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Jesus is With Us in the Storm

This is the post excerpt.

Despite our unexpected stormy trials, believers are never alone.  “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).

Trials, sorrows, and difficulties are designed to give us spiritual growth and dependency on God. We were not created to live without God’s divine intervention. Yes, it is natural for our emotions to escalate when we perceive our hardships as overwhelming. But uncontrolled emotions make us forget the power of God. And then we lose our faith and hope.

Take the time to separate yourself and pray for help. Pray an honest prayer. “God, I am feeling overwhelmed and disappointed. I need your help. I know that you love me and will bring me victoriously through this situation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Praise God and thank Him in advance for His Divine Intervention. Prayer does not take away our trials. Consistent prayer allows us to receive strength and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Study the Scriptures every day. Include time for quiet meditation. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. We hear the voice of God through our thoughts, the Scriptures, reading or hearing another believer’s testimony of victory, and sermons. Sometimes God uses spiritual dreams or another believer with who you may not have shared your situation. God is creative and He determines the method in which He will speak to us. Faith prepares us to recognize and receive God’s answers.

When the disciples were in the boat, fearing for their lives, Jesus appeared to them by walking on the water. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). Remember, we are never alone. Jesus is with us in every stormy trial. The human effort of faith and trust along with Divine intervention always ends in victory! During the challenges of the raging storm, Jesus says, “Come to Me.” Take the giant leap of faith and “Go Ahead! Walk on the Water.” © Sonya Darcell Johnson 2022

Sabbath Devotional–A Time of Peace

Devotional—A Time of Peace–From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart. —1 Samuel 13:14

From a shepherd boy who killed lions and bears to becoming a teen giant slayer, David matured into a Warrior King who led armies to victory. Many know that he wrote the book of Psalms, yet, they are not familiar with his life events and reign as king that are documented in the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles. In studying Chronicles, we find that David’s reign involved continuous wars and victories over enemy nations.

How could David be a man after God’s heart when he intentionally committed adultery and ordered her husband to be placed on the frontline of the battle? Yes, he made errors in judgment by following his heart’s desires. God sent the prophet Nathan with a message to confront David regarding his sins [Read 2 Samuel 12].

For his grievous sin of taking Bathsheba and killing her husband, David received a twofold punishment, the death of their first child, and his life was filled with chaos. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you…” (2 Samuel 12:11).

Once David became king, he also sinned by taking many wives and concubines, bringing abject chaos into his home. Though his enemies sought to take his life, including King Saul, and two of David’s sons—Absalom and Adonijah rebelled against him, God’s righteous hand of protection was upon King Davids’s life. Despite his willful disobedience of following his carnal desires, David repented and found favor with God. The Psalms portray David’s heartfelt love for God.

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” (Psalm 27:7-8)

Nearing the end of his reign, David decided to build the Temple. Like many of us, King David assumed God would approve his plans to build the Temple because he made the human effort of gathering all of the materials [Read 1 Chronicles 29, verses 1-5].

God’s Answer: “Then King David rose to his feet and said, ‘Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it.’ But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.’” (1 Chronicles 28:2-3)

From the disobedient act of taking Bathsheba as his wife, God forgave David. And from that union, Solomon, the wisest man was born and became King. With the love and mercy that only our Heavenly Father can give, David received this promise:

“But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” (1 Chronicles 22:9-10).

King David’s command to Solomon: “Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary, be strong and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10).

David’s life represents the lives of many Christian believers who face spiritual, mental, and emotional distress from unexpected life events, chaos in the home amongst family members, and the suffering of consequences from their acts of presumption and disobedience.

We have biblical accounts of the history of humanity’s defeats, disobedience, suffering, and victories. Still, God has shown His abundant love, grace, and mercy to those who followed their hearts. We will always suffer consequences for our disobedience to God. At times, we receive mercy and do not receive the full impact of what we deserve. Yet, we should not take God’s mercy for granted. It is a privilege to serve a God who expects us to be holy because He is Holy.

Sin changes the heart into a rebellious state against God. At that point, we lose the desire to obey God along with our spiritual gifts of peace and contentment. The state of the world in 2022 is the most perilous time in our lives. Staying obedient to God is a covenant vow that brings many benefits. Pray about every decision whether big or small. “Teach me Your way, O Lord…” (Psalm 27:11).

To have God’s Divine protection, provisions, and peace changes the very trajectory of our lives. More than ever, we need God!

Prayer: God, we thank You for protecting us against dangers seen and unseen. Thank you for Your grace and mercies. We pray for forgiveness for following our hearts instead of waiting for Your direction. We ask for Your divine guidance through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.

A Time of Peace

Devotional—A Time of Peace–From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart. —1 Samuel 13:14

From a shepherd boy who killed lions and bears to becoming a teen giant slayer, David matured into a Warrior King who led armies to victory. Many know that he wrote the book of Psalms, yet, they are not familiar with his life events and reign as king that are documented in the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st Chronicles. In studying Chronicles, we find that David’s reign involved continuous wars and victories over enemy nations.

How could David be a man after God’s heart when he intentionally committed adultery and ordered her husband to be placed on the frontline of the battle? Yes, he made errors in judgment by following his heart’s desires. God sent the prophet Nathan with a message to confront David regarding his sins [Read 2 Samuel 12].

For his grievous sin of taking Bathsheba and killing her husband, David received a twofold punishment, the death of their first child, and his life was filled with chaos. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you…” (2 Samuel 12:11).

Once David became king, he also sinned by taking many wives and concubines, bringing abject chaos into his home. Though his enemies sought to take his life, including King Saul, and two of David’s sons—Absalom and Adonijah rebelled against him, God’s righteous hand of protection was upon King Davids’s life. Despite his willful disobedience of following his carnal desires, David repented and found favor with God. The Psalms portray David’s heartfelt love for God.

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” (Psalm 27:7-8)

Nearing the end of his reign, David decided to build the Temple. Like many of us, King David assumed God would approve his plans to build the Temple because he made the human effort of gathering all of the materials [Read 1 Chronicles 29, verses 1-5].

God’s Answer: “Then King David rose to his feet and said, ‘Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it.’ But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.’” (1 Chronicles 28:2-3)

From the disobedient act of taking Bathsheba as his wife, God forgave David. And from that union, Solomon, the wisest man was born and became King. With the love and mercy that only our Heavenly Father can give, David received this promise:

“But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” (1 Chronicles 22:9-10).

King David’s command to Solomon: “Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary, be strong and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10).

David’s life represents the lives of many Christian believers who face spiritual, mental, and emotional distress from unexpected life events, chaos in the home amongst family members, and the suffering of consequences from their acts of presumption and disobedience.

We have biblical accounts of the history of humanity’s defeats, disobedience, suffering, and victories. Still, God has shown His abundant love, grace, and mercy to those who followed their hearts. We will always suffer consequences for our disobedience to God. At times, we receive mercy and do not receive the full impact of what we deserve. Yet, we should not take God’s mercy for granted. It is a privilege to serve a God who expects us to be holy because He is Holy.

Sin changes the heart into a rebellious state against God. At that point, we lose the desire to obey God along with our spiritual gifts of peace and contentment. The state of the world in 2022 is the most perilous time in our lives. Staying obedient to God is a covenant vow that brings many benefits. Pray about every decision whether big or small. “Teach me Your way, O Lord…” (Psalm 27:11).

To have God’s Divine protection, provisions, and peace changes the very trajectory of our lives. More than ever, we need God!

Prayer: God, we thank You for protecting us against dangers seen and unseen. Thank you for Your grace and mercies. We pray for forgiveness for following our hearts instead of waiting for Your direction. We ask for Your divine guidance through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.

Never Apologize for This One Thing

Devotional–Never Apologize for This One Thing from The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

“But let your ‘Yes be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No, No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37

Can you recall a situation that placed you in a dilemma with another person? If so, how did you respond? Every reaction whether with spoken words or behaviors represents our relationship with Christ. Did you reflect later only to regret your reaction or response? Perhaps we later apologized for an emotional reply or we were disappointed in our answer because it compromised our spiritual values.

Sanctification is daily spiritual growth and requires a lifetime for our character to be molded into the Character of Christ. Yet, we should recognize a change in our morals and values moving toward the godly standard of righteousness. As Christians, we are called by God to uphold His standards. “…because it is written, Be holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Yes, we are works in progress, but our minds should never waver in choosing to say or do what is right–as defined by God.

Scenario: You are in a meeting with your Manager and are asked to manipulate the actual findings of the monthly report. And for your dedication to the company you are being considered for a promotion to become Department Supervisor. You just purchased a new house. What is your response?

Scenario: Your wife brings a bag of clothing home with 8 items from an expensive store and the receipt only shows that 6 items were paid for. This is not the first time. Do you ignore the situation or ask questions [after you pray for guidance]?

When facing temptation, immediately pray [a silent prayer] and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment. If possible clarify the words that are spoken to you by repeating them back to the person. If the situation involves an illegal cover-up be prepared for a hostile response.

Remember, this is a test of spiritual warfare. Do not be intimidated into compromising your godly standards. Stand your ground! Keep your response terse–using as few words as possible. With a calm and gentle tone, boldly proclaim, “I am a Christian and I will not say or do that.”

But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:33

If choosing righteousness causes the loss of family and friends, a marriage, a job, or money then so be it. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus promises He will supply all necessary provisions. But most importantly, our reward of eternal life is at stake when we deny Christ. Brothers and Sisters stand strong as a Soldier of God. Let your yes be yes and your no is no.

And there will be a highway called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel it–only those who walk in the Way–and fools will not stray onto it. Isaiah 35:8

Prayer: God, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and discernment when facing the compromise of temptation. Lord, help us exert holy boldness and stand for right thinking and doing in every circumstance that threatens to make us sin against You. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the worthy name of Jesus. Amen.

Devotional Reading–Living an Abundant Life

Devotional–Living an Abundant Life—November 21, 2022, From The Struggle of Sanctification by Sonya Johnson

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12

When Hurricanes Ian and Nicole hit the Florida East Coast, I noticed something phenomenal, the palm trees swayed in the 50 mph gusty winds, yet, they did not break, nor did they lose their leaves. A little research reveals that “Palm trees are very elastic. They are fibrous, and fairly wet on the inside, which allows them to bend easily in the wind.” This should be no surprise to those who hold fast to the fact that Jesus created the earth. He spoke into existence the trees that would not break when faced with the adversity of nature.

Equally fascinating is the red cedar tree: “Because of its sleek, more compact growth habit, the cedar fits perfectly in any space. And it’s one of the hardiest and most tolerant trees. It grows anywhere across the country, in any soil or environmental condition – cold or hot, dry or wet. No diseases and pests, which means no harsh chemicals or sprays. Little to no upkeep is required because of its tolerance, hardiness, and resistance to diseases and pests.” Eastern red cedar seedlings develop a long fibrous root system, often at the expense of top growth.

In Psalm 92, God says that if we surrender and commit our lives to Him, we will hold fast like the palm and the cedar trees. What does God require from us? Faith, Trust, Obedience, knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and unceasing prayer. Most importantly, we pray daily for the anointing of the Holy Spirit who leads, gives us spiritual discernment of the Bible, and reveals the spiritual warfare of our daily temptations.

Something interesting happened last week when I had my eye exam. The glasses that I wear for reading are two years old. After the exam, Dr. Justin told me that my vision had improved except for my far vision which had a slight decline, but not enough for bifocal glasses.

Our lives include the present and the future. As we progress in our spiritual journey, we will experience short-term changes that affect our future lives. Yet, we can expect spiritual growth and development into the character of Christ if we keep our covenant with God. Although God has plans for us, we let our will and heart’s desires overrule His will.

“I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course” Jeremiah 10:23.

This verse is the beginning of the prophet Jeremiah’s prayer for God’s mercy when the nation of Israel was deep into idolatry and God had revealed the punishment of their soon captivity.

Human beings have the innate disability of being short-sighted. We plan our lives—present and future as if God’s direction is not required. Many Christians, will give their testimony that although they faithfully serve God and made sound plans for the future that their lives did not turn out as they expected.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches, But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these, I delight,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

We do not possess far-sighted–futuristic spiritual vision. If we desire to live an abundant earthly life [not referring to financial excess] then we must allow God to direct our steps. Only the Omniscient God knows our future obstacles, defeats, and victories.

Nothing happens in the righteous person’s life without the permission of our Savior, Jesus Christ. God allows the trials and sorrows needed for us to experience the spiritual transformation of our minds and characters. He is preparing us for an abundant life in heaven [and after a thousand years] in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Staying faithful to our covenant with God to do His will guarantees us that He will intervene and give us spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength like the palm and cedar trees. Yes, the righteous who stay rooted and grounded in Christ will receive their reward of an abundant, heavenly, eternal life with King Jesus, the One who gave His life for us.

Prayer: God, we ask You to save our souls. Please reveal any disobedience and waywardness in our hearts. We desire to renew our covenant with You and to have abundant earthly and heavenly lives. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen.