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Faith in Tribulation

Tribulations shall come; and we are told to glory in them (Romans 5:1-5 NKJV). 

1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character, and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say that I glory in times of testing.  At times I have been so gripped by fear that I was virtually stuck – powerlessly overwhelmed by worry, doubt, and loss.  My nights were sleepless and when I called out to God in prayer for peace of mind, it did not come.

What is wrong with me?

I was not earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 1:3).  I lacked boldness and confidence in my Lord that He not only provides for all my needs, but He is more powerful than any circumstance.  I was not living by faith in Jesus, but faith in myself. 

I can’t fix anything!  Once I turned everything over to Him, my burdens were lifted as He carried me through one difficulty after another.  The more I trusted Jesus to take control of my life, my prayers were heard and answered according to His will.  I can now see how giving God the glory fits with tribulation, as his solutions to problems are perfect compared to mine. Where was the evidence of my faith? Sadly – gone. But praise God, once I repented and began to live according to His Spirit guiding me, I learned:

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  ~ Romans 1:16-17 NKJV

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass… 7Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;

8Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret – it only causes harm.  ~ Psalm 37:3-5,7a, 8 NKJV

Jesus keep me from stumbling!  Keep me from taking back any burdens You have freed me from so I can rest in You always.  Thank You LORD!

28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, as I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  ~ Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

And also:

20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  ~ Jude 1:20-21 NKJV

Today’s Nugget | Speak God’s Word

Hi everybody! Happy Friday already … again … it sure comes around fast, doesn’t it? Has this week slipped by with you wondering where your blessing went?

You may hear this blogpost as a podcast by clicking here – https://anchor.fm/importantstuff/episodes/Todays-Nugget–Speak-Gods-Word-e13di9d

Gee, I know how you feel! But what would happen if we speak God’s Word aloud all week?

Take Isaiah 41:10, for example:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Okay, so what happens if we declare what God just said to us and accept it as truth? Let’s try speaking it back to Him!

“I am not afraid, for You are with me. I am not discouraged, for You are my God. You strengthen me and help me. You hold me up with Your victorious right hand. Selah!”

See how we can clothe ourselves in glory by speaking God’s Word for us back to Him? It’s affirmation. It’s receiving through speaking scriptures into the atmosphere that changes our circumstances. It builds us up, just as God intended. It shifts things that are against us into things working for our good.

Many times we hear that prayer changes things – and it does. I would add that boldly speaking God’s Word in our prayers delights God. Making confident declarations of God’s wisdom through His Word makes a lot of sense to me. How about you?

Try with me Matthew 5:44-45a (declared):

“I declare, that I love my enemies, and bless those who curse me, just as You commanded, LORD. I do my best to do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who mistreat me and persecute me. This way, I behave as a true child of my Father in Heaven.”

Let’s open ourselves up to the possibilities of God’s greatness toward us. Speak God’s Word!

“but we who hope in the LORD will renew our strength. We will soar on wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31 (declared)

“The LORD keeps me from all harm – He watches over my life; the LORD watches over my coming and going both now and forevermore.” ~ Psalm 121:7-8 (declared)

Are we getting the hang of it now? Look at how effective prayer is when we speak the Word of God:

“Jesus, You said that I’m to keep on asking, and I will receive what I ask for; to keep on seeking, and I will find. to keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to me. That is what I’m doing, LORD, for everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8 (declared)

While we’re at it, let’s thank God for His great GREAT love for us with one of my favorite worship songs. Let me know in the comments if you have tried this “declare and receive” prayer method and whether it has helped achieve breakthroughs for you or not. As always, I sincerely thank you for following Importantstuff.Live and should we stray may the LORD leave the ninety-nine and keep comin’ after me and you!

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Photo of the Month | February 2019

Walking in the Holy Spirit

²²But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, ²³GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL. Against such there is no law. . . 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.~Galatians 5:22,23,25 NKJV

7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap . . . 8bbut he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. . . . 16And as many as walk according to this rule, PEACE and MERCY be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.~Galatians 6:7,8b,9,16 NKJV (emphasis added)

Brethren, keep God’s law – love one another.  Share each others’ burdens.  Keep sowing to the Spirit and reap everlasting life.  Don’t lose heart!

Voyage to Rome | A Late Start

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Matala Beach, Crete, Greece ©CanStock Photo/gatsi

The Jewish leadership of Jerusalem has accused Paul of sedition according to their law (Acts 21-26).  After possibly being held for ransom in Caesarea for two years by then Governor Felix, Paul’s case is heard by the new Governor Portius Festus and yet another politico named King Herod Agrippa II.

Paul eloquently defends himself to these authorities and also gives witness about Jesus to everyone there with no evidence of belief in the room.    However, Paul is granted his appeal to be tried by Caesar and handed over to a Roman centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius.

How many times have I thought I was headed in the right direction and then out of the blue I’m derailed into some kind of weird time-loop-thing I can’t seem to make any sense of, but is hindering my progress!  Not just me, but other people tell me they experience the same thing.  Praise God! His timing is perfect! …. I tend to blunder along and sometimes God sends me a big, “WHOA, SLOW DOWN!” command … anyway, back to our story of Paul, who appears to be two years late from the git-go on heading over to Rome …

Time to shove off!

Julius wastes no time in setting sail for Rome with Paul, Luke, Aristarchus, and some other prisoners in tow.  Within a day, they reach the port of Sidon, where Julius shows a bit of kindness toward Paul and allows him freedom to visit with friends before setting sail again.  A bit of a wind tosses the ship, so the captain steers along the leeward shoreline of Cyprus and hugs the southern coastline of today’s Turkey before pulling into Myla, a city of Lycia.   Julius quickly books passage on an Alexandrian ship heading to Italy, and as soon as his responsibilities are all aboard, probably kicks back for a game of dice with his officers; thinking that the voyage to Rome is going along better than he could have expected.

Not so fast!

7When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone. 8Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.” ~ Acts 27:7-8 NKJV

Now winter is pressing upon this little ship of fools – Ooops! I mean souls.  So much time has passed by now that even The Fast is mentioned in verse 9, or Tisri (The Day of Atonement), indicating the date to be September 24th in that year.  After much time spent debating whether to put up here for the winter or to press forward to Crete, Paul warns Julius against proceeding.  Paul predicts loss of cargo, the ship, and even lives if the ship continues.

Against Paul’s warning Julius accepts the captain’s and ship-owner’s advice to continue onward to Crete.  There is a better winter harbor at Phoenix on Crete and perhaps Julius values the judgement of experienced sailors over a prisoner who may or may not want to delay legal proceedings in Rome.  Regardless, the winds let down, majority rules, and off they sail … thinking they have favor with the sea gods!

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Ancient Greek Ship ©CanStock Photo/Diomedes66

How often do I launch my boat against good advice? – Or even worse, against God’s will?  Hah! Too many times for me to confess here.  At least with the Holy Spirit’s help I chose the right harbor – Jesus is my rest.  How about you, friend?

Stay tuned to hear Luke’s account of what happens next as the wind changes and calamity strikes!

 

 

Photo of the Month | August 2018

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Psalms 103:15-17

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is  gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children;

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Video of the Month | June 2018

The May Tree blooming in June.  It has a friend that lives beside it – A Siberian Larch.

Even the wilderness and the desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display His glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you. ~ Isaiah 35:1-4 NLT

Anything

I just wanted more time together.  Just another hug . . . one more chance to hold his hand . . .  tell him how much I love him again . . . I would have given . . . anything.

My stepdad battled Alzheimer’s for over ten years.  Our last days with him have been crying days – mostly for him.

One family member said, “I hate what Alzheimer’s does to people.”

I agree.  As my stepdad slowly broke down under the insidious disease process, we crumpled emotionally beside him.  There were times as we held hands at the dining table that he would look away with a hurtful expression on his face and mutter to the wall, “Oh well . . . It is what it is.”

In my heart I waged war; won his battle by finding a miraculous cure; traded places; did more; did anything to prevent what we all knew was happening.  But in reality, I had no such ability or power.

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  ~ 2 Tim. 4:18 NIV

My stepdad was a Christ believer.  His heart was huge for everyone he knew; and he was so loved in return.  Then our prayers for a miracle were painfully answered as our family expected – but dreaded.  My stepdad was released from Alzheimer’s torment a few days ago.  Even though I am mourning the loss, I am thankful to God for mercifully calling him Home.  He will no longer suffer.  He is leaping for joy in Heaven with Jesus, friends, and family in Glory.

My friend, John, called yesterday to pay his respects to Mom.  He told me to “just look at it as if he has graduated.”  Thank you, John.  That simple encouragement has comforted me more than anything else.  Graduation means a reward at the end of the struggle; the victory over life’s hurts.  His diploma is now a page in The Lamb’s Book of Life with his name written there for all to see.  It means honorably finishing the course and moving on to a new beginning.  Thanks to Jesus, It is finished!  Jesus paid the price for our sins and didn’t leave anything undone.  He has done everything that no one else is able to do.  Thank you, Jesus.  I know that I will see my stepdad again when it’s my turn to graduate.

My stepdad was a boxer as a young man – a fighter; and he fought the ravages of time (he was 85) and of Alzheimer’s right up until the end.  Even though he could no longer speak the Words, I will copy them here on his behalf; as I am confident he owned this scripture as he took his last breaths:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. ~ 2 Tim. 4:7-8 NIV

My stepdad was also a race car driver when he was young.  He always drove a pickup truck and never relinquished his set of keys after he quit driving.  I’m sure he hoped he would need those keys again someday because that truck is still parked in his garage.

Gosh!  I would give anything to see him driving it around in Heaven right now . . .

Do your best to come to me quickly, ~ 2 Tim. 4:9 NIV

 

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Divine Wilderness

A wild, empty, or remote area (wilderness) is what most people rarely frequent.  Wilderness is mostly inhabited by untamed animals that thrive in a mysteriously desolate, yet awesomely beautiful place.  It is a place without highways; crisscrossed randomly by well-trodden game trails.  When I meet with my Heavenly Father in such a place it morphs into a Divine Wilderness.

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Ramon Crater at Negev Desert, Israel

I must come alone.  But I will not be lonely, as the Holy Spirit will be there with me.  In fact, He is my guide – just as Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to pray.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, ~ Luke 4:1 KJV

Jesus was always our perfect example in every aspect of His life in the flesh:

  • He always retreated from others when He prayed.
  • He sought isolated places to be alone in prayer with His Father; often ending up in the wilderness just like Abraham, Moses, and John the Baptist.
  • Multitudes followed Jesus into the wilderness and He spoke The Word to them.  He fed them out there – bread and fish (about 5,000 men plus women and children).
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.      ~ John 6:33-35 KJV

Since I am a night owl, my wilderness is located somewhere in the far distant gloom of night.  It’s sometime between midnight and four a.m.  Others speak of morning devotions and I have never been successful finding time with God in the morning (I’m talking crack-of-dawn morning).  But while others sleep, I become unfettered to the cares of this world.  I am free to be alone with my Father with no interruptions.  Mind you, I am not saying that I have made every appointment – far from it!

But that is my weakness, not His.  He awaits in perfect faithfulness to me while I am wasting all that Divine Wilderness on nothingness.

“Father, forgive me for not making our time together the highest priority each night.  I am often absent when I should be searching Your Word nightly in the Divine Wilderness of Your love.  Thank You for patience toward me, and for giving me another chance to work on this, as I need Your Wisdom and Presence to recharge my soul every night so that I can shine for You every day.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.”

No matter what time of day or night, are you spending time alone with your Father in His Divine Wilderness?  If not, will you join with me in re-dedication to daily devotions?

Thank you for following Importantstuff.live!

PC: ©CanStock Photo Inc/Flik47