Sunday, April 28, 2013

Faith That Overcomes

There were several of them this week. Nights when Sleep wouldn't respond to me or my body, no matter how much we begged or pleaded for it to come near. Perhaps it stayed afar because it couldn't overcome the skirmishes of Worry battling Reason. Maybe it had turned it's back to me after I refused to succumb to it's sweet touch on my eyelids, because I pushed it aside to turn one more electronic page.

I rummaged through the sleep aids, trying to find the right combination to silence thoughts and invoke relaxation. Would the sleepy time tea coupled with a Bible verse or two do the trick? Or praying for missionaries while breathing deeply? Surely, meditating on the names of God while wearing the warm rice pack around my neck would fill me with peace.

Been there? Sometimes I can identify the struggle and other times there is no clue as to why Insomnia is winning. This week I was stressed with work concerns, an overactive conscience trying to make me bow to the enemy's accusations, and fear/worry about a relationship that wasn't cooperating with my wishes.

My faithful Father was always there. I felt his love and closeness in the sleeplessness. His gentle thoughts came as arrows piercing the worry, and his truth eventually stilled the roars of condemnation. By week's end, he was restoring my soul once again.

I love his methods of restoration as the week progressed. The gift of a long, refreshing night of sleep. A good strong cup of joe with girlfriends who know and yet still love me. A day of compliments, even over little things like the shoes I wore or the way I fixed my hair--I had to smile up at him at the end of that day and receive it as his pleasure over me. The morning I walked into the kitchen and found a chocolate candy bar on the counter with a love note from my husband.

The Saturday morning meeting felt like an intrusion on a perfectly sunny, finally, warm day of spring, but it ended up being another method he used to spread his banner of love over me. The overseer of our church was visiting and he shared a word on overcoming in our inner spaces. Why are we surprised when tests and trials come into our lives?  They are promised by this wise Father who knows they will make us stronger in faith as we learn to trust him and learn how to fight the enemy. He identified different kinds of trials and how knowing their sources will help us overcome.

Jesus learned obedience through suffering. We should expect to experience this tempering also. "It is important to understand that the purpose of chastening it to bring us back to the Lord, not to distance us from Him. In fact, chastening is actually a signal of His love for us. It can change us for the good and bring wisdom to us.  The problems we face are not always problems to be solved.  Some problems are God's way of teaching us. These are the dealings of God transforming us into the image of Christ."

"Here, then, is one of the great and precious truths about temptation. Temptation is not designed to make us fall. [It] is designed to make us stronger and better men and women. Temptation is not designed to make us sinners. It is designed to make us good.  We may fail in the test, but we are not meant to.  We are meant to emerge stronger and finer.  In one sense temptation is not so much the penalty of being a man; it is the glory of being a man." - William Barclay.

"No temptation has come your way that is too hard for flesh and blood to bear. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it." 1Cor. 10:13.

Warfare with the devil:
"For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil". Eph. 6:12
God will give us wisdom to know when our struggle is demonic and how to do combat.

Wrestling with Self:
He used the passage in Romans 7 about how the apostle Paul describes the war he faced with battling his sinfulness within and striving to serve God. A wretched situation.  Our speaker said he once became angry that Paul asks the question, "Who will set me free?", without giving us an answer of what to do.  Then he saw the next phrase was the answer-"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" The answer wasn't how, but Who. We allow Christ to change us and stay available to his work in us. Like an artist forming a vessel on the potter's wheel, we form to the pressure his thumbs in us.  Paul goes on to say that this battle of sinful desire versus God desire will always exist, but there is NO CONDEMNATION for believers! We focus on Him, He brings the change in us, and in the meantime we are free from blame or disapproval. How freeing to walk in His favor, no matter what.

Criticism. "We cannot expect those to approve of us whom we condemn by our testimony against their favorite sins."

Trials of Faith:
Doubts may be part of the process, to bring us to more faith. 

A new week has dawned.  Isn't it good to know that no matter what happens, our God will never leave us, and that his plans and purposes will prevail in us? In spite of our hurts, habits and hangups. In fact because of them, his glory can be displayed, as we are transformed by his Spirit within us.

You are so good to me, Daddy. I love you. Thank you for being patient with me and that your mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!

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