WHY DO WE SUFFER?

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For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:5

 

You know, it’s one thing to suffer the consequences for our bad decisions, I can handle that…but to suffer because of an idiot is something else entirely.  How many times have I questioned the sovereignty of God when I have to suffer because of someone’s sin?  Why can’t God ride in on His big white horse and bring judgment on those who hurt the innocent?  Why do good people have to suffer unimaginable anguish because of greedy, wicked, and selfish jerks?  If I were God, those people would be an afterthought…a smoking hole.  And that, ladies, is just one of the many reasons why I am not God.

If I stare into the face of injustice for too long, I get more and more outraged, but if I stare into the face of God, I see my unfair situation as a blessing.  Yea, I’m not saying that I’m thrilled to suffer for an idiot’s sake; I’m simply saying that somehow He makes it make sense.  He has this ability to let me see further down the road at what my suffering will bring, if I let it.  Why do I have to suffer?  Who knows, but what happens while I suffer is incredible.

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There are lessons to be learned in our suffering.  No matter the degree or level of pain, God can give us understanding.  That understanding may never explain why people hurt us, but we will be able to see how God feels about it and how He can use it.  He’s never happy to see us hurt.  But this one thing I know, where there is hurt, devastation, and deficit, God will pour out a surplus of His goodness, comfort, and grace.  I know this first hand.  When we get our eyes off what has been done to us and set our focus on what has been done for us at the cross, we can come to terms with our pain. In His presence we find clarity about our future, and our hope is restored.  In His presence the broken pieces of our lives are gently made whole again.  If we listen to what He says, we can see how much stronger we’ll be when we come out of this.  We’ll see how we will be able to help others.  But the best part about turning to God in our suffering, is the love and comfort He pours out on us.  No one knows suffering like Christ.  No one knows what it’s like to suffer at the hands of ungodly people for a crime you didn’t commit like He does.  And it’s because of that understanding He can comfort us.  He searches out the brokenhearted, longing to restore their hope.

Listen, in this world we will have pain.  We will suffer because of people’s bad decisions but God has an incredible ability to turn it into something beautiful, if we let Him.  So will you let Him have your pain?  Will you let Him exchange your suffering for something incorruptible? Will you learn to be like Him through your grief?  Will you allow Him to show you something beautiful about Himself as He walks you through this difficult season?

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING:  God wants to give you understanding about your suffering.  He wants to give you insight into how He can turn this around for you.  What Satan meant for harm, God will use for good…if you let Him.  He wants to take away the word victim from your vocabulary and show you how you are a victor.  You can overcome whatever you are going through.  You can be healed completely from what’s been done to you.  God wants to take this pain and use it to show the world how good He is by healing and loving you.  Spend time today talking about what’s hurting you.  Listen attentively to what He says to you…His words are healing and they are life.

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FURTHER STUDY:   Look over these scriptures about God’s comfort and our suffering this week.  Meditate on them and ask God to give you revelation about your situation through these scriptures.

Day 2:   Read  2 Corinthians 1:4-7

Day 3:   Read Romans 8:17-18

Day 4:   Read 1 Peter 3:13-17

Day 5:   Read Isaiah 51:2-3

I JUST NEED A LITTLE PEACE!

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Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be trouble, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

 

You ever had one of those days that starts off pretty well but by lunch you’ve already cussed three times and are ready to murder the next person that brings you bad news?  Yeah, that was my day today.  Well, not the cussing part, although I was on the verge of it several times.  Everything that could have went wrong, went wrong!  Things that should have taken a fraction of time to complete took hours and hours to finish…and I’m doing the work of the Kingdom, for the love of God.  Could I get a little grace here?

Why can’t things be smooth sailing more often?  Why do we seem to have so many moments of insanity, moments where we lose our peace?  To be quite honest, my peace is probably where ever my mind went today…gone, just gone! How can a day, a week, even years go so wrong when they start off so right?  I start everyday with God, sitting still in His Presence, drinking coffee and enjoying our talks…and then bam, all hell breaks loose by lunch.

Jesus gave us a clue in scripture about peace when He said, My peace I leave you, my peace I give to you.”  Doesn’t that sound kind of like the same thing? It’s not really the same.  He left us His peace but we can choose to leave it.  It takes extreme faith and discipline not to freak out over the many things that can go wrong in our lives.  And not just the piddly ones that went wrong for me today…big things like finding out you have cancer, losing your job, or worse, losing someone you love.  That’s why He also said that He’d give us His peace, so that when we “lose it”, He’ll be there to give it back to us.

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The Greek definition for the word peace in this passage is  the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.  Wow.  Listen, peace begins, ends and comes from Jesus.  We can’t make ourselves have peace.  We can’t “suck it up” and ignore our first initial responses of shock and grief when bad things happen…but we can pray for God to give us His peace.  Every time that I have ever asked God for it, He’s given it.  Every. Single. Time.  Even in the darkest times of my life, I have always had His peace.  And so now, at the onset of bad news, I take a deep breath and say that I trust God (well, more often than not).  The “freak out moments” come less and less frequent as I grow in my walk with God.  As I understand Him and get to know Him more, I’m much more at peace.  I can relax knowing He’s really got this…whatever this may be for the day.

His peace is a promise for all believers.  Philippians 4:6-8 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications , with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  I want you to see that there is NEVER a time where you have to live without His peace.  It’s always available when you ask.  So are you ready to let go of your anxiety, fear, doubt, and insecurity?  Are you ready to walk in His Presence and for your soul to be flooded with His peace and security?

 

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING:  God wants to pour out His peace upon you today.  Begin today’s prayer by offering up thanksgiving to Him for His goodness, then ask Him to give you His peace.  Keep your mind open to the things He will tell you about your situation.  He has the incredible ability to give you new insight and understanding about your circumstances.  Take a deep breath in and just breathe in His peace.  Let it wash over you like warm oil.  It has the power to guard your heart and your mind when you start to feel anxious again.  Write down all that He says in this time.  You’ll need to refer back to it until this anxiety loses its grip on you.  BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING!  Trust God!  Ready, Set, Breathe!

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FURTHER STUDY:   Study these scriptures on peace over the next week.  They would be PERFECT to memorize to combat doubt and anxiety.  Strengthen your spirit with His words.

Day 2:   Read  Philippians 4:6-7

Day 3:   Read Colossians 3:15

Day 4:   Read 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Day 5:   Read John 16:33

YOU CAN DO NOTHING!

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I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.  However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. John 15:5 AMP

 

Nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch! Do you have any idea how horrible I am without Jesus? Horrible I tell you!  Just a few days without spending quality time with Him and the witch is out of the closet on her broom again.  Laugh if you will, but I’m telling you the truth; I’m wicked without Him!  I recently took one of those Facebook quizzes called “How Witchy are You?”  (Of course, it was not titled “witchy” but, well, you fill in the blank.)  I love Facebook quizzes, although I never post the results unless they make me look amazing and really smart.  Seriously, you know you do it too.  But about a quarter of the way into the “Witchy” quiz I knew how it was going to turn out and I couldn’t expose myself like that.  I’d rather lie than see the truth in black and white.  So I began to fudge some of the answers so that it wouldn’t end up the way I knew it would.  Thankfully, I only scored 72% witchy but you’ll never see those results on my wall.  Yes ladies, I may have lied on the quiz, but I cannot lie to myself.  I know how much I need Jesus. I am incapable of being consistently good, spiritually speaking.  I need a daily dose of His Presence and His Word.  I’m 100% totally dependent on Him, and that is a good thing!

Read today’s scripture again…

 I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. John 15:5 AM.

I’ve got good news for you.  To bear much fruit doesn’t mean to produce much fruit in this passage.  It means to bear, like to bear a burden, to hold up or support.  The fruit is from God, we just let it hang off of us for the world to feast on and show off His goodness.  Have you ever seen an apple attached to a tree trunk or grapes hanging off roots?  No.  It has a go-between, a branch.  And God in all of His infinite wisdom has chosen to partner with us in this mission of rescuing the world.  The fruit we bear, hold up, and display is that of the Holy Spirit.  The only requirement for us to bear it is to stay close to Him.  We can do no good thing without Him; He’s the only good thing.

Even Jesus referred to God as the only One who was good.  In Matthew 19:17, Jesus says, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.”  Why would Jesus say that?  I mean, isn’t He God too?  Yes, He is God, but He was also a man.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  He humbly came to earth to reveal the way to the Father.  What does God want?  To be close to us, to be inseparable, one heart, one mind, one mission.  Jesus would only go where His Father said go, and do what His Father said do.  He spent years getting to know God just the way we have to.  He wasn’t born all-knowing.  He grew into a deep, intimate relationship with the Father. He learned scripture, He prayed and He was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He was led by God’s Spirit in EVERYTHING He did.  Every fruit that He bore was from the same Spirit we have living inside of us.  We have the same resource available to us to live the godly life He lived.  All we have to do is stay connected.  Our connection to God is vital to the quality of life we will live.  Those who remain connected to Him, who know Him, walk with strength, power and authority to overcome life’s difficulties and He reaches the world through us.

So are you ready to stop striving for perfection and start spending more time with Him?  Are you ready to stop trying to control the people around you and spend time listening to God’s specific instructions and bear His fruit?

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING:  God wants you to know what it feels like to be connected to Him.  He wants to remove the burden of perfection that you place on yourself.  When He leads you, you’re free.  When He’s your source, you measure up, you’re enough because He feeds you words of life.  You can lay your head down at the end of every day knowing you were successful that day because you were fully connected to Him.  He is the source for everything.  EVERYTHING.  You can do all things through Him!  All things ladies.  Take this time to connect and focus on what a life 100% dependent on Him looks like.  Let Him show you that picture in your time with Him today.  Let Him overwhelm your soul with His goodness and fill up all of the lack in your life.

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 FURTHER STUDY:   Spend some time looking over these scriptures this week.  Try to memorize any that move you the most.

Day 2:   Read  John 15:4

Day 3:   Read Philippians 4:13

Day 4:   Read John 14:16

Day 5:   Read 1 John 4:13

WHERE WAS GOD?

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,  who does not change like shifting shadows.    James 1:17

 

There is a constant in every bad thing that happens in life…the question of “Where was God” is embedded into our memories and attached to each painful incident.  We need no proof that evil exists for it is all around us.  Some of us have been in the clutch of its wicked claw more times than we can count.  We read scriptures like “every good and perfect gift is from above”  but let’s be honest, we question the goodness of God. Especially when tragedy hits home more often than not. So where is He?  Where is He when a child is being beaten, starved, locked up in a closet and their innocence ripped away?  Where is He when a mother is abandoned to raise little ones on her own?  Where is He when we lose everything we hold dear?  During the most unimaginable pain one human can inflict upon another, where is the Father of Lights then?

where was godI stared straight into the face of the answer to that daunting question a few years back.  I traveled to a freedom ministry conference that’s sole purpose is to address that very question: where was God. We filled the church house and brought every ounce of unresolved baggage we owned.  It wasn’t long before we were ushered into the rich presence of God and told to start unpacking.  It was life-changing! Do you know those deep ugly cries?  The kind of cry where your face draws inward, your mouth drops down into a big ugly square and the sound that comes out of your body exposes the depth of the grief you’ve burdened? Yea, that was me… uncontrollable-lots-of-snot-and-I-can’t-find-a-tissue-so-I’ll-use-my-sleeve kind of cry.  But hey, I got my answer.

So where was He? Well, He was right there with me!  My mind flashed back through every traumatic event in my life and I saw God there beside me, weeping.  Not weeping because He was weak and powerless, but weeping because He allowed Himself to experience the fullness of my grief. “Well, why didn’t He stop it?” you may be asking and that’s a great question!  To answer that we need to go back to the beginning of creation.  When God made the world, He made it perfect.  But love requires a choice.  God did not make mindless drones.  He birthed us with the ability to choose.  We have a will of our own and it’s free to choose good or choose evil.  Why is there so much evil in the world today?  Because for thousands of generations people have chosen evil.  Without God, people are selfish, wicked, jealous, greedy, unfaithful, and cruel to say the least.  They are out to please themselves.  It’s not God’s fault that people choose evil. People hurt people, and God hurts when His people hurt.  There will be judgment for them in God’s timing, but that doesn’t always bring me consolation.

But something else I learned does.  I learned that God could completely heal all of my brokenness.  He did in fact come for the brokenhearted, you know?  I’m going to say that again…God healed all of my brokenness and He can completely heal you too!  Also, He can undo the damage that was done. He can take your brokenness and make it into something beautiful like He’s done for me.  You see, when you are free from the bondage of the damage that’s been done to you, you are free to live in peace and help others find freedom too.  The pain doesn’t have the strength to hold onto you anymore in the light of His goodness.  You can be filled with His joy.  Healing is yours!  Freedom is yours!  Peace is yours! But you have to choose to take it and walk in it.  Are you ready for freedom? Are you ready to stop living your life as a victim and walk in the abundant life of freedom you were made for?

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING:  God wants to deliver you from the curse of bondage of past hurts.  Unpack every suitcase you’ve been carrying around with you.  Unpack it and let Him address all of those wounds.  Let Him tell you where He was when those things happened to you.  Let Him heal every broken area of your heart today!  Let Him exchange your ashes for His beauty.  I really want to see you set free!  I want you to use this time and REALLY connect with God.  Ask Him the tough question of “Where were you?”.  Listen to His answer.  Listen to His heart.  Receive His healing today!  Don’t let the enemy steal anything else from you.  Your healing awaits!  Play the track below to get your prayer started.

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FURTHER STUDY:   Let these scriptures be your anthem this week!  Celebrate the reason Christ came.  Read it, believe it, breathe it, speak it and live it!  Freedom and healing belong to you now!

Day 2:   Read  Psalm 34:18Psalm 147:3

Day 3:   Read Isaiah 61:1-3

Day 4:   Read Psalm 129:4John 8:36

Day 5:   Read  Revelation 21:4

FREEDOM IN FORGIVENESS

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“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.  Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)

  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you are agreeing with what they’ve done.  In fact, it has more to do with your freedom than anything.  When we hang onto things people have done, it puts us in bondage to their deeds.  We mull over it, replay it over and over in our minds until it becomes a root of bitterness that blinds us from our own sin.  What someone has done may have been cruel, wicked, and unacceptable, but we must refuse to allow the toxin of unforgiveness to overtake our hearts and minds. Forgiving others comes fairly easy to me, most times.  I’m not sure why.  I’ve experienced extreme abuse at the hands of people who had vowed to protect and love me.  If I try and remember some of the darker times of that season of my life, I can barely believe I emerged unscathed.  I can hardly believe I don’t hold some bitter root of anger towards them for the unmentionable acts that I experienced at their wicked hands. But I can barely remember.  Somehow I learned to forgive and put it behind me so that I could move on.  And I really did.  I mean a true forgiveness that involved forgetting too.  It’s almost as if it were another person.  I’m not talking about denial though.  I’m not denying those horrible things happened to me, but I’ve really forgiven and destroyed all the roots associated with it in my heart.  It has no hold on me.  It has no bearing on the trust I place in others now.  I am completely healed, praise God! I said that most times forgiveness is easy.  But there are some times that forgiveness seems almost impossible.  There are some things that have happened to me, that have caused such deep scarring and pain that I have a hard time letting go.  The more I think about what they’ve done, the angrier I become.  And the angrier I become, the more I feel it settle down in my heart.  And I want to pluck their eyes out, at the very least!  Every time I hear that person’s name, a shard of anger and bitterness springs forth from my heart and fills my mouth with negative words against them.  I know it’s wrong!  But what a struggle it is to do what I know I need to.  Forgive and pray for them! Wait, pray for them? Oh how I do not want to do that! No, in fact, I want the complete opposite for them.  I want them to experience the pain and suffering I’ve experienced, and maybe even worse.  The last thing that I want to do is pray for them!  But when I hold on to unforgiveness, it causes a rift between the One I really need.  The One who is my source of life.  You see, His word says to “forgive those who sin against us as God forgives us.”  Oh, wait, what?  Forgive like God forgives?  Well, when Christ forgives, it must be with a confession of our mouths right?  We’ve got to repent and then He forgives, so I guess that lets me off the hook a bit.  I mean, so many times when people hurt us, they never apologize.  So does that mean we don’t have to forgive them? No, that’s not what it means.  In Mark 11:24-26 Jesus says:

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Just so that we are clear, did you see that Jesus said that in the way we forgive, we will be forgiven by God?  He’s not talking about “salvation forgiveness”.  He’s talking about God holding onto our sins.  There will be a rift between God and us.  Now listen, the word does say that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  It’s true that nothing can change His love for us, but when we hold onto the sins of others, God holds onto our sin, we are not as close and are prayers are hindered. So what’s the key to forgiving those who have wronged us so deeply and have never, or will never repent to us?  First, we must learn to accept the apology that they will never give us.  They were wrong.  What they did was wrong.  And letting go of this does not mean what they did was okay.  But what we are doing is releasing their hold on us.  The very last thing that I want to do is to give that person one more ounce of power over me!  I want freedom from them.  And the first step is to accept that invisible apology. ForgivenessThe next step, is to ask God to help you forgive them.  Some wounds are so deep, only the love of a Savior can heal.  God is in the heart changing business.  He can change your heart about someone.  So ask Him, daily…minute by minute if you must but don’t let those negative thoughts settle in your hearts any longer!  It’s time to walk in freedom. The final step is to pray for them.  You’ll be amazed at the transformation in your hearts and minds when you do this.  There is something that takes place in us when we bless and not curse people.  This brings healing!  This brings freedom…there is so much freedom in forgiveness! Are you ready to be free of the curse of what someone’s done to you?  Are you ready to forgive them? ________________________________________________________________________________________ YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING:  God wants to break off the chains of unforgiveness off of you!  He does not approve of what others have done to cause you pain, but He understands the power of forgiveness.  After all, He has been hurt the most and if He can do it, He can teach us how to.  Spend sometime with the Holy Spirit.  Lay bare all the things that you’ve been holding onto.  Tell Him about all the things that you are having a hard time forgiving and forgetting.  Listen to His advice in how to forgive, forget and move on.  He’s pretty smart you know! 🙂  Listen to the track below to get your freedom started!

_______________________________________________________________________________________ FURTHER STUDY:   Spend some time over the next week looking at what the word says about forgiveness.  Quote these scriptures whenever you feel a rise of bitterness come over you about your past.  The word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, it can pierce and lay bare anything not of God!  Trust it, trust Him and be free!

Day 2:   Read  Mark 11:24-26

Day 3:   Read Luke 11:3-5

Day 4:   Read Ephesians 4:32

Day 5:   Read Colossians 3:13

WHAT’S HANGING ON YOUR TREE?

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By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.   John 15:8

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!   Galatians 5:22:23

 

We all know that faith without works is dead.  Well I tell ya that faith without fruit is dead.  We’ve got so many idiots proclaiming the name of “Jesus” who don’t have a clue what “Jesus” is all about.

Jesus said that they will know us by our fruit.  It’s fruit people!  It’s fruit that proves who we really are to the world!  I cringe every time I hear a derogatory, racist remark from a bible believing Christian.  Where is the love in that?  I am disgusted by the rantings and ravings taking place on social media when “lost” people do “lost” things.  Where is the kindness in our speech?  Hey, news flash fellow believers:  THEY’RE LOST! They haven’t had the heart change that we’ve had and they don’t have the Holy Spirit!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t stand up for what the Word of God says.  By all means, stand up.  But when you stand up, you better be cloaked in the goodness, gentleness, kindness, and patience of the Holy Spirit because the world is watching.  We are not called to change the world; we’re called to exude the fruit and fragrance of Christ so that the world may see Him through us and be changed.  We’re called to love them, be patient with them, and show them kindness.  Don’t you remember that it was His kindness that led us to repentance?  It wasn’t harsh judgment and condemnation that brought us to our knees begging His forgiveness.  We saw something in Him that the world was lacking. His character drew us in.

This fruit doesn’t just appear mysteriously.  And it’s not by your power or strength.  You can’t be good enough to produce it on your own.  It’s the fruit of the Spirit…no, literally the fruit of the Spirit. It comes from the Spirit of the Living God who resides in every believer.  It’s produced when we surrender to His way of doing things; fragrant when we walk by His Spirit. 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things you please.  Galatians 5:16-17

Did you see that?  “So that you may not do the things you please.”  We have to choose to swim upstream and fight our flesh, our natural responses.  I know it’s easier to respond to other’s ungodliness with more of the same, but what are we really accomplishing?  Can a lost person really see God in the life we’re living, in all of our responses, in all our words, in our attitude?

Jesus said a good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.  It’s not a one-foot-in-one-foot-out lifestyle.  It’s a sold-out-to-Jesus-and-you-can-tell-by-my-fruit lifestyle that Christ is after.  He gave all, so should we.  Hey listen, I’ve not got this all together by any means.  I’m still working on my own junk.  Every time I fall, I get back up, brush myself off and climb back into the saddle.  God’s got the reins.  He’s faithful to finish the work He’s started in me, but He won’t force it on me.  He’s gentle and patient.  We work on one little area at a time.  He doesn’t throw me up on a chopping block and cut big slabs of my rotten flesh off all at once.  Thank God because there wouldn’t be much left but a bloody nub.  Okay, sorry for the gross visual, but you get my point.

fruit hanging 2So let me ask, you what fruit is hanging on your tree?  Can the people in your life reach up and feast on the goodness of God that you have hanging from your limbs?  Can they taste and see that the Lord is good in your life?  You’ve got fruit hanging, the question is what kind.

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

God wants to do some fruit inspection!  If He were to look closely at the fruit on your tree, what would He find?  Spend some time with Him today and let Him tell you what He sees.  Don’t be scared, He’s an encourager!  He doesn’t just point out the things you need to work on, but He praises you in areas you overcame.  He’ll gently point out some areas in your life He’d like you to work on, certain fruit He’d like to see more of.  Listen to today’s audio track to get your prayer time started.

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Spend some time over the next week looking a little closer at what scripture says about the different fruit.

Day 2:   Read about love and joy: 1 John 4:7, John 15:11

Day 3:   Read about peace and patience:  Colossians 3:15Colossians 1:10-11

Day 4:   Read about kindness and goodness:  Colossians 3:12-13,  Galatians 6:9-10

Day 5:   Read about faithfulness, gentleness and self control:  1 Corinthians 4:2, Philippians 4:5,                              2 Timothy 1:7

WOULD YOU STILL LOVE ME?

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One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.  Psalms 27:4

 

How many of us would say that we love God? It’s a fairly simple question and most would say we do.  But how many of us would say that we love God when we’re in a dry desert season and He’s not saying a word?

What’s worse than not understanding what God is up to?  Oh how I dislike the dry desert seasons!  I long for the warm fuzzy sensation of His Presence constantly speaking to me, but that’s not always the case.  I’ve heard it once said that a teacher doesn’t speak during a test; that they stand silently at the student’s side, watching as they mull over difficult questions.  How many times do we get angry with God because we feel He’s silent?  We’ve got questions and He’s nowhere to be found, it seems.  We shout out “God answer me!” And yet we hear nothing. But do you know that it’s okay for Him to be silent? His silence can be a good thing.  Our faith is being tested and there are no “F’s” allowed.  If you fail this test, guess what?  God will bring it back around for you!  Failure is just not an option.  That’s great news, right? [Insert sarcasm here.] He may be silent, but He’s always near.  And the questions that you have, He’s probably already answered them.  That’s usually how a test works.

Ah tests, glorious tests…a chance to put our money where our mouths are. How many times are we like Peter and say “God I love you,” yet at the first sign of difficulty, we curse Him and say we don’t know Him?  Are we just using Him for what He could potentially do for us?  Do we love His benefits more than we love Him?  We like the sunshine and daisy days but the deserts, yeah, not so much.  We start to question His nature when we hit a dry spell. Is He really good?  Does He even care that I’m dying here?  It’s like we look in a mirror and love what we see, but walk away and forget the image we beheld.  That’s how quickly we forget our love for Him when times are tough.  It’s in these tough times though, that the purity of our love is revealed.

would you still love me

So what if the only thing He brought to you in your difficult season was just Himself?  What if He didn’t come riding in on a white horse to save your day? What if He only came with His love in hand, to sit and talk a while, would that be enough for you?  Paul said that he knew how to be content in whatever situation he found Himself in because it was Christ that strengthened him.  Do you think he found himself in some desert seasons?  Or seasons where he felt he was in prison…literally? Yes, most definitely!  And yet he was content.  And more than just content, this was the place that the Holy Spirit penned through Paul the words in scripture we live by.  He was content with the love of Jesus, not in the big flashy Kingdom perks.  He was content, he was faithful and he was fruitful.  Christ’s love and presence were enough for him, is it enough for you? How far are you willing to walk through your desert?

 

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

God wants to know if you love Him!  He desires a people that loves being with Him; that doesn’t use Him for His many benefits.   The God all of His splendor and majesty desires to be loved by you…you!  You are that important to Him!  What does your love look like for Him?  Take this time to tell Him exactly how you feel about Him.  Play the audio track below to get you started and lavish your love on Him.

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Over the next week take a look a these scriptures on contentment and our love for God.

Day 2:   Read Deuteronomy 13:3-4

Day 3:   Read Philippians 4:11-13

Day 4:   Read 1 John 5:3-5

Day 5:   Read Luke 10:25-27

A HOPE THAT DOESN’T DISAPPOINT

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                 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.     Romans 5:5

 

I don’t know about you but I’ve been disappointed by hope.  I’ve dreamt of things, longed for things, searched for things and have been obedient to the point of death and yet still ended up wanting.  What I have found often times at the end of my rainbows, have been fool’s gold, or so it seemed.  I’ve chased big dreams, believed God for huge things, and waited for so long to see a hint of His purposes.  I was disillusioned and disappointed because I lacked understanding in the “how and why” He does things the way He does.

Some people give up on hope because it seems too painful to continue hoping only to be disappointed over and over again.  So some settle for the downward dismal lifestyle of I’m-never-going-to-get-my-hopes-up-again.  So what’s worse?  Hoping and being disappointed?  Or not hoping at all and being depressed?  What if I told you there is another option?

Look at today’s scripture again… Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  Now we all believe that scripture is inerrant.  So if the Word of God cannot lie, then the truth is that hope does not disappoint.  But how can that be, since you and I have both hoped in some things and still experienced disappointment when they didn’t work out?

My marriage was not what I had hoped for the first 7 years.  I was miserable.  I stayed in a constant state of disappointment.  A business venture failed horrifically and I spent years on unemployment and working jobs that only paid a fraction of what I was used to making.  Every big dream that I had stepped out in faith went nowhere and I lost tens of thousands of dollars.  The list could go on and on with countless heartbreaking stories of things hoped for and things lost, or so I though.

hope that doesn't disappointThe word disappoint means to fail to meet the expectation or hope of.  That’s exactly how I’ve felt so much of my life.  “Failure to meet the expectations of”  so many dreams!  So are Christians supposed to be immune to disappointment?  Is that what this passage is saying?  No, of course not.  Do you see the word “because” in todays verse?  It’s telling us that hope does not disappoint because (for the reason that) the love of God/the Holy Spirit has been poured out within our hearts to help us overcome disappointment!

When we sit with Him every morning, and every moment our hearts are broken, He has the power to override that disappointment. He has the power to give us insight into our situation. He can change our perspectives.  Things that seemed lost can be given a deeper meaning.  Does it mean we won’t ever be disappointed?  No, but it does mean that when those disappointments come, we can sit with God and let Him explain them to us.  Once we have His understanding and a Kingdom perspective we are somehow transformed and able to have hope again.

When I look back on my list of disappointments, I see God’s hand of goodness.  I see the beauty of trusting Him when there was little hope left.  When so many things in my life seemed like they were failing, I would remind myself that God is always good.  I would say out loud, “my life is not what I want it to be but I know God will bring to me all that He has promised. This pain has a purpose.”  I found those purposes in the seasons of disappointment.  I found a strength to persevere that was lodged deep inside and His name is the Holy Spirit.  Oh how many times did He make clear a situation that held me captive for so long?  And now that I am seeing so many of the promises fulfilled, how grateful I am to have continued to believe in His goodness.  He is faithful!  He is faithful to finish what He’s started.

I know that some of you find yourselves in gloomy circumstances right now.  But know this:  you are not alone!  God has not abandoned you.  He has not forgotten you.  There is a beautiful purpose for this pain.  He will not let the pain go to waste, I promise.  Take your disappointments to Him and let Him refresh your mind and restore hope to you.  He is the Hope that does not disappoint!

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

God wants to release you from your disappointments.  You are not the only one that has gone through what you are going through.  And it won’t last forever!  Let Him encourage you today.  Let Him speak words of hope to those tender areas of your heart.  Release the anger of being disappointed with your situation, with people and with Him.  Let Him show you that He has your best interests at heart.  Let Him give you understanding in all things that concern you.  As you begin to pray, start the audio track below.  Pour out your frustration to Him and let Him respond to you.  It’s life changing!  And you can hear Him!

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Over the next week renew your mind with the scriptures on hope.  Let them settle down into your spirit, write them on the tablets of your heart, and let them roll off your lips like honey in everything you speak this week.

Day 2:   Read Romans 8:24-25

Day 3:   Read Romans 15:4

Day 4:   Read Romans 15:13

Day 5:   Read Hebrews 6:18, Hebrews 10:23

WHAT LOVE IS NOT

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Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

We all dream of a fairy tale romance.  Images of marrying Prince Charming and riding off into the sunset towards the Cinderella life of our dreams…and then we wake up.  We wake up to someone who is, well, hairy…really hairy and smelly and messy and thinks so strangely.  I mean the wiring in a man’s brain is just missing a few connections.  They just don’t think like us incredibly-brilliant-always-right-never-wrong women. {Insert sarcasm here.} God love ‘em!  And I love ’em!  I’m sincerely thankful for the opposite sex and all the wonderful things they bring to the human race.  Thank God my husband doesn’t think like I do.  The world is a better place because of that.  But let’s face it, marriage is NOT meant to make you happy, it’s meant to make you holy.  The word happy comes from the old English word hap which means good fortune, lucky, or turning out well.  So our happiness is directly related to how things are turning out for us.  But what happens if things aren’t turning out so well?  What if we are not happy in our fairy tale?  What happens if Prince Charming isn’t meeting all of our needs and loving us the way Jesus loves the church?  What then?

From the get-go, my husband and I entered into a covenant (not a contract).  A contract is there to protect both parties involved in an agreement.  If one party doesn’t fulfill their part of the contract either party can go their separate ways.  Not so in a covenant.  If one party doesn’t pull their weight, the other party must pull it for them.  They are bound together for life only to be separated by death.  My husband and I agreed that we would never divorce, but death, well, that was always a viable option.  I’m jokingly serious, of course.  There were nights I prayed for God to take one of us out if something didn’t change.  I’m really not kidding, things hit rock bottom.  But thank God for unanswered prayers because He probably would have taken me out.

what love is notI’m going to let you in on a little secret…and I want you to think about this secret in view of how God does it:  Love is NOT love unless you choose to love someone through their worst.  Jesus asked “What reward is there in loving someone who loves you back?”  He said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:46 & 48)  The original Greek meaning of the word perfect means to be brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness.  Do you want to know what I saw when I read that?  DEATH!  We die!  Oh God answered my prayers alright.  Someone died, and it was me.  I died to all of my selfish mindsets, to my desire to have someone else meet all of my needs. I died to my self-centered ways because you cannot truly love until you love the unlovable and believe the best about them.  You must see a person in their worst possible state and yet hope in all things, bear all things, believe all things, and endure all things knowing that love never fails.  Knowing that God, who is love, never fails.

We search our whole lives for love, and then we walk away from what we found in search of something better.  We move from relationship to relationship looking for the perfect spouse.  How about we seek out, search for and find the perfect God and then we can love anyone through His love?

I had a real “a-ha” moment several years ago.  This one particular day I was running late for church and I bent down to kiss my husband goodbye on the forehead before leaving.  As I did, he grimaced.  Okay, if you know me at all, my core fear is rejection…and that had rejection all over it.  (What you may not know is that I had been a jerk to my husband earlier that week and he wasn’t feeling particularly loving towards me at the time.)  So I stomped off, slammed the door and started yelling at God.  “He doesn’t deserve my love!” I exclaimed.  “And you deserve Mine?” God asked gently. “I know I don’t deserve Your love God, but You can’t help it!  You love because You ARE love and You can’t deny Yourself!” I yelled.  “Then you love because you ARE love and because I live inside of you and you can’t separate us for we are one!” He said loud and clear.

Wow.  We love because we ARE love, for Christ lives in us and He is love.  That statement changed the course for how I approached love.  We don’t love because someone deserves it.  We love because we are love PERIOD.  We are loved by the One who fills us, the One who loves us even though we don’t deserve it.  A true depiction of love is not loving those who love you back, but loving those who don’t, won’t, or just don’t know how yet.  Love is not a feeling, nor an emotion, but is a choice.  It never feels good to love someone who doesn’t love you back at first, but when love has done its perfect work in you, the reward is priceless.  You get to see firsthand, the loving heart of God…you get to see what love really is, and what love is not.

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

God wants to undo your definition of love.  He wants to give you a new perspective on love and He wants to take the pressure off of your loved ones to meet all of your needs.  Only He can do that.  When you sit with Him day after day, He can pour love into your empty broken heart.  Out of this you will be able to love as He loves.  Are you ready to be filled up with the love of God so that you can pour out on a hurt and lonely world around you?  Start out your time with God listening to the audio track I’ve attached below.  Listen to what the Holy Spirit speaks to you about His amazing love.  Write down what He says.  I’m believing for some “a-ha” moments of your own!

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Look over these passages on the Love of God this week.  Learn to walk in love the way He does.  You’re going to be a much “happier” person when you focus on God’s love for you and not the lack of love around you.  Gird yourself in the wisdom of the Word of God.  Let it wash over you and renew your mind.

Day 2:   Read Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4-5

Day 3:   Read 1 John 4:7-11

Day 4:   Read Galatians 2:20 

Day 5:   Read John 13:34-35

STRONG IN THE STORM

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“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”              Matthew 7:24-27

Strong, steady, and stable are three words that would have never described me several years ago.  Oh, I believed in God and I believed He could answer prayer…it just seemed like He’d answer it for everyone else but me.  An old weathered ship tossed back and forth like a battering ram against the dock I was tied to, deep were my scars.  Up and down, in and out as fast as the waves rolled was the pace at which I lost my faith in God’s ability to save me from the storm. 

Faith, it’s impossible to please God without it.  Faith, there’s no way around it in His Kingdom.  It’s the key to everything.  Without faith we whine, complain, throw pity parties, and get angry with God but we never really call it what it is….it’s a lack of faith.  We doubt God’s goodness in the dark storms of our lives.  We don’t see how He could possibly come through.  We think we are the only ones going through the storms we face.

What causes waves to stir and crash?  What brings a storm?  Wind.  It’s gusts of wind that blow down against calm waters and cause billows of waves to rise.  In Mark 4, Jesus tells the disciples to go across the sea to the other side.  But while Jesus was asleep on a pillow, a great and mighty storm arose.  It was thrashing the boat around and filling it up with water.  Now the disciples were experienced fishermen, they knew a bad storm when they saw one.  And this was a bad one.  It was so bad that they ran down to get Jesus, to ask Him whether or not He cared they were perishing.  Read what happened next:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

I want you to see that they were right smack dab in the middle of God’s will and there was a storm!  Just because you find yourself in a storm doesn’t mean you’ve missed God.  Sometimes it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.  How many times did I think God was asleep on a pillow when I was about to die in my situation?  How many times did I think He didn’t care?  I had built my house on my circumstances, not on His goodness or His faithfulness.  When I felt my life crumbling around me, I went down with it.  I let the wave of my emotions batter me against the dock.  Weathered, worn, beaten, and bruised when all I had to do is loosen the rope that held me captive.  To untie my anchor and let the wind of God carry me where He desired.  You see, I wasn’t a worn old ship, but a sailboat meant to be carried by the wind not beaten by it.  I was to use the wind to propel me not repel me.  Even the darkest of storms have the power to propel us towards our destinies.

strong in the stormSo what should the disciples have done in the midst of their storm?  Think about it.  Put yourself there, in their cold and wet shoes.  We know being afraid and asking Jesus if He even cared wasn’t the right answer.  But what was?  Maybe if they would have said to themselves, “I believe the Master will get us across safely.  He’s on-board with us and He’s not going down, neither will we!”  Maybe if they would have remembered all the marvelous miracles they had beheld.  Don’t you know that it’s in the middle of these storms we see God rescue us miraculously? It’s here where we see Him walk on water and calm the winds.  It’s here, where our faith grows.   And it’s that faith that makes us strong in the storm.  

 

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YOUR KOFFEE WITH THE KING: 

God is ready to speak calm to the storms in your mind today!  I want you to image yourself in a sailboat on the most beautiful waters you can think of.  I want your soul to be flooded with peace in knowing that God is guiding you in your voyage, even in the not-so-great stormy waters.  As you listen to the audio track, ask God any question you want to.  This is your time with Him.  He’s not going to be offended by anything you ask Him.  But after you ask Him those hard questions, listen to what He says back.  I promise it will calm the storms in your minds and bring peace.  I can’t wait to see what He says to you!

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FURTHER STUDY:  

Meditate on these passages of scripture this week.  Ask God to bury them deep down within your spirits. Read them, write them down, and quote them over yourself until you believe them.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!

Day 2:   Read Mark 4:35-41

Day 3:   Read Psalm 107:28-30

Day 4:   Read Matthew 14:23-25

Day 5:   Read Psalm 107:29   Psalm 89:8-9