enduring trials

Blessed Love

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Love is such a multi-dimensional emotion so often expressed simply in acts of kindness and tenderness yet on so many levels it invites a complex nature. On any given day love has the potential of being displayed tenderly or roughly, with deep loving affection and at other times in painful distress or cutting anguish. By the time we reach young adulthood most of us have been exposed to a full range of love actions from good to bad.

Love was originated by God. I call His love blessed. It is straightforward and uncomplicated, simple in its application to mankind. He presented it to us through the most generous act of all time by sending His Son Jesus to rescue us from a life void of His love. This blessed love is as pure as refined gold because it came through the fire of deep adversity that brought sin to its knees, crushing the power of it forever. Without accepting this blessed love we can’t come close to loving others as we should.

This God love is as pure as love can be. It is as giving as it can be, never running out and is always there when you need it. This blessed love is committed to your future, it believes for the best and greatest potential imparted into you. This blessed love is pure joy and equips you to live above your circumstances while trusting God to work out His best for your life. God is true love.

Loving others well hinges on how well we allow God to love us through Jesus His Son. May you choose His blessed love.

“…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“…God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1John 4:16)

Image: Getty

Pressing On Towards the Goal

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What are the pressing issues in your life right now and how are they impacting your long-term goals? For most, these challenges have the capability of knocking us off path towards our ultimate life fulfilling goals and discouraging us from pressing on.

Paul, the apostle obviously struggled with his past failures to the point that he referred to himself as a ‘foremost sinner’, unworthy of the grace and mercy that God had bestowed on his life.

“…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1Timothy 1:15)

Paul goes on to say that this mercy that he received was a display of Jesus’ perfect patience that would serve as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

It is in this context that Paul encourages us to not make futile the gift of grace that has been poured into our lives by accepting our imperfections and inconsistent attempts towards fulfilling our goals and purpose. Instead, by faith, believe “…that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Our daily, pressing life issues have been sovereignly and compassionately placed in our lives by a loving Heavenly Father who knows its value and necessity in shaping our destiny while impacting those around us in their faith walk.

The point is that when we respond correctly to trials and sufferings, as Jesus did, we come through having gained more of Him than when we entered into the trial. (Philippians 3:8-9)

So let’s keep our life goals at the forefront of our life issues and follow the example of Apostle Paul who lived with the conviction of not wanting the grace that had been poured into his life to have been in vain. This, we are told, is how the mature respond to the call of God on their lives with all its imperfections:

“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” (Philippians 3:13)

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

Keep pressing on!

Image: The Light of Morning, brl.press

Passing the Test of Obedience

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Passing the test of obedience is a mark of how well we are willing to follow God and the diligence required to trust and obey His instructions.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)

Some years ago God used a simple circumstance in my life to reveal to me that I did not possess the spiritual fortitude that I presumed and that I was not prepared for the future ‘tests’ that would come my way. It was when my car was being serviced and I received a frantic call from my daughter who had left her school report at home and if not turned in on that day she would receive a failing grade.

So, I did what any mother would have done, I decided to ride my bicycle to her school knowing that I was committing myself to a ten-mile hilly trek (we lived in southern California) to the school and back. I presumed in my mind that I was physically fit enough to endure the trip.

Getting to the school was no problem, it was mostly downhill with slight uphill moments. And delivering my daughters report brought satisfaction towards my effort as a mom (although this later became a mother-daughter teaching moment). It was the return trip that became a teaching moment for me and my spiritual journal with God.

Cycling home was another matter; it was mostly uphill and tested my body in a way that I had not experienced before. Several times I had to stop and after taking a break, get back on the bicycle and painfully force my pedals to rotate enough to get me home. I arrived completely wasted of bodily strength, dehydrated and too weak to walk.

God used this unsuspecting circumstance to illustrate my lack of spiritual fortitude and diligence required for an enduring walk of obedience. He showed me that to “walk in a manner worthy” of His calling on my life would require intentional focus on preparing myself to pass every test of life allowed in my life. It would require diligently seeking getting to know God and His instructions for living an abundant life in Him through His Son, Jesus.

The Israelite’s had to learn to depend on the daily bread from heaven before entering into the promised land. We have Jesus who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

“…it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)

Passing the test of obedience has everything to do with our daily reliance on God’s provision through Jesus Christ our Lord and intentionally building a foundation in Him that prepares us to not only endure the tests of life but also to pass them!

“…give us this day our daily bread…”

(Matthew 6:11)

Pressing On

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“Life is hard but God is good” is a statement I heard many years ago that rings true of life’s journey. Jesus warned us that:

“…In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The beauty and strength in Jesus’ perspective is that He knew the depth of sufficiency and power that would be provided through Him to overcome the world. It also means that Jesus followers have to know that their approach to overcoming tribulation will be different from the worlds approach. And we need to know what we’re fighting for.

In the movie Cinderella Man, the history making boxer (Jim Braddock) who is experiencing an incredible comeback after loosing everything is asked to explain his sudden success. His response resonates a new-found purpose that was birthed through his tribulation:

“This time around I know what I’m fighting for.”

Do you know what you’re fighting for in life? Knowing begins with discovering God and His purpose for your life. Jesus lived to please God. He accomplished the work that He was sent to accomplish on earth amidst great tribulation. He knew what He was fighting for, to bring the light of salvation to the world. We see His determination and focus through the prophet Isaiah;

“But the Lord God helps Me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)

God has a good plan for your life and it takes a fierce focus on Him to discover and fulfill it against the tribulations of living in this world. Know what you’re fighting for. How you spend eternity is weighing in the balance.

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

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Truth

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“What is truth?” This is one of the most important questions of the ages. It was asked of Jesus by Pilot, the governor of Judea over 2000 years ago and still resonates in hearts today. (John 18:38)

Truth is sought sincerely early in life but it seems that once life complications set in (through influential relationships or circumstances) we are easily swayed into forming our own truth. Not realizing that our truth can never acclaim to the height, depth and width of God’s truth we sabotage our future potential and impact the outcomes that we were created and designed to have. Our version of truth becomes as natural to us as breathing and we miss out on God’s best for our lives and fulfilling His purpose.

Our form of truth is not liberating, it leads to a fear based bondage. Real truth is found in God Word.

“The sum of Your word is truth…” (Psalm 119:160)

Jesus said

“I am…the truth…” (John 14:6)

Jesus also said

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” (John 18:37)

Truth is found in Jesus. In receiving Jesus we receive truth. Once we enter into truth our ears are opened to listen to Jesus’ voice. Then and only then are our hearts satisfied, we have found truth and the empowerment to build a life based on truth and the freedom to enjoy a blessed life!

Jesus said

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Listening to God

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How often have you gotten yourself in trouble because you chose not to listen to or follow the recommended instructions to complete a project? God understands this tendency in our human will to presume that we know just enough to get the job done without His help. The bible is full of warnings to avoid presumptive sin by choosing to listen to God’s instruction for doing life.

“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! (Psalm 19:13a)

When Israel was led into captivity after years of enjoying and mishandling the blessings of God, Jeremiah the prophet tells us it was due to them not listening to God. They had forgotten there need for God who not only brought them into the promise land but also their need for Him to keep them there. They presumed that God would not judge their sin.

“I will pursue them with sword, famine and pestilence…because they did not pay attention to My words…you would not listen, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:18-19)

As children of God we are also deeply loved by Him. It is His love for us that drives His discipline towards us for our good. He sacrificed His Son (Jesus Christ) in order that we might enjoy His abundant blessings in this life on earth and throughout eternity. The better we become at listening to His instructions the more our lives become enriched with His blessed presence and all the daily benefits of His provision.

“I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm My covenant with you.” (Leviticus 26:9)

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to ultimately provide for all our needs. He is the Blessed Savior from whom all blessings flow. It is in and through Jesus that God made His plea once again to His beloved children to listen to His Son in order to live in the abundance of His provision on a daily basis.

“This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35)

The Bible is our instruction manual for life, how well are you listening to it?

“Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13b)

His Banner Over Me is Love

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Growing up I learned that love had to be earned based on how well I performed. The giving of love was by works and not by grace. This way of receiving love was instilled in my father by his father and he naturally brought it into his parenting relationship with his own kids.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19)

Performance based love is rooted in fear and not in the freedom of grace love initiated by God. My earthly father inflicted a ton of rules that I had to adhere to. Eventually I figured out that I would never be able to consistently meet his standards. God accepts us as we are, with all our imperfections and shortcomings. He not only loves us first but wins our heart with His kindness towards us.

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us…but according to His own mercy…” (Titus 3:4,5)

God is love and He delights in pouring out His love on us. So much so that He sent His Son Jesus to remove the barrier of ‘works based love’ which could never satisfy our longing to be loved and accepted.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…In order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16, 17)

There is no fear in the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, there is peace of soul knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are. His love brings freedom to soar into fulfilling our God-given purpose on this earth.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (1John 4:18)

Nothing can separate you from the love of God! (Romans 8:38, 39)

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)

Image: Nature’s Love, J. Shauk

Extenders of Mercy

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Extenders of mercy are considered to be good Samaritans, willing to come to the aid of another. They seem ready to extend kindness by doing the unexpected, extending compassion instead of judgement, pity instead of criticism.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy extenders are mercy receivers.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)

God made a promise to those who choose to follow Him as a shepherd leader who would never leave us during our journey through life. He promised goodness and mercy would dwell among us. Thankfully, He also gave us the insight into how this lifestyle could be maintained, He knew that we could not be extenders of mercy without first receiving His mercy.

“…for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

We are described as sheep without a shepherd, lost and exposed to all the dangers of life before coming into the sheltering mercy of God. He is the originator of Mercy, delivered to mankind through His Son, Jesus. (Luke 19:10)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

We become recipients of mercy when we believe in Jesus, the Savior of the world. Once this happens we are called to become extenders of mercy. Only then can we begin to understand the vastness of the mercy we have received and the joy of extending it to others. It reflects the security we have in God to meet our needs.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Enjoy the mercies of God in your life by extending mercy to others!