Blessed is the man who endures temptation

12 Blessed is a 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 1:12

There is great blessing in enduring and persevering under trial.  In this world we will face trials and the way we persevere is by  abiding in the Lord and walking closely with Him.  Throughout Jesus earthly ministry the disciples walked closely with Christ each day learning from Him in all things.

Today we have the Holy Spirit living inside us.  Where ever we go the Lord is always with us.  The Holy Spirit desires to teach us in all things.  In every situation and in every trial the Lord is continually refining and shaping our lives.

The trials we face are like a chisel in the hand of the Lord.  Through every trial and challenge the Lord is shaping our lives.  He is shaping us into His character and His nature.  When we are born into this world we are born into sin.  We are driven by the desires of the sinful nature.  But when we come to Christ and walk closely with Him each day the Lord is continually transforming us.  But abiding in Him each day is the key because we will never overcome in our own strength.  We will simply overcome in the strength and power of the Lord.

 

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I can do all things

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me..  Philippians 4:13

It is the Lord who strengthens us and enables us to do all things.  Many times when the Lord calls us we begin our walk with Him relying on our own strength.  Along the way we fail and fall many times because we are trying to accomplish the purposes of Heaven in our own strength.  But when we come to a place of humility and we understand that we are nothing we begin to rely and trust the Lord in all things.

It is not until we begin to fully trust and rely upon the Lord that we are able to do all that He has called us to do.  When I was younger I read the box Foxes book of Christian Martyrs.  As I read through account after account of faithful servants of the Lord I wondered how they were able to lay down their very lives.  As I sought the Lord day after day and continue to walk with Him He has revealed to me that it is simply because each of these faithful servants relied only upon Him.

We live in a very difficult world and there are many in the body of Christ who are suffering on a daily basis.  They are facing a level of persecution that few in America even know.  But they are able to stand fast for the Lord because it is the Lord who empowers them for service.  Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what to say because it is the Holy Spirit that would give them the words.  As believers in Christ we need to develop a deep intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.  The more time that we spend with Him, the more sensitive we will become to His voice and His leading.  No matter what you are facing this day, know that if you fully place your trust in the Lord and fully rely upon Him that He will strengthen you for all things.

James 1:2-3: Consider it nothing but joy

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].

James 1:2-3 AMP

Our natural reaction to any trial or challenge is to run from it.  We don’t like being uncomfortable and we may have even been told the lie that if you come to Jesus you life will simply get easier.  But the honest truth is that serving and following Jesus Christ is not easy.  It requires us to let go of everything we know and simply trust the Lord at His word.

Often times in the midst of a trial we simply desire that God would remove us from it.  But the honest truth is that every trial and challenge placed in our lives is there for an eternal purpose.  Every trial and challenge we face is meant to refine us and enable us to step into the calling and anointing God has for us.

The honest truth is the greater the anointing the more difficult the preparation.  If we are to represent the name of Jesus upon this earth and speak from His heart then we need to be properly and thoroughly sifted.  As we are tested the things of self and the things of the flesh are removed.

We must have the attitude of John the Baptist.  John the Baptist said that he must decrease that the Lord would increase.  This journey with Jesus is all about us decreasing and the character of Christ increasing within us.  The apostle Paul wrote that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives through me.  As we grow in Christ it is the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us in greater ways.

Today if you find yourself experiencing a difficult trial know that it is for a season and for a reason.  Hold fast to the faith you have in the Lord and in His word.  He is always faithful and will strengthen us and give us wisdom for all things.  Simply ask Him for help and guidance each day.  Don’t try to walk this journey in your own strength, but simply trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on  your own understanding.

God is our refuge

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NIV

In this life we will face many trials and challenges as we follow and seek the Lord.  Every trial and challenge has the purpose behind it of refining us into the character and nature of Jesus Christ.  Through every trial the Lord is developing deep within us a deep trust in His word and in Him.  As trust is developed, intimacy is developed as a result.

We should never live in fear because the Lord is in control.  The enemy will always try to get our eyes focused on circumstances, but the Lord has given us His word that is filled with promises for our lives.  If we truly desire to walk in maturity and victory then we must become a diligent student of God’s word.  As we study His word it is written upon the depths of our hearts.

The Lord is our King

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.

Isaiah 33:22 NIV

Jesus is our Savior and our King.  We have nothing to fear.  There are many who live in fear today because the world is becoming a more dangerous and darker place.  But it is in the midst of great darkness that the Lord is raising a mighty army.  He is raising a company of people who shall be filled with His love, grace, and mercy and who shall operate in the power and might of the Holy Spirit.

One of the great weapons and tactics of the enemy is to try to paralyze us by fear, discouragement, and doubt.  He will do all he can to get our eyes off of Jesus and onto our circumstances or the challenge we are facing.  We see this in the life of Peter as he was walking on the water.  When his eyes were focused on the Lord he walked without fear and did the impossible in walking on the water, but when his eyes were on the storm and the waves he began to sink.  But even when he began to sink the Lord reached down His hand and pulled Peter out from the water.

Today we have nothing to fear.  No matter your challenge or circumstances always remember that the Lord uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  I have learned this in my own life as I have faced different challenges.  In the midst of the challenge I felt very discouraged and very alone.  But through it I learned that the Lord was taking me to a deeper place and was teaching me to trust Him in all things.

His concern for us more than anything else is our character and maturity.  He desires that we walk in maturity and that we walk by faith in His word.  One of the greatest distinctions between a immature and mature believer is that an immature believer will rely on their feelings and will be moved by their feelings and emotions.  A mature believer will not be swayed by their emotions or feelings but will simply hold fast to the faith they have in Jesus Christ.

May we truly come to know the depths of the Lord

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Ephesians 3:17-19 AMP

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is not merely a one time decision.  It is a journey in which we come to know the Lord in a deeper way each day as we walk with Him.  He allows challenges and trials to come forth into our lives that we would learn to trust Him at His word.  He knows that it is through trust that deep intimacy is built.  He understands all the things that must be crucified of the flesh.

It is not an easy journey or an easy road but as we draw near to the Lord and spend time in His presence He will strengthen us for the journey.  The key to walking through trials and challenges is simply drawing near to the Lord.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  In Him is found abundant life.  This walk with Him is about daily dying to ourselves and the desires of the sinful nature.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and the reward is coming to know the depths of His heart.  As we immerse ourselves in His presence we are transformed into the image of Christ.  The Lord’s presence is so tangible when we get away from the distractions of the world and immerse ourselves in Him.  He desires so much to reveal His heart to us but too many times we allow the distractions of the world to take the place He deserves.  God bless you today as you walk with Him and grow with Him.  He  has a mighty plan for your life and as you walk through each challenge with Him He will strengthen you and refine you.

We must remain in Him

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes  so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.    John 15:1-4.

It is vital in our walk with the Lord that we abide daily in Him and remain in Him.  To abide in Him simply means to draw near and walk in deep fellowship with the Lord.  When the Lord called each of the disciples He did not call them merely to be converts.  He called them to be disciples.  To be a disciple meant that they spent every moment with the master becoming like Him in all ways and reflecting Him in all ways.

If we are to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives and walk in the power and authority that Jesus walked in we must abide in the Lord daily.  We must get alone with the Lord in the secret place and seek Him in prayer and the study of His word.  We must pray in the Spirit on all occasions for when we pray in the Spirit the Holy Spirit intercedes through us because He understands our weakness.  He understands that our understanding is limited and because He knows the mind of the Father, everything He gives us to pray is according to the perfect will of God.

If we desire to walk in victory and be the sons and daughters that the Lord has called us to be it will require us to abide daily in Him.  This requires discipline on our part because their are going to be days when we don’t feel like pressing in.  But this journey with the Lord is not about feelings or emotions.  It is about decisions and about choices.  It is about a decision to daily deny ourselves and pick up our cross.  Our flesh desires to be comfortable and only do the things that bring us comfort, but if we desire to walk in the depths of maturity we must put aside our feelings and continue to press into the Lord.

If you have found yourself struggling today in an area I would encourage you to continue to press into the Lord and simply ask Him for strength.  His strength is perfected in our weakness and time spent in His presence will strengthen us for everything we will face.  The enemy will do all he can to lie to us and keep us from drawing near unto the Lord, but if we will simply focus our hearts upon the Lord and press in, we will continue to grow and mature.  The key to this journey with the Lord is simply abiding in Him.  When we do this we will walk in deep maturity and we will be the overcomers that He has called us to be.

My Shield

I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord, my Strength. The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

Psalm 18:1-2 AMP

The Lord is our shield against the wiles and schemes of the enemy.  We live in a world that is broken and fallen and because the world is broken and fallen, it is full of people who are broken and who are fallen.  Those who would choose to reject the truth of who God is an His word are only left with the darkness of the enemy.  They spend their lives indulging in sinful nature and even though it feels good to them, in the end it is only destroying their lives.  As they continue to indulge in the sinful nature they lead themselves down a road of greater bondage.  What they fail to see and understand is that as the bondage increases in strength they simply become vessels of the enemy’s ways and plans upon the earth.  Sometimes they are led to attack us and persecute us and we must remember that they are simply sheep who are in need of a shepherd.  But no matter who or how many stand against us, we have nothing to fear.  The Lord goes before us and prepares our every step.  Every challenge and trial we face in our lives has been appointed by the Lord.  His grace is sufficient for all things and His strength perfected in our weakness.  No matter what you are facing this day always remember that the Lord walks with you.  No matter how big the giant that stands before you, you shall be victorious because you are washed in the blood of the Lamb.  Those who will be used greatly in the coming days must be battle tested and trained in the fire of affliction.  God is fully in control and His is sovereign.  If the Lord be fore us who can be against us.

His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

As we grow deeper in the Lord we come to understand first hand that His ways are higher than our ways.  When we think that something should be done a certain way, we come to find out that the Lord is doing it a totally different way.  When He is working in our lives He doesn’t tell us how He is going to accomplish it, He simply asks us to trust Him.  He will give us glimpses of things and dreams, but He will not show us how He will accomplish it.  When we are waiting upon Him each day and trusting Him every step of the way, our faith is being refined and prepared for the things He is preparing for us to step into. 

This is why Jesus said for any man to follow after Him, he must pick up his cross and deny himself.  The journey with Jesus can be a very painful journey sometime.  When we are taken out of our comfort zone and placed under intense pressure and trial, our flesh is being crucified.  For us to walk fully in the things He has called us to we must reflect His heart and character in all things.  His love must fill our hearts and we must be led by the Holy Spirit in all things.  At times it can seem like we are all alone, but this is the place when we learn not to rely on our feelings, but we learn to stand solely upon His word. 

When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold

But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. Job 23:10-11 NKJV

In our journey with Jesus we will face all different kinds of trials and challenges.  These are all placed in our lives to move us to a deeper place with the Lord.  His desire is that we would learn to let go of our feelings and stand solely on His word.  His desire is that we would stop trying to rely and do everything in our own strength, and that we would learn to rely solely on His love, grace, and mercy.  He allows things to come into our lives because He knows the potential that He has created us with and that we will not grow if we stay in a place of constant comfort. 

There are oasis in the desert times and wilderness times of our lives.  The Lord will give us at times a season of refreshing, but we cannot not run and complain from the challenges we face.  We must stand upon the word of God and keep our eyes focused on Jesus.  The Lord is preparing a bride for His return and this is a bride without spot, wrinkle, and blemish.  The challenges we face are the refiners fire and the Lord is continually burning away and crucifying the things of the flesh. 

Today if you find yourself in the midst of a trial and challenge, stand strong upon the Lord and His word.  Know that He holds your every breath in His hand and that He is fully in control.  He has chosen you from the foundations of the earth and has placed you on this earth for this time in history.  Though at times the things you face may seem overwhelming, know that as you seek the Lord and rely on His grace that His grace is sufficient for all things.