Stress Test!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts Proverbs 17:1 NKJV

Harsh winds blew this butterfly sideways. Yet, it hung on.

And we should too.

We all have some preconceived notion about how much stress we think we can bear. Most of us are reluctant to endure anything beyond what is absolutely necessary.

However, God knows our greatest potential. In order to unlock the best within us, we must often endure some trials that will inevitably strengthen and prepare us for what lies ahead.

What you may perceive as a loss—divorce, bankruptcy, unemployment or failed relationships may actually prepare you for a brighter future. The ability to withstand the stress of life’s disappointments is the same discipline required to enjoy life’s blessings without becoming consumed by them.

A prospering business or active family is very much a blessing. But each comes with its own share of challenges and responsibilities. The ability to bend without breaking or walk through fire comes with maturity and experience gained not in the good times but in the bad.

A nail is hammered into place to keep things together.  The hammering makes the nail effective and allows it to serve its purpose.

As much as it hurts, our hammering shapes us as well.

It can build us up from the inside out or we can allow it to beat us down.

yellow btlfy 9 2014  Character, endurance, and faith are tested and strengthened when we learn how to withstand trials, not avoid them.

Through Christ we can endure whatever we are forced to face and come out stronger than we ever dared imagine.

God’s grace is sufficient.

Endure the stress, and pass your tests!

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NIV


Getting Through to Get To…

Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea before they were free from Egypt. Joshua led the same people through the wilderness before they saw the Promised Land. Jesus endured the crucifixion before He would then take His seat at the right hand of God the Father. Life requires that we go through to get to!

Everyone has trials and tribulations, each of us our own cross to bear. Sometimes we feel so overwhelmed that our issues loom larger in our minds than they should. This skewed perspective often diminishes our hope for the future. To maintain faith, patience and perseverance we must realize the journey is just as important as the destination.

Enduring the miles builds strength and stamina for the runner. It is the burn of the muscles and the strain on the lungs that makes the body stronger than before.

We so often focus on obtaining our goals that we dismiss the necessity of the journey required to meet them.  We are increasingly persuaded by today’s media to expect what we want when we want it.

God’s best just doesn’t happen that way.

The bigger the blessing, the more it is going to take to realize it. You must gain more training, experience and knowledge in preparation for God’s best for you. Surely God can give us our blessings immediately without all our effort, but very few of us are mature enough to properly receive and appreciate them without first going through what is necessary to bring them to pass.

Patience perfects us. Trials mature us. We get stronger when we go through the fire. Only by enduring the fires of life can God burn out the impurities that lie within us.

Sometimes the heat is overwhelming, and we feel we can’t go on but God’s faithfulness lifts our fatigue. His hand heals when life beats us down. Our hope for tomorrow comes when we seek His face. True success comes when we dare to keep going not in our own ability but through faith in His.

Trials will surely come and we may stumble, fall, and even find ourselves crawling on hands and knees. Just keep moving.

Whatever you are facing is only temporaryGod’s love for you is forever.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls,” Hebrews 12: 2-3 NKJV

Can You Stand the Rain?

“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.” Matthew 7:25 NKJV

As I type this, it is raining and has rained all day. In order that we may receive the harvest and the bounty the rains make possible, we must first be able to withstand it. Everyone loves a sunny day. I am no exception. However, rain serves a purpose. Though often wet, cold and inconvenient, it is necessary.

There is no way we can withstand the storms of life and come out better than before without the Word of God. The above passage is from the parable Jesus taught in regard to those people who hear His truths and “do them.It is not enough that we hear, we must carry out His teachings.

God’s directives give us what is necessary to stand the storm. His teachings are often in direct contrast to our own tendencies. God teaches us to have faith, trust and even love one another as we go through storms in life not just when we enjoy the good times. Without faith in God instead of our own abilities, most of us would undoubtedly wilt under the pressure of the storm.

When the disciples faced a storm in the very presence of Jesus they were afraid and panicked. Jesus was with them and still they were afraid. Jesus silenced their storm. Yet before he silenced it, He allowed it.  DSC_4401

The storm was an opportunity for the disciples to see the power of God at work before them.  I’ve seen the greatest miracles in my darkest hours, when my personal storms raged with no relief in sight.

Our rainy days and storms will pass eventually. When we allow His presence into our lives and have faith enough to hear and obey, His Word makes our storms are bearable. We can stand the rain!

If you find yourself rained on now or even feel like you’re drowning, what are you relying on? Is it other people? Your own abilities? If you haven’t already, try God.

God puts the rain in perspective. Some people focus so intently on their storm they never get past it. Even after the rains pass,  fear of another storm paralyzes them and leaves them feeling helpless,  afraid and unable to move.

Yet, when we focus on our Savior instead of temporary rains, we can endure. I challenge you to turn to God and give Him whatever storms  might be weighing you down. Don’t view your rainy days as if they are here to stay. Instead, view them as temporary and essential for growth and possibly a new harvest of better things to come.  DSC_4107

The Son/sun will shine and break through the rains.

“then I will give [you] rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.” Deuteronomy 11:14 NKJV


Ivy is one of my favorite plants for many reasons. However, the trait that I find most appealing is its tendency to endure. This particular plant has endured both drought and record rains. It has also survived scorching temperatures as well as the record lows of just last week. It is not the fastest growing plant I have but it is the hardiest. It has even managed to turn colors in its fight for survival yet it still lives!

In fact, most ivy is hard to kill. You pull it up by the roots and you think it’s gone. But look around in that same area a few months later…and it’s there once more! Its roots dig deep. Its grasp is tenacious. How much better could we be if only we would do the same?

Jesus teaches in Mark 4 about the Word of God and how it is liken to a seed sown on different ground. Sometimes our human failings occur not because we aren’t receptive to the Word of God; it is instead our failure to endure.

“These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” Mark 4:16-17

Notice, that particular verse does not say if tribulation or persecution arises but when.

We will all experience adversity or trials that come against us. That’s just life. Whatever change you think you need to solve a current problem, that change will most likely have another set of “problems” attached to it. Our goal in life should not be to have a “problem-free” existence.

Instead, it should be to gain maturity in Christ and weather our droughts, storms or whatever we are facing relying on God with faith and having enough hope to stay the course God has for us. It is when we are able to continue through our trials with the proper attitude and finish our race that we are victorious.

My ivy grows slowly, but it continues to grow.

Some things you may be hoping for or working toward may progress slowly but don’t give up on the dreams God has placed within you. If He has given them to you, He has also provided the means to accomplish them.

If you endure.

Joseph endured to see his dream fulfilled. Christ endured that we may live life abundantly. God is with us as well when we trust Him and endure.

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end [intended by] the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NKJV

P is for Persistence


per sist   per, through +  sistere, cause to stand  1 to refuse to give up, esp. when faced with opposition 2 to continue insistently 3 to endure; remain        

Webster’s New Dictionary


Persistence is necessary if we are going to receive the best of what God has for us. Persistence as defined by Webster is a characteristic each of us must take on if we are to finish the race. Each person has his or her own personal journey in life that eventually has a finish line. There will be trials and obstacles to deter you from finishing. There will also be distractions to steer you off course and away from your goal. In order to overcome these pitfalls Persistence is a necessary virtue, one that separates those who could from those who would.

Success, prosperity or being fruitful requires a steadfast determination to refuse to give up. Giving up is quite easy, it’s done by millions each day. When the road is rough and trials are difficult and especially when you can’t even fathom an end to your race it is easy to give up. Your emotions, if not properly focused, will coax you to quit, fooling yourself that your race isn’t that important to finish or suggesting “what difference does it really make?”  Ill influences whether the enemy or even well-intentioned people in your life can convince you that your struggle isn’t worth the frustration or you are wasting your time. It is vital that you stay persistent, defiant that you will not quit until your race is done. This will require shutting some people out of your life if necessary and simply refusing to listen to others who really don’t mean you any harm but can in no way see the vision God has instilled in your heart.

Persistence entails a deep down determination that you will not stop no matter what. Christ said to the disciples in Matthew 18: 3 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” This verse is usually explained on several levels but one point to explore is that children are persistent. If you are going to complete your race you will need to have a childlike persistence in the approach that you take.

Most children are very persistent! If you promise something to a child, that kid is going to nag you about it until you fulfill the task that you promised to fulfill. Children usually have no shame in asking for what they want.  When kids have questions, they will ask and ask and ask. They don’t tire they just keep on going, talking and doing whatever is fixed on their minds. Like children, we should have our goals fixed in our minds and keep doing, asking and whatever else is necessary to make those things come to pass.

Often we know what we should do but we are not persistent in following through with these things. We should be persistent in praying, not just on Sundays or meal times but throughout the day. Persistence in obedience would make us so much more successful and more readily receive the rewards God would have for each of us. Persistently implementing good habits, discarding bad habits and influences in addition to avoiding those temptations that are pitfalls are often things we know we should do but we fail to do. Instead we often begin with good intentions but soon give up our efforts. Start, stop , start, stop, start, stop until one day we finally “get it” and follow through so we can go on to the next level. If we are persistent in our pursuits of what we should do, this enhances the potential of what we can do.

Finally, persistence denotes a quality of endurance. It is essential that we stay rooted in the Word of God consistently and not just when we are inclined to. We must remain faithful, hope filled and fearless. It is not as hard to get to where you need to be as it is to stay where you need to be to receive God’s best. You must position yourself and stay, remain, endure full of expectation, determined to do your best no matter what. Often we know what we should do but fail to do it more than a couple of days, weeks or even months. Instead, strive to be persistent, like a nagging gnat that refuses to lose its “buzz” for God. Chew on God’s word like a bulldog that refuses to let loose persistent and unfailing in his grip. Persist, or refuse to give up on your goals and God’s purpose for you no matter what it may be and no matter what your current circumstances. Persist in claiming what God has placed in your heart to the point that people just think you are crazy!

P is for persistence. Remain and endure strong in the Lord. Refuse to give up. Continue your race no matter what.

Heavenly father, I pray that I am persistent in my pursuit of your best for my life. I pray for the strength and fortitude to keep going when I don’t feel like it and other people think I am losing my mind. I pray to persist in doing what is right and walking away from those things that would remove your presence from me. Thank you for these things, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen