All of Our Problems…

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

thought the Christian life was going to be easier than this. 

Have these words ever entered your mind? Sometimes we come into the family of God thinking that our heavenly Father will fix all our problems and devote Himself to our happiness and comfort. However, that is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. Paul was a man whom the Lord used greatly, and yet his life was anything but easy.

In fact, at one point, the apostle thought his pain was too much to bear, and he begged God to remove it.

There’s nothing wrong with asking the Lord to relieve our suffering, but what should our response be if He doesn’t? Paul probably had no idea that His experience would find its way into the Bible, to comfort and guide believers throughout the ages. The promise God gave him applies to us as well: “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9).

God’s grace could be defined as His provision for us at the point of our need.

The problem is that sometimes it doesn’t seem as if the Lord truly is meeting our need. But He frequently sees deficiencies, outcomes, and complications that we don’t. His goals for us involve spiritual growth, the development of Christlike character, and strong faith. And trials play a vital role in achieving these.

The important issue is how we respond.

If all you want is relief, you could descend into anger and doubt. But if your desire is to become the person God wants you to be, you’ll see each trial as an opportunity for Christ to display His character and strength in you.

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The Privileged Family Relationship…

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Matthew 6:8-13 (KJV)

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

When Christ taught His disciples to pray, He told them to address God as “Our Father.”

They had previously heard Jesus say, “My Father,” but now they, too, shared in that privileged family relationship. All of us who has been born again into the household of God have this same right.

Since our concepts of God are shaped by our earthly fathers, we all have different perceptions of Him, but Jesus is the only one who has a completely accurate understanding of the heavenly Father.

Consider some of the ways He cares for His children:

• Loves: God’s love is unconditional, since it’s based on His nature rather than our performance (1 John 4:16).

• Listens: When we pray, He gives us His full attention (Ps. 55:16-17).

• Provides: The Father assumes responsibility for meeting all our needs (Phil. 4:19).

* Guides: He is the one who directs our path when we trust in Him (Prov. 3:5-6).

• Protects: The Lord shields us spiritually, emotionally, and physically, sifting every experience through His sovereign fingers. (Ps. 121:1-8).

• Stays: He’s not an absentee parent, since He’ll never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:8).

•  Disciplines: The Lord disciplines us
for our good, so that we may share in His holiness (Heb. 12:5-11).

Though experiences with our earthly dads may have distorted our view of the heavenly Father, we can learn to see Him as He truly is.

By viewing Him through the truth of Scripture instead of our preconceptions, we will see evidence of His loving care and discover a security we’ve never known before.

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Doubting His Intentions…

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2 Kings 5:1-10 (KJV)

1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

Every time we follow God’s leading, our obedience opens the door for Him to do great things in our lives.

Yet we often resist obeying because His directions appear impractical and unreasonable–and so we doubt His intentions toward us.

Naaman couldn’t understand why the Lord would tell him to go wash seven times in the Jordan River.

He thought he’d already exercised faith in coming to the prophet Elisha. He’d hoped for a spectacular supernatural healing of his disease–not to be sent on what seemed an irrational fool’s mission. After all, the great Syrian commander didn’t see anyone else dipping in the muddy waters and being healed. But God’s instructions were specifically for him, and no one else.

If you decide you’ll do what God says only on the basis of what you see others doing, you’ll miss out on His best for you.

Suppose Naaman decided he just couldn’t do something that appeared so crazy. He would have died a leper. Likewise, when you hold out on completely obeying God, you’ll never know what He would have done in your life had you only trusted Him.

Our needs are opportunities for God to transform the lives of His children.

He knows that for us to become everything He created us to be, we must learn to believe in His trustworthiness–and act on it.

When facing a challenge, you have two choices. You can focus on what you lack and how God doesn’t appear to be responding the way you wanted.

Or, you can recognize that your need indicates His desire to teach you something–and rejoice over all He plans to accomplish.

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This Grace In Which We Stand…

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Acts 15:7-11 (KJV)

7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

As believers, we readily attribute our salvation to God’s grace, but what does “this grace in which we stand” mean to us now (Rom. 5:2)?

How does it work out in everyday life, especially when we’re going through periods of trial or suffering?

  1. 1.     The Lord’s grace releases His supernatural power within us so we can endure life’s hardships with a godly attitude. In fact, we’ll even be able to rejoice in what He is doing in us through the adversity.

  2. 2.     Grace builds our confidence in the sovereign Lord. Nothing looks hopeless when we focus on Him instead of on our problems.

  3. 3.     We discover the assurance of God’s sustaining presence as He walks with us every step of the way.

  4. 4.     Because we’ve experienced His care for us, we are able to show empathy and love to others facing hard times.

  5. 5.     During fiery trials, grace works to transform our character so that others can see Jesus reflected in us.

Difficulties in life are unavoidable.

So we need a daily dose of God’s grace if we are to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side. If we rely on our own strength, however, obstacles will appear insurmountable, leaving us discouraged and ready to give up.

Too often believers rely on Christ for their salvation but then try to go solo.

If God’s grace was needed to save us, then logic says we would also need it for the rest of our days. Only through a continuous infusion of His sustaining power can we live a victorious Christian life.

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The Spiritual War With Temptation…

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Ephesians 6:10-14 (KJV)

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Every believer faces temptation.

Take a moment to recall a particularly enticing situation… involving something that would displease God. Did you realize you were involved in a satanic battle?

The Devil is real.

Scripture reveals that he leads an army of fallen angels and is prideful enough to think he can gain victory over God. By definition, a satanic attack is a deliberate assault upon an individual, which is designed to cause spiritual, physical, material, or emotional harm.

Satan desires to thwart the Lord’s purpose in believers’ lives, to rob them of joy and peace, and ultimately to deny God the worship He receives through yielded followers.

As in any war, knowing the enemy’s plan helps us prepare for the attack. First, be aware that the battlefield takes place in our minds. To walk in a godly manner with Christ, we must first be sure that our thoughts are in submission to His Spirit. This takes daily surrender and time inGod’s Word.

Second, Satan tempts us during vulnerable moments. Be cautious when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (This is often known as the H.A.L.T.  warning). Third, he is deceptive; we won’t recognize the trap as an evil scheme. Instead, it will seem good, and we’ll likely wrestle with some sort of doubt.

As Christians, we should walk closely with Jesus.

Satan desires to lure us into destructive actions that rob us of God’s plan for a good, full life. Stay connected to the Savior: read the Word, pray, and fellowship with other believers.

These are weapons we use against the Devil inspiritual war. 

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To “Pray” Without Ceasing…

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1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

17 Pray without ceasing.

What did the apostle Paul mean by “pray without ceasing” (1Thes. 5:17)?

How is it possible to carry on with normal life while praying without a break?

First, the apostle did not mean that we should walk around all day mumbling prayers t God. Rather, he taught that we could live in a constant attitude of prayer, even as we go about our daily routines. Of course, on some days we’ll pray much more than on others. But regardless of the particular items on our “to do” list for that day, we can maintain a natural attitude of prayer that encompasses our whole lives.

When we develop such a prayerful outlook, prayer becomes our first instinct any time we face a challenge or encounter a difficulty. When we maintain an attitude of prayer, we don’t even have to think about moving from first gear to second, from an attitude of prayer to the practice of prayer.

 It never occurs to us that we should not pray.

Should you pray about trivial matters? Yes!

God listens to every prayer. Since He is interested in every aspect of our life, He invites you to pray about whatever concerns you, interests you, confuses you, frightens you, or in any way touches or challenges your life. Prayers to find lost glasses or to mentally retrieve forgotten information are both worthy requests.

God has called us to be people of prayer.

Regular communication on the level creates intimate fellowship with the Savior. Through prayer we discover the goodness and faithfulness of God. But while taking time to get alone with God is the ideal, we don’t have to limit ourselves to such times. God hears our prayers no matter where we pray.

The devotional writer Oswald Chambers encourages us to put “reckless” confidence in God. He says that too often we limit our praying precisely because we do not cast ourselves on His grace and mercy.  Will outsiders consider such wild trust in God foolhardy, even madness? Probably, but so what?

Only through prayer can we tap into the limitless resources of God.

Only by praying can we test the Lord’s promise: “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

Prayer is one of the best ways we have to remind ourselves that God is our gracious heavenly Father and that we are His much-loved children.

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Our Guilt Is Removed…

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John 8:1-11 (KJV)

1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Guilt over doing something that violates the conscience is a normal emotion.

However, living under a cloud of remorse for no discernible reason is not.

The Lord designed feelings of culpability and regret to serve as a reminder that a person has done wrong and needs to repent. But Satan twists those emotions to imprison men and women: those living in shame are uncertain of God’s love and often lack self-confidence.

Good guilt–the Lord’s effective tool for prompting repentance–is a gift that helps us find the right path.

However, the Devil encourages false guilt, which involves taking responsibility for things outside our control and then suffering self-condemnation for not changing the outcome. This unhealthy type of guilt is also a widespread problem for those in legalistic churches or lifestyles–certain behaviors or thoughts are labeled as wrong, and then people feel ashamed for doing or thinking those things.

Self-condemnation stunts a relationship with Jesus.

Instead of enjoying the peace of God, people who are trapped by shame fear His rejection and feel driven to prove their worth. Trust is nearly impossible because they are waiting for God’s judgment to rain down. Their guilt even colors how they see themselves: rather than saying, “My action is wrong,” they say, “I am bad.”

Jesus did not come to accuse or condemn us.

Christ restored our souls and made us righteous before God so that our guilt is removed. If our Savior forgave the woman caught in an adulterous relationship, just imagine how ready He is to take your shame away too (John 8:11).

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Clinging to Unforgiveness…

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Matthew 18:21-22 (KJV)

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

One of the most dangerous things a person can do is to hold onto resentment.

Clinging to unforgiveness has far-reaching and often unexpected consequences.

Although bitterness takes root in the mind, it doesn’t stay contained. Acrimony can spread into every aspect of a person’s life. For example, the hostility a man feels toward his father can color his relationship with his wife, his willingness to perform at work, and his involvement in church.

It’s probably not surprising to hear that resentment impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toll it can also take on us.

An attitude of bitterness ratchets up tension and anxiety, which can affect everything from muscles to chemical balance in the brain. Over time, that kind of mayhem weakens the body.

Because unforgiveness is a violation of God’s law, it also causes spiritual turmoil that hinders a believer’s growth.

Prayer is stifled because of harbored sin that should be confessed. And worship is dry and hypocritical because it’s difficult to effectively honor the Lord while trying to justify or hide a wrong attitude. What’s more, a resentful person’s witness is damaged, as others are prevented from seeing God’s glory shining through him.

Forgiving someone means giving up resentment and the right to get even with him or her, even though you were wronged. God insisted this was the only way to go through life. One reason

He commands us to forego hostility and vengeance is that these things cause so much damage to our own lives.

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