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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)

I’m offended! What’s next?

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A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Yes-today we are going there-straight to the topic of being offended. Dare I say if you haven’t been offended a time or two in life, you may be the one and only. Offenses seem to occur as often as a windy day in the panhandle of Texas. They both will whip you around and leave you highly frustrated. The debris they bring into your pathway can be downright annoying. It is never welcomed and doesn’t exactly bring out the best in a person.

Offenses can happen in many forms but it usually stems from someone’s words or actions. You know-those sly cutting remarks made by a co-worker, the off-hand statement by a family member, the “grandpa” or “raging” driver, the person who just let their car door slam into your vehicle, the twenty-fifth call about an extended warranty on your vehicle, (P.S. stop calling me-the car is 11 years old!) or let’s just say it—the media!

Try going one whole day with either not being offended personally or not running across someone who was offended. Riot, chaos, looting, as well as many other actions fill the TV screens, radios, and social media pages due to being offended. It seems to be present every day of our lives regardless of where we go. People feel betrayed, ignored, misrepresented, neglected, etc. and anger and bitterness begin to rise. Honestly, it stirs up so many emotions within us.

Most offenses can be defined as an “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles”. They hurt and 9 times out of 10 we feed them and allow the offense to become a sin on our part. Usually, that’s what’s next.

But, what is God’s perspective?

1. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us to rely on the truth of God’s Word and not our fickle heart. Unfortunately, it can be deceitful.

2. Scripture tells us to do everything possible to overlook an offense and rely on God’s wisdom (Proverbs 19:11).

3. Extend love through God’s perspective and do not seek revenge or hold a grudge (Leviticus 19:18). Romans 13:10 reminds us that love is the fulfilling of God’s law.

4. Remember the redemption you received on the cross while Jesus was crying out “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Jesus forgave while being offending—right in the smack dab middle of it! So, decide ahead of time to embrace forgiveness as your response and give it over to God.

5. Bring your thoughts under God’s authority. Cling to 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 and choose patience and kindness at all times. Take your anger to the throne room and leave it there.

6. Invest in the fear of the Lord. Have reverence for His ways and allow Him to reign over your heart, mind, and soul. Refer to Proverbs 19:23 and remind yourself of the life and contentment found in fearing the Lord.

My friend, you will be offended. But in the midst of it, will you choose to honor God or offend Him? That’s what’s next.  

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