What It Takes To Be Filled

Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, SalvationLet me ask you a question.  Have you ever wanted more of God?  Have you ever wanted to see Him more fully, know Him more intimately and love Him more deeply?  My belief is, if we are truly born again followers of Christ, then the Holy Spirit will place that desire within us and it will be up to us to nurture it.

David expressed this idea very well in Psalm 42.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?  Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB)

Here we are given a word picture of a deer who is so thirsty that it is literally gasping in anticipation of its next drink.  Then David says that his soul thirsts for God just like that deer who was desperately searching for water.  And just like the physical life of that deer depends on finding that water source so does our spiritual life depend on the presence and power of God.  Without Him and without His Spirit in us we are spiritually bereft.

I think it is important here to make a distinction between being given the gift of the Holy Spirit (which happens to every believer at the time of salvation) and being filled with the Spirit (which is an ongoing process that can ebb and flow depending on our walk with God).  My focus here is on the believer who already has the Holy Spirit living in their hearts because they are truly a born again child of God but wants to go further in their walk with the Lord and to seek Him ever more strongly.

If you have never made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and you aren’t sure if you have the Holy Spirit living in you then I would encourage you to read this which explains very simply and very well what it takes to be truly born again and how the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

For the rest of us, what must we do to be filled with the Spirit?  Before I answer that question let me confess to you that I am not wise or experienced enough to answer it without a lot of help.  I am still learning and growing and indeed the motivation for writing this is because of my own searching and questioning and wanting to be closer to the Lord.  And in that searching I found this wonderful piece by John Piper and this is just a small part of what he has to say on the subject:

And that leads us now to our final, all-important question of how we can obey this command to be filled with the Spirit. We are in the same predicament we were in last week. We are commanded to be full, and yet we are not the filler; the Spirit is. The answer to this predicament in the New Testament is that God has ordained to move into our lives with fullness through faith. The pathway that the Spirit cuts through the jungle of our anxieties into the clearing of joy is the pathway of faith. Luke says of Stephen in Acts 6:5, that he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” and he says of Barnabas in Acts 11:24 that he was “a good man full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” The two go together. If a person is filled with faith, he will be filled with the Spirit, the Spirit of joy and peace.

The complete article can be found here and I would highly encourage you to read it because it has been a very great help to me.  But I love the fact that Mr Piper distills the entire process down a very simple yet powerful truth, the truth of our faith.  When we take care to nurture and strengthen our faith and to act on it then we open ourselves up to being filled with the Spirit.  For new Christians the idea can sometimes seem mystical or magical but the actual truth of the matter is that a person with strong active faith is a person who will be filled with the Spirit and strong, active faith is dependent upon our knowing and obeying God’s word.

Once we realize that then we can see that the process goes like this: Read and study God’s word —–> Act on what we have studied by faith that what God’s word says is true and right —-> be filled with the Spirit and produce the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  And isn’t that a wonderful thing to know and understand?!

 

This is How the Family of God Grows

This is How the Family of God GrowsHow does the family of God grow?  How does a man or woman who is spiritually dead meet Jesus Christ and be born again into the family of God?  How can we who are children of God encourage and love those who are lost into the arms of Jesus?

We live in desperate times.  People from all walks of life and in every socioeconomic stratum are in great need.  One needs physical healing.  Another needs relief from loneliness.  Still another needs freedom from addiction.  And they all need Jesus.  We all need Jesus.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  There is great need for the hearing of the word of God in our families and in our communities today.  And the word of God that we all need is not just the word that is spoken in pulpits on Sundays and Wednesdays.  The word of God that we need is not just the word spoken by our missionaries and teachers as they travel.  No, the word of God that we most need is the word of how we live each and every day of our life before a lost and dying world.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9)  If you have been saved then you have been chosen and you have been given a marvelous and glorious task.  This task is of utmost importance and will bring you great blessings and great joy.  Your task is to proclaim the praises of Him who called you with your very life.

Joyful, thankful people are the most attractive, pleasant people to be around.  Those who are blessed and know it, and then humbly share their blessings with others, will always draw a crowd.  Although we all face difficulties and troubling circumstances we can still live a life of praise and thanksgiving.  And by sharing in our blessings and being generous with what we have we can meet someone else’s need.

What happens when those who are thankful and blessed meet those who are desperate and in need?  Ministry happens.  It is at this point that God is able to use His people to draw those who are lost and searching towards reconciliation with Christ.  This is a personal process that is unique in each and every situation because every person and every need is unique.

I believe that God is calling His children to get involved in the lives of the lost and hurting who are all around them.  In other words, it’s time to get interpersonal and nurture some relationships with people who may not normally be our first choice for a friend.  By the way we love unselfishly and without expectation of reward we may be the only picture of Jesus that some people ever see.

It’s time to let the lost person know, beyond anything else, that they are loved.  It’s time to let the struggling Christian know that they are not alone and that we are praying for them and will always welcome them back with open arms.  Most of all, it’s time to tell the world that God wants to reclaim his children and desires that all men be saved.

May we live a life of such light and fervor before the Lord that there is no question that the God we serve is real and is able to save the souls of men.  This is how the family of God grows.

My questions for you today are: Have you been invited into the family of God?  If so, are you now living a life that invites others to join our great family?

Encouraging Encouragement

encouragement, praise, love, charityIf there’s one single thing that all of us, no matter who we are, could stand to have more of in our personal relationships it is encouragement.  And this holds true no matter our socioeconomic status, age or occupation.  If we are alive and kicking then we need to hear and experience honest encouraging words from those around us.

And notice I said “honest” encouraging words.  Our encouragement must be genuine and heartfelt for it to be effective.  We might be fooled by empty flattery for a short time but once the truth is known those comments will have the opposite effect and in those cases it would have been better to have said nothing at all.  Encouragement should be real and true and however much thought or effort it might take it is always worth it.

Megan McArdle, a writer and columnist, wrote her 12 Rules for Life recently and rule 7 really had me sitting up and paying attention.  The full article can be found here and this is what she said:

Don’t just pay people compliments; give them living eulogies. Tell them exactly how great they are, in how many ways. Embarrass them. Here’s a funny thing I have learned by being just a little bit internet famous: it doesn’t matter how many times you hear them, the words “You are amazing, and here’s why” never get old. They do not go out of style. You will be wearing them to your 80th birthday party, along with a dazzling smile.

Although Mrs. McArdle’s article was not written from a Christian perspective it turns out that she is right on target with many of the things that she said.  After reading rule 7 I admit to coming under conviction by the Holy Spirit.  I realize that I am not the encouraging person that I should be and that I need to be far more expressive and intentional about telling the people around me just how amazing they are and why it is that I think they are amazing.  And do you know why that is?

It is because we have an enemy who spends 24 hours a day and 365 days a year telling believers that they are worthless and guilty and will never amount to anything for God and that they should just give up!  Our enemy is relentless in his assault on our family and friends and so we should be just as relentless in our kindness, love and encouragement to them.  We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens and we do that by opening our mouths (or putting pen to paper or pixels to screen) and communicating our concern and compassion and by testifying as to what God has done in our own lives.  By our witness we become the encouragement that someone else needs to make it through and to then become an encouragement to someone else.

While doing so we can also take Mrs McArdle’s advice and be specific and lavish in the types of praise and compliments that we give to our friends and family.  We need to be intentional in our encouragement and that means we think about it and plan it out a little bit before hand so that it is premeditated and purposeful. It is not the case that spontaneous encouragement is bad but that spontaneous encouragement should not be the only type of encouragement that we practice.  Intentional encouragement should go along with spontaneous encouragement and both should be present in our interpersonal relationships.

Will you join me in making a commitment to be a person who not only encourages others often but also encourages them in specific and intentional ways?  If so we can make a large difference for good and can bear fruit for the kingdom of God in our time.  I pray that we would all make that commitment and take the encouragement of our brethren very seriously.

From a Position of Plenty

blessings, thankfulness, Ephesians 1:3If you are a United States citizen then it is getting to be that time of year again.  And by “that time of year” I mean tax time wherein we get to take stock of our fiscal 2017 and see how much, if any, income tax that we owe both our state and federal governments.

For the last 5 years I have been in a position where I am paid a salary plus commission on sales.  Commissions, if you were not aware, are not taxed at the time that they are paid out, unlike salary.  And the tax rate for commission is 25% which means that one fourth of every dollar that I made in commissions in 2017 I now owe as tax.

This being my 5th year on the job my wife and I are well familiar with this process and have a savings account set up into which that 25% of every commission dollar gets deposited every week as I get paid.  So even though we know that we have taxes to be paid we have put ourselves into a position where we should have the resources that we need to make that payment.

Let me tell you, that is a far better position to be in than my first year on the job when we were unaware of how commission was taxed and how much commission I was going to make and were given a large and unexpected tax bill that severely depleted our savings account.  That was frightening and certainly not any fun and it is far better to be in a position of plenty (like we are now) than in a position of lack (like we were then).

I think for many of us who call ourselves Christians we don’t really understand or realize what a position of plenty we now have.  We are truly and richly blessed although many, many times we fail to acknowledge our blessings and even worse, we fail to take advantage of them.  God has promised to provide everything that we need as long as we continually place our trust and hope in him.  It really couldn’t be any more simple than that although the actual practice of doing it can be much more difficult than just understanding the principle behind it.  And in that respect, I can promise you that I am no better than anyone else!

We all fail to be as thankful as we should be and we all fail to take advantage of all that God has given us.  But aren’t we thankful that God is merciful and patient with us and gives us chance after chance to grow and become more like him?  Aren’t we thankful that sanctification is a process and that God honors our efforts to seek him and know him more?  And aren’t we thankful that, with our repentance, yesterday’s failures have no power over what God can accomplish in us and through us today?  I certainly am!

So as we go forward from today we need to realize, afresh and anew, how much God loves us and what an amazing position of plenty that he has placed us in.  No matter what our earthly circumstances might be and no matter how big or how small our bank accounts on earth are, our heavenly bank accounts are always filled to overflowing and we lack for nothing when it comes to being all that God wants us to be and doing all that God wants us to do.

We are blessed.  Now it’s time to do something with all that we have been given and to thank God for his love and care for us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)

 

Words Of Wisdom From The Wisest Man Who Ever Lived

wisdom, God's Word, the BibleTradition holds that Solomon, son of David and King of Israel from about 970 – 930BC, was one of the wisest men to have ever lived.  Several Old Testament books were authored by him (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, also called Song of Songs) and he is also said to have been the wealthiest man to have ever lived.

Despite all of that, the Bible records as many of Solomon’s failings as it does his successes and is very clear that for all of his wisdom, he was a real person with real human flaws.  What is very interesting though, is that when Solomon’s conduct lined up with true Biblical wisdom, he was always successful and prosperous but when he acted selfishly or foolishly it always brought trouble and heartache.

The same holds true for us today.  When we think and act in ways that are wise and true, we will be prosperous and successful.  When we think and act in ways that are selfish or foolish, we will bring trouble and heartache on ourselves and others.  With that in mind, can we look back to some of the wise sayings of Solomon and glean instruction and truth for our lives today?  Absolutely we can!  Solomon’s wisdom was actually Godly wisdom that was granted to Him as a result of prayer (See 1 Kings 3: 6-14) and Godly wisdom never changes or gets stale.  In short, if God said it then we can count on it and build our lives around it.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of my favorite verses from the first few chapters of Proverbs.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7) – Right away Solomon lets us know that our fear (respect, admiration, acknowledgement) of God is the beginning of our search for wisdom and truth.  No wisdom or truth exists without Him and a wise person is the one who has placed their life under the authority and instruction of God Almighty.

For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. (Proverbs 2: 6-9)  Much of the wisdom of Proverbs is given in “if – then” statements.  As in, “if you do the right thing, then the right result will occur”.  Proverbs 2:6-9 shows us that God grants the knowledge and understanding that we need from His Word.  Furthermore, if we walk in integrity (honesty) He will be our shield and guard and will preserve our way.  And if we do all of that then we will be granted the ability to discern what is right and good every single time (every good course).

Honor the Lord from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.  (Proverbs 3: 9-10)  Does it ever feel like that you are in a hole (financially speaking) and that you will never be able to climb out of it?  Take heart, here’s your recipe for success!  Give to God off of the top of everything that you bring in, no matter how little it might be.  God will then fill your barns and vats (places of storage, up to and including our savings accounts – you do have a savings account don’t you?) with plenty until they overflow!  So many of us miss this simple commandment and suffer financial misery.  The good news is that it is never too late to start doing the right thing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.  (Proverbs 3: 5 – 8)  Relationships are founded on trust.  To the degree that we trust God, we will follow His instruction and to the degree that we follow His instruction we will be blessed and in turn bless others.  And not only should we trust God with everything but we should do all that we do with an acknowledgement of God as our creator and the source of all wisdom and knowledge.  If we can do that then God will take care of us and fight our battles for us (make our paths straight).

 

The Imposition of Real Worship

worship, adore, praiseImposition is not a word with an especially nice meaning.  To impose one’s self upon another is by definition to force an unwelcome or unfair demand upon that person.  In most all cases, when someone tells us that something was an “imposition” they are telling us that they were put out and would have preferred something else to have happened.

And yet, real worship IS an imposition on our human nature, is it not?  If we remain in the flesh and have our selfish desires foremost in our minds then the thought and act of real worship is never welcome or easily accomplished.  Our bodies, which are passing away, and our minds, which  must be renewed daily, will fight the bowing of our knees and the turning of our hearts towards God Almighty and His perfect will.  Simply put, to experience real worship we must approach God with humility and allow the Holy Spirit to impose His will upon ours.

When we first start our Christian walk, it can feel unfair and unnatural to empty ourselves of our own wills and seek to adore and commune with God through the Spirit.  Our old human nature wants nothing to do with this sort of thing and it is only as we gradually persist in this practice that the Holy Spirit can, little by little, imprint the act of worship upon us so that it becomes as natural as breathing.  And like any healthy habit, if we persist  we will reap continual rewards but if we slack off or stop for a period of time then it can become difficult to get started again.  The more we put into it by seeking God and praising Him for who He is and all that He has done, the better our worship will become for ourselves and those around us.

The upside of real worship and the rewards and benefits that it brings are a topic that could span several full size books.  Suffice it to say, all of the fruits of the Spirit will be born out of real worship and God’s presence will be felt strongly.  Additionally, those closest to us will be blessed and encouraged in their faith.  Finally, and most importantly, God’s Kingdom will grow as we make ourselves useful and grateful vessels for His service.

Real worship of God, in Spirit and truth, is a completely foreign concept to those who are walking in darkness and who have never trusted Jesus as Savior.  But for those of us who have the Holy Spirit living inside, real worship of God is a necessity for our spiritual growth and always worth the time and effort.  God can use us in incredible ways when we live a life of praise and adoration that is yielded to Him.

New Year, New You?

new year, goals, plans, surrenderLast year is gone and a new year is here.  With the arrival of the new year our thoughts will often shift to reflection and review of the past year and how we could improve and do things differently going forward.  Some folks make resolutions or plans for improvement and there are probably more diets started in January and promises to begin exercising than there are at any other time of the year.  There’s just something about a new calendar year that makes us think about a clean slate and a fresh start and a desire to begin again in a better way and this is not a bad thing by any means.

But from a Christian perspective there are a couple of things that we need to keep in mind before we make any improvement plans or start any journey towards a goal and the first and most important of those is this: we are not our own.  We belong to Jesus and therefore anything that we set our minds to needs to be done in a way that brings glory to Him and His name.

We first need to prayerfully examine our motives (do we want to diet and exercise to be more healthy or just because our vanity tells us that we should look better in that pair of jeans?) and once we have done that we can then include the Lord in every step of our planning and preparation with the knowledge that the outcome and the victory already belongs to Him.

We can praise Him and thank Him for His provision and draw strength from His presence and from His counsel.  We are not alone and we best show that when we work towards a goal hand in hand with Him, filled by His Spirit.  Difficulties and challenges can and will be overcome if God is with us and our relationship to Him will be strengthened as we work with Him towards our goal.

The most joyful aspect of all of this is that our improvement and the power to reach our goals does not rest with us and is not dependent on our strength.  God provides based on our surrender to Him and our obedience to His Word.  We don’t have to wonder about what will happen or worry about the outcome.  If God is in it, it will be done!

And furthermore, we never have to wait for a new year to come around to decide to do things God’s way or to commit our ways and thoughts to Him.  He provides renewal and regeneration to all who come to Him and it is available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

I hope, like me, that you are excited about the new year and the new opportunities and challenges that it will bring.  I also hope that you are walking into the near year hand in hand with Jesus and secure in the knowledge that you belong to Him.  Because once you are in that position there is no power in the world that can stand against you and you will be amazed to see what God can do in your life.

 

The Importance of Preparation

Christmas, The Gospel, Malachi 3:1As I write this it is a little bit less than two weeks until Christmas.  Even if I were not aware of the calendar date I would surely know that something important is about to happen because of the amount of preparation that is happening all around me.  All the shops and stores, both big and small, are decorated for the season and seem to be announcing new sales daily in an attempt to get customers in to the store or shopping online.

Suddenly there are lights appearing on my neighbors houses that weren’t there before and even in my own house a small army of snowmen (snow-people?) have taken up positions in most every room of the house dressed in their winter finery and holiday garb.  And on my list of things to do today are a Christmas luncheon with some extended family members and an afternoon Christmas shopping expedition with my wife.

Looking at all of the evidence around me I can conclude that Christmas seems to be something that we spend a great deal of time and effort preparing for and that we place a very high degree of importance on.  As a nation and as a culture we really like Christmas and that is not a bad thing so long as we take great care to remember what Christmas is all about.

What would happen, I wonder, if we were to take that same attitude and a similar amount of effort in preparing ourselves for worship and communion with the Lord and in telling other people that Jesus loves them?  Because as important as Christmas is, it isn’t more important than our personal relationship with the Lord and it isn’t more important than the work of preparing hearts and lives to receive the gospel message.

Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,”
Says the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:1 (NKJV)

As Christians we should know that Jesus is coming back one day and that day could be soon.  Malachi 3:1 begins by talking about the messenger and his work of preparation but quickly shifts to talking about how the Lord will come “suddenly”.  God’s word also says that “No man knows the day or the hour” of His coming and so there is no more important work for us than that of preparing ourselves and those around us for the coming of the Lord.  We are the messengers.  To us is given the responsibility of telling the world that Jesus saves and that He is coming back soon.

Personally, I want to make sure that I am spending time with the Lord every day and offering up the sacrifice of my praise and the worship that is due to Him.  I want to make sure that I am drawing strength from His presence and His word and that I am using that strength and that power to prepare the hearts of those around me for the coming of the Lord.  Even as I and my family are preparing for Christmas and will enjoy it immensely it is not the most important preparation that I will do today or this week or for the remainder of this year.

I pray that God would bless you and your family this Christmas season and that your hearts are prepared to receive Him and His love for you.

 

Our Greatest Danger

danger, Truth, ignorance, SinIf you were to, right now, head out into your neighborhood, school or work place and ask the next ten people that you encountered what the greatest danger we are currently facing is, what do you think their answer would be?  Some might say terrorism or foreign powers who wish us harm, some might say climate change or man’s destruction of the planet and still others might answer that we ourselves are our greatest danger.  And although those answers all have validity, to find out what our greatest danger actually is we must go deeper.

As Christians, our first answer might be Sin, with a capital “S” that indicates man’s fallen and unrepentant state before God.  And while that is an excellent answer it isn’t actually our greatest danger either.  While Sin can broadly be thought of as the main issue behind every other problem we face we know that Sin is not greater than Salvation and that Salvation comes by hearing the Word of God.  Sin is certainly destructive and dangerous but it has a ready answer and a powerful solution.  No, our greatest danger, for both believers and non-believers alike is ignorance of God’s Word and a lack of knowledge of the Truth.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  Romans 10:14-15 (NASB)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  Romans 10:17 (NASB)

For the non-believer, not hearing the Word of God is the most catastrophic thing that could ever happen to them.  Romans 10 lays it out very clearly.  How can there ever be an answer to their Sin problem without calling on the name of Jesus and how can they call on the name of Jesus unless they believe on Him by hearing His word? In fact, you can rephrase this problem by asking why God calls preachers and teachers of the Gospel in the first place and why 1 Peter 3:15 says so clearly that we should always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us.  Quite simply, souls hang in the balance of whether or not we can clearly communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around us.

God’s Word is the answer to the Sin problem but without it there is no remedy for Sin and if we, as believers, are ignorant of what God’s word says and can’t clearly communicate the gospel by our lives, actions and speech then we are in the wrong and are contributing to the Lostness of everyone around us.  That’s a hard truth to hear and to acknowledge but it is so important and so critical that we must not try to tone it down or take it in any other way than head on.  And furthermore, even as believers, none of us our perfect and all of us have areas of our lives where we need to grow and improve in our faith.  Here again, it is knowledge of God’s Word and the study of His book that will give us the strength we need and all of the answers that we are searching for.

Every problem, challenge or danger that we face can be overcome by the power of God and the way that He equips His children is through His words (the Bible) and the Word (Jesus Christ, God in the flesh) as they are one in the same.  Without it, we have no hope and no power.  With it, we have everything we need and all of the hope in the world.

and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free  John 8:32 (NASB)

Do you know the truth?  If so, do you know how to adequately express the truth to those around you by the way that you walk and talk?  My prayer this week is that we would all take our knowledge of the truth seriously and thank God for the revelation of Jesus Christ while we commit to greater understanding of His powerful word.  May God Bless you as you seek Him ever more.

 

How to Overcome and Gain Victory in Suffering

victory, suffering, character, Isaiah 54:17I’ve been watching a Netflix show recently about a group of young adults who, one and all, have had to overcome great obstacles and, in many cases, personal tragedy in order to reach their goals and be successful.  What’s interesting to me is that even though the series has a positive tone, it hasn’t pulled any punches or tried to gloss over the suffering that each of these characters has experienced nor has it failed to show the consequences of their decisions.  A few have thrived and really used the difficulties that they have faced to become stronger and wiser while others have tried to cope by running away or turning to substance abuse.  One, in particular, decided that his greatest problem was caused by some of the people close to him and that led him to act in a way that had truly tragic circumstances for several of them.

You could say then, that even though they were completely different people with varied backgrounds and abilities, what really defined them in the end was how they overcame adversity and responded to suffering.  And even though this was based on fictional characters and a fictional story, I am convinced that this is a lesson that we need to learn well and take to heart.  Our lives and our legacy will be, in large part, defined by how well we overcome adversity and the character that we show while experiencing suffering.

One of the main characters in the show was a young lady who struggled and made it through law school but as a result of her singular focus on passing the bar exam she developed very bad eating and sleeping habits that led to weight gain and poor overall health with some serious side effects.  She had to learn how to be a healthy person and treat her body with the same attention and care that she gave to her learning while still taking care of her responsibilities at her job and in her home.  She likes to say that she isn’t the smartest or most attractive but that once she puts her mind to it, she can do anything and over the course of the series she displays this same plucky attitude over and over again and refuses to ever give up or quit.

This type of positive thinking and inner fortitude is admirable and makes for good television but, in the real world, it often doesn’t work like that.  There are some chains that just can’t be broken, some illnesses that can’t be overcome and some problems that can’t be solved by positive thinking and inner strength.  With all of the things that afflict us, both from without and within, there is only one power and one solution that can overcome the greatest obstacle time and time again.  That power belongs to God and God alone but is available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Many problems, many obstacles and many afflictions and not one of them can stand in the face of the power of God Almighty.  At the sound of His name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord and even Death itself must give way.  In Him there is hope, there is strength, there is love and there is forgiveness.  Whatever we have faced in the past, are facing today or will face tomorrow He can redeem it and give us the ultimate victory.  This is God’s promise to those who would give Him their hearts and lives and this is the best response to the obstacles we face and the suffering we must endure.

Whatever it is, cry out to God and give it to Him.  Admit your inability to solve it on your own and confess your trust in Him.  Then, prepare to be amazed with God and His work in your life!

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.  Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)