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Difficulties Guaranteed. Choose Outcome: Weariness or Worship.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Difficulties and disappointments are guaranteed to come to every life.  The outcome of every situation is our choice.  We can follow the path of the Overcomer, or we can choose to blaze our own way.  Following Jesus will lead us to worship and the fulfilling presence of God.  Going our own way will lead to greater devastation and paralyzing weariness.

The choice seems easy; who doesn’t want victory?!  The reality is the path to victory demands stepping out in faith.  That path demands knowing the Promises and ways of God…and walking in them even when they seem impossible.  On the other hand, the weary path seems wise at first.  We trust the knowledge we’ve accumulated; we rely on our natural abilities and intellect.  It feels safer.  It is a deception.

The passages that precede Jesus’ words above lead us toward the desire of God–intimate fellowship with Himself.  Jesus explains the necessity of abiding in the vine–living in His love.  We love the concept and in quiet times, our mental agreement feels adequate.  But the power of the passage comes when we live it out in the dusty days of life.  Living in the love of God gives strength when the people around us are unreasonable and unkind.  Staying in the vine gives us nourishment when life is draining us with failures and insurmountable problems.

As Christians, we are on a mission to take the glory of God to the hurts of the world.  We can’t idolize the quiet spots; they are to be enjoyed but we have work to do!

So, what do we do with those heartaches that come into our lives?  First, we must remember that what we see is incomplete and in part, an illusion.  We are to live the G Morel flickr.comWord in the midst of the difficulties and enjoy the presence of God through intercessory prayer.

Intercession is so much more than taking God a to do list.  He knows the burdens that weigh upon us.  What He asks of us is to bring those burdens to Him and seek His view.  God has a good purpose and plan in all things; He has the power to produce what He desires.

From the earthly perspective,3241925633_310c42121a_z our problems loom large and feel impossible.  We often beg God to take them away.  In those times, we are carrying loads here that He wants us to bring into His presence.

Intercessory prayer becomes worship as we see inside the Father’s heart and feel His powerful presence reassuring us.  From the eternal perspective, problems relate to aweseom purposes we rejoice in when we seek His understanding.

The Truth of the Word is to be transformational–not tiresome.  Just as intercessory prayer is not a ‘to do list’ for God, neither is obedience to God.  Obedience is doing the will of God with a heart that trusts in His goodness in every situation.  A heart that trusts in Him enjoys His presence so much, lists of sin are unnecessary–because sin separates from Him.  Living Truth in the dust and difficulties of our days is not about getting everything right.  It is about being transformed by the Truth of Love so we can rise victorious over every circumstance.

Weariness comes when our list of ‘do and do nots’ consumes us more than His beauty.  “Love your enemy” is a burden until I see my enemy from God’s view.  “Do not covet” is impossible unless I see the generosity of God who meets my every need.  External measures of life tire us out; a heart resting in Him exceeds any ‘list’ and fills us with energizing life.

When we are growing weary, we are to take that as a reminder to WORSHIP!

Ever feel like ‘Nothing is quite enough?’

Do you have a situation–or a person–in your life who makes you face the ugly feeling of being ‘not enough.’  Maybe that feeling comes from your own view of yourself:  you simply can’t rise up to loving yourself.  Maybe it is something that you care desperately about–something you want to fix or do–but it is out of your control.  Can you bring yourself to give thanks for that situation or person?

give thanks

Before we look at the thanksgiving part, there is an important truth we all need:

You are enough.  God says so!  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Walk outside on a starry night and look at the sky.  The One who made all that, who keeps it in place knows your name–and He says, “That person is so special, I sent my son to suffer and die to save her/him.”

So whomever or whatever makes you feel that way–it’s a lie from the devil meant to stop you from living like your loved.  Throw the lie out and prepare to give thanks.

In the midst of that feeling of being not enough are two truth treasures that can transform lives–our own and others.

First, none of us is enough for another person.  We are not meant to be! If we–or they–try to live off the connection we have to each other, our personal relationship with God is threatened.  The typical response generated by ‘not enough’ seethes with resentment and bitterness.  Those things block our own connection with God.  Our response comes from the fact that the person who is creating our ‘not enough’ feeling is pouring out their own resentment on us.

We don’t have to react that resentment; it is just their mistaken attempt to meet their need.  We can respond with compassion because it is not our failing at all!  Being a child of God gives us the option to resist the temptation to return unpleasantness with more unpleasantness.  Being a child of God allows us to choose to let the life of Christ within us respond in love.  What a joyful way to ‘fill up in the flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.

The second great thing about ‘not feeling like enough’ is that it reveals this truth:

we are never enough when it comes to living like Christ.

If mankind could have disciplined itself into holiness, Jesus Christ would never have needed to suffer and die.  It is Christ in me that is my hope of glory.  Sometimes we need a solid reminder that we are not enough in this Christian life.  No one lives without sin.  Jesus freed us from the penalty and the power, but the presence of sin–in us and around us–is part of the human experience. That piercing sorrow of not being enough to fix a problem or help someone–it is the time to fall in reverence before the One who has it all in control!

Humility is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.  A reminder that we are not enough serves to draw us to the One who gives generously and beyond anything we can think to ask.So, whatever it is that has you feeling less than enough, give thanks to God–and let Him be your sufficiency!

Faith Stories: From Suicidal Despair to Living for a Legacy

Every life has a story, and every life has impact on others.  Walk with my friend as he found his way from despair to hope–and seeks to help others do the same!

Proverbs tells us that without vision, the people perish: God used some interesting lenses to focus the eyes of Tim…lenses one might expect to give a bleaker picture. A long harsh winter, the financial stress of unemployment, a deadening lack of purpose and funerals were some of God’s magnifiers. As his own hope dwindled and he contemplated suicide, God pierced Tim’s heart through the deaths of friends.  Attending the wakes, Tim saw a sharp contrast between the hopelessness of those who lived only for this life and the life-honoring celebrations of home-going saints. The common end of all focused his eyes on his own responsibility to live well—to leave a legacy of life and hope for those who would come behind.

With that desire in place, Tim was again ready and able to feel the love of God. After one funeral, Tim stopped by his brother’s home and mentioned that it had been some time since he had made it a point to go to a church for any reason. His brother replied ‘it’s been 14 years’, and then went on to tell Tim he had been praying all that time for Tim to return to God. It was a prayer heard by God and now received in Tim’s own heart. Shortly after, some Christian friends sought Tim’s help with some home repair projects. Their lives were their testimony: the true concern they had for Tim broke through the hard defenses he had built. Their genuine concern had a profound effect. God’s love was having its way.

During a walk with his dogs one morning, the Spirit broke through and called Tim to humble himself before God, agree with God about his mistakes and turn back to the Father’s love that had never stopped. The beauty and blessing of Tim’s obedience is best in his own words:

“The words were hard—not because of confessing, but because I was weeping uncontrollably. Weeping and thanking God for more than one chance; weeping for the years lost and behind me for the waste they had been…when the prayer was finished, the burden lifted. It was a relief I hadn’t had in years…not just figuratively or spiritually but physically as well.”

Today Tim is a beloved part of a local church…actively living and loving in Jesus’ name.

God’s promises are real. Forgiveness and cleansing restore us. Our prayers and our love for others matter. Sit at the feet of Jesus and soak in His goodness…let us join Tim in embracing the blessing of confession and rejoicing in God’s gracious presence!

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