No Surprises Here

Pain – use it as a motivation to grow closer to Jesus.
Scripture tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). How do you actually do that? You focus on the truths about Him. And then make choices using those truths.
Truth: Jesus, as our High Priest, keeps us in connection with the Father, no matter what we face each day.
Truth: He is the only and final sacrifice that makes us holy now, despite how we feel; and will also make us holy later (Heb. 10:14) – no matter what situations we currently face.
Truth: Jesus, in the midst of these potentially painful challenges, will forgive us if we mess us.
We are to focus on and believe in these truths, if we are to face what we all encounter each and every day – challenges.
Scripture tells us that the stark reality of life on this planet means we will struggle. Some of which are self-inflicted and some are allowed or brought by the Father. Either way, He will use them to make us more like Jesus. This is called loving Fatherly discipline. Therefore, challenges shouldn’t surprise us one tiny bit.
Yet, these challenges are filtered through the Father’s love, and lubricated with the truths that Jesus keeps us connected to Father in them, enables us to make the right choices during them while giving us a loving hand up if we fall because of them.
This is probably why Paul tells us to rejoice while facing challenges rather than get freaked out by them. Use them to motivate you to become more like Jesus.
Expect them and grow closer to Jesus through them.

Surrounded

If God is for you, who in the world can be against you, right?
Elephants run in herds. And when dangerous situations arise, they put their most vulnerable (often their young) in the middle surrounded by the stronger elephants.
Abram had just returned from defeating the five kings that took his nephew, Lot, captive. The LORD came to Abram in a vision and said, “Fear not, I am your shield.”
Abram went through what we call an adrenaline dump. His fight or flight response led him to fight a great battle, which he decisively won.
Yet after the fight was over, the natural let down had to come. He was vulnerable and possibly questioning himself, “What can of worms did I just open up?”
It’s at this point that Scripture reveals how God showed up to encourage Abram. The LORD would protect Abram just as the herd would their more vulnerable members.
You are surrounded by a shield – God’s presence. Throughout your day, know for a fact that you are not alone. Your Father is right there with you.
Know something else as well, without your Dad being present, your challenges could be even more challenging! And still, in the midst of those challenges, you have the power to love Jesus through your choices.
Live victoriously today because your God is not only for you, but He surrounds you too!

Mature Faith

It’s useless if you can’t use it.
Take a verse that you know; and, ask yourself, “Do I know how to use it in my daily choices?”
Knowledge is having that the truth. Understanding is knowing what that truth means. And wisdom is to know how to use that truth in your everyday daily life.
James reveals that our faith will be tested so that our faith will become mature, complete, lacking in nothing. I find it interesting that the Spirit through James doesn’t say that more knowledge of the truth is needed to make this happen. No, He says it takes more wisdom of how to apply the truth. And, if don’t know how, we are told to ask God for more wisdom, not more knowledge.
Wisdom must be based in knowledge of the truth. But knowledge acquisition alone doesn’t bring about a mature faith. It must go through two more steps – understanding (what does that truth mean) and wisdom (how to use that truth in our daily choices).
It is as we choose by faith to apply the truths found in the verses of Scripture that our faith in Jesus will become complete, lacking nothing.
We don’t read the Word of God to simply learn something. We do it to hear Jesus speak to us so we can follow Him through our choices.
As you read the Word of God today, slow down and ask the Spirit to show you what it means and how to apply it in today’s choices. As you do, your faith will deepen and mature. You will become like Jesus.