Sunday Devotional ~ Do we have to suffer?

For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. (Psalm 66:10)

Life is pain and suffering. Each one of us has trials we must go through in order to make it from birth to death. No one's life is easy, even if it may seem so. Our response to the trials we go through are what make us stronger or bring us down further. God refines us through our trials so we can learn to rely upon Him for our strength and ability.

 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, 
as though some strange thing happened to you; (1Peter 4:12)

Being a child of God doesn't keep you from the trials of life, it just gives you Jesus to rely upon to help you through each of the struggles. We must trust Him and rely upon Him to make it through each episode of life. By doing this we learn not to have faith in our own strength and abilities. The harder the trial, the sooner we learn to lean on Jesus.

For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. (2 Samuel 22:30)

Without the wall in front of us, we would not know we can leap over it by God's help. Without the troop standing against us, we would not know we could run against it with God's strength. God sets trials before us so we can learn how great and awesome He is. 

Whatever trial we're going through today, let us remember Who is there to help us get through it. Let us not ask why we're in a trial. Let us not wish the trial would go away. Instead, let us face the trial head on, knowing that on the other side of it, we will be closer to God and allowing Him to manifest Himself to us, in us and through us.

Sunday Devotional ~ Choking the Word of God

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or 
‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows 
that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God 
and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
(Matthew 6:31-33)

Life happens. We wake up and we're immediately assaulted by responsibilities, choices, and the demands of others on our time, energy, and resources. It's not impossible to go through a whole day without talking to our spouse, much less spending a moment in prayer. That is unless we make time. 

Every relationship needs to be fed with time. We have to spend time with the word and with God in order to grow spiritually. But if we allow the responsibilities we have overcome us, they will push God out.

Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, 
and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, 
and he becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

Notice what Jesus says chokes the word in us. Not Satan. No, it's the cares of this world. 

If we're chasing after what might make us happy, that is the deceitfulness of riches. There are many ways to be rich... rich in love, rich in family, rich in health. And if we're chasing after any of those things to be happy instead of trusting in God and seeking His kingdom first, we are choking the word in our lives.

Today I pray we will see what we are choking our spiritual lives with, and make a change. Small changes add up to big ones over time. Lord, please help us to carve out more of our day to be with you. Help us to care more about chasing you than chasing happiness, because you have promised that all these things would be added to us, if we put you ahead of them.

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Sunday Devotional ~ Patience with Endurance

For you have need of endurance, 
so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
(Hebrews 10:36-38)

We are like a bow in God's hands. He pulls on us and sets His eyes on a target we cannot see. Our job is to remain strong while He stretches us and strains us. He pulls us taut, farther than we believe we can go, and our job is to trust Him, allow ourselves to be stretched to the point He sees fit. If we refuse to bend, He will not reach the target. If we break in His hands by giving up, we are as useless as a broken bow, suitable for the trash.

Endurance is what makes the difference.

Can we endure it when God is stretching us and making us into an instrument He can use to attain His goals?

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. (Job 13:5)

We can only endure if we trust God. We need to remember He only has our best interest at heart. We must remember we were created for His glory and not protect ourselves or any possession or relationship we have over what He has prepared for us.

It is our endurance which makes it possible for God to use us to hit targets He has prepared us for. Even when the stretching and straining hurt, we have to remember the pain is temporary. Growing pains are temporary. And that is what He is having us do if we endure and trust Him: GROW.

Sunday Devotional ~ Waiting with Patience

By your patient endurance, you will gain your souls. (Luke 21:19)

Sometimes we can mistake patience with indifference. While we wait, we do our best not to think about what we are waiting for. We do other things and allow distractions to help us get by while we wait, but God wants a different kind of patience.

Imagine a rock being buffeted by the waves. It withstands everything that is thrown against it. Our patience is supposed to be something more similar to this image. While we wait, Satan throws doubts up against us. 

Do you really believe God's coming?
Did He really promise you the thing?
Are you sure you shouldn't do something yourself?
Maybe you're wasting your time?

But our goal is to withstand it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:3)

God wants to remember His salvation is coming. He is coming. Though it feels to us like He tarries, He is coming at just the right time. It is only through our patient endurance, sitting like a rock buffeted by the onslaught of doubts and the desire to save ourselves, that we can overcome. It's only by perseverance we can receive His salvation at the right time.

Whatever we're waiting for today, let us stand like rocks against the things which make us doubt or want to help God along. The only "help" God needs is for us to wait, with patience, endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is my prayer today that we wait.