Strength To Strength

Psalm 84 7

Psalm 84:5-7 NKJV Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.

I was thinking this morning about how our walk of faith is like a pilgrimage, just as this portion of scripture describes. This faith walk takes us to different destinations, some of which are good and some, not so good. But as the scripture says when the man reaches the Valley of Baca, or weeping, he passes through it after turning it into a spring. And the rain covers it with pools, or blessings.

The people that are able to go through difficult times have set their eyes on the victory that is on the other side of the difficulty. They have determined to look for the blessings while in the midst of the weeping, or difficulties. They are the ones, who on this pilgrimage of faith, are able to go from strength to strength because they don’t allow the difficulties to break them down, but instead they use the difficulties to strengthen them.  The scripture says this man, whose strength is in the Lord, TURNS his valley of weeping into a spring.  He doesn’t just passively endure his problem, but he turns it into the opposite of what it normally would be.  He strengthens himself through the difficulty instead of resigning himself to the problem and just enduring.

We all experience difficulties but the important thing to remember is that they will not last forever, we will pass through them, and how we come out of the difficulty is much more important than the difficulty itself. Will we come out stronger or weaker; will we look for blessings or see nothing but doom and gloom?

2 Corinthians 4:17, 18 NKJV For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Whatever you are going through today, keep on walking by faith, not dwelling on the things that you see happening around you, but by focusing on the eternal weight of glory that is being formed out of that difficulty that will strengthen you and give you blessings that can only come from standing strong and relying on a living and vital relationship with Jesus Christ.  He will sustain you and turn your trials into blessings!  Take a proactive approach to the problems of life, viewing them as stepping stones to a greater destination, rather than stumbling blocks to hold you back.  Pass through the Valley of Baca (weeping) by faith, from faith to a position of stronger faith!

If you don’t have a relationship with Him, start out your faith walk today by inviting Him into your heart to be your very own personal Lord and Savior.  Pray and ask Him to come into your life and give you the peace of knowing the One true God.  He is waiting to be Your all in all if you will invite Him in.

Father, I pray for those today who may be going through trials and difficulties.  I pray that they will know You, the One who sustains and gives strength and peace in the midst of the storms of life.  Father, I ask You to draw them by Your Spirit into a living and vital relationship with You and fill their hearts with the satisfaction and contentment that only You can give.  For those who are in the midst of the storm I pray that they will feel renewed strength and a vision of the victory You have stored up for them after passing through the storm.  Help them to keep their eyes on You and know that this is a temporary place that they are walking through and not one in which they camping out.  May they experience Your peace and strength.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Are You Listening?

Spirit to spirit encounter is God speaking directly to our spirits as we wait in His presence. His Spirit speaks to our spirits and His direction comes to our minds.

Romans 8:14-17 NKJV For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

The subjective and objective voice of the Spirit are both in operation today. We hear His voice through the written word and He speaks and leads also through the subjective voice of His Spirit. One without the other leaves a person lacking, but when the two are combined there is a fullness of guidance that is recognized and realized. The subjective voice of God’s Spirit speaks directly to our spirits. He sometimes comes though a prompting, other times an inner voice and if necessary can be heard almost as an audible voice. God is still speaking to His people today when they will quiet themselves before Him and wait for Him to share His heart with them. Do you hear the subjective voice of God’s Spirit or have you limited Him to only speaking to you through His Word? His subjective voice will always line up with His written Word. He is the speaking Spirit of God who will always guide you into all truth.

John 16:13 NKJV “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

God’s Spirit wants to tell us those things that are yet to come. Will we take time to listen and hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church in these last days?

 

Father, I pray this morning that we each will quiet ourselves before You and give You the time to speak to our hearts through Your Spirit’s interaction with us.  Help us to be more sensitive to Your voice.  Cause us to lay aside the distractions of this world to give you quality time each day to reveal to us what we need to know for guidance according to Your way and Your word.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

My times…..are in His hand!

My Times Are In Your Hand

Psalm 31:14, 15 NKJV But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.

Regardless of what happens in this world, I trust in the Lord! My times are in His hand. What comfort that scripture gives me in the tumultuous times in which we live. Along with that scripture is another of my favorites: Psalm 31:19 NKJV Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men!

His goodness is “laid up” for those of us who fear Him! That means that in difficult times when we don’t know or understand why things happen the way they do that we need to look for His goodness! It’s there, laid up for us!

And then there is Psalm 138:8: NKJV The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

God will take those things that concern us and bring them to perfection or maturity. In the good times and the bad we can trust Him to work all things out for our good. We are in the hands of the Almighty, where no foe can touch us. His goodness surrounds us and causes us to prosper even when things seem to be going “down the tube”, so to speak. God is for us, not against us!

Maybe you would say that I am overly optimistic or maybe you think I have my head stuck in the sand. No, I just choose to believe and stand on the promises of God. He is a positive God and in His economy He works all things out for my good! I choose to trust Him and place my faith in Him because I know Him. I have experienced His goodness in troubled times and He has proven to me that He has my best interest at heart.

Father, today as we are aware of the terror that continues to present itself in our world, we see the opportunity to cower in fear and dread going about our daily affairs.  But I pray that we will all turn our eyes and hearts to You, knowing that You alone, Lord Jesus, are our Savior, Protector, Provider, Deliverer and Healer.  You alone know what faces us today and in every tomorrow in which we live and it is in You alone that there is peace.  I pray that the hearts of people will turn to You and trust You for their every need and for the safety and security that they long to have.  Draw people to Yourself and bring salvation into their hearts that they may know You, truly live in relationship with You, and place their trust, hope and faith in You.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Set Your Eyes

Eagle soaring

Image courtesy of:  <a href=”http://www.freechristianimages.se/”>FCI: Free Christian Images</a>

What you set your eyes upon is what you will walk towards! What are you fixing your eyes on today…..success like the eagle soaring above the earth or as the chicken with eyes fixed on the ground where limited opportunities for success exist?

The Greek word for “eyes” is atenizo and it means look steadfastly, behold steadfastly, fasten (one’s) eyes, look earnestly on, look earnestly upon, look up steadfastly, behold earnestly.

To set your eyes would mean to fasten one’s eyes earnestly upon something, such as a goal, or a direction in which you desire to go, or to incline toward a certain person, thing, or destination.

Proverbs 29:18 KJV Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

The vision that God has given you is what you will walk towards when you fasten your eyes upon it. He directs us by His Spirit as we focus on His word, His presence and His guidance.

Hebrews 12:1, 2 NKJV  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We have a great example of soaring above the challenges and obstacle of life when we look at Jesus who set His face like flint to do what God had called Him to do.

Isaiah 50:7 NKJV “For the Lord GOD will help Me; Therefore I will not be disgraced; Therefore I have set My face like a flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.

Luke 9:51 NKJV  Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,

Does setting your face or fixing your eyes on what God has planned for you mean that you will not encounter difficulties, failures or discouragement?  No, that is why the scripture says to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”.  Challenges will come and we will have to “lay aside” the things that try to hold us back.  We will have to be determined to reach our goals and run our race to win, but the key is in the promise that Jesus is ahead of us drawing us and leading us by His Spirit, strengthening us for the journey.  With God on our side, what or who could possibly be against us?!

Romans 8:31, 32 NKJV  What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not freely give us all things?

This portion of scripture goes on to say that nothing can separate us from God’s love.  He is for you, not against you!  He wants you to run your race to win, not to be defeated.  Look unto Jesus and fix your eyes on the goal of fulfilling the plan that He has for your life.  With God nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37) and all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23).

Today I pray that you will set your eyes on what God has for you, the plan that He has for your life, to live above the circumstances of life that have hindered you from becoming all that He has designed and created you to be. Look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of your faith and walk towards the goals that He has given you!

Apples Of God In Settings Of Silver

Apples of Gold

 

Proverbs 15:23 NKJV A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

Make your words work for you! We can either encourage or discourage those around us by the words that we speak! Proverbs 25:11 says that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.” How precious is silver and gold? We see beautiful jewelry pieces set in both gold and silver! Many precious stones have their settings in silver or gold and are a beautiful adornment to whomever is wearing them.

 

Our words can be the settings for our lives and those that we come into contact with when fitly spoken. Likewise, our words can tear down the spirits of those when we speak harshly or out of our own hurt or disappointment. I pray that my speech might always be with grace, seasoned with salt as is instructed in Colossians 4:7, that I might know how to answer every person in ways that will be gracious and kind. I can’t say that I always exhibit that gracious nature but my goal is to express the character and nature of Jesus to everyone that I come into contact with. God’s word gives us guidelines to live by and goals to achieve!

 

May you have grace-filled conversations with those around you today!

 

You Are A Joint!

You are a joint

(image courtesy of Freelyphotos.com)

If you have been spiritually born into the family of God then you are a Joint!  Ephesians 4:7-16 says that Jesus gave gifts to the church for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ and that the members are joined and knit together by what every joint supplies and what every part does in edifying the body to growth and maturity to the stature of Christ Jesus!

Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–from whom the whole body, joined together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

So, what is your motivation in going to church?  Is it to give or to get?  We all look forward to gathering together at church to see our friends and participate in worship and hearing a great message from our Pastor, but what is our individual purpose?

If we are going to be givers of our supply then we need to adjust our thinking to be pro-active, looking forward to our church attendance as a means to share what God has placed within each of us that will benefit the whole body.  It’s always fun to be on the receiving end of things, but Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Acts 20:35 NKJV  “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.  And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Matthew 10:7, 8 NKJV  “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give.

God has placed within each of us what we need to be joints in the whole body of Christ!  He has equipped us with gifts and talents that we should be sharing when we come together to worship Him.  What He has freely given to us is intended to be used to change the lives of others!

1 Corinthians 14:16 NKJV  How is it then, brethren?  Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation.  Let all things be done for edification.

When we come together in corporate worship, the Apostle Paul says we all have gifts that can be used, but they should be done in balance and to build up the body.  The Corinthian church was an exuberant church that was imbalanced in the extreme use of their gifts, but today in many of our churches we see an imbalance in the non-use of God’s gifts.  Where is the balance?

I think the answer to that question has to begin with a willingness to be used of the Lord for whatever purpose He has in our gathering together.  It’s not wrong to be on the receiving end of what God is flowing through another, but we all should be looking for the opportunities to give as well as to receive.

Hebrews 10:23-25  NKJV  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Here we see a caution to not go to the other extreme of not joining together in corporate worship, but to use that time to stir others up in love and good works.  We are to be a people who give out of the abundance of God’s gifts to each of us using them to express His love and encouragement to do and be the best that He has gifted and called us to be.

1 Peter 4:10  NKJV  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Do you know what gifts God has placed within you?  Could that be what may be holding you back from giving your supply?  Pray before going to church that God will show you what He wants you to do and say that would build up the body of Christ and be the supply that you are to give for that day.  God has a place for you to fill in His church.  He has gifts that He wants to express through you.  Are you willing to step out to be a vessel of His use to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus and help in building up His body?

Father, I thank You for the gifts that You have placed in each one of us as born again believers in Christ Jesus.  I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ that You would awaken their spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear what You want them to do and say as they meet together with other believers in a corporate worship setting.  I pray that You will give them Your heart of compassion to speak into people’s lives that which will build them up and bring growth and maturity in the lives of the hearers.  I pray that in turn they would be edified and grow into more mature believers as they yield themselves to be vessels of honor for Your use.  Cause us to have boldness to step out in faith that You will do what only You can do in us and through us to build up the Body of Christ.  You alone, Lord, are the giver of the gifts and deserve all the glory for them!  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Here’s Another Lemon, Lord!

lemons

(Image courtesy of freeimages.com)

Have you ever looked into your life and thought you could see nothing but lemons….hard, sour times where there seemed to be no good that could possibly come out of them? Well, I have good news for you today! God makes the BEST lemonade!

Psalm 103:6 Msg. GOD makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet.

Wow! Hooray! There is redemption for all things in your life when you bring them to God!

Just look at the life of Joseph. He was 17 when he had a dream that his brothers would some day bow down before him and he would reign over them. They already hated him because he was his father’s favorite, but after hearing of his dream they hated him even more. So much so, that they were going to kill him, but instead sold him to some traveling Ismaelites and convinced his father that he had been devoured by a wild beast. This one act of hatred toward their brother set him on a course that would forever change his life as well as that of his brothers and father. For approximately 18 years his life had many ups and downs, times when he experienced much difficulty as a direct result of what seemed to be the lemons in his life. But there came a time when God said enough is enough! The time was right for Joseph’s lemons to be made into lemonade. And as a result the dream he’d had at 17 became reality when his brothers stood before him and said “Behold, we are your servants.” (Genesis 50:18) And Joseph replied to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:19, 20)

God will take what is meant to harm you, just like He did for Joseph, and turn it into something good; something of value that will be fruitful in your life for His glory!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV He has made everything beautiful in its time……

My friend, you may think that God can’t do anything with the failures and disappointments that you’ve experienced in your life, but don’t be disheartened. He is in the redemption business! Trust Him to change your life when you turn it all over to Him.

Psalm 103:4 NKJV Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

God redeems, or buys back, our failures, sin and disappointments. He places a crown on our heads of His lovingkindness, His goodness, His mercy, His salvation that makes all things new again. He is the God of restoration! Jesus died to redeem your life from destruction! Have you given Him your heart? If not, why not make today your day of salvation? Pray and invite Him into your heart; give your lemons to Him, and let Him make your life brand new!

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