I find my joy in You, rejoicing comes easy and is not sullied by circumstances or happenstance.
You are true joy as the one who strengthens and completes me. You created me for relationship with You, to be One as You and Your Son are One. I can do nothing apart from You, but with You, who are strength and power in me, all things are possible for me. I am full and overflowing with all the Good You are, able to love and be loved because You make me whole.
As I seek You wholeheartedly, desiring this unity, You comfort me, granting me the mind of Christ, equipping me to see myself, others, and the challenges of this life as You see me and my life in You. By Your grace and the right and true thinking You supply, You grant unity with Yourself and with others having Your mindset; thus I have peace and favor with You and with humankind.
Thank You, my God of love and peace, for being with me and for me. Thank You for giving us Your Word, laying out before us these truths, clearly defining the way of life, that we may live it fully and abundantly with faith and trust in You, in whom we are one, made whole and complete.
I have a message for you: Your sins are already forgiven.
Jesus paid for all sin, past, present, and future; and God accepted His payment on our behalf.
God is not shocked or surprised by your sin. He knows it all and has seen it all before, yet He still sent His Son, loving us all enough to let His Son choose to pay the price we owe for the evils He did not do. And Jesus did so willingly out of love, delivering all who receive His gift of saving grace, delivering us from sin’s death – separation from God, desiring to give us life with God for all eternity.
There’s only one sin God will not forgive and Jesus doesn’t cover: the sin of refusing to believe and trust the truth of the work of God’s Spirit in birthing Christ to a virgin; living through Him, performing miracles and teaching truth; letting Him die on a cruel cross on our behalf so He (the Spirit Power of God) could raise Him to life again; taking Him up in ascension to sit on God’s throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. If we refuse to believe these truths of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to Lordship of Jesus Christ, only possible because of God’s work through the power of His Spirit, we cannot possess eternal life with God the Father. When we possess eternal life in Christ, He gives us the Spirit Power of God, making us a new creation, bearing the fruit of the nature and image of God in us. Eternity begins when we let God in.
Your sins are forgiven. Receive your gift by believing in Christ, receiving Him as Lord, and you will be saved to eternal Life.
Father, thank You for teaching me that it is union with You that completes me. Being love as You are love requires we truly surrender to this oneness with Father and Son provided us in the power of the Holy Presence, living and acting in us. Jesus prayed for this unity (John 17:20-23). We are perfected by this unity, for it is no longer I who live, but Christ – I am made complete in Christ.
In this vital, perfecting union, true love for all, in all seasons, and at all times is made possible for us. I thank You, Father, for revealing these things and pray to grow strong and quick in my surrendered union with You. In agreement with my Christ, amen.
Past hurts, traumas, insults, bitterness, etc., harden us. We can let God deliver us and turn experience into a victory that ministers healing to others, or we can set in our hardened condition and use our past as excuse for being bitter, angry, hardened, untrusting, etc.. Our past can enslave us or we can walk free.
It may not be easy: bringing the ugly to the surface where it can be properly dealt with can hurt for a bit. It can take time as God works here a little, there a little to free us up. But the pain caused by the work of healing is better than sitting in our hardened state, becoming harder, and bringing others with us into a state of hard heartedness as we hurt them.
Father, thank You for teaching us that love is from You, through You, and for You; for You are love and You manifest Yourself through us. We cannot truly and fully love apart from You.
Thank You that You direct our paths. Thank You for the highlights in Your word today that point me to dig deep into the subject of loving as You love. Not counting searching through the scriptures for all I can find on the subject of love, You led me to 196 days worth of written daily studies to aid me in that journey. One hundred and ninty six plus days. That tells me that this focus on growth in this area is important to You. I will begin in 3-4 days time.
As I think about that, it dawns on me how this is a continuation of my study on patience, for love is necessary to one’s ability to practice patience in difficult circumstances.
One thing that grabbed my attention today is Psalm 41:1a, which says, “How blessed is He who considers the helpless…”. That grabbed me as I realized that none of us can truly do anything apart from You. We are all helpless apart from You. Yet I expect to love well and be loved well, forgetting that You are love, and You alone are good. Only You can make our love good, fulfilling its intent and purpose.
So why am I shocked by my own struggle when I try to do something in my own strength and fall short in my love walk, thus sinning against You. And why am I devastated when another person’s love actions toward me, done without thought of You, fall so very short. And if I am surrendered and filled with You – Your love, why would I give myself to feelings of insult toward any other helpless person. Shouldn’t I better understand their limitations? As Your word advises, “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8).
Father, forgive me when I forget my need of You and fall short in my love toward others. I am helpless without You. Fill me with Your power filled love so that You may love through me. Empower me to love in Your name. This I pray in Jesus name, amen.
Father, my heart’s cry and great desire is to live as if heaven matters, building up treasure there, being driven by eternity. Thank You that, through Christ, my flesh is crucified and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Empower me now to love You-Him in kind, knowing that, as one belonging to You, my flesh is crucified with its ungodly passions and desires. Fill me with Your Spirit so the fruit of Your nature is born forth in me. As I live by Your Spirit, may I be found faithful to walk by Your Spirit, giving You all glory and accomplishing Your purpose and plan for my life and living. By Your gace, make it so. In Jesus, amen.