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Archive for the tag “God’s character”

Family Secrets

Have you ever had a family secret you wanted to share? There is a verse in scripture that begins with “and we know.” It’s like that family secret – we know it, but others outside the family don’t know it. We know that we know somehow some way everything will come out all right because we know the family secret. All things will work together for good. But it is conditional. It’s not for everybody. The scripture (Romans 8:28) says for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. That’s us – the family of God.

Sounds a bit like and “us and them” kind of distinction, right? There is a dividing line between us and them. Right now that’s the way it is. However, it isn’t meant to stay that way. God isn’t exclusive. He is a “whosoever” kind of God. Anyone who is breathing has an opportunity to know Him and love Him. It’s the ones who are no longer breathing that have a problem that can’t be resolved if they didn’t know Him before they died. That dividing line is forever etched and can never be erased.

I know it seems rather harsh that God would allow that dividing line for eternity. God did not design eternity apart from Him. He wanted all His creation to be perfect, but sin interrupted the plan. God had a counter move that He put in place to resolve the sin issue. God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not die apart from Him (John 3:16 my paraphrase). God’s character is centered on love. But He also has a character based on justice and righteousness. These characteristics cannot be separated. It is who He is. Scripture tells the story and gives us insight to God’s character through the story.

Jesus told everyone that He is the representative of God – if you have seen me, then you have seen the Father (John 14:9-10) – I and the Father are one (John 10:30). The Jews wanted to stone Jesus because of His words, not His actions. They saw the miracles, but they didn’t believe His words even though He backed His words with miracles.

You want to know another family secret? We are to become like Jesus. We are Jesus’ representatives while He is away. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us – the family – so that we could become more like Him. The secret is this – we are more like Jesus when we love others – the ones like us and the ones outside the family. This love changes us and changes the world. The more love we express, the more love we feel from God. God’s love for us never changes. However, we can feel more loved when we love others. It’s the way we grow more like Jesus and fulfill our purpose – to love God and to love others – the two greatest commandments.

You see, it’s what we are designed to do. There is a hole in our soul that only God can fill. When that hole is filled with His love, we express it to others. Love overflows from that place that God fills. It’s like love bursts forth from us. We can’t stop loving others when that hole is properly filled. It has to be constantly filled though. Our salvation is a one shot deal – once saved always saved (if truly saved by confessing sin and believing in God’s one and only Son who saved us from that sin) – but the hole in our soul has to be looked after. If the hole is ever filled with something that is inferior to God’s love, it shows in our actions (or lack thereof).

A couple of years ago, I heard a message from Andy Stanley that speaks to this thing called love. His message was about this statement “what does love require of me?” What’s the loving thing to do? When we are faced with a situation where we don’t know what to do, Andy said this would be a defining question to bring resolution. We should always opt for the loving thing to do.

Living this out is a lifetime project. We will never get it right all the time. But if we do it consistently, we will continue to grow in our love for God and for others. And we know that God will work it out for our good and His glory. It’s part of the plan. I have shared family secrets so that we will all share this gift we’ve been given – not because of who we are, but whose we are. We know that we know. Let’s let them in on the secret.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6

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One Day

God’s Word is an amazing mixture of stories. It is fascinating to me. Some of it I don’t understand – why God allowed certain things and in others, He judged harshly. There are reasons that we may never understand why God allows suffering and pain. There are reasons too that God will judge at the appropriate time. Some things have a season that has to be endured so that the time is right for God to intervene.

In the beginning, He formed a perfect place. He set the stars in their places and gave light to the darkness; separated the waters to form the sky. He set earth in a perfect place for life. He created boundaries for the water on the earth and the land to be fruitful. He made earth possibly to be a place for mankind to exist. Then on the last day, God made man. He made man with a free will so that humankind would have the choice to worship and honor God. It was a perfect place. Then sin entered the world. And what was perfect became corrupt.

Throughout the Old Testament, the stories seem dark and desperate. God allowed wickedness for a time then would intervene to stop the atrocities. He did it dramatically in Noah’s time with a flood that cleared the earth of such wickedness that it would not have been sustainable for the future of humankind. However, the flood didn’t kill wickedness.

Humankind was spared by one family unit. The family of Noah still had the seed of wickedness in their hearts. Noah’s son Ham dishonored his father and his father cursed Ham’s family line. The land of Canaan is from Ham’s family line – the land that would eventually be captured by the family line from Noah’s other son Shem.

Noah blessed his son Shem because he honored his father: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem” (Genesis 9:26). And God blessed Shem’s family line through Abraham – separated from the rest to be set aside for greater purpose. Abraham was the father of Isaac who fathered Jacob who was also known as Israel. Israel would become the nation hated throughout history. Why? What did they do wrong?

Well, they did everything wrong from the beginning, but so did everyone else around them. Wickedness still ruled in the hearts of humankind. One of the saddest lines in the Bible is found throughout the Book of Judges – “they did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

God had a plan from the very beginning – yes, sin entered the world – but God would intervene at the right time in history to bring about a way out of the sin problem through the son of Israel. The family line of Israel would one day produce an heir to the throne. Not just any throne, but the throne of God. Israel was set aside for this special purpose. The heir would be the greatest enemy of wickedness and wickedness could not let Israel succeed in bringing this heir to life. So from the day that God set Israel apart, wickedness has been trying to take this family line out of the picture. And many times, it looked like the enemy would win unless God intervened.

The Old Testament sets the stage for the New Testament. When Jesus came on the scene, wickedness was still reigning throughout the earth. However, Jesus changes the outcome of wickedness. Wickedness has a time frame. One day it will be put to death forever because of what Jesus did on the cross. He defeated it forever. Yes, it’s still here reigning strong. But one day, it will end. God will intervene once again and stop wickedness forever. Praise the Lord!

Yet, wickedness still reigns today. We still have to deal with all that is wicked in the world. Shootings will still happen – girls will still be enslaved for sex – young boys will still be radicalized for wickedness’ purpose to destroy God’s perfect plan. But one day, God will intervene.

There is a timetable. God’s still setting the stage for what’s to come. I just trust Him to intervene at the right time. I also trust God’s character. He is good and righteous and loving. What He does is right and good. It may not look to loving to let wickedness reign, suffering is still felt by all – we can’t escape it. God has a plan and it’s still in motion. The Books of the Bible tells us so. We are still living it out. But one day, God’s clock will tick the last second off and things will be different from then on. One day. The darkness will be gone forever and wickedness will be put to death forever. I trust God’s Word. And I love how the story ends. One day.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.”

“Look, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:3-7a

Our Lifeline

Faith is the hinge to God’s promises. Without it, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).Without faith we will not see the miraculous happen. Without faith, we won’t see God’s hand at work; we won’t experience all God has for us. There will be no hope because faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith is one of my highest spiritual gifts on the gifts assessments tool. I don’t know if that means I have more faith than most or that I just take God at His word with greater frequency than most. I do believe God is who He says He is. I do believe God will do what He says He will do. At times, I need to be reminded. My faith starts to diminish and it needs a boost. I got that this week. I didn’t see anything happen that I have been praying for, but I read a book on Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala that put some air under my wings.

In the last chapter of the book, Jim mentioned that the battle of the Christian life is not only to believe but to keep on believing. It’s a struggle in this day and age to keep believing when society tells us otherwise. Society is a fickle thing. It changes constantly. What was fashionable yesterday may not be fashionable today. But God’s Word is a constant thing. You can stand on it with assurance that what God said is the Truth because God does not lie. Lies do not come from God but from the enemy of God – Satan – it’s Satan’s native tongue.

According to Jim, Satan’s target is to break down our faith – we are the righteous who live by faith. If Satan can cut that life line, then he has us right where he wants us. When we believe the Satan’s lies over the promises of God, we have committed the original sin. It’s what drove Adam and Eve out of fellowship with God. They believe Satan’s lie that they would not die when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan didn’t know everything, but he knew enough to drive a wedge between God and man. The wedge was doubt.

Faith is about the future. It’s the things we hope for and the things we do not yet see. The future is about God’s promises to us. It’s something we cannot prove, but we know it will come to pass just because God says so. Jim mentioned that the greatest tragedy of our lives is not the things that have happened to us, but “it’s the missed opportunities to see God help them, due to their unbelief.”

Joshua is a powerful example of a man with incredible faith. He was one of twelve who scouted out the Promised Land. He believed the Israelites could take the land because God said it was there’s already. God promised it. However, ten of the spies led the majority to believe the land was too hard to capture because the occupants of the land were too big and too strong. Everything the ten said about the land was true. However, they didn’t take into fact that God said it was a done deal already. They didn’t believe God. These same people went through the Dead Sea on dry land. They witnessed the miracles to get them to the edge of the Promised Land. And yet, they still didn’t believe God.

How many times do we also come to the edge of a promise when Satan whispers in our ears – it can’t be done? How many times do we believe the lies instead of the promise and the Promise Giver? I am reminded of the story of the man with the demon-possessed son who came to Jesus to ask if Jesus could drive this spirit out of his son. Jesus took exception to the phrase “if you can” and said everything is possible for one who believes. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

What seems impossible to us is nothing in comparison to all that God can do. It says in the very first line of the Bible – In the beginning God created… if we do not believe these first five words then we do not believe in a big God. We have brought Him down to our size and He can do nothing for us. It’s impossible for a small god to take care of our big problems. But if you believe those first words, then everything changes. We don’t have to rely upon society to dictate what we believe. We can stand on the promises of God. We can have a greater faith because before time began, God is the Creator God. Everything we see today is because of that first line… In the beginning God created. Then He breathed and the story began.

We are a part of the story. We are God’s workmanship and He completes all that He starts. Count on it. Stop the unbelief and believe God’s Word over Satan’s lies. Have discernment over what you hear – test it against God’s Word, does it hold up or fall apart? Faith is our lifeline especially in these trying times. Keep it fresh… keep it strong. And remember that God’s love is central to His character. Look to the cross for the evidence of that love for you. It’s there that all things come together and promises are fulfilled. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Victory has been won in every regard. Believe it.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36

Traditions

Traditions for this day are varied. Thanksgiving holiday in the US has evolved into certain traditions for each family. Food, more food and family, friends, maybe someone significant meeting the family for the first time; but it’s all about tradition. Turkey or ham or both; cranberry sauce, yes, please; and few sides of casseroles, a green bean or two, corn pudding (not so much for me), then of course, dessert (which is “no thank you” for me this year since I didn’t bring my own – I am gluten-free forever more). The focus has been on the food and the relationships around the table for many of us for years. Of course, we give thanks to God above for all He has provided this year and all the blessings that we enjoy on a daily basis. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

After all, this isn’t a “religious” holiday in the traditional sense. It’s a holiday that Abraham Lincoln set aside in the middle of the civil war. It was a time of remembrance to give thanks to God. It began centuries ago when the settlers had a successful harvest for the very first time. Can you imagine the struggles they went through to live in such a land – a land where they actually had to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and harvest the crops? Many of them had no idea how to plant and harvest a crop. But they learned, thanks to the native people who helped them survive.

Our nation is far from the traditions laid down by our forefathers. We have evolved from agriculture, industrial to tech savvy people. No longer do we have to struggle to provide food for our families in the traditional sense. We don’t raise our food in a traditional way. We go to super stores and buy prepared food or plastic-wrapped produce shipped from hundreds of miles away. It’s just not the same as if we actually had to get our hands dirty and dig out those sweet potatoes from the earth.

We don’t have to do the hard labor the season before to get the food on the table today. It’s already done for us. We just go and pick out the best ingredients for a home cooked meal – or maybe head to the nearest Golden Corral for the buffet tradition that someone else prepared and will clean up. We just eat, pay and go. We’ve gotten so far away from the original thought of harvest blessing that the holiday has been lost to food, football and shopping. It’s the kickoff to the real holiday – Christmas and Santa Claus and ho, ho, ho to good girls and boys and lots of little toys.

I’m not saying that what we have today is bad. It’s just different from what it was intended so long ago. It has evolved into our own traditions. But hopefully somewhere along the way, we’ll remember to give thanks to God above for all the blessings of our own harvest season – whatever that hardship we are currently going through or have just come out of. God has seen us through many trials and tribulations through the years, and we have survived another year. God is good all the time! Even when it looks bad, and we don’t think we can survive; look how God has brought us through time and again.

Thanksgiving is about remembering. Remembering the past blessings and knowing God will see us through again. He is faithful. He is good. His love endures for us forever. We can look in the Bible to see how God sees His people through the tough times, but we could also see in our own lives those same things. We can look to the past in this country and see how God has seen this country through the dark times to bring us through. God’s love endures forever. He is faithful, and He is true to His nature.

Let’s remember today the ones who came before us so that we can have this time of food, family and football. We have it good. We have been blessed abundantly. Let’s remember it’s not by our hand that we have done these things. We were created as a people (the church), and as a nation to be a blessing to others because of what the Lord has done for us. It’s because of the forefathers’ forethought to put things in place by the hand of God to give us all that we have today. Let’s remember and give thanks. Celebrate with your traditions and remember to be a blessing to others today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

His Love Endures

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind – His love endures forever. It’s the message from the 136th Psalm, which recounts the Israelite’s journey with the response of God’s love enduring forever as He carried them through as they reached the Promised Land. With that thought on my mind, I recalled the books that I have read over the last three weeks. Three different books with one theme – God carries us through those tough times because of His love for us. Not because of our goodness, but because of His.

The first book was the real life story of enduring brain trauma by Laura Story (When God Doesn’t Fix It). Her husband had a brain tumor that was removed but complications set in. When they got married, they expected a perfect life. But one and a half years in, their lives took an unexpected turn. Their story will never be perfect. Their lives are hard because God didn’t fix the problem or heal Laura’s husband. But God still carries them through. God’s love endures forever.

The next book I read was from Jerry Jenkins (Though None Go with Me) about a modern-day version of the account of Job, if he was a woman set in the early 20th century. The story is about the tragedy of this woman’s life as she endured the hardships of loss, misfortune and loneliness through the ages. She dedicated her life to God at an early age as the “experiment of obedience.” Through all the hard times, she could have cursed God; but she remembered her dedication on that day when she gave it all to Him. The pastor told her on that day that her life would not be easy. And it wasn’t. But through it all, God carried her through. God’s love endures forever.

The last book I finished yesterday was from Francine Rivers called Tamar. It’s a fictional account of the historical story of Judah and Tamar. The story is found in Genesis 38, set in the middle of the account of Joseph’s story. It’s like a little rabbit trail that the writer takes us on as we read through Joseph’s life. I’ll get back to Francine’s story in a minute. This account of Judah’s life is interesting to me.

Early on in my life, I thought Jesus’ line came through Joseph, not Judah. I mean, Joseph got the most write-up, right? So wouldn’t it stand to reason, God had selected him for the role in Jesus’ lineage? Joseph was the righteous one not Judah. Judah did a great injustice to Joseph. However, Judah played a role for God to bring Joseph to the place he needed to be in order to save the Israelites. Judah does step up in the end of the story to help right the wrong, but I don’t know why Judah was God’s man; especially after the story of Tamar. Do you know the story?

Tamar was a Canaanite woman who was given to Er, Judah’s first born son, to be his wife. Er did what was wrong in the sight of God, and God took him out of the picture. Tamar was given to the second son, Onan. Again, he also did what was wrong in the sight of God, and he too was taken out. So Tamar is without a son to carry on Judah’s line, but there was a third son. However, after two sons dying; Judah was not inclined to give this girl another chance. So she was sent back home.

After a time, she realizes Judah is not going to do the honorable thing and takes matters into her own hands. After Judah’s wife dies, Tamar sets up a plan to deceive Judah by playing a temple prostitute. The plan works; she conceives twins. One of those twins, Perez, is the one who is in the line of Jesus. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Francine’s book is about the fictional account from Tamar’s point of view. Although Tamar was a Canaanite, she began to believe in Judah’s God (fictional account). God carried her through the tragedies that she endured through those harsh times. Because Tamar did what she needed to do to carry on Judah’s line, God blessed her and gave her two sons for Judah. Judah did the right thing in the end. And maybe the story of Judah finally taking responsibility for Joseph was because of Tamar. In the end, Judah’s line continues because of God’s love endures forever.

These books made me think of God’s love for us. He really does carry us through; not because of us and our goodness, but because of His goodness and His love for us. His love does endure forever. We are His creation. He called all that He had made very good. We don’t always do what’s right in His sight. But He loves us anyway. His love is shown through His Son. His Son is our example of His love enduring forever. That truly is very good. Thank you, Jesus for Your constant love for us. Believe it and let Him carry you through.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-4

 

David’s Heart

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a video on Facebook of a four-year old worship leader. He was quite cute. The boy was on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots (I think that’s the name). Soon after that I heard a couple of messages about worship. All this has me thinking about worship, and my effort to honor and glorify God through my worship time. God created us to worship. It’s naturally in us to worship.

One pastor mentioned that our worship is not about us but about God. We get it all wrong when we think we’re supposed to “get something” out of our Sunday morning “service” – it’s all about what we feel as we listen to the music or hear the word preached – did it move us? Instead, we should be more concerned with how we are worshiping – is our heart in it? Is our focus on God? Is the heart moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do we feel an overflow coming from our hearts?

Another message focused on worship as a lifestyle. Worship is more than just singing. Worship is really living our lives in response to who God is and what He has done. Everything that we do can be a way of worshipping God. When we live our lives, fulfilling our God-designed destiny with the gifts and talents He has given us; we worship Him through our surrender lives. Worship is so much more than a Sunday morning experience. We glorify and honor God because of who He is and what He’s done. Having a life of worship makes me think of King David. He modeled the life of worship.

Whenever David poured out his heart to God, David either started the Psalm with praise or ended the Psalm with praise or both. He never let the opportunity pass without offering praise to God. He was after all the man after God’s own heart. But David was not perfect – far from it. Yet, God was pleased with David because of David’s heart. David pursued God with all his heart (as we all should). We are told in Deuteronomy 6:5, to love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the heart of worship. When Jesus was questioned, which is the greatest commandment? He replied with the passage from Deuteronomy 6:5.

Our desire is to worship. Sometimes though, we get it wrong. Our hearts chase after the wrong thing. It’s so easy to do in this day and age. We put too much emphasis on people or things. Sports teams, sports stars, movie stars, husbands, wives, children, etc. We fail to understand people and things will always let us down. Worship is said to come from the term “worth ship” – there is only One who is worth worshipping.

I remember a time in my childhood when my grandparents took me to a church conference. While everyone was singing, men and women were running around the room praising God. It’s a very vivid memory; and at the time, scared me a bit. I remember asking my Grandmother “what’s wrong with that man?” as an older man dressed in white clothes ran down the aisle beside us. She reassured me with a pat on the leg and everything was alright.

My time of worship is nothing like that. Sometimes I think of that demonstration and wonder why I can’t be as enthusiastic as that man? Not that I would get up and run around a room. But I should in my heart! I should have a heart that would chase God around the room! What would our lives look like if we had that kind of passion for God?

It reminds me of the passage in 1 Chronicles 15 where David is escorting the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. As the procession enters the City of David (Jerusalem), David skipped about and was full of joy. His wife Michal, looked on him with contempt for his undignified demonstration. David replied to Michal (found in 2 Samuel 6:21) that he was dancing before the Lord because of what the Lord had done for him. The Lord had given David a promise. The Lord had promised that a forever king would come through his line. And David believed God’s promise. And it was eventually fulfilled through Jesus Christ – the promised heir in the forever Kingdom.

We might not have a promise as great as the promise given to David, but God is faithful in all His promises – great and small. We can count on God. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of our worship. He will never fail us. He is trustworthy. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe about God. What we do with those promises, how we live in reference to our beliefs; this is truly our worship as we respond to who God is and what He has done. Worship is an overflow of the heart. Just like David, we can be men and women after God’s heart. Chase Him down!

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.

Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
Exult in his holy name;

rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him. 1 Chronicles 16:8-11 (NLT)

The Mini Meltdown

For the last month or so, I have been praying for a miracle. I had in mind that it should happen around Friday (due to my immediate needs). It didn’t happen. The enemy had a field day with me. I gave him every opportunity to attack me when I was vulnerable. My physical appearance didn’t change, but my emotionally charged inner child ranted and raved at God. I am so glad we serve a patient God. God let me have my say without striking down with an angered response (which He had every right to). My feelings were hurt. I was greatly disappointed. Why hasn’t He directed me out of my circumstances? Why am I still waiting for something to happen? What am I waiting on? I thought God was in this with me. But for the life of me, I don’t understand why I am in the mess I’m in. I thought I was doing what I was called to do. I thought I had been obedient. On and on; tears rolling; red eyes swollen. I just couldn’t get past it. I was stuck in that place.

Friday night, I sat down to eat my supper and tuned into one of my favorite websites for a short word on whatever the topic of the day was. I listened to Monday’s broadcast because that was the only one that really interested me. The topic was about a woman’s story of how she moved to Haiti because of God’s direction. Her story was pretty amazing… again God you did it for her, why not me? Blah, blah, blah. Pity party of one, this way please! After finishing my meal, out of the blue, one of my friends called me. She normally doesn’t call often, but on this night she felt led to do so. With her call, I got out of myself and focused on someone else’s life. We caught up on the details with one another and called it a night. When I laid down that night I was still upset about my circumstances.

I woke up once during the night, and still had the events on my mind. I got up from my bed to write a letter to get out the anger, the hurt and all the things that had welled up within. In the morning, I was feeling a bit better. I began my quiet time with an apology to God for my mini-meltdown. I opened the Word and began to listen as I read. Now that I was ready to hear, three things were brought to my attention.

First off – when I was watching the video on Friday night, the woman kept repeating this phrase “God was telling her she was not alone in her circumstances.” God reminded me that this was true for me as well. I noticed her using the phrase a couple of times, but didn’t internalize it until Saturday morning. He also reminded me of my friend’s call. Sometimes I feel so alone. My Mom used to say she didn’t have any friends, but she had so many friends who truly believed she was their best friend. It’s hard to resist the lies of the enemy when we are in that pit of despair.

Second. I began to read about contentment from Beth Moore’s commentary in the “Voices of the Faithful” for August. She wrote “Contentment has little to do with what we have or lack. It is a state of mind.” She went on to write about Paul’s explanation of contentment found in Philippians. “Paul explained that Christ had used circumstances to disciple Paul in the art of contentment. Discovering the power and the presence of Christ in every circumstance was the secret.” I am okay with my circumstances most of the time. Friday was the exception not the rule. I was disappointed. I was frustrated. And I was acting out in my flesh. God is working in my current circumstances for a greater work in me. God is working to grow me up.

The last thing that was brought to my attention was from Charles Stanley’s monthly devotion for Saturday’s reading. Again, he pointed to Paul and Philippians. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. The letter is full of rejoicing and praising God. Each sentence in this devotional was like God speaking into my heart every word on that page. The direction was to “focus on Christ instead of the circumstances – God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial.” Dr. Stanley mentioned that focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. He said to dwell on His provision (even when we don’t see it) and care instead (even when we feel alone). Believe in God’s character – which never changes. All it takes is a glimmer of hope to get out of the pit of despair.

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

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