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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why Does God Allow Us To Go Through Problems Such As Trials and Tribulations?

Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear?  Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

 As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son  (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in (1 Peter 1:6-7).  "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to "rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5-8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ's trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" ((Philippians 4:13).

However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our "trials and tribulations" if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. "By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler" (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.
Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:2-4-12).

Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ." Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it”. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Difference, Lip Service or Heart Serving?

Rewind the story a few days, back to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus had just finished agonizing in prayer, and was now speaking with Peter, James and John. Suddenly, “Judas came… and with him a crowd with swords and clubs… and when he came, he went up to Him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ And he kissed him.”  (Mark 14:43 -46 ESV).
Two followers of Christ. Both have life changing personal encounters with Him. Both spoke directly to Him, using the same basic word. A word that means teacher or master. However, when Judas uses the word, the meaning is simply that — Master — as a title of honor, which is how Judas viewed Him. When Mary calls Jesus “Rabboni”, the added emphasis deepens the word to express who He really was to her — Lord
The difference? Judas had years of head knowledge. Mary’s heart had been changed. Judas was a trusted disciple (he kept the money bag) who “honored God with His lips… but his heart was far from Him” (Matthew 15:8). Judas said the right things. He believed the wrong things. On the other hand, Mary “believed with her heart and was justified” (Romans 10:10). Jesus knew her name — Mary. Mary knew His saving power — Lord.

Coming to grips with this difference personally — honoring God with your lips or believing in your heart — will turn your life around. Not just today, but for eternity. God never asks us to decide for Him, he asks us to yield to Him...big difference.   Because of the blood of Jesus, God looks at us as if we have never in our lives done anything wrong. Oh My. When God changes our heart, He never looks back at what we use to do or how we use to live.
Mary Magdalene. A woman whose entire life and persona had been controlled and dominated by demonic activity. She battled not just one spirit of evil. She was consumed with seven. Until one day, when she had a divine appointment with Jesus — “Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out…” (Luke 8:2 ESV). After that encounter, she became a committed follower of Christ. Her story had become His story. Perhaps that is why she was the first person to visit the tomb on that Resurrection morning — even while it was still dark. When she found the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty, she ran to find Peter and John, who ran back to the tomb to see for themselves. And Mary? She “stood weeping outside the tomb” (John 20:11 ESV). Weeping with the pain and grief that is only felt when mourning the death of someone deeply loved. Through her tears, Mary stoops to look inside of the place where her Savior had been laid just a few days before. Two angels tell her that Jesus is not there. When she turns around to leave, she runs right into Jesus. Perhaps because she was in such deep anguish, Mary did not recognize Him. In fact, she thought He was the gardener. After a brief discussion she turns to walk away. Jesus says one word — “Mary!” She “turned and said to Him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni‘” (vs. 16) The meaning of the word is Teacher or Master. Can you imagine how she must have felt?  Relief and joy certainly flooded her heart.
Apply yourself to the Scriptures and the Scriptures to yourself. When praying, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart. God is more concerned about your heart than your performance. Some of us keep trying to change ourselves and forget that God called us just as we are. Let God do the changing. God will renew your mind if you let Him. 
He cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene; changed her heart and renewed her mind, think about what He can do for you.  He wipes away our past, period!  Thank Him for what He has already done, for what He is doing right now and for what He is going to do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Favor Is God's I'm For You Attitude. God Sets Times For Favor On Your LIfe

God’s Favor can make an extraordinary difference in your life, but it will not happen automatically; it has to be “turned on” in much the same way as you turn on the lights in your house. The power of electricity is always there, but the lights won’t come on until you turn on the switch.  As a believer, you need to release the power of favor that God has already made available.God wants to bless you, personally, with His favor. As you enlarge your mindset to expect and believe for His favor, and as you open your mouth to confess God’s promises, you can find favor with God and man!

Favor is God’s “I’m for you” attitude . It has been said that one day of God’s favor is better than a thousand days of labor. He wants to bless us, promote us and treat us special. “Since He did not spare even His own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else?” God’s answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Exodus 11:.3, God gave the people Favor. Psalm 103. God gives Favor to David.  God sets times of Favor, your job is to show up for the appointment. I am going to the real estate broker, I have an appointment with the favor of God on my house, I am claiming this house. I’m going back to the banker, God is surrounding me with favor, my loan is going to be approved today, I'm going back to the Doctor, God has given me Favor in my health, the doctor's report is in my Favor.  Right now - God is working behind the scenes and arranging things in your favor. He's lining up the right people. God never intended His favor to be found by just a handful of people. Every believer – you and me included - can find His favor and do things that could not be accomplished without it.

Ruth asked for and found FAVOR with Boaz (Ruth 2-4), and became the great grandmother of
King David.David found FAVOR with Saul (1 Samuel 16:22) and with God (Psalm 30:7).
Despite his failings, God refers to David as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22).   
Esther found so much FAVOR (Esther 5:2) that the King offered her up to half his kingdom.
Mary found FAVOR with God (Luke 1:30) and became the mother of Jesus.
Jesus disciples’ had FAVOR with both God and men (Acts 2:47), and the church grew.

 Raising Your Expectations
Our expectations have a lot to do with what happens to us in life. If we expect the worst, that is generally what we will get. There is a scriptural principle that says, “as we think in our hearts, so are we” (from Proverbs 23:7). It follows that the level of favor we experience in life will rise to our level of expectation. There is no way around it; if we are to grow in favor with God and men, we are going to have to raise our expectations and believe that God wants us to be blessed with His favor.

What should we expect this favor to look like? Psalm 103:2-6, 17-18 lists several effects of God’s favor. We should expect (or regard as likely to happen) that God will forgive our sins, heal our diseases, redeem us from destruction, crown us with loving kindness and tender mercies, provide for our health and strength, give us justice when we’re oppressed, and extend His righteousness to our children’s children as we keep covenant with Him. And, that’s just scratching the surface of what God’s children can, and should, expect!

Believe It Is For You
Even those who do not have a problem expecting that God will release His favor on His children, sometimes have a hard time believing that God’s favor is for them personally. They say, “It sounds good, but it doesn’t work that way for me. I believe in God, pray, and go to church, but I still don’t experience God’s favor.” They believe in God’s favor, but they don’t believe for it. They need to know that, not only is it acceptable to expect God’s preferential treatment, but that they should believe God for it.

Believing has two parts. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We need to believe that God exists, and that He will reward us when we seek Him. Each Christian has a need to personally accept God’s promise of favor as being true, genuine, and real – and each has a need to believe for His favor in their life.
It is God’s will for you to experience His favor. Every promise He makes is for you, and as Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV).

Confess Favor
Favor is not found by following a formula, and it is important to remember that we are not changed by what is in our head, but by what is in our heart. In Matthew 12:34, we are reminded that, “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  When we expect and believe for favor, it affects both our heart and our speech.

 There is no better way to express our faith in God than to say the same thing as His Word says. These scripture-based confessions on favor are an example of how you can confess God’s favor over your life:
• God surrounds and protects me with favor like a shield (Psalm 5:12).
• The Lord is a sun and shield. He bestows favor and honor, and no good thing does He withhold from me (Psalm 84:11).
• I actively seek and live by God’s wisdom; therefore, I am highly favored and esteemed in the sight of God and men (Proverbs 3:1-4; Proverbs 8:33-35).
• God’s favor brings promotion and causes me to increase daily (Esther 2:17; Psalm 75:6-7).
• My enemies cannot triumph over me because the Lord has favored me (Psalm 41:11 AMP).