Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Choose to Trust, Part Two

Today's Truth
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NIV)

Friend to Friend
Yesterday we learned that when the widow Naomi faced a very difficult season, she looked past her own need to the hopes, dreams, and needs of her loved ones. In spite of her dismal circumstances, she chose to trust God and bless others.

Do you ever feel like a victim of circumstance?

There are times when life isn't ideal. There are times when life doesn't seem fair. As she entered Bethlehem, Naomi lamented to friends and family. She told them not to call her by her name. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter" (v. 20). Naomi didn't try to sugarcoat or hide her pain. Her circumstances were choking the life out of her, and for a time she allowed her situation to overshadow her trust in God.
Oh, how I've been there. I bet you have too. Perhaps you are there now. Be encouraged. In time, God did a work of restoration in Naomi's life that took her from bitter to better, and in time, He can do the same for you.

Though she displayed bitterness when she returned to Israel, Naomi continued to trust her Lord. Healing didn't come to her overnight. Naomi waded through a great deal of emotional baggage and disappointment. But Scripture shows us that even in her sorrow; Naomi maintained her faith in God. She praised Him for the kindness that Boaz showed Ruth and spoke of God's goodness even in her uncertain times (Ruth 2:19-20). She praised God in the hard times, and He restored her broken heart.

God breathed hope into the souls of Naomi and Ruth through their kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. The book of Ruth goes on to tell a fascinating story of how God lovingly cared for and blessed Naomi as He used the faithful friendship and kindness of Ruth to "renew her life and sustain her" (4:15). She went back to Bethlehem as a broken, hopeless widow and was restored by the loving hand of God.

Just as God did for Naomi, He wants to transform the painful pieces of your life into beautiful blessings. He has not forgotten you. He is intimately familiar with your pain. Don't turn away from Him. Continue to trust God. He will never leave your side, and He can bring restoration to your situation just as he did for Naomi and Ruth.

Like Naomi, when I've experienced difficult times, I've had to choose to trust God. Some days I choose well. Some days I don't. My courage to trust is bolstered by playing praise music, meditating on God's goodness, reading Scripture, and praying. Those things collectively renew my mind and strengthen my faith.

Take comfort that He knows every issue on your heart and is able to shoulder your burdens. Your challenges do not fall outside the scope of God's ability to intervene. God is mysterious, He is powerful, and He is able! When you lift your eyes from your situation and fix them on your Savior, you will find peace in the pain and strength in the struggle.

But in the darkest moments, I choose to trust and hang on to faith. When all else fails, all that's required of us is that we choose to trust and hang on to our faith.

Let's Pray
Holy Father, Your greatness is unsearchable and Your power is beyond what I can imagine. Please help me to honor You with my life -- in every circumstance -- and to trust in Your ability and desire to intervene in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Is there something that has caused you to become bitter? Reflect on this and spend some time in prayer. Ask that God would reveal any hidden anger or bitterness in your life so He can deal with it and bring healing.

If you are in a difficult place right now, here's a promise from God's Word for you to memorize: "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" (Job 8:21).

More from the Girlfriends
I recently heard it said that, "When we work, we work...but when we pray, God works." I pray that you will seek Him earnestly today in prayer!! If you'd like to be drawn into His presence through music, turn up your speakers and CLICK HERE!

Today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen's book, Broken Into Beautiful. To order the book, please CLICK HERE.

Gwen Smith is a worship artist, songwriter, speaker, and author. For more information, visit her website at:

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good Things Versus God-Things

Romans 8:14
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

The greatest sign that you and I are maturing in our walk with God is when we can discern the difference between "good things" and "God-things." When the people of Israel journeyed out of Egypt through the desert, they were led by the cloud by day. They could move only as fast as the cloud. If they went ahead, they went without God's presence. If they lagged behind, they also lost God's presence.

Each of us must have the discernment to know when God is leading in a matter, or if it is simply a good idea. There are so many things in which you and I can be involved, and the more successful you become, the greater the temptations to enter into things where God has not called you. Entrepreneurs are especially prone to see all the opportunities.

I recall one time when I entered into a project that I thought was a great idea. It would help many people. After two years, the project had to be discontinued. It was a great lesson on understanding what projects have God's blessing on them. There are some projects you and I might get involved in that result in little fruit compared to the investment put into them. That is because they may never have been birthed by the Holy Spirit.

As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and moving only when God's Spirit tells us to move. Businesspeople are "action" people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.

Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the next project you consider is a "good thing" or a "God-thing."

A Question of Ownership - READ THIS

Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Otto Koning was a missionary in New Guinea. He worked among a native tribe that had known only their village ways. One of those village ways was stealing from others. When Otto and his wife arrived and moved into a hut, the natives often came by to visit. The Konings would notice that after the natives left the missionaries' home, various household items had disappeared. They saw these items again when they went to preach in the natives' village.

The only fruit Otto could grow on the island was pineapples. Otto loved pineapples, and he took pride in the pineapples he was able to grow. However, whenever the pineapples began to ripen, the natives would steal them. Otto could never keep a ripe pineapple for himself. This was a frustration, and he became angry with the natives. All during the seven-year period in which this took place, Otto preached the gospel to these natives, but never had a conversion.

The more the natives stole, the more angry Otto became. Finally, one day Otto had a German Shepherd dog flown in from another missionary to protect his pineapple garden after other frustrated efforts failed. This only further alienated the natives from him.

Otto took a furlough to the United States and attended a conference on personal rights. At this conference, he discovered that he was frustrated over this situation because he had taken personal ownership of his pineapple garden. After much soul searching, he gave his garden to God. Soon the natives started having problems among their tribe. They discovered that Otto was the reason for their problems because he gave his garden to his God. The natives saw a correlation between what Otto had done and their own lives being affected by calamities in their village. When Otto gave his garden to God, he no longer got angry and was free from worry. The natives started bringing him fruit from the garden because they didn't want any more calamities to come into their village.

The light came on one day when a native said to Otto, "You must have become a Christian, Otto. You don't get angry anymore. We always wondered if we would ever meet a Christian." They had never associated Otto with the kind of person he was preaching about because his message did not line up with his life. Otto was broken in spirit when he realized he had been such a failure.

At the end of seven years, he witnessed his first conversion, and many began coming to Christ once he fully gave his garden to God. The fruit grew so abundant that Otto began exporting it and growing other types of fruit, such as bananas. His village became the most evangelized in the whole region, yet for seven years he had not one convert.

Otto realized something each of us must realize: To gain your life you must lose it, along with your possessions. It was only when he gave all his possessions to God that he became free from them. God measured back to him manyfold once He had complete ownership.

Do you have some possessions that you need to give up to God today? Let God have all that you have. Become a steward, not an owner. You will be surprised at how well God can take care of His possessions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Are You a Romans 8:14 Christian?

Romans 8:13-14
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Joshua and Caleb are described in Scripture as men who had a different spirit. They were two of the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land to determine if it could be taken, as God had promised it to them. The other ten gave a bad report that instilled fear in the people, which ultimately caused a rebellion. This resulted in an entire generation dying in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who were led by the Spirit of God, versus the spirit of fear. They were the only ones to enter the Promised Land from their generation.

Are you a person led by the Spirit? The verse above tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. "But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it" (Num. 14:24). Caleb was a Romans 8:14 man! The Spirit led him. He was not led by fear.

Many of us have failed to enter into our own Promised Land because we have failed to be led by the Spirit rather than by fear. Fear prevents us from entering into what God has promised for each of us. God has reserved an inheritance for us that is exceedingly good. God described the Promised Land as a land of milk and honey. Our own Promised Land is the same. But you must be led by the Spirit to enter in. You cannot be led by fear, reason and analysis, or even skill. The Spirit must lead you.

Commit yourself to being a Romans 8:14 man or woman. Then you will enter into the land God has promised for you.

Starting Over

James 1:9
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.

Do you find yourself in humble circumstances? If so, James tells us that we are to take pride in this "high" position. These two things would seem to be an oxymoron. Most of us would not consider humble circumstances a high position. Successful business tells us that being on top means being wealthy, attaining favor and status, or having power to influence. However, Jesus influenced not from power, but from weakness.

J.C. Penney is a name synonymous with department store. He first launched his chain of "The Golden Rule" stores in 1907. In 1910 his first wife died. Three years later, he incorporated as the J.C. Penney company. In 1923 his second wife died giving birth to his son. In 1929 the stock market crashed and he lost $40 million.

By 1932, he had to sell out to satisfy...creditors. This left [Penney] virtually broke. ...Crushed in spirit from his loss and his health suddenly failing, Penney wound up in a Battle Creek, Michigan sanitorium. One morning he heard the distant singing of employees who gathered to start the day with God: Be not dismayed, whate'er betide, God will take care of you.... Penney followed the music to its source and slipped into a back row. He left a short time later a changed man, his health and spirit renewed, and ready to start the long climb back at age fifty-six.

By 1951 there was a J.C. Penney store in every state, and for the first time sales surpassed $1 billion a year. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 340-343.]

The success of J.C. Penney can be traced to God's mercy in his life to bring him out of his humble circumstance. Do you find yourself in a humble circumstance? God is the only one who can help you see your humble circumstance from His viewpoint-a high position. It is a high position because of what God is going to teach you in this place. He does not intend you to stay there; it is merely a stopping place to learn some important things you would not learn otherwise. Press into God and trust Him for the outcome to your circumstances.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fulfilling Vows

Ecclesiastes 5:4
When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.

Have you ever had a business relationship with someone who made a commitment but later said, "Well, things changed, so I cannot honor our original agreement." Sometimes this may be the case, but often it is simply an opportunity to avoid fulfilling an agreement. God is big on fulfilling vows. God's nature is righteousness and truth. You will always see God honor His Word. He expects the same of His people.

God says there are consequences when we do not fulfill our vows. Subsequent Scripture verses reveal the following:

It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God (Ecclesiastes 5:5-7).

God tells us that He will destroy the work of our hands for failure to fulfill vows. That's pretty strong language. It gives us an indication of how important fulfilling vows is to God. He will not prosper our work if there are unfulfilled vows in our lives

Are there any unfulfilled vows in your life that may be hindering your projects? Vows show up in many areas of our lives-marriages, businesses, personal friendships. Unfulfilled vows in any one of these could be the reason your work may be hindered.

Ask God today if there are any unfulfilled vows in your life. If so, begin today to make them right so that you may be successful in whatever God calls you to do.

Product Testing

Matthew 25:21
His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

Testing allows one to discover how well a product is made when placed under extreme stress. Increasing the pulling pressure between two objects reveals the amount of tension that can be withstood in a chain link. Eventually, the "choking" point occurs. In sports, we ascertain the "choking" point for athletes by putting them into a pressure situation. At what point will the athlete lose concentration and collapse under the pressure? It is under these stressful times that we discover how well we have been trained to withstand the pressure and make right decisions regardless of outside influences.

In my younger days I played sports. I came to observe that we fail under pressure usually because we reach a point where our ability to focus on execution yields to concern about outcome. This worry about outcome forces us to lose our concentration. The fear of failure begins to rule our emotions and actions, which ultimately results in our failure. What we fear has come upon us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In life, we see giving in to pressure in the form of compulsive behavior, withdrawal, anger, abuse, moral failure, and dishonesty, to name just a few manifestations.

Jesus never yielded to pressure. He never made decisions based on outcome. He always made the right decision. He always performed the same no matter what the circumstance. He lived a life based on absolutes, not circumstances. He never gave in to "situational ethics."

As God entrusts us with more and more responsibility, He brings more and more pressures into our lives to "test the product," to make sure that He can give even more responsibility to us. This process helps us see where we are in our maturity and determines our level of future responsibility.

Are you a product that can withstand the product test? Will you perform as the Maker designed no matter what outside pressures come? Know that you cannot perform well unless you are continually in relationship with and obedient to the one who made you. Trust the product developer today. He has made you to perform well under pressure.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prosperity in Afflictions

Genesis 41:52
The second son he named Ephraim and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

When Joseph was elevated to rule over the Egyptian kingdom, he revealed some profound truths gained from the experiences of his years of adversity. He named his first son, Manasseh for, he said, "God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household" (Gen. 41:51b). His second son was named Ephraim because, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Whenever God takes us through the land of affliction, He will do two things through that affliction: 1) He will bring such healing that we will be able to forget the pain, and 2) He will make us fruitful from the painful experiences.

God does not waste our afflictions if we allow Him the freedom to complete the work in us. His desire is to create virtue that remains during the times of testing so that He can bring us into the place of fruitfulness in the very area of our testing. He has never promised to keep us from entering the valleys of testing, but He has promised to make us fruitful in them. He is the God who turns the Valley of Achor (trouble) into a door of hope (see Hos. 2:15).

If you are in the valley of affliction, now is the time to press into Him. When the time comes to bring you out of this valley, He will heal your memories and bring fruit from this very time.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Anointing Comes With A Price!

*A beautifully timed email that I received from a friend*

August 1st, 2008
It’s a wonderful day to be a child of God. What a week this has been. For some it went by very fast; for others you could not wait until Friday came. Isn’t it amazing how people can be placed in the same situation but respond to it differently? Some people breakdown, while others fight back. Some run and hide, while others stand firmly. Some ask why me, while others say why not me. Could it be possible that the very thing you are complaining about is the tool God is using to position you? I know it is hard to believe or receive, but sometimes God will allow certain things to happen to prove to the devil whose side you are on. Read Job 2. Stop allowing the enemy to pollute your thoughts. Just because you are being challenged today does not mean God is punishing you. He could be bragging on you.

Today, I have been commissioned to come and minister to you. Do you realize your anointing comes with a price? Do you realize God notices your sacrifices? He recognizes your faithfulness. Imagine how He must feel when you are complaining because someone else has what you feel you deserve. Child of God, before you covet your neighbor’s house and/or possessions …

  • Make sure you are ready to pay the price they had to pay.
  • Make sure you are ready to cry like they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to suffer the way they have.
  • Make sure you are prepared to lose friends like they have.
  • Make sure you are able to stand in the midst of hell like they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to fast as much as they have.
  • Make sure you are willing to pray and consecrate as much as they have.
  • Make sure you are able to say ’no’ when everyone expects you to say ’yes’.
  • Make sure you are willing to be faithful to God, even when other Believers are compromising.
  • Make sure you are ready to experience severe spiritual warfare.
  • Make sure you are ready to be lied on, laughed at, kicked around, ridiculed, gossiped about, and/or criticized.
Beloved, there are people who would love to have what you have, but they are not willing to suffer through what you have. The Anointing Comes With A Price! Cherish it. Value it. Nurture it. Appreciate it. The Bible declares in Isaiah 10:27 - And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

Scripture Reading for Today: Exodus 20:17, Psalms 37

May God Bless you at Your point of need!