Fruitful Affliction

Genesis 41:52 And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

I am studying Genesis, just finished with the  life of Joseph, and this verse really impacts me.  

Joseph lived a remarkable life.  Joseph was beset with evil by his brothers, sold into slavery, severed from his people and those he loved.  Who could have known what God’s plan was in all of this?  Joseph himself, was given a preview of the conclusion of things to come.  However, I get the sense that he didn’t connect the dots until his brothers came to him for grain.  

Joseph prospered, despite this unfair, unjust, vile treatment.  He was cast into a land that was not his.  Even worse, this was a land in which he was bound to servitude and his people are second class citizens.  

Throughout it all, we are given a sense that he held fast to his faith and obedience to the Lord.  As his reward, God elevates him to the 2nd highest position of the land.  He positions him to wield influence over influential people and save the lives of countless men, women and children.  

How reassuring is this illustration?  For me it illuminates the truth of God’s control.  Though we may not know why, how or to what ends we have been brought into the various positions and circumstances of our lives, God does.  He is in control.  He is working all things to His purpose and plan.  Can we let Him?  Can we be fruitful in the land of our affliction?  May God bless you all.  Take care

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

The Outer Limits

When I was growing up, I remember watching episodes of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, which were science fiction shows that tested the limits of the imagination.  Both series were interesting in that they explored the human condition and how our values and morals were tested in a variety of sometimes extreme scenarios.  We test the limits of our abilities as we grow from childhood into adulthood.  Our intellectual abilities are challenged in school, as we learn to read, and as we explore other areas of interest.  We challenge our physical limits through individual and team sports, and as we find a balance between working, eating and sleeping.  I have been putting in extra hours with some projects and have found the effects that limited and interrupted sleep have on my body, and the results are not good.  Hopefully, in every area of life, we come to understand what things are beneficial and what activities are detrimental to our overall health. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.  Proverbs 3:5-8

Kids like boundaries, though they would never admit to it.  They test the limits of what they can do, but they eventually want to know what is acceptable and what is not, and why.  As we grow from children into adults, we learn what is good and not good for us through our experiences or from listening to advice of someone wiser than us.  Maybe even as adults, we like to know where our boundaries are located, so we can function well within them.  Even if someone warns us that an activity may be bad for us, or cause us to get hurt, at some point we may challenge that assumption and find out through experience that they were right.  At some point, even with rules and boundaries, kids will have the freedom to make choices and face consequences as they leave home and become more independent. 

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

We even test the limits of God’s grace.  We always want salvation and more…a nice house, job, community, respect, and whatever else we may be chasing.  The more is that part of our heart that is reserved for God, but that often gets sold out to some other god.  We are challenged to grow in our faith as we are tested through different circumstances, trials, and challenges we face each day through life.  We make choices to either submit to God or to rebel against Him in little ways each day.  As we encounter difficulties in life, we are either compelled to turn toward God or away from him.  How do you react when things don’t go your way?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

What are the limits of your abilities?  What happens when you reach the end of what you can do…where do you turn?   Whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual, we all encounter challenges in life and encounter the limits of what we can do on our own.  We can either run away and try to hide these limitations, or accept the challenge to grow from these experiences.  God wants us to grow more dependent on Him as we mature, even if we have the ability to ‘do it all by ourselves.’  What areas of your life do you still need to surrender to Him?  Take steps to do that today.

 

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

 

How to Hug a Vampire

I hate halloween.  My kids are little and they always have bad dreams in October.  They are forced to choose between bad dreams and cheap sugar gathering night (AKA Trick or Treat).  They always choose the sugar.  If that neighbor comes out of his yard to scare my kids this year, I will blow my top.  

A photo by Sašo Tušar. unsplash.com/photos/yP19KADwhEIHow to hug a vampire: How do you love people who suck the life out of you?  I am sure as you read this you are thinking of people who have been doing this to you for years.  People have lied to you, cheated you, talked about you, made empty promises to you, and annoyed you.  They have sucked the life right out of you.  Good days made miserable, potentially good moments ruined, and smiles turned tears.

As I thought about who has done this the most to me, I found this person has lied to my more than anyone else, made the most empty promises, put me in bad situations, and cheated me short of my potential.  This person is ME. How many times have I said I will only have one bite, I’ll start tomorrow, spent time with people who drag me down, and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and knew it was a bad idea all along.  I sure have messed me up.  I stayed in relationships longer than I should have and pushed good people away too early.  I think you relate to my problem.  You are just like me. You suck the life out of you too!

Psalm 1:1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

How do you start living a suck proof life?

  1. Spend time with God daily
  2. Spend the most time with people who make deposits vs. withdraws
  3. Take a full day to sabbath
  4. Be in great small group
  5. Be generous in our finances
  6. Control the negative thoughts about you in your head
  7. Write a personal declaration to read daily about who Jesus says you are

Remember God does not want something from you, but has something for you.  He does not want to be part of your life, He wants to lead your life!  These are seven things that you can do to lead a life of being full instead of being sucked dry.  God has SO much for more for you than you can imagine.  When you do life His way you get to live the life He designed for you.

So which of these 7 things do you need to start doing?  Go do it!  Tackle one of these at a time and let God transform your life!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Who are You?

fingerprint-1427210Remember the classic song Who are You? by The Who? Its a question many of us stare down on a regular basis. We struggle with how we see ourselves, how others see us, and even with how God sees us. Our world is of absolutely no help in this matter. Basically everything we do seems to have a massive effect on our identity. Successful at work? Then you are a success. Get fired or have a bad season? Then you are written off as a failure. The way we dress, every action we take, and even the actions of those around us (employees, family, co-workers, friends, etc.) seem to move the pendulum of our identity.

I don’t know about you, but every movement of that identity pendulum really stresses me out. I’ve spent so much of my life worried about how others see me, as well as plenty of time struggling with how I view myself. Its a stressful way to live. And here’s the thing: its not how we were created to live. Checkout these two verses:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14

He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:11-13

Our identity is not something that is up to us or the world around us, it was decided upon by God when we were purposefully formed. You may not always like everything about yourself, wishing for less belly and more hair and a brain that functions at a significantly higher level (well, those are my wants at least!). Yet, you are who God made you to be. And that’s a wonderful thing, for you’ve been made to be a child of God. Think about that: YOU have been created and saved to be part of God’s family forever. God’s pendulum doesn’t change with your every action, but his love for you is steadfast. 


Stop trying to earn a certain identity in this world, and instead fully embrace the amazing and irrevocable identity you have in Christ: Child of the Most High God. 

A Call To Rise

Isaiah 26:3New Living Translation (NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

There is no peace in this world except that which comes before God. Jesus told his men, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”

The disciples doubted their worthiness and their capabilities to do the work Jesus asked them to do. Go out to all the nations to bring the Good News of the Gospel. After the Holy Spirit’s arrival, they went into the streets with a force.

As men, we to doubt that Jesus could ever use us. We may think we have made too many mistakes, made too many failures, and may have addictions. How could he ever us me? In 1 Peter 2:21 it says, “For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

A powerful verse to rise into, men. The enemy has got us running and being afraid of our past, our present, and our future. We are afraid to lead our wives and children. We are afraid to speak to fellow workers about Jesus. We are afraid to pray in public places.

If we do not rise, men, the enemy takes ground. I say, “Enough!” We are called to rise and to prepare for battle. We are called to suffer for what others might say, to be criticized, to be ostracized, and to be considered lunatics because of our faith.

The enemy will not stop taking ground from you until you rise to the man he has called you to be. This will put you on your knees in prayer, rending, and journaling from God’s Word. Then we will become doers of the Word.

Let’s rise and be sons of the Living God!

Strength and Courage

Michael.

 

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