Heaven’s Strength

yellow flowers and morning dewIn life we will always have times when we face troubles and obstacles. If we try to tackle all of life’s problems with our own strength we will find that at some point we become tired and we grow weary.

The truth is, help from Heaven is only a prayer away. When we come into relationship with God through His son Jesus, we have access to all of Heaven’s power and strength. We can simply cry out for help to God and know that He hears us. He saves and strengthens his precious children when they call out to Him in times of trouble and distress.

King David was one of those who faced great challenges and obstacles throughout his whole life. David was a shepherd, warrior, and King of Israel. David encountered lions and bears while guarding His father’s sheep and defeated them with his trusty slingshot. David faced giants and enemy armies in battles and he was victorious. He faced upheavals and military coups while he was king but he defended and maintained his monarchy.

David understood where his victories came from. He declared that his success was not in “chariots and horses” but in “the name of the Lord, our God.” David put his complete trust in the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient King of the universe’s saving ability to strengthen him for every obstacle and battle that he encountered.

When we find ourselves in moments where everything has gone wrong and we need saving, or we find ourselves weak from the fight of life, we can ask for help and strength from our Heavenly Father who is always for us, on our side (Romans 8:31) and able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can help, ask, or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Psalm 20:6 – Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the [a]saving strength of His right hand. 7 Some [b]boast in chariots and some in horses, But we [c]will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.

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New Season!

Magic pink rhododendron flowers in the mountains. Summer sunriseIn life we encounter different seasons. Some seasons are full of laughter and joy and others are much harder and require all our attention. it’s always good to discern and examine the season of life that we are in. We face the most difficulty when we try to remain in a season that has passed.

If we still wear winter clothes in the spring then we are going to get very uncomfortable as it gets warmer and if we don’t begin to layer up in the fall, we will get very very cold in time. The truth is the same when we go through different seasons of life. When we try to hold on to a job, position, relationship, or even just period of time that has come to an end, we will find ourselves quite miserable. The truth is we often just hate change. It is because we are built for eternity and yet we live in a world that is fading and decaying, revealing its temporality.

However, when we ask Jesus into our hearts we are connected to the eternal source of life who never changes. When we spend time in our devotions, prayer, worship, and reading and meditating on the Word, we find access to the throne room of grace that reigns forever. In those times God graces us for every transition and change of life. As we spend time in God’s presence we will be able to flow more easily, flex when necessary and stretch into a new season full of God’s exciting plans and purposes.

Every season of life is unique and beautiful, with its own challenges and opportunities. When we take the time to spend with God and receive wisdom, strength, discernment and guidance we will walk in new levels of peace and find the hidden treasures along the way. Each season has its own riches which are always the people and relationships that God brings and builds in our lives.

Great Reward!

iStock_000014156955SmallSometimes we face situations where we feel helpless. We can be caught off guard by life’s surprises, we can feel caught in the middle of accusations, or trapped by unfair situations, and the more we try to free ourselves the more trapped we become.

When we come into relationship with the King of the Universe by accepting Jesus in our lives, we find that we have a mighty defender on our side. No matter the situation that we are in, when we release it to God, we can walk in peace knowing that He is able to work all things out together for good for us; even more abundantly above anything we could work out for ourselves.

When God appeared to Abraham, He told him “I am your shield and exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1).” When we believe on Jesus, we become the heirs of Abraham by faith; and God becomes our shield and exceedingly great reward. So when we face life’s sticky situations and tough battles, we can have confidence that God will defend us, protect us and work things out for us, not because of our perfection but because of our faith.

Jesus said there would be troubles in this world but then He said to be of ‘good cheer’ for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). When we spend time with God in our devotional time of prayer, worship, reading and meditating on the Word, we will find that even the unpleasant situations we face bother us less. As we seek God and His righteousness, He will take care of everything else (matthew 6:33).

Let Grace Flow!

iStock_000036747286SmallOften when we go through life we encounter situations with people that frustrate us. We put our expectations on people that they will be perfect and without fault and yet we expect them to understand our weaknesses and character flaw.

The truth is that there has been only one perfect person who has walked the earth and His name is Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that He sent His beloved son to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross and be raised from the dead for you and me, so that we can be blameless in God’s sight. Once we receive Jesus into our hearts, we receive His righteousness, right standing and perfection.

This means that God sees us perfectly and without flaw through Jesus Christ. The reality is that other people will most often see us through natural eyes, which will reveal our natural weaknesses, character flaws and imperfections.

As we receive God’s gift of righteousness, we can begin to see others the same way. In our relationships and our dealings with people, if we can remind ourselves that God has made a way for them to be perfect in Christ and not to look at their natural weaknesses and flaws, we can begin to see people through God’s eyes.

Grace is unmerited, unearned and undeserved. We receive it by believing alone and we can allow it to flow to others once we have truly received it ourselves. The Bible says that we are to bear with one another, forgiving one another as God has forgiven us. We do this by first receiving God’s love and forgiveness and then allowing it to flow through us to all we encounter.

Our Shield!

iStock_000036735846SmallSometimes we face situations where we feel helpless. We can be caught off guard by life’s surprises, we can feel caught in the middle of accusations, or trapped by unfair situations, and the more we try to free ourselves the more trapped we become.

When we come into relationship with the King of the Universe by accepting Jesus in our lives, we find that we have a mighty defender on our side. No matter the situation that we are in, when we release it to God, we can walk in peace knowing that He is able to work all things out together for good for us; even more abundantly above anything we could work out for ourselves.

When God appeared to Abraham, He told him “I am your shield and exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1).” When we believe on Jesus, we become the heirs of Abraham by faith; and God becomes our shield and exceedingly great reward as well. So when we face life’s sticky situations and tough battles, we can have confidence that God will defend us, protect us and work things out for us, not because of our perfection but because of our faith.

Jesus said there would be troubles in this world but then He said to be of ‘good cheer’ for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). When we spend time with God in our devotional time of prayer, worship, reading and meditating on the Word, we will find that even the unpleasant situations we face bother us less. As we seek God and His righteousness, He will take care of everything else (matthew 6:33).

So Much More!

iStock_000014194811SmallIt is easy to be discouraged when we look at our circumstances with our natural eyes. When we look at our circumstances without faith, we look to what we do not currently have, to what we are lacking in the moment; and we can easily give up hope.

The truth is you cannot always count on what your eyes can see. If you look at the night sky even in the country you will only see a fraction of the stars that are actually in the universe. If you go snorkeling in the ocean you will only see with your eyes a limited amount of the marine biology and ocean life that is brimming around you. And if you were to look at the top of an iceberg, you would see only a fraction of its ice while never knowing that below the surface there can be an ice island the size of a small country.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts we begin this faith adventure. We learn that life is much more than we can see with our natural eyes. The Bible says that Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2). As we begin to walk by faith and not by sight, we learn to depend less on what we see with our natural eyes and more on what the God of the universe declares to be true.

When we spend time in prayer, we can boldly go before the throne room of Grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Now, in the faith realm, what we see with our natural eyes is just a fraction of what we truly possess: God’s righteousness, 100% acceptance, royal standing, the Kingdom of God’s provision, abundant life, health and wholeness and an overflowing supply of resources. When we walk by faith and not by sight, the more we will actually walk in what we truly possess.

When we fix our eyes upon Jesus, and not on all of life’s problems, we can relax and know that God is at work taking care of all our needs. No matter what it looks like, God is always at work sending supply, directing our path, leading our steps and empowering us to live an overcoming life, full of victory and His purposes.

 

Not Alone!

iStock_000016623146SmallWhen we are hurting and in pain it can feel as if no one knows what we are feeling. We try to stuff our emotions down deep so that we can get through our day; but burying our pain will ultimately lead to sickness and more emotional stress.

When we suffer we wonder where God is. We tend to think that He is far away, removed from our pain and indifferent to our suffering. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Bible says that God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

One time during Jesus’s ministry a word came to Him that His friend Lazarus was sick. By the time Jesus and His disciples arrived Lazarus had died. Lazarus’s sisters Mary and Martha were in deep mourning. Mary stayed away from the Lord and Martha confronted Him almost accusingly on why He was not there earlier. However, Jesus’s reaction to their suffering was not indifference. The Bible says that “Jesus wept.” God incarnate was not distant, He was not cold, He did not tell them that this was just a part of a bigger plan. Jesus actually wept alongside His friends. Jesus hates that the fallen world we live in, with all of its pain, suffering, disease and despair, causes the ones He loves to suffer.

Jesus did not have just sympathy for His friends, He felt compassion. True compassion always leads to action. Jesus called Lazarus to come forth and Lazarus returned from the dead. Jesus told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life; the person that believes in Him will live even if they die (John 11:25).

Jesus was so broken by the suffering and pain that His friends felt that He not only raised Lazarus from the dead but He went on to pay the price for us. He chose to die on the cross for you and me and all who believe on Him.

When we receive Jesus into our hearts we can lean into God’s Holy Spirit. We no longer have to wait for Jesus physically to show up because through His Spirit we have access to Him all the time. The Holy Spirit dwells in us, comforts us, leads us, intercedes for us, advocates for us, heals us, guides us, bears the fruit of love in us; and empowers us to lead an overcoming life full of victory and power that enables us to reach our full potential and step into our purpose and destiny.

Living Stones!

iStock_000016017229SmallWe tend to worry about our past mistakes in life. We dwell on our failures, and we can be in fear that one day our past will come back to haunt us. When we come into relationship with our Heavenly Father by accepting Jesus into our hearts, we can receive forgiveness for our sins and a fresh start. Our slates are washed clean and we become brand new. We can then relax about our past and trust that God will always takes care of us and that He will use  our past, good and bad, for our future good (Romans 8:28). God is able to take all things and use them for His purposes and plans.

There was a man named Jacob who spent most of his earlier life deceiving people. He tricked his brother out of his firstborn inheritance. Jacob had a promise from his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham that the God of the universe was there for their family and on their side. Jacob however felt he needed to work things out himself. What Jacob needed was a revelation from God for himself.

Jacob was on his way to visit a relative and he went to sleep that night and had a dream. In the dream he saw a stairway or ladder to Heaven. In this dream of Jacob’s, God repeated the promise He had made to Abraham and Abraham’s descendants. The Abrahamic covenant is a covenant of faith dependent on belief, not behavior. Jacob heard God for himself. Jacob woke and he declared that surely this is the house of God. He erected a stone and called the place Bethel meaning House of God. This was a common practice in Israel to erect a stone when God would reveal himself to someone.

The Apostle Peter said that we are “living stones’, that we are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood so that we are able to lift up spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5). The church today is not stained glass and steeples. The church today is God’s people who gather together to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and see God reveal himself again and again. Jesus said that where two or more gather, He will be in their midst *Matthew 18:20).

Church now can be in a building, it can be in a park, it can be in a rented venue, it can be in a coffee shop or a living room where two or more are gathered. As we gather as often as we can, and lift up the name of Jesus Christ, God will draw all men and women to Him. We will see people from every tribe and tongue, every group, label, every sub-culture, and every background draw near to God and find love, acceptance, and transformation as they step into the destiny and purpose they were made for.

1 Peter 2:5 – you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Wonderfully Made!

iStock_000035870426SmallAs we grow up in life we are told by countless sources who we are. We get our identity through our family, our peers and ultimately society. What we feel our worth is depends on other people’s opinions. We often find our value is shakable, depending on our performance in school, in work and, sadly, even in relationships.

Our true worth is priceless. We were all made in the image of God. When we come to realize that our worth is not based on people’s opinions, but is based on the omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God of the universe’s opinion, then we can become secure and confident. We can find that we do not have to please people or pretend to be someone we are not. We can come to settle into the person we are created to be and find we are comfortable in our own skin.

There was a youth named David. David was a shepherd who took care of his father’s sheep. David would spend countless hours alone in the pasture playing his lyre. He would sing worship songs to God and watch carefully over the sheep. He even defended his sheep against a lion and a bear with his trusty slingshot. David’s time in the pasture prepared him for his defining moment. He spent time with the Lord and began to understand who he was in God.

When David would go to the battlefield to bring bread to his brothers, he would see a ten-foot tall giant mocking the Israelites and their God. David, who was still a teenager, would not stand for it. He insisted on taking out the giant with his own slingshot. The King did not like the idea but he had run out of options and allowed David onto the field. David picked up five rocks but only needed one. He conquered the giant and stepped in to his destiny.

David wrote Psalm 139 which says, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” David was not being cocky. He was a person who spent intimate times with God and began to realize who God had created him to be. As we spend time in prayer and our devotionals, we will come to realize how wonderfully made we are. As we grow in God’s love and mercy, discovering our purpose, we will step fully into the great design and plan God has for us, and stand against every giant in our path.

Annual Spring Post: Spring Into Love

Summer flowersDo you feel the warmth in the air? Do you hear the birds chirping and see the flowers blooming? Spring is here to warm our bodies and our hearts. Spring raises our thermostats and our expectations. It brings new hope, new dreams and new love.

Spring is my favorite season. I think it has to do with newness: the newness in the air, the new weather, new flowers, new possibilities. It is not just that the weather is warmer, it is that people are warmer. There is something about spring that allows people to hope again. The gloomiest of seasons, old man winter, melts away and reveals the soil which is the key to new life. The soil was never dead, it has just been dormant covered over by snow and ice.

 Love is in the air in the Spring. You can see the hope for romance. People are able to go out and about frolicking in the warmer weather, keeping an eye out for someone they might call their own; and those who are spoken for find new life in their own relationships as the weather warms and the days grow longer.

 The spring reminds us that we were made for love. This love we are made for is something bigger than anything or anyone in creation can fill. This love is unconditional. Deep in our soul we all crave to be loved for who we are and not for what we do, what we own or what we look like.

We desperately want to know that we measure up just the way we are. If we could simply relax in the company of someone who loves us unconditionally, then we could have pure confidence that this person would never leave us, reject us or abandon us; and somehow we know that in this great love affair we could come to purely love ourselves unconditionally as well.

The truth is we were made for this unconditional love. We can receive this love through the Creator of the universe when we simply receive Jesus Christ into our hearts. God sent His dear beloved son to earth to live perfectly for us, to die for us and to rise to new life for us; so that we can be restored to God completely and experience this great love.

Without this love we often try to feed our souls with all sorts of things such as romance, status, the accumulation of money or things; but the truth is we were made for unconditional love. God’s love is radical, relentless, unfailing and extravagant. When we come to Jesus and exchange our sin, sickness, despair and pain we can receive His righteousness, health, joy and well-being. God gives us beauty for ashes, peace for anxiety and comfort for pain.

When we begin this relationship with Jesus we can know that we always have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). We can know that we are righteous because of Jesus’s finished work on the Cross and not our own self-efforts. How we start this relationship through grace is how we sustain this relationship through grace (Galatians 3:3). And amazingly enough, when we receive the abundant supply of grace and the gift of righteousness we reign in life (Romans 5:17).

So in this new love affair with God we can come to Him and receive a supernatural rest and a peace that transcends understanding. When we spend time with Him daily in prayer, in worship and/or in reading the Word, we will find our priorities align with His, we will sense what decisions to make and paths to take, and solutions will come with ease as we walk with a greater sense of purpose and destiny.

Even if you think that it is too late for you or you have messed up too far, remember God gave us spring for a reason. Everything in creation is here to remind us of God’s invisible attributes. It is not too late for you (Romans 1:20). Spring represents the rebirth we can receive from Jesus.

The Bible is full of ordinary people who prayed to an extraordinary God and saw their lives radically changed. Joseph was hated by his brothers and sold into slavery and he became second in command of all of Egypt. Esther was an orphan in a country not her own and she became queen over that country. Ruth was a widow in a strange land and she married the most sought after bachelor, Boaz. David was a shepherd who stood up to a giant and eventually became King over Israel. Saul was the chief persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ and he became Paul, the chief apostle to the faith. And the outcast woman of ill-repute had her sins washed clean, her slate made new by Jesus Christ, and she became the first witness to the resurrection.

All of these people had one thing in common: An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent King of the Universe who was there for them, who never gave up on them and in His perfect timing catapulted them into their destiny.

Everyone of them spent time bathed in the love of God as every caterpillar goes through a cocooning process to become a butterfly. It may not look like anything is happening during that period but if you look inside the cocoon you would see the transformation process at work. The caterpillar’s old body is going through metamorphosis and being transformed into a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar was under gravity and now the butterfly will be above it.

When we receive Jesus Christ into our hearts and we meditate on His grace and unfailing love, we begin to be transformed from the inside out. Maybe no one can tell on the outside but we will eventually sprout wings, and we will live life far above gravity and not under it as we remain in the love of Christ.

If you have had a season in life where you felt that hope was dead or if you have given up on things ever changing or being different then know: Spring is here! The soil that was dormant represents your heart. Simply receive Jesus into your heart and you will receive new life. Allow His unconditional love to permeate your being and know that in due time God will bring about a new season of life, love and possibilities! Know always that with Jesus Christ the best is yet to come!

Twitter: @malikacox