Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meditations on Passing Life’s Tests

Pop Quiz

by Brotha DC

This past week was a very difficult one for your Brotha DC. There were many challenges that I had to face in my employment, in my personal relationships, in my health, and even in my walk with God.

Of course, such challenges are not necessarily a new or unexpected thing. Quite the contrary, we know that as Christians we are tested by the circumstances of life. Quite often, the enemy will throw things at us -- the Bible calls these “fiery darts” in one translation… “flaming missiles” in the Amplified translation.

Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
Ephesians 6:16 [AMP]

These flaming missiles are weapons of mass destruction in the spiritual warfare that we all must face. The shield of faith is the weapon of choice as we read in the above scripture.

But, what happens when it feels as if your shield of faith it is failing? In the science fiction world of Star Trek, the space ships have something called shields.  These shields protect the ship from phasers, torpedoes, disruptors, and even hostile aliens attempting to beam aboard your ship without permission. Those shields however are not impenetrable.  Enough hostile fire can cause the shields to fail.  When that happens, one must either abandon ship or face certain doom.

As I had originally stated, I had faced quite a number of these challenges and yet I was determined to maintain my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This evening, my friends and I gather together to study the fourth chapter of the book of Romans. This is a powerhouse passage on the subject of faith. It chronicles how Father Abraham pleased God through his faith. The reality is that none of us caned please God without the essential element of faith operating in our lives.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Hebrews 11:6 [AMP]

What happens when it your faith is so severely challenged that you believe that it no longer exists?  What happens when you are bombarded so violently that your shields are at the point of collapse?  What happens when it seems that you no longer have faith?

That seemed to be the dilemma faced by a dear friend. He too was going through fiery trials. And while our shared experiences seem to evoke the popular saying that misery loves company, it was rather alarming to hear that my friend was struggling under a situation in which the heavens were like brass (see Deuteronomy 28:23).  He expressed an inability to communicate with God and felt as if perhaps God Himself was bombarding him.

The Spirit of God used this to remind me that my tests were just that... tests.  Pop quizzes.  And, they are open book tests.  When I begin to feel the way that my friend expressed, I rely upon my faith in the veracity of God’s holy word. 

I know that I am always quoting my friend Charlie Peacock... but he has a knack for putting things on paper... and then setting them to music... that has blessed me even when it seems that all hope is lost. Check out these lyrics from Charlie’s Coram Deo project:
Promises of mercy
Promises of love
Faithfully given to me
Every word from Your voice
Solid as a rock
None like the sand of the sea
I meditate on every word You’ve spoken
Great and precious promises never to be broken
Great and precious promises
All of them are true
Given in love by You...
Many are the promises that I rely upon when faced with one of life’s pop quizzes.  Read through the spiritual crib sheet below and allow your shield of faith grow... because faith comes by hearing the word of God:

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
Jeremiah 29:11 [AMP]

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:32 [AMP]

God is for you, He is not against you.  He is invested in seeing you succeed in the end.  He wants you to inherit the Kingdom.

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.
Isaiah 43:18 [AMP]

Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
Isaiah 61:7 [AMP]

Past defeats are just that... things of the past.  Leave them there and move forward.

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Psalm 128:2 [AMP]

Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.
Zechariah 9:12 [AMP]

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 [NIV]

You may not see it now... but God promises it will be yours.

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].
Proverbs 15:15 [AMP]

Again... it all comes down to your attitude.  Are you going to have anxious thoughts?  Are you going to have evil forebodings?  Or, are you going to raise your shield of faith and rejoice that Jesus has worked it out and you will see it come to pass?

Show me a sign of [Your evident] goodwill and favor, that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because You, Lord, [will show Your approval of me when You] help and comfort me.
Psalm 86:17 [AMP]

King David in the Bible prayed the above prayer... and we know from the scriptures that God answered him big time!  Make this your prayer and expect to see God move through your circumstances. 

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].
Proverbs 24:17-18 [AMP]

If someone did something to you, don’t sit around with an unforgiving attitude, praying that some calamity falls on him or her.  And if it does happen... don’t dance and laugh at their misfortune.  Pray the way that Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them...”

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMP]

I shall not die but live, and shall declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.
Psalm 118:17 [AMP]

If the enemy has attacked your health, stand on God’s promises for healing.

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
Luke 10:19 [AMP]

But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.
Isaiah 54:17 [AMP]

Jesus has won the victory... so then why have a sour and dour attitude?  You have power... USE IT!  These are promises that are active and alive and full of power.  Put them to work!

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
Isaiah 30:18 [AMP]

That last scripture above puts the icing on the proverbial cake.  God is waiting to be gracious to you.  His will is to bless you.

Remember, life is a test.  We often find ourselves facing pop quizzes.  The key is that whether or not we pass is based largely on our attitude.

The children of Israel had an attitude check when they left slavery in Egypt for the promised land.

  • They saw God mightily deliver them from Pharaoh
  • They saw miracles along the way... including the parting of the Red Sea
  • They saw  the drowning of Pharaoh’s army
Yet, despite those and many other blessings, they rebelled after hearing a bad report about the land of promise.

As a result, the rebellious Israelites had to wander the wilderness for forty years and die in the desert... leaving the promised land to their offspring. That is why, thanks to Joyce Meyer, we find the following scripture so very important:

And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Deuteronomy 8:2 [AMP]

God had the children of Israel spend forty years making what should have been an eleven day journey. Why? To humble them (in the face of their faithless rebellion) and to prove what is in their mind and heart -- to show whether or not they would keep the commandments of the Lord. Quite often, we spend a lot of time trying to get somewhere that others seem to reach without much time or effort. When we find our dreams deferred... it is important to do an attitude check and to see whether or not we are obeying God.

I recall a friend testifying in church years ago that he was glad that he was penniless because he would spend any money he might have had on liquor and loose women. But does that mean that Gods will is for us to be broke and penniless? No! God wants us to be blessed by having money, not to wind up with a hangover and a disease. Change your attitude and the blessings will follow.

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17-18 [AMP]

This is the attitude of a victorious Christian.  Granted, you may not feel victorious with an empty fridge... an empty bank account... and an empty growling stomach.  Yet, if you have the right attitude, you will see the hand of God move as you seek His face.

I recall being a starving college student with no clue how I would afford a four-year degree.  For that matter, I couldn’t afford a decent meal.  I would spend hours walking around the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, looking for coins people dropped in the street.  I would spend hours collecting enough pennies to get a sandwich.  But during my greatest desperation, a mother from our church was inspired to cook for the young men in our dormitory.  A knock at the door and an unexpected blessing -- a hot home-cooked meal from a woman who surely has great treasure in heaven. 

As my spiritual father Dr. David Durham used to say, “When you run out... God runs in.”
It is all a matter of your attitude.

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:19 [AMP]

Thanks again to Mama Joyce for bringing these scriptures to our attention.  Those who put their complete trust in God have a Mighty Warrior watching their back.

Now, let’s hear some meditations from Judypie:

God Hears the Prayers of His People

by Judypie

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. The moment I pray, You send an angel for my words, and Your answer is on its way to me. 

I purpose with the help of the Holy Spirit that I will always have an excellent spirit, and remain in right standing with You. 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Hear my prayer, O God;
       listen to the words of my mouth.
Psalm 54:2 [NIV]

1 In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, a message was made plain to Daniel, whose Babylonian name was Belteshazzar. The message was true. It dealt with a big war. He understood the message, the understanding coming by revelation:
2-3 "During those days, I, Daniel, went into mourning over Jerusalem for three weeks. I ate only plain and simple food, no seasoning or meat or wine. I neither bathed nor shaved until the three weeks were up.
4-6 "On the twenty-fourth day of the first month I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris. I looked up and to my surprise saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body was hard and glistening, as if sculpted from a precious stone, his face radiant, his eyes bright and penetrating like torches, his arms and feet glistening like polished bronze, and his voice, deep and resonant, sounded like a huge choir of voices.
7-8 "I, Daniel, was the only one to see this. The men who were with me, although they didn't see it, were overcome with fear and ran off and hid, fearing the worst. Left alone after the appearance, abandoned by my friends, I went weak in the knees, the blood drained from my face.
9-10 "I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt. A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees.
11 "'Daniel,' he said, 'man of quality, listen carefully to my message. And get up on your feet. Stand at attention. I've been sent to bring you news.'
     "When he had said this, I stood up, but I was still shaking.
12-14 "'Relax, Daniel,' he continued, 'don't be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I'm here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what's ahead.'
Daniel 10:1-14 [MESSAGE]

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14 [AMP]

Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You do I wait all the day long.

Overcoming Doubt and Unbelief

by Judypie

Father, I believe Your Word, and ask You to remove any unbelief or doubt concerning the integrity of Your promises. In the name of Jesus, I renounce the world’s allurements that attempt to pull me into sin—they are ineffective in my life. Your Word is my standard and because I am a doer of Your Word, I will not be deceived. The fresh Manna of Your Word keeps me on target with Your plans, Lord. My steadfast confidence is in You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

12[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading y to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.
13But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him].
14For we [a]have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end.
15Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them].
16For who were they who heard and yet were rebellious and provoked [Him]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
17And with whom was He irritated and provoked and grieved for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dismembered bodies were strewn and left in the desert?
18And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [who had not listened to His word and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded]?
19So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].
Hebrews 3:12-19 [AMP]

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

Prayer of Affirmation

by Judypie

Father, I thank You for helping me as I enlarge the place of my tent and strengthen my stakes. In You there is hope for despair. In You there is stability for turmoil. In You there is prosperity for poverty. In You there is health and healing for sickness. In You there is peace for conflict, whether it is in a relationship, in my home, or in my land. In You, Lord Jesus, is well-being for every area of life! 

Hallelujah! Thank You Holy Spirit for divinely orchestrating every aspect of my life! Jesus is Lord over my spirit, soul and body, and over my relationships. Amen.

2  “Enlarge the place of your tent,
       stretch your tent curtains wide,
       do not hold back;
       lengthen your cords,
       strengthen your stakes.
3  For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
       your descendants will dispossess nations
       and settle in their desolate cities.
Isaiah 54:2-3 [NIV]

Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You do I wait all the day long.

A Healing Prayer

by Judypie

Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. I receive divine healing for my spirit, soul and body in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 3 He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
 4 Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.
 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:3-5 [NIV]

“I am the Lord that heals you”

“He sent His Word and healed them. And He saved them from the grave”
Psalm 107:20 (NLV)

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