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Crown the Sword: Ch. 2-Why the Stretch?

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Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NIV)

Trials, temptations, adversary attacks, conflicts, disappointments, and life strains pull and tug at our heart, mind, and soul. The stretch often has us pleading for reprieve and begging for escape. Our appeal is for the test to be terminated instantaneously. If the pressure would lessen then we could better tolerate and cope is normally our generalization and mindset. Rarely do we ask-what is the purpose of this hardship?

God reminds us that when tests and trials enter, growth can occur. He even allows us to be stretched beyond our comfort zone because He loves us. (He is a Father-and discipline comes with the role.) However, the level of reverence and maturity varies for each of us. I stayed in the teenage zone for way too long. (Go ahead and ask God-He will agree with me!) I wanted everything to go my way and I had convinced myself I knew best. There may be a thousand reasons for this lack of trust and stubbornness but it is still no excuse. It took me being on the verge of life to realize my need to let God in the driver’s seat. Friends, I wasted a lot of God’s time. I was far from teachable and willing to be refined for a lifetime.

One thing I learned-spiritual growth begins with allowing God to lead. The Father is our assurance-the promise of survival and deliverance. Reigning victoriously starts way before the struggle. It originates with our understanding that we have not been promised sunshine 24/7. Life brings storms and raging winds. We have to decide ahead of time how we are going to fight our battles and if we are going to be compliant and dedicated enough to embrace the stretch. A choice to allow the valleys to strengthen our defenses and intensify our coping mechanisms.

Think about the power of the stretch under God’s authority:

Broadening our understanding of who God is

Extending the level of our faith

Enlarging our wisdom

Widening our eyes to the schemes of the enemy

Now ponder the results when trying to obtain victory on our own:

Broadening our thoughts of being incapable (possibly leading to depression)

Extending our level of anxiety

Enlarging our focus on ourselves (selfishness)

Widening our relationship gap with God

We can have the triumphant life when we preserve ourselves through walking in obedient faith daily. God is our way of escape. He can and will supply the support and elasticity. In Him, we can reign victorious and the words “Oh snap!” will only be for the enemy. It will be the sound of the adversary’s plan failing and slapping him in the face. Can I get an AMEN?

What are you committed to doing in advance?

Can you accept your current stretch?

Reach out-let us pray for you.

We have been there!!

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

Needy Child of God

Thank you Alejandra!

Needy is a term usually associated with a negative connotation. Dictionaries may define it as being deprived, disadvantaged, or even destitute. Most people would agree they do not want to be a burden nor be dependent on others. Neediness is usually an undesirable trait in our society. Being self-reliant and self-sufficient is highly regarded and preferred by most.

In an article by Steven J. Cole entitled Needy People, Mighty God, he maintains all people fall into the category of “desperately needy”. In his writing, he supports his stance through the simple fact that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord. (Romans 3:23) Cole goes even further to describe the human race as “fragile” individuals who could expire at a moment’s notice. We are desolate without His almighty grace.

Our dependence on God goes much deeper than salvation. In John 15:5 the Father reminds us “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Discipleship requires total reliance on the Lord for “the whole ball of wax”. I don’t know about you but I fail greatly at being Christ-sufficient. It is a continual struggle to humbly submit all control to the Lord although I truly know I am incapable of anything without Him. 

My heart’s aspiration is to abide in the Lord 24/7. Actually, I prefer the thought of being immensely inundated by God so there is no room for human desires and selfishness. I long for my life to be overflowing with the Lord.

John 15 places great emphasis on the word abide. If we look further into John 15, verses 4 through 10 use the term nine times. We have all heard John 15:7 quoted and possibly misused. Yet verses 8 and 9 gently remind us when we stand firm in the Father’s love, our only wish will be to glorify Him in all we do. Over and over the Lord reminds us to “abide in” Him and His perfect love allowing His words to live in us and through us.  

Lord, I need you. What about you?

Father, help me trust in you with all my heart, and let me fully rely on your perspective as your word states in Proverbs 3:5. May I abide in you and your ways to prevent me from becoming less of who you made me to be. (1 John 2:28). I do believe I cannot accomplish anything fruitful apart from you (John 15:5) and I declare Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. (1 Corinthians 12:3) Let me treasure your Holy Word and live it daily. (2 Timothy 3:15-17) Father, I humbly submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as your obedient child. Lead me in sanctification and let me be ever-mindful of the gift of eternal life. (Romans 6:22) Lord, I need you and only you.

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