Beyond Human Limitations

The Lord is good, a strong Refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

Our spiritual journey is uniquely developed according to our strengths and weaknesses as determined by God. What exactly does that mean? God is aware that we have unique life experiences, so He allows only the struggles that produce a character that reflects the character of Jesus Christ. God does not crush us as some would have us believe. We are not grapes going through a winepress! God is a loving Father who tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

The characteristics of being Confident, Cautious/Careful, Carefree, or Careless are the mindsets and lifestyles that we have embraced. Those who are confident consider the cautious/careful cowardly. The carefree and careless consider the confident as rigid. And the cautious/careful consider everyone else as risk-takers. Yet whichever category we fit in when we face Adversity, the amount of courage we possess matters the most.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Courage is not a stand-alone characteristic. It requires faith and trust, either in oneself or God.

When the stormy hardships produce havoc, many think that their intellect, strategic planning abilities, prior experience, or people who always come to the rescue can resolve any challenge they face. Our demeanor changes once we apply all of our human efforts and tap out the resources of our family and friends, but the storm remains.

Two responses: Either we turn to God immediately and ask for the strength to go through the stormy trials, or we become overwhelmed, discouraged, or angry. The “Why me? or Why now?” questions that no human being can answer, God provides the answers in His Holy Scriptures.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Trials and sorrows change and build the character required for eternal life!

When it is evident that our mindsets and lifestyles demonstrate faith and trust in ourselves, God will allow trials and hardships to bring us back to Him. Eventually, we acknowledge that we have reached our limits and, in humility, confess, repent, and ask for Divine help. Unfortunately, some believers only have a superficial relationship with Jesus Christ. They become bitter, angry, or depressed, quickly blaming God for tough times. And willingly join the unbelievers because they do not desire to endure hardships.

If we only persevere, God has promised us a glorious future. Even in our earthly lives, the storms do not last forever! God always lets us know that He is here.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:16-17).

Know that God never expected us to live without His Divine Intervention. We were created to stay connected to God through prayer and study of the Scriptures. Imagine receiving spiritual nourishment from God through our spiritual umbilical cord 24/7. That is the access we have to our Father God, who desires for us to be overcomers.

Yet victory requires faith, trust, courage, strength, and endurance. God’s resources of love, compassion, and power are abundant. God will never fail us! His promises are Yes, to which we respond, Amen.

Bible Reading: James 1

Prayer: God, for too long, we have relied on our abilities. And for this sin, we ask for forgiveness. We need You and ask for the strength and endurance to overcome. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Game of Chance

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:12

A concept is causing significant dissension and division among Christians–prosperity! When we hear messages based on God promising us wealth, we will react in one of two ways, “It’s a false teaching” or “Yes, Jesus says to ask anything in His name, and He will do it.” Yet, Jesus has told us “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Matthew 6:19, first part.

Sin has given us a natural longing to desire the things we do not have. Is it possible for us to be content? The answer of yes or no is an individual one, which reveals our relationship with Jesus Christ. We will explore the response of no, which many hesitate to say. They usually respond with, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19). And the conflict of truth versus error begins.

The Desire–Are you familiar with the phrase, “Some people are their own worst enemy?” We begin the decline into sin by our heartfelt desires. We have entered Satan’s Game of Chance as inexperienced players at this stage. But Pride continually urges us to pursue our dreams. Unsure of ourselves, we seek and select people who agree that we should follow our hearts. We make sure that we keep our strategies a secret, especially from the Saints of God who always say, “Pray and wait on God.” We grow weary of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11. So, we begin listening to…the Influencers.

The Influencers persuade us to chase our dreams now. Many have become successful in the financial arena. We readily listen to the testimonials of social media’s elite, successful entrepreneurs or peruse the websites of powerful investment companies. JP Morgan advertises, “Set up a call or virtual meeting with a J.P. Morgan Advisor to discuss your investment goals and help keep them on track.”

An unequally yoked relationship is today’s believers’ second most prevalent deception. We have lost control of our senses, especially our eyesight. When children are younger, they are immature and desire the pleasant things they see. Yet, as they mature if taught restraint, they learn that not everything pleasing to the eyes is good for you.

The Rebellion–In these last days, Satan’s two deceptions are causing an internal conflict for first place in our hearts, seeking prosperity and having unequally yoked relationships with unbelievers. Chasing wealth and giving into lustful desires has many “Christians” renouncing God. Because compromise has overtaken the desire to obey God, they worship God with works–attending church or making tax-deductible contributions. But their minds are far from giving God the reverence of total obedience. “For let, not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:7-8).

The desire for what we do not possess has existed since the conflict with Lucifer in heaven. Adam and Eve gave up immortality and face-to-face communion with Jesus in the Garden of Eden for the deceptive lie of having God-like omnipotence–knowing all. We do not care! The Bible provides God-breathed historical accuracy in the Scriptures of fallen humanity and proof of God’s love, grace, mercies, and restoration. Yet, pursuing our desires becomes the driving force, and we willingly become players in the Game.

The Knocking on the Door of Our Hearts–“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

The Failure–Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He intervenes, and our dreams that we brought into fruition fail. The loss of our financial investment, or the business falters into bankruptcy, and the relationship [no matter how dedicated you loved] is over when the unbeliever continually disappoints or walks away without remorse.

The Choice–God’s Restoration: With heartfelt sorrow, we confess and repent, [leaving the sinful Game] and receive spiritual restoration from the blood of Jesus Christ. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight…” (Psalm 51:3-4).

The Choice–Remain a Player: Many become angry and depressed, blaming God for not blessing their pursuits or relationships. They embrace the trending belief, “You can’t have success without failures,” and they decide to develop different strategies and continue to pursue their desires. Pride consoles them as they up the ante, “I’ll develop different strategies or find another individual with different values.” Now they have no need for God’s divine direction. They think of themselves as experienced players in the Game of Chance.

The Apostle Paul has forewarned us in 2 Timothy 3 regarding the condition of the last days. There is no middle ground. The player is seeking earthly rewards. But the righteous believe Jesus’ promise to supply all of our needs. We ask in prayer for God’s will to be done and patiently wait for God’s blessings. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7).

Prayer: God, we thank You for seeking us to save our souls when we have wandered away. We pray for forgiveness, not because of the devastating consequences we have suffered. But because we desire to leave the Game of Sinful pleasures. Today, we surrender our hearts and ask to renew our covenant vow with You. In Jesus’ Worthy Name, we pray. Amen.

Who Was Our Best Example of Faith?

Sharing this Daily Devotional by D. Winn

I have often asked groups of people to nominate whom they believe to be the best example of “faith” in the Bible. Most people favor the familiar heroes of faith: Abraham, Job, Moses, or Elijah. Some mention John the Baptist or David.

When asked to explain their choices, people usually speak of those events, such as Abraham’s offering of Isaac, in which people do remarkable things that don’t appear to make any sense. For many Christians it appears that faith has more to do with blind incredulity than with a life-changing relationship.

Jesus Christ is our best example of faithfulness!

Jesus spoke explicitly of His faith relationship with divinity outside of Himself: “I do nothing on my own authority, but in all that I say, I have been taught by my Father.  He who sent me is present with me, and has not left me alone; for I always do what is acceptable to him” (John 8:28, 29, N.E.B.).  The divinity that charged Jesus’ life with power and purpose was not His own, but His Father’s.

Prayer: God, we pray for an increase in faith and the desire to obey Your will for our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Living With Joyful Anticipation

We have so much to be thankful for. Yes, God’s mercies are new every day. Great is His Faithfulness! We have provisions, protection, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and God’s overwhelming love, as demonstrated by many scriptural promises. “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion.'” (Jeremiah 31:3).

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for God has said: ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. I will never leave you or forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5)

Yet, many live with anxiety and worries regarding a situation or the future. And then there are the overconfident individuals who are self-reliant–directing their steps by using prior experience or strategies without ever thinking of asking for Divine intervention. Last, we have people who always run to friends and family to resolve their hardships.

How did believers who Christ says be one with Him become so diverse in our mindsets? It is not surprising that unbelievers do not trust God when they see and hear the inconsistencies [faithlessness] of those who say God is great! We must stop living with fear and self-reliance. We are privileged to serve God and represent Jesus to an unbelieving world.

God never expected us to figure life out. He knows the opposition [spiritual warfare] that we face every day. God promises to take care of us. “God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.” Oswald Chambers

Seek God first every morning, always praying throughout the day and ending with an evening prayer of gratitude. Pray earnestly for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Decide to fully trust in God by anticipating the fruition of His promises in your life.

Reflect on your life journey and acknowledge that God worked supernatural miracles to bring you through as blessed and highly favored. Live in joyful anticipation of blessings every day! Change your way of thinking by entirely relying on God, our Heavenly Father. Behold, is there anything too hard for me?

God desires that we have cheerful dispositions even in times of hardships. Faith in God gives us inner peace and the ability to possess childlike expectancy. Remember that our living is not in vain. One glorious day we will behold our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Prayer: God, we thank You for loving us, for the gift of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and for Your long-suffering toward us. We pray for the renewal of our minds. And we praise You with joyful anticipation as You continue to direct our lives. We pray in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Measuring Our Love

Can you imagine being in love, yet the person who says they love you opposes your morals and values and constantly disagrees with you? We would agree that the individual is not in love with you.

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:10, 14)

Many who claim to love Christ are in opposition to His commands found in the Scriptures. Serving God requires total surrender–we give all or we do not have a relationship with Jesus. Our half-hearted commitment is counted as nothing.

Obedience to Christ is the standard by which He measures our love for Him.

I can recall my dear friend Susan [who is resting in the grave until Jesus comes] saying, “When you understand what being in love with Jesus is, you pray for guidance regarding every decision and wait for the Holy Spirit’s answer.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Pray and ask God to reveal every desire in your heart that prevents your obedience to Him. What things in your life do not reflect total surrender and obedience to Christ?

Prayer: God, we pray for forgiveness for doing things our way. Please anoint us with Your Holy Spirit that our hearts may align will Your perfect will. We ask for wisdom and discernment. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Why Doesn’t God Keep Us From Falling Into Sin As He Promised?

God’s Promise: “Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” Jude 1:24 NLT

God created us with the free will of choice. Adam and Eve were given the command, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 3 16).

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. We disagree with God regarding the condition of our hearts [our minds]. When was the last time you admitted that your heart was wicked? Maybe never. Christians have the tendency to blame falling into sin on Satan. Yet, we willingly fall into temptation by following the sinful desires of our hearts and disobeying God.

God’s Warning: “For we do not wrestle [fight] against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Satan is not Omniscient [All-knowing], but He and his evil angels observe our behaviors. Many children and teenagers are involved in deviant behaviors because their parents or caregivers do not pay attention to their activities or the people they interact with. The worldly conversations, the programs with sex and profanity, and the immodest clothing are easily seen by the evil one.

God’s Promise: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Memory: I can recall overhearing my coworkers having a conversation about going to a restaurant with a separate bar for an after-work drink on Friday to relax and start the weekend off right. About 30 minutes later, they sent over a shy and passive co-worker who knew that I was a Christian but said to me, “Oh, we’re going on Friday to a restaurant after work just to get together.” I responded with a smile, “No, thank you.”

The consequence of declining their offer was isolation. No more greetings of good morning, random chit chats, or eating lunch together. Yet, God provided. A male coworker said to me, “Sonya, I know what happened and if you need assistance, just ask me. He always said, Good Morning.” The walk with Christ always causes separation from unbelievers. Yet, obedience has its rewards–peace, joy, and the assurance of eternal life.

God’s Promise: “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you Victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)

Our Responsibility: Even when Satan attempts to use people who appear non-threatening to tempt us, we have immediate access to the Holy Spirit by praying a silent prayer for guidance. Yes, we can always walk away from temptation and pray for the Holy Spirit to anoint us, who gives us wisdom and spiritual discernment.

Human effort plus Divine Intervention equals Victory!

Our Responsibility: We acknowledge that we are always responsible for falling into temptation and committing grievous sins against God. Practice telling others, “No, thank you.” Remember, God can never fail! Jesus paid the price through His death to protect us from the traps of temptation and redeem us from the end that sin promises.

Prayer: God, we thank you for the spiritual protection you have blessed us with. Help us to rely on the Holy Spirit and our sound minds to resist and say no to Satan’s snares of temptation. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.