Walking Without Light (Job 29:2-3)

As a teen, my father and I went to the mountains of Pennsylvania for deer hunting season.  Early in the morning of the first day, I made my way from the camp and through the dark woods to my post.  It was an area some distance from camp.  I previously had marked the trees on the way with a can of gold spray paint.  I experienced some difficulty walking though the cloak of darkness which wrapped around my small lighted area.  Staggering and stumbling as I did, I made it safely.  Many would equate this experience to the Christian life as we walk through trials.  However, walking through darkness with the guiding of God’s light is not a trial, but instead the living experience of the redeemed man in fellowship with God.  A trial is when you walk in the darkness without the light of God’s presence. 
While in your trial, there are two things that you must cling to.  The first is to believe that The Lord will honor his word and one day, when his predetermined time arrives, will bring light into your darkness (Psalm 18:28).  The second is to maintain righteous living.  God promises that to the upright he will bring light to their darkness (Psalm 112:4).  Therefore, dabbing with sin can hinder you from receiving this blessing.
Thanks be to God for the many blessings in his word.  Not only are they a guide for times of trials, but also a strength to the weary and forlorn.

Decisions Without Leadership (Job 28:28)

Decision making is a difficult task in itself.  Couple that with the confusion of trials and the level of difficulty escalates.  In chapter 28, Job explains this by talking about all the hidden things of the earth and nature and how man has found them out, but wisdom is beyond him.  It is hidden from all man and beast and all wealth cannot buy it.  It belongs to God and God alone.
What do you do when you cannot find a principle in scripture to apply or implement in your life?  Job explains it well, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”  You may not know what step to take, but the first thing you can do is step back, fear that you may go against the plan that God is working in your life, seek his face and proceed with caution.  In Scripture, this is called the fear of The Lord.  The second step you can implement is to depart from evil.  Evil is responding to a life situation in a manner contrary to God’s word.  Whatever actions you take that are not motivated by faith are sin.  Romans 14:23 states, “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  Our efforts to work out our plan or to deliver ourselves is always.  This can be summed up simply with “If you don’t know what to do, do nothing.  Wait on God.” 


Direction When There Is No Direction (Job 23:8-12)

It seems that the most difficult part of trials is that either for periods of time or for the entire duration, God cannot be found.  He is sought diligently with the heart, but to no avail.  His presence is not sensed and direction for steps is unavailable.  His promises of being ever present and guiding our footsteps appear to be untrue.  Those faltering in faith stumble, fall and choose to depart from him.  Enduring without direction is painful, confusing and wearisome.  What should be done?
At this time, faith heralds that God is in control.  He does know the way that you take and a purpose greater than you can imagine or understand is being accomplished.  Faith wants to direct you to the principles and statutes in his word.  These are the lamp for your feet and the light that will shine upon your path.  As Job did, take hold of your steps, keep his ways and decline not from following the principles of his word.

Too Weak To Run (Jeremiah 12:5)

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? … Jeremiah 12:5
Most who read this blog live in America.  Many in Russia, the Ukraine, and other not so free countries who read this may experience life differently than us.  With the prosperity in America and the liberty that we enjoy, our lives as believers are not plagued with levels of persecution as our brothers and sisters in Christ experience in foreign lands.  Most difficulties that we face are trials to test our faith.  They may be financial in nature or be in the realm of health, child raising, marriage, abuse or pressures from work.  I am not belittling these trials nor am I saying that these trials are not difficult to face, but most are not coupled with the threat of losing life, possessions or physical security.  If we cannot endure the aforementioned trials, how do we expect to face the greater trials that await us?
Some may say that if life is going to get more difficult, why not quit now.  Life will become more difficult with or without Christ.  However those who are abiding with him will gain the strength, peace, comfort and consolation that come with him.
If you feel that you cannot endure, you must ask yourself why.  Why don’t you have strength?  Why is not God leading you?  Why are you not experiencing the joy that he has to share?  The answer is that you are not abiding and resting in him.  Your duty of Bible reading is good, but it is not abiding.  Your scheduled prayer time may seem productive, but if it does not turn into a time of sweet fellowship with The Lord, but simply remains a time a reciting your needs and the needs of others, than it to is not abiding.
Strength for trials only comes by the hope we experience from spiritual interaction with Christ.  Communion with him brings the peace for which our hearts long.  Begin today to break out of the routine of Christianity and experience The Lord through prayer and his word.  As you pray, pour out your heart.  As you would share your fears, hopes, dreams and longings with a friend, do the same with God.  He wants to hear your heart’s desires.  He wants to hear you talk of your fears, worries and struggles.  He loves it because it is during those times that he has ordained that he would reveal himself to you.  He chooses to move in a reciprocating manner.  Remember that he said, draw nigh to me and I will draw nigh to you (James 4:8).  This is his plan.  We must approach him as Moses approached the burning bush.  When we do, he manifests his presence to us and it is this interaction that brings hope and strength beyond reason.
Find a person who continues on in the face of the gravesite of circumstances and you will also find a person who has met with God in the private area of their heart.  If they can, then you can as well.

Have Pity (Job 19:21)

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.  
Job 19:21

As people go through trials, we cannot see the extent of what they are experiencing nor do we understand the depths of their wounds and hurt.  Job was stripped of his glory and crown.  Friends acquaintances, neighbors, children and his wife were all estranged from him.  His loss was great and his pain even greater.

When trials come upon people, we are always so quick to believe that the cause must be some form of chastening or judgment.  Why must we think so?  Why can’t we deal with them in love and pity as brothers in Christ?  If their plight was caused by sin, should not our actions towards them still be the same?  Are our hearts still so calloused by pride and legality that we cannot reach out in love?  God forbid if we continue on in this way.  Why is it our responsibility to point out another’s sin?  Are there today a group of people without sin who are able to cast the first stone of judgment?  The answer is still, no. Then to reach out in love as Jesus did and restore people is the act that we should follow.
We are admonished to help the afflicted, pick up the fallen or cast down and in the spirit of meekness restore others.  So if you see a brother suffering a trial for whatever reason, reach out in love.  If he is being chastened for his wrong, God will perform his work.  Our acts of love may be that which breaks the hardened heart to repentance.  If he is suffering a trial for the development of his faith, your love will be an oasis in the desert of his trial.  We would do best to allow God to perform his work and for us to follow his command and example and perform our work.

Hard Hearted (Prov. 4:23)

When a person hardens their heart, they are making their heart to stand firm and unchanged by forces which move against it.  The term is used when a person resists influences that come against them which are intended for the good or benefit of the individual.
A person with a hard heart resists those who love them.  Many times these loved ones that they resist have led and rejoiced with them in victories that they shared together.  Now because of a hard heart those helpers are being hurt by the hard hearted.  This happens because people with hard hearts act in concern for themselves and as a result hurt those who love them.  These loved ones’ hearts hurt from love as they see the hard hearted make decisions that will destroy their lives.
When a person has a hard heart, it moves them farther away from that which is right.  This happens because they are no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit and decisions made for sin harden their hearts even more.  This only leads to trouble for the hard hearted.  They have lost God’s blessing on their lives and because they are following a way of transgression, it will be hard (Prov. 13:15).
Why are they hardening their heart?  Pride.  The Israelites hardened their hearts because they were not pleased with what The Lord provided for them.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened as he tied to prove the invincibility of his gods.  David hardened his heart so that he could satisfy himself with another man’s wife.  Some may harden their hearts by being drawn away with the lust of their flesh and are longing for what it promises to give.  This also was the case with Israel and the list can go on.
But many people harden their hearts because they have been hurt and tried to deal with it in a spiritual manner, but for some reason were unsuccessful and now have decided they will deal with life in their own manner and no longer God’s.  This also is pride.  
Can your heart be hardened?  Yes, even the disciples’s hearts were hardened when they were in a storm at sea (Mark 6:52).  What can you do to keep from becoming hard hearted?  Spend time with The Lord daily.  When you pray ask him to feed you spiritually and to keep your heart tender and yielding.  Keep short account of sin and and when you experience hurt, deal with it biblically.  If you cannot get victory, get help.  The longer you wait, the greater chance you will have in becoming hard hearted.


#hard hearted

Praying For Strength (Luke 22:44)

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  Luke 22:44
While in the garden, Jesus was in agony.  At this time, he was not beaten nor had he experienced any wounds.  The agony experienced by Jesus was an internal struggle that he faced.  The previous verse seems to indicate that the angel strengthened or invigorated him physically and as God he could not struggle spiritually.  Therefore, the internal struggle must have been an emotional one.  
How did he seek or gain emotional strength?  He gained it by praying more earnestly.  As we seek God’s face and pray, we gain strength in the area that we become the most weak.  As we struggle emotionally through trials, don’t forget that God wants to strength you so that you can stand and bear the emotions of your trial.  Remember, prayer is not just a time for communicating with God, but an opportunity to gain what is needed for victory in the emotional struggle that accompanies trials. 

Pray and Submit (Luke 22:41-42)

Prayer is an important part of the Christian’s life.  There are many promises concerning prayer.  We are told that if we ask, we shall receive.   So that the Father may be glorified in the Son, we can ask in Jesus’ name and receive it.  To those who abide in the vine, asking what they will shall be granted.  But what do you do when you are struggling in a trial?  You don’t feel as if you are abiding because the world is turned up side down.  You are so confused and you can’t tell what is God’s will.  You are afraid that if you ask for something in particular, God may become angry with your request.  So then, how do you with great confidence pray?
From Jesus’ prayer in the garden, we learn that it is okay to simply pour out your heart and ask God for what you want.  It may sound selfish, but it is alright.  You may pray that God would take vengeance on your enemies or on those that are trying to destroy you.  David did so with great liberty.  You may be asking for monetary gain, healing or some other form of divine intervention.  However, after bearing your burden to God and asking for what you want, you should submit yourself to him and his divine plan.  That is what Jesus did.  He actually asked that if possible, the cross could be avoided, but then submitted to the Father’s will.  I am really glad for the submitting.  Had it not been for those few words, I would still be lost and continue to experience all the hurt that came along with it.
So, when you are in a trial, pray for your heart’s desire, but don’t forget to submit to God and his plan.  As we benefited from Christ’s submission, somebody needs your submission as well.

Intercede For Others (Luke 22:32)

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.  Luke 22:32

Peter was determined that he would be faithful to The Lord: even unto death.  But regardless of his intentions, he still fell and did so terribly.  In our own lives, we have been close to The Lord and believed that because of what we have experienced in him, we would never fail or falter.  However to our dismay, we have found ourselves fallen to the wiles of the enemy who also desired to sift us like wheat.
Thanks be to God that even though we may fall, God’s plan for us is not over.  He did not condone our actions which led us to fall away or into sin, but he has determined that he will use this occasion to strengthen us and make us a help and influence on others.  A just man may fall seven times, but he always gets up again and we are promised that it is the Lord’s grace that is picking us up and that he will be there waiting to help and restore us.
This work of conversion or turning around is accomplished by God, but is dependent on the prayers of others.  We have a responsibility to brothers and sisters in the faith to pray for them regardless of how badly they have fallen and to carrying them in our hearts before God so that they may be restored.  Many times our prayers for the fallen have selfish motives.  We may want them to turn so that they no longer bring shame to the church or the family.  Their turning may make our lives more at ease or we may pray because we need them back in a ministry, a number to be counted or another person to offer tithes and offerings.
Jesus interceded for Peter.  In other words, he prayed for the benefit of Peter and what Peter would need.  Our prayers for others are greatly needed, but the prayers must be for others and not for something to be done in their lives for our benefit.  This is true intercessory prayer.

Rejected For His Name’s Sake (Luke 21:17)

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.  Luke 21:17

Do you find yourself cut off from others.  Do others act together in friendship in and outside of the work environment, but exclude you?  Do you experience attitudes of rejection without identifying what you could have done to bring it upon you?  The good news is that you are not alone and it is not just your imagination.  The cause of the rejection is probably your testimony of faith.
There are some people who are rejected because they take or make opportunity to give the gospel whether the individuals wants to hear it or not.  They may be rejected because of their faith or possibly not and just because of their demeanor.  Sometimes people like this bring rejection upon themselves.  Sometimes their actions are right meaning they are led of God and other times their actions are not right because they are motivated by self or selfish reasons.
There are others who reach out to workers in love and try to be a help and support.  They strive to be a friend and build relationships with others so as to be a source of help for them in times of crisis.  As loving as these people can be, they still find themselves rejected.  The reason this occurs is because of their testimony for God and righteousness.  Each time the lost see them, they are reminded of the error of their ways.  Regardless of their humanistic views, they still become convicted by the Holy Spirit and the conviction often times comes when they see you.
I remember one occasion when I took a position as an electrician at a small manufacturing plant.  News ran through the building about a new employee coming who was a ministry major in college.  The day that I walked in the door, I had more than half of the employees refuse to speak to me or even say hello.  I didn’t even have the opportunity to do anything to make them made at me.  Why was I treated in such a fashion?  They hated me because of his name’s sake.
As you struggle through life and the trials that it brings along with experiencing this same rejection, do not be discouraged.  They are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Christ.  This thought does not take away the hurt of rejection, but it should keep you from thinking it is for personal reasons.